Facing My Anti-Comfort Zone at Netflix
I have quite an interesting career trajectory; spanning television, music, tech, and streaming…and true to my military upbringing, change has presented itself quite consistently. To rewind to the beginning, before joining my current team, I began in the world of television…in front of the camera. In true struggling artist fashion, I did some acting, sang hooks for other struggling artists and freelanced at various entertainment companies in an attempt to find my footing. To say my parents were nervous for me, particularly during my “what do I want to do with my life…oh that!…wait…this!” years, is an understatement. After 5 years of auditioning, landing a few roles and doing my artist thing, I discovered that I had a longing to be creative in other ways and decided to take a peek behind the curtain and really educate myself on the “industry” part of the entertainment industry.
Again, my career trajectory has been interesting and has not been a ladder by any means. A bifurcated staircase is a more appropriate description - me climbing and turning left, then running back down and going right…but in the end, I reached my destination…NETFLIX.
I vividly remember walking out of my first on-site interview panel and calling my father in the parking garage…“Dad…this is it. I’m claiming this”. After much preparation, studying the culture memo and interviewing with future cross-functional partners and teammates, I was both sold and smitten. This was my dream company and this community of people understood my background, diverse skill set, goals and work style. I’m continuously thankful that Netflix is that unique company that will look for creatively additive employees and break from the hiring norm and I know the qualities I’ve gathered is what is currently boosting me in my current role in Creative Marketing (Original Films).
Netflix is unlike any other company I’ve worked for and there is an essential on-boarding/adjustment journey on which each and every employee embarks. For me, the transparency and feedback culture wasn’t as much of a shock. For most it is, but I previously worked at Def Jam (Universal Music Group) where both internal and external feedback was a constant. Surprisingly, particularly because of my military upbringing, the biggest culture shock for me was the constant change. Change can always be a bit intimidating and yet the exciting possibility of tapping into unknown talent, learning a new skill set and having global impact made the decision to get comfortable with my anti-comfort zone a no brainer.
Speaking of comfort zones, Netflix is a company stacked with top performers. Literally my first month, I would sit in meetings thinking “what the HELL does that even mean?” on a loop in my brain. You know the GIF of the little blonde girl smiling uncomfortably and looking from side to side…that was me in meetings. Anything anyone said seemed to go completely over my head and that space was very unsettling. Little by little, however, the memos began to make sense, the seemingly millions of acronyms started to connect and before you knew it, I was “aligning”…and right in that moment is when another change occurred.
Knowing our leadership team has good intent and is always going to seek out ways to ensure we are working in styles that will only highlight our strengths & innovation, while being efficient, is something I had to trust. To go into more detail, this change only a few months into the job, was the best thing that could have happened to me - from a creative and internal visibility standpoint.
Within a few months, I went from developing and managing global scale social marketing campaigns to becoming a 360 creative marketer…overseeing the creation of trailers, key art (film posters), developing strategy/positioning AND social campaigns for each of my titles.
To date, some proud moments for me include: co-leading the creative for The Irishman surprise teaser that launched the night of this year’s Academy Awards; witnessing The Kissing Booth [creative marketing lead] and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before [co-lead] birth new, rabid fandoms, launch careers and literally hijack the internet and hearts of many (and their moms…let’s be honest); and seeing Nappily Ever After [creative marketing lead] pierce the zeitgeist and educate broader audiences on the nuances and emotional complexities of self-love vs perfectionism. With each project, I bring my experience in talent & filmmaker relations from Nickelodeon, my work ethic, creativity and grassroots marketing experience from Def Jam and my insight on fandoms from Tumblr. It’s all there and Netflix is making it possible for me to showcase what I’m truly capable of, with leaders who encourage and empower.
A thrilling experience, a collaborative and innovative team, leadership who leads and listens to feedback, curious employees who aren’t afraid to take big bets, recruiters who understand how important it is to see yourself both in the content and in the halls…and for me, an opportunity…that only Netflix could have provided.
Now, I sit here a year and a half in, more smitten than ever. All of the creativity that I was internalizing before now has an outlet…it’s in the trailers, the key art, the strategy and even the copy. It’s in pitch meetings with filmmakers, internal brainstorm sessions, team meetings and calls with creative agencies. It’s everywhere…in the air, all around me…circulating in and out of these air vents and everyone is inhaling.