Written by George Myatt, Business Process Analyst, Charles Schwab.
When someone is presented with a challenge, one of two things happens: you shy away from it, or you embrace to meet the goal behind it. Most default to not wanting to face the unknown, but if you accept the challenge, rewarding moments await you. At Charles Schwab, I don’t shy from accepting big challenges. Instead, I see them as opportunities to make a difference and grow; I have learned some important lessons make the outcomes successful.
The first challenge I accepted was to continue building out an internal team performance recognition website since the previous creator was moved to another assignment. An interactive gallery was on the site titled “Recognition Winners of the Week,” which was reminiscent hall of fame with each winner’s image in a framed picture. I was tasked with expanding the gallery as new winners were announced weekly. There was one problem: I had no idea how the gallery was made online. Instead of running away, a simple thought came to mind: look at the issue in a different way. This meant examining the properties of the graphic to see how it worked. After a little poking and prodding one day, I figured out how to access the design code. Then, I faced another hurdle: I don’t know how to interpret website code! But, I didn’t let fear of failure scare again me. I studied the code, and to my surprise, I was able to read it, and began understanding how it was built. Through some copy + paste and old fashion experimental trial and error, I found out how to continue building the online gallery. I learned my first lessons with accepting challenges: don’t be afraid, dive in, keep going, and you might discover skills you have always possessed.
Though I was the sole hero of a big challenge, down the road of my career, I learned that you need the support of multiple peers to cross the finish line. When I became the leader of the Schwab Pride Austin Employee Resource Group (ERG), my biggest challenge immediately visible: increasing our walker count in the Austin Pride Parade. It looks easy when you notice all those people walking down a street waving rainbow memorabilia and cheering. But, it actually requires careful and advance planning with multiple people behind the scenes working together. It was vital to get more Schwabbies to participate in this event: our presence in Texas was growing, and LGBTQ+ people were becoming more visible in the fabric of our country. Without panicking, I contacted the ERG members, and recruited volunteers to take on the two main areas of the event: registration and marketing.
To increase participation, we invested in a simple online signup process to track Schwabbies registering and deliver email notifications to remind them about the event or other important messages. We also needed to keep people engaged by marketing the event to Schwabbies and clients. With the help our creative services team we created a Schwab branded rainbow shirt with the phrases “Investing in Pride” on the front and “Together for good” on the back. We had a healthy registration of walkers signed up, the shirts were handed out, and all logistics were finalized. However, Mother Nature threw a curve ball: Hurricane Harvey. I organized a call with our volunteers, and we built a contingency plan. No one was going to walk in the parade that day. But, organizers of the Austin Pride Parade event quickly rescheduled everything, so we drummed up the base again. We were ready, again.
The final result was a 483% increase in walkers! Yet, the biggest reward was witnessing crowds lined up down Congress Avenue cheering us on with “thank you,” “we love you guys,” and “y’all rock!” That was the best sign that taking on this challenge was worth it in so many ways. Organizing Schwab’s presence in the parade provided me these lessons: some challenges require partnership with multiple people, and plans can change, so be ready to adjust. And, I realized another thing I was rewarded with: making more connections with my peers at the firm, and inspiring the next generation of leaders.
Our spirit at Schwab is built on the foundation of taking on big challenges to make a difference. I believe in this foundation because I saw it immediately when I first walked through door, and it will always continue to flourish.
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