One Year at Praxis
A little over a year ago today. Isaac Morehouse turned my life upside down by sending me an email: “Got ten minutes for a quick phone call?” That quick phone call led to me giving notice at my job – my first job out of college where I had been for 4.5 years – and embarking on the new adventure of working for Praxis. Here are some of my favorite memories from the last 12 months:
I dove straight in by getting to know the product better, getting to know the team better, and getting caught up on the implementation of Salesforce and Hubspot. I found Hubspot to be very intimidating since I had never worked with a marketing automaton software before but I quickly became a fan. Anything that gives you stalker level data (page views, email opens, etc) is fascinating to me.
My first trip to Charleston! I witnessed a Ceterus vs. Praxis basketball game and burned more calories from laughing than I would have if I played myself.
I got to meet some team members in person, and Isaac asked me to do a presentation on Salesforce for everyone. I was extremely nervous for this (funny looking back how nervous I was about literally everything), but it went well! I love Salesforce, and talking about something you love and use for 90% of your job is fun, not scary.
January was an exciting month because it was a fresh start in terms of data for the year. Since we got Salesforce in November, I spent 2 months importing and organizing all of the past customer/applicant data. When you import hundreds of new leads one week, it kind of throws off your lead capture tracking! January marked a month where all of that was finally over, and we could have consistent metrics going forward.
January was a lot of dashboard building. I had experience building reports at my old job but never dashboards, so that was a new project to tackle. Having visual representations of our data is incredibly useful for team members who want the “at-a-glance” summary of what’s going on.
February had a very memorable phone call. Accepted applicants typically set up a time to talk with me about tuition questions or start date questions while they’re making their decision. An applicant scheduled a call with me and let me know his dad was joining the call. I had never spoken with a parent before and immediately feared the worst – he was going to think we were a scam or not the right path for his son (aka not college), and he was going to take out his doubts and frustrations on me.
In reality, the call was fantastic. Yes, they both had some logistical questions, but the dad was on board and a huge fan. He was one of those parents who say, “I wish this had been around when I was younger!” I left that call feeling on top of the world.
March was a crazy month for the team because Isaac went on Fox Business News, and our website traffic (and every other metric) blew up. Everyone on the team went into recon mode, and we were working around the clock to keep up with all of the emails and calls and applications. It was managed chaos that had moments of stress but was mostly a blast – that sweet spot of having a full (and interesting) plate without being detrimentally overwhelmed.
March was also our second team get together in Charleston! This trip was centered around a Rugged Maniac race – a 5k course with 25 obstacles along the way. Some of us enjoyed it more than others.
I started this blog! Since our participants build a website and blog for 30 days during the bootcamp portion of the program, I thought it was probably time for me to get on board and tackle the challenge on my own. My coworker Chuck built my website and I got up 30 blog posts over the next month.
I kept telling myself April was a terrible time to start since we bought a new house, did a week’s worth of renovations, sold our old house, and moved during that month, but it actually provided some good material for writing.
May started our first discussions on upgrading our Salesforce from Professional to Enterprise level. I visited the Salesforce office in Buckhead and had a meeting with our account’s team, and then we had many, many meetings over the course of the month. While I was eager to get the functionality of workflows back in my life, in the end we weren’t able to justify the huge jump in cost (for now – keep reading!). It was a good exercise for me to quantify the benefits rather than just be excited about “all the cool things we could do!”
In June I created my first custom object in Salesforce! With our program growing, it became more important to have an accessible record of what all of the participants are up to. I created a simple object where advisors can log their notes as well as the advising session date, so we could track sessions by date. I also had to make a new user profile for advisor permissions – more new territory in customizing Salesforce.
June is also when FEEcon happened! It was a fun mix of my past FEEple and current Praxians, and it was the first time I met many of our participants and alumni in person.
I further delved into the customization of Salesforce and built my second custom object. Our participants complete deliverables each month, and I worked with Chuck to make the submission forms and mapped all of the information into the new Deliverable object in Salesforce. Since each deliverable has different fields, I made a different page layout for each deliverable record type and then created a report to show participants with and without deliverables, so our Education team can easily see who has submitted what.
When your job doesn’t consistently create a tangible product in the same way a carpenter or a painter does, it’s incredibly fulfilling to build something new.
Praxis came to Atlanta! We had about 70 participants, alumni, advisors, and staff gather downtown for a Praxis Weekend. I gave a talk for the first time in my life (not counting being a moderator or running an activity) and enjoyed meeting people in real life as opposed to conversing over chat or email.
We also made a huge change in August: we switched our marketing from Hubspot to a mix of Salesforce (upgrading to Enterprise, reuniting me with my one true love – workflows) and MailChimp. We had to remake our entire marketing and sales funnel by the end of August before Hubspot turned off on September 1st. Chuck, Brian, and Derek flew to Atlanta and stayed at my house, so we could grind through the 12+ hour days together. I was insanely excited to move to Enterprise and work with Salesforce workflows, but there were certainly some frustrations along the way (like how formula fields and workflows can’t kick off other workflows and how annoying it is to design HTML emails inside Salesforce). We made the deadline, though, and successfully transitioned into a new marketing funnel and application process.
The beginning of September was juggling practice as I had August applicants in the old application process who needed certain emails manually and September applicants in the new application process who were in automated workflows. It all worked out fine, but I was counting down the days until everyone was successfully transitioned to the new system!
I started advising sessions with participants! I’ve been interviewing applicants since I began working at Praxis but have had little involvement in the education experience. Isaac asked all staff to be open to advising sessions, so I set up my calendar and got a booking! Even though I was nervous about the new territory, all of my sessions so far have been a blast. I leave the sessions with energy and excitement for what the participants can accomplish. #thePraxianeffect
It’s been an awesome year, and I can’t wait for what’s next! Here’s to 2018.