The first thing most people notice about Gina Trimarco is her smile because, usually, when she walks into a room, she is laughing and chatting with someone, either in person or on the phone. She credits her Italian upbringing for her loud laughter and effervescent personality (and talking with her hands), and says her positive attitude is a choice she makes for herself every day.
“There’s a game I play with my clients,” she says, “called ‘Yes, and..’ where I teach them to listen to what another person is saying, then say ‘Yes,’ repeat what the other person just said verbatim and then, instead of saying ‘but,’ say ‘and’–regardless of whether they agree with what the other person said–and then to make their own statement.
“At first, people think it’s an exercise about listening, and it is to a degree, but they soon come to understand, it’s an exercise in acknowledging and accepting another person’s truth and realizing that it is okay not to be on the same page. To acknowledge their page is valid for them, and your page is valid for you. You have a choice, and they do, too.”
LEADS TO LESSONS…
Gina says she learned this lesson herself after relocating to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, from her hometown of Chicago to re-launch and re-open an IMAX 3D Theatre under new ownership. A year and a half of conflict with the new owners over the best course of action for the destination venue left Gina frustrated and the theater floundering. Gina decided it was time to make a change, so when the opportunity presented itself, she said “yes” and left IMAX to form her own training and entertainment business, Carolina Improv Company.
In 2013, Carolina Improv Company, which is ranked #1 on TripAdvisor for Nightlife Attractions, celebrated its fifth anniversary. It includes not only the Uptown Theatre at the popular Myrtle Beach Mall, but also a corporate training division that provides improvisational training in the areas of customer service, team building, leadership and sales.
“It’s funny,” says Gina, “when people hear the word ‘improv’ they automatically tend to think of ‘comedy’ but ‘improv’ really is about thinking on your feet, being able to respond quickly in the moment, regardless of what is thrown at you. When you think of it that way, that’s business. We teach people in business–managers, trainers, human resource folks, entrepreneurs, business owners–how to get better at thinking on their feet.”
In 2016, Gina formed Pivot10 Results to scale businesses at larger levels with a team of business experts in all areas of business. Gina has learned that her improv skills have taught her to “pivot” when times get tough … and she passes this experience onto her clients.
PAYING IT FORWARD
It’s her passion for business and her gift for teaching others how to master “living in the moment” that led her to form Gina & Company, a coaching and consulting company focused exclusively on the needs of business owners and entrepreneurs who need to master the art of improvising their businesses, especially in the areas of revenue generation and business growth.
Before started her own business, Gina managed millions of dollars for other business owners, treating each business as though it were her own. Prior to joining IMAX as a general manager, where she led a team of 50 people and lived in a world of nightly performances where no matter what happened “the show must go on,” she worked as the marketing director for Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding in Chicago, Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, Butterfield’s Auctioneers, Spirit Cruises, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, and City Colleges of Chicago. She began her career in television production and media buying after graduating with a B.A. in communications from DePaul University, and training at Second City and Players Workshop in Chicago, and DSI Comedy Theater in Carrboro, North Carolina.
“Working hard,” she says “is in my blood. I had my first job at the age of 10 when my father took me to work with him on the weekends selling household items and clothing at the flea market. It was better than any college education or MBA program. At an early age, I learned how to negotiate, how to read people and how to sell. I firmly believe this childhood experience has served as the foundation for my success as an adult.”
Today, in addition to running Carolina Improv Company, its corporate training division and its entertainment division, both in Myrtle Beach and Chicago (she flies back and forth between the two offices every other week), she’s busy coaching private clients and running group coaching sessions and improv intensives. She acknowledges that it’s a lot to juggle at one time but that she does it because it’s what she’s always wanted: a successful business based on helping other people find success and happiness.
“I know what it’s like to start a business from nothing,” Gina explains. “I know what it’s like to run a business with hundreds of people counting on you for their livelihood. I know what it’s like to have to think on your feet, when the buck stops with you, when you are the one who has to find a way to get money coming in the door or nobody gets a paycheck. More than anything, I believe it is my mission to help business owners and entrepreneurs understand: You can do this. You have what it takes to have those sales conversations. It is not as hard as you think it is. I can help you learn to think on your feet. I can teach you the skills you need so you can handle anything life throws at you…come out smiling,” she adds with a Cheshire grin.