Sidebench Talent Spotlight: Mikayla Toninato
Mikayla is a Business Development Associate who joined us in November.
Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was cold! But also dreamy, and probably one of the most wholesome places to grow up. I’m from a suburb outside the city so it had a small-town feel but a city-sized playground at our fingertips.
Outside of work, what are you irrationally passionate about?
Fashion, music and art have been my biggest areas of interest since I was a kid. I’ve always had a deep respect for the arts, probably due to my lack of artistic ability. I feel passionate about increasing access to the arts for children, particularly within education and allowing for creative stimulation and growth.
Sometimes the road to working in business development or account is off the beaten path. Walk us through the process that you went through to get into your current role.
In college I studied Strategic Communication and aspired to work in an ad agency post-grad. The agency I got into after college just happened to be a digital agency that focused on UX/UI design. I never even considered myself working in tech because the agency was owned by a larger advertising conglomerate. I was passionate about the work I was doing but I was tired of living in Minneapolis and wanted a change so I was prepared to take any job that could take me to the west coast. I secured a position with Oracle in sales and ended up moving out to Santa Monica. I was certain I would hate sales and was prepared to find something else, but surprisingly I loved it. I’m highly motivated by human connection and enjoy strategic outreach so it turned out to be a perfect fit. After looking to get back to the agency environment, I was fortunate to stumble across Sidebench. A couple months later here I am!
We talk a lot about our jobs being the opportunity to imagine the future and then make it real. What vision do you have for the future and want to make real?
If the past few years have shown me anything it’s that the future of healthcare is digital and every person needs access to digital healthcare. There are some serious barriers around this currently that I want to help break down. Technology allows us to bring people together from anywhere in the world, seeing how we can use that to benefit the greater good is something that’s very exciting for me.
How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?” (Borrowed from Tim Ferris’ “Tribe of Mentors”)
When I decided to move to the west coast I was set on working for an ad agency out here, so my search initially began solely within the ad industry. After endless applications, cover letters, quirky ad assignments, and one failed interview, I didn’t have a job in advertising. This is what led me to say f*ck it and take a job in sales despite the complete lack of experience I had within the profession. It turned out to be the best thing to ever happen to me.
What’s been the most exciting part about joining Sidebench so far?
Seeing how far our capabilities stretch. I love that I have yet to have a conversation where we say “No, we can’t do that.” I’ve never heard “no” said at any point here. The exciting thing about this is the possibilities are endless, I have seen no limit to what we can create.
We love to find people that ADD to our culture vs fit into our existing culture. What are some cultural aspects that you’ve experienced that you hope to bring with you?
Ever since I began my career in both tech and sales I’ve been in male dominated environments. I hope to create a space more inclusive to women that allows diversity of perspective to be considered into business decisions.
Describe your super power or describe what unique skill/perspective you bring to the team here.
My super power is getting strangers to open up to me. I’ve always had a knack for allowing others to feel comfortable around me and see that I sympathize with what they’re telling me. Although this can backfire in social situations where I’m looking to mind my own business, it’s also great to be able to walk into a room of strangers and walk out with a handful of new friends. I love getting to know people on a personal level and find that’s the key to building lasting relationships.
What skill, practice, behavior, hobby or habits are you currently working on?
Challenging myself to question my own beliefs, why those beliefs were formed and where they came from. Also — surfing! Because you can’t live in Santa Monica and not know how to surf, right?
Bonus Question: What book, publication, or podcast have you most recommended lately and why?
Atomic Habits. This was recommended to me by our CEO, Kevin, and I recently started recommending this to all my friends. As someone who always detested “self-help” books, this has become the only one that I’ll allow and has been instrumental in helping to develop more effective daily habits to build towards a better future.