Lisa Shalett: Tips For Effective Collaboration For Both Small and Large Companies, Episode 11

We have moved into an age when both the speed at which things progress and the technologies which are available to us have made it possible that effective collaborations, even outside of company teams, are not only possible but preferable. On this episode of the podcast, I’ve invited Lisa Shalett to talk with me about what it takes to create effective collaborations. Lisa is a former Goldman Sachs Partner, an advisor to startups, and angel investor, mentor, Brand Builder, and so much more. Her experience with both large and small companies makes her uniquely qualified to speak to this issue with authority and insight. Take the time to listen, you will learn many practical things that you can apply to your situation immediately.

When you’re a small team you have no choice except to collaborate

In a small, fast-growing company one of the biggest challenges is to sort through the chaos that often accompanies the rapid success being experienced. Things are coming at you all the time and it’s hard to know when to focus on one area or at what point you should switch to another. In Lisa Shalett’s opinion, small companies have no choice but to collaborate because they have limited resources and must depend on their colleagues to get things done. When I asked Lisa for her advice for smaller companies she provided some incredible insights about the mindsets and approaches to collaboration that can help startups move forward successfully and more rapidly than before. You will enjoy what she has to share, so be sure you listen.

The key pieces of successful collaborations between companies

One of the most beneficial ways to collaborate is with other companies that are complementary to what your company is doing. Lisa Shalett recommends that entrepreneurs and founders do everything they can to get warm introductions to those in positions of leadership at the companies with which they would like to collaborate. Warm introductions are much easier ways into the sphere of influence of successful people than just going in cold – so it is worth your time to find the right people to make those introductions for you. She also says it is important to do your homework. Make sure you understand the values and direction of the company you want to collaborate with and can articulate why you value the same things and how it would be beneficial for your teams to work together. That is just one example of the kinds of wisdom Lisa shares on this episode.

We face unique new challenges in our digital age. In this conversation, Lisa Shalett suggests some of the first things to address when addressing the challenges

The digital age in which we live is brought a myriad of challenges that no one could have predicted. What are some of the ways we can effectively approach those challenges and come out on the other side wiser and more effective? Lisa Shalett says that we have to first learn to question why we do things the way that we do them. A close examination of our current practices and the reasons behind them can reveal inefficiencies and areas where new ideas could bring about an entirely different result. We should also be curious as to whether there are ways technology can make our processes simpler, or smarter. These are the kinds of things Lisa has learned in her long and successful career and she shares them generously on this episode.

Always try to be learning. Recognize that you may learn your best lessons from entirely different contexts

When I asked Lisa Shalett to share her best tips for those who are leading new companies, she advised a certain mindset before anything else: Always be learning. She has discovered that learning comes in all shapes and sizes and often from sources you wouldn’t expect. It’s been her experience that you often learn your best lessons from a myriad of seemingly unrelated contexts. She also emphasized that it is important to notice the similarities that exist between various options. This provides a window of insight into the possibilities of collaboration, new approaches, and more. I truly enjoyed this conversation with Lisa. She continues to be an inspiration and example for me as I pursue greater success in my journey. I hope you find her to be an inspiring mentor as well.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:14] Lisa’s definition of collaboration: a mindset and an activity
  • [2:54] The most successful collaborations Lisa has engaged in
  • [6:39] The similarities and differences between large and small businesses
  • [11:28] Key factors to make good collaborations happen between organizations
  • [19:27] Tips for becoming a better master of collaboration

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica

Erica@cotentialgroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/ericadhawan

Twitter.com/edhawan

Facebook.com/ericadhawan

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Lessons in Successful Collaboration from Non-Profit and Corporate Teams, with Aria Finger, Episode #1

In this first season of the podcast, I want to highlight what can happen in a team or business partnership when successful collaboration is the norm. There’s nobody I’d rather learn from when it comes to effective collaboration than Aria Finger. Aria is CEO of both DoSomething.org and The TMI Agency. With over a decade of experience motivating young people to take action through Do Something, and her role as CEO at TMI – an agency that helps companies understand those young people and reach out to them for greater brand success – she’s got the kind of experience fostering great collaboration that I wanted to feature in this first episode. Take the time to listen. You won’t be disappointed.

Trust and respect are at the heart of every successful collaboration.

Collaboration is one of those things that can sound exciting and attractive, and when it’s done effectively it certainly is. But we have to be honest with ourselves by admitting that it’s also lots of hard work. That’s because collaboration is about relationships with people. At the heart of every successful relationship are trust and respect – and collaboration requires them as well. How can you work toward greater trust and respect within your teams? How can you build trust and respect with vendors and service providers? My guest, Aria Finger has wonderful things to share with you about those situations and more, so be sure you take the time to listen to this episode of Masters of Leadership.

Are there ways to avoid the silos that happen between departments within organizations?

Collaboration in a team environment is about getting everyone on the same page, moving in the same direction harmoniously, and with passion for the desired outcome. But that kind of momentum is hard to build when the organization is divided into silos structurally – marketing, sales, production, shipping, human resources, etc. What can you do to break apart the silos and foster a culture of ongoing collaboration? Aria Finger tells how the teams at Do Something and TMI have adopted practical approaches to things like desk assignments that place team members directly in the path of those working in other areas of specialization within the organization. Here insights into the benefits those practices have produced are powerful and are worth sharing!

Digital communication can foster successful collaboration – but can’t replace face to face.

During this conversation with Aria Finger, I specifically asked how her team uses digital communication tools to collaborate on projects. Her enthusiasm for Slack was obvious and she explained how her team uses it to foster collaboration internally. But she was also quick to point out that no amount of messaging can make up for a face to face conversation when it’s really needed. Tense situations, ongoing miscommunication, or frustration need to be addressed with a walk down the hall or a phone call, not keystrokes on a keyboard. Aria does a great job making the distinction and pointing out the benefits of taking that approach so don’t miss what she has to share.

A vital element of any successful collaboration is genuine feedback.

Collaboration is not only about getting things done more effectively, it’s about bringing out the best in every person who’s working on the project. As everyone brings their unique gifts to the table a sum greater than the parts is the result. But that requires that everyone involved is given the gift of feedback about their contributions. During my conversation with Aria Finger on this episode of Masters of Leadership, she said, “None of us can get better unless we are receiving real, trustworthy, and critical feedback.” I entirely agree. You can hear how she suggests you go about soliciting feedback that meets those criteria and how to make the best use of it by listening to this episode.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:22] Who is Aria Finger?
  • [2:05] What does collaboration mean to Aria and what does it look like at Do Something?
  • [6:00] Virtual communication at Do Something: Slack as a collaboration tool.
  • [9:33] What is similar or different between collaboration in a non-profit VS corporate?
  • [11:20] Aria’s advice to corporate leaders seeking to build a collaborative culture.
  • [15:09] Questions leaders need to be asking to build effective collaboration these days.
  • [18:34] Tips from Aria about the path toward more effective collaboration.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Erica