Above all the work you produce or professional successes you have, your invisible reputation means the most. This topic hits home for Lora Olivieri, Rebel Interactive Group's VP of Client Services.
It's defined in how you make people feel behind the scenes, when no one else is watching.
It's the Slack messages you send when you think no one will know.
It's how you treat people in moments of stress or crisis.
It's the time and attention you give to others; the credit you take (or don't) for their work.
It's the texts you send asking how they're doing after you saw them struggle in a meeting.
Sometimes career acceleration has more to do with the human than the professional wins. Ask yourself, how will you be remembered?
Allison Minutillo 0:05
The Rebel Leadership Podcast, a refreshing take on Authentic Leadership told through real stories. Let's smash the status quo and change how leaders lead once and for all.
One of our rebel employees sent me a viral video the other day from a famous entrepreneur named Steven Bartlett. He claimed the video would include the most important advice he gives to anyone starting in any of his companies. He calls it invisible PR. So today, Laura Olivieri, you and I are referring to it as your invisible reputation. She's the VP of Client Services at Rebel Interactive Group. We talk about how you make people feel behind the scenes when no one else is watching. The slack messages you send when you think no one else will know. How you treat people in moments of stress or crisis. Leadership almost always finds out who you truly are. And above all the work you do, or professional successes you have. Your invisible reputation means the most. Listen, reflect and embrace your next aha moment.
How long has it taken you to build that invisible PR about yourself and your leadership role?
Lora Olivieri 1:34
I mean, I think I'm still building it all the way through my first job and having my first boss and making sure that they knew that I was trying hard and that I cared about what I was doing and cared about them as people and things like that. I think it's just always been a part of me ever since the beginning.
Allison Minutillo 1:55
And when you think back to those old bosses that shaped who you are as a leader today. Do you remember the big picture about them or do you remember the really specific scenarios? Is it a combination of both?
Lora Olivieri 2:09
Um, it's a combination of both. But I do remember the first time I was told I did a good job on something, actually, which is kind of crazy and it wasn't even my first job.
Allison Minutillo 3:22
Lora Olivieri 2:25
Um, so it was at the first agency that I worked at, it was my first advertising agency job, real job. I was an account coordinator and I had done my first job note, which back in the day, on paper, we had to do job notes. And my manager said, Do you want to take a crack at this because we had just sat in on a client call. They gave a lot of feedback on some ads and things like that. And she said, why don't you go take a crack at this one? And I was like, Oh my gosh, I would wait like three weeks in or something. Oh, I don't know if I can do this and it seems so small, but it was a big deal. And I wrote it and I brought it in for her review before. You know, I went and made copies of the copier and walked it around. And she made edits. Right but she said to me afterwards, she said you did a really good job on this. This was your first time and I'm really impressed that you are what you did, and I can see that you get it. And that was huge. Like, oh, my manager thinks I get it. This is a big deal.
Allison Minutillo 3:27
And there's leadership in that right. Yeah.
Lora Olivieri 3:29
She probably edited the crap out of it like honestly.She probably just totally rewrote it but to me what stood out was she gave me the confidence that I get it that that I have this that I can do this.
Allison Minutillo 3:41
But she had a choice and she could have done it herself. Yeah, like a lot of us fall victim to that it's very true. And she chose to pause and choose you and empower you and say no girl, you got this. You can write up those notes. You're gonna have to fall forward. Yeah, sometimes. Very true. And here's a safe place to do it. Right so as leaders we have to choose in these moments of yeah, would have been faster if she did it herself for the 500th time? Of course it would. But if you need to build a team around you, you're going to be a lone wolf if you keep doing that over and over and over again. And that's just a small piece that one specific example for you that leads you to remembering that and giving that back someday to somebody else and it starts building who you are as this, this leader that's emerging, right? So are there other instances where you can remember moments of seeing either the good or bad, invisible reputations about the leaders around you?
Lora Olivieri 4:51
Um, yeah, there's definitely been the opposite that I've dealt with, right. So specific examples aren't coming to mind but I know that there were times where we were in a rush, and we just needed to get something out the door or the client was upset. And, you know, my manager at the time was like, You know what, let me just let me just call let me just do this. Let me just fix this. And I felt shut out. And I was like, Well, how am I supposed to know what this person is saying? Or to make the situation better if I can't be part of it, and I also felt like they don't trust me to do this myself. Maybe I wasn't ready at the time. I know. Everybody needs to grow and learn the things that they're ready to do. But there's a way to include a person that you're in charge of that you're in charge of coaching and mentoring. There's a way to include them so that they learn by watching and learn by absorbing.
Allison Minutillo 6:00
How could they have done that differently if you replayed that situation?
Lora Olivieri 6:04
Let me be part of it. Right just or or a little coaching beforehand, say this is what I would do. Now you go, go try it and see how it works out because we're all going to fail. We're all gonna have things that happen that aren't perfect. We have I mean, I literally could list out hundreds of times where I was like, Oh, my goodness, I wish I said this or did this differently or whatever, even after 22 years of experience, right? But you only remember and learn from the times where you mess up and you do better the next time, then not having the opportunity to mess up. And obviously, you know, messing up is not good. We don't want to, you know, upset our clients or whatever, but are internal teams, but we're human, but we're human and the times where I've felt the learnings from past coaches and mentors the most are in those tough conversations where things aren't going. Great. And I just remember, be human, be yourself and just talk through it with a person and remember those moments and it kind of gets you through and then you actually end up having this great conversation with internal person, you know, creative person or mentor or boss or client that actually comes out better than it would have if it just went the way it was supposed to. Right. So I don't know. There's just learning the whole time.
Allison Minutillo 7:33
There is this real pressure. Once you ascend to a leadership level that you have to realize you are always on even though you're not publicly on yes and that's what that invisible reputation is. What's it like when you have a bad day? And you you're, you realize that that's emanating off of you?
Lora Olivieri 7:58
Um, well, I've definitely had a couple recently, just some personal stuff going on in life. That is sad, right? I'm right into work, not the greatest. Get out of the car to come in and someone instantly has a question for me, and I'm just like, okay, just steal yourself. It's okay. It's okay to be human right now. And, honestly, I, my, my, somebody in an interview, actually, a couple days ago asked what I think about at night, what keeps me up at night or doesn't keep me up because I sleep pretty well. And was I there for the people that needed me that day? Did I miss anybody? Did somebody on my team slack me and I never slacked them back? But I mean, those are the things I actually worry about because I want to be there for everybody. And when I'm feeling vulnerable, and you know, having a bad morning and coming in and people are kind of starting already with the questions I just have to kind of just put myself into that moment of I need to be for those people what I need right now. So I guess I mean, I don't know I just make sure I'm human with them and I tell them listen guys, I'm having a really terrible day or I was up all night last night so bear with me I'm a hot mess and I'm just honest with them, but then I still make sure that I can be there for them because that's not their fault.
Allison Minutillo 9:23
Instead of being back at them, oh, snapping back. Oh, right. Just be real and it will realize like it's a safe place to come to you. They are also having that moment. Yep. And by just saying like, Guys, I've been in back to back meetings - I'm a victim of this every single day and I don't speak up enough to protect myself. Right? My psyche. Where it's like you're just giving, giving, giving, giving, giving, giving, giving, giving, because that's your job. Like you said, Yeah, same exact thing. I'm like missing slack messages all day long. Missing messages all day long, double booked all day long. It's relentless all day. But that's you at some point. It's part of your job. Yeah, a big part of your job. But then the other point. They're waiting for that 15 minutes with you or they're waiting for the time when your light turns green to ask you that question that just helps them move forward around day. Yeah. So it's this very cerebral thing where you have to like get yourself out of your body, out of your bad mood. Yes. Or out of your stressed out state of mind and not project that on them. Correct? Yes. Which is just how you do that? Like how do you cope with that?
Lora Olivieri 10:33
Yeah, it's interesting. And I think I'm changing my way of coping with that every day. So some days are better than others. I mean, I've definitely come out of meetings and had some of my team there. And I'm genuinely excited to see my team when I see them. So Oh, and then like, shoot, I don't have time right now. Hold on, guys. I gotta go do these two things. And I promise I'll be right back and they like or, you know, say, they'll say, are you okay? Yes I'm okay.
Allison Minutillo 11:01
Because they care about you. Because yeah, they know you care so much.
Lora Olivieri 11:05
Right? And I do. And I really do. And it's if I'm stressed I have to because I definitely have a very expressive face. So that's something I'm working on. Don't come out looking like ahhhh. But just saying, okay, I'm good. I just need five minutes. And then I'm and then I'll be better. If I could just have five minutes, you know, and that's a, I want everybody to feel like they can do that too. Right?
Allison Minutillo 11:30
You just reminded me of this thing I'm doing with my almost five year old son, which there's this calm down corner. I'm trying to teach him how to process his emotions. It doesn't always work from that, I'm not pretending I'm perfect. it's like, you know what I'm going to be just the same as what I'm teaching him. I'm gonna react better if you give mommy two minutes to just take a deep breath. Yep, walk around, then we can have this conversation. Yep. And same thing with him. Like go to your calm down corner. Play with them. Read for a minute. Think about what we were just doing. Let's come back together instead of getting into it or being snarky here. You know, it's very similar to work only if we're all adults, right? You're and you're allowed to have an emotional day. It doesn't mean like the sky is falling. It doesn't mean you're looking for other jobs. It's like just let people be some times. Let them take that lap. And then come back. But we have to have trust and authenticity in that to be able to say you know when I need it
Lora Olivieri 12:35
Allison Minutillo 12:50
I can remember some of my favorite bosses. And, and I didn't realize at the time because I wasn't in a position of leadership then. But they are who I'm striving to be. I'll give you an example. One is, I'll say her name Rosie, who I grew very, very close to and she was tough. She had a high standard high bar for excellence around her and she was very, very direct. And some people just didn't jive with that. But what I loved and respected about her most was no matter how busy she was, every time I walked into her office, she would shut her laptop screen and turn to me and look me in the eye. She made me feel - I have goosebumps thinking about it. She made me feel like I was the most important thing on her task list that day. And I was the same as you. I was a senior AE at the time. I was not in a leadership position. I wasn't leading teams. I was leading accounts, but I was up and coming in the career, right? And I needed her brain. I needed to learn from her. I needed to talk through these complex situations with her. And she gave me that attention. And I've always replayed that. I can picture myself in her room. And thinking about the days when I'm looking at I'm messaging somebody and somebody's waiting for my time where they're sitting across from me even worse, and I'm not doing that and I'll always think about her and what I felt like and how huge that was in shaping who I am now.
Lora Olivieri 14:22
Allison Minutillo 14:23
So those moments like that's that invisible reputation that you're building. Yep. What do you care most about when it comes to your personal, invisible reputation that other people feel like, like that Rosie situation?
Lora Olivieri 14:38
Um, that's a good question. The most - that I'm - that I care deeply about them as people and that I'm honest, that I'm transparent that they know that I'm not putting up a front that this is who you're getting. This is me, inside and outside of work. This is how I am and that I'm truly there to help them be better at whatever it is that they're striving to be, right. That is, I don't stop thinking about it. Even when I leave work. I think about my team pretty much all the time now. It's amazing. And it's not like oh, I'm thinking about work outside of work. It's not that I'm actually thinking about my people, because they're my people and I care. And that I think is what I hope comes across but what I really strive to have come across is that I truly just want the best for anybody that I'm, you know, managing or mentoring or coaching in life.
Allison Minutillo 15:50
How do you make them feel like that without explicitly saying that?
Lora Olivieri 15:56
I know it's definitely not in the words. It's definitely in the showing. And it's, it's exactly what you just said about Rosie and I actually learned that from her too, which is actually really cool. That's so funny because I hope you're listening. Yeah, it's focused on the person. I've seen so many people and everybody's different, but when they're flustered or busy or overwhelmed, it's like, I'm just so busy. I just and it's like this badge of honor to be so busy and whatever. We're all busy. It's hard. It's hard. I definitely am like oh my gosh. Look at my calendar today. Ah, but I think it's in focusing on the person when you're talking to them putting all of the other things aside because you're really that that's where it is right there looking them in the eyes when they're talking to you not trying to multitask making time for people right? I know you're busy, but I just need five minutes. Okay. I can actually give you five minutes. Just give me five minutes right now and then I can give you a good five minutes, right? Because obviously there's things that you can't move, but it's making the time it's helping them through things, right. And knowing they can come to you and not feel like they don't know what they're doing it's just here - I have this idea. What do you think or I'm having trouble with a client, how would you approach it ? And spending the time with them to talk through it and just work through it together? That kind of thing? I think I enjoy doing that.
Allison Minutillo 17:34
But you're also shaping who they will become
Lora Olivieri 17:37
Allison Minutillo 17:38
As they get in managerial positions and leadership. Isn't that the point?
Lora Olivieri 17:40
Allison Minutillo 17:44
Of all this?
Lora Olivieri 17:45
Allison Minutillo 17:46
You know, like, think about your personal journeys like you weren't born in this role, right? As VP of Client Services, you worked for it. But you don't just get promoted because of the glowing things you do for clients or the work that you produce. That's a big part of it, brains and intelligence, but just like that tik tok video described, there's a far more pressing reason why people ascend in their career that is that invisible reputation that they're building.
Lora Olivieri 18:17
Allison Minutillo 18:18
That is the reason why. It's this thing you can't put your finger on. You can't really describe it. But you know, when they're ready, right? And you know when they're right, yes. Or the right fit.
Lora Olivieri 18:30
You know when someone's got that and you can nurture and grow that and you know, when someone's maybe just not meant for that and that's not a bad thing. But there definitely is that little spark that you can see in people like they're meant to lead people and you and then and that's like, so fun, right to to nurture that and grow that.
Allison Minutillo 18:50
How do you see it?
Lora Olivieri 18:52
Um, it's a feeling when interacting with someone. It's seeing how they interact with other people in tough situations. In their personal life also, honestly, it really it's, I mean, our work life is our work life, but we're people here so it's, it's who they are as people, it's how they value people. It's how they see themselves, how they talk about themselves, how they talk about other people or don't, it's in all of those little details. And you know, it takes time to get to know that about someone so you can't just sit and say an interview situation or a first meeting with someone and and get that initial they have it, they've got something. That's a gut reaction, but really, truly understanding what they're capable of takes a little bit of time to get to know them and see them in action. Right? See how they deal with someone coming at them during the day and being a jerk. How do they deal with that? Right? Do they go and instantly slack somebody and complain about it and start a thing? Or do they reflect or do they approach that person later and say, Hey, can we talk? I just can we just talk about this as humans that really bothered me the way you did that and let's just talk through a better way in the future, whatever. But it's in all of those. They seem small, but they're actually big. They're bigger than the work to be honest.
Allison Minutillo 20:17
You just picked up on a really good point, which is it can take people down and they don't realize it. And it's this gossip. And I've talked about it on podcast episodes in the past, but you just can't talk about it enough. Because you think you're gossiping. But in reality managers see it. You can feel it. Definitely. We know things get to us. Right? When you have an open and honest culture things escalate up and you don't realize it when you're sending screenshots of people's messages. Like look what this person just said, look at this interaction. They think they're doing themselves justice by sharing it up and what they're doing is damaging their own correct internal reputation, or invisible reputation. It sticks with you as a leader of that person saying you've got a lot of growing up to do if this is how you're handling right?
Lora Olivieri 21:16
And seeing people see that and grow from that too is actually quite amazing and feels good, right when it clicks with someone that oh, oh, this is it. I was doing that. That's not good for growth. That's not good for anybody. I'm gonna move on from that. That's an old chapter in my life. I mean, we've all done that. We've all been junior people or not junior is probably not even the right word just early on in our careers. And in our immaturity we've gotten sucked into I fully admit I did say I mean, plenty of times I can look back and say wow, what was I doing? But once you get that clicks in your brain, and you're and you realize that affects absolutely every other part of your life negatively and you can move past that and just make a decision. I'm not gonna do that anymore. It changes everything and you can make that decision to do that. It's amazing.
Allison Minutillo 22:19
Did you make that? Like, do you remember that? I do. Because I had the same exact situation. I was like, I don't want to be that person I am becoming anymore. Yep. And I'm going to change this.
Lora Olivieri 22:30
Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, it wasn't super -
Allison Minutillo 22:34
Like a fresh start.
Lora Olivieri 22:35
It was just yeah. It was a fresh start. That's exactly what is was.
Allison Minutillo 22:40
What did it take - you switching jobs?
Lora Olivieri 22:41
Yes, to do that. It took me leaving a toxic job.
Allison Minutillo 22:48
It's so interesting.
Lora Olivieri 22:49
Yeah. And then it was like, oh, no, I'm leaving that behind. I'm leaving that behind. It helped me through the toxic job. To be honest, because it was so toxic. But I was like, Alright, no, this is not how I'm gonna handle things anymore. Yeah, right. So,
Allison Minutillo 23:03
So when you left and you arrived at the new job? Was it from day one? That you felt that way and started acting that way to grow your invisible reputation?
Lora Olivieri 23:17
Yeah actually, I think it really was. It was - this is the first step of my new way of doing things, my new right I mean, makes it sound like you know all I was doing his gossiping before but it was amazing to let go of it. It was amazing to not get stuck in the did you hear what so and so did in the meeting? Did you hear this and what do you think about this person? Is it uh, it was actually so freeing to walk away from that and just focus on building the positive relationships and doing the work during the good work. And it was freeing.
Allison Minutillo 23:52
What happened in your career from that point on. Do you think it had a big impact? Yes.
Lora Olivieri 24:00
I think that my confidence in myself rose exponentially. I mean, I all of a sudden felt like I was better at what I was doing. I developed relationships with more of the management level people. I wasn't shy about doing that. Right. And I don't know, it was definitely a confidence booster. And it propelled me to breaking out of being more of the - follower is not the right word - but like to be more of a leader to take charge of situations and feel more confident to tell people let's actually look at it this way. Instead of getting bogged down into this, what's the solution here? What can we do together to break free from whatever this bad thing that happened was.
Allison Minutillo 24:52
Kind of like a boundary. Yeah, you're setting a boundary up to say, I'm not going to engage in this gossip. Yeah. Yeah. If you choose to escalate it to me, and I do that here as a choice. Where I'm saying, I am not the one to bring gossip to because I'm going to handle the situation that you're bringing right or if to me, so if you wouldn't say that statement to that person. That's the first thing I'm going to ask you. What did they say when you gave them that feedback? And if you didn't give them that feedback, I'm sending you right back to that person to handle it. And I will follow up with you to make sure that you handle that. Because if not, that's that thing on display. That's the invisible reputation on display that I'm not forgetting that interaction we had right and everybody goes through this. It's not like one time you do it that way. And I'm judging you forever. You know, that's not what I'm saying. Right? It's about the amount of times that you're handling things that way that add up. Let's say, Why do I have to tell you to go talk to that person? Like a respectful, honest human being? Every single time this happens? Why is it?
Lora Olivieri 26:02
Allison Minutillo 26:02
What is your motivation here? Are you trying to throw them under the bus? Are you giving them a chance? Are you gossiping with their peers and building up this story about them that makes you think you look better? It's so clear when you're out of the gossip state of life.
Lora Olivieri 26:23
Allison Minutillo 26:23
But when you're in it, you don't think anybody knows you're at the heart of gossip.
Lora Olivieri 26:28
Right. No, that's so true. And actually, that's one of the things that I'll do too is if somebody and it's not if somebody's coming to me with a genuine issue, not a gossip issue, a genuine issue. We're going to work on that, we're going to handle that we're going to talk about it. But if it's more of like a, like a snitchy kind of thing. Or someone's upset about something the way someone acted. My first question is, did you tell them what it was like? Did you actually tell them that too? Because that's the first step you should take? And I remember the day where I wouldn't tell the person that I would just go tell their manager or tell someone or your friend or your boyfriend or yeah, or my venting partner or whatever it was. But, that is a big switch - you know what, let me breathe. Let me take a minute because acting in the moment sometimes isn't the best. Maybe it is sometimes, but then I'm going to approach that person and say, I just want to hit this head on like, can we just talk about this? That solves so much angst and anxiety and anything in between, like the people right? It helps that so much and you just it's over before you even know it instead of letting it drag out for weeks and turn into something it's not, right, takes courage.
Allison Minutillo 27:43
It does take courage. It's scary and it also takes prioritizing that .
Lora Olivieri 27:46
Allison Minutillo 27:47
Because you okay, now, rewind to your busy days, and you're like I need five minutes. Oh my god. It's super easy to just move on to the next thing. Yes. And you don't, you're not intentionally doing that. You're like, Oh, I'll get to them later. It's never the right thing. I just did that to somebody. Right. And it's like it's never the right thing. Call them, it's worth the five minutes right after it happened. It is. It's like what Bryn always says about coaching. So if you're coaching a basketball team, and they make a dumb error that they could have corrected. telling them about it at the end of the game is going to do nothing for that kid. Right? They need to know exactly what you're talking about at that moment. Or else it will literally go in one ear and out the other you might as well just save your breath. But it's the same at work and it's a choice you have to make as a leader to do that as many times consistently as possible. And that's the piece that's like giving yourself to other people because you have to. You have to emote and be honest, all the time.
Lora Olivieri 28:56
And it's hard. It's really hard. It does take courage to have those tough conversations. I mean, giving feedback in the moment that's good is so true. I mean, it's just like, I want this person to know how great they are. The hard feedback is so scary. Even for someone that's done it a million times. It still takes courage but you need to do it at that moment. Because that's what's best for that person. Right? I would want that. I would like you to tell me Hey, Lora, don't do that. Or this is what you should be doing in the app at that moment. So I get it versus waiting until the end of the day when a million other things have come into my brain where it's not fresh anymore.
Allison Minutillo 29:38
Well it's the same with positive feedback like you just said like tell them oh, like the other day I was watching you share our little moment. Your team came in and you've only been here a couple months. Your team came into a big meeting. It was super important we're rolling something big out that affects everything and they were buzzing with positivity. They were so good. They were so engaged. They felt like a team. Like a gelled group, right that they were in it together. They were asking good questions. They were responding to you really well. It was wonderful and at the end of the day, I drove home and I thought to myself, like the first thing I thought when I get in the car and I have no sound on because I'm like, Man, I need quiet, I was like, man Lora's doing a really good job. And I could have kept that to myself and kept going. But I chose to tell you that because I know at the end of those days like we don't get it a lot as leaders no one's telling us we're doing a good job. You know? And some days I overheard you saying this morning that you just don't know that you're if you're doing a good job.
Lora Olivieri 30:44
Like what am I doing? What did I even do today? Oh my god, that was a day? Felt like a month.
Allison Minutillo 30:48
Great, but I hope that that little gesture that one slack makes gives you the confidence to do that again, because whatever it is you're doing, even though it's super hard, and super long days, what you're doing matters and it's working. And you're working and you're doing a great job. And as leaders we have to give people the hard shit, but also those good keep going. Yes, more of that.
Lora Olivieri 31:17
Yeah, more of that. It's so funny because I've never been a person that needs like a lot of praise, right? I don't some people do, and that's fine. I just, I've my viewpoint is if I'm not doing something, right, someone's going to tell me if I'm not hearing anything that I must be doing. Okay. That's just how it's been. Right? But to get that slack from you was I mean, it literally made my night and I thought okay, okay, good. Good, good, good. And it reset me a little bit because it was a rough day, actually, the day turned out to be a really rough day. And I don't know it's just that small little gesture that went so far actually to continue to build my confidence, right? Like we're all growing our confidence every day. We're not, you don't just reach a certain point. And you're done. We're all growing. We're all learning. We're all messing up and figuring out a better way to do things and getting more and more courage every day. Right. So it was it was wonderful.
Allison Minutillo 32:16
What's one thing you would tell your more junior younger self, even though you're still young and fabulous, but what would you tell your younger self on your journey towards building your own invisible reputation back then that you now know now?
Lora Olivieri 32:36
I would say take a breath. Give yourself time. Know that every single thing that you do doesn't have to be perfect, but every single thing you do is remembered. So think about the way that you're making someone feel first. It sounds mushy, but you could be doing the best work you could be the smartest person in the room. Do an amazing strategy deck and or whatever. And that's all amazing. Like that's obviously going to propel you in your career. Write a great job note but it really at the end of the day comes down to how people feel after they've interacted with you. That's going to really make your career.
Allison Minutillo 33:26
You're doing a good job. Thanks Lora.
Lora Olivieri 33:29