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7 Questions on Leadership with Kelley Troia

Name: Kelley Troia

Title: Chief Astonishment Officer

Oranisation: Clandestine Events + Experiences

With over 20 years of experience in marketing and branding for leading retail companies, I founded Clandestine Events and Experiences in 2012 to deliver customized and memorable services for corporate and private clients. As the Chief Astonishment Officer, I lead a team of creative and passionate professionals who share my vision of connecting the South's culture, history, and talent with the world.

My mission is to create wildly inventive, curated experiences that showcase the hidden gems and authentic flavors of the South. Whether it's a jazz club, a King Cake baker, or a local musician, I have the insider knowledge and the network to find the perfect venue, performer, and vendor for any occasion. I leverage my Six Sigma Green Belt certification and my expertise in brand experience to ensure quality, efficiency, and alignment with the client's goals and values. I am proud to have received positive feedback and recognition from hundreds of clients, as well as press coverage in US Airways Magazine and Conde Nast Traveler. I love bringing people together and making every Clandestine event the experience of a lifetime.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Kelley's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Being able to adjust my leadership style to match each individual team member's needs/personality. Some people are easier to lead than others - finding a way that resonates with each person can be a challenge at times. Additionally, my team is home based, across the country. Leading from afar can also be quite challenging.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I have always had leadership tendencies. My very first leadership position was as captain of my bowling league in middle school! Followed by a vice president position in high school. It was only a couple of years into my career that I was put in charge of a small development team that was designing websites for a major technology publication conglomerate. From that point on, I was always leading teams. My largest team was at Walmart, where I led 36 project managers that managed all marketing projects.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

My day is not as structured as I'd like because I work from home. I'm a morning person, so I tend to wake up early, make coffee, feed the dog, and then I check my calendar and get caught up on any pressing issues for the day. Once I feel like everything is in a good place, I spend time working out - walk, road bike, or Peloton. I also work through lunch; but I end work pretty promptly at 5pm in order to make a great dinner.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Hire great people, be there to clear any obstacles they might have, and get out of their way.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The Art of Woo. I'm all about relationships and the Art of Woo really gets into how to finesse relationship development. How to pursuade people - another great leadership skill. Thinking of it now, it's time to re-read it!

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Be a sponge and be willing to put in the work. Learn as much as you possibly can and remember that lessons can come from the unlikeliest of places.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

This isn't a specific story but... the thing I love the most about social media and LinkedIn, especially, is the ability to watch folks that I've worked with - who have worked for me in the past - and to see where their careers have progressed. Their success is my success. I am so proud of every person that I've had the opportunity to lead and I truly enjoy watching their careers from afar.

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