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).


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?

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.

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