Laura Petrolino

Three Business Lessons from Our Team

By: Laura Petrolino | July 25, 2016 | 
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Three Business Lessons from Our TeamBy Laura Petrolino

Business lessons come in a shapes, sizes, forms, and mediums.

If you read my articles with any consistency, you know I tend to think in analogies.

It’s how I learn and absorb information—and therefore also how I learn a lot of business lessons.

But in addition to skeeball, cars, bodybuilding, park benches, and an assortment of other adventures around me, I learn some of my most important business lesson from those around me.

Not just the mentors or leader in my life (although obviously them too), but from my colleagues and even competitors.

Business Lessons from the Team

So when I asked our team what I should write about for today’s blog post and Kara Vanskike said:

How your life is complete now that I’m in it.

And Gini Dietrich (of course) followed-up by suggesting I write about how everyone on our team has made my life complete….I couldn’t really turn them down (not to mention the fact, it’s true).

I started out with the plan to write about everyone….because no doubt I learn from every member of our team daily (including our awesome intern).

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I got through three and already had more than 1,200 words.

So I’ve decided to do three now (focused on the Arment Dietrich side of the business) and the rest in a subsequent post focused on another aspect of professional development.

(But that doesn’t mean I don’t love and learn from you ALL daily!) 

I’ll probably also need to give Gini a post of her own, because she doesn’t like to share (ok…fine, and she’s a ridiculously great mentor and leader, but you didn’t hear that from me).

(Note from Gini: AND BECAUSE I WILL FIRE HER WITHOUT IT!!)

Let’s look at three business lessons I’ve learned from three members of our team, as well as what you can learn from them to support your own professional development.

While I’m only pulling out one or two particular traits I admire, all three of these folks are just all around amazing professionals and humans.

People I learn from every day, in big ways and small.

So here goes….

The Art of Internal Processing

Kara was the first to speak up, so she’ll go first.

While there are many things I admire in Kara’s work (her proactivity, attention to detail, collaboration with other team members), one of the things I appreciate the most (because it’s something I lack) is the power of introspection and internal processing.

As is painfully obvious, I’m—what I like to call— an “extrovert’s extrovert.”

Now, while most people think of extroverts in the traditional sense of communicativeness, attraction to people and groups, and joy of social settings (all true), one thing people don’t often understand about true extroverts is the need for external information processing.

It is VERY difficult for me to process situations or brainstorm ideas completely in my own head. I need to verbalize things, talk through ideas, bounce things off of people.

I think of my best ideas while I’m ON client calls or actively in meetings. And only then can I take those ideas and fully detail them out.

I need interaction to really be creative and strategic.

You put me in a box by myself and I’m relatively worthless (not to mention, WHY WOULD YOU PUT ME IN A BOX…that’s just mean. Nobody puts Laura in a box).

Kara, on the other hand, is an exceptional internal processor.

One of the best.

I can always tell when Kara gets really quiet on a call, that within the hour after she’ll start spewing out bundles of amazing, strategic ideas.

That’s a real skill and extremely valuable in our profession.

Kara’s business lesson: Introvert or extrovert, we should all work to improve our internal information processing ability.

This might come easily to some of you and you are looking at me bug-eyed for even bringing it up.

But, for those like me, try to take even 15-30 minutes of quiet time during your day to work on a focused problem/solution.

I find writing things out helps me greatly, that way I’m still externalizing it in some way and can get “feedback” from the notes on paper.

Proactive Collaboration and Team Support

I’m pretty sure if you look up “collaboration” in a dictionary, Corina Manea’s photo is right beside it.

Corina is, by far, the most collaborative and supportive team player I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with.

She anticipates where and how she can help facilitate the most efficient teamwork and collaboration and then selflessly makes it happen.

Corina is all about the whole, which means she is focused on success without an ego.

Her goal is first and foremost creating the best possible results for the clients and our organization and—very simply—makes that happen.

Every. Single. Day.

Ask anyone on our team and they’ll tell you Corina was one of the best supporters they had when they first joined. She helps everyone be better, and helps us be better as an organization.

She proactively looks for opportunities to encourage better collaboration and then helps it take place.

She’s like a fairy godmother of teamwork.

Now no doubt teamwork and collaboration is crucial for EVERY organization, but for a team that focuses on integrated communication strategy, it’s even more important.

Corina’s business lesson: What sets Corina apart is she doesn’t just collaborate when it’s necessary, but she’s proactive in looking for ways our team can better engage and work together.

This should be seen as a strategy just like one we do for our clients.

When you are proactive about collaboration you can also make sure you have the organizational structure and culture in place to facilitate it.

Masterful Storytelling

I’ve always said you can judge someone’s intelligence level by their comedic ability.

It’s impossible to be funny—truly funny—and not be extremely smart.

Pete Salmon exemplifies that theory.

Pete is hilarious because he’s ridiculously clever and (like all great storytellers) can see the world from a variety of unique vantage points.

He can twist things around in his head to create an engaging story out of the ordinary.

And, all of the sudden, he’s taken three piles of clay and built the freaking Taj Mahal (also can someone please update the Taj Mahal’s website…please).

On top of that, he is able to adapt his voice, tone, and writing style completely from story-to-story, client-to-client.

This is a skill that completely escapes me and I envy it greatly in others.

I can write in one style…my own.

And even when I desperately try to take my voice out of things I write—to the point of feeling depressed at how non-enthusiastic it sounds—everything still ends up coming across like it was written by a cracked out cheerleader.

Pete, on the other hand, can switch seamlessly from writing for top CEOs and executives about financial and detailed business issues, to writing for artists about the finer nuances of gallery walls.

I mean, really?

Pete’s business lesson: Make a concentrated effort to adapt your perspective when telling a story.

The best stories are ones that are told from an alternative perspective; something that challenges the norm.

I’ve written before about reverse message strategy.

The same concept applies.

How can you look at things slightly differently to tell a story that really stands out and resonates?

Who Do You Learn From?

I’m lucky to work with a fantastic team.

Both those mentioned here and those not.

And the ability to learn and improve through my colleagues is really precious.

So now it’s your turn.

What business lessons do you learn from your colleagues? Who contributes to your success every day?

About Laura Petrolino


Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks.

  • OOH AAH. Thanks for a great blog post idea (filed away for future reference). I enjoyed learning more about the team (and I’ve had enough exposure to everyone mentioned to know how accurate your profiles are). Every team needs a fairy godmother of teamwork (but not all teams have one, and it shows…). And we could talk for DAYS about the introvert/extrovert processing thing. I am an internal processor, and my husband is an external processor. Makes for interesting marriage dynamics (workplace too!).

    • Laura Petrolino

      The internal/external processor thing is super interesting to me and I think it’s really difficult for one side to understand the other. For example, I often struggle with internal processors because I just need them to listen, but not necessarily give opinion or feedback. I just want a sounding board. But for an internal processor, they think the only reason I’m saying things outloud is because I’m looking for feedback. It’s an interesting dynamic…so I image a mixed marriage is very intriguing.

      • Yep. We’ll go with “intriguing” — I need to put some thought into the (because Lord knows I wouldn’t just out and CHATTER ABOUT IT) but maybe it’s something worth writing about.

      • While I do process internally, most of the time, I’m an excellent listener! I’m happy to be a sounding board any time. 🙂

        • Laura Petrolino

          Done!!

  • Laura’s business lesson: Every team benefits greatly from a leader who is willing to selflessly trumpet. Even on a Monday morning.

    • Laura Petrolino

      Ahh….look at you already getting ahead of the gang in providing me nice things to say about you in my next post. King of implied compliments. 🙂

      But truly, I feel very lucky to work with you and on such a talented team of fantastic individuals.

  • Internal processing is a thing? I’m bug-eyed thinking that someone can process and brainstorm like that.
    I’m off to find out how to make my brain work that way too!

    • It has its pros and cons. It can lead people to think you don’t have anything to contribute when in fact you DO (and WILL) but it’s not all going to come out of your mouth right in the middle of a meeting.

      • Laura Petrolino

        This might be the next blog post for you Paula…especially in a mixed-processor marriage

      • Paula is exactly right. Processing internally can be stressful, at least for me, because not only do I think about what’s happening in the meeting, but also about looking like a slacker with nothing to contribute. Plus, I’m trying to put thoughts in order, so when the ideas do come together they might halfway make sense to others.

        • Laura Petrolino

          If it makes you feel any better when my thoughts come out they probably only make even less sense to others since at least you have the luxury of organizing them in your brain first.

    • Laura Petrolino

      Right Phyllis?? Crazy, huh? Hahahah!

  • I appreciate how you not only “trumpet” (as Pete said) the admirable qualities of your team members and what you learn from them, but also simultaneously encourage us to look for the same in those we work and collaborate with. Thanks for all the business–and life–lessons you guys share every day.

    • Laura Petrolino

      It’s funny, I think sometimes when we work really closely with people we overlook the value they bring to us daily. So that was sort of the purpose of this post—as a reminder of that. You have the opportunity to learn from everyone, especially the people you work so closely with….take it! (So thanks for noticing 🙂 )

  • You reinforce the truism that no one can do it alone. So important to remember and remind. Next time I get stuck, I am going to hang out with your fabulous team! I always enjoy reading your content.

    • Laura Petrolino

      Hahaha! Please, come on over!

      And thank you so much Marti! I really appreciate it!

  • I LOVE this post. That is all.

    • Laura Petrolino

      Muah!! Just you wait, you’ll be in a future post my friend!!

      • Uh oh! Should I send my cookie bribe soon, then? ;p

  • Corina Manea

    As I told you this morning, I am speechless. Thank you so much for your kind words. I am lucky to work every day with such inspiring, smart people.

    Thank you!

    • Lubna Sadik

      Great post Laura, and right on! Corina, it’s true, I don’t think in my entire career I have worked with someone more collaborative and willing to help over and beyond than you! You are the best!

      • Corina Manea

        Thank you so much, Lubna. It was a pleasure working with you.

        • Laura Petrolino

          We miss your face Lubna!

          • Aw! Me too. Luckily for me, I get to see your beautiful face every Friday still. Yay for 5 second rule!!

  • Thank you, Laura. This was an awesome way to start a Monday. Few people pick up on the fact I process internally and I know I’m not alone (Paula). Just because someone is quiet in a meeting doesn’t mean they are indifferent or spacing out, so I appreciate you noticing and bringing awareness to the fact not everyone shares ideas the same way. (There are definitely cons to this – like not thinking of good comebacks until well past the appropriate window to comment – so there are times I certainly wish I had a bit more Petropower.) I am blessed and privileged to have this opportunity to work for such a great team. Thank you!

    • Laura Petrolino

      I think what makes us such a good team is because of our differences. One of the things I liked about you the most from the very beginning were the ways you were different than me, while having the same overall understanding/vision of what client service is. Working with people who think/process differently helps me become better (not to mention rounds the organization out as a whole) because it puts into focus areas where I can improve or grow professionally and how I approach things.

      And goodness knows an entire organization of Laura would be…well, best to not think about that.

  • I flagged this to read later because it was so interesting to me — and I’m glad I did. Love this team and love learning more about all of you! One of the things I like best about you, Laura, is that you’re a ‘cracked out cheerleader’ and so incredibly opposite of me! 🙂

    • Laura Petrolino

      Hahaha! That made me LOL. And thank you! You know what would be fun to do some day (in that light of our opposite tendencies) is find some issue or discussion and write our two different perspectives on it. It would be fascinating how we both approach things and the different thought processes.

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