My career at Peak Support has been a dream come true after some 14 years in the call center industry. It has fulfilled my dreams of working remotely, getting promoted without bias on my educational attainment, and even my childhood dream of traveling to the U.S.
At age 13, a couple of years before my mom passed away, I asked her if we'd ever be able to go to Manila and see the capital city, its financial districts and the heterogeneous society it was slowly turning into at that time. Her answer was simple and direct, "I'm afraid we can't afford to take you and the rest of the family to Manila. Do your best in whatever you do and you'd go places."
Two weeks ago, six members of the Peak Support senior management team, set out on our first-ever trip to the U.S.! I couldn't be any prouder. I was beaming with pride in person and on social media and was ready to tell the world how awesome our company is for gifting us with this opportunity to meet clients, travel, and be part of the CEO’s household for a couple of days. Now that I'm settled back here in the motherland, I'd like to share a few things that made the trip mind-blowing, momentous and powerful!
It was a first for all of us, not just for Peak Support.
"Pinch me!" I exclaimed to my husband when it was officially announced that I was going to our first-ever U.S. Summit. If you are from the Philippines, going through the visa application and finally being approved is life-changing. I think I had my most liked Facebook post to date when I shared a picture of my U.S. visa. This wouldn’t have been possible if not because of the U.S. Summit!
We are a young company. That's one thing many people sometimes fail to see to understand the magnitude of this milestone for us. How often do you actually get to see four-year-old companies send their teams to the U.S.? The Summit was nothing but a dream.
In 2018, during our first Philippines Leadership and Support Summit in Alabang (PH), we were asked to write down what we thought we could add to make things better for the organization and the leadership team. My circle of leads we fondly call MARS (Filipino slang for Kumare - close female friends) laughed in unison when we learned we all listed - "Take us to the U.S. for a visit!" It was just wishful thinking that no one dared to voice it out during our sharing activity the next day. We were obviously oblivious to the fact that this would soon materialize.
The Year of the Video Chat made this possible.
At this point, I'd like to remind you that we are working 100% remotely - integrated into our client's company culture but in the comfort of our homes so we communicate via Skype, Zoom, and Slack. That said, communication is key to transform a team into a well-oiled machine.
Earlier this year, our CEO, Jonathan Steiman, declared this year as The Year of Video. When possible, he said, all our internal and external calls should now be on video. I had been running our weekly client calls for a while, but I was still very nervous. While I projected confidence, I didn’t feel it! The addition of video made the calls even more nerve-wracking. But I trust Jonathan, so I mustered all the courage and confidence I could and led the next check-in with our cameras on. I am still not 100% confident, but over time, we unconsciously developed a level of comfort with communicating to senior managers and clients. I purposely used WE here because, for my team, we have everyone join our check-ins with cameras on. Man, did it pay off!
The client I work closely with is based in Chicago. That's where Trish and I met Hannah, our COO, on a Monday morning before taking a three-minute walk to the newly-minted client HQ. It was only our second physical face-to-face encounter with Hannah but I knew those Monday and Tuesday meetings with videos on helped us to be more relaxed around her. I literally breathed a sigh of relief when I saw her that day. It was totally the opposite feeling from when I saw her in person for the first time in 2018.
Later that day, we met our client’s head of operations, the customer experience manager, the head of creative and most importantly, the CEO, Zach Goldstein. We look up to Zach when it comes to pursuing your passion, elevating men’s apparel to a new level and putting extra premium on customer experience. I only counted a few seconds of nervousness and then I felt sheer happiness of finally seeing him in the flesh. I just enjoyed being there and took in as much as I could. My happy cup was overflowing, and not one hole could be shot in to drain it. Yes, year of video chat, you made it easy to connect with my client over steak, oysters and frog legs.
We didn't just build relationships with clients.
We connected with clients on this trip, but we also connected with one another in the senior management team. We all lead different projects and though we meet occasionally in person, we often don't know much about each other.
During the U.S. Summit, I reconnected with Trish and we got to share each other's hopes and dreams. I got to know Haze's motherly ways at work. Haze and I exchanged our struggles as parents and found out we have similar trials and tribulations, personally and professionally. I had the chance to get to know Mark a little more and, through his lens, learned something unique about the LGBT community. Through Frank and Judz, I gained a better understanding of how to lead the charge without losing yourself in the process.
And then there's Hannah and Jon, who made me wonder from start to finish how they managed to hold everything up without ending up in an argument. I mean, come on, 2 kids and 6 Filipinos under your roof! And then there's New York! I'm just so glad to have witnessed the short moment you reminisced where your love has blossomed. They say behind every successful man is a woman, but Peak Support tells us that beside every successful person is his/her better half.
I have so much else to share! But these three emerged in each and every attempt to sum it all up in writing. It's not easy to get 6 foreigners across 6 states for the first time but we did it. And I'm glad to say, this won't be the last time. Here's to US Summit 2!