Hi my little love bugs! Today we are talking with Ms. Dannie Fountain who works at a "little place" called Google. Ever heard of it? If you haven't we need to have a little chat, but that's a topic for another day! Let's give a warm welcome to this ray of sunshine I was lucky enough to blessed by her presence at the Together Experience Conference back in September!
KCM: Well hello you busy- traveling all around the United States woman. I of course know all about you because we got to chat at Together last month, but for the readers lets back track for a minute! Can you explain what you do exactly? I know this a tough one because you have a job at Google and also work for yourself!
DF: Oh gosh, girl! Haha. I work at Google during the day, my "9-5". At night, I work a "5-9" running my own marketing consulting firm working with corporate clients and small businesses. I speak at conferences on marketing and entrepreneurship - I'll actually be speaking at Alt Oasis in Palm Springs in a few months!
KCM: This is one of my favorite questions because we get to dive deep here and get a little personal. WHOOP WHOOP. What life moments or changes lead you to where you are today? I know at the conference you talked about how your childhood really pushed you to the place you are today. Can you touch on that?
DF: There's a lot that's brought me to where I am today. I was adopted when I was sixteen - I grew up with my birth family but due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, I was removed from that home and now have a loving family that supports me. It's been a challenge to get past all of that - but truthfully it's shaped who I am and is largely responsible for my drive and ambition today.
I went to college - I have a bachelors in marketing and a masters in HR - and then got a job in marketing with Whirlpool (the appliance company). After that, I set out on my own for a couple years, traveling the globe speaking on marketing. Then Google scooped me up last fall and I've been loving my time at "the big G" (as my family calls it) ever since!
KCM: Okay I am gonna brag here for a minute and be your cheerleader because GUESS WHAT guys? Dannie has been interviewed by Forbes earlier this year and just got asked to speak at the Altitude Summit. Freaking huge! I personally get anxiety from speaking and I know you do it all the time. What are some recommendations you can give our readers on how to overcome that fear?
DF: I honestly was super scared when I started too. My first speaking engagement was six people around a table - a safe space to start out. I recommend the same thing for you! Don't rush to hit the massive stage, find steps that will create a ladder to that moment. It's much more manageable that way. I also signed up for HARO (Help A Reporter Out) and that's how I started getting press, by pitching the media leads that made sense for my business.
KCM: As we touched on Dannie works at Google and in her speech talked all about the way that 20% projects work and how they've impacted her career. She even mentioned that Gmail and AdSense were actually both 20% projects. Will you explain what a 20% project is and the projects that lead you to find this calling?
DF: Google has a practice called 20% time that has really changed my way of thinking. The 20% time is a well-known part of our philosophy here, enabling employees to spend one day a week working on projects that aren't necessarily in our job descriptions. You can use the time to develop something new, or if you see something that's broken, you can use the time to fix it.
I've had a few different 20% projects during my time at Google - my favorite was actually a project supporting the Productivity team, teaching classes on how to use the Google tools better (like Keep or Drive or Gmail).
KCM: So guys I actually started my 20% project because of Dannie. I have had bad anxiety so I am trying to just calm those voices and de-stress so I have started doing meditation twice a week. My goal is to be able to blog about it and teach others about what has worked for me. We shall see how this plays out! Stay Tuned. So how can start a 20% project and what are the benefits of doing one?
DF: There's just some simple math that has to be done! Take the number of hours per week that you work and divide it by 5. That answer is the total amount of time that you have to dedicate to your 20% project. Then divide that by 5 and assign one subset to each of the following buckets: ideation, market research/validation, planning/admin, community, and rest. Then just spend the time in each of those phases each week, and the work will come!
KCM: You have taken an insane amount of flights this year, like 200 something at this point right? Crazy. How do you maintain self care and your personal relationships while you are on the go so much? Any tips?
DF: I have a boyfriend and he's the best, hah. Communication is absolutely critical to our ability to sustain a relationship with my travel and his busy schedule. We actually talked for nearly two months before we even met in person - which means we had a really solid foundation from the start. We're also in a long distance relationship, so the travel is less noticeable for now - we'll see how that changes when we live together, hah.
I have friends everywhere, so travel is actually my excuse to see them more often, or at conferences like Together!
Self care is a whole other thing, hah. I need to make sure I'm taking time to myself, sometimes I schedule a whole weekend to do NOTHING, which is completely necessary. But other than that, I just try and listen to my body.
KCM: I love failure. I think it means we are growing, putting ourselves out there, and trying something new! When was the last time you failed? What did you change after that happened?
Oh girl. I fail every. damn. day. But really though - I take it in stride and build it into my own growth plans.
KCM: What is a podcast, book, or resource you are obsessed with and why do you love it? Get specific here!
DF: I'm currently reading Imagine It Forward by Beth Comstock (for business) and Refinery29's Money Diaries (for pleasure). Imagine it Forward is a great book on business strategy and growth. Money Diaries is a book that lets you read a week in other people's lives on how they spend their money - good for someone like me that's trying to get better about budgeting. On the podcast front, I'm loving Hannahlyze This (by Hannah Hart).
We want to thank you for giving all your time and knowledge to the KCM crew. Where can we follow you? Pimp yourself out and give us all of your handles!
Haha the best place to find me is on instagram - @dannielynnfountain. Otherwise, my website is a great place - www.danniefountain.com.