Bursts of Work, and Lots of Movement

Sue Stephens, who is from Amsterdam, leads LinkedIn's customer success consulting team for Italy, Spain and Portugal.

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Credit...Fran Veale for The New York Times

Our campus is a 10-minute walk to the center of town. We’re on the Grand Canal, not far from the Grand Canal Dock, now known as the Silicon Docks area because of all the tech companies that have located here. It’s also an easy walk to landmarks like the Guinness Storehouse, a tourist attraction, and St. Stephen’s Green Park, a historic park.

I’m on the third floor of the original building on campus, which has an open office environment.I lead the customer success consulting team for Italy, Spain and Portugal. A couple of staff members are here with me, and others are in Milan and Madrid.

My team works with our business-to-business customers in a pre- and post-sale role. As an example, if a company buys a license from us to use in recruiting candidates from LinkedIn, we explain how to use it and make sure the company has success with it.

To maximize my energy, I work in 25-minute increments followed by five-minute breaks to clear my mind. I read an article in Harvard Business Review titled “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time” and developed my regimen from that article.

During the break I often leave encouraging Post-it notes or thank you cards on the desks of my colleagues. I might thank someone for getting me coffee in the morning when I was late for a call.

I wear noise-canceling headphones when I need to, and I move to different areas of the building to help with concentration and as part of my transition ritual. You might find me in the coffee lounge, the library or sitting on a ledge in the atrium with a pillow.

For lunch, I go to the new building, also an open environment, with my team. I’m eating a more plant-based diet now. There are 27 chefs there. I have to pinch myself about the assortment of food.

When I left a former job, because I was willing to speak up and share my opinion even when it differed from those around me, a colleague gave me a gray virtue doll in a black case that signifies bravery. He said it was from the Japanese culture and I should look at it for inspiration or to reflect on my resilience.

Having grown up in an underprivileged area with my mom and my grandmother, it might not have been in the cards for me to have ended up where I am, yet I did. It reminds me to be thankful and pay it forward.

I’m not the only one big on thank-you notes here. My manager gave me a card to thank me for making her feel useful and needed at the same time. She said I was always one step ahead of her in suggesting things and making her life easier.

I’m from Amsterdam. English is not my first language, so I’m curious about word origins. When I worked in London, I asked about so many words and phrases that a colleague bought me a book so I could look them up. I wasn’t familiar with expressions like “hair of the dog,” or even “bless you” after someone sneezes. In Ireland, I’ve noticed the big word is “grand.” If something is fantastic, it’s grand, and if it’s just O.K., it’s still grand, but said in a more casual tone.

Before work I stop in an old garage where there’s a CrossFit class. About half the people are usually LinkedIn employees. I bike to work, which takes about 10 minutes, five if I push it. I don’t worry about rain. A friend once told me there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing.

When I first left home, to work in London, my niece gave me a heart she made for me. She was about 4.She said she was going to miss me and didn’t want me to forget her. I cherish it. I don’t know what I’d do if it was damaged. I hold it in my hand when I’m on a conference call or walking around the office. I’ve moved over 10 times and realize I don’t attach to things. Home is where the heart is.

The photo on the colorful background is of my nephew Trey and his older brother, Keony.

Trey was 3 when he painted it, and my sister sent it to me in London. Surprises like this are great when you’re far from home.

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