Jocelyn Carbonara '95, Helps Professionals Communicate

Jocelyn Carbonara, Class of 1995, has a passion for helping people determine and communicate their driving message in business. Read more about what she does to aid organizations, entrepreneurs, and authors, as well as what it takes to do her job.

What is your job title and what do you do?

I am the President of Spiritus Communications—a company I started in 1998 ( Today, my husband and I partner in providing leadership training, keynoting (he is an outstanding speaker!), executive coaching, and consulting for organizations—particularly in the areas of change management and employee engagement. I also ghostwrite and edit books for authors, most of whom are trying to make a positive difference in the world.

For many years, I represented the advertising departments of several niche, national, and international magazines. From there, I moved on to market those magazines’ circulation and eventually promote speakers, consultants, authors—which led to my passion for helping people communicate simple messages to drive results.

What interests you so much in communications?

At the heart of everything we do as humans, we are communicating. Often we don’t know the messages we are giving or we’re not sure how to tell the ones we intend to share.

  • Most organizational issues stem from poor communication. Either people don’t know what to communicate, don’t know how to communicate it, or they fear communicating their truths.
  • Most entrepreneurs are passionate, but they are so close to a project that they need help in sifting through ideas to create a simple, compelling story that shows people their brand.
  • Most authors have a story deep within, but they need help excavating it and navigating a process for putting it to paper.

I absolutely love to free people’s lives by bringing voice to their message...whether it be an executive communicating about a key change, an entrepreneur defining her core values, or an author releasing his life-changing experience through words. I love to see the breakthrough that happens when someone is able to communicate effectively and see people respond positively. We don’t all have the same strengths. I don’t expect everyone to love communications, just as I can’t program a computer. If I can help ghostwrite or create a message that causes people to respond passionately for my client—thereby complementing the skills of someone who finds communications daunting or mysterious—I’m thrilled.

What challenges do you face at work?

As an entrepreneur and business owner, I’m constantly in charge of building the business even as I’m executing the work. I have to own the outcomes at all times. It can be challenging to juggle all the pieces.

What is the most rewarding thing about your career?

There are many! Besides giving voice to people’s messages, I love going inside companies of all sizes–including some big, well-known ones in several industries—and learning how they operate. I find that the difficulties they face are often very similar to one another, no matter the company. And no matter the level of employee—from CEO to front line—we are all human and share many of the same needs and challenges. I also love getting to serve clients in exciting places—like France and Puerto Rico (this past year!). And I love working in a field that strives to make people happier at work and in their lives. I find that means that people are generally happy to see me, which is a bonus!

Which qualities would you say are imperative for an individual to have in order to succeed in your field of work?

To work in the communications field, I think you have to be a very deep listener. It helps to read between the lines that people are speaking and ask questions to get to the heart of the matter. Then it helps to find a way to distill everything you’ve heard down to the most powerful words that will drive the greatest impact. It’s a bit like being a detective or a counselor. To work in consulting, you need patience. You need discernment to know the right time to say something, which may be months after you want to say it. It’s important to build trust first and observe. But then you also need boldness to say things in order to improve a situation. To be an entrepreneur, I’d say resilience is crucial. Some days, you will feel on top of the world. Other days, you’ll feel totally overwhelmed. Either way, you trudge on. I haven’t commuted to a job for another company in almost 20 years. I’ve been blessed with success at what I do, but multiple times I’ve adapted and reinvented to meet current trends. At times, I’ve felt pain and fear. But so far, I’m still here!

How does your liberal arts education help you in your career?

Specific professors’ words stick with me to this day. Diane Young beat my writing to heck, which helped me eliminate a bunch of passive verbs. :-) Mike Steele encouraged me to develop my creative abilities. Doyle Walls provided relief through poetry. When I graduated, I attended a session by a professor who said something to the effect of, “We haven’t given you the answers; we’ve taught you how to ask the questions.” I think more than anything, my liberal arts education prepared me to enter a diverse world and not be afraid of it. It taught me to dig deeper and trust that I could offer value through my insights. It showed me that our world is very organic and interdependent, and most issues don’t occur in a vacuum. I think that flexible type of thinking is very important in communications and consulting, since it requires synthesizing information from a broad range of sources and responding in a way that someone can receive positively.

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017