Like A Boss: Sarah Blackmore
Sarah Blackmore, Senior Director of People at Eventbase, tells us her career story, what gets her out of bed and why she thinks the flamingo is the most badass of all the birds out there. She inspires us to think that something that’s true is better than something that is big and sexy. She’s bold, she’s vulnerable, and she’s a #boss. Beaconites, drink this one up.
So, Sarah tell us a little bit about yourself?
I think I have the best job in the world. HR found me, not the other way around, and I really genuinely believe [in it.] In my role I can really drive the path of the company journey and help the business succeed and hit their goals; and I can align with the workforce and help [the individuals] succeed.
Outside of work I am an outdoors person; I am at my happiest when I am in a forest. I feel nature has a huge connection to my being and I [have found that I] can’t be mad if I’m in a forest. In the winter I do cross country skiing and I hike through all other seasons. I try and work out at least once a day - ideally outdoors; I do a lot of yoga. It is peaceful, it’s the one hour of the day where I don’t have thoughts. In 2019, my specific goal is to nail arm balances. I am a big believer in goal setting. [My motto is] I made it and I didn’t die!”
You are now the Senior Director of People at Eventbase, who or what inspired you along the way?
I feel so fortunate to have a lot of people in my life that have inspired me. There was a time when I felt quite lost as an HR / people / recruitment professional. I had a tough time while I was at Deloitte. [My leadership] expressed that they didn’t know what I wanted to do and I echoed that, I didn’t know either. The first lightbulb moment I had was when I realized that I wanted to be in the room where they make the decisions. Then another spark when I realized that the size of company doesn’t matter and that it doesn’ t need to be well known. What I realized I needed is to be in a position when I can effect real change. Then I found start-up Tech, it lit a fire under me and I realized I wanted an authentic environment, this is why I felt so lost in the past.
In the startup world people are so passionate and [that made me] so inspired. It doesn’t need to be big or sexy but it needs to be true. I’m often the voice in the room that is the unpopular opinion. That is what leadership is.
I’m assuming that being the Senior Director of People at Eventbase wasn’t what you were thinking of being as a child. So, what was your dream job as a child?
I flip flopped so much. There was a period of time where going to space camp and being an astronaut [was the dream] but I soon realized that you had to do complex math. [I was also] fascinated by the sea and wanted to be a marine biologist. Later on when I was in school I realized that I had a fascination with meaningful conversations and being a people person I thought maybe I would go into psychology. This role is the perfect storm of meaningful conversations and people person.
Startups work for me because I have a short attention span and things are always changing; big companies are slower. Project life cycles are three or six or 12 months-- you can see immediate change.
What is one key leadership lesson you have learned over the years?
I think the biggest one is to not know all of the answers. No one does and if they tell you they do they are probably pretending. You need to be prepared to say you don’t know and find the answers with others. You need a level of authenticity and curiosity.
You're the mother of two boys, how do you find raising two boys in this socio-political climate we are now living in?
I feel it is a real challenge. [I have a part in] building the men of the future. I am most proud to raise two kind considerate human beings and in the day and age we are in now that means a lot more. [It’s important to] talk about men’s feelings and raise men so that they can talk about their fears. They have to [learn to] own their own shit.
Just last week, I came home from work and my 14 year old had a friend over. The friend was leaving and I had never met this teenager before so I introduced myself. My son said to me, did you know they are trans? And I said no. He said well you should you know so you are cool with it. His parents have had a hard time with it. I told him to relay the message that this is a safe place for him and he can stay here if needed. He took it upon himself to learn more and loves them for who they are. It’s a given that everyone is accepted. This is who I am trying to raise.
After all of the success so far in your life, what is the one thing you still find yourself struggling with?
Sometimes I feel like I am dressing up in my Mom’s clothes, [otherwise known as] imposter syndrome. Sometimes you feel like you don’t belong, or that you got lucky. I have to remind myself of that on a regular basis. It has gotten easier though. I do think I am a kid and making it up as I go along. But, everyone is doing that too.
How do you achieve work/life balance in your life?
It is a myth first and foremost; I believe in work/life blend. When I try to find balance, I [end up] screwing myself because either I feel I’m working too much or not enough. It’s a misnomer.
[I believe] the hours can be fluid, giving and taking. It’s a blend of work and life. There are some days that you work until 8 pm on the couch or some days you leave work at 3 pm to take you child to an appointment. It’s important not to overthink it. I focus on the output, not how I got there.
Any final thoughts you would like to share with our readers?
[When it comes to] women in leadership my message is to be there for one another. I see so much unnecessary strife and stress and anxiety caused by other women feeling there can only be one. It is categorically untrue. We can all be successful. We need to build each other up and not tear each other down. Someone else’s success doesn’t diminish yours. If they win, we all win too.
Rapid Fire Q’s
What is your spirit animal? Flamingo - they are a badass bird! They can stand in boiling water or stand in frozen water; they are resilient and are beautiful.
What gets you up in the morning? Coffee and an alarm that says “get up or you’ll look like shit”.
What are you most grateful for in this moment? I am truly able to be my most authentic self without being judged.
What is the best way women can support one another? See something, say something. Women can be diminished by other women and they don’t say anything - see someone being made small it is your job to say something for them if they don’t have a voice.
What 3 things do you always pack when you travel? Eye mask, essential oils, phone charger.
How do you practice self-care? Remind myself that whatever I need at that moment isn’t selfish - cake, bath, shitty TV show, etc.
What’s the last new thing you learned? Learned a new word from my son Baited - you got tricked, catfished, hoodwinked.
What does success mean to you? It doesn’t have a clear definition; at the end of the day you are on the right path and you have done everything you needed to do.
What is your spirit age? I will forever be 27! I loved 27 - it was just such a good age. You’re old enough to not feel bad news, you got your shit together, things make sense, you have a little bit more disposable income and the world was still your oyster.