Senior Manager of Community Engagement at Atlassian, Erica Moss, feels that community is the perfect storm of her 'superpowers' — in fact, she coined the term.
Here, she shares a bit more about her journey to community, the power of advocating for yourself, and her simple strategy for coping with tough days.
Erica: "It definitely wasn't a linear path — which is not atypical. And I think that's kind of what's wonderful about our space, because you meet people from different backgrounds, with different passions. My career was rooted in journalism. I was always a strong writer, and I've dabbled in copy editing and page design as well. But I was always a dot-connector. I loved bringing people together, whether it's in an NSYNC AOL chat room, or a meetup for dog lovers. So I was doing a lot of that organically.
I loved writing and storytelling, so journalism fit really well for a while. But media is a pretty volatile industry, and I've always been a little bit risk-averse. So I was like, how can I hang on to what I've been doing, and parlay some of those skills into something else? That's when I found myself at an agency doing PR and digital stuff.
Then I moved to New York and found myself on the tech startup scene, doing things like inbound marketing and SEO. And again, sort of dabbling in community in these different roles, but not focusing 100% of my time on that. Fast forward a bit, and I landed at Trello. I always joke that it was the easiest job in the world, because everyone loves Trello. It's not really difficult to galvanize — people were already hanging out, already singing our praises. And then Trello got acquired by Atlassian. And that's where I find myself now, working on the community team. I work specifically with our ambassadors, the folks who love Atlassian and want to shout from the rooftops about how they use it. It's been a ton of fun.
I didn't have any formal training in community. If I'd had that earlier on in my career, that would have been such a game-changer. I think that's why I'm so geeked about C School!
But I was really propped up by a lot of the folks who were doing similar things. Maybe we weren't necessarily calling it community-building at the time, but that's absolutely what it was. I think I ultimately found myself there because community is the perfect storm of all of my superpowers."
E: "I have the ability to make people feel seen and heard, which is a necessary skill in community (and goes well beyond empathy). I also love being a dot-connector, as I said, and giving people the knowledge and tools to think about things differently, to expose all of the possibilities they have in front of them. From a tactical perspective, I’m a strong communicator (written and verbal), I’m good at consensus-building, and I’ve really honed my project management skills over the years!"
E: "I'm a people pleaser. I will bend over backward not to ruffle feathers, to make someone else's life a little bit easier, which can be a superpower in community to an extent, but I need to make sure that I'm not doing that to my own detriment. So setting boundaries, setting parameters around what will be tolerated and what won't. Really protecting my time has been a really important lesson for sure."
E: “I think it's kind of a myth in community that you have to be always on — that you have to have Slack and your work email on your phone, all of that stuff. But I think what you learn over time is that this is a very human-centric occupation, and you want to bring your whole self to the table.
And you don't have to do that to your own detriment. Taking care of yourself allows you to show up for your community, for your humans. And as soon as you shift that mindset, and reframe it for yourself in that way, life gets a lot easier.
Another piece of advice I feel really strongly about is for folks to advocate for themselves. When you are advocating for yourself, you're not bragging, you're simply knowing your self-worth. Just be unapologetically loud about how passionate you are, about how valuable you are. This manifests in a variety of ways — I think you should always be elevating your wins publicly at work, as well as keeping a list of them for yourself.
So when you're having a bad day, you can go back and look at this list. And it is invaluable when it comes to things like negotiating for a higher salary at work, asking for the consulting fee, or just reminding yourself that you're great at what you do."