As Chief Heart Officer & Principal Consultant for Connect Source Consulting Group LLC (CSCG), Gina Marie Romeo stays busy—real busy. If you follow her hashtag— #GinaOnTheGo = Love in Action — then you know she is everywhere, and then some. We were able to finally catch up to her to check in on her travels, her life experiences and all the cool work she has done over the past 18 months.
What’s the most cherished item in your office?
The photo of my two children and the Mom plaque they bought for me. It always gives me strength to keep going—my children are my heart and soul.
What’s your favorite time to get things done?
Late at night into the wee hours of the morning. It is the only time I get to work with zero interruptions. It is my most creative thinking time, plus I am a total night owl.
What’s the music that plays in the background of your office?
That really depends on the day and my mood. Mostly ’70’s music. I love The Eagles, Bob Seger, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Billy Joel, and my Jersey Boys: Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny and Frank Sinatra. Other days it is Disco and R&B hits. Sometimes it’s ’80’s freestyle. I also love Elvis Presley and Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge.
And I certainly cannot forget about my Father, he was the lead singer of the SoundMasters, and if I’m having a tough day or feeling down, I always listen to Christian Music. It always brings me up, raises my vibration and elevates my spirit. I love music of all kinds.
Name the band you cannot take off your playlist.
It is a tie between The Eagles, and Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
How did you get your start?
I have been in this industry for over 25 years now and have such a vast background, starting in facilities as a service coordinator for two years, transitioned to the construction side in estimating/project management for 13 years, then to the design, architecture & engineering side for six years, to starting Connect Source, my very own consulting firm four and a half years ago.This January, I will be going into my fifth year in business, which I am super excited about. It has not been easy, but like Elton John sang, “I’m Still Standing,” since I have worked in many positions and aspects of the industry, the “industry” kind of made me an “overall industry consultant.”
I SERVE the entire design & construction industry. I am an outsourced management consultant and work in various roles within many companies. I work with the executive team to evaluate and assist with processes and in structuring strategic growth plans. I also train, mentor and coach their internal business development/sales team professionals , setting up strategic business development plans for them and assisting in executing those plans through various introductions.
I act as the liaison to all the various industry experts by bringing everyone together as one, seamless, integrated and collaborative team from start to finish, I like to say from “trees to keys,” as we all win this way, especially our retail clients and our projects are more successful.
At the end of the day, we are all in this together, win or lose.
What does a typical work day look like?
Buckle up and hold on tight for dear life, lol ha ha, as I go from 0-110 in under 2 seconds. This is such a fast paced industry, and some days, it is a total whirlwind. Things have been so crazy in our industry. We are all so busy wearing so many hats, there is just not enough hours in a day to keep up with the workload sometimes, but I absolutely love what I do, and no two days are ever the same for me, which I love even more since I bore so easily.
Some days I am on the A&E side doing design, branding, value engineerings exercises, and other days I am on the construction side, calling building departments to expedite permits, calling subcontractors begging for bids, doing buy-outs or negotiating projects and/or project management by putting out fires on various job sites or doing post-mortem meetings. I think it is important to go over lessons learned: what we did right, what we did wrong and what we could do better next time so we can all can continue to improve together.
Then, other days, I am headhunting and doing job placement services through COVID. Many have needed my assistance with this, and in between everything else, I also spend a lot of my time doing volunteer work for the various boards and organizations I am on and a part of, which I absolutely love. So, as you can see, I juggle lots of things and I am 100% integrated into the entire industry.
As I like to say, “my success is the success of others, I get to play in many different sandboxes and get paid just to be me.” Through it all, I am always focused on the “PEOPLE”, as I am in the Business of PEOPLE, and people do business with people, all based on relationships and trust, business development/client services, maintaining all my long-term relationships, as well as, building and forming new ones. “Business is not just business to me. I do business the way I live my life, with heart & passion and PEOPLE MATTER.”
What do you do for down time?
I try to take some down time to stay balanced and fill myself with positive energy. For example, in the morning, before I start my day, I spend some quiet time outside with my coffee, meditating, doing morning stretches/yoga, watching the sunrise and listening to the birds. It grounds me and prepares me for the day. In the afternoon, before or after lunch, I take a walk in one of the local parks or along the water. At the end of the day, I work out at the gym. Before I go to bed, I drink my lavender/chamomile tea, meditate and do some deep breathing and evening stretching to unwind.
I always try to keep within my life motto in everything I do: “Live, Work and Play with a Twist of Inspiration — All in with Heart & Passion” I work hard and play hard, and that makes me happy. I add in the twist of inspiration by doing things to help others and it gives me fulfillment in life through my higher purpose.
What are you binge watching right now?
This answer typically freaks everyone out. Not mentioning any names, but ‘Rick Migliorelli,” people honestly have a hard time with this one, but I do not watch TV at all, except for sports and an occasional movie here and there. I taught my children growing up and I still stand by it, “There are people who watch life and people who live life: We live it. I choose to go and do, opposed to sitting and watching. Some people like to perform and others prefer to be spectators.
What’s the coolest thing you have done since the pandemic hit?
I did lots of cool things, like sporting events and socially distanced concerts. Now I am a spoiled concert goer because they were all like VIP Service. They all had waitress service and lots of space. Now I don’t want to go back to the regular way of overcrowded concerts.
One of the coolest things I did was a work and play road trip with my daughter. We also did a Stuckey’s LinkedIn Marketing Campaign along the way. We went from New Jersey to Florida. We stopped to visit many clients.
The trip was truly very memorable for us, and my girlfriend’s son, Mike, who was also able to join us via FaceTime. He has had 13 open heart surgeries and has not been able to leave his house through COVID at all, but thanks to Apple and FaceTime, he was able to travel right along with us.
As the saying goes, “It’s not the destination; it’s the journey, so enjoy the ride.
What has this experience taught you?
It has taught me as much as I absolutely love people, networking and doing the trade shows I learned that I actually have become way more productive by NOT running around doing them. The time away from the trade show circuit actually has been extremely beneficial for me. I have had more time to focus and dedicate to one-on-one meetings with my clients. I am now more present, more creative and really able to add more value to my clients and to be a true extension of their team, so becoming more successful overall, not to mention saving a ton of money and ENERGY!!
If you knew what was going to happen, what would you have done differently?
I can honestly say that I have no regrets about ANYTHING that has happened in my life— all the experiences good and bad have made me who I am. If I did not go through all of these various life circumstances and face many different challenges, I may not be the person I am today—a rare gem, a diamond in the rough. And boy was it rough, because it really has been for me, but I am thankful for all I have been through. It has not only made me the person I am today, but has made me stronger and wiser. It showed me I can do anything I set my mind to through my faith in God.
Favorite comfort food.
Since my Auto-Immune Disease, I really am not able to have any comfy foods. I have to live on a pure, clean, all natural diet—no wheat, gluten, dairy, no carbohydrates, sugars or any kind of processed foods. Prior to that, I was always a salt person opposed to a sweet eater, so potato chips, chips and salsa, wings and bacon. As for sweets, chocolate ice cream with chocolate sprinkles, and anything Caramel
Best advice you ever received?
I have received so many great pieces of advice, but one of my favorite quotes—and lifelong lesson, as I am still a work in progress— is, “If you always do, what you’ve always done, you will always get, what you have always gotten.” That is the true definition of insanity. Keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. In life, the characters may change, but the same scenarios will keep replaying over and over, and hit you in the face until you learn the lesson at hand. The bottom line: Nothing will ever change until you change.
Biggest influence in your life?
The biggest influence in my life, I must say, has been “LIFE’ itself. I call it “The University of Life” — a continuous and endless school of many LESSONS, ups, downs, round-a-bouts, lots of challenges, trials and tribulations, many things to overcome, full of adventure, excitement and fun and so much to explore, experience and celebrate as we were blessed and given the most precious gift ever: THE GIFT OF LIFE. So be sure to TREASURE IT!!! You get one, so go create the life you love, live it consciously, and live it to the fullest with NO REGRETS.
What trait do you most admire?
I admire so many traits for various reasons, but I’d have to say it would be a tie between authenticity, honesty, loyalty and kindness. They all mean so much to me. I respect and admire those traits in a person the most.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Love yourself. And, it is okay to say no. A very wise man and treasured old friend once said to me, “Gina, how about you give yourself a little bit of love that you give onto everyone else?” He was so right. I have honestly spent my entire life giving love to everyone else, making others happy, that I forgot all about myself. I always put myself last, as if I didn’t even matter.
The profound life lesson of being blessed with a debilitating, incurable illness, and that darn airplane “oxygen mask” message I have heard millions of times over and over in my travels, “If you can’t help yourself, how can you help anyone else. You are no good to anyone if you are not good.” So here I am, 48 years later, and I have finally heard THE message. Me first. I am now focused on health and healing, nourishing my mind, body and soul, and living a balanced life, all starting with me. I am only one person, and I can only do so much, so if I cannot do it, it is acceptable to say no.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do when we get back to some sense of normalcy?
I can’t wait to hug people again. I am an Italian/Greek, Jersey Girl who is full of love. I love touching and hugging people, but with COVID and my auto immune issues, I have honestly kept my distance, even from my own family, which is really hard for such a touchy, feely girl like me.