Never underestimate the impact of micro-leadership moments. You might not realize it, but you have an opportunity to spread influence every day. In so many instances, something small can be so meaningful. An interaction in a routine meeting, a well-crafted email, a moment of unexpected kindness — these actions can create lasting impressions and takeaway lessons. Soliciting regular feedback from your team will reaffirm this.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Yasmin Marinaro-Basone, Vice President of Publishing at The Penny Hoarder, who oversees the organization’s product, social media, email, seo and sms teams. Yasmin began her career with a focus on digital lead acquisition, e-commerce and product development. Since then, she has led digital marketing and business development teams at startup and legacy organizations, creating high ROI channels, loyal audiences and new revenue streams for brands such as Priceline, Time Inc., American Express and Penguin Random House.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I began a career in subscription marketing for a financial B2B publication, Institutional Investor. I received a great foundation in direct marketing principles (and derivatives!) but it was not for me. When the company pursued a digital strategy, I worked on a micro-site build and I never looked back. I knew my future was digital and it was B2C. My next gig checked all the boxes — digital consumer acquisition for a venture backed by Time Inc. and Bertelsmann. From there, I sought opportunities to diversify my experience in digital marketing, business development and product development.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I was only a few weeks into my role at The Penny Hoarder when Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Tampa Bay area. At the very same time, we were moving the company into a new space. I was in the process of moving to the area from the Northeast, the company was moving and a hurricane was imminent. I never saw a community of colleagues support each other the way this team did. Our CEO and our leadership team acted quickly to help the staff and their families. Employees opened up their homes to one another and shared supplies. It certainly was a trying time but I was grateful for the opportunity to see what these Penny Hoarders were made of. I knew I had found the right place — a collegial community that truly puts the values they promote into practice.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I don’t know that there’s been a mistake that stands out as funny. I can tell you that I find reasons to laugh every day. It’s important to not take yourself too seriously and keep perspective. I encourage that kind of levity. I want everyone who works with me to feel free enough to see humor even in the most serious situations.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our company is true to its mission through and through. As I mentioned earlier, we put the values we promote into practice. We want to do our part to create a world where people stress less about money so that they can live their fullest, best lives. We ask ourselves at every decision point, does this benefit our readers? I don’t have one story to share, I have many. We hear from readers every day who share inspiring and moving stories about overcoming financial hardships, achieving financial wellness milestones, and quite literally making their dreams come true. These testimonials and personal stories make our work so rewarding. I have never felt so motivated and inspired to get to work every single day so that I can do my part to fulfill our purpose.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes! We are always ideating on new ways to further our mission and help our readers. We obsessively ask our audience about their pain points, goals and feedback in order to find better ways to serve them.
We recently launched The Penny Hoarder Insider, an SMS product that gives our readers a new way to receive timely updates on ways to make and save money. We recognized a need for a channel for time-sensitive content such as limited-availability job alerts. We knew it would provide a great benefit to our readers to be able to receive this information the moment we had notice of it.
We are looking at new avenues for our audiences to learn and be inspired. Personal finance topics are intimidating and overwhelming for many. We make learning about these topics approachable and easy to digest. We are currently in development of a learning center that will help demystify topics such as credit scores, student loans and home buying. Making this content accessible will empower our readers to make better informed decisions.
Our content incites conversation and builds connections among our readers. They draw inspiration and support from each other through exchanges in social media platforms. In a few months, we will be launching a dedicated peer-centric environment to encourage conversation, the sharing of advice and experience — and a place to find everyday motivation to achieve financial wellness.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
My advice would be to focus on being a coach and mentor instead of a supervisor. Lead by example. Don’t get distracted by ego or let self-doubt erode your resolve. Stand behind your decisions and pursue them with confidence. You’ll be teaching your team to do the same. Always reinforce the value and context of work/initiatives so that team members can understand their contribution to the overarching mission. A sense of purpose and a collegial spirit are powerful foundations for a team. Encourage ideation at all team levels and remember to celebrate small victories along the road to greater achievements.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
Foster deep synergies and transparent communication among team members within and across disciplines. Leverage those synergies to create an ecosystem whereby members can draw inspiration and lessons from each other. Reinforce the idea that you are all part of a larger entity and everyone plays a role in building a culture of good citizenship within the organization. As you pursue goals and team-centric achievements, be supportive and respectful of other teams and promote that goodwill among your team members. And always maintain a sense of humor. You’ll find that kind of energy to be contagious and will do wonders to create a collective positivity and perspective.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
After a couple of stints with large companies, I made somewhat of a frightening leap to a startup. I might have been the eighth or ninth employee. I was definitely far outside of my comfort zone. Working for an entrepreneurial CEO was one of the most impactful learning experiences for me. Seeing someone pursue a venture with unwavering conviction and fearlessness changed my outlook completely. When we hit roadblocks, he adjusted course but kept at it with the same fervor. There might have been moments of frustration but he was never discouraged. I was monumentally inspired by the process of turning passion into an enterprise.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I think a critical responsibility of leadership is the obligation to share one’s experience and talents with others. The greatest value in having achieved experience and knowledge lies in giving it away. I prioritize mentorship and I devote a lot of energy to it. It’s immensely rewarding to know you’re playing a part in helping someone navigate their course.
Along the way, I’ve leveraged my experience to assist some first-time entrepreneurs and nonprofits. Last year, I worked with Wholesome Wave to launch a re-branded site and newsletter. They are an organization focused on making healthy produce affordable and accessible for everyone. Wow, did that work feel good! Today, I have the great fortune to continue to spread goodness through the work we do at The Penny Hoarder.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why.
№1: Step out of your comfort zone regularly.
Every time I’ve taken a risk, I have grown in ways I could not have fathomed. Leaving the “comfort” of a large corporation to join a handful of employees at a startup seemed very risky but proved to be one of the greatest learning experiences I have ever had.
№2: Never underestimate the impact of micro-leadership moments.
You might not realize it, but you have an opportunity to spread influence every day. In so many instances, something small can be so meaningful. An interaction in a routine meeting, a well-crafted email, a moment of unexpected kindness — these actions can create lasting impressions and takeaway lessons. Soliciting regular feedback from your team will reaffirm this.
№3: Be grateful for negative experiences.
There is something to be learned from every experience. If you think back on it, you probably will realize that takeaways from negative experiences have been more impactful in teaching you important lessons. The point is to draw something from every experience. Be grateful for those situations that show you what not to do, what to avoid. Use those to refine your course. I’ve learned my most important leadership lessons from subpar leaders. I’ve always emerged from those experiences resolved to be better and to value team members in an evolved way.
№4: If it isn’t for you, don’t be afraid to let it go.
It takes courage to move on — but knowing when an experience is no longer fulfilling or a good fit is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned. Don’t let the paralysis of change or the unknown keep you in a situation where you’re not being challenged or respected. That is a losing proposition. Don’t miss the signs that are telling you to start your new chapter. It will surely be the next important step in your evolution.
№5: Diplomacy is an underrated art.
Do not underestimate the skill of diplomacy. Being able to mitigate conflict is critical to achieving team and broader organizational harmony. It is a powerful asset. It requires patience, mild manners, good judgment and a solid ability to read a situation.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
If I could inspire a movement, it would center on creating equality both here at home and around the world. It’s not a novel idea but it’s been incredibly difficult for humankind to achieve and I would love to do my part to change that.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote?” Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I don’t believe I’m qualified to pen an original life lesson quote. This one from Khalil Gibran has been particularly relevant throughout my life.
“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”
This has been relevant throughout my life. In the face of personal hardships, this outlook has empowered me to cope, endure and persevere. When the road curves unexpectedly, as it often does in life, staying close to a set of grounding principles will give you the strength to begin again.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This interview might be the most public exchange I’ve ever had. I usually reserve this kind of reflection for my colleagues and close friends. I’m still a work in progress. For now, you can find me on LinkedIn.
Thank you so much for these inspiring insights!