We had the good fortune of connecting with AJ Sarcione and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi AJ, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?

After creating something that proved successful at Yahoo and Verizon, I decided to venture into my own business to bring it to other companies and people. My team and I reignited the culture at Yahoo during a challenging transformation, when I started a new global internal brand and marketing organization to ‘bring back the smile’ amongst employees. When Verizon acquired Yahoo, there was further commitment to this work by having me support the integration with AOL globally as the head of MOJO and employee experience. I chose to take an opportunity to refine my philosophy and process, and support other leaders, teams and companies on developing positive work environments with strong internal brands, efficient internal communication and greater employee engagement.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

The work I do has a unique approach to corporate culture, team building and leadership development, which is defined through internal branding. It’s not just a professional focus for me—it’s a philosophy. I see internal branding as the unseen force that creates unparalleled success.

When we create strong internal brands, we establish the foundation for better leaders, better teams and better cultures. It’s personal for me too. The foundation I had when I was young helped me grow into a leader of passionate and motivated teams, and someone who has helped other senior and C-suite leaders lead better.

At Yahoo, my team and I created and scaled an internal brand and then internal marketing organization that championed the transformative power of aligning a company’s internal identity with its external brand. In many ways, we also inspired our external brand by igniting what was happening inside the company. The work we championed not only helped ignite more positive morale, but supported retention as the company went through a major transformation to being sold to Verizon.

The journey continued at Verizon, where I was the Head of MOJO and Employee Experience and delved into the international nuances of company culture, traveling the world as a motivational speaker, understanding that an engaged workforce is the beating heart of any successful organization.

At the foundation of this work is vision. I believe with strong vision that is rooted in positive feelings of what we seek, we can unlock flow and optimize engagement.

Being successful professionally means finding ways to feel fulfilled personally. My personal vision is to make people smile.

This vision has been strong from the start of my career, perhaps even from my years in boarding school at Walnut Hill School outside of Boston, where I was awarded a 100+ year old award that is given to one person each year who exemplifies the qualities of building great friendships. From my first job out of college, where I supported an international CEO at 20th Century Fox and helped them reshape culture at our division with unique and positively emotional activations that create impact, through to supporting Marissa Mayer at Yahoo, and Tim Armstrong at Verizon in similar ways, I’ve found that it’s those same friendship qualities that I have leaned into professionally that have not only supported my leadership growth but often helping other leaders grow too.

Now as I work with leaders and teams at organizations like Nike, LinkedIn, Clif Bar, Univision, Hines, Northwestern Mutual, Square and MRC, among others, including Dallas-based KidKraft and Johnson & Sekin, the work is unique to each, but somehow it all comes back to creating joy, happiness and wellbeing inside people and places, which fulfills what I seek personally in the world.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.

We’d spend time west of Dallas. In our hometown of Granbury we’d for sure take them out on the lake and enjoy the eclectic waterfront homes, only after we grabbed some food at Stumpy’s. While out boating, we’d stop by Mesquite Pit for to-go Capri Sun-like cocktails. After we’d come back to our ranch and spend time with the animals, which is something I’m lucky to be able to do with clients occasionally too. We’d likely go antique shopping at one of the many places in Granbury, and the surrounding areas, and have a night out at Warren’s Backyard, which is one of the coolest outdoor venues. We’d end up in Fort Worth. While down there I’d take them to the Kimball Art Museum, which if you’ve never been, has one of the best collections of art in the U.S. — and it’s free to get in! We’d stop by the new Bowie House for a cocktail before making our way down to the rodeo or to catch a show. If we’re hungry, we’d probably stop by 61 Osteria for a special Italian dinner. And depending upon the time we have, we’d probably take in some Pickleball at Courtside Kitchen.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?

Former CMO of Yahoo, Debra Berman. who was my manager. She offered me an opportunity to create something new and grow it. With her commitment, she allowed me to broaden my communications career in to marketing, building a highly effective team that grew from two people to 18 in less than a year, and reached internationally with more than 50 other employees around the world helping us activate our strategy. It’s through her support that helped us make a positive impact in our employees and culture globally.

Website: https://www.ajsarcione.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ajsarcione/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ajsarcione/

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