Program Associate, The Aspen Institute
New York, NY
7:45am: My iPhone alarm goes off to Solange’s Cranes in the Sky. I’m particularly tired this morning – I just got back to New York after spending a fun weekend in D.C. for my friend's wedding. After a quick snooze, I check my phone for text, tweet, and email notifications to see if anything important came in overnight. I take a quick shower. No need to wash the fro today – I’m all about washing my hair just once every five days to keep its natural moisture in and my curls on point.
8:25am: Time to find the perfect #todayinworkapparel outfit. I love mapping out my clothes and usually start with one item (pants, a skirt, or shoes) and build my look around that. I end up going simple today – a pair of cuffed jeans, a poncho, and my suede fringe boots. When I nail an outfit, I feel like my best self, with the confidence to take on whatever the day might throw at me. To jazz things up, I throw on a huge gold medallion necklace with an amber jewel and slip on my rings (one on every finger) from @frolady (fashion finds from my closet inspired by my love of thrifting). Outfit: check. I pack a quick lunch, tossing salad ingredients into tupperware and putting aside the carrot and mushroom stems, which I’ll later compost.
9:00am: Out the door. I walk a block and a half to the 135th Street subway station, grabbing a seat on my usual train and turning on NPR’s Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, and quickly do my makeup. I know, I’m totally one of those ladies. But I’ve got a few stops until the train gets crowded, and I’m pretty minimalist with makeup, so it only takes two minutes. I transfer trains and brave the walk from Times Square to the office, which is a couple blocks from Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center. It can be a bit crazy, but after three years of trying every route possible, I’ve even come to appreciate the 12-minute walk across Midtown Manhattan.
9:40am: I say hi to our building security guard, Sid, before heading up to the Aspen Institute office on the seventh floor. On my way in, I’m greeted by Brittany, our office services coordinator. My four teammates in “The Hive” (our nest of cubicles in the center of the Business and Society Program's section of the office) are at their desks, and we chat about our weekends.
10:00am: Time for my morning latte. We have a great frother in the office kitchen that I always like to take full advantage of by starting my day with drip coffee over frothed skim milk with a scoop of Sugar in the Raw.
10:05am: At my desk, I open up Chrome, setting my main focus for the day on the tool I use to fend off distractions, Momentum Dash. Whenever you open a new tab, you see your no. 1 priority for the day, a beautiful nature photo, and an inspiring quote. It's how I stay grounded and focused. There’s always a lot going on – which makes sense when you think about the Aspen Institute’s mission to foster productive dialogue and solutions for the world’s most complex issues. We’re a nonprofit, and our flagship event is the Aspen Ideas Festival – an annual conference we host in Aspen, Colorado each summer as a platform for leaders from all sectors (journalism, business, politics, the arts and more) to present and spark discussions around pressing issues. As communications manager, part of my role is to stay up to date with all the people in our network (fellows, event partners, companies, funders, etc.), and the specific issue areas we work on. One of the challenges (but also the thing I love!) about having of a comms-centric job is that I need to stay hyper-connected throughout the day. I open up Wunderlist, the app I use to track tasks and ongoing projects, and organize my to-do list. Then I shift my attention to Outlook, sorting through my inbox before rapid-firing about a dozen replies to time-sensitive emails.
10:25am: I hop on TweetDeck to schedule some tweets that’ll go up on the @AspenBizSociety handle this week about #IdeasWorthTeaching and a report we just launched, Tackling the Challenge of Financial Inclusion: Social Intrapreneurs Step Up. Our whole team is really excited to share this publication; it showcases the impact our amazing fellows are making in the world! We hope their stories will inspire professionals in corporate finance to explore social intrapreneurship and build socially impactful careers.
10:50am: I prep for my call with my new mentor, Chelai. As staff development coordinator, Chelai has a lot of experience in HR and talent development – a field I would like to explore more deeply in my own career. She’s based at our main headquarters office in D.C., and this is our first official phone call as a mentor-mentee pair, but since we already know each other from past professional development events, we spend the first five minutes of the call catching up on work, family, and life before talking for almost an hour.
11:50am: After we hang up, I send Chelai calendar invites for our next three meetings and draft a quick follow-up note with links to more info on a few points that came up on our call. I also do a quick Twitter check. I keep TweetDeck up in my browser all day, but in an effort to not get completely sucked in, I only check back when notifications pop up on my phone. I like and retweet a couple comments on the @AspenBizSociety handle and then do the same for @JudySamuelson, our founder and executive director.
12:00pm: Breakfast time! Yogurt and granola with banana chips and almonds, topped off with a drizzle of honey. It may seem late, but I’m on my own schedule when it comes to food and am not someone who eats breakfast first thing.
12:15pm: I'm working on two major projects I'm leading for our network of Aspen First Mover Fellows, an innovation lab and leadership development program for corporate social intrapreneurs. The program equips fellows with the tools, skills, and network they need to deliver financial value to their company and positive social and environmental outcomes for the world. As a member of the design team for the program, I lead communications (to increase the brand awareness and thought leadership of the fellows and the program) and engagement/community building efforts – through virtual and in-person experiences.
1:45pm: I start to build the Aspen BSP monthly newsletter, which I usually send out around the first of each month. I already have the five feature stories selected (I keep a running list of possible stories saved in Wunderlist), so I work on writing up a little blurb and finding an image to pair with each.
2:50pm: I sit down in the conference room with three colleagues to talk about the Net Impact Conference we’re all going to. It’s a three-day conference where 2,500-plus students and professionals gather to tackle the world’s social and environmental problems and hear from amazing speakers – everyone from the CEO of Etsy to the cofounder of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. My two teammates bring me up to speed on a roundtable dialogue they’re coordinating for business school deans and professors. The topic is “tackling grand challenges in the classroom” – large-scale issues like climate change, inequality, global health, financial inclusion, human rights, and resource scarcity. Our program is exhibiting at Net Impact this year, so we work on getting all our print materials together (posters, flyers, roll-up banners, business cards, etc.) and plan an interactive game and a giveaway to do at our booth.
3:30pm: Salad time! I dress the lunch I packed and then chow down at my desk while scrolling through Instagram. I also check Facebook and LinkedIn and text with my sister to finalize our plans for this weekend: After Net Impact, we’re going camping in Worthington State Forest, right on the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border. I'm excited for some hiking and fall foliage.
4:10pm: I get to work on a PowerPoint presentation that my executive director will be presenting at an upcoming advisory board meeting. The presentation highlights a handful of major “wins” our team achieved this year, including my favorite – a video series we made called “Leading with Purpose." It features prominent CEOs who share how purpose can drive strategy and long-term value for companies and society.
4:40pm: Time for some fresh air. No matter how busy I am, I try to make sure I get outside during the day for a quick boost of energy, even it’s just a quick for a lap around the block.
4:50pm: Back at my pod, some colleagues from the public programs division come by and tell me about an event they’re hosting tonight at the Midtown Manhattan restaurant, Aquavit, which gets us all reminiscing about a fun staff outing I planned a few years ago at Red Rooster Harlem. Red Rooster is a favorite restaurant of mine, and the owner and chef, Marcus Samuelsson, actually used to be the chef at Aquavit. He just happened to be in the restaurant that day doing a photoshoot – so we got to meet him. It was definitely one of my best celebrity sightings. He had been out to the Aspen Ideas Festival (our organization’s signature event) recently, so it was easy to strike up a conversation with him at our table.
5:00pm: Anita (a talented colleague and program assistant on our team) and I have a quick huddle to finalize some more details for the First Movers alumni conference we are hosting in October 2017. Yes, we start planning meetings a year in advance! After coming up with a game plan, I send a few related emails to key stakeholders in our network. Once I hear back from them, I’ll send out the save the date information for the conference.
5:30pm: I spend another hour or so on email, then I review my Wunderlist to-do list for tomorrow and tidy up my desk.
7:15pm: I do my dishes and call it a day. I listen to Santigold on my walk to the train and then spend the ride back home reading the Skimm and Daily Water Cooler and catching up on my personal Instagram.
8:00pm: At home, I chat with my roommate while he cooks dinner. We sing along with to the Hamilton soundtrack and snack on some pita and hummus. Then it’s laundry time. I chill out on the bench at my local laundromat and catch-up on personal emails while listening to PRI's The World before diving into episode no. 600 of This American Life while waiting for the dryer.
11:00pm: Now the hunger kicks in. I make a smoothie with frozen berries, a fresh banana, almond milk, and a scoop of whey powder. While I’m at it, I whip up my lunch for tomorrow (and maybe take a few bites before packing it up and cleaning up the kitchen).
11:45pm: I start packing for Net Impact and my camping trip. I need four work appropriate outfits for the conference (always gotta have a spare), along with a bunch of bulky gear for camping and hiking. Can I fit it all in a carry on size suitcase? We’ll see. I leave the rest of the packing for tomorrow morning, brushing my teeth and crawling into bed a little after midnight. I open up Tinder, ending the night with a little swiping before I fall asleep.
Images by Anita Dumas and courtesy of Trisha King