“There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.” – Sir Winston Churchillâ€œ
Over the past two years, my life has been one series of constant changes, challenges and triumphs.
After 10 years at Intuit, I moved on and had two roles: Â one didn’t work out and another one did. As someone working hard to get brands from being social media participants to being social businesses, change is nothing new and it has found me again. Besides celebrating the birth of our fifth child, Luke, this week, there’s another big change coming as well for me professionally.
Last week I resigned my role as Applebee’s first Director of Social Media & Digital Content, effective September 16. After a year of helping create social and digital strategy for the world’s largest casual dining chain, I find myself called to a new challenge in a familiar business.
Beginning September 19, I will begin my new job as the Director of Social Media at H&R Block.
This may come as a shock to many who worked with me during my Intuit/TurboTax days, but it’s an amazing opportunity to work with a visionary team. Block is headed in some very interesting and innovative directions. Having had some experience working with retail and franchised businesses during my tenure at Applebee’s, coupled with my extensive experience in the tax software and online tax space, it’s a great fit for me during this period of my career.
And, whether you believe it or not, I missed the competitiveness of the tax space. After working through over 10 tax seasons, I never thought I’d miss it as much as I do. My former coworkers now become my competitors, but I will always consider them friends. We may not talk much about business during tax season, but that’s just business sometimes.
The opportunity to build on what has been established at Block was also a deciding factor. Social business investment is on the rise. There is no trying to convince reluctant marketing leaders that we’re no longer in 1992. The leadership at H&R Block don’t need to be convinced. They’re not standing their with their head in the sand. The investment and the commitment to continue to drive social business through the organization is there. That’s energizing.
It has been odd for me to have had three jobs in the course of 18 months. But, the opportunities afforded me have been great and to pass this one up would not be wise. It’s my opportunity to leverage my experience and knowledge of the tax and personal finance space with one of America’s biggest brands. Under the direction of former eBay’er Bill Cobb, the runway at H&R Block is long and wide. I’m excited that they have asked me to come aboard to take social business to new heights.
I follow in significant footsteps at H&R Block. The company’s last Director of Social Media was none other than Zena Weist. She’s become a friend and the groundwork she’s laid is deep and fruitful. Zena may now be on to great things at Edelman Digital, but her legacy lives on and I thank her for that.
My time at Applebee’s was much shorter than I anticipated. I moved my family across country to take the job. It’s a little disappointing to move on from a brand where we were able to make a huge dent in just over a year. I leave knowing my team did amazing work and really moved the needle and advanced social business as much as we could for the brand. I wouldn’t have done anything different and I leave as the chain launches some innovative location-based programs, an online community with over 1.4 Million, and a completely reengineered and redesigned website. Our team kicked some serious backside in a short period of time and those who appreciate it know just how well we did.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention four people at Applebee’s who did more to help me, my team and social at the company.
Applebee’s President Mike Archer was my biggest advocate during my time working for Applebee’s. Mike is one of those C-Level executives that “get it.” The hours of conversations, emails and blunt talks helped me do my best there and I will always be grateful.
Second was my partner in change management, Vice President of IT at DineEquity Randy Bogart. Randy and I were connected at the hip and without his experience, project management skills, and just flat-out leadership moxy, we wouldn’t have been able to enable half of what we were able to accomplish. Randy is more than someone who knows IT and technology. He’s one the best leaders I’ve ever had the pleasure of being around. Thank you.
As is usually the case when social is new to a company, we didn’t have a big team. In fact, I had only one other person and that was Mark Cordes. Mark single-handedly led the majority of the work on our website redesign and did a great job overseeing our eCRM programs. He’s a rare commodity these days; an honest man who just does an amazing job. He’s learned, grown and performed at a high level and deserves as much credit as anyone for our success.
Last, I want to thank someone who has become more than just a coworker. Chef Shannon Johnson has literally become like a brother to me. In the short time we’ve known each other, we’ve become close and share so many qualities. Although he is a culinary magician, and I am a technology and social media hound, we found so much in common so quickly, it’s like we’ve known each other our entire lives. He’s been there to support me and my family and I am forever indebted to him. His career will reach amazing heights and you all will know his name very soon. He’s a pure man who is blessed with so much talent, most around him don’t even realize it. Thanks my friend.
Enough of the past. It’s time to forge ahead. I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself. I want H&R Block to be my last corporate job. It’s time to dig in and stay put for a while.
There’s lots of great opportunities in social business these days. It’s a gold rush and I’ve been riding the wave. Now it’s time to settle in and take a ride for the long haul.
Even if it’s a ride back to the future.