Mark Graham on Growing into a New Manager Job Role

In Chapter 11 of 17 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, digital media executive Mark Graham answers "At This Moment in Your Life, Where Are You Seeking Advice and Coaching?"  Graham shares how he gets coaching support from his boss, VH1 editorial director Matt Muro, and Muro's boss, Dan Sacher, VH1 VP Media.  By meeting each week, they help Graham learn to manage, delegate, lead, and grow in his career. 

Mark Graham is currently a managing editor at VH1, an MTV Networks company. Previously Graham worked in editing and writing roles at New York Magazine and Gawker Media.  He graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English.  


Erik Michielsen: At this moment in your life, where are you seeking advice and coaching?

Mark Graham: It’s simply an active part of what I’m doing. In my new role as a managing editor, I now have a team of people, and I’m learning how to effectively manage them, effectively lead them, to motivate and to grow and to help continue to build our work up. So sort of as a result of that, I’ve been leaning very heavily on both my boss, his name is Matt Muro, he’s our editorial director at VH1, as well as his boss, his name is Dan Sacher, he’s our vice president of digital media, both for VH1 as well as for Logo. 

I really look up to both of those individuals. I think they’ve done excellent work in their career and they’re both at places that ultimately I’d like to be at some point in my career. You know, I’d like to, you know, continue to grow and learn, and they’ve both been very valuable and very helpful to me into helping me recognize things that I’m good at and things that I need to continue to work and improve on in my professional career. So both of those guys I lean very heavily on, you know, we meet on a weekly basis to make sure our goals are being met, we’re on track with certain programs. 

You know, a lot of our content is sort of churned out on a day-to-day basis reacting to things that are happening in the news but we also have longer term plans and initiatives that we’re working on that take, you know, months and months and months to get an idea that, you know, grows ultimately into a product that you can execute on the web. So, you know, really staying in close contact with both of those guys has been very important to me and they’ve both shown incredible support to me through my couple of years in the organization, and are people like I said that I look up to and that I lean on for help and guidance, and sort of, you know, recognizing that you can’t do it all. 

And, you know, one thing that they’ve really been great at helping me realize and understand is, is learning how to effectively delegate responsibilities. And helping me sort of understand and prioritize which things I should be taking out on my own and which things that I can sort of help generate the seed of an idea and then step a little it back and check in on it from time to time rather than, you know, running the ball the whole way through. So that’s something that I’m continuing to learn and grow. 

Candidly, I’ll admit that that’s something that I’m not great at right now. I’ve sort of gotten to this point in my career by seeing projects through very personally and spending lots and lots of time at the office and now that I have the amount of responsibility that I do, I can no longer do that. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to balance my professional life and my personal life together in a way that makes sense, so really sort of learning how to hand off responsibilities and to also be able to solicit feedback from my peers and also people that work for me. Really being in close contact with them, understanding ways that I can help them better, ways that they can help me better too, and really sort of understanding that, and understanding the dynamics of how people work in an organization, that’s been very important and I think I continue to learn that.