Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based advertising exec on a mission to promote female connection and support for working women.
A full time Client Partner for a tech biz tipped by Forbes to be one of the world’s most innovative companies, Kelly Nash also runs Lipstick & Ink.
We chat to Kelly about tech, her best career advice and how to work productively from home or the office.
Kelly Nash, tech is such a big deal right now and advertising is so integral to getting tech products to consumers. Can you tell us about how you launched into the industry?
After graduating with an Advertising degree, I started my career at a media agency as an Assistant Strategist. If you want to know more about my early days in advertising, you can read how I secured that first job in this post. While I learned a lot, I also became extremely burnt out and decided to seek another avenue of advertising – the publisher side.
I worked for an entertainment and music publisher that produced enticing content and ads, a lot of the time with music artists. I even got to meet a few while I worked there! After working there for nearly two years, I made my way into advertising tech by being proactive and reaching out to individuals on LinkedIn. It opened a door for me and luckily landed me a job at Salesforce.
I’ve now been exposed to all of the avenues of the advertising industry which I’m grateful for because it’s helped me connect the dots and understand a digital ad campaign from start to finish. Advertising technology products are the engines behind a lot of digital advertising you see today and it’s always changing, which I love, and it continues to challenge me every day.
Your employer, Salesforce, has offices right across America (and even some here in Australia!). A lot of teams have people working in different locations. Does that impact your day-to-day? What does a normal day in the office look like for you?
It’s a very unique work environment because my manager sits in Boston and my team is scattered across the United States, Mexico and Brazil. That means we’re video chatting quite a bit and don’t quite get the in-person team feeling like we would if we were all in one office together working. It’s been an adjustment, but I do appreciate the flexibility.
Because I don’t have much of a team in Chicago with me, it doesn’t make a difference if I work from the office or from home. I can pretty much pick where I work and when I work too. I have team members working over a number of different hours and because I typically work better later in the day, I choose to start my work day a bit later than others might at other companies.
Every work day is different because some days I go into the office and other days I work from home. However, my typical day consists of client and internal meetings, emailing clients on deliverables and next steps and working on specific project tasks for them.
What is the biggest career challenge you’ve overcome so far?
Definitely being in a job I was so unhappy in. My first job forced me to work 14 hour days! There were days I felt like I couldn’t even get up to go to the bathroom – that’s just sad. The long hours were bad enough but on top of that, I could only work in the office. We weren’t given work laptops to take home so I was there all day and all night. I literally felt like I was in my own personal jail.
Months went by until I realised I couldn’t take it anymore. I finally built up the courage to talk to my managers and they essentially shrugged their shoulders and told me that’s just the way it was. I then decided to walk into the HR office and list out my frustrations and solutions. They, too, told me nothing was going to change. I knew it was time to move on at that point because the company clearly didn’t have my best interests at heart.
So tell us about Lipstick & Ink. What is it all about and how do you connect with your audience?
Lipstick & Ink is a Chicago-based career, lifestyle and inspiration blog and events business that I founded in January 2018.
I started the blog because of my passion to write and my love for helping women navigate their careers.
In late 2018, I expanded into events and am currently building that into a larger piece of my business. Each event has a specific topic that resonates with women. Two of my spring events are related to how women can ‘make their mark’. The first is in regards to how women can set and achieve their financial goals and the other event is about how women can infuse their personal brands into their professional lives.
How do you find balancing your day job with running Lipstick & Ink? Do you have any advice for people trying to juggle multiple things at once?
It’s not easy.
I work full time and that often means I’m travelling or working over the standard 40 hours a week. I’m a workaholic by nature. So it’s been difficult to stay on top of things while balancing my career and Lipstick & Ink. However I have learned three key lessons that have made me smarter about how I spend my time:
My Gmail calendar keeps track of all my advertising work and Lipstick & Ink related meetings and events. I even schedule the plans I have after work or on the weekends with family or friends in my calendar. I also write these in my planner that I bring with me everywhere.
Use to-do lists:
I am a huge to-do list advocate. One of my favorite tools I’ve discovered through my business coach, Emily, is ‘Todoist‘. It helps me categorise my to-do lists by projects and set deadlines for myself that I can keep track of. I keep short-term and long-term goals documented in Todoist and then write out daily to-do lists on paper to organise my day.
Batch working helps manage your time by moving you away from multi-tasking and forcing you to focus on one task for a certain period of time. I’m starting to implement this more and more to use my time more efficiently.
Your online community is full of working women. What are some of the struggles they face on a daily basis?
I think one of the biggest things women in the workplace struggle with is confidence. As women we tend to overthink and doubt ourselves, which leads us to being fearful of raising our hand or speaking up. I think this happens especially when it comes to asking for what we deserve, like our pay.
I’m not at this point in my life yet, but I think being a working mom is a struggle too – finding the balance between work and home. This is why I hope more and more companies (where possible) begin to offer flexible schedules, childcare options and work from home options.
On the other hand, while I think women still face inequality and injustice, I also think we’re in an exciting day and age where women are breaking glass ceilings and breaking down gender bias. That’s something I personally love to see. While change isn’t as quick as I’d like – the positive thing is that it’s happening and we’re being seen and heard in the workplace.
Who inspires you?
I respect the hell out of women who know their worth, who speak up, and who want to enact change and make their mark. Some of these women are Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Cindy Robbins of Salesforce, and Rachel Hollis of the Hollis Co.
These are all women who have identified a problem (Sheryl with gender balance and women in leadership, Cindy with gender equality when it comes to salaries, and Rachel with women not recognising their worth) and spoke up, turned it around on its head, and delivered something to solve it.
These are all women I have learned something from and continue to learn from to become a better version of myself.
What is the one thing you think young working women need to talk more about?
Sexual harassment in the workplace.
It’s happened to me and it’s happened to the next woman. I think companies do their job in acknowledging sexual harassment when something inappropriate happens. But I don’t see or hear a lot about in the media, which is a little surprising to me.
Women should be talking about it to raise awareness that it still happens.
When it was happening to me I downplayed it for months because I thought that’s just the type of guy he was. But when it finally crossed a very big line, I knew it did and I said something. I told him sternly never to talk to me about something so inappropriate ever again and if he did, I would report him to HR. He never acted on anything ever again after that point, which I am grateful for, but I know that’s not always the case.
What are some healthy habits we should all incorporate into our workday?
Oh, I have so many! The long hours in my first job made me learn the hard way. Nowadays, I make a point to get up every hour and walk around, even if it is just a trip to the bathroom!
I also take advantage of my standing desk at work. I will even sometimes schedule a barre class during the workday. As we know, sitting at a desk for long periods of time day after day can have huge ramifications on your health.
Those breaks are good for your health – and your eyes. Giving my eyes a break is critical especially when I’m staring at my computer all day long at work and then coming home to work on Lipstick & Ink.
I’m also a big proponent of bringing your own lunch to work. My go-to lunch that I bring is a salad with slow-cooked chicken. This ensures I’m eating healthy during the workday and saving money too by not going out every day for lunch, which is a bonus.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“At the end of the day, no one really knows what they’re doing.”
That was one big eye-opener for me. I used to be so intimidated by people who were older and more experienced than me. That all changed when I got to Salesforce because tech is always changing and new integrations are consistently being built. It can be difficult to stay on top of it, even if you have years of experience and a super elaborate job title.
There was a time where I saw someone who was more experienced than me not know the answer to a client question. I finally understood the meaning of no one really knows what they’re doing! We’re all just trying to figure it out. Finally accepting that has opened my eyes and helped me walk into a room with more confidence.
What an awesome interview with Kelly Nash from Lipstick & Ink. We love hearing women speak so honestly about their experience in the workforce. Especially when it comes to sharing lessons about navigating challenges and how to come out on top!
For more work work-related reads make sure you hit up our recent career interview with Engineer Izabel Dickinson and 4 smart questions to ask at the end of your job interview.
Until next time,