4 Things I Learned About Team in 2010


The Troy Outspoken Media office was bustling here on Monday. It was a late night for Rhea, Sabre and myself and we decided to take a break around 9pm to order some Chinese. We gathered around an office table to chow down and chat about what we were all working on and the state of our holiday shopping (I don’t even want to talk about). We ate, we chatted, and we laughed. I’ve been part of a lot of teams in my life – sports, academic, professional, coupled – but this continues to be a team I am increasingly proud of. If I had my way, we’d convince our remote employees to move to Troy so we could see and laugh with each other every day. But then I remember that we live in Troy, NY. And well, it’s not exactly a hotbed. We’re working on that.

When you talk about what makes a company great, I think we often focus on the wrong aspects. It’s not the clients, the specific skillsets, or even the personal or collective brands on board. It’s the team that exists behind all of that. The people that show up and fight every day. And there are some things that are important to building and nurturing that team. Here are a few things I’ve re-learned about team in 2010.

Teams don’t work in isolation: When you look at strong teams in action, you’ll see that no one is off completely by themselves. There aren’t any employees stuck on islands or people forgotten about with no inlets to resources or people. Instead, there’s collaboration. There are strong players working with supporting players. There are people helping to lighten the load, not buying into the “that’s not my job” mentality. There’s a sense that they’re part of something larger than themselves. And it’s that feeling that inspires everyone to work harder, to be their best, and to create something that the team, collectively, can be proud of. I know I’ve worked in places where the blog has been cast off to a remote part of the company, and me with it. That’s something we’re really conscious of NOT doing here at Outspoken Media. We want everyone to make people feel part of the movement. We think it’s important.

The mission needs to be visible to everyone: Whoever is in charge of the team is responsible for communicating its mission. It’s that person’s job to make sure everyone knows what’s at stake and what the team is trying to create. If you haven’t read Time’s piece on Mark Zuckerberg as their person of the year, you should. There’s a comment in there from Chris Cox, Facebook’s vice president of product, about how he walked into his Facebook interview pretty dismissive of the whole organization. He was working on a master’s degree in artificial intelligence at Stanford – he was doing something important, he saw Facebook as a complete waste of his time. But the interview changed him. He was able to see the intenseness of Mark’s vision and the mission statement that was written on the company whiteboard. It transformed him and he became a believer. That really stuck with me. If everyone’s not on the same page as to what the goal is and what they’re all working for, then you have no chance of ever getting there. Hire based on that vision.

Everyone must be in formation: If one person on the team is out of formation, expect that everyone else may fall out, as well. That doesn’t mean there’s no room for diversity, but if one person doesn’t believe in the team vision and is flying just a bit lower than everyone else, it will derail the operation. If they don’t believe, trust or aren’t willing to fight for it, it’s detrimental to the health of the company. While, I’m sure other people would advise talking to the person, working it out, giving them a hug, etc, I’d be more inclined to replace them. While transformations like Chris Cox’s are possible, if you’ve shown them the map and they don’t even agree on the target, they’re probably not a fit. Find someone who is.

A good team acts as if it’s impossible to fail: There’s a full-service social media agency based in Brooklyn called Carrot Creative and I’m pretty sure they can do anything. They make me feel that way every day through the way the company messages, through co-founder and President Mike Germano’s (@MikeGermano) Monday morning inspirational tweets and through the vibe they give off in all that they do. They make you believe. Because good teams believe. When you believe in your team, failure seems like the most impossible options. It’s infectious, both to the team itself, and to those watching it. Who wouldn’t want to work with and for that type of organization?

Team is important to me, and I think it’s important to the work that we all do. What are some of the qualities you love about the team you work with?

[We haven’t formally introduced you yet to many of the new Outspoken Media team members here, but we’ll be looking to do that in 2011. They’re a great bunch and I thank them all for everything they’ve taught and given Outspoken Media over the past year. ]

Your Comments

  • TrafficColeman

    Lisa people do have to work together and be on the same page. This helps the productivity to get things done on time and in a complete fashion. Its best to communicate so things run smoothly.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Michelle Lowery

    I like that the team I work with solicits input from every member, regardless of position or tenure. Some may believe that asking employees what they want or need is a sign of weakness. I disagree.

    Everyone is different, and some people may need different things in order to work at their full potential. No, hand-holding or constant back-patting shouldn’t be on that wish list. Get over yourself and do your job, I say. But it’s nice to have your opinions and ideas heard.

    It doesn’t mean the team will always agree with or act on those opinions and ideas–that’s just the way it goes. But I’d rather be heard and told “no” than be ignored completely. That’s a morale killer.

    Also, I love this post. :-)

  • John Wolf

    I enjoyed reading and appreciate your thoughts for website tune-up’s. We all should do our best to bring fresh thoughts and customer service to our business and our customers. Thanks again and merry Christmas.

  • Anthony Hanner

    I have always followed the Henry Ford philosophy of hiring people smarter than you are and then letting them do their jobs.

    The problems I have seen have always been when the leader or a person in a position of leadership has the idea that he or she is the smartest person in the room…nothing good ever comes of that as it stifles creativity.

    Great post, Lisa.

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    They say “there’s no ‘I’ in team. Yeah, and there’s no we, or us either. But there is tea! would you like milk and sugar with that?

    Seriously though – there can be an unbelievable number of benefits to a team, yet it really does need to be founded in the understanding you’ve described here Lisa.

    As much as I’ve come to enjoy being independent, it wasn’t until I hired an assistant, on the principle that “I” can’t / shouldn’t try to do everything on my own, and decided to mostly work with agencies as clients, that I began to realize the benefits that I used to have working as one part of the bigger resource pie.

  • Ross Hudgens

    This might be the celebrity gossip lover in me talking.. but it’s kinda hard for me to read this and not take it as some kind of 2nd level commentary about Rae leaving. I know absolutely nothing about the situation besides what I read in the tabloids, but I have heard that “Rae and team disagreed constantly” and also, that Rae is having quadruplets.

    • Lisa Barone

      I think you spend too much time on Twitter. ;)

      It’s going to be difficult to publish anything regarding the OSM team for awhile without people wondering if it’s some sort of veiled commentary on Rae. It’s not. But to not acknowledge the team here or to not say “thank you” as we finish up our second year is to ignore their part in Outspoken’s growth and what’s been built. And that’s not fair either. We’re all moving forward.

  • Sully

    Lisa – I was lucky enough to meet the team recently when visiting in Troy. You & Rhea have done a great job in building a great organization.

    Keep crushing it in 2010!

    (Maybe we can actually grab a beer the next time I’m up.)


  • Jim Rudnick

    @Ross….my thoughts too share the same view on Rae and the breakup here…and while I dont’ “see” the same tabloids up here in canuckland as you seem to see…the whole story will out one day — that I do know!

    @Lisa…been reading you since Outspoken began…and continue to think that if only I had enuff canuck bucks, I’d hire you in an instant for our own firm and clients…great post, great spirit and most of all, it appears that a great team STILL exists here, eh!



  • Gabriele Maidecchi

    A company lives and dies by its team, especially a small business, where the feeling of “family” is more easily perceived.
    Just last week me and my “team” threw a party at our headquarters (we used Christmas as an excuse, good line any other uh), we invited friends, must’ve been 50-60 total, music, drinks, some party-food, and we were set. This makes my team awesome – among other things – the ability to switch from workaholic mood to party beast in a beat.

  • Phil Buckley

    When I saw the title, I also had thoughts like Ross, but then when I actually read the article I realized it’s an end of the year, I love my co-workers post.

    I was just talking about how much I love my team last week, it’s amazing what a big difference that can make in every aspect of your life.

    Great job this year Lisa, and everyone at OSM.

  • Kristin

    Lisa –
    Agreed, it does make all of the difference when you’re on the same page and can agree with your team.

    Thanks for the insight and I can’t wait to see whats in store for Outspoken Media next year!

  • Vee Sweeney

    I have worked for so many companies where when I interviewed, I was promised a great team environment. You know what? Every single one of those companies failed to deliver on that promise. Now mind you that a lot of that was due to employees who were only there with a self serving purpose, but management let those attitudes continue on without problem. The point is that I do not think that many companies really know what team work or being a good team really means. To most companies, it simply means getting the job done, but having a great team goes way beyond that. Now I work from home doing freelance work and I have ended up feeling more of a part of the team I am on now and teams that I have been on in the past then I ever felt when I was literally drudging into an office every single day. Great points!

  • Nick Stamoulis

    Thank goodness for my team, because with out my team, I’d be alone in my efforts. Teams are not perfect there aren’t always harmonious moments, but a well made team is like a family that as someone else said “lives and dies” together.

  • Leonardo

    Nice article! Ya i too agree with your words team is important one person cannot achieve any thing but with team we can any thing.

  • Mitaroy Goa Hotel

    Another smashing post Lisa !

    I totally agree that having a team that pulls in the same direction is absolutely vital. However, I personally feel that teamwork is like pieces of cake coming together to form a whole cake. The moment you have more than one person working on the same task or team members poking their noses into your area of work, then there is bound to be trouble.

    As for the need for a motivating mission, I agree 100 %. And I have been trying to write a mission for my Goa Hotel…but with little success till date ;(


    P.S. Why don’t you have your links open in a new window ? That way I can continue to read your post while your links are opening…Just a thought !

  • Terry Davies

    Every team has a leader. It is impossible to be a leader and follower at the same time.

  • George Zarogiannis

    Wow, so well said.
    I will print some of the post and put up on our office wall.
    In construction (painting contractor) this so much applies. We forever are trying to change people, not give up on people, reward people, but to no avail.
    There is only a handful that buy into the vision of the company. The rest will be a negative influence. Nobody needs to bee a soldier taking orders, but there is a forum for opinions. That forum is company meetings or just individuall meetings with the supervisor.
    Thank you for that insight