Secret Super Powers: Tapping the Hidden Talent of People in Your Company

One day I had a casual conversation with Corey in my office as we both prepared coffee in the close quarters of our break room.  Somehow, (not surprisingly if you know me) we got on the topic of ice cream.  I told him that I couldn’t believe that someone hadn’t come up with a Twix ice cream yet (at least that I knew of).  I waxed poetic for the next 3 minutes about the perfect combination of chocolate, caramel and butter cookie trapped lovingly in a cloud of vanilla ice cream.  He humored me, as he so kindly does on a regular basis, and that was that. Or so I thought.

A few months later, it was my birthday.  I stepped out of the office for a meeting and when I came back there was a magnificent spread in the Huddle Room that included bowls filled with generous scoops of ice cream.  Hardly able to contain myself, I asked what flavor it was and without skipping a beat, Corey replied, “Twix!”

“That’s impossible!  Nobody makes that flavor.” I stated confidently.

“I made it from scratch.” Corey responded.

Bewildered, I took my first bite.  You know that feeling when you taste something so divine, that the only appropriate response is to make a face of pure contentment and a groan of delight? That was my experience and it was dittoed by every other member of the team.  I told Corey I would be the first investor in his craft ice cream business

             Left: The cover of Andrea’s Birthday Card, sketched by Corey. Right: Corey Tilburg

Prior to that moment, I had no idea that Corey possessed this incredible talent.  Now he makes homemade ice cream for everyone on their birthday (we’re a boutique firm so it’s manageable).  About a week beforehand, he asks what their dream ice cream would be, then he makes it.  We have delighted over the flavors of XXXX,XXXX and XXXX. Each flavor as delectable as the last.
Corey shares this talent with us and, in return, has started a tradition at the firm that adds to the sense of family and originality that is part of our culture. He also shares his talent at sketching. Our birthday cards are always homemade with a Corey original on the cover.  Quite often, when we send cards to our clients, he will pour his heart into a sketch for their cards, too.

Corey also makes a mean Sangria! It paired well with Triscuits… and the story about his grandmother who never had and adult beverage in her life, but got drunk after enjoying the fruit leftover in the “punch” bowl at a family gathering.


That sense of family is really emphasized by supporting one another and looking around for how we can constantly improve things—whatever they may be.  Jennifer Sorokach does just that.  She is our Business Manager, but she has also raised 4 amazing children.  Those nurturing skills have given us all a home away from home.

Jen stocks the fridge and shelves with goodies (mostly healthy) to make sure we don’t lose energy during the day.  She also quietly checks in with everyone to ensure we are taking care of ourselves.  She makes being a working mother look easy because she takes things in stride, which has been a great example for me (I adopted 2 brothers 2 years ago).

One morning, I came to work a bit out of sorts. The night before I discovered my younger son had been “cleaning” his room by hoarding all of his clothes under his bed and dressers– I mean they were jam-packed.  As a relatively new Mom, I was concerned this was a serious disorder that had to be dealt with immediately.  When I told Jen, she laughed and said that’s just what boys do and a few days without TV would handle it.  She was right.  She knows how to quickly let the little things go and focus on what is important, both in work and in her personal life and has counseled me on both.  She makes us all feel a little more loved and cared for.

Then there is Andrea Woelkers Giglio.  Andrea is not only gifted at architecture, but she can talk furniture and fabric swatches with the best of them.  Whereas some architects don’t have interest in anything that can fall out of a building if you turn it upside down and shake it, Andrea loves it all—right down to the throw pillows and window treatments.  As wonderful as these talents are, they are not hidden.  I knew Andrea possessed interior prowess, style and taste when I hired her.  What I didn’t know is that Andrea is an avid intrapreneur. What was that?  An intrapreneur.

Andrea acts like an entrepreneur, but within the firm.  She sees opportunities for the firm that can be game-changing and gets charged up about taking them.  She loves the idea of innovating and calculated risk-taking—and she knows I do, too, so together we revel in possibilities! Andrea’s ideas are like a wind in our sails that have slightly shifted our course to potentially more exciting destinations.  Once we reach them, we’ll share the stories of how we got there.

Utilizing the hidden talents of our team enriches our firm and our culture.  The key is to be open to letting people express those talents within your organization.  If we had someone who could sing or play and instrument, you bet we would be having a Friday afternoon acoustical concert. Encourage your co-workers to unleash their inner awesomeness.  It will not disappoint you, but it may just blow you away.

Communicating with fruit could be more exciting than they think – who would have thought “Aquaman” would top $1 Billion and surpass “The Dark Knight”?  Communicating with fish was probably 21st on the list…until it wasn’t.

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