When it comes to her professional life, Marisa Keegan is passionate about three things; employee engagement, employee advocacy, and corporate culture. Her goal is to help business leaders understand the importance of giving their employees a voice which she does in part through her rants over at www.CultureFanatics.com. Since leaving her position as Culture Maven at Rackspace, she has joined Modea, a digital services agency, and is helping them shape their Talent Management Strategy. Both of these companies have been nationally recognized as great places to work so if you need help understanding what it takes to build a great corporate culture and to truly give your employees a voice she’s the person you need to talk to.
1. The elevator just closed and you’ve got 30 seconds to pitch the random reader on who you are and why they should read your rants. Go..
I promise, my rants are more fun then the next three things you have to do at work. Take a break, grab your coffee, and read what I have to say.
It’s no secret that when companies focus on their employees, their culture, and being great places to work they see increased levels of productivity, collaboration, and passion as well as lower levels of turnover. How do you take the strengths of your employees and use them to achieve greatness in your organization?
I’ve spent years creating, sustaining, and supporting culture and engagement within organizations. My time as Culture Maven at Rackspace, one of Fortunes Top 100 Best Places to Work, allowed me to understand how to execute on employee engagement strategy, employee coaching, and employee advocacy.
I believe traditional HR has a lot of changing to do in order to keep up with the times and that’s clearly reflected in my rants. You might not agree with everything I have to say and I certainly don’t have all the answers, but you’ll have a hard time finding someone as passionate about these topics as I am.
2. Now for the mundane – break down your location, title, company/firm and what you do for a living.
I live in Blacksburg Virginia squished between a cow pasture, a Blue Ridge Mountain, and Virginia Tech – Go Hokies!
I work for Modea, a digital advertising agency where I help leaders create and support our Talent Management Strategy. We’re a young, up and coming firm and now is the perfect time to support leadership in making decisions that will focus on the development and engagement of our employees.
3. One more question that everyone expects. What’s the reason you’re in this game? (why do you do what you do?)
I’m in this game because I grew up sitting around a dinner table with two parents who never experienced what it feels like to love their jobs.
I want more than that for myself, my peers, my employees, and my employers. The fact that it has been proven that engaged, passionate employees lead to stronger bottom lines is a nice perk, but it’s not why I’m here. I’m here because in my idealistic world I truly believe that everyone can do what they love – if they have the right people coaching them along the way. I want to be that coach that encourages other to foster passion.
4. If you’ve ever been to a professional baseball game, you know batters from the home team get to pick their own theme music as they walk from the dugout to the plate. If we ever have a FOT convention, what theme music will you come out to to pump the crowd up and why?
Most definitely, Enter Sandman by Metallica. It’s the song the Virginia Tech football players enter the stadium to and when it’s on the entire stadium jumps up and down. If I entered a convention and the entire crowd was jumping up and down for me…I’d be in heaven.
5. Let’s stick with the baseball theme. If you’ve ever been to a pro game, you also know that the visitor doesn’t get to pick their own music. The home team picks that for them, and it’s usually less than stellar as a means of attempting to crush them. If you could pick theme music for your arch-rival to walk into a conference room to, what would it be and why?
Lets stick with the football answers. There happens to be a University in Virginia (of which will remain nameless) that is a huge rival of ours. They also happen to have less than stellar taste in music and game-time traditions. For my arch-rival I’d play this music (and the video clip because it just adds to the lame-ness):
6. Finish the following sentence – “When I’m interviewing, I can tell within one minute that this thing isn’t going to work out because _________…”
…I suddenly have the urge to bang my head on the table.”
7. Name the actor/actress that will portray you in the movie about you. Why the heck is that a fit?
Since my movie will actually be a Broadway musical, it has to be Kristin Chenoweth (Galinda from Wicked on Broadway). She’s beautiful, funny, and an overall positive person. She also has the most amazing singing voice, which I might add, sounds just like mine (except she’s not tone deaf and can actually hit those high notes).
Did I mention she’s funny?
Most importantly, she’s sassy and willing to insert a shameless plug for herself whenever necessary. Check out her 2009 Emmy acceptance speech which she gave after having just lost her job:
8. List three of your favorite books to pander to the educated segment of our readership…
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl - Lets face it, we can all learn something from a man who survived a Nazi concentration camp. If nothing else, his book serves as a reminder that our worst days often don’t come close to how bad others have had it.
- Who’s Got Your Back by Keith Ferrazzi – This one is new for me but I couldn’t put it down. Not only does he quote Gallup quite a bit (and I drink their kool-aid) but he talks about how it’s okay for business people to show emotion, to admit weakness, and to ask for help. Especially being female I feel like we’re told the opposite all the time and it was refreshing to hear his take on things.
- How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – This is a classic example of a book that very much states the obvious. That being said, everyone should read it.
9. List three of your favorite movies to connect with the segment of our readership that doesn’t like to read…
For the second year in a row you didn’t get me that Netflix subscription I asked for and look at me now, I’m woefully illequipped to answer this question. Too bad no one wants to know which trashy reality shows I watch.
10. Let’s reach out to what remains of our readership. Who’s your favorite Old-School Rapper and why?
Hands down, Fresh Prince of Bel Air because”…in West Philadelphia born and raised. On a playground was where he spent most of his days. Chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool and shooting some b-ball outside of the school…”
Gotta love it. Not sure if he counts but he had the best rags to riches story on TV, was the only person who could make a school uniform look cool, and grew up to be Will Smith. What’s not to like?
10.5. My first car was a… and here’s how it defined who I am….
I never really had a car as a kid. My best friends first car however defined me in many ways:
We were living in the 90’s. The car was a lime green 1969 something-or-other with airplane style seat belts and a door that liked to fall off the hinges whenever we hit a man-eating New York pothole. Its hideous exterior taught us how to ‘duck and drive’ when passing the cool kids and the door falling off ‘issue’ taught me how to avoid potholes.
That car was an embarrassing hunk of junk but it taught me that we can’t expect to wake up in the morning and have everything we want in life. In order to afford cars with sturdy doors, to be truly successful, and to achieve our goals we have to we have to work hard, make good decisions, and do right by others.