Tamika Tremaglio | Crain's Baltimore

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Tamika Tremaglio

Background:  

Deloitte provides audit, consulting, tax and advisory services to many of the world’s most admired brands, including 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and more than 6,000 private and middle market companies. As managing principal, Tamika Tremaglio oversees nearly 10,000 Deloitte professionals across the region. She also serves as president of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association Foundation.

The Mistake:

I didn’t appreciate that having the exposure in business development and relationships would really have such a huge impact on my career. That’s probably my biggest mistake – sort of keeping my head down for too long, and not recognizing the benefit of building meaningful relationships.

Early on in my career I was only focused on making sure that what I knew from a technical standpoint I knew extraordinarily well.

I remembering being asked to go to the Masters professional golf tournament. I wasn’t someone who was intimately familiar with the game of golf and in particular what goes on at the Masters. In certain instances we had homes that we would take clients to, and I certainly wasn’t used to spending time with clients in a more personal setting like a home. This was very, very different for me, and I thought, “Gosh, that’s not what we’re hired to do. We’re hired to do the work, and to come up with the answer and deliver on the tough problems.”

Oftentimes you have to really step outside of your comfort zone when it comes to networking and developing a more trusted adviser relationship. The reality is the best relationships that I have are with the people I attended the Masters with. The first year was challenging because I didn’t know much, so I did a lot to study up, but I didn’t even recognize how important that was in terms of my network and in terms of the relationship building.

Having gone to law school and getting my MBA, it was really important to me that I was showing how smart I was instead of showing that I could be trusted and add value. These weren’t the things that we’re taught in business school — quite frankly we’re taught to keep our heads down. The Masters was the first time I had that exposure and saw how significant it was to be a trusted advisor.

Oftentimes you have to really step outside of your comfort zone when it comes to networking.

The Lesson:

The greatest lessons that I’ve learned are really as a result of mistakes that I’ve made.

We’re taught that we have to be really good from a technical standpoint, but the reality is that success encompasses a lot of things, and your technical competence is only one of them.

Doing things that suspend your self-interest, and developing the space where someone feels like they’re safe with you, they can tell you things and ask you things, and they feel more vulnerable with you, leads to people thinking they can trust you.

One of my largest clients came as a result of responding to an issue that was personal — it was with a referral to a doctor. They needed a doctor in New York City, and they thought that I may know someone in New York that specialized in that area, and I was able to give them a doctor’s name and get them an appointment very quickly. That person, who was a client, became one of my largest clients here at Deloitte.

That client knows that if they come to me with things that may not be within my area of expertise, I’ll either find the right person or people to get that done, or I’ll tell you I can’t do it. They trust that I have their best interests at heart.

When it came time for something that was much more significant for that client, they believed that I would do the same, and gratefully we did, and that’s where we were able to build a great client relationship and support them from a more professional setting.

Deloitte is on Twitter at @DeloitteUS.

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