The One with the Stat Meetings

Savannah's Quick Sip : Part 2

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I’ve put up a fence, post by post, in heat so miserable and days so long that it makes the movie Holes look like an actual summer camp. I’ve done hellacious club soccer programs that had me walking like Tin Man for weeks on end. I’ve followed a broken baler barefoot in the middle of the night, tossing squares of hay right and left, acre by acre. And I’ve spent a summer bathing, vaccinating, and fighting dogs in an un-airconditioned kennel, in which the only sounds besides whining and yacking were classical music and staticky radio ads about donating plasma. (Life hack, Mozart makes dogs simmer down. You’re welcome.) The point is, I’ve had my fair share of unpleasantries. But I’ve never known anything as exhausting as stat meetings.

 Me the summer of the fence row, and my dad not caring

Me the summer of the fence row, and my dad not caring

Stat meetings are when our account managers present a biweekly review of their clients –  usually in front of Ron, Ashley, and Ryan – and it’s basically a health check on what we’re currently doing with their campaigns and an opportunity to pick Ron’s brain. Stat meetings are a harrowing thing at Astra. When it’s stats week, you can feel it in the air that there’s evil afoot. It’s emotional and stressful, and when someone descends the stairs for their review, we say good luck and light some votives. You’d think we were sending our only son off to war.

 

So the account manager goes into the conference room, sits in front of their panel of superiors, pulls up a spreadsheet on the big screen, and starts going down the list of metrics. They recite the kind of stat, the numbers, the cost, and what they mean in layman’s terms. And it’s pretty simple. Not a crazy amount of information. And for my first introduction, all I had to do was listen. But I walked out of there feeling like I’d run a marathon, sans urine running down my leg. My eyes were trying to scan the spreadsheet fast enough to deliver information to my brain. My brain was trying to process the information quick enough to send to my hand. And my hand was just left in the dust – a crippled tumbleweed of fingers and pens. My knuckles looked like Keith Richards’... true monstrosities.

 

Stats don’t look very menacing – just rows of acronyms and a few numbers – but the devil is in the details, and he’s made himself quite at home in digital marketing. There’s CPCs, CTOs, CTRs, ROAS, ROIs… it’s alphabets on alphabets on alphabets (*Kanye West voice*), and they all mean slightly different things. However, those slight differences mean the world in marketing strategy and success. For example: a click and a conversion. It takes clicks to get a conversion, but a conversion is not just a click. (Riddle me that, Batman!) Now you see why my mind was comparable to a dumpster fire or Philly after a sporting event.

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It’s way too easy to get these things confused, and I couldn’t imagine the consequences…  Whew, buddy. It’d be like blood in the water, and the sharks come quick. Luckily, I was just a stressed out note taker in this situation, nervously sipping my LaCroix, watching my colleagues go down in the shark cages, and fully expecting them to get their shit rocked. But one of them, Abby, had me watching with bated breath – for her shit did not come out rocked.

 

Somehow, Abby is fluent in marketing statistics. I was in awe, like creepy mouth-breathing awe, at how comfortable she was with the plethora of acronyms and percentages. She’s so articulate that she could look me in my soul and say, “STDs and UFOs are up 13.4%,” and I’d say, “That’s awesome Abby, great job!” Wouldn’t question a single syllable. Granted, I’m new and young and it took me a solid week to realize that POS was not being used sarcastically and does in fact mean Point Of Sale, but I know impressive when I see it. And in the midst of that sharknado, fins ready to thrash her with questions and criticism, Abby whipped out a scuba tank, shoved that sucker in the belly of the beast, and blew it to smithereens – à la Martin Brody.

 Abby Lynch versus Stats

Abby Lynch versus Stats

In these last few weeks of stat meeting recovery, I’ve had time to reflect on the shark attacks I witnessed, to get to know Abby, and to figure out what makes her so utterly good, specifically on that infamous day. And while I’ve figured it out, it’s still not really human – just easier to grasp, like if Thor explained how his hammer works.

 

My finding is this: Abby wore me out because she’s irresistibly sharp, and she forces you to be sharp, too. She’s one of those few people who doesn’t have to dominate a room to command it – she just knows what she’s talking about, and everyone else knows it, too. Anything she says Monday through Friday from 8 to 5 I would wholeheartedly trust and follow with a mic drop, and she doesn’t skip a beat between work and play, either. Between glasses of wine or pitchers of margaritas, Abby makes everyone around her naturally step up and become a better, funnier, smarter version of themselves – a version that is “here,” thriving off of the moment’s shared energy, and racing to keep up with her. We hang on her every witty word, excited for the next round of chest-pain laughter. Please crack all my ribs Abby, it hurts so good.

 

Plain and simple, Abby is a master of cleverness. She’s so cunning and light-footed that she made me nervous. I think I burned 1,200 calories during that stat meeting, because every time she spoke I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for her to lose her footing. And not because I wanted her to get something wrong and become helpless prey, I just wanted some sign of mortality – an “oops,” a stutter, a bead of sweat… but nope, not a damn decimal out of place. So in conclusion, if you don’t have Abby on your team, you’re gonna need a bigger spreadsheet… and a better sense of humor.