UPDATE: The Broken See-Saw: Work-Life Balance in a Community Manager’s World

Holly Firestone
5 min readJun 23, 2020

This post is an update as a follow up to this previous post, which I recommend you read first.

I’m so taken aback by the responses that I’ve gotten since I shared my blog post about Work/Life Balance as a Community Professional just yesterday. The responses have been moving, thought-provoking, and incredibly supportive. I really want to follow up to that blog post to share a little bit about those responses and clarify a few things that might not have been super clear in my original post. Plus you know me, I’m loquacious. You really can’t shut me up. 🗣

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Who Is The Most Overworked Of Them All? 🙋🏻‍♀️

My goal in sharing this post was to be extremely open and honest about my experiences and struggles with maintaining balance in my life. I shared stories that were deep and personal for two reasons. The first is that I wanted to normalize sharing those types of stories. There’s simply not enough of that happening, and it can lead to people feeling like they are alone and isolated. The other reason is because I thought it was important to share things that are jarring. Things that are uncomfortable. Things that show vulnerability. I wanted anyone reading the post to feel enough emotion to pick up a mirror and look back at themselves. And many of you have. I had multiple people reach out to me saying almost the exact same words “I saw myself in your post.” While it was definitely cathartic for me to share these stories, the whole point of the post was to help encourage and drive change in individuals’ lives and in the community industry as a whole. It seems like I struck nerves outside of just the community industry, including with many community leaders who give and give and give to the point of exhaustion. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I hope that my stories were able to influence anyone to take a look at themselves and think about what they can do to improve the balance in their lives.

Thank You. Both For Your Responses And For Your Offer To Be An On-Demand Mob. 🙏🏻 🙃

I want to be clear that this post was about me. It wasn’t about the places I was working in my stories or the trolls in the community. As a community professional, you will have pressure to perform anywhere you go. You’re also going to unfortunately have trolls anywhere you go. Ultimately, I was the only person in the world that could fix what was happening and support myself in the right ways.

In order to overcome this unhealthy normal, I had to take responsibility for the ways in which I created it. And like I said in my previous post, the greatest and most important support I’ve gotten is the support I’ve given myself. This was about my journey.

An amazing community manager (and human) that I had the pleasure of working with at Salesforce, Claudio Castro, used a great analogy to compare this to the flight safety demonstration. You have to put your oxygen mask on yourself before you can help others.

I absolutely loved the places I worked and the communities I worked with at both of the companies I mentioned in my stories. I learned so much from my experiences, and I’m so grateful to have had those opportunities. And yes, while trolls do exist in pretty much every community, they are few and far between. The jaw-droppingly amazing people outnumber those jerks exponentially. That’s one of the many reasons why I love the work I do. But for those of you offering to form an angry mob on my behalf, while not necessary, thank you. I adore you. ❤️

As for the responses that I got, I read every single one and I’m working through replying to all of them. A lot of people took the time to reach out to me on my post, privately, or on social, and I truly appreciate your support and kindness. So many of those individuals are from the communities I’ve worked with, and it really just goes to show how important and real the relationships are that you build in your time leading a community. It also shows how truly good and kind the people in those communities are.

Listen Up, Leaders 👂🏼

One thing that I heard from a lot of people was “I had no idea this was going on!” That’s correct. Neither did my family for a really long period of time. And a lot of my friends also didn’t know. I kept things very private. Many people silently or quietly struggle with things in their personal lives that you will never know about. When you think about work/life balance, wellness is a piece that comes along with it. You absolutely play a role in the wellness of the people in your life. Be kind. Be empathetic. Slow down.

All of this is especially true for those in a leadership role. You really set the tone for your team, and while you may have an open door policy, your team members might not want to share with you, and that’s OK. My manager at Salesforce was (and is) one of my closest friends, and it still took me a good amount of time to be ready to open up to her about what was going on in my life. Just remember that you can never just look at someone and know how they are doing. Giving your team the support, space, permission, and encouragement to practice work/life balance is one of the most important things you can do as a leader.

This Isn’t About Ice Cream, But Ice Cream Always Helps. FACT. 🍦

The stories I shared definitely hit some folks in the feels, and I do want to reiterate that my journey does have a happy ending. It may have been a rocky road (mmm, ice cream) to get here, but the result was finding so much gratitude and happiness in my life.

The IT team was right all along! 💻

When your phone, computer, or TV starts acting wonky, what do you do?

You turn it off and then back on again. It’s time to do more of that with ourselves. Take a break to evaluate your work/life balance. You’re worth it. ❤️

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Holly Firestone

Community Strategist. Currently: CEO, Holly Firestone Consulting. Previously Venafi, Salesforce & Atlassian. Hollyfirestone.com