Why I Do What I Do

I’ve said many times that my 17 years as an associate at Mars, Inc. was essential to the collaboration framework my colleagues and I developed and which led to the subsequent publication of my aptly titled book, Lessons from Mars. Serving as an internal effectiveness consultant gave me the opportunity to learn about Mars and its associates from the inside allowing me to truly understand the keys to effective collaboration. 

As I reflect on my career in total, it occurs to me that my experience prior to joining Mars contributed significantly to developing a fresh perspective on conventional models and team building approaches, and an understanding of where they fall short.
Three factors in particular were integral to the development of our new collaboration framework:


I began my career in the 1980s at a NYC stock photography agency. This was a time when stock photography was a new concept and the market was growing and changing by the day. That dynamic market was a blessing as I gained hands-on experience with growing a business, managing through challenges, and dealing with unexpected changes in the market.

This was essentially my hands-on MBA. 


The first exposure I had to team development was with a consulting firm who hired and trained me to facilitate workshops on effective management, leadership and teamwork. Through this firm I became familiar with the conventional models and frameworks of team building and collaboration. 

Understanding these models was crucial for me to be able to make a full examination of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to team effectiveness. It’s also where I learned to speak the language of team building and, while I found that many of the conventional approaches are ineffective, knowing them was an essential part of my own education and development.


After my consulting experience with leadership and teams, I was hired by IBM to serve as an executive coach to a subset of their top 35 global leaders. IBM trained me in a model of motivation that I used as the basis of my coaching. This model added to my knowledge and gave me crucial insight into what motivates people to take action. 

When I arrived at Mars, layering each of these perspectives on each other allowed me to develop a unique perspective on what it really takes to unlock effective collaboration. My new podcast is going to explore most of the big ideas that led to the book and are at the heart of the business I run today.

Carlos Valdes-Dapena