Ep. 34 - North 6th Agency COO, Daniela Mancinelli

Ep. 34 - North 6th Agency COO, Daniela Mancinelli

Daniela Mancinelli is the Chief Operations Officer of North 6th Agency. She shows us the kind of culture that she carried out as a COO from an entrepreneurial family. Overseeing all operational areas, Daniela has been an integral part of rapidly scaling the business, opening up their new Toronto office in the summer of 2017. She tells us how she did it while working hand in hand with CEO Matt Rizzetta, sharing how she maintained being on the same page together as well as with the team. Daniela also talks about their PR and creating a niche for themselves through earned media.

North 6th Agency COO, Daniela Mancinelli

Daniela Mancinelli serves as the Chief Operations Officer of N6A, an award-winning public relations and social media agency. She oversees all operational areas including client services and customer success, employee engagement, branding and communications. She directly manages all of N6A’s customer delivery groups and is responsible for executing on N6A’s unique performance-oriented culture. Daniela’s been an integral part of the rapidly scaling of the business, opening up their Toronto office in the summer of 2017 and establishing various service lines such as robust social media program. Daniela joined N6A as Vice President in 2015. Prior to joining N6A, Daniela spent many years in luxury PR branding and marketing including various stints with NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate and Paramount. Why don’t you give us a little bit of background as to what some of your skills are and what you’ve brought to the team at N6A as COO? Even in the early days, what it was about the company that you saw that you liked and what it was about Matt as the CEO that he saw in you that he liked?

It goes back to the beginning of my career. I started off in Hollywood. In Los Angeles, I did entertainment PR. I worked with television shows, personalities also touched base with event PR and some fashion. When I met Matt a few years ago, it’s all about chemistry. You have to like who you’re going to work for. We sat down and he was running N6A at the time. It was about fifteen to twenty people. He had two vice presidents there. He was looking for a third. I realized that my background was different from everyone else’s. He thought this could be a good opportunity to join hands. I had experience dealing in entertainment, something that Matt never touched on. He was mostly in marketing technology and tech space.

I joined hands and it’s been amazing ever since. I started off as VP. What I liked about Matt is he threw me in and he said, “We’re going to give you a one-day orientation. You’re going to meet your team and they’re going to brief you on about fifteen accounts, probably about ten different industries.” I said, “Sure.” The next day I had directors, managers walking up to me asking me for advice, clients calling me for one-on-one and I dove in. There was something about that that I loved. It was challenging and I knew instantly that the way that Matt recruited was based not only on skill but the belief that he has in individuals. He trusted me with a portfolio of accounts and from that day, that’s how I’ve run in the company.

That’s an entrepreneurial environment to dive into and typical entrepreneur to say, “You need one day of training.” Meanwhile, he’s probably been running the business for a few years and knows it inside and out and you get one day to catch up. They assume you’re caught up to. How long did it take you to get up to speed to where you felt you had the confidence and the competence to pull it off in that first VP role?

The first week, you pull from your gut and your experience and you’re listening to your team members, you trust your managers. I would say I felt comfortable after the first month. It took me a few weeks to understand the landscape. In PR, especially the world that we live in, every day is different. You’ll have a new entrepreneur CEO who has closed funding and they’re pitching you this new technology and they’re excited about it. You’re taking notes. You’re thinking about, “How can we introduce it to the media?” We have to do it in a few days because we don’t want anyone to scoop us. Coming from that PR environment, learning about navigating and pivoting through quick decisions, I was able to feel semi-comfortable after a month.

I’ve been lucky to spend a bunch of time in PR in a different way than the traditional PR. We built an in-house PR team at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and we only got it up to six people. We were what we used to call smile and dial. We picked up the phone and cranked it out. It was guerrilla PR, but what you are doing is PR at a different level. Can you give us a case study of the type of client you work with, one that’s maybe a big success for your agency?

Smile and dial used to be how I started my PR career. Now, it’s a little bit more organized in the sense that we’re able to meet with the CMO. We’re able to review messaging. Some of the messaging has already been constructed for us. If that’s the case, that’s a blessing. Everything is buttoned up in a nice package. We’re able to log in to a Dropbox, find bios. We have spokespeople who are media trained. We’re able to lay out a 30-day, 90-day plan and go at it in a more structured way. A larger company like this would be Ladders, which is who we worked for. It’s a recruiting platform. On the other side of things, we have startup folks who come in and don’t have any messaging. Their CEO is new to media, maybe doesn’t understand earned media and how it works. Those were the ones that I also enjoyed to work with. You’re educating, mentoring and taking them along on the journey. You can measure the success because they’ve never had a media footprint until now. Especially if it’s a great story, we’re able to show them what we can do in a matter of a couple of months to a year.

I’ve never heard the term earned media before but I’m fascinated by it. Walk us through what earned media is. Is that a term that you have coined for yourself to create a niche? Is that an industry term?

SIC 34 | North 6th Agency
North 6th Agency: The growth from 50 to 100 employees is when the culture starts to change and politics starts to creep in.

 

It’s an industry term. You have folks that will come in and they want us to handle media buying, which is what we don’t do. Earned media is we work on retainer. A client will engage with us. They’ll pay a retainer fee. Our job is to tell the story and work with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, get them on the broadcast. Work hand-in-hand with the journalist to make sure their stories are being told and that we’re inserting them and even larger stories. That’s the earned side and the only thing we touch on is on our social media and we do social media. In fact, we acquired an agency in 2017 in Toronto that houses all of our social media. They do a bit of paid because the way that Facebook is run and Instagram, you’re going to have to spend money in order to push your brand out there. We don’t do any advertising or media buying, none of that. It’s good old-fashioned PR.

How many employees are in the company?

We’re 50.

You’re what I call the real company size where you’re maturing from the teenage-sized company to the adults or adolescent, adult-sized. The growth from 50 to 100 employees is when the culture starts to change and politics starts to creep in. How many would be on your leadership team?

We have about eight folks on the leadership team.

How many reports to you? How many reports to Matt?

Matt has three direct reports. I have about seven direct reports.

What areas do you not report to?

Sales are not reporting into me directly, even though in 2018 where I worked hand-in-hand with sales. Matt and I take that on together. Matt for several years was our sales guy. In 2018, by design we built a team that would work on new business. As we start to grow that team, we want Matt out of that role even though he’s great at it. He needs to focus on CEO stuff. Everything else though I can say does run through my office and it’s probably Matt trying to pry me out of certain spaces because I love getting my hands dirty and working with our managers, our directors, with our clients. That’s probably the struggle that I’ve had is removing myself from what used to be day-to-day life for me.

One of the areas CEOs need to be the real caretaker of is a vision and rolling out that vivid vision to their company and explaining where we’re going as a company. We get to figure out how to go there. How do you stay on the same page with Matt and the vision that he’s got for the organization? How do you sign off on that vision? How does he sign off on your plans or the way that you’re going to go about making it come true?

Matt and I meet for strategic planning at least once a week. We have an agenda. We talk about the vision, what we want to do next quarter and next year. We stay in line. When it comes to my role and when I’m running, we’ve built such a relationship that he’s able to probably finish my sentence or know the decisions that I’m going to make. We have something called Producer of the Week which is basically a program that identifies as the top performer each week. How we do it is we built a proprietary portal that allows folks to nominate the highest performer. I’ll get about five nominees and it’s gotten to a point where I would say Matt would probably guess who I’m going to choose because I’m responsible for choosing that performer. When you work with somebody for so long and you study how they will tackle a challenge and vice versa, you’re able to walk in lockstep. Out of courtesy and the way that I’ve been raised, I’ve been raised entrepreneur parents. I always run something by him and will say, “This is my decision. If you see it differently, let me know. If not, I’m going to execute.”

I’ve always struggled, especially as the company’s grown to not play favorites. I end up with these people in the company that I like and then I have fun with and that we have a cool culture and we’d go for coffee. How do you not play favorites? How do you get yourself to give your time to the A-players and work with the B-players and give your time to people that maybe you don’t have a high affinity to hang out with?

I don’t have favorites. It’s something that I’ve always been raised this way. I’m fair. I see everyone in the agency as equal. It’s tough. You want to make sure that you give as much love, whether it’s coffees or whether it’s strategic meetings. It’s important to sit down one-on-one and I’ll take the time to schedule coffees or bring them into my office and ask them for feedback, whether it’s on a new business pitch or whether it’s what we can do to make things better on the floor. It’s a conscious effort I make as a leader and it’s something that I’ve seen in other organizations where they’ve failed, in my opinion. Where you can see who’s within that cliquey inner circle and who’s out of the circle. I’m not a big fan of that at all.

How do you avoid silos from starting in the organization?

We’ve put a few programs in place. There are six groups on the floor. They work together on ten accounts. It’s easy to create that family within family groups. We put a buddy system together so we will pair folks with other people on other teams. They also get a mentor as well. That somebody is an SVP, a director, myself or Matt. We work hard to make sure that everyone is collaborating well across the entire agency. There’s another challenge there too because we also have Toronto. When we’re doing happy hours in our New York office, it’s equally as important to make sure that Toronto is getting the exact same love and we fly them in at least three times a year for big company events. One is called a Summer Bash. It’s a big celebration where we celebrate the highest performing groups, team members and then go over company cultures again. Matt speaks. We review the past and then we review the future. Everyone gets to socialize together. The second would be a holiday event, which we also fly them down. Soon it’s going to be three because it’s going to be our ten-year anniversary.

How many employees are in your Toronto office?

SIC 34 | North 6th Agency
North 6th Agency: It is important to show loyalty and respect, not only to your colleagues but also to the owner, the person that had this vision and continues to create it.

 

There are six. It’s a small operation.

You’ve almost got to start bringing your New York team to Toronto for a trip as well.

We would love that.

Talk to me about the lessons that you got from the entrepreneurial family, lessons that you would carry with you as the COO.

My dad came over from Italy when he was eighteen and built his own business. He’s a developer out here in California. My mom worked right alongside him. They worked hard and they were fair. They never cheated anyone out of a dollar. They always respected all of their vendors. They treated everyone like a big extension of the family. When I joined N6A, I met Matt. Even though I was an employee, I was a VP, I felt every decision I made was as if the agency was my own, that I had created it. I was careful. If there were needs, I was the first one to volunteer and give up something if that meant someone else could have it. I had seen my parents do that and I knew how important it was to show loyalty and respect, not only to your colleagues but also the owner, the person that had this vision and continues to create it.

I’m watching my Director of Operations, and she’s my second-in-command, the way she runs the COO Alliance and how she does stuff. She’s buying gifts for people and she’s buying them out of her own money and she’s taking money out of the bank machine and tipping people at the hotel where we’re running conferences. She’s doing it on her own and I’m like, “Start billing the company for this.” She’s like, “It doesn’t matter.” It’s amazing how she feels this incredible sense of ownership and passion towards the business and the brand. Is that in the DNA? Is that something the entrepreneurs instilling? I don’t know where it’s come from. I don’t think it’s anything that I’m doing. Is it from you?

You can identify the leaders, those entrepreneurs. They do operate. In fact, that’s one of them. They pick up dinner on their own time, even though it is a business event. They’ll go the extra mile for the client in a way that maybe someone else wouldn’t. It’s in the details that matter and people notice that. Maybe it’s installed within you by family members or mentors or maybe it’s just something that you have built within.

It’s part of your DNA. Part of your DNA it sounds like is that real work ethic and it may be the immigrant work ethic that your parents brought over where they’re going to do everything they can to succeed. There’s nothing going to get in their way. Is that why Matt’s trying to pull you out of some business areas is because you’re doing everything that’s needed?

We are 50, so 40 on the floor in SoHo. It’s easy. The reasons why I love my job is the people. If I could, I would sit down with them. I would probably go over their fears, their challenges, things that I see in them that they don’t see themselves. Being a VP had access to that. I have a layer between me. I still have access to them, but I’m usually wanting to dive in and help them troubleshoot, problem solve. Sometimes you have to have trust in your SVPs and we have the best SVPs who are equally as passionate as I am. It’s a mama bear where I have to let them go and help from another place and marry the two, the vision between Matt our CEO and what they’re building and creating on the floor every day.

I’ve always believed that a leader’s job is to grow people. Do you have any personal leadership mantras that you follow or that you believe in?

There’s no room for self-doubt and success. Especially on the fly in our world, we’ll have a new business meeting pop-up the day of. There are a lot of nerves presenting in front of new members and also winning a business. The most important thing in what I tell everyone is to be yourself, believe in yourself. A lot of the time, it’s about the presentation. It’s about your knowledge in the space, but it’s also your energy and how important you make everyone else in the room feel. How excited you are about what they’re building and how you want to be a part of that. It’s a simple thing. Something that maybe somebody would never have told them. Leave self-doubt out of the door and believe in yourself because they often and always do end up shining.

Where do you think you are challenged in your role? At the end of the day, Ray Kroc from McDonald’s said, “When we’re green, we’re growing. When we’re ripe, we’re rotting.” Where are you growing as a leader?

Most important, it’s probably personal which is balanced. I tend to be more of a sponge. I do take everything with me. It’s hard for me to leave things at the door. I think about it. I’ll dream about it. In this new role as COO, I have to be able to draw a line and make sure that I’ve identified a problem or a challenge and file it there. Work on a little bit more so of myself and how I can filter that out and focus more so on scaling the business and the larger vision.

Where do you think you’ve grown in the past then? What do you have to work on to get you there?

Disconnecting. I joined in on our sabbatical. We gave everyone a sabbatical at the agency, 30 days where they can go and travel. I took about ten days myself and I took my best friend from college.

Four of which were weekends?

SIC 34 | North 6th Agency
North 6th Agency: Everything should be as important as trying to land a client in business.

 

It was technically four-day workday but it was ten days total, which I completely disconnected because I was in Iceland. There was no internet connection. I was able to laugh on a girls’ trip and disconnect. I still think there’s room for improvement there. I definitely could use a little bit more Daniela time.

That’s the one that I really had to learn years ago. I remember I pulled my team together and I asked them to each write down three areas that I could continue doing that they thought I was strong in and then three areas that I should improve on. They all wrote them down on Post-it notes and then they each read them out loud and posted them on the wall for me. One of the ones that were consistent was I needed to get away from the company and take a break. It was that I was stressing them out because I was present all the time in the business. I was stressing them out because I was working hard and they didn’t think that was balanced. They felt by me not being balanced and me not taking enough time off. I was reacting versus responding.

I was getting angry quickly. I was too intense. They felt for me to rise as a leader. I was to take more time off. That was when we were only doing $30 million in revenue. I still had to do two doubles since then. It was big feedback from me. I stopped working at night. At 5:00 at night I shut down, I’m done. I try not to work at nights and try never to work weekends. Vacations are the same thing. I’m guilty unfortunately of checking emails. That’s the one that we’ve got to lock ourselves away with. It’s hard to get rid of the phone. I tried that where I said I’d give it up for a week. I ended up going 48 hours. It’s hard. I couldn’t text. I didn’t know where one of my kids was to go pick him up after an appointment. I didn’t know where I was supposed to pick him up after an appointment. I didn’t have my map. I didn’t have Google. It’s amazing the number of things we use. It was good to be present. There’s nothing I was missing on the newspaper, but it’s amazing how somehow turning off email. Are there any apps for that?

There have to be apps. I get anxiety if not checking because what if there is an emergency. What if there’s something that we could have prevented, something that we could have helped out on and I could have helped out? It’s that FOMO. We have to create one for emails. You’re afraid of missing out on fun but I’m also afraid of missing out on work stuff and I enjoy it. As I travel, I enjoy touching base with my colleagues asking how their day went? How did certain clients do with announcements?

Are we avoiding something in our own lives? Are we avoiding connection with our friends or reaching out to the friends that we feel we’ve let go of or our hobbies? It’s a dopamine rush. We get excitement. We get a buzz off of it.

I’ve been called out, especially on dates for having the phone. It’s a turnoff when you’re at dinner and somebody continues to check their phone or you’re at a birthday party and somebody is continuously checking their phone. It can make the person feel not important.

That’s when I’ve started to leave my phone in the car. It’s good. It was a story I told myself. I said, “My grandfather told me that if he could play golf and run a company and he could play golf without calling into the office, I could too.” I told myself that story because he never said that to me, but both of my grandfathers ran their own companies and they played golf. I realized that if they could take five hours off to be on the golf course and completely disconnect, I can too. I started golfing without my phone. I’ve got a GPS watch instead of checking my yardage on my phone. I started doing it at dinners. I’ll go for a dinner date and I’ll sit and I won’t check my phone at all. I’m trying not to bring it to the dinner table at home. I don’t have it with me. It’s an addiction that we have to break. Do you allow phones to be brought into the meeting rooms?

We used to have a strict policy, especially with internal meetings. New business meeting, no phones. It’s important

It’s because you’re trying to land the client.

We leave computers out as well and some people do bring their computers to take notes. I’m old school where I love the notebook. We’ll have a deck and so forth, but no phones during new business. We used to have a strict no phone policy when there were internal meetings. We’ve loosened up a little bit there.

I get a wood salad bowl now and I leave it at the door of meeting rooms and I check the phone, even when we do the COO Alliance. Our COO Alliance is all these COOs from all over North America and we meet for two full days. 8:00 on Thursday morning, everyone puts their phone into the bowl and we don’t touch it until 5:00 PM. It’s like giving up a cocaine addiction. People are all jittery. At the end of day one, they grab their phone. Day two is a breeze, no problem at all. I’m now getting all of my clients, CEOs included and saying, “If you can’t sit in that internal meeting for a half-hour or an hour without your phone, it means you’re too busy for the meeting. That’s okay. Go do your other stuff.” Either be completely present and treat it like a client meeting where you’re trying to land the client. Everything should be as important as trying to land that client. Give me something that’s working for you guys in meetings. I wrote the book, Meetings Suck. I’m a little bit obsessed with meetings. Walk me through what’s working well for you in meetings.

What’s working and what’s unique that we’re doing, especially in Matt our CEO’s direct report meeting is we rotate through a project. We call it Make the Company Better project. One of us will own it for the week and we’ll present something. It could be anything. It could be related to our department. It could be an observation. It could be a report. We’re big into data. That’s how our PR firm operates. We analyze internal data all the time, whether client results, whether it’s staff retention, hiring, all of that stuff. We try to beat it every year. These Make the Company Better projects are amazing because we’re learning from each other and were able to get creative. There are things that I think about on the way to work when I’m at home, when I’m traveling in Iceland, but they never make it to my to-do list. This is the opportunity for me to bring it to life through a presentation to colleagues. That’s something that works and meetings are great for that.

I’m Gen Y. The PR industry is notorious for being successful in leading a group of people that are Gen Y. I’d say 90% of your workforce is between 22 and 37 years old. They’re getting a bad rap. They’re also getting an accurate rap, but tell me how you’re successful in recruiting them, in onboarding them and in keeping them for more than six months?

Have you heard about our Pace Points Program? We were notorious. In fact, we won Entrepreneur’s Top Company Cultures in America award because we’re big on company culture. We run the agency like a family, but we also reward our folks. They’re competitive in the sense that, “Compete and Care,” is one of our taglines. It’s important that everyone works well, but also is taking care of each other. What we’ve done is we blown this culture rewards program out of the park and we introduced Pace Points. We have team members who will start to earn Pace Points based on coverage. Maybe they’ve placed coverage for their clients. They’d had an outstanding month. Their team has won some awards. Their group has won some awards. They have two windows every year where they can cash out on these points. These points hit different buckets. For you, Cameron, maybe you’re interested in cash only. Maybe I’m interested in opening up an office in Singapore and having experience and operating out of WeWork somewhere.

We started to realize that our team members wanted to work from home because they felt they worked better working from home. They wanted experiences. Through these Pace Points that they accumulate, they’re able to take one-month sabbaticals. They’re able to look at the health and wellness bucket and say, “I can hire a celebrity trainer now and cash in my points and work with a celebrity trainer. I can go to a yoga retreat for a week and Bali.” We’ve created what looks like, think of your American air miles award. We’ve done it in a way. It’s an eCommerce site that we built.

Is this an internal site that you’re using or is this an external that you’ve white-labeled?

SIC 34 | North 6th Agency
North 6th Agency: We’ve now gotten to the point where, for the best-culture companies, working from home is no longer looked at as a perk.

 

It’s internal. We’ve created it. In fact, we’re one of the few PR firms that have a full-time software engineer. He’s dedicated to building this portal. This is where we track performance. We review every one every month including me. I get reviewed every month so forth. The CEO reviews himself every month.

Several years ago, my third company that I ever coached was called Achievers. It used to be called I Love Rewards. They built private label points programs for companies to put internally inside their companies. They were based in Toronto. I Love Rewards was what they were called in Toronto and then Achievers. They were a few years in a row ranked as one of the top companies to work for in Canada. This points program is huge. It works well. You call it Pace Points?

We call it Pace Points because, “Embrace the Pace,” is one of our taglines. We have six, so we do everything in sixes hence N6A.

That motivates people and it’s also built in retention as well because they’ve got all these points to build up they don’t want to leave.

Retention is great but I will say that Generation Y and this new generation, I love them because they keep you on your feet. They’re big into transparency feedback. I remember when I started my career, I don’t think I ever asked anybody for feedback, which I probably should have. I worked and I overworked and made sure that I was doing my job and I was doing it well and they felt the passion and the work ethic.

With social media, they are also used to getting positive and constructive criticism. It’s like, “That was feedback.” They move on. They don’t get all worried about the feedback because they’re used to getting it every minute.

I go back to this Pace Points and work from home policy. A couple of years ago, we didn’t have a work from home policy. In fact, we had one. You can take one every quarter if you need it, but we would love everyone to be in the office. You have your PTOs if you need to go and take care of and go on vacation. When we announced it to the staff, they were so upset. We do surveys as well every quarter where it’s anonymous and they can ask questions. You can give feedback. We present all of their questions and we communicate the feedback to a town hall setting. Work from home was a huge one. They were upset about that. We said, “We’re going to meet you. If you perform well, you can have unlimited work from home, no questions asked.”

We’ve gotten to the point where certainly for the best culture companies and best places to work, working from home is no longer looked at as a perk. That’s where people now work. You work from remote. It also allows people to travel, but it has to be a pure meritocracy and you got to get your stuff done. Do you want to go live in Bali for a month? Go live in Bali for a month as long as you’re showing up for work. I don’t care. I got off a coaching call coaching a client who’s based in Bulgaria. It was ten hours time zone difference. They didn’t care. We’re on Zoom. We talked face-to-face. We had a great reaction and spoke for 90 minutes.

There will be accountability and we’ll use some online tools to follow up that. It starts to make sense to say, I’m glad you brought it up. I was going to ask you about the remote versus in office. It also allows us to hire people from anywhere. Instead of saying, “You have to be based in Toronto.” What if I’m based in Winnipeg or what if I’m based in Quad Cities, Iowa and I happen to want to live there? Why shouldn’t we be able to hire them? Are you going after those people now consciously? Are you more open to hiring people who are remote or not yet?

We are definitely in a position where we are open to hiring folks remote, especially as we look at the West Coast or working with folks who represent the European market. These are things that we’re open to now because we’re 50. Before, we were a lot smaller. It was important for all of us to build the team together. I probably am still a little bit old-fashioned in the sense I do love coming to work. I do appreciate working from home once in a while, but I like communicating in person with the team. It’s something for me, but it’s not for everyone. Some design positions or our software engineer, they come into the office, but there’s nothing that stops us from saying, “If you need to go and work from home during the month of December, go for it.”

We are going to see a huge trend over the next several years towards this. I have a client that I coached I don’t even know where they’re out of because they have 85 employees and no one works in the same office at all. They don’t have an office. It’s called Acceleration Partners. They rank as the twelfth best company in North America to work on Glassdoor and they don’t have an office at all. They never had an office. They started that way.

You’d probably have to invest more so on company retreats?

They do a couple of retreats a year. They have days where they’ll have people sitting with Zoom open working. We’re hanging out at the table working together and you’ll see somebody tapping away and they’re a little giggle and there’s a smile there or you’ll say, “Kelly.” There’s this casual hanging out together that people get. Technology has definitely made it easier. I don’t know when Skype started, but maybe several years ago. It hasn’t been that long. The Baby Boomers are the ones that are pushing against it because they don’t know anything other than going and driving to work and sitting there 9 to 5 and driving home. They’re the ones that are more against it, whereas Gen Y is used to it.

We do have, for instance in our case, some clients will fly in and they do want to see the entire team. Those are moments where we’ll have to override and say, “Make it in.”

Maybe we all meet at in WeWork location somewhere. I was in Lima, Peru and I went into a WeWork location there. I’m like, “You don’t need to have a local office. All meet here and there’s an awesome restaurant across the street and a fantastic hotel around the corner and it’s easy.” I was speaking down there. You and I had similar families because whenever we say, “It’s like a family environment.” Someone said, “Some of us had dysfunctional families,” and I’m like, “Good point. Maybe I won’t talk about us being like a family anymore when you realize that some people had families that were a little off.” It’s around building a culture or building something. I had a client one time, they go, “We don’t have a culture.” I’m like, “That’s your culture. It’s beige.” How would you describe N6A’s culture? Tell us about your core values that you guys live out? I’m sure you have them and you live them as a company.

Togetherness, maybe we substitute the family and think about togetherness and that’s how we operate. I should think about that. The Italian in me, family is something that comes naturally. There is a lot of food. I also defined family with food. There is a lot of food in our agency. Togetherness is huge. We work together. We meet the entire agency together at least once a week. We love to experiment. Experimentation is key for the agency whether it’s for our culture. When I say culture, our perks program. How we can make the company better? Innovation in the sense we’re continuously looking at ways where we can improve the customer service experience. We’re in the service industry. It’s all about our customer. How do we continue to improve and build those relationships? In our world, it’s the relationships we have with our team. It’s the relationships we have with the media. It’s the relationships we have with the client. We continuously work at that. That’s a little bit of a sense in our culture. Speed is probably something I would also slide in there. We are quick.

One day of training.

It’s changed. Nina is one of our SVPs. She’s been with the company for a few years on the service side. Did great work with the service team and then graduated, was promoted into this new role where she heads talent. She does training events, recruiting events. She takes a couple of weeks to properly onboard them. We’re at that point now at 50 where it’s important that the new members know our roots and how we used to service clients back when we were fifteen people. It was roll up your sleeve. Let’s jump in no matter what role you’re in. It’s all about the client. We respond to our emails right away. We used to have a year of the customer where we modeled programs every month around big brands that we admired. Nordstrom had this policy where after the third ring you had to call or else you would get some discount if they didn’t pick up after the third ring. We did six minutes because we do everything in sixes. You have to respond to an email, make sure that the client knows you’ve received the email. That you’re working on it whether you answer it or simply say, “I’ll get back to you.” We were joking because we had a new business client come in who was Italian and they loved that piece. They said, “You must forgive us, we’re Italian. We’ll take twenty minutes to probably get back.”

What’s a parting word of advice you’d have for anyone who is either starting off in their career as a second in command or growing into a leadership role or even anyone in leadership? What advice would you give them that have worked well for you?

Never lose sight of your people. It’s opposite for me but make sure you are meeting with them one-on-one, everyone from account coordinator up. Listen and bring that feedback to your CEO and don’t be afraid to push back if there are things that you’re not aligning on. Sometimes as a CEO, you’re thinking about the vision. Your meetings are different than let’s say the COOs meetings. I know the pulse of the agency. It’s important that you continue to deliver that energy and that by over into the CEO’s world.

Daniela Mancinelli, Matt is lucky to have you in the second-in-command role. Thank you so much for sharing with us. I appreciate all the ideas and the lessons you shared.

Thank you so much.

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About Daniela Mancinelli

SIC 34 | North 6th AgencyDaniela Mancinelli serves as the Chief Operations Officer 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. Daniela joined N6A as Vice President in 2015, and managed all N6A clients in the Consumer/Lifestyle Group. Prior to joining N6A, Daniela spent over 15 years in Luxury PR, Branding and Marketing, including various stints with NBC Universal, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate and Paramount. Daniela holds a Bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount University, and a dual MBA from the Swiss School of Management, Rome and INSEEC in Paris.

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