Women Of The C-Suite: “We realize that family comes above all else” With Daniela Mancinelli, COO of N6A

“Reinforcing family values has been top of mind. We often take advantage of the time we spend with our loved ones, substituting family…

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“Reinforcing family values has been top of mind. We often take advantage of the time we spend with our loved ones, substituting family events for careers or other professional objectives. At our agency, we realize that family comes above all else. We’ve worked in a quality of life perk and have also given our staff members the opportunity to work from home when needed. This is key to raising children and supporting loved ones. If we start by promoting the importance of a strong family nucleus, it can only make the world a better place.”

I had the pleasure to interview Daniela Mancinelli. Daniela serves as the Chief Operating Office of N6A and oversees all operational areas, including client services, customer success, employee engagement, branding and communications. She directly manages all of N6A’s customer delivery groups, and is responsible for delivering on N6A’s unique performance oriented culture. Daniela has been an integral part of rapidly scaling N6A’s business, opening up their new Toronto office in the summer of 2017 and establishing various ancillary service lines such as a robust social media program.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

First and foremost, I thank you for taking the time to interview me. It is always a pleasure to share my story with others.

Growing up, I was convinced I would end up as a morning producer in the television industry. In fact, this was my major at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. Not knowing anyone in the business, I decided to get my feet wet with a few internships. My first internship was in television production at the television show, Gilmore Girls. I found this world fascinating and felt like I had found the right choice of career, until I began searching for my next internship. I remember talking to my Mother and she encouraged me to try something different, something in the communications industry. She praised my social finesse, passion for people and entrepreneurial spirit. It ultimately came down to a choice between a famous daytime talk show and a boutique Hollywood PR firm. I ended up choosing PR, and that settled my career path for good.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I smile as I answer this, because every day is interesting — it’s hard to spotlight just one story. The most fascinating part of my job is the ability to solve problems quickly, pivot in the appropriate direction, all with a smile on your face. Working in the service industry, it is important to keep morale high. As humans, we tend to doubt, worry and project the worst-case scenario when challenges arise. Keeping calm during a crisis and reassuring your team that there is light at the end of the tunnel is fundamental, in my opinion. There will always be new challenges — that is a given. A younger version of myself fought hard to prevent problems from occurring. I would work tirelessly on prevention plans, run forecasts and scenarios in order to dodge this looming beast from knocking on my door. After years of experience, I began to realize I should convert fear to opportunity and tackle problems head on. The quicker I embraced challenges, the better I understood their ability to mold me into a better leader.

Every year I’m guaranteed a new challenge, a difficult problem, something I could never foresee. I now open my door to them, resolve them quickly, and learn from each experience.

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 made plenty of mistakes as I started my career. I can’t point to any that were huge; however, you often remember things that went wrong.

My first day in PR, I was asked by the president to pitch our fashion clients to relevant publications. He asked me to spend an hour getting to know each fashion client and come up with an elevator pitch. I memorized information about the brand, learned about the founders, and extracted key points on what made each fashion line unique. I remember writing everything down and preparing what would soon be my first pitch. In those days, it was very common for a Publicist to pitch over the phone. For some reason, I assumed I would be emailing my pitch through to the editor, not realizing that this would not be the case. Instead, the President sat down at his desk, handed me the phone and opened up his contact book. He said, “let’s hear your pitch.” I panicked, and realized that I had no choice but to go for it. Although I was not prepared for my verbal pitch, I had no choice but to hit the play button. I remember calling the editor, my first victim, and praying that she wouldn’t answer. Of course, she did, and suddenly an outpouring of utter nonsense came flowing out of my mouth. I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. It was my voice, but I don’t remember putting my thoughts to those words. From that day on, I practiced my elevator pitches in the mirror and aced them.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The people! In all of my career, I have never worked with such a talented team like the one we have at N6A. Our team is smart, empathetic, and full of charisma. They have become family to me, and being able to work for such an amazing group of people gives me great joy.

Last year was the worst year of my life. My Mother was admitted to the hospital for eight weeks, fighting for her life. At this time, N6A was undergoing a lot of change. The office was moving into a larger space and we were simultaneously acquiring a Social Media agency in Toronto. Not once did Matt Rizzetta, the CEO, hesitate on the amount of time I needed to take off in order to be by my Mother’s side. I’ll never forget the support and outpouring of love I received from the agency. Notes of encouragement, prayers and support filled my inbox every day. These acts of kindness fueled me during the toughest moments of my life.

Sadly, after a long battle, I lost my Mom that year. As painful as this has been, I owe a lifetime of gratitude to my team, who helped me get through it.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are always working on exciting projects here at N6A. Experimenting and finding ways to continuously improve our culture is a big focus for us.

This year we launched a points-based rewards program called Pace Points. This program is designed to reward members with perks in areas that matter most to each individual staff member; cash, travel, health, experiences, transportation, housing or quality of life. The value of the rewards can range from a few hundred dollars to $50,000 and up. Analyzing our perks, we realized that many team members had a desire to travel, or wanted a better quality of life. Now with our Pace Points program, members can take the entire summer off or open up their dream office in any country of choice, all sponsored by N6A.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Listen to your gut, and follow your instincts when making strategic decisions. Often, we second guess ourselves, wondering what our peers would think, wondering if we’re being too nice, too stern, or if someone else has a better solution. My advice is be yourself and learn to familiarize with your intuition. You’ll often find that it’s right.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Always manage with compassion. There is a never a one size fits all approach when managing a team. Take time to listen and learn what makes each individual tick. Everyone has their own “why”, their own reason for being a part of the team. Some are financially driven, others are interested in making a social difference. Identify every team member’s motivator, learn their communication style and use this as your guiding compass to inspire and drive a successful team.

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?

I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by smart and loving people all my life. My father migrated from Italy at the age of eighteen, and from poverty, has built his own successful real estate development company in California. My father taught me perseverance and the power of taking risks at an early age. Having witnessed his hard work come to fruition inspired me to work hard and follow my dreams.

When I think about the one continuous support that truly influenced the woman I am today, I think of my Mother. I was always ambitious, competitive and extremely hard on myself growing up. My Mother was the calm to my inner storm. She delivered faith, love and confidence to me with every life decision. I used to call her and tell her I nailed an audition, or that I was hired for a position and she would just smile and say, “I know.” She was wise, loving and extremely intuitive. Although she’s no longer here with me today, I still feel her continuous love and support with every decision I make.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I use the success I’ve had in my life to motivate and inspire others every chance I get. Everyone needs some encouragement, and reassurance that they are on the right path. I spend a lot of time mentoring colleagues, friends, family. Most recently, I’ve had the opportunity to pay it forward by guest teaching and mentoring at youth clubs.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

Be Persistent

No matter what others say, never give up.

Throughout my life, I remember teachers, family members, friends, telling me it was impossible to accomplish certain goals I had made for myself. I even recall my career counselor in high school suggested that I was too ambitious and should set more attainable goals. Too often, I was told that working in the entertainment industry was impossible, because I had no connections. Well, I didn’t listen. I blew right through their fears, and instead converted their doubt into fuel for success. Never accept “that’s not possible” or “no, you can’t do it.” Instead, find solutions, walk down the unbeaten path and make your own way to success. Have faith and believe in yourself.

Show Empathy

Invest in others, and show them you care. Take the time to listen, and understand what your team members, your clients are going through. Often we view things solely as a business transaction. We are all going through challenges at work and in our personal lives, so acknowledge this and remind yourself that’s it’s ok to take your business hat off and simply offer human support. Make decisions about others, the way you would make decisions for yourself. Leaders who take the time to get to know the people they work with, will in return receive an elevated level of commitment and loyalty. Sometimes it’s not a one-size fits all approach. Your heart is your biggest advocate when it comes to building successful relationships, so use it!

Stay classy

Always take the high road. No matter how many times people show you their ugly side, kill them with kindness. Sometimes it’s best to just let people vent. Too many times I’ve seen people get dirty and try to take others down. Manners are often left outside the door. The best leaders remain calm and keep it classy. Next time your buttons are being pushed, just take a deep breath and remember that respect and class go a long way.

Accept your failures

Pride can get in the way of growth. Learn to acknowledge when you’ve made a mistake and make a commitment to learn from it. It’s easy to point the finger at others, however a lack of ownership does a disservice to everyone involved. Be accountable, and honest. I’ve seen too many people lose their jobs and ruin relationships because they didn’t own up to their mistakes. Don’t be one of these people. Use the learnings from your wrongs to make your rights.

Radiate Positivity

Nobody wants to be around negative energy. It’s especially challenging under stress to stay positive, but it’s a requirement in order to be a successful leader. Under stress and crisis, the default tone is often negativity. No matter how bad things got in my career, I knew being snappy or negative would only cause havoc. Being in the service industry, the most important skillset to conquer is human relationships. Sounds easy, but in reality, it is not. Managing people is all about motivation and inspiration. Trust me when I say that a positive approach can take you a long way.

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.

Reinforcing family values has been top of mind. We often take advantage of the time we spend with our loved ones, substituting family events for careers or other professional objectives. At our agency, we realize that family comes above all else. We’ve worked in a quality of life perk and have also given our staff members the opportunity to work from home when needed. This is key to raising children and supporting loved ones. If we start by promoting the importance of a strong family nucleus, it can only make the world a better place.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Man plans, God laughs.

No matter how hard I’ve worked on creating a plan, sometimes life happens and everything just takes a different direction. I remember growing up, I was famous for this imaginary “Little Black Book.” This book held the blueprint to ways I would construct my path to happiness, health, wealth and love. Often, I would hesitate to stray off this path, causing heated discussion with friends about some of the decisions I made. When I went to college in LA, I realized that my Black Book was impacting my growth. I decided to retire it, and instead embraced opportunity. I planned, like I often did, but learned to roll with the punches and pivot quickly when needed. I accepted that God had a plan for me, and I just took notes in this new book called life and so far, it has made me the best person I could be.

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Thank you so much for these inspiring insights!

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