Account-based Mindset

Teammate Spotlight - Tracie Berger, Project Manager

Riley Smith
Content Contributor
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Perseverance means learning to bend so you do not break.

Tracie Berger is the Project Manager at UviaUs, keeping projects moving along smoothly no matter what obstacles come her way. Her love for hard work and conquering challenges is only surmounted by her love for dogs, especially the ones who need a patient, loving home the most.

We sat down with her for a conversation about perseverance, the “tough love” lessons she’s glad she got as a teen, and how, perhaps paradoxically, flexibility is key to staying persistent.

What is your role at UviaUs?

I am the Project Manager. It’s basically driving the bus, keeping all four wheels turning, and constant contact, collaboration, and communication with everybody riding on the bus! Are they doing alright on the bus? When are they getting off? When are they getting back on? Things like that.

What have you noticed that’s different about UviaUs?

As a working environment, what’s different about UviaUs is that everyone is so willing to help and assist where needed.

There’s a huge knowledge base here for creative, for operations, and for ABM. My background is a lot of traditional and digital marketing, which has a lot more throwing a dart at a dartboard. “Hey, that worked!” or “Hey, that didn’t work.”

ABM is very different, and it’s different for me to have that much of a focus on it, since it was a smaller portion of my other experiences. This level of marketing and the knowledge that goes along with it from the UviaUs team is very refreshing.

What’s your favorite thing about your role?

Every day I come in, it’s different. The unknown and the variety of my day is great. Even if a project gets put on hold, it will come off hold with a different thought behind it.

I love coming in and having every day be a day where my brain is forced to think differently. It’s a challenge!

I never sit here bored. Which is great, because I have the shortest attention span. It’s good for me to shift focus and open my mind all throughout my day.

I’m not doing redundant tasks. Everything is, “What do you think about this new thing?” or a client asks, “Can you do this?” and now you have to explore a way to get it done. I love it.

How would you define “perseverance”?

In a nutshell, it’s never being satisfied with the door slamming in your face, personally or professionally.

Career-wise, and as a project manager, you have to deal with a lot of different personalities. You have to use a lot of different tactics, internally with your team and also with your client, to try and get what you want.

Some people are very willing. They’re like, “Whatever you need, I’m here!” Then you have the client that says, “I hired YOU to figure that out for me!” In that case, you have to get in their head a bit, and figure out what their end goal is for their campaign and their marketing strategy.

So perseverance is about not taking the door slam as the final word, and not being okay with that being the end of it. You have to constantly go, “Nope. We’ve got to reopen the door again.”

Secondary to that is the ability to pivot. You have to be able to change direction since sometimes what has been planned, talked about, decided on… You come into work the next day and it’s completely different!

So perseverance and pivoting are my two favorite words. And spatula. I love the word spatula, but that doesn’t apply here.

I don’t think you can be a Project Manager and not have perseverance. You won’t make it.

How does perseverance help in marketing?

You have to be open-minded, both internally as an agency and with the client. You have to have an open mind to see what works and what doesn’t.

Just because something worked at a certain moment in time or with a certain team doesn’t mean it’s going to work in the future.

In the rapidly changing world of marketing, there are so many things that worked great ten years ago that do not work at all now. Just look at Google platforms alone and how they’ve changed what they allow access to and their privacy rules.

The customer is always changing, and changing their expectations.

You have to look at the big picture, and then drill down into what works and what doesn’t work, but then drill down even further into that and ask, “Does this even apply anymore?”

So you would say that perseverance requires flexibility even more than hard-headedness?

Yes. You need an open mind so you’re not stuck being a staunch defender of your own knowledge. You can’t be deaf to the knowledge others are offering you when they see the goal in a different way.

You mentioned that marketing has so many different personalities. How do you see perseverance as a way to improve interpersonal communication?

I can only speak for myself, but perseverance has forced me to learn different ways to communicate. You have to keep going, not only until you get the answer you need or want (although that’s the biggest component), but also until you understand the other person.

You learn to say, “Okay, that approach didn’t work. How do I need to alter my approach to make it work?”

You have to keep going through changes in project structure, personnel, and hierarchy in your company and outside of it. At any moment, someone could say or do something that completely changes your project, and you have to be ready for that.

You're only as good as your last marketing day. You have to be able to go to the client and both pitch ideas confidently and listen to what they really want.

Listening is so important. A lot of times, you need to listen rather than jump to, “No, we’re going to do it this way,” or “We’ve always done it this way.”

You have to develop great listening skills to persevere and reach your goals in marketing. It helps you look at what seems like a brick wall blocking your way and see what it really is, and what you need to do about it. If you’re a great listener, you’ll find those brick walls move out of your way.

Can you share a specific story of a time perseverance really helped you in your role?

I can think of a story from my Operations background. I had a situation with a former company, an automotive after-market company.

We made shifters and various parts that go into classic cars. We were having a problem with shifters being made by a different vendor. We went from a US company to a foreign manufacturer, and the tolerances were different.

These shifters were breaking off in the cars. It was bad, bad, bad. The worst scenario possible.

I went to the Director of Operations and said, “These aren’t surviving the tolerance tests in Quality Assurance.”

He said, “We’re not changing vendors, so make it work.”

After another three months of going back to the drawing board and trying everything, even changing the type of metal we used, nothing worked. They were still breaking.

I needed to persevere. I needed to move past that hard no, spend months exploring all avenues with the team, absolutely exhaust those other avenues, but at the end, I had to go back to say, “At the end of the day, this is a moral issue. We’re going to hurt people. Someone is going to be killed because they can’t control their car.”

The Director of Operations still said no, so sadly I did need to escalate up the management chain. That was a lesson in and of itself, because I was very emotionally involved at this point, and our CEO’s response was to say that the Director of Operations and I needed to both come to the table and resolve our disagreement.

So it didn’t resolve with any one of us, even the CEO, saying, “Because I said this, this is what we’re doing.” We had to have a discussion. Which meant I had to conduct all due diligence and look to other team members to offer their knowledge and support my argument.

What motivated you to persevere in this situation, instead of just “doing what you were told” by the Director of Operations?

I had a visual of sitting on the stand in a courtroom testifying for this company about why we let these malfunctioning parts out in the world.

That thought made me say, “Nope! Not going down that road.” I drew the line.

For the majority of my career, I’ve been very much on the side of corporate and doing what corporate thinks is best. But this was the one time that I felt brave enough to raise my hand and say, “This isn’t right. This is not the right thing to do as a company.”

I even told my whole family. They had to hear about it daily because of the stress I was involved in. I told them, “At the end of the day, if I have to lose my job over this, then so be it.”

I knew that persevering on this could cost me my job. They could have said, “Oh, she’s worrying too much. We can do this without her.” So be it. At least I could sleep at night and lay my head down knowing we didn’t hurt anyone.

So you have found that, in your life, perseverance has to be linked with your other values?

Yes, definitely. My golden rule is the same as a lot of people: Treat people the way you want to be treated.

Even if you have disrespect coming at you, you still need to hold your head high and make your case in a respectful way.

I have a value system that was laid very early by my parents. Be respectful, be agreeable, and exhaust all possible options before you turn into Medusa and resort to any kind of aggression. I try to take that into my professional life.

Perseverance seems to help you maintain your calm in these difficult situations, as well.

It does. It wasn’t always like that! It definitely comes with maturity.

If I could talk to twenty-year-old me, I’d say, “Why did you react so quickly? Sit back, digest it, let it sit for a little bit, and then respond. With your listening skills!”

It’s a learned thing and a maturity thing.

How has perseverance helped you in your personal life?

That’s a tough question, because I’ve gotten my life into a very regulated, good place for me.

The only example I can think of is my dog rescue and dog fostering efforts.

You usually get a situation that’s the worst case scenario. Often, I hospice foster. They’ll give the dog to me and say he has a week or a month to live. Or if it’s a regular foster, they’ll tell me the dog is unadoptable and will never find a family.

Then, magically, the most amazing person for that dog came along because the universe knew more than you! Or the dog who was only supposed to have a month will live for three more happy, healthy years. You just have to stick with that animal, who deserves their chance.

In fostering dogs, more than any person could have taught me, the dogs have taught me to persevere. I know it’s hokey, but the fact that they keep moving forward, always, and they never feel sorry for themselves.

Even in the worst pain, they can still wag their tail. All they know is that moment in the present. They remember the past, but they look at what’s in front of them, and constantly move forward.

Having been around a being that can’t talk to you, that can only look at you and try to express what they want and need and how they feel, you have to go beyond verbal cues. That’s helped me a lot in my personal life.

Because of that, I can pick up on what people want without them saying it. The dogs have taught me so much about reading body language!

I have a sixteen-year-old Dalmatian who is the crankiest, bossiest old lady ever. I don’t know how much longer she has. She has incontinence and mobility issues, but she’s eating, drinking, doing everything else normally, so it’s not time.

But I watch her for her cues. When she says, “Okay, I’m done being here. I’ve had enough. I have no joy,” then we make the decision.

When you go into dog ownership, you know you’re going to outlive them, but I’m grateful for the many extra years I’ve had with her that nobody saw coming.

She’s a fighter. I call her my Warrior Queen. She was found in the middle of the summer in a field in Bakersfield.

Dogs are survivors! They persevere. They don’t know it’s 106-degrees out. They don’t say, “Oh my god, I’m going to die,” they just know they have to get to the shade. Talk about perseverance! They’re the best examples of it.

They persevere to survive and make it to their forever home, if they can. And then they enjoy the happiness of a full belly and a family they can count on.

Besides your wonderful dogs, how have you learned perseverance?

I have really great examples in my family. My entire family is entrepreneurs. I’m the only one who actually works for a company. Guess I didn’t get that gene!

They’ve had to persevere in their businesses. My parents are retired, but my brother had to push through COVID. And he just wakes up and does it and works hard for the money.

Sometimes it requires reinventing. You have to think of different ways of doing things, and COVID forced a lot of businesses to do that. They couldn’t rest on what they’ve always known.

Even earlier on, though, my parents’ style of parenting forced us to persevere. They were the “firm but loving” type of upbringing where they were not going to rescue you.

You had to think your way through a situation. If you spent all your hard-earned money, we’re not sending you more! If you’re stuck in LA in the middle of the night with a broken down car and you call from a pay phone… “What do you expect us to do, Tracie? We’re in Arizona.”

At the time, I thought it was crazy tough love, or they didn’t care about me. The guy at the auto shop came up to the pay phone and was like, “You’ve got to get back in your car, it’s not safe out here at night.”

I was scared! But that experience and others like it, of not being rescued by my parents, forced me to think through situations. It’s absolutely why I can persevere.

I know I can’t just make a phone call and have someone fix everything. I’ve had to get creative!

I traveled abroad my Sophomore year of college. My parents graciously paid for my schooling, but my mom told me, “If you think I’m sending you money every week while you’re away, you’re wrong.” So I worked three jobs that summer to get spending money.

There was a point in France when I had spent all my money, and I couldn’t eat! I had enough money left for baguettes. So that’s what I ate all day long.

I had too much pride at that point to call my mom and say, “Can you please put money in my account?” The answer would have been no!

I learned a big lesson: Don’t buy the leather purse. It’s more important to eat than to carry around an expensive leather purse!

I’ve always been grateful to have the parents I have, even if it meant I had to struggle. I don’t have children, and I don’t know what it’s like, but sometimes I see kids today and their sense of entitlement… They’ll go to their parents and say, “You’re a terrible parent! I’m going to get on social media and tell everyone!”

I would have never spoken to my parents like that, but there’s been such a shift in the climate of parenting that people want to be their kids’ friend more than their parent, but you do need to give them that tough love. Everything that my parents said no to was an opportunity to figure out coping skills.

Those skills are why I’m self-sufficient and why I can survive in the world. That’s why I can do what I need to do and persevere. Because they didn’t rescue me.

If someone wants to build their “perseverance” muscle, what should they do?

There is so much available online now to learn. You have access to the best leaders in every field, including marketing.

Look at the marketers and companies you respect most. Research them. You can find anything on Google!

Do a deep dive and find out about people who you respect who have persevered. Learn about their lives and what they did, how they think.

It’s like the point of our REACH podcast. Those guests are sought out because they persevered.

It’s so easy to do now. I’m dating myself here, but I remember you used to have to go to Barnes & Noble and walk into the business section, and you’d have that whole section of books at your disposal, and you’d pick one and read it to become a better employee or a better business owner.

Now it’s at our disposal online. This may sound harsh, but if you’re not well-versed in something, you don’t have an excuse anymore.

There’s so much about UviaUs that I don’t know in every new project. Sometimes I don’t understand the thought process behind the plan or why we’re picking one strategy over another. It’s my job, as an employee, to go out there and seek that knowledge, rather than waiting for someone internally to teach me.

As employees, we need to persevere. We need to keep learning about the world of marketing, because it’s constantly shifting. You’ll be left in the dust if you don’t stay relevant.

What are you “persevering” toward right now?

The biggest thing right now is finding a different part of Arizona to live in. It is too hot where I am right now. Next week it’s going to be terrible, like 112 degrees.

My dogs can’t even go outside. They can only go outside really quickly to do their business, and then they have to run back in, or they’ll die of heatstroke. And I can’t go out either! There’s not much you can do with 112. You can’t even go shopping, you can just stay inside and lay there in the air conditioning.

I do love Arizona, but now that I have the freedom to work anywhere, I need to find my new window view.

I’m persevering toward that next location that will give me the happiness that I need and that I’m looking for. I just know there’s a next step on my path and a different view of the universe waiting for me.

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