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About Lydia's Experience!
Lydia here, current Head of Operations for Pearl Lemon Group.
At the time of writing (October 2020) I am about to wrap up my eight-teenth month here with the company. Now I am revisiting this for a further update (June 2021) a month after my two-year mark with the company.
My partner experience here with the company has been nothing short of a whirlwind of learning, stress testing, and overall great skill-building.
As a testimony to my time with Pearl Lemon Group, I want to walk through my timeline of partner experiences over the last year and a half.
The first month:
Now, not to be dramatic, but my first month with the company was a quick trip through hell. There was an intense learning curve that being told trial by fire during the interview and actual practice did not connect to me until it started.
As a disclaimer, I have had the pleasure of watching the company and partner process transform from a caterpillar to a butterfly… but when I started there was no firm system in place. I spent my days reading and searching Google for answers, hunting through Google Drive for materials, and never quite sure who to go to for information without bugging Dee all day with messages.
From this, I learned this is what I wanted to do, I was stressed and learning, but I felt good still.
I was one of maybe three total partners at the time, so the network of team members simply did not exist yet. It was intense and I learned a bit of everything and started to become a jack of all trades but master of none.
A quick list of items I learned or started:
- A Lot of people come and go
- The starts to SEO and Lead Gen
- Reliable outside learning resources
- Who our current clients were
- How to run a social audit
- How to run a site audit
- Establishing my tool stack
The next couple of months:
This intense track I ran continued for the first couple of months. We bounced me around different positions and seeing where I best fit. I would do one task type, get it down, and after a week and a half be rotated to something new.
I learned SEO basics, lead gen basics, and got involved with interviewing and hiring as I would be working closest to the developing team. At the time, HR was one of the most frustrating things because of the system we had, or lack thereof, we would have people join and stay for a few days or maybe more than a week and leave.
Somewhere in there, I had a brief “heart-to-heart” with Dee about what to do about staying with Pearl Lemon Group. Explaining what I did for work to my family was a constant struggle. Working from home, on a computer, for someone I never met located an ocean away was a foreign concept to my family. I was pushed daily to tears to fight for my position and staying with the company and standing my ground that this is a real job.
That point has been the hardest point in being a remote worker. A few things I have been told within the last 18 months…from close friends and family… have ranged from:
- “Are you sure this isn’t a scam?”
- “How can you trust him?”
- “That is not REAL work”
- “You leave the house for a job”
- “What do you mean you are exhausted, all you are doing is sitting on your ass”
- “How can computer work be stressful, you are literally home all day?”
- “You are home, you should be able to work your “hours” and take care of dishes, laundry, vacuuming, and Todd without help every day…you have all day”
- “Online classes are hardly college…so why would online work be real work”
- “It is pathetic Todd knows your boss’s name…it means you work too much” (I was working 35-45 hours a week and ⅓ of my day was at night when Todd was sleeping)
Eventually, I have worked to the point that even though I still struggle with it sometimes, no one gets to tell me what I do for work does not matter…no one gets to tell me working from home makes me lazy…and no one gets to choose what path I walk beside myself.
And that is one of my biggest tips for anyone looking into Pearl Lemon Group or any remote position for work… do what makes YOU happy and brings YOU joy, fuck the rest and everyone else can accept that or simply hold their tongue.
My tasks to this point:
- Doing Stripe to Freeagent conversions
- Working on slide/pitch decks
- Writing small bits of copy
- How to develop a web page off of an existing page
- CRM roles in the company
- How to make job listings
- How to interview someone for a remote team
By the sixth month with Pearl Lemon Group, I felt very sure in my placement. Almost like a “home” feeling…but work.
The six-month mark showed me a variety of items:
- CRM was not for me, or at least not until we had a training built so I felt ready
- I started to learn about Lead Gen a bit more
- I moved to more of an internal role only
- I learned more of the nuances of SEO
- I learned how to properly build out a social media profile, Linkedin profile, and other listings
- I learned how to fully optimise directory profiles
- Work on edits on the 52k project (Dee’s personal blog newsletter)
- Beginning to transcribe videos to written text
Personally, through the length of my experience, there have not been many that have stayed six months or more. There are a few outliers, but I have watched many people come and go through six months. I felt strange at times watching this happen but was grateful I was in a position to continue forward.
Pearl Lemon Group felt like it was actively growing and changing around this time. I was a part of and watching systems be better built and effort being greater applied towards changing pieces of training and the way information was presented. My hours at this time started to dip in a positive way out of efficiency; I did not have to spend most of my time researching how to do a task and find the resources, I could just go execute.
Up until year 1:
The one-year mark was a big milestone for me. I had always willingly left companies around one year, aside from seasonal positions. I don’t butt heads with management, but I have a low tolerance for being treated like I don’t matter at work, so I leave. If this is not the reason, then usually it is because learning has stopped and all I will do is ever the same. It is mind-numbing and emotionally numbing to think I will wake up and do the exact same thing every single day until I die.
Retail was this curse for me. Wake up, go to work, count the register, make sure the truck was fully unloaded, make sure shelves are stocked, unlock the doors and sit at cash-wrap for the next 6 hours until I can go home, sleep and do it again. That is unfulfilling and boring and I honestly don’t know how some people do that.
I am naturally restless though and seek stability yet want variance in what I do.
Working to the first-year mark I did not get bored, but I did take interest in wanting a bit of variety.
At this time I started building training systems so we could have a central training zone for incoming people and existing team members. I also got involved with content writing as well.
Content writing was one of the more refreshing tasks I had. It solved my desire to have a creative outlet in my life while being able to have something a little different to work on at Pearl Lemon Group. I worked on internal pieces and worked through fixing up old content (which I continue to do and am finally making good headway on).
Up to my one year has been:
- Getting a Core Member offer
- Helping set up the partner site
- Helping do research for tools
- Learning how to do a proper SWOT analysis
- Learning how to build out better trainings
Up until month 17:
The following handful of months brought forth a new pace for work. I had moved out of my parent’s home and into my own home. I also got through my junior year and headed into, and am a ⅓ of the way through, my senior year currently.
The hours I have worked have been fewer than I wanted, but I have also worked on figuring out the best ways to structure each day.
It feels odd it took a year and a half to do that, but it has made me able to achieve working-less-to-work-more.
For example, blog rewrites and daily items are my first work block when my energy is the highest, the second block is for team help and high priority items, the last block is anything residual to knock out for the day that may be quick wins or items that will take a few days to fully knock out.
I averaged 4-4.5 hours a day here and still pulled 7 days a week.
What I am doing currently:
As I wrap up my 18th month, my role is ever changing. The learning has not stopped…it has slowed at times, but never stopped going forward.
I have worked my way to being able to mentally afford taking Sundays off aside maybe 1 hour of work, up to 3 if I get restless, but I do not have the pressure I put on myself to work as much as possible.
I still would like to work up to being back near 35 hours a week, but float around 27-29 total.
I am involved with more client projects and am learning sales and preparing to start with one call a week and hopefully moving into taking more.
I continue to do a variety of admin tasks and handle a menagerie of items handed to me by Dee. This being forms to sign, edits to posts, and other odd end bits.
I have also been able to learn and implement Youtube SEO. I was able to build out a training and take what I learned and built and optimise our Youtube channels with another team member. It is fulfilling to have something I’m taught, turn to me making a training, and then turn to me implementing that.
As cliche as it is, I still would not trade this experience for anything else. I was on a call with Noah recently for a podcast recording and it is very true for me stating that Pearl Lemon Group is like the labs for medical majors. Sure, reading the anatomy of animals and how to make a slide is great, but there is nothing like making your own slides for microbiology or dissecting a fetal pig to see where anatomy lies layer by layer.
Pearl Lemon Group is the practical to the book work. I can read class material and be actively doing it with the company or pivot what I do to be able to practically learn what has been taught in class.
How I watched Pearl Lemon Group change:
I think one of the most exciting things for me is that I have had the privilege of being able to watch Pearl Lemon Group grow, develop and change. I think most companies are at a point in their development that everything is as it is.
There is not really any change and you are given your role, your shifts, and your training and you continue forward.
Being with a startup has been a whirlwind though. Some days it is super overwhelming and stressful, other days pass by so fast it does not feel like you did much. Being that I have been here eight-teen months though, I have gotten to watch a lot of change happen on a pretty intense roller coaster.
I have watched a low structure partner system turn into a well built and effective programme. I watched people join and leave after 2-9 days to staying on board after trial for 4-6 months. It has been fun to be able to actually get to know my team members rather than learning a name and then by the time I remember their name and face they are gone.
I have watched Dee become a more effective leader in the way he communicates and giving a lot more context than when I started getting a quick voice note with minimal instruction. I have been able to have the same benefit as well, learning from Dee’s leadership and learning how to be more effective in communication and giving more context to tasks as well.
I had, most of the time, been able to take minimal information and run with it, but through some hard trial and errors found sometimes a lot of context was missing. I also found I adapted to this and had a big “oh shit” moment when trying to communicate with newer members the same way.
I went from struggling to juggle my days with school, Pearl Lemon Group and “momming” to being able to have a busy day but working in blocks well spread and staggered.
I joined when the team was still very small and just a handful of partners to being a part of a huge internal chat with close to 20 total internal team members on the program. Seeing the company progress in a way that hopefully will allow the brand to continue to scale is interesting and exciting.
(One of the first team meetings when there was only five of us that would join)
I think one of the most fulfilling things in work, no matter the role or company, is to feel like you make a difference and what you do makes a positive impact. Being able to stay on board this long and moving to a core member has been very rewarding regarding this point. I appreciate being able to hop on a call if I need to without fear of retaliation. I appreciate even greater that I can see projects I work on go direct on the site or to a client and know I serve an active role with the company.
Month 18 to Month 25
It only seems fitting to come to visit my testimonial page after another 7 months to give you all an update about my CONTINUING Pearl Lemon Group experience.
The last 7 months have gone by a lot faster than I initially thought. It both feels like it has whizzed by and that time has slowed down. Since my last update I have:
- Survived my final term and graduated with a BBA in Marketing
- Had Charlotte (2.5 weeks early) who is now a happy, chunky, 16 pound baby
(Charlie and Todd the morning of his 3rd birthday)
- Got Todd enrolled in weekly classes
- Got Todd enrolled in Fall preschool
- Moved back home
- Bought myself a truck (she is a shitbox, but she is my shitbox)
- Started saving for a home (I have to wait another year to apply for a mortgage)
- My older sister got her Masters in nursing and little sister graduated High School
(Andi, Sydnie, Me, Bailey)
- Had an official title change to Head of Operations
- Stepped in as a head in Pearl Lemon Group Leads
- Found I really enjoy writing email copy for clients and campaigns
- Attempted being a CRM but it was very conflicting with my personality
- And plenty more…
Going back to Pearl Lemon Group Leads, I did not think I would enjoy this side of the business as much as I do, but I feel that was due to my own apprehension of breaking down my comfort zone. I have watched PLL build up, break down, re build….and re build again…so there was a bit of apprehension for myself. After the first initial few weeks after a stressful handover, I found it is suiting the way I think and operate and I like keeping everything organized.
It has also been exciting watching the company continue to grow and launch new tools and services as well. We now have:
- Plant Sumo
- Resume Cats
- Pearl Lemon Properties
- Pearl Lemon Accountants
- Send Koala
- And I am sure more that is soon to come…
Within these last few months, I have also pitched an idea for a service, but we will have to see how that goes.
It has been great to be more involved with client projects and be full time with the company. Here and there I was worried how I would be able to handle full time hours after being a student for so long, but I am finding it to be the opposite where I need to remind myself to stop and rest.
I am still just as excited as when I started with Pearl Lemon Group; my learning never stops, my work day has a nice mix of variety and predictability, and I still brag about how much I actually enjoy my work and team and very rarely have anything to complain about.
And as I continue my journey with Pearl Lemon Group, I am sure this page will get more updates through the years 🙂
Month 26-Month 30
I am back!
Here for another quarterly-ish update to my placement program page.
It feels like it has been longer than four months since I have updated this, but nonetheless, here we go.
A few updates:
– Another title change to Operations Director
– I am working closer to Dee to learn what he does in a sense so I can steer the ship a bit
– We have welcomed in some amazing team members that I get to work with
– I have been improving my “chasing” and speed of delivery
– Another device upgrade (I now have a refurbished Lenovo)
– I was a featured part of Dee’s TEDx talk (I think it will be live in a month so i am excited for that)
– Finally got a decent head shot so I am updating my profile everywhere and my caricature
I am currently working on:
– Helping get keywords and FAQs written across all of the PLG related sites
-Working on new service pages across the sites
-Updating my webpage to be migrated to PLG
– Stepping out of PLL as Chill steps up
– I am excited the holidays will be here in three weeks as it is Charlie’s first holiday season
– I am getting ready to apply for a mortgage to hopefully have my own house in June
– I have conferences coming up for Todd (He officially started pre-school)
– My retirement/investing account finally is at a monthly contribution that I should hit about 200K at 63
– The Kids’ college funds should be about $4k for each of them when they turn 18
– I have fully planned Charlotte’s first birthday in February (Bluey theme)
-I am on my second zombie theme running challenge in three months
– Charlie is a week into crawling
– Charlie had a successful first Halloween…although I ended up wearing her headband because she kept throwing it
(Halloween me and my older sister Sydnie)
As a general update, I am learning more about the tools we use within the company and when and where they apply. The greatest help has been literally just booking demo calls with each respective tool’s team and getting a tour. In fact I think I found a way due to these calls to cut some costs here and there which would be great if we can execute it right.
People management has been very interesting the last few months. I have a bad habit of sorts that I can be considered “too nice” meaning that I try not to come off as authoritarian but it often backfires and I get “poo poo’d” away. I have been listening and reading some management books though and have been working at identifying and developing my management skills and style. I think I have found a way to come off as an “equal” but still as someone higher up that should be responded to in a manner that shows that.
Additionally, being two and a half years into my Pearl Lemon Group journey. I wanted to address mental health and remote working. I have seen people come and go for a variety of reasons, the biggest point in leaving is they get overwhelmed and can’t keep up. Or maybe that is an excuse, but there is still the factor that having an overlapping home and work space can be difficult to balance.
Budgeting time, energy, space etc is just different when you aren’t leaving to go somewhere.
This has actually led me to an interesting space in my life at the ripe old age of 25(I am sprouting white hairs). I found that I have issues with stress ulcers and am considered to be high functioning depressive with anxiety. Figuring this out has been…something. I honestly don’t know what to call it. I suppose somewhere in my head I thought how I behaved and thought was normal and it wasn’t until I had been on medication for almost three weeks that I realized I was struggling silently.
The constant binge eating urges have stopped, my mind wandering off frequently has cut back (it happens here and there but I no longer day dream mid sentence), I no longer feel overly anxious when I see work messages and the thought of filling my Trello doesn’t feel like a never ending conveyor belt.
The point of this mini rant though- for those of you who have read this far- is remote or not, take care of your mental and physical wellbeing. Working remote IS hard, working for a start up IS stressful, BUT I wouldn’t trade that for much. It would have to be a hard bargain to drive to get me to change what I am doing.
Get help when you need help and accept that you are human (trust me it was like swallowing a rock for me to admit I needed help) but it is worth it. And hell, maybe with the binging stopping I will be able to work through my weight-loss plateau and conquer the final five pounds.
So as my final signoff until I write another section, if you are reading this and considering joining our program, take a deep breath and get ready. You’ve got this. And I have got to go finish filling out some forms for Dee 🙂
Month 31-Month 51
So for those of you reading this:
- Apologies because I 100% lost track of time and thought I had updated this more
- Get ready because we are about to do a recap of life in Pearl Lemon from Year 4 Month 3 as a part of the team back to my last update when I had only been on the team for 2.5 years
So let’s kick things off right, well my kind of right, and work backwards.
Most recently, I have got into Moomins and building their miniature houses as a hobby. Todd has started football. Well flag football so it is an intro to football. And I have began to get Nutre delivered because I have a horrid ADHD habit of getting busy and not eating all day. So I am hoping convenience will urge me to actually eat. ( my coupon to get 40% off for anyone that wants to try it refce6318c5)
As during my last update, I mentioned I FINALLY got a haircut, so I was able to get an updated headshot. Nothing super new here other than I waited another 2 years to do the same.
I should probably do that more often, but I enjoy who we have make the caricatures, so I pay him from my own account every so often for a refresh. New caricature and headshot below.
(featuring my earrings I got from Jay)
I am about two weeks back from a “holiday”.
I had the pleasure of helping with some of the coordination for Dee’s wedding and being a guest for both the Indian Wedding in London and Italian Wedding in Italy.
Let’s talk London first- I was greeted with 55F weather and cold rain. But I got to Dee’s parents’ house a solid hour ahead of him. So in true Pearl Lemon fashion I was tossed/joined right in with the family- chatting, eatting and waiting for Dee.
I can’t remember the name but I believe that ceremony was Haldi or Pithi.
I got to join in with putting Tumeric on Dee and getting Henna done on my hands with the rest of the women.
The wedding itself was a great experience- both culturally and FINALLY getting to meet some team members “for real life.”
I got to meet Deepak, Ion, Jay, Gary, Jude, Sophie, Axel, Nora and so many more people I have gotten to talk to over the years but just on whatsapp. It was surreal and the most interesting thing is finding out how tall everyone actually is. Like seeing Dee is 4 inches taller than me or Jude has me by a whole head and Jay just reaches my shoulders.
London was a fun adventure. I ended up still working daily between 4-6 hours but got some sightseeing in as well. I did the obligatory Fish and Chips, went to the London Zoo and the giant Natural History Museum (that took me 4 hours to get through)
I also got to visit our cafe in Marylebone. I will say Matcha near me is horrid, but ours at How Matcha is sweet without sugar and just a clean green taste- nothing bitter or nasty.
During my time in London I was also able to find, hire and get a videographer to the next event. Then was Italy.
It was beautiful and helped remind me of home. Warm and beautiful but so much less humid.
Day one we all went out to Dinner, Day two was the ceremony and Day three was goodbyes.
This was a great time, amazing food, lot’s of dancing and finding our lawyer and a few other “whatsapp people” are a riot in person. I also caught some of the little lizards that were everywhere- mostly relocating them back outside.
It was way too much air travel and the second to last day of my journey lead to swelling too painful for shoes so that night I took my shoes off and left them off after dinner, followed by a few days in compression socks.
My trip home lead to a full day in Munich so I was able to get some GOOD pilsner and weiner schnitzel and had some general amusement with seeing branded smoking lounges in the airport.
Back to more “work stuff” though.
I finally have a bit of an EA team in place now. This means I have a dedicated person to help me and mostly just me with items on my ever-filling Trello board.
It is a huge relief to have this in place as it has been needed for quite a long time.
I as in my last update mentioned I was operations director, that has remained but I also got the title of procurement director for our cafes.
Since the last update we seen the rise and half fall of some cafes; we still have How Matcha though and Pearl Lemon Catering.
I really never thought I would be back in the world of Food and Beverages, catering or anything else similar when I dropped out of that programme back when I was 19.
My biggest mission has been trying to help us scale and grow.
I have spent countless hours doing supplier research finding suppliers that are cheaper with the same or better quality of who was in place. I have spent days on end optimising and researching to improve platforms like Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
I will say I was able to develop a “secret sauce” 😉
Another evolvement has been the development and launch of ecommerce stores since my last update.
We have 3 core sites specializing in tech type accessories, fragrances and hair accessories and products.
My mostly-solo venture was building and launching the shopify store for our cafe merch that was attempted and fell flat for a year.
I am fairly proud of it. I know improvements can be made, but I am proud of what I was able to do with only having 2 months of working knowledge/skill in shopify.
Pearl Lemon has since launched numerous other branches as well too. We have an accountancy branch, legal, experiential marketing and more.
Our brand and branch growth never really slows.
We have also launched numerous tools- my favourite by far is Lemapp. I can’t function without it anymore due to the sheet amount of messages I have to filter through daily.
I am also back to learning lead gen more comprehensively again. The goal is to again, grow How Matcha and the catering branch. This felt like a clunky start with a little PTSD from lead gen. I will say that was my least favourite thing I have done as it was hard on me mentally and emotionally to come in every day and know I am horrid at email copy and it was getting torn apart and that initially I struggled with understanding strategy etc so it was simply HARD.
In the last two years I have watched us grow to over 100 people and cut back and grow again. I have watched people come and go and some great people stay.
I as of now am getting back into PR and learning pitches and focusing on the food and beverage side with it. I haven’t done this since 2020. So it is a nice refresher.
One last Pearl Lemon first for me was on the catering side I handled my first ever client sales call and got the deal through the door. I did pass it along, but it was nice to get a yes on the phone and a quote sent as another Pearl Lemon skill on the roster.
This past calendar year may have been the toughest to date. Mostly for personal reasons. Through the Spring I ended up getting sick and it took 4 months for doctors to get medication to help regulate it. As a result the only thing that “fixed” the issue was eatting to suppress nausea. So I ended up gaining back 20 of the 107 pounds lost. As of yesterday I have lost 6 of that. So 14 to go and hopefully gone before snow hits.
Other odd end updates:
- I moved into my own apartment with the kiddos August 2022
- I started a hydro-ponic garden (Gardyn)
- I have my tattoo count up to 17 with 3 more planned
- Pierced both sides of my nose
- And got my first NICE car with a payment but is the first vehicle I have owned that will last more than a year
I think I will wrap this up though, I know so much more has happened in the last two years. And I will try to update this at least yearly going forward. But it so far has been an amazing (sometimes very stressful) journey with Pearl Lemon.
As i preach it, there is no other place like this, no other place allows me to be a single mom and work full time, no other place you learn so much and honestly no other company full-round like this.
Here is to another year, or 4 years for that matter, to learning and amazing experience even with an occasional “bad day” where I sit and mutter various curse words to the computer.