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Amazing leadership brands: Mike Rodrigues, Thrive Support & Advocacy


I have had the privilege of working with Michael Rodrigues for nearly two years. Our relationship was formed when Mike chose Idea Agency to help rename and rebrand the organization he had just become President of, Greater Marlboro Programs, Inc. As we worked together to rebrand GMPI, I came to know Mike as an amazing personal brand. He had a clear vision for the future, yet was an inclusive leader committed to including his staff in the process of the brand development. As he told me when I first met him, “I don’t like to tell people what to do. And I like to make as few decisions as possible.” The new name and brand – Thrive Support and Advocacy – was truly born out of the collaboration of his team. 

An accounting major at business school, Mike came to lead non-profit organizations through the side door. He spent 10 years working in a for-profit company so he hadn’t risen through the typical ranks of the non-profit sector. On Mike’s journey to Thrive, he was drawn to the various opportunities afforded at different positions and organizations. “I’m a builder not a maintainer, at least not for long,” Mike explained. He loves to find the potential and help companies be the best they can be. Not surprisingly, this is exactly what Thrive Support and Advocacy is all about. Their brand position, which they live and breathe each day is, “Thrive Support and Advocacy is driven to redefine disability by focusing on the abilities of those we serve so that we can help them reach their unique potential.” 

Recently, I had the privilege to sit down with Mike again, now that he has settled into Thrive for nearly two years – 18 months since the brand refresh. I asked how he was able to come into a new organization that had been around since the early 1970s and within four months embark on a very successful brand refresh. How did he impart his vision to the employees? He shared that his style is all about conversation, “I don’t foist my ideas on people, I ask questions. It’s about the conversation that happens over a cup of coffee or in the hallway.” He uses small, informal moments to share his thinking and to inquire about others. His leadership style is humble yet powerful, as perfectly illustrated when you ask Mike about who he answers to, “I consider the people that we serve as my boss.”

I asked my signature question – if you were a famous brand, which one would you be? Mike quickly came up with the brand Timex and their popular tagline, “takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” It was a surprise for me, because his extreme positivity doesn’t reflect a person who has come up against adversity. But to Mike, he said everyone has ups and downs, and the most important thing isn’t how many successes you’ve had, but how many times you’ve been knocked down and you find the strength to stand up. He sees it in himself, and the individuals that Thrive serves every day.

See our video about the Thrive rebrand.

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