If you love rock-and-roll but are also a corporate type of person, you are not alone. In fact, Michael Marinello is both a ‘rocker’ and a ‘suit” as well asan all-aroundgreat citizen. With more than 25 years of strategic communications experience withmajor brands including Turner Broadcasting, Bloomberg LP, Microsoft, and Becton Dickinson, he has also worked with some of the brightest lights in government and business, including Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
When we sat down last month on The Caring Economy, we discovered Marinello’s entrepreneurial approach to life and to building communicationsorganizations. He has a proven track record of driving successful outcomes and beyond that, he inspires fun along the way. Some of that fun comes with his side hustle as a rock-and-roll band drummer with a wildly successful cover band.
Michael started his communications career in the U.S. Senate working forSenator Daniel Patrick Moynihan from New Yorkand then Senator Bob Kerrey from Nebraska. Early on he learned from these great leaders on how to bring an entrepreneurial spirit to consensus building and making public policy.
Of his Moynihan experience he notes that he learned to keep a strong intellectual curiosity in his work. He absorbed that trait as a life-long learner and educator and now recognizes the same trait in other leaders that he respects, stating: “What I can say about leadership that I’ve worked with is that they are forever intellectually curious,” including Gates, Bloomberg and Kevin Sheekey who heads communications and government relations at Bloomberg LP.
He also learned the importance of volunteering, whether for an NGO, a school board or in his case, a political campaign. By volunteering for the Bloomberg Campaign back inthe mayoral days, he was introduced to colleagues who would eventually bring him in later to help on other campaigns as well as the outfitting of Bloomberg Philanthropies once the Mayor was ready to extend his legacy further.
He also notes that any career move he has made was because he felt going into it and that, “I only wanted to be someplace where I felt like I was going to learn more and have an impact. I learned that from Pat [Moynihan] as a special assistant . . . getting to sit next to brilliance . I think you can draw a line and see a lot of similarities between Pat, Bill [Gates] and Mike [Bloomberg].
After Moynihan he made his way to Turner Broadcasting as Senior Vice President, Strategic Communications, overseeing corporate communications, public affairs, partnerships, marketing, media relations and executive communications. Then onto Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, where Marinello held a number of senior communication roles, and also served as a spokesperson and speechwriter for Michael Bloomberg. During his tenure with Bloomberg, he also led communications for
C40 Cities, the global collaborative to improve major cities. He also previously ran communications and analyst relations for Microsoft’s Intellectual Propertyand Licensing Division and then Microsoft Office.
When I asked him about AON, the British financial services conglomerate where he now works, and how they have navigated the past couple of years with the pandemic, climate change and social justice movements, he is very pragmatic. He states: “We really need to be thinking about our colleagues as much as our clients” to pulse-take on the situations at hand. “There’s no playbook other than let’s look at how these issues are affecting our clients and our colleagues. Then as a firm we come up with the playbook for the issue.”
He also notes that the firm has a great sense of who they are so that when challenging things happen, they come together, assess the situation, and jointly define the way for them to respond. “There’s no one-size-fits-all in terms of solutions,” he concludes. So better to create bespoke solutions to complex challenges.
Another passion that was seeded early for Marinello was rock-and-roll. Exposed early to music by his father who was a successful big band musician who played at the world-famousCopacabana back in the day, Marinello grew up in a house full of music. There was always a set of drums (his instrument of choice) in the family apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens. “There’s a picture of me at four years old playing drums. I actually never really took a lesson but in junior high school my friends and I started a band as a way to get dates. It’s a great way to get girls to talk to you if you’re certain kind of awkward kid.”
Before high school was over, they were performing regularly as a cover band. “We had a very successful high school playing big parties music by Van Halen and Led Zeppelin. We went opposite others, choosing to play The Police, Genesis, Tom Petty, Stray Cats, Squeezeand The Doors.”
After college some of the band reunited in New York and kept the beat going with the help of a group called Off Wall Street, a management firm that booked bands made up of businessman by day and musicians at night.
“It just took off. It was weird. We became a cover band appearing on radio, at festivals and in clubs. All after hours.”
Following his passion in business and music has served Marinello well. In some ways he’s come full circle, noting, “It started because my friend back when we were 15 years old in the cafeteria asked him to come play with them. And now all these years later some of us are still playing together after hours.”
As with all guests on The Caring Economy, Marinelloexemplifies how leaders with purpose-driven lives and careers are shaping our contemporary workplace for the better.
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