Learnings with Lisa
So there I was, 7pm on a Friday, standing in the copy room.
“You look tired,” my coworker teased, “Your eyes are bloodshot.”
“You try walking a week in Lisa’s shoes and we’ll see how tired you look,” I shot back.
Last week, I had the pleasure of shadowing Lisa Kimmel, the general manager of Edelman Toronto, and learned quickly how demanding the life of a GM is. Turns out it’s not all just fancy lunches and evening events! The long schedule of meetings, constant switching tasks and troubleshooting is hard work and can take a toll, but Lisa makes it look easy, and her ability to do so is where I begin my list of “Learnings with Lisa.”
Keep calm and meeting on
Days can be packed and meetings can be short, but don’t underestimate the true power of keeping a calm and light-hearted environment. Even on the longest of days, Lisa keeps things positive, and brings her relaxed nature to whatever meetings she goes to. Keeping meetings light but still professional allows for a deeper, more productive discussion and results in higher quality results for everyone. It also makes for a more entertaining day!
Asking the right questions
A lot of what we see of Lisa is her presenting information to employees, but watching her one-on-one, I got to see the importance of asking good questions. Questions rarely only benefited Lisa. A well-framed question gave her a better understanding of the topic, but it also led the person she was questioning to come to a new realization through the thought process. This applies with colleagues, but also, importantly, with clients. By asking the right questions, you can help clients uncover opportunities, while also demonstrating the value that you bring as their agency partner. Since our time together, I am making a better effort to ask at least one GOOD question in a meeting that will benefit more than just me in the room.
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Matt Beck, Account Executive, and Lisa Kimmel, General Manager of Edelman Toronto[/caption]
Gossip and secrets? Unfortunately not
I was asked throughout the week by others in the office “So — what’s the gossip?! What secrets did you learn at the Toronto Leadership Team meeting?” I’m sorry to deliver the boring news that there weren’t many juicy secrets. Unfortunately (or fortunately!) transparency here at Edelman is like the Caribbean sea, clear from top to bottom. Of course, there were a few things that were confidential, but 97.5 per cent of things discussed over the week had the intention to be shared downward within the coming month. So Edelpeeps: next time you try and listen in on Lisa’s phone calls, don’t bother — just wait till the next all-staff meeting, and she’ll tell ya!
Lisa doesn’t know everything
Lisa wears a lot of hats. People, both internal and external, expect a lot from her. As long as Lisa knows the right people — and at Edelman that’s easy — the right answer is always at hand. In preparation for meetings or even right in the middle of meetings, Lisa consistently relies on the depth and knowledge of Edelman people to get her through the day and assist her in providing integrated solutions.
Everyone’s opinion counts
One of Lisa’s selling points on moving to an open concept office was to promote collaboration and to break down barriers between levels. From account executive to SVP, Lisa values and considers input from everyone no matter what the level. If you were blindfolded listening to a discussion, you would not be able to guess the seniority differences within the room. This was good news, as right off the bat she told me I would have to speak up and share thoughts throughout the week.
No excuse not to exercise
Fun fact: Lisa has run a few half marathons and goes to the gym before work. If on top of being a GM and having a family she can still fit in a workout, then you and I have no excuse. So set that alarm clock a few ticks earlier, and you’ll feel better I promise!
So there you have it. Some snapshots of my week shadowing Lisa — a learning experience that I — and Lisa — highly recommend other companies consider implementing. The week can be tiring (yes, you still have your own work to do), but the lessons learned are worthwhile and go far beyond what a blog entry can convey.
Matthew Beck is an account executive in the public affairs practice.