Meet Jill Nykoliation – CEO of Juniper Park, TBWA

Are you leadership material?  Do you COMMUNICATE LIKE A BOSS

I know someone who does and I’m so excited to introduce you to her!

Jill Nykoliation - like a boss
Jill Nykoliation – like a boss!

Years ago, Jill Nykoliation and I started our careers together at Kraft foods in brand marketing. About when I left Kraft to move to Boston to pursue academia, Jill diverted her career off the typical brand management track to pursue “special projects.” These special projects propelled Jill’s career success, and she’s now the CEO of the Juniper Park\TBWA agency. 

Jill’s an astute LEADER with incredible self-awareness and a desire to create a positive work environment for her team.  So I reached out and asked Jill if I could interview her about COMMUNICATION SKILLS FOR LEADERS.” 

And here we are!

Jill Nykoliation & Andrea Wojnicki

Read on to learn:

  • Jill Nykolitaion on leadership
  • Jill’s communication philosophy


jill nykolitation leadership quote talk about talk

The first question I asked Jill was, “Do you have a LEADERSHIP PHILOSOPHY?”  Her answer:

“Don’t lead through a rear-view mirror.
Notice what’s ending and let it go.
Notice what’s emerging and step into it.”

Jill is a GROWTH-MINDED LEADER.  Evidence of this came up again and again during the interview.  For example, Jill talks about curiosity, asking questions, and taking detours:


be curious
image: Unsplash @ garybpt
  • I asked Jill, “What skills do you see lacking in people that may halt their career progression?” Her answer? Curiosity.
  • Too often, people show up trying to prove what they already know.  Instead, they should focus on learning.
  • People who are curious, those who seek growth, they’re the ones who succeed.

Ask Questions!

ask questions
image: Unsplash @ simonesecci
  • Early in her career, Jill’s sales counterpart at Kraft commented, “You sure ask a lot of questions!”  More recently, Jill’s lawyer commented that Jill’s one of her only clients who asks, “what exactly am I signing here?”  
  • When we ask questions, we gain insights into how things work.  We gain context.  We learn.

Take Detours


take a detour
image: Unsplash @ kindandcurious
  • Jill advocates taking detours off the typical career path. The learnings you gain can propel your career.
  • She also advocates volunteering for senior managers’ special projects. Treat those special project meetings like a university lecture. Observe what senior managers say and do.  You don’t have to formally ask them to be your mentor.  Just decide that they are a mentor. Study them. Learn.

Notice what’s emerging and step into it. 


Jill is very emphatic (precise!) about the 3 elements of her COMMUNICATION PHILOSOPHY: Compassion, Precision, and Frequency.

Jill Nykoliation
Jill Nykoliation


  • Jill notes that her personal style is to “lead from the feminine.”  This is something she learned to do, after growing up in a household full of brothers and then in her male-dominated career path.  But it has helped her immensely.
  • Nowadays, “you really need to reach into the screen and be compassionate through the screen.”  How do you do that?  You listen. You hold space
jill nykoliation quote confidence precision talk about talk


  • Avoid buzzwords. They’re lazy and imprecise. Use plain language.
  • Avoid hyperbole.  Never use hyperbole.  (As Jill says, “Really?  NEVER?!?”)
  • Use headlines. Whether it’s written or verbal communication, a well-considered, precise headline will clarify your message.



  • “Just because we say it once doesn’t mean people absorbed it. We have to have full context. And so we repeat things.”
  • Ambiguity is often perceived negatively. That’s why Jill provides updates at frequent, regularly scheduled meetings, sometimes even when there’s nothing to say. This helps people feel confident in their roles.


Compassion – Precision – Frequency
Got it?


LEADERSHIP: Communicate Like a Boss – Part 1 


communicate like a boss
image: Unsplash @ brooke lark

In this week’s Talk About Talk podcast episode, you’ll also hear Jill talk about:

  • what happened when she started naming her feelings
  • knives (as in butter knives, steak knives, and scalpels!)
  • how her agency grew despite the pandemic, “…because catastrophe requires sharp-shooters
  • and more!

Thank you, Jill!  This interview was so full of rich content that I split it into two episodes.  More to come next week. 



Talk soon,

Dr. Andrea Wojnicki
Chief Talker & Communication Coach

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