- Building the Avengers
Building the Avengers
Ali becomes Nick Fury
Hey, everyone! We have a special edition for you today, and it’s not just because I’ll be giving another Oscar-worthy perfomance as “empathetic woman pretending to know what her friend, Josh, is talking about when he talks about the Marvel cinematic universe.”
That’s because we also have the incredibly bright, brilliant, and savvy Ali Ben-Levi here to talk to us about her latest ambition at Smooth. Let’s bring out our guest, shall we?
—Kinsey, cofounder and head of editorial
A Q&A With Smooth’s Longest-Tenured Employee
This photo will make sense once you get further down, promise.
Over the course of the last two years, a lot about our business has changed. But one constant has remained: Ali Ben-Levi, who’s been with us since before there was really even a Smooth to be with.
Ali’s technical title is Operations Associate & Chief Lunch Dessert Officer. What does that first one mean (because I hope the second one is self-explanatory)?
Ali sits in between our editorial and revenue services departments, connecting the two to ensure that 1) the ads and partnerships that power our newsletters are carried out creatively and efficiently and 2) the creators we’re partnering with get to see their big ideas brought to life.
She’s a superstar project manager who ensures all parties (writers, creators, graphic designers, copywriters, partners, etc.) know what’s up when.
Today we’re hanging out with Ali, CLDO and employee No. 1, to hear more about what she’s working on.
Ali Ben-Levi: We have a lot of exciting work going on, and I don’t just mean the chocolate banana bites I brought the other week. Smooth is growing! Which means our needs and priorities are growing, too. My current focus is a simple but important one, and one that in typical Smooth fashion I have given its own brand: I’m assembling the Avengers. (Told you the photo would make sense.)
Translation? My goal is to form a team of hyper-competent operators to build out our growing services offerings in a scalable, sustainable way.
ABL: A lot of this has to do with Smooth’s efforts to elevate and uplevel, in both quantity and quality, the services that we're offering and the work we’re doing.
For my first year and a half at Smooth, I handled a lot of the ops around those early services we offered. This allowed me to become what Jenny likes to characterize as a ~deep generalist~. In having a hand in so many parts of our business, I got a full 360-degree view—I learned how each function of a media company works, how we make money, what’s in the DNA of good content, how to synthesize and project manage, and how to manage both editorial and revenue priorities.
I was taking the first stab at writing ad copy, I was trying my hand at graphic design, I was coordinating campaigns with advertisers. And while learning how to do all that was invaluable and taught me so much about our business and its needs, we’ve now hit a turning point.
Smooth has scaled to a place where we have the means and the bandwidth to work with more specialists on things like graphics, copywriting, event planning, etc. So I, the generalist, am assembling a team of those specialists. I am passing along the baton to them with the knowledge that they are going to do a significantly better job than I could have ever done. These are my Avengers.
With them on our team, I can do a significantly better job at my job, which will be managing them and setting them all up to be as successful in their roles as possible.
ABL: So in a very obvious way, I'm expecting this team of operators and freelancers that we're bringing on to help with the Smooth mission and to knock their work out of the park. You know, these are people whose core competency is the task that we are hiring them to do. Copywriters, designers, writers by trade. So across the board, I’m expecting the quality to increase.
Now, I can help guide these people. And it's fulfilling! That’s something we’ve always been big on at Smooth. It’s not a bad thing to find someone who can do your job better than you. I’m not really firing myself, I’m moving into a new strategic position to bring more to the table.
ABL: I’ll go with The Hulk because I really like Mark Ruffalo and the color green. Seems like sound enough logic.
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Under its former/new owner Dave Portnoy, Barstool Sports is reportedly laying off a quarter of its staff.
#digibuzzcodevoxious is a term we coined back in our Morning Brew days—a portmanteau of Digiday, BuzzFeed, Recode, Vox, and Axios. Obviously, the year was 2018 and the interest rates were zero. But still, the sentiment of “interesting media trends and news” remains. So the name stays.
My Scottish 7th grade math teacher used to tell us to say “white rabbits” on the first of every month for good luck. When I relayed that to the team once, it somehow ended up as Josh saying “winner winner chicken dinner” on the first of every month. C’est la vie.
Thanks for reading! Have a great week and remember, it’s Wednesday not Tuesday. See yaaa!
P.S. We’re hiring.