Litmus Live Speaker Series: Kathryn Grayson Nanz

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If you’ve attended Litmus Live before, you know that one of the highlights is gaining practical advice and tips from our insightful speakers that can help optimize your emails immediately. There are over 60 sessions this year, which is a record number for us. But who are these brilliant speakers leading these sessions?

Get to know them better in our Litmus Live Speakers Series, where you’ll find out more about who they are, how they got here, and what they care about most.

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Today, we’re meeting Kathryn Grayson Nanz of G3 Communications. Kathryn will be sharing her knowledge about how to overcome impostor syndrome at this year’s Litmus Live Boston, London, and San Francisco.

How did you get your start in email?

My first job after college was working at an ad agency who handled some of the work for Sprout TV network; they put me on that account doing monthly newsletter and character appearance emails because I was one of the only designers who knew a little HTML. They were all just sliced image emails, built in Dreamweaver— no live text, not responsive at all! Looking back, they’re a little embarrassing. 😬 But we all start somewhere! I didn’t learn how to code full, responsive HTML email from scratch until several years later, when I got a job working for a digital agency who specialized in email.

What makes you most excited about email?

Honestly, the same thing that excites me about web development in general— that we get to be a part of the formative years! Email is still so young, relatively, and what we can do with it as a medium is changing everyday. We have the opportunity now to make our mark on it— to help define it— and I think that’s so incredibly cool.

In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges email marketers face?

I think not being taken seriously within the greater tech industry is a huge challenge. Every year, someone new is claiming that “email is dead” or has “lost to social media.” I hear other front-end developers who don’t consider it “real” coding because it’s different than coding a website, or think the code is still “stuck in 1999” (which we know it’s not). These things aren’t true, but having to defend your work and your job on the regular can be a big part of burn-out. It has an impact on day-to-day morale, as well as being a contributing factor to Impostor Syndrome.You get beaten down hearing that it’s just email, so it’s not important or you’re not doing real dev work. It’s a huge shame because email is an effective and powerful marketing tool— and frankly, sending a good email is really hard work. So take some pride, folks, we’re doing good things.

If you’ve attended or spoke in the past, what do you love most about Litmus Live?

Hands-down, the community is the BEST part. How often do you get to be around hundreds of other people that are all passionate about all the same geeky email stuff you are? I tried telling my mom about the email with an interactive quiz and how amazing it was, and she was just not on my excitement level. Litmus is #emailgeek Mecca, and I leave excited and energized from getting to spend that time with other people who just get it.

What made you realize that what you were feeling was impostor syndrome and how did you overcome it?

The first time I ever heard the term “Impostor Syndrome” was in an article someone had tweeted— I really wish I could find the article again now. Have you ever read your horoscope in the paper for kicks, and then had that “woah” moment when it’s scary accurate? Reading the article was like that; the further I got, the more I was seeing myself in it.

As for overcoming it, I believe just knowing what it is is half the battle. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Dumbledore encourages Harry to call Voldemort by his actual name instead of saying “He Who Must Not Be Named.” The “true name” is actually a really common trope in fantasy novels, because there’s a lot of truth behind it; when we can name something, it gives us power over it. Being able to see Impostor Syndrome in our own lives, recognize it, and name it is the most important part of overcoming it— it certainly was for me. So much of the issue is rooted in isolation and the assumption that you’re the only one experiencing this. Knowing that it’s so common that we’ve named it can really help put things in perspective— if everyone’s an impostor, nobody is!

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