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Adriana Lorenzo

Mentor in the Spotlight: Interview with Marco Broccoli

Marco is an experienced manager who is a successful Co-Founder of Inflow Management and a Mentor at Rockstart AgriFood Program. Over the last 17 years, Marco has worn many hats as a designer, front-end developer, software development manager, product manager, and now as a coach and consultant. All these experiences helped him realize his true passion for deepening his knowledge of human behaviour. Therefore Marco aims to use this knowledge to help improve people’s lives either through software, coaching, mentoring or consulting.

Why did you choose to get into mentoring?

I chose to get into mentoring for a couple of reasons. First, working with entrepreneurs is incredibly rewarding. All of my clients truly inspired me with their passion, commitment and grit. We share and build on each other’s energy, creativity and challenges to grow. The second reason is related to my passion for organisations and team building. Teams are only as successful as the environments they are in. Founders, as well as all managers, are responsible for creating the conditions for team success. Due to the high-pressure of fast-moving organisations, it can become difficult to create healthy foundations. I have the first-hand experience of seeing and causing a department to fall apart because of the pace and stress. Therefore, I want to share my experience and help companies not to fall into the same traps I did.

What do you hope to teach/instil through mentoring?

That management isn’t just for big companies, it is an enabler of people and their strengths. The most effective leaders are always investing in the strengths of the people around them. Trying to improve a weakness has limitations, takes more energy and is often not enjoyable. By moving away from the misconception of the “well-rounded” leader, people can focus on developing strengths, and surround themselves with people that complement their strengths. Another idea I hope to get across is what really makes an effective team. When teams are failing it is the responsibility of the leader to set the conditions for success. More often than not leaders are focused on managing behaviour in real-time (a trap I’ve fallen into), rather than looking ahead, making small adjustments to keep the team on a trajectory of success.

What are the key factors to a successful startup team?

The first key factor in any successful team I’ve worked with is purpose. There needs to be a strong driving factor pushing the people to succeed, even when times are tough. A good purpose is challenging, energising, clear, and helps to orient each team member towards a common goal. Creating a supportive context enables continued team success. Rather than creating a team and leaving them to fend for themselves, support them with training, coaching, expertise, a reward system, and the materials needed to complete the task.  Finally, and probably the hardest factor for a successful team is the people. By hiring people that have the right skills and emotional resilience to stand the ups and downs of a startup is key. Each person in a startup is required to push the boundaries of their skills and knowledge, often taking on different roles and failing on a regular basis. This takes grit.

What is the biggest lesson you learned in your career, that you can pass onto emerging startups?

Actually there have been many lessons that culminate into one big learning in my career. When I was a manager for 90+ people, my first realisation was that people view you differently. The way one talks or behaves carries a different weight. How managers react to situations is held to a higher standard, and rightly so, there are many people impacted by the actions of a manager. The big lesson is to know oneself well. Understand, where you are at your best and what makes you at your worst. What are your triggers? How do you handle stress? How do you handle success as well as a failure? Once you have a good understanding of yourself, a strategy can be formed to help you thrive in any environment.

You can contact Marco Broccoli here.


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