The Greenlight Highlight: How a Corporate Productivity Professional Builds Authentic Relationships for Business Success

Charlene DeCesare
Salem, New Hampshire
Greenlight Member Since: August 2010
Nominated by Greenlight member (George Newman)

Elevator Pitch: I am responsible for building membership for the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp). Our focus is on the unique people practices of high performance organizations. I have a passion for helping people and companies achieve their highest potential and feel intensely grateful to be doing what I love.

What experience in your past was the moment you recognized how important relationships are to your success?

When I was at Gartner, I had a strong sense that there was untapped potential with myself and my colleagues all calling into the same clients, selling slightly different events and services. So, I created a strategic partner model that focused on assigned accounts, building relationships, and horizontal selling through referral. People bought more from me because I took the time to truly understand their business and map solutions at a much higher level. Ultimately they took my recommendations and spent more money because they liked and trusted me personally. I grew a small set of accounts by 46% in the first year and eventually helped manage a global team. Within just a few years, we grew $2M to $38M across a very small set of accounts and I know that exponential growth continued after I left. The (not so) secret sauce is in building relationships and becoming a trusted advisor.

What are the coolest things you’re working on at home or at work right now?

Currently, I am tasked with growing i4cp’s member base in the Northeast. My goal is typically to do 5 – 10 meetings per week and often I do many more than that. I absolutely love it! My goal is to talk with as many organizational leaders (HR/Talent, OD/OE, L&D) as possible about their goals, challenges, and initiatives. Also, what are they doing to tie their people practices to measureable business impact? What are not only the “best” practices, but the “next” practices? These conversations are always mutually enlightening, they help me to build relationships with some really amazing people, and I enjoy every minute.

What relationship building skills and strategies are you applying to the project you just told us about?

It goes back to the basic mindsets of intimacy, candor, to build trust. I’m an incredibly open person and that helps me become a trusted advisor to others, both personally and professionally. I’m not looking for a quick deal. I’m building a sustainable business that is more than just a passing promise. It can’t just be a “shtick”, especially in sales. It has to be in your DNA first to come across authentically.

What’s your most effective relationship action planning routine? The one you renew and repeat with the most success?

Every time I go to NYC, I reach out to myGreenlight members. We share a meal together and always have a wonderful time. This past year, I’ve met with at least seven individuals from the program. Next week I am drafting off of a local event by hosting an “Executive Women in HR” dinner the night before. So far, I’ve confirmed about a dozen contacts that I’d like to get to know better and would like to introduce to one another.
In addition to being a very unique research organization, a large part of i4cp’s success is connecting the peer community through many opportunities so that they can share and collaboratively problem solve with each other. I4cp is strictly “vendor-free” so everyone can be very candid and exchange in a way that is not possible at most conferences, on LinkedIn, or within consulting firm communities.

What positive results have you noticed in your life since you started putting the strategies of relationship mastery to work?

One small example is that the work in the myGreenlight program put me in the habit of monitoring my LinkedIn profile. I noticed that a recruiter was looking at my profile, reached out and ended up forming a relationship that started with a simple “let me know how I can help you.” I wasn’t looking for a job myself but was able to make several referrals. The recruiter later presented me with the i4cp opportunity because I’d shared how much I admire their work and my real passions within the industry.

Have there been any challenges in your life that you’ve been able to solve by applying the mindsets and process of relationship mastery?

I am extremely grateful for my relationships with friends and family. The intentional nurturing of those is huge for me. As a sales professional for almost three decades, my biggest challenge is always growing revenue. The mindsets have helped me, as I described, and really led me to my dream job.

Parting words of wisdom…

My mantra is increased confidence brings increased capacity. I can equate that to someone coming into myGreenlight for the first time who may be a bit intimidated by what’s in front of them. I say jump in and begin the journey. Like most things in life, there’s no perfect way to do this. You have to put the perfectionist to the side and get started with the practice. You can always go back, tweak, or start over. You’ll learn something new each time. You will become more confident and will be able to do more.

Offer to the community: Charlene loves helping others in their strategy towards life balance and personal peak performance. Reach out anytime! Also, check out her blog “The Balance Beam” at

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  6. I really enjoyed your story, Charlene, and I share your philosophy. You’ve inspired me to share a story about a project I’ve been engaged in for the past year. I’ve partnered with two colleagues to host a series of “kitchen table” conversations about the role of community in business and how we advance from vendor to trusted advisor. I am an independent strategy consultant specializing in B2B service businesses and my collaborators are my investment advisor and a master facilitator. Our model is to pull 3-4 people from our respective networks for a monthly conversation on the topic. The results have been truly inspirational; our participants are connecting with new people in an authentic way, created by the generousity. We’re now working on a session that will bring back everyone who has participated during the past year. If you’re ever in Toronto we’d love to have you join a session.

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