On this episode of the SPQ Chat we chat with Lauren Legette, a senior business leader at Facebook who has navigated her career across tech, media + entertainment, and the gig economy. Through many professional pivots, Lauren has uncovered the formula for professional success making career transitions without spending thousands of dollars going back to school. From leveraging professional relationships to stakeholder management, she shares so much of what she’s learned with us this week!
We're talking about:
Creating a life plan
The importance of professional coaches
How to navigate going after a new career with little experience
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During the Switch Pivot or Quit chats we talked to women who have successfully navigated through some of the plot twist years of life and are eager to share their stories and what they've learned in the hopes of inspiring, teaching or making even the slightest impact by candidly owning their truth. Hey girl, hey, and thanks for dropping into the Switch Pivot or Quit podcast, candid convo for the girl needing a lifestyle plot twist. When she's deciding if it's time to Switch, Pivot or Quit. I'm Ahyiana Angel a former sports entertainment publicist in New York City, turned traditionally published author with Simon and Schuster, who quit my old life to write a book, live in London for a bit, and explore my dreams to find my happiness and fulfillment. I'm here to help encourage and guide you through your plot twist years as your chief encourager and host of this podcast, Switch, Pivot, or Quit.
Our community is continuously growing. So welcome to all the new listeners and thank you all for those who are returning. If you love what you hear on the Switch, Pivot or Quit podcast, and wanna show your love, head over to iTunes and leave us a review. A review just helps more people know about the podcast and it helps to continue to amplify our voices as women in the space.
Now, if you just can't get enough, come hang out with us on Instagram by following me at Ahyiana dot Angel, and that's A H Y I A N A dot A N G E L, or drop by our website, SwitchPivotorQuit.com. Now let's get this conversation started. On today's show we're chatting with Lauren Legette. She's the business lead of business, product marketing at Facebook, Inc.
Lauren is a senior business leader who's navigated her career across tech, media entertainment and the gig economy through many professional pivots. Lauren has uncovered the formula for professional success, making career transitions without spending thousands of dollars. Going back to school over the last decade.
She shared her guidance with young professionals on how to reframe their experience and network in industries, where they have zero connections at Facebook. She leads strategy, business and management initiatives for the company's business product marketing, supporting 140 million-plus businesses.
Throughout the community, Lauren's philanthropic duties include serving as Girl Scout Troop Leader to a third-grade troop in Northern California. And she serves as a chair on the executive board for her chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority incorporated. She also leads a career coaching circle for young professional women looking to get ahead in their careers.
You're gonna enjoy this conversation. So let's just get into it. Lauren welcome to the show. How are you? I'm doing well. How are you? Thank you so much for having me. Yes. I'm so excited for this conversation. I wanna talk about your very first job. Let's dive in there. What was the job and what were you doing?
Yes, you know, I loved my very first job. I was living in New York City, working at the Food Network in Chelsea market, and specifically, I was focused on the ad sales marketing department. And so my team was focused on making the commercials that everyone saw that kind of got you really excited about a show.
One of my favorite shows on Food Network has always been chopped. And so an example of the type of work that I would do is working with, a food product company like Kellogg or the like who was interested in getting their products in front of viewers who watched the Food Network. They would reach out to us and we would work on what's called an interstitial, which would be a commercial that we would make that featured an advertiser that was sort of a mini version of a show that you might watch like chopped but featured the products from that advertiser. And so that was sort of my introduction into my professional career, but also into the world of monetization, which has sort of followed me throughout my journey.
Ooh, I love that.
It was a great first job. In addition to having, an opportunity to learn so much, I also had easy access to the Food Network kitchens, which was a special treat for your first job outta school. But yes, I learned a great deal in that first job and had, you know, fond memories of the opportunity to learn about, all the things that it takes to put on a network of shows and to work with so many different, key stakeholders, both within the company, but also production companies outside of the company. So I learned a great deal.
As you know, on this podcast, we talk all about the switch pivot, or quit experience. And so I would love to dive more into your story. So tell us a little bit more about your S P Q experience, how you got started with it and how all of that came about.
Absolutely. You know, I like to think about it in two ways. I would say the switch was sort of going from entertainment and kind of making that natural transition in a way that doesn't really make sense. But also I went from being a journalist to a marketer. And so, you know, starting with kind of the industry pivot or switch I, as I mentioned, was working in television as my sort of very first job and learned a lot was exposed to a lot and really just fell in love with the aspect of monetization and working with advertisers to get their products and services in front of their target audience. And wanted to really dive in and, and learn more. And so I actually transitioned from working at the Food Network to working in publishing at a company called Fast Company magazine.
And so, you know, in addition to kind of diving into the marketing world and really understanding how to work with advertisers and to help them reach their business goals. I also learned a great deal about tech and innovation and just the buzz of everything Silicon Valley at the time. I was a consumer of the products and services that come out of Silicon Valley, but I would definitely not say I was a techie at the time. And so to be immersed in that content every single day I was just so inspired. I learned so much about the industry and just how booming the tech industry was at that time. And so. I'll say, you know, super transparently, I just kind of created a passion for wanting to kind of dive into that industry.
And so had a very ambitious goal of becoming a techie for lack of a better description. And so, you know, I have this background in publishing and in entertainment and so the transition just at the time didn't seem like it would make sense. So I started by just sort of networking and meeting a lot of people who were in that industry and trying to understand all that I could.
In addition to the content that we were talking about at Fast Company magazine, I wanted to really focus on relationship building. And that's actually one of the things that I, have learned over the years is this idea of there's power in partnership, there's power in relationships. I subscribe to this idea of having a personal board.
And so what that means for me is, you know, I have coaches and mentors and advisors that all play a vital role in my growth and development, and they were instrumental into me making this unusual pivot into technology.
You know, you just said this word coaches, I would love to hear your perspective. From my perspective, a lot of people who are in the coaching space and refer heavily to coaches, they're solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and let's just put it out here, you have a nine to five. You work for Facebook, we'll get into that in a little bit, but. I would think that it would be slightly different from your approach in terms of your relationship to coaches. So tell us more about that.
Yeah, it's a great question. I think there's a couple of things. People that I consider coaches are, are not necessarily, someone who's an expert at being a business coach or a life coach or, or anything of the sort, but they're people that I admire the way that they think the way they make decisions the way they've climbed their professional ladder and really just am inspired by the way that they make moves.
And so there's a lot of people. That I have consulted over the years when I think about, you know, taking various job opportunities, I've relocated countless times. And to relocate professionally, especially at a certain point in your life is a difficult decision to make. And so I lean on the expertise of others to get their advice.
I've leaned on. What I consider coaches, which in many cases are just what I would say more seasoned friends to kind of just get their, their take on how to think about an opportunity that's placed before me. I think one thing that's really key and, and sort of the relationship that I have with my coaches would just be, you know, I have multiple, right.
And the reason for that is because I want to balance their feedback. I look at a coach as someone who provides a data input, but they certainly aren't the deciding factor in, in any decision that I make. And so, you know, for me, I look at them as, as people that I consult with, but I, leverage a ton of different places and, and people to get information in order to make a decision.
So your coaches that you look to and work with, are they paid coaches or are they more relationship-based coaches?
Yeah, they're absolutely relationship-built coaches. I've worked with, professional coaches in the past. I think for me, the style that I resonate with and react to best are people who have been in situations that I've been in and, they're not necessarily, you know professional coaches, but they are people who've been in my shoes. And they can help me think through or evaluate opportunities. And so you know coaches could potentially be a, a, a formal terminology. So perhaps that is something that maybe I could further clarify, but, you know, I, I really think about them as friends in the business. Also, people who aren't in the same industry that I'm in, but people that I can consult when I'm faced with a challenge or a decision that needs to be made, and I want to get third-party advice.
So when you made your Switch Pivot or Quit, what was at stake? How did you go about figuring out sort of how to navigate those two industries like that?
I think what was at stake was, I was hungry to learn. I was hungry to have impact and you know, for me the pace of the industry that I was in at the beginning of my career, just wasn't kind of keeping up with that desire and that hunger to move fast and to react to the needs of consumers and to react to the needs of, of, you know, the global customer base.
And so I was hungry to be a part of a company or an industry that was moving fast and was innovating constantly. And so I think that that was sort of what was at stake. I think how I made that change and how I made that move again, going back to the relationship piece. I think beyond that I recognized really early on that I had the transferable skills that would be necessary to be successful in those roles and it was about highlighting and identifying those aspects of my experience and creating opportunities for an interviewer to be able to see that as well.
I think a lot of times, people think that if you're going to pivot, at a certain point in your career, you need to go back to school to do that. And that is absolutely something that works for some people. But I think, that's not the only option that you have.
Everybody has, transferable skills, you have the ability to teach yourself. You have the ability to put yourself in situations where you can learn be it at conference or taking a class or any number of things. There's so many available resources out there. And I think for me, it was about figuring out what those opportunities were that could give me the tools to be successful in that pivot.
Tell us a little bit more about what your role is now and what type of work you're doing specifically.
So I am in product marketing now. And so, you'll recall that sort of early on in our conversation, I mentioned this idea of monetization and really understanding what that was at a at early stage.
Certainly, you know, in my first job, we weren't referring to it as, as monetization, but that's frankly, really what it was and so I realized that that was sort of the central through line throughout my journey and my professional career. But in product marketing I work with the internal teams that are focused on, our product and engineering side to bring products to market.
And so, you know, a lot of that same aspect of what I was doing very early on has followed me throughout my career. I think some of the transferable skills it's central around a couple of things. Number one, Stakeholder management. I think, you know, that's really central to every job that I've had and, and working with others, both internal and external is just critical to the work that I do.
And so being able to have effective stakeholder management skills would, would be one of the transferable skills that I identified pretty early on. I'd say the next is sort of being able to help think through and to strategize ambiguous circumstances. A lot of times the roles that I find really energizing are opportunities to solve a problem that really doesn't have a blueprint.
Right. We haven't figured out how we're going to tackle this. This problem may not have shown itself before in any other circumstances. And so how do we navigate those opportunities and see around corners to be able to predict what's coming up next? I noticed that in a lot of roles that I've had, that's been something that has been the core of what I do on a day to day. And so being able to identify that and package that as , a value add and a skill was also something that was really key to the pivot. And then the final thing that I'll say is, I also recognize that I'm driven by opportunities to work at a company where the products or their service can double as both entertainment and a utility.
And so what I mean by that, you know, today, I, work at a company where, people leverage our products and services to engage and connect with each other, but they also use it to grow their business. And so I think that for me being able to be a part of something like that, where you there's two sides of it, where, you know, you can use it to be entertained.
You can use it as a vital and critical growth opportunity for your business. That's really exciting. I, I would say, you know, it's a very similar thing. When you think about my experience at Uber, where, you know, you can certainly use it for the casual experience of connecting and going to meet people and to be with your friends and you know, go to a game or a concert and not have to worry about parking.
But on the flip side of that, there are drivers across the world who use Uber as a utility as a means of earning a living. And for me, that intersection of the virality of the product is really exciting. And so being able to identify.
What drives me and what my purpose is, was another key area that helped me identify, you know, how can I transfer all of these different commonalities, all of these different skills that I've had in previous roles to make me a strong candidate for a future opportunity.
You know, it seems like you're really in tune with yourself and what your needs are and where you thrive. So that makes me think of personal development. So what does personal development mean to you and what role has it served in your life and in your career thus far?
I am always and will always be learning. My professional and personal development is at the core of everything that I do. I carve out time every single year to have a dedicated week of learning. I just did it in September of late last year. And it's central to who I am.
Any role that I'm in if I feel like I can do it with my eyes closed, it's not the right place for me. I'm the type of person that I need to be challenged. I need to constantly be in situations where I'm learning. I need to step away from my regular job and dedicate myself to some time for dedicated learning, whether that's you know, on the personal front or whether that's on the professional, skill development, front, whatever it might be. My, personal and professional development is immensely important to me and it's at the core of everything that I do, every decision that I make every job opportunity that I take, I need to really understand how will this help me. You know, when I think about my, my journey, you know, I've mapped out what I want my professional journey to look like between now and retirement. And so when I consider an opportunity, of course, that will change. Right. It changes regularly.
Wow. That's impressive to me that you map this out. I think it's important. You know, I think a lot of us don't do enough of that. Right. And I think I think if you have that, it can serve as a blueprint when you consider job opportunities.
You know, otherwise, you are blindly considering roles and opportunities and not really sure how it aligns with your assignment. You know, one time I attended a conference and the speaker said something to the effect of, there will always be really amazing opportunities. But is this opportunity really your assignment and what they meant by that is, you know, you can be so inspired and driven by incredible job opportunities.
There's always going to be amazing, interesting, fun job opportunities. I think, you know, as someone who is trying to be in alignment with their purpose, it's very clear which roles align with your assignment, which roles align with your purpose, which roles align with the type of, professional aspirations that you have.
And I think if you have that journey sort of mapped out, understanding that it will change. And I think like everything good hygiene requires that you take a look at it and, and refresh it as needed. But if you have a sketch or a plan for your professional journey when a job opportunity comes up, you can determine pretty quickly does this align with what I'm trying to do with my career and if not, politely pass on it. I think it's really important for everyone to be able to have that mapped out. And if you don't I definitely would recommend considering to do something like that.
This, taking a week for learning and development, where did this come from? I'm very curious to know this.
I would say a combination of things. So, a lot of the women in my family are educators. My dad is an engineer and I am in a field and in an industry that is completely different from a lot of people in my family.
Pretty early on in my career, I remember very vividly my dad saying to me, you know, you're at a point in your professional journey where I don't even know if I can give you advice because your journey is so different than mine.
I've always looked up to my parents and I still do, and I always will. But to be at that point where he felt like he couldn't really weigh in on some of my professional decisions, that was hard for me. And so I recognized that I needed to figure out who I can work with or learn from.
To make sure that I'm consulting people appropriately. The idea of having a well-rounded, what I call personal board that came from one of my coaches and, and mentors. I learned that terminology and, and how to think about stacking your personal board.
I learned it from him. And so I'm constantly learning and refining my approach to professional and personal growth. But I think at the very basic level, it started from kind of being in this industry where if I look at, the people closest to me, I'm sort of on an island and I'm in this industry where not many people in my family can relate to and so I needed to kind of find a village where if I have questions, I can kind of go to people who've been through this experience before. And so really it came from a, a very natural need and has evolved into just a, again, a, a very vital piece of my day-to-day and, and my yearly goals and yearly plans.
What would've been useful for you to know before embarking on your current career path?
Probably that there's magic in fear. You know, I think the, the buzzy terminology that everyone's talking about right now is imposter syndrome. And I like to think about that a little bit differently. I think, obviously imposter syndrome is incredibly difficult to navigate through. But I think what I've tried to train myself, to think about if I'm in a position where I feel like, I shouldn't be in that room or if I start to question my skills and my experience and the impact that I bring to the table, that's me checking myself to say, Hey, no, wait, if you're scared, you're in the right place. Because every time that I've been in a room or in a project or in a circumstance where I've been afraid, it has yielded results that I could not have imagined.
And so I have found that there's magic in that fear. When you're scared, when you're nervous, when you don't think that you're in the right room that's when you know, that's where you're supposed to be. And I think for me, it's listening to inner voice of okay, you know, your heart might be being a little bit fast right now, but you're in the right place and this is going to level you up.
This is going to, put you in a place that gets you a little bit closer to your goals. I mean, I really just have to kind of coach myself through it and coach myself through that fear or uncertainty. One of the people that I look up to from a professional perspective is Boza St. John. She demonstrates this ability to check your fear and your, your uncertainty at the door. Like don't allow, any external factors to make you question why you're in this seat. You've earned it and you need to own it. You need to own your fear. You need to own this opportunity and you need to kill it. And I think I try to embody a lot of that mentality and to leverage that fear as an opportunity to fuel me, turn that around and to something that just kind of drives me to say this is an opportunity for me to grow and stretch, and that fear is something that I can overcome.
So, can you tell us more about how someone can reframe their experience and network in an industry where they have zero connections?
You know, I think it starts at the very basic level, right. Your network is your net worth and I hate jargons and I hate things that sounds so cliche, but it's absolutely true.
So you know, when you think about kind of jumping into a space where you don't know anyone the best thing to do is to put yourself in positions where you can meet people. And so I am the type of person that I'm constantly looking for conferences, I subscribe to opportunities to just make connections. I think we are also living in a time where things like clubhouse exist and that opportunity to kind of just drop yourself into a room and to hear from experts and get their tips and to, listen to podcasts such as these that provides you with a baseline where tips and tricks are easily shared in forums that if you're there and if you're in the right space, you'll be able to capture them. So that's number one.
I'd say number two is about being super clear on what is it that you're trying to achieve. I think, unfortunately, so often people see a job as a nice, shiny new thing. And they think that they want that. But when you kind of peel back the layers, it's not super clear that they specifically want that job.
It's like, oh, you know, I would love to work at that company. And I think that this job is really cool, but I don't know if it's really, truly what I want. And so I would say, do your research and really be clear about what it is that you're looking to do so that when you have conversations with people who are in that industry or at that company, or in that job, you're able to clearly state, you know, your why and, and sort of why you're making maybe this unconventional pivot into a role or trying to make this unconventional pivot, and you can be able to provide the clarity behind that. I think a lot of times people who are hiring managers are always open to diversifying and bringing diverse perspectives into the team and help them think differently.
And I think if you can help articulate why, you know, your background is a little bit different, but, but why you can bring a certain uniqueness and unique set of skills and experience and perspectives to the role that that is incredibly vital. And then the third and final thing that I would offer up is, when you think about making this pivot, I think you want to be super clear on how this will propel you forward.
I think one thing that I recall as I was making my pivot was having conversations with people who would say the tech industry is very different from the background that you've come from. And you've, you know, shared why you want to make this move now, but what does this mean for your future and how do you see this pivot really putting you on your path forward?
And I don't know if that comes up a lot in interviews, but I think when you're making a pivot where your background is a little bit different, it does come up. And so being very clear about how this sets you down your path, and again, this idea of kind of planning your journey as I shared, I, I think it it's helpful. It sets you up for the appropriate checks and balances on your end as well.
Of your strengths, which one, or which ones maybe do you think have helped you significantly to get to where you are today?
I think the thing that I am most proud of is my high accountability. It is something that I take a lot of pride in. You know, if I say I'm going to do something, I make every effort to do it. I, I believe that, in the work in world, but also in my personal world the people around me can count on me to have high accountability.
I'd say, maybe the second thing that I would offer up is I am the type of person that thrives in ambiguous situations. And so, being placed in front of a problem that is confusing and murky and, not super clear. I love that I'm the type of person who can navigate really complex and you know ambiguous situations.
And so I actually really enjoy the opportunity to turn those into providing clarity and to create a plan around a solution. I feel like those two things have put me in positions to be able to tackle some of the toughest problems. And it's, it's something that drives me. It excites me.
When I think about my future and, and the things that I want to continue to achieve , I continue to seek out the hardest problems.
Thinking back, have you made any missteps that you later realized to be good learning lessons? Absolutely. Yes. You know, I think every success story has several missteps and there will probably be mistakes that I continue to make.
But you know, one thing that I'll share pretty vividly , I remember I took a job opportunity that I think if I'm honest with myself I knew that it wasn't the right thing for me. And I sort of ignored my gut. And if there's one thing that I learned is when you ignore your gut, you'll live to regret it.
I think it was important for my journey. It was an important lesson. And so I, I don't regret it from that standpoint, but I think, you know I have gotten really good at, at thinking about, you know, what is it that I want for my career? Being super clear on that. And, and listening to my gut.
And then I, I would also say, you know, I have been in situations before where I was afraid or hesitated to ask the questions that I needed to know the answers to in order to do my job.
And I sort of coached myself out of, you know, I can figure it out rather than asking the right questions. I was young and I was early in my career. I didn't wanna show any signs of weakness, but I think what I've learned you know on this side of my career is that, people who ask the right questions are, are the people who have a growth mindset.
And they're getting people to think about things that frankly they had not considered before. And so actually asking the right questions , are the keys to being able to lead the team through challenging situations and circumstances.
And so I've really. I would say revise my thinking around what I thought was a sign of weakness, which was asking questions and really have come to learn and understand that the most successful people ask the right questions.
Is there anything that you do in your morning routine that you feel sets you up for a successful or positive day?
Yes, I do virtual commuting. So although I'm not driving into the office right now I do dedicate 30 minutes every morning to listening to morning news. My favorite podcast, reading up on you know, news. I think it's important to just carve out time to to really just make sure that you remain informed.
You know, certainly there's a lot going on in the world, but there's also a lot going on in the various industries that we all work in. And so just being able to stay informed and ahead of information I think for me is just a really great daily practice and daily routine. You know, sometimes I do it while I work out sometimes I do it while I make my smoothie but I just make sure that every single day that I carve out that 30 to 45 minutes to you know, stay informed and stay aware of what's happening around me, both in the world and in, in the industry that I work in.
Lauren what does success mean or look like for you?
I think success is constantly learning, putting myself in new opportunities to try something new and to learn and to explore. I think success also looks like having my own, I today am not, necessarily an entrepreneur, but I think I have an entrepreneurial spirit.
And so, you know, I have aspirations of figuring out what that looks like for me down the line. I certainly have, you know, a lot of really creative ideas. And today I'm continuing to learn and leveling myself up for that day. But I think that there's an opportunity for me to take this passion and, and drive that I have for, the work that I do and creating an opportunity for me to create my own sort of legacy for what that looks like and, and kind of branch out and do my own thing. And you know, I'm excited for that day.
Lauren, I enjoyed and loved so much of what you said. That's a wrap for our chat this week and as always be good.