We had the good fortune of connecting with Gayle Petrillo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gayle, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
As a leader in the healthcare arena before retiring, I had seen the good, the bad and the UGLY, including in myself. Early in my career, I lacked self-confidence, was shy (that’s an understatement actually) and self-conscious. If it had not been for many mentors, I would not have gone to college nor landed in the rewarding positions I eventually held. With healthcare changing dramatically over the past several years, when my last corporate job ended due to budget constraints, I knew I wanted to help others the way I was helped. So, I made a list of my strengths and likes and knowing the importance of first impressions, it was the only name that made sense to me. I took what I have learned over my 30+ years of experience and am sharing it with my clients. From the importance of eliminating the negative self-talk to presentation skills, both on paper and in person (virtually or really in person). I coach them on how to build an effective resume, through conduct mock interview scenerios and we enhance their body language (including eye contact, active listening and voice tone), as well as appearance and etiquette.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
We moved when I was not quite 16. As a kid in a new school, I didn’t make friends easily and my lack of self confidence was very apparent in the classroom. I was too shy to raise my hand even when I knew the answer to the question being asked.. On my first visit to our guidance counselor, he told me that because my grades weren’t great I should forego college, find a husband and have kids! I was devastated. Fortunately my parents encouraged me to be the first in my generation to go to college. I attended a community college, graduated and got my first ‘real’ job as a medical secretary. I was a sponge. I absorbed everything I heard and saw. I was promoted several times and landed an opportunity to administration. I went back to college for my bachelors degree while working full time. I got every job I applied to for years. I was offered an opportunity, as an up and comer to attend Dale Carnegie courses. I got more comfortable speaking in front of people I previously had been intimidated by. I continued applying for positions that we out of my comfort zone, encouraged by upper management at the medical center and college where I was first employed. I remember wanting an opportunity to travel and a position was open in a research department. I didn’t even know what research was! This tall, good looking physician was sitting behind his desk, not nearly interested in interviewing me. I asked what type of person he was looking for in this newly created position. When he finished, I told him how exciting it sounded and even though I didn’t have a background as a nurse, I would be willing to listen, learn and suggested he ‘try me out’ for 3 months and I’d “try him out”. If it didn’t work out on either side, we would mutually agree to move on. We worked together for 6 1/2 years until I was recruited away by an international company wherein I would be auditing clinical research trial across the U.S. One site was in Tucson, AZ where I eventually moved for another career opportunity. A few years later, after applying to run a medium size medical practice within a large hospital system, the HR Director role opened and I asked for an opportunity. After doing both roles for a. period of time, and without my boss’ knowledge, I studied for and passed the SHRM PHR certification. I was promoted into the HR Director role and stayed there for over 6 years, again asking questions and absorbing everything that crossed my path. I took another leap of faith when that executive director retired and applied for a larger director role in Phoenix for a bigger hospital system and moved to Phoenix. While in that role, I was noticed by a colleague who worked in the field. She told me about an Administrator opening in a large multi-specialty medical practice. I participated in a nation-wide search and was offered the role. I again stepped out of my comfort zone and requested a title change to Executive Director and a larger salary, both of which were provided to me. I worked long, hard hours, creating a management team and mentoring them. When I moved back to Tucson, I struggled to find a similar role and eventually, due to major changes in the healthcare arena, I decided to retire and created First Impressions.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Day 1 would bring us to the airport to greet them. We would return home and enjoy the pool, grill salmon and toast our friendship with a great bottle of red wine. We would continue to catch up over a glass of port before going to bed early with the 3 hour time difference for them. Day 2 would be sleeping in and heading up to Mount Lemmon with a picnic lunch at Rose Lake preceded by hiking Marshall Gulch trail. On our return we would drop into Contigo Latin Kitchen for dinner and return pool side to watch the bats scan the water for bugs and listen to our local owl. Day 3 would include an early rise, light breakfast of oatmeal from the crockpot visit to the Sonoran Desert Museum to catch the raptor free flight exhibit as well as hummingbirds and other assorted wildlife before getting too hot. Brunch would be at Tohono Chul followed by pool time and heavy appetizers cocktail hour. Day 4 would find us heading East again for a day at Sabino Canyon. Our backpacks would include items for a picnic lunch after hiking trails and dipping our toes into the creeks and taking the tram up into the beautiful canyon. We would catch dinner on the way back at Wild Garlic Grill. Day 5 starts with breakfast at home fit for a king/queen, including homemade banana blueberry oat pancakes and fresh brewed Arbuckle’s pecan coffee. We tour the U of A campus having an early dinner with a Taste of Tucson Downtown. Day 6 puts us on the highway heading towards Kartchner Cavern. We grab breakfast at the TTT Truck Stop on Interstate 10. Dinner will be at Vivace at 7 with reservations for a table with a combination sunset and city lights view. Day 7 begins with a full breakfast of blueberry waffles, eggs over easy, fresh fruit, OJ and Hawaiian coffee from Kona and then our guests are driven back to the airport.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to many mentors, male and female, who have helped me conquer my lack of self confidence and phobias and reach beyond my comfort level and achieve what I never dreamed possible. They include my husband, Al; Shirley Myers; Joel Kremer, MD; Brian Riveland, MD; Kathy Bell; John J. Breyo, Jr; Marjorie Bessel, MD and many more.
Michelle Owens, Artifact Photography