Search Interviews:

Jeremy Weisz  8:13  

So much to unpack there, Laura, I have a few follow up, but I try and be healthy. But if you put a Haribo gummy in front of me. I’m all over it. So it’s over.

Laura Barnard  8:22  

It’s a small indulgence, but…

Jeremy Weisz  8:24  

What did your parents and grandparents do?

Laura Barnard  8:26  

So my so my grandparents, a lot of the work that they’ve all done has been in the real estate industry homebuilding for many, many years. And if we they have also reinvented through the years, my parents are now restaurateurs, so they opened their rails pizza is a beloved Chicago pizza chain, but there are entrepreneurs and franchisees of too early it was locations, one in the Chicago area at one down in Florida. So they they pivoted you know, three decades into their career out of out of homebuilding into the restaurant industry. And that’s kind of been their, their, their journey.

Jeremy Weisz  9:02  

So I’d love to hear a little bit about the reposition of the relaunch for Haribo. Because this is, you know, you bring that to the brands you work with, what were some of the things that stuck out when you were repositioning this, this brand for relaunch?

Laura Barnard  9:18  

Yeah, I think, um, you know, back to the rule of knowing the consumer, I think there was a lot of good research and insights that we did right away on the US consumer. We knew we knew a lot about the international consumer and there’s not a ton of differences about how folks consume candy or how candy gets into a household through these, what we call gatekeepers, right the the decision maker or the person buying the groceries of the household. So we we had to check some assumptions that we had about this consumer starting with consumer insights and research and really understanding the role of something like confections in the day to day life of the average you know, household in America, right and it’s we are always there’s a fine line, you know, with what’s in terms of the health and wellness trends, obviously, we want to make sure that we were understanding the role that candy played in terms of this small indulgence, this sometimes an escape for people or reward a treat a break and making sure that it was part of, you know, obviously part of a more balanced diet, so to speak. So understanding the role that the product played in the consumers life, that was our first first first step in the journey to repositioning. And then I think when you

Jeremy Weisz  10:28  

Just on that for a second, Laura, because I love this discussion around understanding the consumers applies to any business. And this is probably, you know, one of the things that you talked about with the clients you work with, but were there any, uh, some there was anything that surprised you, when you’re testing your assumptions, whether as with Haribo, or Skittles, or, you know, because I think people who’ve been doing it for a long time may go in with oh, I, I’ve done this so many times already know, but you kind of come at it with? Well, let’s test the assumptions. Right. So what surprised you, when it with those assumptions when you were it could be Haribo? Or one of the other brands?

Laura Barnard  11:07  

Um, yeah, I think back in this was probably early on in my tablets, confections category, I think back to when I worked on the Skittles brand. And we would do again, Wrigley was very, very big into consumer insights, we spent a lot invested a lot of resources in that area. The surprising thing for me, and this may not be so surprising. Now, as I get older, I have kids, but what people say and what they do, is sometimes very different. So people will you’ll ask, you know someone in a focus group, for example, you know, do do we do we can’t? Or do you have candy around the house? And a mom or dad or parent or caregiver will say no, no, I don’t eat candy. Like, no, you follow them in their home. So there’s these things called ethnographies, we actually are in in the home of someone or you’re shopping, traveling, like shoulder to shoulder with someone watching their behavior. And you’re, you know, you’re at their home, and you say, well, where’s where’s the candy? You know, and there’s a secret stash somewhere in their office. Right? So you find that they have candy, you know? So people say, well, people do are, are, are often not quite matched up. And is that just disingenuous, but just like what you know, from a from a insights gathering perspective, you have to be cautious with with surveys or kind of what people articulate and really watch behavior and see what has happened in the past and look for actually artifacts and clues versus what people what people wanted to be perceived as.

Jeremy Weisz  12:32  

And you know, going back to your college days, you played sports in college, Target, what was one of the learnings from from that?

Laura Barnard  12:41  

Yeah, so I was I was whenever I hear like my bio, and people skip over the talk about psychology at Harvard, but they skip basketball, I kind of think about it, like majored in basketball, and I minored in psychology. So basketball was sort of predominant in my life. And it had been up until that point, it still is a big part of my life, as as a parent and as a coach now, but what I learned from basketball, I learned what it meant to be a leader. I learned what it meant to be part of a team. I learned what it meant to empower young women. I, I look back, and I don’t really think about the wins and the losses and the stats, because I was actually, my senior year, I was captain of the team. And I was the last kid on the bench. So I was kind of that leader from the bench. And I learned how to observe and know roles and how to use communication and different ways to influence and motivate people. And I watched, you know, the best mentor ever for leadership was, was my coach at Harvard, Kathy Delaney Smith, and really, you know, taking a page from her book, so to speak, and applying that in my own life, as a leader, as a manager, as a parent, as a spouse, etc. But really, our basketball taught me how to lead.

Jeremy Weisz  13:49  

That’s really uncommon, right, someone who is on the bench as the captain, right?

Laura Barnard  13:57  

Yeah, I think it’s typically I think, is uncommon, but I think maybe at Harvard, it’s, it’s more common than then folks might think, but there’s, there’s just different roles that you know, there’s just there’s the statistical leaders, right, and there’s sometimes roles for other folks that are always say, leading from the bench or leading from the locker room. That’s, that’s important to team dynamics.

Jeremy Weisz  14:17  

Oh, it speaks a lot to your leadership, if you are if that was the case. So things are going well, I mean, you’re working and you’re you’re moving up in these companies. What was a spark that caused you to start your own business?

Laura Barnard  14:32  

Yeah. So yeah, as I said, it’s been about 15 years you know, climbing the ladder and doing quote unquote, what I was supposed to be doing advancing, you know, going after the next level always and trying to improve my skill set my leadership all these things. And I we back in 2017, we actually, my wife’s job actually moved us out to New Hampshire. So kind of new refresh, trying something different adventure the kids new job

For Lindsay, and we picked up the family from Chicago moved to New Hampshire, New job for me a new job for Lindsay new state new schools like what could possibly go wrong, right, like just a few things changing. I had, I had this gift of time and space when we moved out, we had some we had took some time off, to help with our new baby. And I was really in that more of a reflective mode of what I wanted to do kind of this next chapter and kind of that self reflection, self awareness and just kind of taking inventory of where I’d been and what we wanted to do next as a family and and as for myself professionally, I left the Haribo world and I entered into the consulting space for about two years for a company in Chicago called Blue Dog designed to do brand and innovation strategy for some of the top CPG firms in the world learned that that skill set I was something different being a consultant is different than being a brand manager or kind of a manager of people. And in 2019 I was come from a consulting trip and I was watching the Final Four basketball because I’m a basketball nut. And there was a press conference interview with the great Notre Dame coach, Muffet McGraw. And I was just captivated by her words, her presence and she had this very strong call to action about the need for more visible women leaders in sports and business and politics. And you know, when is it not going to be this exception, but the norm that we women are leading and I think I had this light bulb go off for me. And I said I was compelled to do something about what I was hearing from Muffet and to do something in my own life. And I thought about applying what I know about branding, marketing, storytelling positioning, I said, What if I could apply that to this opportunity to advance women leaders, the branding of women leaders, that was what I saw was missing, you know, one small part of that mission of advancing women, it could be this, this idea of branding and my first phone call was was to Kathy Delaney Smith. We were about an hour from Boston at the time where we lived and I said, Can I come meet you and talk to you about this idea? How about branding? Women Leaders, because you were the most influential women, woman leader in my life? You are, you’re a role model. And that for Kathy, it wasn’t about selling stuff. It was about increasing her impact. And so people need to hear hear you people need to see you people can benefit from what you have to say. So how do we quote unquote, brand new to get you out to more people and get your messaging out, and she was a reluctant first guinea pig client, I’ll call it but through the years, she helped us hone what we do and grow the network around those leaders in sports, who we wanted to increase visibility of through their brands, and then that has kind of parlayed into these other industries. But it was at really truly that moment and 2019 Hearing Muffet McGraw speech, that call to action that kind of woke me up and said, I need to do something with the skills that I have, and apply it more towards this purpose.

Jeremy Weisz  17:57  

So talk about what you did with your coach.

Laura Barnard  18:00  

Right. So with Kathy, it was it was interesting, because a lot of the work that we do today is trying to get people to really know who they are. And someone like Kathy pretty clearly knew that she knows who she is. So she she kind of was a an accelerated student in that regard. But there were aspects of her that the world didn’t know she knew it, but she wasn’t sharing more broadly and the ambient,

Jeremy Weisz  18:24  

she’s too close to it, they realize or what emanation

Laura Barnard  18:27  

I think, too close to it would be the nicest way to put it. I think sometimes it’s, it’s people are either too humble, they’re not willing to, they don’t want to be self promotional, they sometimes are blind to it. Or, you know, they don’t they don’t see it and or they may limpy lip have a limiting belief about themselves that prevents it from from going out more broadly, so to speak. So it’s kind of these internal barriers and and sometimes it’ll be just being a private person. But for some a lot of folks it’s an internal barrier. So working with Kathy, early on through these kind of discovery interviews and questions and and this is someone I’ve known for 20 years, but I’m asking her through this like motivational interviewing techniques trying to get get to something deeper. What is what why does she coach Why does she love sports? Why does she focus on empowering young women? Where is this coming from? And then ultimately, we led us to this place this this through this discovery with her that she you know, beyond just a basketball Coach. She is a gender equity advocate. She’s a title nine pioneer. And she’s an absolute leadership expert. And those words at first made her very uncomfortable because she will say I’m just a basketball coach, and, and I know who I am, and I’m my strengths and weaknesses. I know and I’m not that No, actually, here’s why you are these things and these are the proof points and just reminding her of her 51 years of coaching what she had done, not just winning games, but those those the the battles that she fought and won and the battles that she fought and lost and the behind the scenes work that she was doing. In the speaking that she was doing the conversation she had sort of through her network, you know, in someone like Kathy is a phone call away from someone like the great Billie Jean King, right? I’m like, why are you connected to Billie Jean King of this this great icon of equity, women’s sports and because you’re friends, because you’re like minded, you’re kind of in the same ballpark and just putting her in a place where, okay, you’re not just this one facet, facet person, you’re multifaceted. You have a message, people need to hear what you have to say, and how do we put put that message out to the world. And that’s where like the content strategy piece comes in. So the branding work starts with that discovery, and getting real clear on who you are internally, who you are externally to others, and getting those stakes in the ground of what you want to stand for. And then shouting those things out to the world and speaking about them and writing about them and interviewing, putting podcasts like this, talking about those things. So we try to identify those most salient aspects of the leader that we want to shine a light on. And that is that to just self for self promotional purposes, adults in service of other people.

Jeremy Weisz  21:04  

So how did she answer that? Why do you coach? What did you come to?

Laura Barnard  21:11  

So it comes down to empowerment? It’s in a word, I think it’s empowering young women. If you think about someone like Kathy, who, again, remarkable 51 year, she coached for 11 years at the high school level in Massachusetts, and then and then 40 years at the helm at Harvard. Always think, you know, working with somewhere, you know, 16 to 22 year old young women, right for all those years and staying current and relevant and evolving, but always sort of keeping that pulse on that critical age, I think for you know, entry into adulthood. That critical age of confidence building or, you know, Catherine’s busting, in some cases, making sure that we are equipping women to step into leadership roles, and not just, you know, taking the ultimate path.

Jeremy Weisz  21:59  

You mentioned, you know, there’s a brand unlock, right, so you go through discovery, and then there’s kind of a brand activation, which is the next phase. Yeah. If someone is listening, they’re thinking, This sounds great. I really need to get to the essence of what I’m about. So I can really share it. How does the brand unlock work?

Laura Barnard  22:20  

Yeah, so we were we’ve developed what we are considering and is, is evolving into this proprietary process. And we’ve now delivered this brand unlock for over 100 women leaders, and it’s been refined and adjusted and streamlined to be what we believe is a very efficient and effective four week process. So let’s talk about the easy button for your podcast, right? It’s not quite an easy button for brand building, but it is, it makes it clear and effective for these women leaders who are doing a lot of other things, right, this is their brand is that something that’s at the top of their list of their their their big to dues, necessarily in their day to day. So how do we make it efficient, effective. So our our process that takes four weeks, breaks down into three basic phases, we call them discovery, defining and unlocking, and the discovery phases, I mentioned with Kathy that we spent a lot of time in discovery, of understanding, you know, deeper level of insights into into who this person is, as a leader. What inspires them, what motivates them? What are these key characteristics and personality traits that they see in themselves, but also that others see in them, we discover? We have a client, we actually interview for their champions who can tell us if the person can’t, how they’re perceived, what are their greatest opportunities, they help vision cast for them, they tell help tell us what makes these people so great. So we spent a lot of time in discovery. That’s, that’s pretty much the first two weeks of the project. And then we start to move towards

Jeremy Weisz  23:51  

really quickly on the Discovery part, where I imagine people from what you’re saying, let’s say there’s, they’re humble, or you know, they’re maybe uncomfortable in the process of sharing. So how do you get them to open up and actually share when they’re resistant? Yes,

Laura Barnard  24:10  

good question. And we we warn them that we’re going to make them uncomfortable so that we’re not we don’t try to catch anyone off guard. We set it up to be very clear in terms of, first of all, opening up just you know, in written form, what do you want? What do you want us to know about you, right, kind of an intake onboarding form and that’s, you know, quick five minute exercise who just want to see first blush, what what is someone kind of sharing about themselves? We leave that into a 60 minute, really deep discovery interview with the client. That’s I’ll say the word like motivational interviewing techniques. Some folks will understand what that means. But we’re trying to ask open ended curated questions that that get into the deeper understanding of, you know, their purpose, mission, vision, their impact, and we have if we’re not making them on comfortable, we’re not doing our job. So does in some cases, so we try to get them to a place where they’re thinking in a different way about, you know, the what they do as a professional or how they’ve gotten to where they are. And and getting back to that question of why. And connecting that to purpose, mission, vision, values, beliefs. And so we’re just, it’s like peeling the onion getting deeper, deeper, deeper. And, you know, people will, will say the, I’m a little bit uncomfortable, or they’ll, they’ll, they’ll cry or get emotional. I think when we get to get that place where we’re getting deeper understanding, that’s great. It doesn’t happen all the time. It happens a lot, though, that people are willing to be vulnerable in that, you know, Safe Space confidential one on one setting, and our interviewer is on our team. Woman by is Lorrie Panfil. is incredible. We call we call her L’Oprah, like Oprah Winfrey. But Lorrie is a masterful interviewer gets people very comfortable. And we really are thoughtful about the questions, we do our homework on the person beforehand. And then I’ll say the the interviews that we do with with the clients, key stakeholders, those are golden. Those are people who who can speak to the strengths, talents, abilities, the resiliency of these of these clients, they’ll tell us stuff that the client won’t tell us about themselves, they will toot the horn of the client, so to speak, when the client is afraid to come off as self aggrandizing. So we really, really value the interviews that we have with with our clients, kind of core group of champions. That’s where we learn the most we play back those insights of those interviews to the client. And that’s where your light bulbs go off. And sometimes it makes them uncomfortable, like, I’m not that big, or I’m not that important. All these are these really important people in your life who said, who say that you are these things? And here’s why. So it’s, it’s just reinforcing with them, showing them those proof points and getting them out of their own overhead about it and getting those inputs from from outside trusted resources.

Jeremy Weisz  26:53  

I love it. Yeah, it’s kind of like, I mean, I picture a personal trainer, like you go, and it’s uncomfortable, you’re gonna be sore afterwards. But you but it’s almost like, Okay, you feel accomplished. So, so this discovery in the next as you were saying, The defining,

Laura Barnard  27:12  

yeah, so we kind of move so we gather all these inputs, it’s just gathering, gathering, gathering. And then we have to make sense of what we’ve gathered, right, we have to kind of shine a light on some of these insights. We know what the what the client’s goals were going into the project, but we might have learned something in that discovery that makes us want to reset as specific objectives. So we play back, here’s what we learned from your interview from your key stakeholders, your champions interviews, you said this goal, but is it maybe it’s this, these three goals of care kind of new ones that we sort of help them identify which goals is the one they want to go achieve. And then we also start to bubble up what we call brand values. So this is really where we very succinctly articulate back to those things purpose, mission, vision, values, beliefs, and motivation. So those things kind of we call them brand values, we put those on a page, and we’ve talked through them. And this is sort of a Northstar guide, defining who this leader is from a values perspective. And then part of defining too is a lot of clients come to us at moments of inflection or change, or they want to figure out what’s next. Or sometimes they get forced out of a role. And they’re trying to reinvent and relaunch themselves. So we lay out for them, okay, what are the paths that you can take? What are the opportunities for you to position your brand, for the for the most impact that you can have, and we sometimes used to call it kind of choose your own adventure, but we started to find those paths that they could take. And it’s a little a little bit of career development a little bit, it’s life coaching, right? But we try to lay out the path and then help them start to bring their brand to life per that pathway that they select.

Jeremy Weisz  28:47  

So then when does the unlocking? Yeah, come in? So

Laura Barnard  28:51  

at that, so after we define at that midpoint, what are the real goals of their brand? What are the what’s that pathway that they want to take? And maybe you know, it’s time for you to, you know, go join a board or start your business or go for that next level promotion, right? We identify that path, okay, now, how do you brand yourself how do you tell your story towards that goal, or on that pathway? And in the unlock, that’s where we sort of get to the deliverables, right, we, we do three major things. We we help them craft their story, we call it the brand story. It’s not a resume. It’s not a bio. It’s not a capital schmutz, accolades, it’s more about capabilities. It’s more about who they are as a person. And you know what, and how they do things. But most importantly, we have to infuse, why they do what they do in their story. So it’s about a 2000 word version of a narrative that we can that we can share with them, but then they internalize and that’s how they begin to talk about themselves. And that’s the most powerful, absolute, tangible and powerful deliverable that we come we unlock and come out with. Under that story, you can imagine kind of some key messaging themes Some some subject matter expertise areas, some content, ideas that help support that, that brand story. So we identify brand messaging themes. And then we also layer in this idea of a brand archetype, which is guidance on how you how you how you verbally shared your story, your tone of voice, what, who you relate with best from an audience perspective, back to knowing, knowing your consumer, knowing your audience, but we give them the story, the messaging guidance, and this archetype, reference for them to help figure out how they bring that brand out to the world share that with others,

Jeremy Weisz  30:33  

will be an example of what goes on on those Cathy’s going in. And then what was it going out? After the process?

Laura Barnard  30:40  

Yeah, um, so, you know, goal, I think her goal has always remained, you know, at the highest level back to that notion of empowerment. As a coach, she could, her goal is to win very simply win basketball games, get individual players to develop and grow and perform at their best to get the team to perform at their best. And the greatest litmus test of that is right is winning and losing. It’s pretty clear. The scoreboard is there, right? It’s a it’s a clear goal and objective. And I don’t think an alpha years was there ever a season where she didn’t want to win now if she wants to win, take away the coach aspect, you put the whistle down for the last time, okay, now what’s what is your goal, and that becomes a little bit less clear. But you think about what winning means in the in the basketball sense of what winning means, kind of from a life perspective, and she is still a coach and an inspiration and a role model for young women. It’s just not on the basketball court. So how can she still have this goal of empowerment and winning as as as women, and bring that into, you know, a cow say real life, but kind of post basketball. So her goals now are related towards, I think, impact in terms of promoting leadership in women leadership, skill development, inspiring leadership, and in women, moving the needle on gender equity, and sports that will never go away, there’s still you know, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title Nine this year, tons of great work has been done and accomplished to move the needle on equity, in education and athletics. Still a lot of work to be done. So she wants to, you know, be more clear voice of advocate for that type of work. And then I think just being able to share her story, because it’s, again, when we share our story, we can be an inspiration for others. So this idea of leadership, equity, and kind of sharing her story and flashforward, we’re very concrete goal is getting her book published in the year.

Jeremy Weisz  32:34  

You know, I love this because I can see how it is so important to have a Northstar to have the messaging down because that drives goals and everything that someone’s going to do. So you do the brand, unlock and then talk about phase two. So what’s next, with the brand activation, and you could talk about

Laura Barnard  32:51  

and I think this is we are our bread and butter, so to speak. And you know, 90% of what we do with clients and from a revenue perspective is on focus on the brand unlock. We are dabbling, I’ll say in the activation rom there are and this is kind of goes back to like who, who we are who we serve, what we do and like what we don’t do, and we’re trying to be a little bit selective. But imagine once you’re equipped with this brand unlock and this this playbook for your brand. You know, what I do now is always a question and in some cases, take the example of you know, we’ve worked with several tap head coaches, kind of post Kathy, I’ll say but that are currently coaching, right? Who do this work, and they’ll hand it off to their, their staff, their marketing folks, their athletic department say, Hey, this is this is my brand, let this help guide our content, let’s let this help guide you know, as simple as my bio on the University website. But this should help guide what we talked about on social media, for example. So it serves as a content guide for folks who help someone like a head coach, activate their brand, right? We have been done some projects, and this is where we are trying to hone in our expertise and like what we sell to, to be really, really good at it really, really effective. But personal websites, social media strategies, speech writing, podcast, strategy, development, book proposal writing, so there are those are there many ways of the activation come to life, and it’s, I could go on and on. But you can sense my hesitation because it’s a very wide range of things. And we’re a team of eight and we’re trying to be really laser focused on this brand unlock. So ideally, we have the brand unlock, and there’s a team either that, that, that if it’s an executive, it’s their support team or their marketing department or if it’s a head coach, it’s their their staff and marketing resources where they hand off the guide and those folks can do the better activation work because they’re closest to that to that business or that person. So we’re actually trying to step a little bit away from the activation because there’s a lot of agencies that do that. And we’re we are we’re trying to know who can stay stay kind of true to who we are what we do best. Yeah, I

Jeremy Weisz  34:59  

want to talk about that. Because before we hit record, we were talking about intentional growth, right? And this kind of leads into how do you grow and because I could see how you could take the brand unlock. You could do social media posts, you could do blogs, you can do, it may help with an inner after game interview, if it’s a coach, it could lead to a book, like when you say empowerment, and there’s a subtitle like, I could totally envision that being turned into a book what you did. And so, how do you think about intentional growth? Because, like you said, you want to stay in your lane, but there’s, there’s this other people are calling you to do these other things. You partner have great partners in certain aspects. Did you yourself? How do you think about intentional growth?

Laura Barnard  35:42  

Yeah, I think I mean, it, it starts with, you know, knowing yourself or knowing yourself as an organization and go back to say it again, like, you know, know who you are, know, why you exist, know, who you serve, know what their needs are, their opportunities are and try to match that the best you can. And as uniquely as you can, I think there are a lot of marketing agencies, there’s hundreds of 1000s of them, probably the US, right? So a lot of branding agencies, what we’re what we’re focusing in on is this, this notion of building leadership brands for women. And that’s, to me, you know, I’ve been in this now 20 years, it sort of emerged as something different and missing and unique and really laser focusing in on that, what does that mean? What can we do to get better, if we do have an opportunity if we work with a client through a brand unlock, and they’re just destined to give a TED talk or be a key paid keynote speaker? Right. There are speaker bureaus and agencies that are way better at getting that person placed into those high profile speaking opportunities. And we are so we were trying to get real clear, internally have that focus and then understand, okay, what are the other part who are the partners out there that offer a service that is in need, and we obviously vet them? But so we are, you know, willing, and we must refer folks out when they need that, especially in that activation realm. But I think, you know, we talked about focus, right. So in 20, last year, was really the first year that I felt like the lenses started coming together. And things came into focus. I’m in terms of what we needed to do to drive growth. And we talked about, in a way ahead clients in the sport space, we had picked clients through our natural referral networks in the business space, right? But okay, once you kind of reach out to those folks, and they tell their friends, okay, now I have to be more outbound, right, with my with my marketing, selling, driving the brand, right, and creating awareness and being relevant. So how are we going to do that? And I looked at, and I say, we I was leading this for for the team, but we have a collaborative team approach to say, where are the places we can grow? We look at partnerships with larger organizations, right? So associations of women leaders in business and sports, large organizations who have giant groups of women leaders, right and pick any Fortune 500 company, they have women’s affinity groups, employee resource groups, and just see what their get curious about how they do what they do, how we might fit into that puzzle, right? So rather than just going at it alone, we try to open up our thinking in terms of growing through partnerships and growing through these larger organizations. And then what we’ve what we’ve lived through is like really refining, in creating less complexity with how we talk about what we do, and what we sell. And it’s kind of back to my point earlier, what we sell. And what we offer, the best are these these one on one brand, unlock projects. And we also through that work, we are getting asked to do workshops and webinars sort of explaining it. So it’s this idea of random locks and workshops and webinars. That’s, that’s simple, right? That’s scalable, we know who to sell that to, how to position ourselves to that audience. And I think we’ve seen the business in 2021, we doubled the business. And we are now figuring out how to do that even more sustainably, and in a more intentional way, and that’s, you know, we’re we’re looking at a big growth year this year, but it’s going to be through the same things, these partnerships, more intentional content, strategies, outreach, and then being more, I’ll say, focus on selling, which is the top of the funnel, right?

Jeremy Weisz  39:17  

You know, I love your discipline. You know, it takes a lot of discipline, because people are probably pulling you to do certain things, you know, with all that stuff. So it takes a lot

Laura Barnard  39:30  

for me to say no to,

Jeremy Weisz  39:33  

you know, be say, hey, you know, this is our lane, and we’re going to bring in partners to help with these other things. Yeah. And you know, I can see I want to talk about the exam, one example with Kitt, but I could see you know, for you, it seems like the ideal clients are business leaders, you have founders, you have healthcare leaders, nonprofit leaders and sports leaders. Talk about what you did with kit and in my favorite picture is I think this one with Chris I love it with the WWE belt. That’s my favorite scenes.

Laura Barnard  40:04  

Another another great one. St. Lawrence shout out. So, so Kit DesLauriers, who’s, I will say I’ll look back to 2019 was was our first official paying client, which is an amazing thing. Really, I will never forget and they always grateful to kit for a willingness to partner with us and met kit through a mutual friend of ours and I her reputation preceded her she’s a professional athlete is and she’s out she’s, we can go to her website, actually, if you have it. So Kit is a two time freestyle, a Freestyle Skiing World Champion. She’s the first person, male or female to have climbed and skied down the seventh summit to the seventh highest peaks in the world. So you know, this total badass athlete right? She approaches me and learns about a little bit about what BREAKTHRU Brands was starting to do at the time, it was very early stage and she said, Can you help me with my brand? And I said, Yeah, I was I was humble. And I was a little bit intimidated. I’ll say, honestly, hey, oh, how are you? There’s just me at the time, it was a solopreneur for a while before we grew the team. And I said, you know, yes, but like, we need to figure out what our processes and we need to, you know, want to get clear on your goals. And like you she has, you know, an army of resources with the north face. And she’s, you know, very intentional person about her brand already. And she already had a website, Jodi wrote a book and all these things, and how could I help her? So I had to get over my own impostor syndrome. I’ll call it in that moment and say, Yes, like, I have a skill set. I see you I see your messaging and I want to help you extend your brand for impact, right, I’m not going to help you get more sponsorship deals, we have lots of those, right? It’s more about this idea of this leadership brand. And we started that the seeds of thinking with that so kit as an athlete is positioned a certain way. She’s talked about a certain way she’s featured on podcast interviews, articles as the ski mountaineer, right, but what what is going on behind the scenes with someone like Kitt and what is again back to that, why that purpose, mission vision values. She was willing to go through this discovery process with us and be vulnerable and get deeper beyond that desire, you know, that adrenaline rush up ski, right? We didn’t talk hardly talked about skiing or climbing, right? It was about the changes you want to see in the world. This idea of you know, using her platform as as an athlete, but creating change, specifically as it relates to climate protection and protecting wild places. So you see, the Arctic Refuge or the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, huge opportunity, huge passion for her and something that she could she could apply her brand platform towards protecting, speaking out about and doing as she goes so far. Now, there’s a documentary that just was released on ket but she’s helping gather the science the data to help tell the story to policymakers about why they shouldn’t be drilling for oil and gas in the Alaska wilderness. So she’s connected the dots of something she’s it was may seem disjoint right out of left field, how’s this person, you know, so interested about the Arctic, but getting your kit clear on purpose, bigger than just her her profession at the time, right? And getting her to realize this, this broader impact that she can have on society and and on the planet? through leveraging your platform? So how does she tell that story? How does she connect the dots are people what work can she do? You know, ie, her latest documentary Is it is it really, for me those years later to see her put that out to the world tell that story. really is is is making a big difference. And I think it’s shows again, that multifaceted aspect of people. They’re not just a basketball coach, you’re not just a skier, you’re a leader. You can make change, you can have an impact, and how do you talk about that in a way that actually gets people’s attention and moves the needle?

Jeremy Weisz  44:05  

And talk about Corinne? Yeah, I’m creating

Laura Barnard  44:09  

another person. So the AR Kit, it came to us kind of his high profile, you know, professional athlete, Corinne is someone we met, kind of through those professional network associations that I that I mentioned earlier, ways that we were trying to grow our reach and our impact with with women leaders in sports. So Corrine we we first met her through her work for the pro sports assembly, which is in association, supporting and advancing folks in the professional sports industry. She was kind of your programming content, managing director for them. And we as we got to know her through that partnership, it emerged in the other something driving Corinne. It was more related to social change and racial equity and elevating minority student athletes and young professionals to be the next generation of Leaders and she was was was doing a lot of that through her work with pro sports assembly and another nonprofit that she was leading called the winning edge. But we were curious with her is there something else that you want to do to sort of realize that impacts and fulfill that intention that you have about advancing this next generation. So, a flash forward through the brand unlock, we did do some brand activation work with her helping her get her business brand, sort of cemented and a website produced and all that good stuff. It’s, it’s called work WRK. And we are now proud to look at Corinne is a founder and CEO of this of a startup, right, that is going to change the game for DEI: diversity, equity, inclusion, recruiting, retaining and hiring in the sports media entertainment industry. So she went from a really, really hard working, you know, Jane, of all trades did a lot of things, right for these nonprofits into focusing your efforts on this, this new business that’s going to change change the industry in a really positive way. So just kind of think about the ripple effects of her impact, right? She was having a lot of impact where she was, but could we make it bigger? And could we have her, you know, focus her leadership brand, focus her messaging, create this company, where she could tell her story and then be out there in the world really, more intentionally advancing these objectives that she has.

Jeremy Weisz  46:24  

I have one last question. Yes. And, Laura, first of all, thank you, thanks for sharing your journey. Thanks for sharing your insights is super valuable. And I want to first just encourage people to check out your website and they can go to that’s break, If you’re watching the video, you can see the website. We’re on the website right now. And you can poke around and see some of the cool stuff that they done and who they worked with. Last question I have is some of your favorite coaches of all time that have influenced you from a distance or you know them personally.

Laura Barnard  47:01  

So when you ask that question, the first visual that pops in my mind is Phil Jackson. Being from Chicago area we’ve I think we’ve shared our love of the bulls. He’s, there’s a quote from Michael Jordan is my coach is everything and actually get emotional. Talking about what Phil Jackson was able to do to unlock the potential of the bulls. You see with the Lakers, it Phil Jackson is listening. I love you, man. And I am really as saw his his ability to get a very disparate group of people together. United he talks about having superstars and role players in the ability to harness the power of their minds and their spirits and bring them together. He’s the best.

Jeremy Weisz  47:55  

Who else? I mean, you obviously coach Kathy.

Laura Barnard  47:59  

Yeah, well, this is when I’ll go back to my I just two weeks ago, now that we’re back in the Chicago area, reconnect with my high school basketball coach. His name is Steve burrows SIPE. I played at Hinsdale Central High School western suburbs here. I haven’t seen the guy in 20 years. He texted me, because he’d heard we were back in Chicago, and he said, both his daughters are playing at University of Chicago. And that was pretty awesome. He’s like, you want to come to the game on Sunday? The girls are his daughters are playing I just like, you know, I met when the girls were babies, right, you know, newborns and just to see he’s still connected to the game his daughters are playing at the collegiate level. He really prepared me for it from a from a mental toughness perspective, from a physical toughness perspective, from kind of that the grit hard work. You know, we are a scrappy team in high school we didn’t score a lot of points but the opponent scored fewer points. So really, it’s like this idea of like a just team defense mentality. And he he I told him this like, once I played for Steve gross and his his he would be known to have anger management issues like blurt out or yell or smack his, you know, his clipboard or toss a basketball right? I was prepared for any sort of adversity in the professional world because I’d been through the gauntlet with that guy. So he made me tough, helped me sort of see the potential in myself and to kind of see it full circle that his daughters are playing in college is pretty cool.

Jeremy Weisz  49:29  

I love it. First of all, are thank you everyone, check out Thanks for Thanks, everyone.

Laura Barnard  49:36  

Thank you so much, Jeremy. It’s great to see you.