In celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, we sat down with North Kitsap High School grad-turned powerhouse entrepreneur, Lindsey Carnett to talk big vision, real challenges and the power of giving back through business. Formerly a star NKHS soccer player, Lindsey left Poulsbo in 2001 to study Spanish and Communications at California Lutheran University, where she became Captain of the women's soccer team. Fifteen years later, Marketing Maven, the company she founded in 2009, has been named to the list of 'Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America' by Entrepreneur Magazine, and named one of the fastest growing PR firms in America by O'Dwyer's PR. With roots in Kitsap, Marketing Maven has grown to be a multi-million dollar bi-coastal operation, with a staff of 20 and offices in Los Angeles and New York. Just the kind of story we love.
Vibe: What inspired you to get into marketing and public relations?
LC: It was in high school, when the North Kitsap Herald and the Kitsap Sun covered my fundraising efforts surrounding a trip to China to pay soccer. The donations rolled in, and I discovered the power of publicity. In college while working three jobs, I earned a Wall Street Journal article above the fold on a Monday morning for a tech client of mine. I'd done it from my phone, while en route to a soccer game. I knew I was skilled, and this career would allow me to travel and give voice to those who wouldn't have one otherwise.
Vibe: Marketing Maven is celebrating its 7th year in business. That's an exciting accomplishment. What are some of the things you've achieved that you're most proud of?
LC: I am most proud of my staff. We have grown together in the growth of our skill sets. It has come with a strong investment in leadership training, tactical skill development in analytics reporting, and embracing and licensing cutting-edge technology. I am also thrilled when Marketing Maven is the game-changer for our clients. Maybe they are trying to get a product into retail and need to show consumer awareness, maybe it's a non-profit where we support them in raising the final dollars necessary to serve people in need. Or maybe its the exposure that will convince the investment community to take a tech start-up seriously enough to invest. That's what excites me the most!
Vibe: As a human, as an entrepreneur and as a business leader, how does the environment that you're working in impact you and the work that you do?
LC: I am a big advocate for working in an environment that makes you thrive. The right environment can inspire creativity, improve focus or cultivate collaboration. I see the environment impact my staff in the same way.
Vibe: Tell us about the clients you take on. What makes them stand out from the crowd?
LC: The clients we serve are entrepreneurial, and many of them share our same core values of being 'trailblazers who get shit done'. That helps us see eye to eye. We give a voice to the underdog, and we measure everything we do via analytics.
Vibe: Marketing Maven has made a name for itself by giving back to the community. Tell us about some of the causes that you support and why you've made giving back a priority.
LC: We've supported an organization called Casa Pacifica for the last four years. It is an organization that helps behaviorally challenged youth in our area. We also support the Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Alzheimer's Foundation and It Starts with a Girl, an all-girls school in India. Clients where we have donated additional pro-bono hours include nonprofits, WaterAid, Up2Us Sports and Back on My Feet.
Vibe: Talk to us about how you keep your team excited and inspired. What makes Marketing Maven a great place to work?
LC: We celebrate client campaign wins as they happen and more formally on a monthly basis, awarding the team member with the most significant media placements earned for clients that month. We also have a quarterly team-building event. Some of the activities we've done together include painting night, kayaking, bicycling, BBQs at the beach, comedy shows, a holiday harbor cruise and climbing to the top of the sand dunes to watch whales in Malibu.
Vibe: Marketing Maven Public Relations is headquartered in Greater Los Angeles with offices in New York. What's your take on remote working, and juggling teams and partners that are located around the globe?
LC: Since 30% of our business is international, I love having a team that covers so many time zones. We have identified very good communications practices to help us talk regularly as a team. It requires more effort to schedule, but the constant communication really makes the distance work to our advantage.
Vibe: How do you think Vibe Coworks will change the world of work for local creatives, entrepreneurs and remote workers in Kitsap and beyond?
LC: I think Vibe Coworks is a brilliant idea for Kitsap County, and will open up more opportunities for people without having to commute. Vibe will improve efficiencies, and give employers more confidence in allowing their staff to telecommute from a more professional office environment. I think it will also help more revenue stay in Poulsbo by giving local businesses more customers throughout the day. And I think Kitsap residents will experience less burnout from commuting. It might even afford people from Kitsap higher incomes, if they are able to work for bigger, better companies that they wouldn't have considered applying for before, due to the long commute.
Vibe: What are the biggest challenges that you face as an entrepreneur, and as a CEO?
LC: As an entrepreneur, the challenges is always having your hands in too much: being the janitor, the sales rep, the customer service rep, accounting and everything in between. Over the last 7 years, I've had formal training on how to work on by business, not in my business and that has helped me get the right people in place. Right now I am focused on strategic growth over the next 5 years. What market sectors to capture additional market share, what services to expand, what new services to offer, what technology to license.
Vibe: What are you passionate about, beyond work?
LC: I love mentorship. One of the most rewarding experiences I had was working with aspiring medical professionals at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, helping them to improve their communications skills. It is rewarding to me to see what people I trained are doing now, where they've been and to hear how the advice I gave them has helped them succeed in their careers or life journeys. I have also lectured to Entrepreneurship majors at California Polytechnic University and was thrilled to hear their questions and see how they benefitted from the information I shared.
Vibe: What's the best piece of advice that you've been given and repeat to others?
LC: If you like what you do and are good at it, you won't work a day in your life and the money will come.
Vibe: What's your favorite thing about the Pacific Northwest?
LC: The strong sense of community, and the way that people are authentic and genuinely care about one another.
Vibe: In your opinion, what is the future of work?
LC: It will be a more regulated work environment due to HR laws about when you can and can't contact your employees. Each business will need to be very clear about their communication mandates, working overtime, and what that means in terms of electronic communications and response times.
Vibe: Anything else you'd like to share?
LC: I think it's very important to remember that a company culture or work environment is anything you make it. Vibe Coworks is a clean slate, and it is up to the people there to shape the overall feel of the space. It isn't just a building that makes the community--it's the people!