Non-Linear Is My Normal

March 16, 2018

JJ Peyton

JJ Peyton is the Client Service Lead and Office Co-Lead of SapientRazorfish Detroit, and is responsible for leadership and oversight of the FCA account (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, FIAT and Alfa Romeo brands). She brings over 20 years of experience from Broadcast to CRM to Digital with deep expertise in the automotive category. In her 6+ years at SapientRazorfish, JJ’s focus has always been people first which has helped her create meaningful relationships and impactful work. JJ lives in Northville, Michigan with her family. When she’s not working, JJ keeps busy planning birthday parties and building elaborate Halloween costumes for her six-year-old son.

I was proud to represent SapientRazorfish on the Non-Linear Is the New Normal panel at the 2017 3% Conference this past November and I want to share a bit about my experience—both as a speaker and at the conference.

This was my first NYC 3% Conference but second 3% Movement encounter. I attended the 3% Minicon in Detroit in May 2017—a one-day event the 3% conducts in local cities to drive connection and conversation about gender in our industry. I met Lisen Stromberg at the event and told her my story of reducing my work hours to spend time with my son when he was young, while at the same time continuing to serve as the brand lead for the largest client our agency had at the time. Lisen invited me to apply as a speaker for the NYC 3% Conference in November and I did just that.

Coming to NYC, I felt I had a good understanding what The 3% Conference would be like—inspiring, positive and full of people who know how to make things happen—and I was right. You can be the most put-together, head-on-straight, no stress, know-exactly-where-I’m-going-and-how-to-get-there person and you will still be inspired by this movement and the people involved.

I was a bit nervous about speaking on the panel because although I have spoken in front of many groups before, this was a totally different experience. But strangely, the morning of my panel day, I felt a sense of calmness instead of nervousness. I thought, "people are here because they want to hear what I have to say." It didn’t really strike me before that my situation was so unique or inspiring to others. I just asked for what I needed for me and my family, and my company supported me in that. I felt proud to be able to share my story in the hopes of helping others figure out what they need and not be afraid to ask for it.

The Non-Linear Is the New Normal panel had five amazing speakers who each shared their stories, successes, and struggles. I felt we all painted our own picture of what is possible if you ask for what you need. I really appreciated the questions from the audience, and one person asked, "What is one thing each of us would want people to take away from the session about pausing your career?"

When it was my turn, I took a bit of a different take on the answer. I said I don’t feel like I paused anything! I reduced my hours but I continued to move the business forward and in turn, continued to move forward myself. I helped our clients reach their goals, brought in revenue for my company and received promotions. No pausing here. I told the audience, “Ask for what you need. If you don’t ask, it’s an automatic NO. Put your plan together and ask for it. You might get exactly what you want.” 

It sounds great, doesn’t it? But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention there are some companies out there that are not as supportive as mine has been for me. Yet in today’s always-on world, nearly everyone needs some sort of flexibility in their work/life situation. Today, agencies that want to retain exceptional talent need to be flexible and supportive of their people. Companies should have an open dialog with their people and create an environment where they feel comfortable sharing their challenges and approaching the subject of flexibility if needed. When people can be their whole selves at work and feel supported, everyone benefits.

Whether you need the flexibility to have more time with a young child, go back to school, take care of an elderly parent, or pursue a personal passion, I am proof that you can continue to thrive in your profession. If you need something, just ask.

For those of you I was not able to speak with during the conference, you can find me on Twitter @2peyts. I’d be happy to talk more or answer more of your questions about reducing hours and continuing to thrive.