by: Scott Goodson

A few years back, I met Denise while she was running marketing at Sony USA. We had just started StrawberryFrog USA, and she was one of the first people I called. We had won the AIWA business out of our StrawberryFrog Europe office, and the head of marketing for Sony (AIWA) Europe gave me the introduction. Denise was incredibly nice and helpful. For this I am eternally grateful (it all comes around right!).

Since then we have stayed in touch. She decided a couple of years ago to start her own national brand consultancy and has been most helpful for us. She is a very bright spark, driven, experienced, and equally nice and fun - which in this day and age isn't typical. For this I thought it would be fun to do a Lunch Time chat.

Tell me about your life?
I was born in St. Louis, MO, but consider myself a California girl since I’ve lived in San Diego for over 10 years now and consider it the closest thing to heaven on earth. I’m not being falsely humble when I say my life has been pretty boring – there haven’t been any freak accidents, rich uncles, or transformative experiences to speak of in my life. I guess one highlight is I danced with a professional ballet company for 9 years when I was a child – oh, and I was a pom pom girl in high school.

Tell me about your career?
My first “official” job was working as an ad sales rep for my university’s newspaper, The Daily Northwestern. I loved the combination of business and creativity that the position required. My first 2 corporate gigs were with Spiegel catalogs and Jack In the Box restaurants where I did stints in research/analysis and product management. 

The power and success of the Jack campaign at JIB led me to pursue positions with advertising agencies in New York, first with Ammirati Puris Lintas where I worked on Burger King, Unilever, and a host of other accounts, and then with Grace & Rothschild, where I headed up account planning and worked on Land Rover and some corporate businesses. 

Integrating my experience in analysis, product management, and creative strategy, I went to head up Sony Electronics’s first ever brand practice – I also was the marketing lead for different SBU’s at various times during my tenure there. 

Four years ago I decided to resign my post and become a “brand as business” consulting partner – I now help companies operationalize their brands to grow their businesses.

Great people and work?
I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the brightest people in the business – it would be hard to name just a few. 

Great work, though, is easy – I have to give it up for Nike. They’ve truly fulfilled their mission (to bring innovation and inspiration to every athlete in the world) in so many ways. From creative executions like their “morning after” spot (at the turn of the millennium) to Nike+, it’s clear they understand the heart and soul of their people.

Greatest lessons?
It’s not about me.

Stuff no one knows about?
If I told you, then it wouldn’t be stuff no one knows about.

The future.....where's it all heading?
I subscribe to the theories put forth by Neil Howe and William Strauss in their books such as Generations and The Fourth Turning. They describe a recurring cycle of spiritual awakenings and secular crises that have taken place in America from the founding colonists through the present millennium. The current generation of “Heroes” are changing the economic and cultural landscape through social entrepreneurism and boundary-less experience – I’m excited to see it all unfold.

What defines you?
I’d like to think my faith defines me; but if I’m honest, it’s probably a combination of my faith and my work.

What are you up to now?
Working, writing, and worrying about slowing metabolism.

Who are your heroes in life?
Don’t know if I have any – I greatly admire my mom, who worked full time at Monsanto chemical company, raised 2 children, got her MBA, learned Japanese, and took care of our entire household all at the same time; but I don’t think she was ever truly happy – I’m trying to live my life with lessons from hers in mind.

5 yrs from now?
Republicans will re-take the White House (after losing it this fall), Google’s acquisition of Yahoo! will be old news, and we’ll look back wistfully on the days when gas was only $4/gallon.

Who will survive and thrive?
Authentic companies, brands, and people

Who will die?   
In 5 years, most major airlines, makers of high fructose corn syrup, and wi-fi service that you have to pay for will be gone. Eventually everyone/everything else will die, right?

What are the greatest challenges for the ad/marcomms industry?
They’re the same as for the brands we work on – relevance and differentiation. 

We must continue to make meaningful, compelling connections with people – and I’m not talking about media strategies. I mean we need to create engaging experiences. We should always ask ourselves, “Why should people care?”

And we must demonstrate the unique value we contribute – our role as an industry is clearly unique (we shape culture, we lubricate the engines of the economy, we enable people to self-actualize – how many other industries can make such claims?!); and each of us should contribute something uniquely valuable to the organizations we serve (for example, I know the last thing the world needs is another brand consultant – that’s why I’m not one. Instead, I am a brand as business consulting partner. That is, I don’t simply develop brands – I operationalize them in order to grow businesses. And, I don’t simply consult – I partner with my clients to identify what needs to be done and then I do it.)

How else can we be authentic and credible resources for relevance and differentiation?

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