When I walk

I part the air

and always

the air moves in

to fill the spaces

where my body’s been.

— Mark Strand

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I think about this stanza from the poem, “Keeping Things Whole” by Mark Strand from time to time about various aspects of my life. It’s a melancholic poem, and one that likely resonates with everyone at one time or another. I think about it when I feel lonely at a party, surrounded by friends. I think about it when I fall hard for a guy and yet I am just one of many for him … And most recently, I thought about it at work.

As a customer success manager at Keen IO, I was managing many accounts, constantly talking to customers about how they were using Keen and helping them with various integration aspects. I moved from one customer to another and then another and another. I was afraid that projects would fall apart and yet I felt that I had to keep moving to make sure Keen was whole.

And then there was the uncertainty in myself. I wasn’t sure what things I should already know and what was ok if I didn’t. I felt a persistent fear of being exposed as a failure, and that I was going to drown in customers… Would anyone even notice if I did?

But then I stopped and took a step back. We value introspection at Keen, and it’s something that I do regularly through journaling and talking outloud to myself.

What was causing me to feel this way? Was I failing? No. I was managing more customers than anyone else on the team at the time, which meant that my team trusted me to do well. I was likely experiencing cognitive distortionand succumbing to imposter syndrome (which is a term I don’t much like because I don’t want to admit that about myself, but…).

 

0_XqYbxRT8lpxdQs2k.pngAnd what about the work itself? I knew there were aspects I really liked and areas in which I could continue to grow and improve. I just needed to create a list to understand what those were:

  • Relationship building with customers, teammates, and the inquisitive
  • Defining scope and managing the logistics of how to deliver projects in a timely manner
  • On-boarding through understanding the customer’s business needs and modeling their data
  • Taking notes and summarizing information to provide context to others

Was there a role at Keen where I could implement these aspects?

We had recently begun to shift focus in the Customer Success Team to provide Professional Services to help customers more holistically with their analytics. It wasn’t about only using the Keen Compute Platform, but about helping customers answer the questions they most cared about and using the Keen compute functionality as the foundation to build products on.

I made the decision that I needed to change something — to find an unfilled space to fill.

And with that realization, I transitioned my role to that of Delivery Manager. We have some flexibility at Keen in choosing our titles and positions, and this one seemed the most crucial in supporting our Customer Success Team goals. We have a variety of customers that need support with on-boarding, building dashboards, creating complex queries, transferring historical data into Keen, etc. Those customers can now rely to me to help scope out this type of work; and depending on the complexity, I can call upon different team members across the Keen IO team to support these projects. I define the scope and ensure that we deliver what is expected while managing expectations and team workloads. It’s something I enjoy and excel at.

I am grateful that Keen values introspection and personal agency, which is what helped enable me to identify a new opportunity while playing to my strengths. I can see the lasting impact of these projects in the success of our customers; and now, when I move, the air does not just fill the space where my body had been.