One of Heather Molina’s bosses early in her career had a big influence on how she leads her team today as VP of cross channel marketing at Red Door Interactive.

No, it wasn’t a valued mentor (although plenty of those too) but rather a bad manager. She says she thinks about how he handled situations… and does the opposite.

In her role, she oversees teams doing everything from SEO to social media to TV ads and beyond. But no matter what type of marketing they’re doing there are definitely some common strategies she uses to keep her employees on track and producing results for clients.

Tune in to find out…

  • The most important trait she looks at when hiring – it has nothing to do with skills or experience
  • A surprising way to brainstorm new services to offer
  • The best way to build trust with employees (and why trust is so important in the first place)
  • A test that identifies a person’s most powerful strengths and motivators
  • And more…

Listen now…

Mentioned in This Episode:

Episode Transcript:

Steffen Horst: Welcome to the Performance Delivered, insider secrets for digital marketing success podcast, where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they built successful businesses and their personal brand. I’m your host, Steffen Horst. Today, we’re going to talk about how to build successful teams. Here with me to help me discover the topic is Heather Molina. She’s the VP of cross channel marketing at Red Door Interactive, which is a digital marketing agency in San Diego. Before joining Red Door, Heather worked at GroupM’s Outrider Canada where she built out the company’s SEO product and team. And run and grew Omnicom’s Resolution Media in the US and Canada. Heather, great to have you on the show.

Heather Molina: It’s great to be here. Thank you so much for having me.

How Did You Start In Digital Marketing?

Steffen Horst: As I mentioned earlier, I always like to start with finding out how my guests started their career in digital marketing. So what about you?

Heather Molina: Well it was definitely not a linear path. I didn’t go to university to study marketing or advertising, or even communications really. In university, I studied journalism and film.

And for a year after university, I worked as a producer and promotions assistant at a local news affiliate in Tucson, Arizona where I went to school. And I decided on my 23rd birthday to go to New York just for fun, and ended up going on a job opportunity, a job interview there while I was on vacation because I had friends who were living there, who were encouraging me to move to the northeast. And I ended up in public relations, which eventually segued into me getting engaged, moving to Boston, and ending up in marketing starting at a company called iProspect back in 2003.

And so the experience that I gained in New York working in public relations and then ending up in Boston following my now ex-husband, but my husband at the time to Boston, those skill sets that I learned just naturally led me to uncovering an opportunity in what was an emerging and new type of industry and marketing that I had never heard about, but that I just had some innate skills that were really useful for. So I started at iProspect 16 years ago, and now here I am, having worked my way up and across a number of different holding company agencies and on the brand side for a number of years.

Steffen Horst: That sounds like a great story. How did you go from Boston to Canada, because obviously you started the SEO practice for GroupM’s Outrider in Canada.

Heather Molina: I moved to Canada in 2009, so 10 years ago have to follow once again my husband at the time. His career, he worked as a portfolio manager for a financial company in Boston. And the group was all Canadian and they were working on Canadian funds.

So we moved for his career. And when I got to Canada, I didn’t know what state the digital marketing industry was when I got there. So I took a few months to really decide if I wanted to continue in digital marketing. And because I’m the kind of person who just always activates and gets bored very easily, I had accelerated career growth up until that point having started a completely new industry at the age of 26 at iProspect, I grew quite quickly.

And so that momentum and that philosophy I have for always keeping busy and not submitting to boredom led me to being contacted by a recruiter who was actually reaching out for a role in Boston. And they said, “Hey, this GroupM company search agency in Boston, they’re looking for somebody with your level of expertise, are you interested? I wrote this recruiter back and I said, “Hey, I haven’t updated my LinkedIn profile. Just so you know, I actually don’t live in Boston anymore. I live in Toronto. So unless you have an opportunity in Canada, sorry thanks but no thanks.” And he wrote back right away and was like, “Actually, I have an opportunity in Canada that I’m having trouble filling and I think you’d be a great fit for it.”

So I had moved to Canada for family reasons to start a new life there with my husband at the time, and just ended up kind of on a lark, ending up at GroupM and being able to really take what an industry that was a couple of years behind the US and applying all of my US knowledge to that point to really help them accelerate their growth in Canada and build out that SEO practice. So it was an awesome experience and I was really grateful I got to have that and got to live in a foreign … it’s Canada, but it’s a foreign country to the US and be able to build out something from scratch based on what I had done in the US. So it was really exciting.

Cross Channel Marketing at Red Door

Steffen Horst: So fast forward, now you’re at Red Door Interactive. What is your role at Red Door?

Heather Molina: My role at Red Door Interactive, it’s called cross channel. I’m the VP of cross channel marketing. And cross channel marketing encompasses all of the marketing channels that we do for clients. So I run the teams that execute and strategize the SEO, the content marketing, the social marketing and advertising, all of the paid media. So that includes not only all of the digital components such as programmatic, display streaming, search, obviously. It also encompasses all of the offline out of home type of marketing as well for our clients.

So prior to coming to Red Door, my background was purely digital. So since coming to Red Door, I’ve actually had to learn all of the out of home stuff that I think a lot of marketers out there, they already know the strategy, and out of home, and offline, and television buying aspects, and it’s the digital where they have that gap for their own resumes and knowledge.

For me it’s the reverse. I’m such an expert or have a number of years of experience in the digital. So for me in order to do this role, I had to start to learn about that out of home stuff.

So we manage all of those marketing channels for a lot of really established and well-known brands. So we run a lot of their diversified marketing efforts. So a lot of our clients, they don’t do just SEO or just paid media with us. They do SEO, paid media, social and content as well as the offline stuff. So we have that nice, really wonderful marketing mix. And I manage the teams that make all that happen.

Learning To Build Great Teams

Steffen Horst: Great. So obviously today I want to talk about how to build successful teams. When did you first start managing people?

Heather Molina: I started managing people back in 2004, early 2005 at iProspect when I was promoted to what was called an algorithmic team lead there. And that is someone who was in charge of other SEO analysts executing work on client stuff. So that was my first step, and it was that mid-level manager type role. Then over the years, grew into the more executive and senior level manager as well. But that first instance of me managing people was back at iProspect back in the day.

Steffen Horst: And in the beginning was it all smooth sailing?

Heather Molina: For me as a manager, it was smooth sailing. But I had, especially at iProspect at that time because that was before iProspect … I was with iProspect when they were an independent agency. And then once they became acquired. There was definitely a nice mix of people there. And when I was being managed by somebody at iProspect, I had one manager in particular who was absolutely terrible, I’ll say that. Completely and freely that they were just absolutely terrible. So when it came my turn to manage people, my guy, my view was to just do the opposite of what they had done. And I think we all have those stories of somebody who is maybe a challenging manager or in their views a terrible manager. And our effort or our goal is to take the lessons that you learn from that challenge and cultivate how you want to be with your team and how you want to run things a little bit differently.

So I’m grateful that I had that challenging experience because it definitely shaped the leader that I am today. And I’ve had a lot of really strong leaders even before I got to iProspect, I had a lot of strong leaders in my career and I’ve had a lot since then. But when I first started managing people, I was coming from a situation where I had a really terrible manager and I wanted to just be completely different from them. So I had a nice transition into being a manager because I was focused on making sure that my team knew I was there for them, that I was willing to step in and lend a hand, to get work done, to help them out, and that they could come to me with anything that they had, whether it was something personal or something professional that they needed help with. I was there to help guide them as best as I could.

Matching The Right Teammate To A Client’s Needs

Steffen Horst: As you climb the career ladder, obviously responsibilities increase, you have more people to take care of. Planning becomes important, especially planning ahead and anticipating who you might need when. How do you identify who you need and when you need a specific individual?

Heather Molina: So the way that we have the teams structured at Red Door is that … and how we’ve had it at other agencies and jobs that I’ve worked at is obviously the teams are separated out into SEO, content marketing, paid media at a very high level. And within those teams you obviously have people who are more expert at certain things. So for example, in our social and content team, there are people who are better at the social stuff and people who are better at the actual content marketing aspect. And then a paid media. You’ve got people who are great at paid search, maybe not so strong at Facebook, maybe have no experience with out of home. And SEO. You’ve got people who are really great technical SEO people and then really great people who are just overall SEO strategists.

So what we do is we try to align people on clients that going into the scoping out and investigating before a client comes on as investigating with their situation is, for example, with SEO. We can get a sense in the new business prospecting what their challenges are going to be in an SEO perspective.

So if I know going in that for example, the client that we’re taking on for SEO, their CMS is in horrible shape. There’s a lot of things that are going to be needed around JavaScript navigation issues and troubleshooting some other more technical stuff. I’m going to put a more technical savvy SEO person on that to help with the initial execution of the work. But after time, I might start to migrate on more of an overarching SEO strategist once we get through those initial phases to help drive the SEO strategy, because the site will be in a better position or a better place SEO-wise to take on all those opportunities and stuff.

So for me, it’s really looking at what’s the situation of the client when we’re starting with them, and really letting the client know this is a team effort. You’re going to probably work with this one person to begin with, but we’re going to migrate some other people onto this account who are going to start to help evolve and compliment your situation based on the stage that your program, whether it’s your site from an SEO perspective or your content marketing program, or your paid media program, we’re going to start to migrate other people in. Because that helps prep the client. We have a whole team of experts. Everybody’s great. Some people are great at certain elements, and you’re going to work with different people and just know that, I like to say to them, don’t get too attached to someone. You’re obviously always going to have the ability to reach out to them if you really like someone, but we might start to migrate other people onto your account because they’re stronger at this element that you’re going to need at this time.

What To Look For In New Hires

Steffen Horst: That was a couple of great points there for someone who has a team already in place. So for company as you build out the Outrider SEO team in Canada, when you start off with one or two people and you’re growing a business, it’s obviously a different situation. Who do you focus on bringing on in those cases? You’re looking for people that can support certain management level? Are you looking for people that can do execution? So that’s a paid media campaign, or an SEO campaign, how do you go about that?

Heather Molina: So for me when I was building that out, it was all about who can come on and execute. So that’s the thing that I personally believe and I’m willing to step in even as at the VP level, at the executive level, I today step in and run paid search campaign if someone’s on holiday or if someone needs title text written. Anything, I can step in. I want to hire people who are willing to step in and execute as well when needed.

So when I was building that out at Outrider, it was me and I initially had one person who was really technical, SEO focused. So when I went to go expand that team, I was looking for people in the interview process who knew enough about SEO in just the basics, but who could also carry a conversation, and who could show to me how they think and how they evolve. Because the one thing that’s really important that I preach all the time to anyone on my teams is especially with digital marketing, the rules are always changing. You are always learning. So I care more about how you think and how you learn than I do about your actual experience.

If I know in the interview process, I ask prospective clients, or prospective employees. You’re doing SEO, how have you shaped your own knowledge learning? How have you self-propelled your knowledge training in this because the rules change all the time with SEO. What blogs do you read? What sites do you go to? And if they say to me, “I just read the Moz Blog,” or, “I just read Search Marketingland” Great resources, great, great content. However, that’s the vanilla response for me because to me that’s just the thing that everybody’s doing.

hiring agency positionsBut if they say to me, “Well I go to Reddit and I go into the SEO subreddit, and I dig around in there.” Or, I go to this other site that maybe I don’t know about, this other blog that maybe is just a little untapped, unknown secret. If I see that they say, “I participate in SEO round tables, I go and I read the SEO subreddit on Reddit.” Things like that to me that shows that they know how to participate in their evolution of their knowledge, of whatever the subject matter happens to be. So I like to see people showcase to me how they think, how they continually self-propel as I like to call it, their education in the subject matter.

Because I can teach people how to do SEO. I can teach people how to do paid search, what I can’t teach people is how to write. I can’t teach people how to be curious. So I need to see that is innate in them, especially that curiosity, because that is going to help make things so much easier being effective for clients.

Teamwork Drives Red Door

And what we have at Red Door is unlike any other agency that I’ve worked at to this point. I can truly say I have the best paid media, social and content marketing, and SEO teams I have ever worked at in my life and I have worked in a lot of places over the last 16 years. But these are the top notch best experts I’ve ever worked at. And to be quite frank, quite a few of them are ones that I hired as junior entry level people who have grown quite quickly and quite efficiently in their subject matter areas. And it’s all because they are really good at learning and being curious.

Steffen Horst: I couldn’t agree more. Domain experience is one thing, right? That’s required if you’re hiring for a specific position. But these days, you need people that are proactive, people that continuously learn. And that’s just something that someone needs to bring if they want to get hired. Are there other soft skills that you’re looking for, especially when it comes to how they are going to fit into an existing team?

Heather Molina: In the interview process, I do like to see how they stay organized. I consider that somewhat of a soft skill, but how they articulate, how they articulate their day to day, how they articulate how they stay organized. I think especially working at an integrated agency like Red Door where we don’t just do digital marketing, we do content, we do web development, we do strategic planning, all of that. And those are all other teams that don’t fall underneath, under me.

The biggest thing that is so important is collaboration and communication. So we’re working on clients altogether with all the different teams at Red Door. If I get the sense in the conversation with someone that they are dismissive of client services type of skills, or they talk to me about how they battle with a web developer on the client side, to me that’s a red flag.

Because especially again, going back to SEO because again that’s my core background. When we work with clients, we’re often working with their web dev team or their IT teams. And I’ve seen so many people in the industry go into a client’s web dev or IT team and try to “school them,” or tell them what they’re doing wrong, or try to dictate to them what to do. And I always tell people our approach should be when we’re working with clients and their teams, we should just communicate.

We’re here to help provide you the perspective of a search engine and provide you with what is the best practice for that search engine. And we can help identify the opportunities or the challenges that you’re currently having.

But you know your brand best, you know your site best. So what we’re trying to do is just connect that search engine best practice knowledge with what you know to be the best practice or the best thing for your site. So we’re giving you these recommendations, we’re here to help you. Let’s collaborate together. We’re not here to tell you what to do or to cast blame on you or anything like that. It’s all about that collaboration and communication.

So when I’m interviewing somebody, if I’m seeing that they put up this sense of being just very machismo because it tends to be guys. Very machismo, very dictating of what things need to be done and stuff. To me, that’s a huge red flag that this person isn’t going to collaborate well. Not only with other teams at Red Door or on the client’s side, but they’re not going to really collaborate well within their internal team if they’re on the SEO team for example. Because we very much put together a culture at Red Door that is all about being what we call ‘jerk free’. So it’s one of our core values, 100% jerk free.

And we hold it in very high regard because nobody wants to work with people who they hate. And so in our interview process, for someone who’s on my team, it’s not just my team that’s interviewing them, they’re getting interviewed by multiple people across the agency on other teams. And those other teams’ members who are participating in the interview process, they’re asking them those probing questions about, “Tell me about a difficult time that you had, and how did you resolve it, and what’s your approach to mitigating these issues that you might have on a client?” Or, “What happened the last time that you missed a deadline? How did you communicate that?” These are all things that really help make the business run efficiently and help make things smooth with the client. And if we get the sense that somebody is not going to be an active participant in being jerk free, being kind, being curious and wanting to learn, then they don’t have a place at Red Door. And quite frankly, anywhere I go … hopefully I don’t ever go from Red Door, but anywhere I went after Red Door, I would carry those same core values that I operated under and learned at Red Door. I would carry them with me for the rest of my career because they’re great core values.

Benchmarking Employee Success

Steffen Horst: Goals obviously are very important to measure the success. Not only for digital marketing campaigns or for any marketing campaigns, but also for evaluating how employees perform. How do you set goals for your employees and how do you measure their performance?

Heather Molina: It’s a great question. We have a very I don’t want to say stringent, but we have a very well developed outline of just putting together goals for all of the team members. So we use obviously some online tools that help us outline and track goal progress.

But just to high level summarize it, every six months because we do reviews every six months at Red Door. Every six months, team members all the way from the CEO down have two categories of goals. One is called business operation goals, and the other one is learning and development goals. And within those two categories, there is a couple of different goals. But for business operation goals, these include things that everybody is doing that help the business move forward, help the business grow, help the business operate.

So for somebody for example who’s at that very junior level, you’re probably wondering how can they help affect business or how can they help grow business or help with the operations? So the goals for them usually tend to be things like okay, are you filling out your timesheets every day? Because that’s how we track what we’re going to charge clients and how much time you plugged against their program. Are you being efficient with filling out not just your time sheets, but anything related to the client that is a brief or anything like that? Are you participating in that stuff, because that helps shape the business or get those smaller operational things done.

Somebody at my level or somebody at the director level on my team, they’re going to obviously have business development goals. And those will be things like we had a goal this quarter, obviously a revenue number. Did we hit? Did we not? How close did we come? Those are pretty obvious. But we also have things like a couple of years ago it was all about hey, we want to get a client on Google’s Digital Video 360. We want to migrate someone to that. We want to get into doing some podcast advertising or maybe some Spotify buying through DV360, and we want to get certified in the Google marketing platforms.

So we set up those goals of getting all those things lined up so that we can have a client that we think is ready to be moved into this program and start running things. We have goals that help assist with getting people trained up on these platform certifications. Because in theory, that’s going to help grow the business because we’ll have clients or new business prospects coming to us and wanting to ask questions about Google DV360, or asking about our analytics program and whether or not the full team is actually certified through it all. So those are all business operational goals.

And then under learning and development, those are things that help round out their own expertise, help round out things like simple things for junior person, like PowerPoint training or Excel formulas and learning new Excel hacks and stuff. So those learning and development ones are more shaped for their own personal needs versus the growing of the business.

Foster Teamwork With ‘Hacky Hours’

Another unique thing that we actually do at Red Door, just to segue away from goals for a second, but that really helps with the learning and development. Not just of a team or a person rather but of the whole agency is we do things called hacky hours. And so once a month, there is a combined group across the agency that develops an event or just a training where the agency comes together. People can work into teams or work on a team together, and they develop something for the hacky hour.

So for example, a couple of months ago we did something along the lines of AI. And so we had everybody who wanted to participate get grouped together. So you had a web developer, an SEO person, a paid media person, a content person all on the same team. And they developed a product that was centered around AI and pushed out a mock proposal of what it is that they would build. And it’s a competition within the agency. That really helps spearhead people’s thinking and getting them out of their day to day thinking and start thinking more broad beyond just their subject matter area. It helps them learn how to collaborate across the teams.

And then also as a bonus, it helps from a Red Door perspective as identify opportunities for new products and services that we may want to offer. So it’s just a break from everyone’s day to day and their normal heads down in their subject matter area. It helps break that up and allow them to think a little differently. Think about things that they normally don’t come across. And the benefit is it expands their mind, but it also expands potentially the opportunity for the agency to have new services or think about things differently for a client.

Leadership Principles Behind a Successful Agency

Steffen Horst: Building a successful team requires clear and consistent leadership. How do you establish leadership to make sure your team follows you, no matter what?

Heather Molina: Well for me, and I learned by example from really strong leaders before me that I had in my career. It’s being available and being present. And you don’t have to physically be present, but you can be available and responsive when people ask questions, whether it’s over Slack or IM, or if they’re texting you. Being responsive just helps create that presence.

So my team knows that they can come to me for anything, for any reason, that I’ve established a sense of empathy, of compassion, of being able to provide a very … I don’t want to say unfiltered, but a very authentic to response to whatever challenges that they’re having. And I can relate to a lot of the challenges that they’re having. And I try to make sure that comes across, because I don’t want them to think that whatever it is that they’re thinking or feeling, whether it’s a frustration with a client, a frustration with a coworker, a frustration with a vendor and a product, or if it’s something that’s in their personal life, I don’t want them to think that they’re alone in whatever it is that they’re feeling or they’re going through.

So for example, I’ve had someone recently expressed some frustration with a vendor and how the vendor is talking to them, and they were feeling that this is something that the vendor is talking down to them or that they’re in isolation. I just told them, “I’ve been there, not with that vendor, but with this other vendor.” And just relaying my experience of, “Hey, I’ve been there too, and here’s how I dealt with it.” I was just very succinct and firm in my response back to them. And then when they accomplished what I needed for them, I was very pointed and direct with thanking them for specifically addressing the issue that I brought up.

And that earned the respect. I wasn’t talking down to that vendor, I wasn’t getting frustrated with them. I was helping guide them to what I needed. And then I was very clear in thanking them for being very succinct with what I needed and addressing it. So that helps clear the air and helps show that you respect and appreciate the effort that they’re putting forward. And they’re going to do that in the same, hopefully in the future as well.

But this person was thinking well, “This is just all me. This is something, they just treat me this way.” And it’s like, no, no, no, no. This happens to everybody. Don’t think you’re ever alone. And so it’s really that what I tried to get across to my teams is that empathy. Whatever you’re feeling, whatever you’re going through, chances are I have gone through it in my career, or someone else has. And you’re not alone.

And especially when it comes to women in careers, I have women on my teams who will come to me and say, “I’m so upset. I’ve been crying in the bathroom. I got upset or offended by this.” And it’s like oh boy, let me tell you. When I started my PR career, my project management career, I was at a company called Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. And talk about a place that was very aggressive. That was when I was 24, 25 years old. I used to cry every day at work. And I’ll tell them this. And it’s like I am so grateful for those two years that I spent in hell at that place. Because I learned my backbone. I learned that I’m not alone, that everybody goes through this, that there are going to be people who are more aggressive, who are just very aggressive, very type A with how they approach people. Anything that comes out of their mouth sounds condescending even though it’s not. And it’s because I had a really fantastic boss when I worked there that I was able to come away from that experience really positive and grateful for everything that I went through.

But I used to cry every day at work there. Because 2001 to 2003, she was under investigation for some stuff. And it was when the .com bubble had burst and they were having layoffs every week. I’ve been through that. And then you take all of that and then on top of that you have people who were very freaked out at their jobs thinking they’re going to get laid off any minute and stuff. That’s what it felt like there every day. And so people were just nasty and mean, and I cried every day because people were rude, and I wasn’t the only one who cried every day. But it’s like guys, I’ve been through that.

So especially with women, because there are so few and far between women in SEO and paid media in general. I really try to be vocal about, “Hey, I’ve been there too. I had to go through that. I went through that,” not that I had to, but I went through that as well. “And trust me, you can come out of it and be a lot stronger and a lot more focused than maybe you were going through it and stuff, and it’ll benefit you so much.” So I’m so grateful for that experience. But I try to really showcase the empathy with my teams in terms of my personal leadership style. I’m not a, “Hey guys, here’s what you need to do. Go do it.” I’m a, “Okay, let’s roll up our sleeves and let’s figure out how we’re going to get this done.” And if that means that I have to jump in and do it, then I can do it. That’s not a problem.

Steffen Horst: By doing that, you build a relationship with your employees, trust basically. How do you go about to identify what your employees’ strengths and weaknesses are? What they like, what they dislike, what their skill set is, what motivates them?

Heather Molina: Well, at Red Door, whenever anybody new starts, we give them what’s called strength finders test. I don’t know if you know what that is. But basically it’s a personality assessment, and it identifies a person’s top five strengths. When we get that report back and we share their strengths with them, it helps us determine how do I manage this person? What’s their top motivator? What’s going to help motivate them to do a great job and want to feel good about coming to work every day?

So for example, a lot of people on my team, their top strength is what’s called learner. Which means they always want to be learning. They want to feel like they’re learning something new, that they’re taking on some kind of new challenge. Which is perfect for digital marketing, because they are always learning. So I know that for those people, how I’m going to motivate them is largely by allowing them to learn things maybe even outside of their subject matter area, like an SEO person. I might set up some goals for them in their learning and development category that maybe take on them learning more about analytics, or more about social and content marketing so that they feel like they’re getting more knowledge that’s just outside their subject matter area.

But I also have people on my team who … one person, their top strength is what’s called includer, which nobody else on the team has. And so when I saw that, I had to really dig in and see what that meant. And for that person, it means that she likes to be included on stuff. She wants to make sure that she feels like she has a part in everything.

So when I work with her and motivate her and set up goals, it’s really about making sure that she feels like she is connected to the things that are pertinent to her subject matter area. That she is, even though she’s junior, she’s on vendor calls and that she has a voice in giving an opinion in everything, because that really does matter to her.

For me, my top strength, it’s one of the few top strengths at Red Door. It’s called activator, and that’s a person who just gets stuff done. It’s not necessarily going to be perfect. But it’s going to be on time, and it’s going to get done, and it’s going to drive results. But my top strength being activator really compliments everyone else’s strengths on my team that are learner and strategic, or some people have the achiever as their top strength. And so it’s a really nice, beautiful blend. I make sure stuff gets done and I help set things up so that the people on my teams can really thrive and be those strategic perfect achievers, and can actually get stuff done and everything.

So when we’re identifying people and understanding how to motivate them, we look at their strengths finders test. And then it also comes down to those regular connections. So even though I run a team of over 12 or 20 people now at this point at Red Door, I still have one to ones with a lot of the people on the team on a regular basis. There’s some people I have weekly one to ones with who are obviously more senior on my team. But even coordinators, the junior level, I meet with them at least quarterly to really take an assessment of what they’re liking in their day to day. Giving them some feedback I’ve heard, whether it’s positive or constructive. Talking to them about what they want to learn outside of Red Door and where they want to take their career.

If I have somebody who’s a coordinator and I ask them, “Where do you want to go with your career, where do you want to be in 10 years?” And they say to me, “I want to be a digital marketing manager on the brand side.” Well I know talking to that person that I need to start to open up those opportunities for them to learn more than just their subject matter area. That maybe if they’re in paid media, they need to start learning a little bit more about SEO, or about social and content marketing, or about analytics. And so I’ll always have that in the back of my mind and be encouraging them to take the analytics test, or get BrightEdge certified, or take the AdWords exam, or maybe explore this social listening tool and start to use it a little more maybe in their day to day, even though it’s not necessarily relevant to what they’re doing.

So it’s really just sitting down and listening to them and figuring out how can I help make that happen? Or whatever it is that they want to do, whether it’s learn something new or get to that next level in their career and help them get promoted. If that’s really what’s occupying their mind, let’s have a conversation about how that can happen.

So for me, it’s about just being available to the team and doing that. Even though I have limited time, I still make those commitments to meet with them regularly. And I talk to them about it, about whatever it is that’s really going to motivate them and push them forward.

The Team Huddle Brings Individuals Together

Steffen Horst: So we talked about leadership and how to establish leadership. We just talked about how to identify what makes an employee tick, what are their strengths and weaknesses. But how do you foster the relationships between employees? Because no one wants to go every day to work to sit amongst people they don’t like. How do you go about that?

Heather Molina: Well, I’ve certainly had situations at the tasks where employees don’t like each other. They get easily frustrated with each other. I could certainly and have taken the approach in the past of making two people work together who don’t like each other and making it clear that their career path, their success in the company is dependent on them working together.

And usually in the past when that’s happened, because that happened at Resolution. I had two directors who one was really fantastic and I just absolutely adored them. But they didn’t get along with another director, and that other director was a really difficult person for them to work with and really difficult for anybody to work with. But I made them sit in the same office. That person who was really strong and great and stuff, their perspective afterwards of having to sit in the same office with that person day to day, communicate, operate, and work together. They were just like, “That just made me a stronger person because I know I can deal with somebody who has just very aggressive opinions about what we should do for clients and doesn’t want to collaborate, and doesn’t want to work with people.” And then the other person, they eventually managed themselves out of their role, which was a good thing for the agency to be perfectly blunt. It was a really good thing.

But nowadays at Red Door, I don’t really have an issue because we start each day with what we call a team huddle. It’s a quick 15 minute just touch base where everybody gets on the instant message virtual meeting teams, because we have people who sit pretty much anywhere and everywhere, not just in the office. And they just talk about what they’ve got going on for that day. And sometimes, what’s going on for them that day isn’t necessarily work related, or what’s eating at their mind share isn’t necessarily work related. It could be something personal and if they want to share it with the team, they will.

So for example, I’ve got a couple people on my team who are expecting children. So someone might say, “My mind share today is making sure I get my wife to her next appointment for the sonogram. Making sure the baby’s healthy, we’ve got some concerns. So my mind share is completely focused on that.”

And they might not talk about anything work related that’s on their mind share, but it’s helping them connect with the rest of the team and have everybody understand where everyone’s coming from for that day. This is my point of view. This is what I’m focused on today. I’m going to be doing this client work, but just know my mind share today is very much on my wife and the fact that I’ve got to go to this appointment for our prenatal checkup and stuff.

So it’s just an easy way for everyone to connect and help everyone understand that everyone has a life, everyone’s got stuff going on. And hopefully, that makes their day to day so much easier when they’re connecting with each other in person, whether they have challenges working together or work really well together. Having that personal touch base or having that touch base where they’re talking about what’s going on in their life whether it’s work related or personal related, right at the start of each day, really just helps make things smoother, helps set that platform and that foundation for the day. And just in general of we’re all human beings and we are here to do great work, and we’ve got great work in our personal lives, and we’ve got great work in our professional lives. And let’s share what we want to share and let’s make sure that everyone just understands the common ground of how everyone is coming to the table today.

Steffen Horst: Those were some really good points. To get things started at the beginning of the day, get everyone together, find out where the head is, what they’re working on, but also to ensure that everyone knows what the other person does, doesn’t matter where they are. Within the US or wherever you employ people.

Heather, thank you so much for your time. I really enjoyed the conversation. I loved the information you shared about how to build a successful team and your views in those things. If people want to get in touch with you, how can they do that?

Heather Molina: Well, the best way to get in touch with me is obviously through LinkedIn. I’m usually the first Heather Molina that will show up when you do a search for Heather Molina. Or if you search in Google for Heather Molina, my LinkedIn profile does show up high.

But if you wanted to get a hold of me at Red Door, it’s hmolina at Best way to hit me up. one of those two options. I’m always open to talking to new vendors, to talking to new people, to new talent. It’s an exciting time to be at Red Door that it’s an independent agency. We’re in Southern California, but we have a lot of people who work remotely. And it’s an exciting place to be. I’ve been there for four years, and I’m grateful every day that I get to spend there.

Steffen Horst: Great. Well thanks everyone for listening. If you like the Performance Delivered podcast, please subscribe to us and leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. If you want to find out more about Symphonic Digital, you can visit us at or follow us on Twitter @SymphonicHQ. Thanks again, and see you next time.