The First 90 Days.

Cheese alert.  I know.  Sorry for the clichéd title.  I am on day 30-something in my new gig as the toy buyer so let me milk the cheese while I can.  Two months from now I pinky swear to lay off the 90 day references {at least I didn’t ask you to lean into my blog??}

And for the record, I don’t care how much money has been made from advising rookies on their first 90 days – they are important days!  Let’s review.

  • The GOOD :: You have about a three month grace period to play your “I’m new” card when necessary.
  • The BAD :: You are new at the job and know nothing.  Knowing nothing when you want to know something can be uncomfortable.  And humbling.
  • The UGLY :: You can only make a first impression once.  Any undo-ing you need to do after your first 90 days will take a looOoot longer than 90 days.

The lucky thing with this new role is that I don’t have to relearn how to be a buyer.  Because let’s face it, those first 90 days are bruuuuutal.  Now, don’t get me wrong – if you’ve followed my posts, you know that while I faced a steep learning curve with the buyer gig, I loved every moment of it.  I’ve said it multiple times – the buyer role is not for the faint of heart.  It’s not the job for someone who thrives on checking all the to-do boxes and having tasks finished and wrapped up with a bow at the end of the day.  It IS the job for someone who loves solving problems, identifying opportunities, working in teams, overcoming obstacles, managing multiple priorities, driving results, and success.  Just remember that your first 90 days as a new buyer are tricky as you learn the mechanics – how to pull reports, enter submissions, talk to colleagues only using acronyms…

My first 90 part deux can skip all that.  While there are cultural + mechanical nuances between our Home and Hardlines pyramids, it’s minimal and can be overcome quickly.  Part Deux is less about the “job” and more about leadership development – what I want to focus on in my second buyer stint and what I want to contribute in this second rotation.  So in honor of this Target milestone, I think it’s time to consult none other than Mr. 90 Day’s himself ::  Michael Watkins.

  1. PROMOTE YOURSELF :: I think of this as “what got me here, won’t get me there…” {which is a Goldsmith-ism, not a Watkins-ism actually…}  According to Mr. Watkins, I can’t assume that what worked for me in Appliances will work for me in Toys.  I have to use a new lens and not rely on past successes.
  2. ACCELERATE YOUR LEARNING :: My approach to this was to sign up for kid cable … i.e., Disney Channel, the Hub, Nick, etc.  And um, bt-dubs… kid cable is expensivo!  *sheesh*  Who knew?
  3. MATCH STRATEGY TO SITUATION :: It’s time to get nerdy – I get to dig into the data and assess + diagnose my new business with an objective POV.
  4. SECURE EARLY WINS :: Early wins build credibility and creates momentum.  I did bring a pretty solid team breakfast last week… this should count as a small win.
  5. ACHIEVE ALIGNMENT ::  Even in just my few weeks in Toys, I’ve picked up on some common themes + points of focus for the division.  And not surprising, what I’m hearing in my department and at division meetings all align with our 2013 Division Strategy Document… which in non-merchant speak means that I have a pretty accurate compass to lead me as I choose Spring 2014’s assortment {that’s right – it wasn’t even my first week on the job and they started me on line reviews for Spring ’14!}
  6. BUILD YOUR TEAM :: Like I’ve mentioned before – you can’t do this job solo. It’s back to coffees, networking and figuring out who the people are {inside + outside the company} that can be your think tank.
  7. CREATE COALITIONS :: In my case, this means spending a LOT more time with my friends with kids.  Ain’t nobody better to tell me what’s hot or not than a six year old.
  8. KEEP YOUR BALANCE :: This is definitely easier the second time around.  Keeping a good balance means keeping people close, asking for help, and maintaining perspective on how much can be done by when.
  9. EXPEDITE EVERYONE :: Ahhh, my fav in all of Watkins’.  My motor mouth tendencies and need for efficiency makes expediting others part of my personal cadence.  I just need to ensure that it’s a speed + energy that excites others rather than something that seems hasty.

It’s an exciting journey… the start of a new set of 90 days.  And if all goes well, this will be one of many first 90 days in my time with TGT.  Til then, I have a lot of cartoons + animated movies to watch.  I mean, clearly I have some work to do – I just scored 6/15 on this: :: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicamisener/how-well-do-you-really-know-the-disney-princesses  *whoops! :/

Interested in a career in buying, planning and brand management? Search and apply for jobs here.

  • Laura

    May 30th, 2013

    it’s so exciting to see your move to a new category! thanks for sharing!