Here’s the first of a new bi-weekly feature that I’m really excited about: Interviews with professional women who have inspired me while building The Paper Bag Flower Company.
First up is Tracy Dietz, the CEO of DonorBureau, a data and fundraising company that works in the nonprofit and political space. She also hosts an awesome weekly podcast about women in politics. It’s called “Dame It All to Hell,” and you can give it a listen here.
We talked about the podcast, what keeps her focused during the busiest times of the year, and the importance of finding time to unplug.
Q: What’s the average week like for you during campaign season?
A: DonorBureau works in the nonprofit space as well as the political space, so it’s always crazy. There’s always fundraising happening in the offseason, though the pace of digital does tend to pick up a bit closer to an election. So I don’t know that I actually work any longer hours during campaign season than I do the rest of the year. We’re always really busy.
Q: You're one of the hosts of the “Dame It All to Hell” Podcast, which looks at the role of women in politics. What made you decide to start it?
A: Our producer came to me and said he wanted to start a podcast about women in the campaign industry, and this was right before the Harvey Weinstein story broke. I knew the absolutely perfect co-host, my friend Kelly Gibson, who’s a Democratic consultant. So then the Weinstein story happened just as we teamed up on this, and we decided to use the podcast to talk about sexism and harassment, because its impacting all of us – professionally and personally. Many of us had experiences like this working in this industry and nobody had ever really talked about it. Once we started talking about it we learned that other women wanted to talk about it too and talk through something that’s a part of our professional lives far too often.
Q: How would you describe your management style and how has it evolved since you became CEO?
A: I think I’ve always led by example. Being supportive of your team and encouraging them is always more effective than leading by fear. Some people need more pressure; some need more support. I’m probably far more calm now than I was 20 years ago. But having worked for someone who led through fear in the past, I know it just doesn’t produce great results.
Q: Any advice for other professionals managing teams in an increasingly digital world?
A: I think the most important thing is solid communication, and not just email and Slack and text. It’s important to make time for face-to-face communication. The human connection always makes a huge difference. So even when you don’t all work in the same place every day, make sure you’re doing what you can to get your team together and meet face-to-face as much as you can make that work.
Q: Stress and long days are a reality of the political business. What keeps you focused and driven during the busiest times of the year?
A: The only way it works for me is to be unbelievably organized. I have two kids. One is nine and the other is seven, so when things are really crazy the only thing to do is make sure my schedule is air tight and focus on what’s right in front of me. You just have to organize and make it all work. And of course it helps to have a spouse who’s supportive and can bear the brunt of a lot of the work.
Q: What’s your preferred way to unplug and relax?
A: It’s really important to find what works for you, and no matter what it is, you need to actually make some time for it. For me, it’s watching sports. I love the show “Highly Questionable” on ESPN. Also, it’s never bad advice to pair some wine with whatever you’re doing to relax.