Relentlessly Pursue Your Professional Goals: A Case StudyThis Friday marks my three-year anniversary at Arment Dietrich/Spin Sucks.

That’s right, THREE YEARS!! Gini Dietrich has put up with me for THREE YEARS. Can you believe it?

I’m sure she can’t!

(Note from Gini: No, I can’t. I need professional help!)

She’s essentially gone through a Petrolino adaptation. There’s no going back now.

So in honor of my THREE YEARS, I want to talk again about professional goals.

When I discovered Spin Sucks, I set out on a plan to become part of this amazing organization.

Like, really.

And I think that was a good four to five years prior to joining the team as client service director.

I remember showing my mom the Spin Sucks website one year when I was home for the holidays.

It was soon after Gini and I connected on Twitter.

I told my mom, “This is the type of organization I’d like to be part of. I’m going to be on that team one day.”

And then I went about a plan to make that happen.

Professional Goals in the Long-term

Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t spend the next five years plotting how I could infiltrate the organization.

That didn’t start until about seven months before I was hired.

Instead, I focused on developing the skills I thought worthy of working at an organization such as Arment Dietrich.

  • I learned all I could, both about our craft and how I best fit in it.
  • Then came networking with a lot of amazing people (many from here in the Spin Sucks community, crazies FTW) and learned even more from them.
  • Then I dug in, from both a strategic and tactical execution standpoint, into as many aspects of communications as possible.
  • I pushed myself every single day to be better.

Then I dissected my weaknesses and set professional goals that allowed me to systematically work on each one.

In my rockstar guide from a few weeks ago, I mentioned the four questions I ask when setting goals:

  • What do I want to learn?
  • What do I want to create?
  • Who do I want to affect?
  • Where do I need to improve?

These are so crucial to allow me to take an honest look at what I need to do and provide structure to how I should go about it.

As a side note, I use these questions for all goal setting in my life, not just professional goal.

It’s valuable, no matter what you want to achieve.

Skill Only Gets You Part of the Way

With the exception of one, every major goal I’ve ever set in life I’ve achieved.

(For those of you who are going to ask, I wanted to compete in the Olympics, but wasn’t able to make that happen. 

Funny enough, it’s something I’m still a bit bitter about and nags at me every single time we go through an Olympic games.

Maybe I’ll make up for it by competing in the Olympia one day?)

Let me assure you, this isn’t the case because I’m the smartest, or the most talented…at well, just about ANYTHING.

I mean, for goodness sakes people, I lose my keys daily and can barely do my own laundry without destroying something.

Instead, it’s because I have shear relentless, stubborn will.

And really, if there is any major point I want to get across in this post, it’s that.

Too often I see really talented professionals short-change themselves when setting long-term professional goals because they don’t feel like they have the skill or resources to reach the level they want.

This thinking is completely flawed. You must, must, must be more stubborn than your obstacles. Otherwise they will always stop you from achieving what you can.

Now this doesn’t mean you won’t fail along the way. You will fail. I fail all the time. In fact, I’m a professional failure.

I often tell people if you don’t feel like you are on the verge of failing, you probably aren’t pushing yourself hard enough.

So let me repeat this one more time: It’s not about skill, it’s not about luck, it’s not even about “potential.” It’s about relentlessly and systematically going after what you want.

Let’s Talk About Being Relentless

So anyway, back to the story at hand….ME!

I spent several years focused on becoming a versatile and component professional. All the while  remaining a part of the Spin Sucks community (albeit with different levels of intensity depending on my professional situation at the time).

And when I finally felt I was close to the level of professional that could compete to be part of the Arment Dietrich team, I waited for the right opportunity to strike.

One day in the comments section Gini opened the opportunity (most likely without even knowing it) by jokingly saying something, in response to a comment I left, about working for Arment Dietrich.

I saw a crack in the armor and I went for it.

I launched “Operation AD.”

Which pretty much consisted of me strategically placing myself in front of the entire Arment Dietrich team as much as possible (without being a pest….ok, well maybe a little bit of a pest, but I like to think I was a “pest with charm”).

I agonized over every email, every comment I made on the blog, every social media post I responded to or interacted with. 

Was I was well versed in EVERY PR principle Arment Dietrich stood for, as well as the personalities on the team?

Could I say I followed “The Arment Dietrich Way,” and not just the ideas put forth on Spin Sucks, but dug deeper so when I discussed things I wasn’t just reciting, but able to provide new perspectives and add value?

I wanted it to seem as if I was already part of the team in the way I approached challenges and looked at situations.

Relentlessly Pursue Your Professional Goals

At one point during our rather long interview process (if you’ve ever interviewed with us you know it’s quite the process…with good reason) my car broke down along the side of the road while on my way home for an interview with one of the AD team members.

So I sat there, for an hour, during rush hour, and did the interview along the side of the interstate.

Because come at me forces of nature and natural disasters….nothing will get in my way.


We always joke that Gini hired me just because I wouldn’t leave her alone and she thought it might just be easier—but in some ways this isn’t that far from reality.

And here I am three years later.

Newly promoted to chief client officer.

Happier in my professional life than I ever thought possible.

Excited each day to work with our amazing team.

And more pumped than I can even put into words about what the future holds for our organization, as well as the privilege of serving the role I do within it.

You create the life and professional path you want by the choices you make and drive you have to create the reality you want.

As you head into 2017 and set your professional goals, take a moment to look out—not just to one year, not even three years, but five and ten years ahead.

See that vision specifically and in vivid detail. Then set a plan, knowing that it will take ten years to achieve your 10-year vision of you (so don’t be upset when you aren’t there in one year), and go after it.

Follow the three “s” of successful professional goals:

  • Be specific.
  • Be strategic.
  • Be stubborn.


image credit: pixabay

Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

View all posts by Laura Petrolino