We had the good fortune of connecting with CJ Schneider and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi CJ, where are you from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I am a lifelong resident of Arizona and a graduate of ASU. I’m fortunate that my first job after graduation afforded me the opportunity to travel around the country working in the trade show industry for seven years. After a few other marketing jobs I held, I landed at Valley Metro, where I worked in the marketing communications department for more than 11 years.
I decided to leave and focus on a more creative position at a children’s educational toy company. But when COVID-19 struck, I was laid off.
I took away many special things from each position; the freedom to travel and explore helped to create an awareness of different audiences and different needs; the structure of a government position helped to define and prioritize projects; and the creativity and connection with the community was an important takeaway from the toy company.
Essentially, I started my business “by mistake.” I searched for a new job but simultaneously, networked with friends, family, past colleagues — even people who I buy products and services from. They were interested in hiring me to manage their social media and within a month, I was a freelancer who no longer had time to interview for a new job. I was challenged to deliver a great deal and delighted to see what had transpired. Charming Communications was born and my background helped to create a structure and business that has great potential!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
With 20+ years’ experience in marketing communications and 10+ years’ experience in social media, I have reached a place in my career where I am confident when taking on a project. I am excited to pour my experience and energy into someone’s product or service and share a mutual excitement!
I am also at a point where I am not scared if I need to research answers and I am OK with not knowing everything. I know my strengths and I have an earned confidence in knowing I can deliver the strategy, creativity and drive that is required in today’s digital arena. But things change quickly, sometimes without us knowing so constant education is what sets me apart from other social media managers. I prioritize learning new techniques, testing different approaches and experimenting with content, such as graphics.
I also value engagement with followers, fans and community. I take on the voice of the brand and engage accordingly. Having a conversation with someone who stops by to comment is what could convert that person into a customer. Authentic chats, humor, validation, and many other types of engagement all build trust, relationship and loyalty. I’m here for it! I love writing, chatting, relating…I was made to do this!
My company is called Charming Communications because I want people I work with to feel like our experience is a charming one — old-fashioned values (i.e. consideration, kindness, respect) combined with innovative and modern techniques is what my brand is about.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would recommend that we combine different levels of fun: relaxation, exploration & adventure, self-care, and indulgence. A trip to Sedona could cover all these bases beginning with a spa day that includes a massage and mud mask; a hike near a peaceful creek; a Jeep tour for a fresh and powerful perspective of the red rock glory; shopping and a nice dinner complete with a light dessert and cocktails! If there happens to be a place to dance off some calories, I’m up for it but I typically save my dancing for my husband of 11 years!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mentor and previous supervisor for 8 years, Dawn Coomer, is an incredible leader with incredible business acumen. She is now Transportation Manager at Gila River Indian Community. I was consistently encouraged, valued and challenged to grow.
I also credit Carlyn Bushman, who is also a mentor in many ways. I work with Carlyn on projects and the business coach in her comes out in every interaction, always leaving me feeling appreciated and motivated to take chances.
My husband, EJ, and sister, Maria, are my biggest cheerleaders. Sometimes having someone be excited for your successes or consoling you when things don’t go in your favor can make a difference in how fast we get back up! These two are quick to help me back up and to celebrate the achievements!
Tammy Zelez Photography for my headshot