Lesley Yarbrough is no stranger to the start-up world, describing it as an almost ‘magical’ environment where people are encouraged to grow, learn, and cultivate their minds. Her current role is the Community Builder for the start up
Creative Market, an online marketplace for handcrafted, mouse-made, design content. In her own animated yet mater-of-fact words, “we just want to make it
easy for designers to do great things with great content.”
A no-nonsense gal when it comes to her work ethic, Lesley builds relationships while spreading the good word about Creative Market with verve and absolute authenticity. Authentic all around, even Lesley’s Twitter handle @Sprouticus was a name that chose her, beginning freshman year of high school on the varsity basketball team. She is also facetious, loves to give hugs, and favors the expression, ‘be excellent to each other.’ Needless to say, she was effortlessly likeable. Watch the third webisode of Zenzi Asks above, and read more from Lesley’s exclusive interview below:
Zenzi: What tools or applications do you use to help build and manage your community?
Lesley: I try to err on the side of keeping it simple just because I think it’s easy to get caught up in some of complex tools that come out, and I don’t think community management is as daunting as we can make it out to be sometimes. So really I use Mail in Mac, Evernote I use every day, Dropbox, Twitter For mac (I don’t particularly like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, and Twitter for mac is a nice sort of passive way to monitor conversations without that distracting stream) I like to use Buffer and Pocket in combination, and probably Asana for general to-dos.
Zenzi: Community Management seems to me like a job that never ends. There’s always something else or something more you could be doing if you could fit more hours in the day. With that said, how do you prioritize your responsibilities?
Lesley: I probably just have a task-based approach, and just go item by item to keep my sanity that way. If I think too much about something taking too much of my time, it becomes bigger than it actually is. I probably spend too much time writing, just because blogging is not easy. Researching the content, writing the content, formatting the content, finding images, and fighting with WordPress – its just not that easy! That’s a big time sucker.
Zenzi: What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learned as a community builder?
Lesley: Oh jeez! Don’t be afraid to play around; we’re all figuring it out together. There’s no right answer. Just try it out. If it doesn’t work, do it differently. There’s no science to it, so just not being shy (because I can be).
Zenzi: I’m guessing that you work closely with a lot of developers, who can kind of speak a different language sometimes. Is there ever a language barrier? What have you found is the best way to communicate with your whole team internally?
Lesley: Creative Market is an entirely remote company, so we all have to use the same tools to stay in touch and communicate. We use HipChat daily and pretty much everyone is always logged in, which works really well for us. I don’t work as closely with these devs yet because they’re pushing so hard for launch, but I have worked with a lot of devs in the past. I have a pretty good technical understanding, I mean I’m married to a web developer so over the years I’ve acclimated to their geekery. But I just think if you’re going to work in tech startups, its good to know your industry.
Zenzi: What is the most challenging and the most rewarding part of your job?
Lesley: The most challenging part is probably just keeping up with it. There’s so much going on, and I don’t want to let anything slip by. I have this ownership, and I want to be on top of everything, so trying to stay tuned in as much as possible. The most rewarding part is being involved in building something awesome; I love being a part of it.
Zenzi: You recently blogged about 12 SXSW panels to check out. What are you the most excited about and why?
Lesley: I’m going do a shameless plug for my coworker, Gerren, our Design Director. He pitched a design talk about designing for startups, which is more and more relevant now. I just spent a week with him after meeting for the first time, and he’s very in tune to user experiences, not just on the web, but in the real world, so I would love to hear him speak. He is just a fascinating guy.
Zenzi: What are your favorite blog content news sources?
Lesley: I like Mental_Floss, Brain Pickings, Letters of Note, and anything looking at history, and how that applies to today. Hacker News is great for keeping up with the tech world, and Smashing Magazine, and Twitter. I think my Twitter followers have pretty good taste so I just let them filter it for me.
Zenzi: What are your favorite apps?
Lesley: TweetBot, Evernote, Rdio (I don’t like Spotify because it’s not as friendly) Cyclemeter, and Path is fun too. It’s a great experience and pleasant to use, although if they shared to my other networks more consistently I’d be happier. It barfed all over my Twitter profile the other day, and that wasn’t cool.
Zenzi: What is your prediction for the next big thing in social?
Lesley: I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard this mobile thing is going to be big.
Zenzi: Who are your top three recommendations to follow on Twitter?
Lesley: This is not a suck up move, but my boss is an awesome guy who is a new dad and he is hilarious. Just a fun, photographer start up guy to follow, He is @Bubs. I’m also a big Roger Ebert fan and feel like he has let his guard down to a certain extent, so he just throws stuff out there, and you never know what you’re going to get. He’s @Ebertchicago, and I have to go with my local friend, @levarbattle… Just moments of pure hilarity, genius, inappropriateness, and totally worth it.
Zenzi: Those are great answers; I think.
Lesley: You gotta keep that… “I think.”
That’s for you Lesley; Thanks again!
Please note: A few responses have been abridged, and are not direct quotes.
Video Production and Interview: Phoebe Legg