Cornerstone is “big on team.” It has always been the underlying theme and driving force behind everything we do. We are intentional about stressing this as a value-add to our clients because it provides them with the resources, relationships and knowledge of every person within the firm.
The team approach isn’t just lip-service. We opened Cornerstone’s Annapolis Office in 2015, less than two weeks before the firm’s annual offsite meeting. John Bohanan, PJ Hogan and I were not yet a team-each having our own paths and experience in Annapolis, but never working together toward a common goal. From the 2015 offsite, we quickly adapted to Cornerstone’s team approach, as we saw it first-hand when working side-by-side with the DC team, who helped make the Annapolis office operational. As the weeks passed, we put into practice what we learned at the offsite- and our small team began to solidify.
Cornerstone believes so deeply in the team approach that it’s included in the firm’s corporate philosophy:
We built our business on the foundation of team-oriented, comprehensive, and personal service provided by senior professionals. Cornerstone operates as a complete team—when a client hires us, they engage all the resources of our entire firm, rather than a single individual. The benefit of this team approach is the ability to bring together a number of highly qualified professionals for the collective experience, background, and relationships to plot and execute a strategy for success.
And this year, Cornerstone dedicated our 2019 offsite to this mission.
Before arriving in D.C., we received an email setting the tone for the work that we would accomplish together during the offsite – “teamwork” would be the overarching theme, and a significant amount of time would be spent talking about our distinct team approach.
At the offsite, I partnered with Hunt Shipman to lead a company-wide workshop on Firm Integration. We focused on four major components: team building; ongoing communication; getting to know your colleagues; and information and intelligence sharing. We led group discussions on what effective teamwork looked like across offices, including activities our offices planned specifically for colleagues to get to know one another.
The success of our business is built on our ability to foster relationships with, and for, clients. Our offsite discussions served as a reminder that all of us should utilize those same bonding skills to connect with our own colleagues to make our unified work stronger and more effective. Each member of our team has so much to offer, and the offsite encouraged us to tap into that abundant potential.
Our clients win on issues because of this model. When clients call me and ask if I have a connection with an organization, they have access to my rolodex as well as the entire firms’ contacts. Similarly, if a client wants to know more about a policy issue that was active in another state or in D.C., we can pick up the phone and get a complete rundown on the issue from our colleagues within minutes. Our clients know and count on our deliberate collaboration. I sincerely believe this approach drives our stellar client service and retention.
Over the last 13 years working in government affairs, I can honestly say that this approach is not only unique, but also refreshing. In some lobbying shops teamwork is discouraged rather than encouraged. Lobbyists within those firms do not communicate or share information that would be helpful to clients in order to retain a competitive edge over their colleagues. I’ve also found that lobbyists are often on an island within their respective firms when it comes to client services. Lobbying is an industry prone to expertise silos, and individual lobbyists often struggle with the daunting task of forging deep relationships with a substantial number of elected officials. Our clients see more success because we actively avoid internal competition and subject-matter separation.
I’ve come to learn that I’m never alone in my work at Cornerstone. As we gather with family and friends during this season of thanks, I hope we will all reflect fondly on our Cornerstone family and the opportunity to learn from one another, celebrate each other and strengthen the morale and personal bonds within the firm.