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Laura Barnard is the Founder of BREAKTHRU Brands, an agency that closes gender gaps and advances women in leadership. She has worked for top brands such as Wrigley and Haribo of America. Laura holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BA in psychology from Harvard University, which she attributes to her success as a marketing professional. Even with an impressive educational background, it’s Laura’s tenure as a college basketball player and team captain that she believes helped hone her leadership skills.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Laura Barnard talks about BREAKTHRU Brands and the two specific ways it serves women leaders
  • How Laura’s past corporate careers helped her become an expert in brand management
  • Laura’s inspiration to start her own company
  • The power of having a strong network
  • Was Laura destined for entrepreneurship?
  • Laura’s journey into branding
  • How Laura’s BA in psychology is helpful in the world of branding and marketing
  • What is brand unlocking and how does it work?
  • Defining your brand values
  • Driving growth through partnerships

In this episode…

Studies show that women leaders are two times more likely than male leaders to advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion. It has also been found that female leadership styles are more fitting to lead organizations of the future. So why is it that women in leadership are still more of an exception than the norm?

That’s where women like Laura Barnard come into play. A business leader with an elite educational pedigree who celebrates many accolades, she realized the void of women in leadership. Laura decided if she wants to see more female leadership, she has to create an outlet for advancement. So how is Laura trailblazing the path for more women leaders?

In this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast, join host Dr. Jeremy Weisz as he sits down to have an in-depth conversation with the Founder of BREAKTHRU Brands, Laura Barnard. Laura discusses BREAKTHRU Brands’ mission, her 15-plus years in corporate America, and how it helped her hone brand marketing skills. Laura also shares why she’s grateful for her psychology degree, her time on the Harvard basketball team, and the process of brand unlocking.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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Sponsor for this episode

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01  

You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.

Jeremy Weisz  0:22  

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here, founder of Inspired Insider, where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs leaders, today is no different. I have Laura Barnard of BREAKTHRU Brands and Laura before I formally introduce you I like to mention other episodes people should check out of the podcast. And since this is you basically help women leaders. I’m going to make a mention to Andrea Heuston, I had her on the podcast. And she also runs Lead Like a Woman podcast, and she just came out with a book. And I’m probably going to recommend you to be on her podcast as well. So Andrea does amazing work. So check out that episode. And also since we’re talking agency talk, I did a couple episodes of Jason Swenk where he talks about how he built and then sold his eight figure agency and then Todd Taskey also helps match agencies with private equity. So they sell and he has a Second Bite Podcast. So check those out.

And this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25, we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships. And we do that by helping you run your podcast. We’re an easy button for a business to launch, run a podcast. We do accountability, strategy and execution. You know, for me, Laura, the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way to do that over the past decade than the profile that people in companies I most admire and let everyone else know what they’re working on. So if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should. If you have questions, go to We’re happy to answer them. And I’m excited to introduce today’s guest and a big shout out to Jennifer Fortney for introducing us even though we have a mutual friend, family member, Rebecca belly as many. But Jennifer introduced us she runs Cascade Communications. You can check that out. But Laura Barnard founded BREAKTHRU Brands to empower women and her LGBTQIA plus community to break through barriers, close gender gaps and leadership. And while previously leading strategic, you know, strategy for iconic brands, you’ve heard them, Caribou, Wrigley, Worthers, Skittles. And she seen that role and help build bold brands play and creating a lot of impact. And her background is very impressive. You know, in psychology from Harvard, she got her MBA at University of Chicago. And that’s kind of helped shape and formed her belief that great brands start with a limitless mindset. And, Laura, thanks for joining me.

Laura Barnard  2:52  

Thank you, Jeremy, it’s great to meet you again. And I love the connection, talk about relationships of the two very different circles of folks who sort of led me to this moment with us, I’m really excited to chat with you today. And nback to shouting out to Jennifer and Rebecca To being our common points of connection. I love that.

Jeremy Weisz  3:10  

So talk about BREAKTHRU Brands and what you do.

Laura Barnard  3:15  

So BREAKTHRU is a brand building agency that empowers women leaders, we are in our fourth year of business. And we are really focused on serving women leaders in two specific ways. One is through our one on one, brand development, coaching and consultation and the other is through leadership workshops, webinars, etc to empower and enable women leaders to unlock their brands.

Jeremy Weisz  3:39  

So we’re going to dig into exactly that. And because other people will learn how to unlock your brand, right. But the first question is, I want to hear some of the learnings from working at big companies, because you bring all this breadth of experience to the companies and brands you work with a couple of learnings from Haribo and Wrigley.

Laura Barnard  4:00  

Right. So I think, you know, having looking back, you know, looking back at my career, in retrospect, I spent a little over 15 years in what I’ll call corporate America, and really focusing in on this brand management, industry and this profession. And I look to the record when I first figured out what the heck brand management was was when I was in business school. And I was really eager to apply my passion for psychology and my desire to understand why people think, act and behave in the ways that they do into business. And brand management emerged from me really early on as a way to do that to bring psychology into sales into strategy into business management. And I was fortunate at University of Chicago to meet a number of folks who worked at the time was the Wrigley Company in Chicago, which has since been acquired by the Mars organization. But the team at Wrigley and the folks that I met early on, the marketers that I met were in the jobs that I want it to be and so I had the great aspirational role models

Look up to working in a fast paced category like confections working, beloved iconic consumer brands. Can you talk about Skittles, Starburst, M&Ms, Snickers these are, you know, household names, right? And I knew that if I could learn from them and you know, be like them so to speak, I could really grow and have it have an impactful career in this in this field. My time at Wrigley really taught me number one thing in marketing, and I still hold true to this to this day is you have to know, know your consumer know who you’re serving and know them really, really well. What motivates them, what inspires them? What helps them make decisions, what do they need in their life? What benefits are they seeking? What gaps can you help close for them. And I learned how to manage manage large businesses with cross functional teams, and p&l cells and, you know, five year plans, one year marketing strategies, all these different tools were were part of what I was practicing the move to hearable kind of midstream, for me really was my desire to advance in my leadership, there was a senior level position that was open. It was a head of marketing role that I was eager to take on. And I was a little bit impatient. When I look back to my Wrigley days, I wasn’t getting there fast enough. unhearable was in a situation where they were really going to market in the US, for the first time in earnest as, as a brand, we had been distributing Haribo Gummy Bears, as I’m sure you’ve had them. And we’ve all enjoyed those, they’re mostly entering the US through third party distributors and the organization it’s a family owned business decided to plant their stake in the ground here in the US and go to market more intentionally, they needed a new, you know, almost a new brand for the US market and in a new go to market. So I was, I think employee number four in the US office that has now grown to you know, I think over 150 folks there, but to be part of that early stage growth and in that leadership role to you know, identify the the team the talent that we needed to bring in the agency partners that we needed to work with, and really reposition a beloved you know, 100 year plus old brand reposition it in the US for relaunch, and that was very exciting. That was you know, kind of scratched a little bit scratchy entrepreneurial itch that I kind of always had, of having, you know, having something start from scratch, right, and kind of have that idea of building something creating something so Wrigley Mars kind of taught me how to be a marketer. Haribo began to teach me how to lead and you know, have the decision making over a brand and kind of growing a team. And it also learned quickly kind of go to the end of that journey, that I was really destined to do something out. I’m more entrepreneurial than a grown up, you know, my parents are entrepreneurs, my both grandparents on both sides are entrepreneurs My wife has been an entrepreneur for for the last better for the last 20 years. And there’s a little bit of a stifling effect of a corporate roles that can can feel like you’re getting boxed in a little bit. And I really was was was desiring to get a break out of that and start something new. Applying what I learned about branding and marketing, but doing it with with more autonomy, more ownership and ultimately more purpose.