4 Ways to Drive
Your Career Forward

Innovative startups all have one thing in common – they’re disruptive. Whether they’re revolutionizing inbound marketing like HubSpot, improving the way fundraisers connect with their donors like EverTrue, or pioneering cloud security like Carbonite, Boston-based companies are practicing disruptive innovation now more than ever.

Disruption should be Whitney Johnson’s middle name. Author, speaker, advisor, and one of the 50 Top Management Thinkers of the World, she is a leading force is conveying the power of disruption to transform people and companies. On November 12th, Johnson joined Intelligent.ly EMERGE, a one-day leadership workshop designed to help individual contributors become effective influencers. Through a powerful talk delivered to some of Boston’s top companies, she reminded the group that behind every great company are innovative leaders who turning new ideas into reality.

When she left Wall Street at the height of her career, everyone thought Johnson crazy to abandon prestige and stability, in favor of a new, more emotionally fulfilling challenge. It certainly wasn’t the usual corporate trajectory; but, it was a disruptive course, that would fulfill this need.

Her theory of disruptive innovation is simple: the most successful innovations are those that create new markets. They play where no one else is playing…yet.

We asked emerging leaders who attended the EMERGE workshop what they took away from Johnson’s talk, and how they (and you!) can put them into action:

Sam Diters_EverTrue Exploit Your Superpower
Sam Diters, Strategic Customer Success Manager, EverTrue
It’s important to understand your strengths and take calculated risks. We can all fall victim to complacency. Whitney helped remind me that striving to grow through challenging myself is one of the only ways to reach my ultimate goals.”


Push Yourself Beyond Comfortable LimitsLauren Stenstream_Carbonite
Lauren Stenstream, Senior Accountant, Carbonite
The theory that both failure and lack of fulfillment in your career can be driving forces for innovation and success inspired me. Focusing in on areas where I can provide the most value has been critical in strategically planning my future.”


Kate Connors_MetisTake a Risk – A Market Risk
Kate Connors, Senior Account Executive, Metis Communications
Whitney Johnson not only challenged me to be disruptive in my career, but also to help my clients become more disruptive in their industries. I’m challenging myself to find industry needs that aren’t being filled and help my clients address them with a tone and approach tailored to reach the members of their audiences.”


Amanda Iglesias_HubSpotFind your Other Half
Amanda Iglesias, Product Manager, HubSpot
“In order to accelerate the progress of some of the projects I manage, I am evaluating them to determine what skills are required to make them successful. My goal is to identify folks who I partner with across our business who bring other strengths to the table.”

Want more strong insights from Whitney Johnson? Stay tuned for the release of her keynote!

Ready to help your team become effective influencers who drive innovation? Send them to the next EMERGE workshop on March 9th, and follow us on Twitter for a daily dose of leadership inspiration.

HubSpot’s Katie Burke on: Beyoncé, Pet Rocks, & Storytelling

Leadership + Libations: Katie Burke

Photo courtesy of @worldwidewolfe

Before making her way to PR, it only took six weeks for Katie Burke to realize that consulting wasn’t for her. A master of storytelling, Katie channeled her inner Olivia Pope early in her career at a political communications firm. She got her MBA at Sloan, then made the jump to PR at HubSpot, before recently transitioning to a new role as the company’s Director of Talent & Culture. From preparing for HubSpot’s IPO to navigating its tremendous growth, Katie is adept at swiftly adapting to change to rally people in the right direction.

We joined forces with Young Women in Digital to sit down with Katie for a fireside chat with one goal in mind: to tackle a topic we all need help with – learning how to tell compelling stories. Katie showed us how to craft our stories in a clear, concise way, own its execution, and write our own endings.

As one person listening in nicely put it, Katie is, “the most quotable person to walk the planet.” So, rather than try to summarize our experience, here are some Katie’s most memorable quotes:

Own your Beyoncé walk, and have the confidence of Queen Bey herself.

  • “Speak in statements, not apologetic questions.”
  • “Use actions to show your stakeholders you are hungry to grow.”
  • “You don’t get to places in your career by making safe bets.”

Do your homework. Know the story you want to tell.

  • “Part of storytelling is believing you can write a different ending than those before you, and being willing to write that narrative yourself.”
  • “When communicating your ideas, speak in ‘we,’ not ‘I,’ to show that your idea provides value to the company’s best interest.”
  • “Prepare for each stakeholder’s ‘pet rock’ (i.e. special interest), and know how to address that particular perspective.”
Katie Burke

Photo Courtesy of @MsChristinaCF

Plan your approach.

  • “Think, speak, and sell in headlines. Is your idea attention grabbing? If not, think bigger about what you’re pitching.”
  • “Have a 10-slide deck. If you’re presenting your slides for the first time at a meeting, you’re doing it wrong. Rehearse! Ask for feedback early and get buy-in first from the people you need to move the project forward.”
  • “Understand why your story matters to the business and how to engage your stakeholders. If your presentation doesn’t clarify the benefits to the company, you need to revisit your approach.”
  • “Take the time, several days beforehand, to get dissenters’ buy-in and feedback; address their concerns before you pitch, then tailor your approach for them for the actual presentation.”
  • “If you have a diverse audience, pick a high-level point that everyone will be able to buy into and rally around.”
  • “Show a bias for action.”

Follow up!

  • “The next day, follow up with an email that directly states outcomes, sets expectations, and asks for validation. Then run with it.”
  • “Don’t be afraid to be specific about what you need to execute your plan.”

Invest in your own professional growth.

  • “Lead by being open to feedback and continuous improvement.”
  • “Find one thing you can do that makes you indispensable to your team and make your perspective valuable through your actions.”


5 Boston Companies With Innovative Employee Benefits

It’s no secret that it’s hard to find talent, and it can be even harder to retain great people once they’re on board. To keep a tight grip on star employees, companies have to get creative with benefits, creating a fun and engaging work atmosphere. We’ve already seen how many are providing professional development opportunities to their teams with Intelligent.ly classes. Check out tons of other ways Boston companies are innovating in the realm of employee benefits to create amazing work environments.


Dyn-logoWhen feeling stressed, the employees at Dyn, a company offering managed DNS and email delivery, can receive free chair massages, or even take unlimited paid time off when they really need a break. The company works to promote education, fitness and health, recycling, and more with other employee benefits. Some of their most unique benefits include a fully stocked kitchen, a lounge with video games, table games like Foosball and ping pong, segways, and even two beer taps! It’s no wonder they’ve received numerous awards for their strong company culture.


carbonite-logoCarbonite, a company providing automated electronic backup and storage based in the cloud,  is another company focusing on culture and employee satisfaction. It’s been named as one of the Boston Business Journal’s Best Places to Work for three years in a row. They have a huge spread of benefits, including gym discounts and wellness plans, commuter benefits plans, stock options, and up to 20 days of paid time off. In addition to the more traditional benefits, Carbonite also offers free snacks, incentive games between employees, and an XBox gaming station with a new game every month.


HubspotlogoHubspot has been burning up the headlines lately, and was recently rated one of the best places to work for recent grads by Experience. According to their Culture Code, “Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing.” One unique aspect to their culture is they pay for any employee (on any level) to have lunch or dinner with someone they admire. They let their employees work when, where, and how they want, and they even just installed a wall of candy.


communispace_logocolor_tmoutlinesThe careers page on Communispace’s website has a simple slogan: “Beards. Trivia. Cupcakes.” The company promotes working hard with the idea that activities like team trivia and bake-offs will bond employers and drive them to continue and love their work. As a result, the associate community manager describes, “the energy is palpable” and employees are excited and committed to the company.

Constant Contact

constant-contact-logo-horiz-color-300dpiConstant Contact works to connect small businesses, associations and nonprofits with potential clients and customers. In 2012, they were recognized as the “Company of the Year” by American Business Awards. Their employee benefits include pet insurance, tuition reimbursement, stock options, and more. The company combines a competitive, innovative environment with fun events such as beer cart fridays and bashes for milestones. A tier 3 tech support specialist is quoted on their website describing, “I enjoy working at Constant Contact because we have a fun atmosphere with a focus on innovation, technology, and NERF gun fights.”

So there you have it; five great companies that are innovative in their employee benefits. What exciting benefits does your company have? Let us know in the comments!