Part II: Christine Turner Interviews Neil Mortine
After announcing the acquisition of Turner PR as an independent wholly owned subsidiary of Fahlgren Mortine in January, Neil Mortine and Christine Turner took a few minutes to chat about updates, future goals, favorite travel destinations, and more. Check out last week’s post to see what Chris had to say.
Christine: What made you want to make Turner PR an independent subsidiary of Fahlgren Mortine?
Neil: We were looking for growth opportunities in key vertical areas of practice, including travel/tourism and active lifestyle, and saw an opportunity to expand through a strategic acquisition. After a series of meetings over the course of a year or more, it became clear that we shared a culture of high achievement, collaboration, and continuous improvement. Our vision to build core industry practices and Turner’s vision to continue to operate as an independent boutique agency, with additional resources to provide a platform for growth, made this a great partnership.
And having recently visited the Turner offices in Denver and NYC, I can tell you that the people are definitely smart, fun, over-achievers who will fit in with us beautifully. You and Mariana have done a tremendous job in the area of talent acquisition, and your client list (including the Utah Office of Tourism, Albuquerque CVB, Riviera Maya, K-Swiss and New Era) speaks for itself.
Christine: Your team applauds your leadership. What makes you a great leader?
Neil: Our growth and success would not be possible without the talent and collaborative efforts of our team. At the same time, I understand that it would not be possible without leadership, and I take that responsibility seriously.
I believe we are succeeding because we’re embracing change and operating with a sense of urgency. We were among the first to dissolve internal silos and change our business model several years ago – understanding the sweeping changes facing our field. We are also succeeding because we’ve invested aggressively in our internal culture. I’ve long believed that a great culture will attract great people, and they, in turn will attract great clients. It works, and that’s why culture will always be king at our organization.
As integration becomes the standard, not the exception; and as we face a generation of millennial talent that will be vital to our future success, these are the changes we must make, and that I have championed within our industry.
But, even with all these sweeping changes and new technologies, I believe there’s still no comparison to quality, personal service. That’s why on every RFP, cover letter, phone call or client communication I put my name to, I always offer my assurance of our very best efforts on their behalf. I do think that makes a difference.
Christine: What lesson did you learn from your greatest failure?
Neil: What failure? I try to learn something from every experience, positive or negative. I think early in my career I was too quick to insert my point of view on situations before I knew all the facts and nuances. I learned fairly quickly that I tend to come off a lot smarter to people if I’m quieter and really listen to them as opposed to just putting my opinion out there immediately. That’s also the best way to provide valuable counsel.
And I don’t think that failure, as we commonly describe it, is such a bad thing. That power and freedom to fail is something you need, and your people need, in order to instill confidence and achieve success.
I’ve also learned that fun is good, and good for business. There’s a tendency in this business, and in life, to take yourself way too seriously.
Christine: What are some of your favorite travel destinations or travel aspirations?
Neil: Being a multi-generational Ohioan, I love to experience the amazing diversity of this great state. I have a cabin in southern Ohio that we use frequently, but we also regularly visit the Hocking Hills, Lake Erie islands, Holmes County, historic sites, amusement parks, fairs, festivals, etc. I never take what we have to offer a traveler for granted. And of course I love to spend time in Myrtle Beach, Panama City Beach and Gatlinburg, all wonderful clients and destinations. We also enjoy going out West to experience a totally different environment than our native Midwest. With that said, we’ll be spending time in Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico later this year. We also have a lifetime goal of visiting every National Park Service location (over 400), and are well on our way to accomplishing this.
We’ve had the good fortune of visiting a number of international destinations over the years as well, such as Chile, Scotland, Italy and Iceland. From an aspirational standpoint, next on the list are hiking the Isle of Skye, New Zealand and Patagonia.
And I’d love to have a country tourism office for a client!
Christine: Favorite game?
Neil: I like to play Lucky Lady’s Charm. I know it’s not a game, but I love to try my luck from time to time spinning the slot reels.
Christine: Favorite holiday?
Neil: Halloween. Scaring the hell out of people never gets old.
Christine: Favorite snack, salty or sweet?
Neil: Wow. This is like a Sophie’s Choice for me. I love soft, salty pretzels, but also crave pies, cakes, cookies and all things sugar. So I’ll go with Jeni’s salty caramel ice cream as a specific item.