The past year highlighted a major strength of the Cellino team: the ability to remain well-aligned across technically diverse streams of work. The three key ingredients that make the Cellino team shine are growth mindset, emotional intelligence, and low ego. In this post, we (Nabiha Saklayen, CEO & Co-Founder and Brooke Barrettsmith, Head of Transformative Leadership) will share our perspectives on embracing these humanistic elements at Cellino.
Brooke: At Cellino, we intentionally steer away from a fixed mindset, which is the belief that our potential is locked-in-place, and instead, we choose to work within a growth mindset, where we view challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. We believe in the effectiveness of this mentality so much that we even made it one of our company’s foundational values. To “never stop growing” is a powerful and constant reminder that we must build and develop intentionally and daily. A growth mentality is not a default character trait but a continual pursuit. In our company, it’s okay not to know everything, and in fact, we encourage learning something new every day, especially if it’s at the intersection of different disciplines. We also do our best to normalize failure, which has helped us grow because we’ve made room and permission for imperfection. And magic happens as we consciously transform through our challenges, helping our creativity transcend limitations. I have loved seeing the resilience and strength built within our teams because of our dedication to growth individually and hand in hand.
Nabiha: Startups depend on the ability of the early team to get things done no matter how uncomfortable the new directions may be, and Cellino’s journey is no different. When the COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented chaos to the world in 2020, it also brought immense uncertainty to Cellino’s future. In that moment of global crisis, I watched my team lean into their growth mindset like never before. We had to make bold choices on platform, market, and culture to survive. My team showed me that we could unite, survive, and own our future by growing aggressively into unchartered territories together.
Brooke: At Cellino, when we work on emotional intelligence and effective communication, we think about them as twofold: development of the moral and social character of our team. The deeply rooted understanding of how our values play out and affect our performance and work team dynamics is pivotal. This unique approach is the backbone of our internal coaching and training programs.
In performance psychology, moral character is the willingness to act upon personal virtues for the good of self and others, while social character focuses on bolstering loyalty, teamwork, and self-sacrifice. Our golden rule of care embodies both of these characteristics, with practical applications such as regular colleague check-ins asking the specific questions “How are you?” or “How can I help?”. This approach might seem simplistic but has a monumental impact. The results of this character work are also twofold: when you learn to ask selflessly about someone else’s well-being, you build moral character, while asking how you can help someone else will build your social character. This principle forms the backbone of EQ — intentionally creating an aware core with an awareness of others. Our focus on EQ and effective communication helps us win as a company. Our collaboration is authentic, our synergy is endless, and our teamwork brings peak performance.
Nabiha: One of my essential ingredients to building successful teams has always been emotional intelligence. How do we best support one another? How do we resolve conflict around scientific decisions? How do we create greater alignment across experts spanning different disciplines? I continually emphasize these topics from a team performance standpoint. Working at the intersection of various disciplines is exhilarating and exhausting at the same time because everyone speaks a foreign technical language. I know that if we do not perfect our communication skills as a team, we will fail to build our multidisciplinary platform on an ambitious timeline. To address my concerns, I made the decision to hire an in-house communication and leadership coach, Brooke Barrettsmith, for our team. That is perhaps the best hiring decision I’ve made, and an unusual one for a company at our stage. Brooke’s ability to support our team in strengthening our collective emotional intelligence as a team translates to company execution efficiency and excellence every day.
Brooke: To keep ego low, companies have to be very intentional and careful from the beginning. This scenario can play out often; a non-egotistical individual joins a highly self-centered and aggressive company, and the odds quickly rise that they will assimilate to that style of functioning in order to survive rather than remaining an optimistic team player. At Cellino, we choose to be a company where the feedback we provide at every opportunity is positive and equitable. We are proud of each other across all the disciplines, and our ability to collaborate successfully is due to our dedication to low ego. We steer far away from ego-oriented work, where individuals stay self-focused and try to outperform others, and instead we focus on task orientation, where we believe in using our unique skills and abilities to contribute to the greater good of the company. And in turn, it makes each of us feel accomplished, valuable, and great about ourselves.
Nabiha: I constantly seek experts for our team who value diversity of opinion and expertise, as multiple technical tracks need to merge for Cellino to succeed. It is also imperative to not always want to be right. I look for team members who are open to changing their position when presented with new evidence — having the flexibility to make decisions in the company’s best interest can only happen when everyone is willing to put their egos aside for the greater good. There have been instances when the best ideas at Cellino have come from interns, which is why we like to run a relatively horizontal team structure so that ideas can flow between different groups with ease. We need to work effectively together to solve challenges, and a low ego is critical to helping us do our job to the best of our ability.
Team Building A Life-long Priority
Brooke and Nabiha:
We are grateful to have a team that strongly embodies the values of growth mindset, emotional intelligence, and low ego. Our shared worldview lays a strong foundation for our company culture. We attract both industry veterans and rising stars of exceptional caliber and expect them to embody these traits. We invest enormous effort to continuously build a shared language of growth mindset, emotional intelligence, and low ego as we develop a world-changing technology. One key aspect of our successes thus far has been our team’s ability to make progress in uncertain times by completely embracing a growth mindset, emotional intelligence, and low ego no matter what. We are confident, united, and excited about the future as we continue to launch our great mission into the world. We expect to double our team in 2022, so please connect with us if you are looking for your next opportunity!