Revenue Rehab: It's like therapy, but for marketers
May 25, 2022

Celebrate Your Small Wins: Leading to Create a Collaborative Culture

This week our host Brandi Starr is joined by Avnita Gulati to discuss The importance of Celebrating Small Wins and how it leads to Creating a Collaborative Culture. Avnita is the Sr. Director, Global Marketing Ops and Strategy at Visa, Inc. Avnita is...

This week our host Brandi Starr is joined by Avnita Gulati to discuss The importance of Celebrating Small Wins and how it leads to Creating a Collaborative Culture.

Avnita is the Sr. Director, Global Marketing Ops and Strategy at Visa, Inc. Avnita is a forward thinker that has transformed the marketing organization to scale by developing frameworks for cross-functional alignment, campaign management, content strategy and MarTech investment.

Brandi and Avnita discuss the connection between work culture, celebrating wins and team dynamics. And the diagnosis is positive and optimistic! By the end of this episode, you'll be ready to implement this simple but powerful tool using Avnita’s three categories to boost your team’s performance and improve their dynamic.

Bullet Points of Key Topics + Chapter Markers:

  • Topic #1 Work Culture and Why Alignment for Employees and Companies Matters [7:43] Brandi asks Avnita about the connection between culture and diversity in hiring. Avnita describes some the increase in prospective candidates actively inquiring regarding company culture during the interview stage as having exponentially increased in the past few years.
  • Topic #2 How Celebrating Wins Helps Build Teams [17:35] Avnita and Brandi talk about how sharing wins can be impactful for a team, both by acknowledging project success, but also re-orienting a conversation from purely task mastering to connection within your team.
  • Topic #3 Three Categories of Wins; Alignment, Collaboration, Communication [19:48] Using these categories helps you to speak to your wins, shares Avnita. There's a tangible take-away, something that others can relate to. And that's one of the outcomes of sharing. 

So, What's the One Thing You Can Do Today?

One key takeaway is to document your wins, whether it is on a weekly or monthly basis, communicate your wins!  In any kind of recap, whether it be at the team level or the leadership level, use those three categories we discussed to help frame it, but talk about them and encourage your team to share those wins within your meetings and beyond.

Buzzword Banishment:

The buzzword Avnita wishes to get rid of forever is the phrase ‘technology is broken’.  She notes it is often erroneously used when user error or process of using technology is likely what has broken down.


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[0:05] Intro:   

Welcome to Revenue Rehab, your one stop destination for collective solutions to the biggest challenges faced by marketing leaders today. Now head on over to the couch, make yourself comfortable and get ready to change the way you approach revenue. Leading your recovery is modern marketer, author, speaker and Chief Operating Officer at Tegrita, Brandi Starr.

[0:34] Brandi Starr:   

Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Revenue Rehab. I am your host Brandi Starr. We have an amazing episode for you today. I am joined by Dr Avnita Gulati. Avnita is the Senior Director, Global Marketing Operations and Strategy at Visa. Avnita is a b2b growth marketing leader with experience leading Go-To Marketing Strategy, demand generation, product marketing and marketing analytics for the enterprise SAS businesses. She is a change agent leading the team to leverage data technology and analytics to deliver integrated marketing programs that drive revenue growth for enterprise sales. Avnita, welcome to Revenue Rehab, your session begins now.

[1:26] Avnita Gulati:   

I'm so excited to be here Brandi, thanks for having me.

[1:29] Brandi Starr:  

I am excited to have you, I'm looking forward to our discussion today. But before we jump in, I like to break the ice with a little whoosah sigh moment that I call buzzword banishment. So tell me the buzzword that you would like to get rid of forever?

[1:52] Avnita Gulati:   

Alright. Well, my favorite is technology is broken. I hear it very often. I've heard it being on the receiving end of it as Managing Marketing Operations, have said it when I was in [inaudible 02:06] demand gen and continue to manage those teams. It's like technology is broken. And gosh, I roll my eyes. And I'm like, I don't know if it's the technology. So I don't know if that resonates with you.

[2:17] Brandi Starr:   

Definitely resonates with me. As a technologist and a consultants, I definitely hear that all the time. We have people come to us, we're like, we need you to fix our technology, the technology is broken. And then I get in there and it's like, whoa, is it really the tech or the process you have in place or the way you set up the tech, so yes, I am with you on that one, I am happy to put that in the box and not let technology be the scapegoat for what's not working in marketing.

[2:51] Avnita Gulati:  

There you go. Perfect.

[2:53] Brandi Starr:   

So now that we've gotten that off our chest, we will not talk about any broken technology today. Tell me what brings you to Revenue Rehab. 

[03:03] Avnita Gulati:

So I'm really excited to chat with you about a topic that's my favorite, which is about how do we celebrate wins across the team's organization, cross functional teams that we work with. I think it's a concept that's often forgotten. We all get into the details of our everyday projects, deliverables, deadlines. And what I've been encouraging within my teams, is to really talk about the win. The win that get us together and create a culture of celebration than just getting status updates. So that's what I'm here to talk to you about and it's one of the topics that I'm very passionate about, and I'd love to share some insights.

[3:46] Brandi Starr:   

That's awesome. I had the pleasure in Episode Eight for those who have not listened to it yet to talk to Maija Hurst, and we talked a lot about growing a team and being able to pour into your employees. And I think this conversation becomes an extension of that, because celebrating the small wins is a key part of how you grow and support your team. So I believe in setting intentions, I think it gives us focus, it gives us purpose, and most important, it helps the Revenue Rehab audience to know what to expect from our discussion. So what would you like to be different after our session? What are your expectations? What should people expect from our discussion?

[4:30] Avnita Gulati:   

I love that idea of being intentional. Love it! Awesome! So I think one of the things that I've learned over time is just to ask the question, whether you are in your existing company or planning to join a new team, a new company, to ask the question, what is the culture here? How do you celebrate wins? How do you celebrate success? And I would encourage for listeners to do that going forward as part of your annual review discussion as well, as part of your mid-year conversation with your boss. How are we celebrating together? What do we quantify as wins? And if it is something that has not been framed or put together in a way that's understood, I would say just own it and have a proposal to take to your manager and say can we frame wins in this way. And I have some categories that I go off of that I can mention as part of our conversation here. So some things to kind of frame your wins around, we'll just define it for everybody across the team. So ask the question, and if you don't get an answer, try to own it, and create a culture of celebrating wins.

[5:41] Brandi Starr:   

Awesome. And you talked a lot about culture. One of the buzzwords that is big right now is the great resignation. And everyone knows the statistics around how many people are leaving organizations, and a lot of people are leaving roles for higher salaries. But in addition to seeking more money, most people are really looking for a better work culture, better work conditions. And so what role do you think that team culture plays in employee satisfaction and retention?

[6:19] Avnita Gulati:

It plays a huge role. I think that is kind of where my conversation is going here, is that it's so critical. And in fact, I don't know if others have noticed but I'm seeing a ton of content coming out on social channels on communication, community forums, just dialogue about what is the culture of the company. And when you go work in an environment and more so now with hybrid and remote working situation, you're looking for what is the thing that connects you with the team. Whether you're on a video call or a phone conversation, or going to office for two days, you just need that connection, that runs across deeper than the projects and deliverables. And it's so critical to understand that and to be able to align with that. So as part of when you're talking about how do you define that and how do you collaborate in that, I think you play a very active role as an individual and be able to contribute to it. So you're not just somebody standing on the sidelines just watching it happening. It's ingrained in part of your team, part of your company, and you take an active participation in defining it and participating actively.

[7:43] Brandi Starr:   

Okay, and it's interesting that you mentioned that I was just in a slack conversation the other day, and it was talking about culture red flags, because the person was asking, it was their goal to try to attract more diversity in their applicant pool. And they were asking for advice on what do I do to try and get more applicants of diverse backgrounds. And someone had shared a thread that was from LinkedIn, that were all of these culture red flags, that people picked up on around things that were clear that everyone there was overworked, things that were clear that their opinions weren't valued, and like all of these things that people are really starting to pick up on. And because the market is the way that it is, and it's such an employee's market, people have a lot more choice. Those culture things really are showing up as the big difference around companies that people want to work for, and companies that they are clearly trying to avoid. 

[8:51] Avnita Gulati:   

That's a really good point, because I was just talking to a peer similar to the conversation you're having on slack. And the persons mentioned that 50% of the questions or dialogue that he has with new hires is around the leadership style, the team culture. And I don't think that was the case a few years ago. People thought that the applicants knew about it from somewhere, they found out about it. But I really appreciate how this peer articulated that he owned it. He went in there with the conversation, starting with here's my leadership style, it's documented. It's very well written, it covers different areas of, whether it's StrengthsFinder, whether it's any kind of third party evaluation or his style of communication, his style of managing a team, keeping an open door policy, having a culture of people participating more actively. So it just goes to show it's very clear what the expectations are right. And you can either agree to it or disagree, align with it or not, but at least you have that option, that opportunity. It's not in a gray area, it's not written somewhere that you read or somebody told you, the person hiring you or having a dialogue with us telling you upfront, and they've written it down and documented it, meaning they spent the time, they invested the time to communicate very clearly what the expectations are. And it just makes for such a better conversation, then the applicant, assuming knowing from somewhere what the culture is going to have that conversation upfront, and some people don't even feel comfortable asking the question. So if the person that is hiring just opens it up that way, it just makes you so comfortable, that you're not just hiring for the role, you're hiring this person for the team.

[10:44] Brandi Starr:   

Yes. And I equate that kind of if you think about I love dating analogies. As a consultant use tons of analogies. But if you think about dating, no one person and who they are, is right or wrong, they're just either a fit or not fit for you. And it's the same kind of thing. Whatever someone's leadership style is, it's not necessarily that that style is good or bad or right or wrong, it's does that candidate align with your style, the team culture, the way that you work. Because there are some people who thrive in like those truly fast paced, always changing, never know what a day is going to look like kind of environment. And for many people, that kind of thing is like, ooh, like, red flag, don't want to do that. And likewise, there are some people who like really routine. I have my set, this is how my team operates, this is my swim lane. And for other people, they're like, oh, that sounds boring. So I really like that in not waiting for the question but really to be up front around, here's what you're getting. Because the role itself is usually pretty self-explanatory. You're applying for something in most cases, similar to what you're currently doing or what you've done in the past, probably with a little bit of a stretch. But every organization culture is so different, and every leader because you know, you can have one department where the whole team's really happy based on that leader's style, and a whole different department where everybody hates the company. And so really being up front with that helps to get the right people in the right teams and in the right roles.

[12:31] Avnita Gulati:   

Yeah, and those are the reasons why we do all these kinds of different assessments. You know your style, you know you have a working style, and especially as you go up in your management, the more clarity you have, whether you align or not upfront. I don't remember having those conversations way back when I started, it was like you have a job you join, and you kind of do what you do. And you follow orders, and then you get better and better in your role. And it is so liberating, to be able to have those conversations of alignment upfront. And like you said, there is no right or wrong, there's just that alignment. And once you have that, you know you're set up for success. You know success will come, case in point, if you're a direct person, you want to be straightforward. And you know that upfront that you will have the opportunity to speak your mind. Perfect and liberating. If you're an introvert and you like a certain style of autonomy, or here's a way of communicating that you prefer, and you have the option to be that way, and expand your career in that frame of continuing to be an introvert or an extrovert. Either way, it just makes you more comfortable. It just gets you that quick connection back to the company, back to the management that you otherwise might be just assuming, guessing, especially with hybrid and remote working situation, you have some bit of formal. What am I missing out on? What's going on that I don't know? And having that alignment just says you know what, I know what I need to know, and I think the rest of it is working fabulously well, because I had that alignment.

[14:10] Brandi Starr:   

That is such a beautiful thing. I want to shift gears a little bit and talk about the small wins. I know just from being connected to you that you've done some things recently, and also in the past in your career, to help your teams really be able to celebrate their small wins. And I know that is something that is always big for me is not necessarily looking for the big things, but just one of those little moments that we can hold on to that's a small win. So tell me about what you've done. What's been your experience with trying to pull that out of people and to bring that into a part of your leadership style and culture?

[14:51] Avnita Gulati:   

So what I promote is when we have team meetings, and having the past, just always asking the question. Start with what are your wins, personally, professionally? I think it humanizes the conversation. It starts with a positive note. I'm a glass half full kind of gal. So I'm always like, what's the positive here? We'll look at metrics, we'll look at what we accomplished, tactics, checklist, alignment with sales and all the marketing stuff, we'll talk about it in a minute. But go around the room, let's talk about what your win was and it could be with somebody outside of marketing, within marketing, small win, big win and frame it around, was it communication? What was it collaboration with another team? Was it alignment, just to kind of give them some kind of framework to go off of, I'm looking for those kinds of wins that are tangible, and people around the room can relate to and take away from, and just say, oh well, that's beautiful. How did you achieve that? How do you overcome that? I mean, sometimes you know, you're in that situation where just as an example of a win, is that you're in a conversation and somebody says, you know, what, just hold on a minute, let me just complete my thought and you feel like, you've been kind of stopped in your, in your shoes to just take a moment and you feel a bit offended. But a when there could be, it just gave me a moment to reflect, to just kind of take a step back and think about what was going on, what's the reading in the room here. Let me just kind of get a pulse on, there might be a reason why I need to be quiet for a minute and just listen to what's going on. And I think it's one of those moments where you think you were kind of asked to stay quiet, but if you look at it the other way around, it is an opportunity for you to celebrate that win to say thank you, thank you for giving me that moment because I was really not picking up on what was going on in the room. And at the end of the day, it was a benefit. So I just look for people to articulate that, pull that out, otherwise, I think there's so much of, again, in a remote and hybrid environment, that opportunity of thinking things are going differently, where they could be going very positively. So I just encourage them, I just try to pull out the wins. And I think it's created a lot of positivity in the team and that connection amongst each other to say, Oh, I see you, I hear you, I see that kind of personality you are, you kind of turn it around as a win. And you're positive about that, which is a great thing, just as a working environment.

[17:35] Brandi Starr:   

Yeah, and you know, I even think about the benefit of doing that for the collective group. I know, just a few weeks ago, I was having just a really rough day. It was just one of those if I had my way, I would have just got back into bed and pull the covers over my head kind of days. I had to do a strategy call with a client. And there were three people from our team, including me, and four people from the client. And strategy work is thinking work. You got to get into that rhythm and that groove. It was just like, the last thing I wanted to do was think in that moment. And I was like, okay, I got pulled together because we got to push through. And I got on the call, and I just was real transparent. And I was like, look, it has been a rough day. I was like, let's start the agenda, would everybody give me your small wins. I need something to celebrate with you today. Because that day, I just didn't have any wins. It just felt like the world was crashing. And some of the wins that people shared were like professional wins, some of them were things as simple as I actually ate lunch today. And it was like everybody shared, just whatever they can. And I had put them on the spot, nobody expected it. And everybody pulled something out. And just hearing all of the wins, great to small that people had to say, completely changed my mood in that moment. And that was one of those like -- it was like around that same time that I actually saw your post about what you had done. And I was like I got to talk about this because this is so impactful. Because we accomplished so much in that call that probably would not have happened had I not been able to like really pull myself out of that negative place. And so I know you mentioned at the beginning that you have your categories of wins. So I definitely want to hear that, so that we all as we try to celebrate wins we can think about them the way that you do.

[19:48] Avnita Gulati:   

I got to take out my notepad now. I could reference something here. While you were talking it just made me think of another kind of reason why we celebrate wins is just a global perspective. Just so much talking going back to the diversity piece. There is culturally and globally, people celebrate wins differently. So I feel like for everybody to have that exposure, or what win looks like in a different country, in a different region, like we know, we talk about Latin America, Asia, Pacific, North America and whatnot. So different region, different points of view, just, again, humanizes it, and provides that perspective. Because what you might take for granted might be a huge win, like to your point, I eat lunch today. Well okay. For somebody to take that time to do that in a day, and that's not a good example of a region situation, but just saying that, it just gives you that perspective to say that's so interesting. It pulls out from your personal life, from your personal experiences. Okay, so going back to the categories. I think I mentioned it in just what we were talking about a little bit earlier is the categories are communications, did you have a win in communications and one of them was like, the way I was explaining, you turn the conversation around, you sent out something that was misunderstood in a meeting, that you communicated differently through a different channel that you were really able to overcome the confusion or that negative feelings. So it was a win. You brought people together that might have been having the silo discussions, and you brought it all together in some kind of a recap. So is it communications lead? Is it collaboration, that you were hearing different things and people were trying to lead different people in different directions? And then you were able to pull that from a collaboration standpoint and say, Okay, let's just collaborate on this looks like everybody has great ideas, we'll just kind of get in a room and collaborate and come up with one point of view that we can all get behind. So was it a collaboration thing that you lead with? And then the third one is alignment. Did you drive alignment when there was misalignment against the business strategy, the metrics, people were having different ideas and whose idea is going to win in the room? So how do you track the alignment? How do you take it back to what was the main objective? Whatever those main objective and goal, business impact, or whatever project that you're leading. And it's so hard to do, when you have different stakeholders up and down the level, and you're in a meeting and the dynamic is so challenging, how do you drive alignment? And it's those soft things that are the hardest to accomplish. Like you said, the role is very clear in the job description, the project, outline is very clear, it's the soft things that throw you off. So if you can bring that alignment, collaboration, communication, I think those are the three categories I go off of, those are my personal favorite. And like I said, there's a tangible, very tangible, something that others can relate to, and take away. And that's kind of one of the outcomes of sharing, this is taking away to my job, what I do. If I can learn from somebody else's experiences, I'm like, oh, that's perfect. I was in a similar situation the other day, I could have just done that. That's beautiful.  And global perspective on top of that, is just icing on the cake.

[23:16] Brandi Starr:   

And I really like communication, as a win to celebrate. Because if you think about conflict, and where conflict exists, whether in the office or even in our personal lives, a lot of times that conflicts comes from lack of communication, miscommunication, misunderstanding of communication, and where you can actually recognize even something as simple as the example that you gave, where I pause for a moment to absorb. I paused before I reacted, or I took the time to understand someone else's perspective; or even communicating how what someone else is saying is making you feel. To be able to say, I'm reacting to this, or the words that you're using are making me feel this way, like being able to address that is such a huge win even though it's seemingly small, because it removes all the friction. When we can communicate effectively together. It takes out all of the friction in whatever we're trying to do and does lead to that collaboration that alignment. And I never really thought about communication as a place where you get wins. But that is huge. That's my like aha moment in that. So as you have started doing this and spending more time being purposeful in celebrating wins with the team, what outcomes have you seen in your team dynamic?

[25:08] Avnita Gulati:

Yeah, it's gotten some great results. I think just personally, it's got people more connected. It's got people to understand where each of us are coming from what our perspective is, when it comes time for crisis, or where you can go to look for that friend that you want to talk to when you have a certain issue, you get you have a reference point, because you don't hear about these wins, these perspectives on a daily basis. You are more project based conversations. You get in the meeting, you check the list, you're kind of going about what are we accomplish? What are we trying to do, what timelines, but you don't have those soft conversations or conversations around culture and different perspectives about outside of projects. So I think it's clear those relationships, the friend I can call when I need help in certain areas and challenges that I'm running into outside of just tactical work, it's cleared that. Just cohesive relationships and appreciation for perspective.

[26:11] Brandi Starr:   

And that's so important. Like when you've got a cohesive team that really helps with retention, because people feel that connection and you want to be a part of something. So talking about our challenges is just the first step, and nothing changes, if nothing changes. So we have to do the work. And in traditional therapy, the therapist gives the client some homework, but here at revenue rehab, we like to flip that on its head. And I would like you to give us some homework. And so I'd like to ask you in celebrating the small wins what are your key takeaways? And what is that one thing that you want everyone to do after listening to this episode,

[27:02] Avnita Gulati:

I love that. That's great. I love the homework. So I think what I would encourage everybody to do is document it, document your wins, whether it's on a weekly basis, and make that your part of your communication. If you're part of any kind of recap, at the team level, at the leadership level that happens on a weekly basis, monthly basis, just add those winds to the start of that. So document it, start to communicate that going forward in any kind of a recap that happens, so everybody can see it and understand it and know that you're leading with that conversation, and then make it part of your culture. And as I was saying in the beginning, own it. If there is no framework around wins, and celebrating wins, I will just have that conversation with your leader and try to ask if we can start that as a part of a quarterly business review monthly business review. And use the framework, I was mentioning earlier to say let's just put in these three categories and let's start talking about it. Let's start asking people and kind of even highlighting champions. So give it a word, like call it that you're the champion, you're the champions. Put some kind of a title, if that helps people like I remember employee of the month. Taking that same idea everyone wants to be a champion, everyone wants to be a winner. You're celebrated this month for these reasons. So if you can put some framework around it, I would encourage folks to do that and put it in a framework that everybody understands and can align to. Because if people don't have a framework to go off of, it can just go off on a tangent. So it's good to build a framework together, document it, and start communicating it. 

[28:51] Brandi Starr:  

I love that. So our one takeaway, our action item for everyone listening is to start the process. Document how you can incorporate celery celebrating the small wins into your team structure and where that can fit. So that we can make sure that everyone is really a champion, and highlighting where they are winning. So I think we can all learn from one another in terms of where we struggled and where we won. So that is a great takeaway. Already my wheels are spinning on how I can start to incorporate this here. So I get a new action item for our team every week with every episode. So we have a to-do list of things that I have learned from Revenue Rehab. 

[29:40] Avnita Gulati:

There you go. I love it. 

[29:42] Brandi Starr:   

Well, I've needed I have enjoyed our discussion. But that's our time for today. Thank you so much for joining me. And thanks, everyone for joining us today. I hope that you have enjoyed our conversation with Avnita.


[29:56] Avnita Gulati:   

Thank you, thanks for having me.

[29:58] Brandi Starr:   

I can't believe that we're at the end already, thanks for everyone and see you next time.

[30:06] Outro: 

You've been listening to Revenue Rehab with your host Brandi Starr. Your session is now over but the learning is just begun. Join our mailing list and catch up on all our shows at We're also on Twitter and Instagram at Revenue Rehab. This concludes this week's session. We'll see you next week.

Avnita GulatiProfile Photo

Avnita Gulati

Sr. Director, Global Marketing Ops and Strategy

B2B growth marketing leader with experience leading go-to-market strategy, demand generation, product marketing and marketing analytics for enterprise SaaS businesses. Change agent leading the team to leverage data, technology, and analytics to deliver integrated marketing programs that drive revenue growth for enterprise sales.

Forward thinker that has transformed the marketing organization to scale by developing frameworks for cross-functional alignment, campaign management, content strategy and martech investment.

I lead with data, logic, and experience to drive tangible results. No challenge is too small or too big; it’s an opportunity to improve.

• Develop Go-to-Market and content strategy focused on enterprise revenue growth
• Deliver integrated global demand generation programs aligned with pipeline targets
• Build digital strategy using data, analytics and market expansion opportunity
• Drive fiscal year budget planning in alignment with business goals
• Build high-performing teams and drive cross functional collaboration
• Manage martech and data integration to build and scale campaigns