Consider the Wildflowers

042. Brittany Thoms: How to tell a Great Brand Story.

April 27, 2023 Brittany Thoms
Consider the Wildflowers
042. Brittany Thoms: How to tell a Great Brand Story.
Show Notes Transcript

What do Nike, Chick-fil-A, and John Maxwell all have in common?! Her name is Brittany Thoms. She’s the co-founder of PR agency See. Spark. Go and today’s guest on the show! From big brand PR to launching her own outsourced marketing firm, today’s guest has been helping companies tell great stories since 2007. From shifts in the marketing landscaping, the rise of social media, and building a team of 30+ employees, today’s interview is full of incredible insights not only into the marketing landscape of 2023 but building an incredible team. With too many takeaways to pick just one, it was Brittany’s reminder that the core of great marketing is about telling a great story—that truly stuck with me.


Brittany Thoms (00:00):

We kind of get that and that if you're not excited, you're not invited mentality. And so feeling a sense of appreciation that we get to be on the field playing the game and not sitting on the sidelines. There's always somebody on the sidelines ready to take your job. Always. And so you have to appreciate it. It's a thankfulness, it's a posture of gratitude.

Shanna Skidmore (00:22):

You're listening to Consider The Wildflowers the podcast, episode 42. What do Nike Chick-fil-A and John Maxwell all have in common? Her name is Brittany Tom. She's the co-founder of PR agency C Spark Go, and today's guest on the show from big brand PR to launching her own outsource marketing firm. Today's guest has been helping companies tell great stories since 2007, from shifts in the marketing landscape, the rise of social media, and building a team of 30 plus employees. Today's interview is full of incredible insights, not only into the marketing landscape of 2023, but building an incredible team with too many takeaways to pick just one. It was Britney's reminder that the core of great marketing is about telling a great story that truly stuck with me. If you dig professional bios, here goes Brittney Thoms is the co-founder, president and publicity Maven behind public relations firm.
See Spark Go. She began her career in fast-paced agencies promoting national accounts through entertainment and sports related events with a desire to return to the city that captured their hearts. Athens, Georgia, Brittany and her husband Andy founded C Spark Go in 2007. Her strategic thinking and creative enthusiasm influence all of Cspr Goes clients. She serves as a board member for Eagle Ranch, break into business and advises several other nonprofits on a regular basis. Okay, formal introductions over, let's dive in. Hey, it's Shannon and this is Consider the Wildflowers, the podcast. For the past 15 plus years, I've had the honor to hear thousands of stories from entrepreneurs around the world. As a former Fortune 100 financial advisor, turn business consultant, I have a unique opportunity to see the reel behind the highlight reel. I'm talking profit and loss statements, unpaid taxes, moments of burnout, and those of utter victory.
Or as my husband says, the content everyone is wondering but not many are talking about. And now I'm bringing these private conversations to you. Hear the untold stories of how industry leaders, founders, and up and coming entrepreneurs got their start, the experiences that shaped them and the journey to building the brands they have today. Stories that will inspire and reignite encourage to redefine success and build a life and business on your own terms. Welcome Wildflower. I'm so glad you're here, Brittany. I am very excited to have you on the podcast today. Thank you for coming on and I can't wait to hear your story. I'm just so curious to get to know you because you are friends with one of my best friends. So welcome. Thank

Brittany Thoms (02:47):

You so much Shanna, and I'm excited to get to know you as well. It's always fun meeting fellow female business owners in Talking Shop. One of my favorite

Shanna Skidmore (02:55):

Things, I know it's one of my favorite things too. I used to joke, if I could just take women a coffee and talk about life and business, could that be my job? And it sounds like we're kind of kindred spirits in that and did that. Yeah. Tell me that quote you mentioned right before we hit record. Cause I resonate with it so much.

Brittany Thoms (03:12):

I do pr, that's my profession, but I love the business aspect. I love building a team and a company and thinking about growth. And David Sells who's famous former C M O of Chick-fil-A said one time business is my sport. And I said, I'm adopting that. Yeah.

Shanna Skidmore (03:31):

Oh, that's me too. I was

Brittany Thoms (03:32):

Never athletic as a kid. I danced and played the piano, but business is my sport. So here we are.

Shanna Skidmore (03:38):

I know I can't, let's play ball, let's talk to business. I love what I get to do every day because I think I just have this God-given love of business and entrepreneurship. And so anytime people are like, I want to start a business, I'm like, okay, let's go. Let's make the plan. Let's make it happen. I just, I'm grateful to get to talk. I was telling you, I've done this now for 15 years, 10 years having my own business in 15 years in finance. And it's just been really neat to see if somebody has that entrepreneurial spark to run with it and what the freedom it can bring. So with that said, tell me about you, Brittany. How did you get started? What were you doing before launching your company? I want to hear just the backstory.

Brittany Thoms (04:24):

Yeah, I would love to share that. And one tidbit just on finance and business as it relates is that most people don't either are naturally gifted in what I'm going to call human resources or the people skills of starting a business and growing a team. And then other people are really good at finance and modeling and keeping the books and things like that. And so you're either one or the other. I think. So I was really blessed that I started Cpar Go with my husband Andy, and he is kind of naturally finance minded and I have an incredible love and appreciation for finance or finances, some people would say. And so I understand it and I'm numbers oriented, but just really glad that he was gifted in that. And his father-in-law was, my dad was a former C F O and had built and sold companies before and just was really had a knack for modeling and projections and helped us think through so many things in the early years and still to this day. So I'm glad that you're helping people do that. It's important.

Shanna Skidmore (05:31):

It truly is. And like you said, I'm not gifted at so many things about business, but my brain just works and it clicks with the modeling, the forecasting, the strategy of business just comes naturally to me. So it is such a gift to help people who are really gifted at their craft, whatever it may be, who don't necessarily love the number side or the finance side. I think my gift is kind of simplifying something that can be very complicated and it's such a gift to be like, now I'm sure you feel this way, Brittany, now you feel empowered because of the help with your husband and your father-in-law now and can make strategic decisions in growing your business. And that's what I think the true gift of a C F O type role is.

Brittany Thoms (06:15):

Absolutely, it is. It's remarkable what that empowerment can do just from understanding the numbers side of the equation. It just adds so much value. So yeah, I'm glad that you exist and that you're doing this and that you've been pursuing this for 15 years now. Congrats.

Shanna Skidmore (06:34):

Thanks. Okay. Tell me how you got started and what you're up to and all the things. Take me all the way back.

Brittany Thoms (06:42):

Okay. All the way back. I'm a graduate of the University of Georgia Go Dogs, back to back national champions, you know, can't start a call out saying that these days and super happy that we get to live in Athens, Georgia. So my degrees in public relations, I started out working for a really fun agency in Atlanta. It's actually morphed and rebranded and sold by then, so nobody would know about it now, but it was called Leader and they did a ton of marketing for General Mills and Nike and Motorola and DirecTV. And so I got my start on just big brand pr. Really, really, really loved my job and loved what I did and loved the people I worked with. I learned so much from them. I actually sat randomly, I worked on the West Coast team, but in the East coast office, so they put me in a little corner by myself.
Nobody puts baby in the corner, but they put me by myself with the finance team. And so I learned a ton those years at Leader. And when I met and married my husband in 2007, we said part of it, he was a pastor and had planted, done a church plant out of Johnson Ferry Baptist in Marietta all the way up in Acworth called Cedar Crest. So he's working Sunday through Thursday. Startup church life. Yeah, I'm working Monday through Friday on a West Coast team. So we're like, wait a second, we're six months into marriage this. We're like ships passing in the night. This is not the abundant life that we were kind of aiming for. And so six months into marriage, we both quit our jobs and said, well, I'll freelance as a publicist, I love what I'm doing. And felt like we had a few opportunities to do some things like that.
And then Andy said, well, he, he's got this knack for business strategy and finance and operations we talked about. So he's like, I'll consult. And we really just took this leap of faith in 2007 and moved to Athens, Georgia because we're like, we're both gre, this is our alma mater, let's move to our favorite place. We can do this from anywhere. So we moved to Athens and we literally thought it would just be a two year bridge, like a tax shelter to allow us to do some freelance and consulting work to figure out then what was next. So that was 2007 and then, yeah, now here we are 16 years later, so I can't wait to tell you all about that.

Shanna Skidmore (09:05):

So did Cpar go start? Wait, in 2007 did you start with this business?

Brittany Thoms (09:13):

Started with this business.

Shanna Skidmore (09:15):

Okay. And then was your husband involved from day one or was he pursuing his consulting business? Tell me about that. So

Brittany Thoms (09:23):

He was involved from day one, but we had very separate roles and very separate things. And so when I say Cpar go, that was always our DBA a, our official name is Spark Consulting Group, L L C. And so our Spark Communications group, I even, I said it wrong, but we never used that, never used that terminology. It's al always cpar go. But we just thought, like I said, it would be a tax shelter for us to just both do our own things. And it turned out that similar to what you said about your husband too coming on that this was just we were onto something. Yeah. I tell people all the time, if you do a really great job with whatever's in front of you, that's going to lead to opportunity to do more really great work. And so we did that intentionally. We just served our clients well.
We had some awesome clients at the very beginning. My old agency contracted us out, so that was fun. We did PR for a book launch, which books are not my favorite thing to do PR and if you're looking for a book publicist, I have some great recommendations. What else did we do? We did a laser range finder. We helped a branding company in Atlanta called Matchstick. Still good friends with them to this day. They've been a symbiotic relationship and partnership of ours and they were five years ahead of us in business. And so it was really fun for us to tell their story and then also to learn from them and their model and operations. And so that was just kind of early years projects, project based work. And then it was really 2009 when we hired our first employee, Lauren Carnes, who you and I share connection with.
And that was kind of this aha moment that we needed to put all of our eggs in telling brand stories and telling the best stories in the world we were blessed to get. We opened every Nike store around the country for eight years until 2016. So 2008 to 2016 we opened all these Nike stores TA told stories about Nike Run Club and athlete appearances and sponsorships and so many fun things. So big clients. It was still my background, right? Big client PR and big brands and we're just spread and we've had just great client stories all the way through these past 16 years.

Shanna Skidmore (11:46):

That's amazing. My curiosity is getting me, first of all, you worked with Nike. I still use Nike Run Club to this day and I love it. Yeah, I love, I always say I, I'm a runner at heart. I will never be fast, I will never be, but I just truly love to run. It's so stress relieving for me. So that's so fun. How did you get connected with these big brands and how did you come up with your packages and offers and pricing because you're just, I'm sure making it up as you go, but

Brittany Thoms (12:20):

Yeah. Yeah, I mean it really is helpful to be cash flow positive from day one. So we've never been in debt and that's been a huge blessing, but it's all relationships. And I had been telling this story of the Nike 5K for Kids for Leader for years and is a traveling race series that gave back a hundred percent of proceeds to the PE program of your choice Target audience then was elementary aged mom. And so I learned a lot. I really cut my teeth doing NPR for Nike. It was 2008 that Sea Spargo had kind of taken flight, but we were just humming doing this project based work. Didn't really know a whole lot about the viability of our business, but Nike, one of girls that I had worked with at Nike World headquarters in Portland called me and said, Hey, we're we're going to rebrand all of our stores from Nike Town to Nike brand experience stores.
And I was super excited about that, but I felt a little apprehensive because I had this relationship through my former agency. And so I called and we actually took one of the owners of leader to dinner and said, do you mind, may we pitch this? May we have this opportunity or do we have your blessing? And he said, yes. He said, go for it. Yeah. So we are really thankful for that and I tell people all the time, relationships matter above any, that's where true wealth is. True wealth is relational and not monetary. And so we have really guarded our relationships over the years, but we were given the blessing to pitch Nike and did so flew to Portland and they picked this little sea spurt go out of Athens, Georgia. We assembled a team quite quickly after that and we got to work and we did some really great work for them for eight years. And similarly work being relational, one of the contacts that Nike in Portland that had hired us, she had moved on to Columbia Sportswear. So in 2016 we got the phone call to start working with Columbia Sportswear and opening all of their stores and working specifically in their factory channels.

Shanna Skidmore (14:30):

Brittany, so this is blowing my mind because marketing is something, PR is something I'm so interested in, but it's my lane is in the finance world. And so tell me, would you mind sharing, what are some of the things that are included with the work that you're doing? Are you doing branding, store launching logos? I mean what anything? What is

Brittany Thoms (14:56):

All involved? Anything for a bot? All

Shanna Skidmore (14:59):

Of the above.

Brittany Thoms (15:00):

No, I'm kidding. That was actually something a mentor of mine said. You just kind of take a lot on at the beginning and there's so much you can do with hustle and heart when you're passionate about client work and client services, their mission becomes your mission. But I will tell you how we broke our services down and how they evolved over the time, over the years. So we started out traditional media relations. I was a publicist, that's what I knew how to do. I wrote press releases, I called media outlets, built relationships with producers and journalists and editors and writers and said, how can this story that I'm telling serve your audience? At the end of the day, I'm still selling in a story. So it's still I say is still sales, it's just not transactional. So I've got to find the compelling hook or the newsworthiness, what's inherently newsworthy about this story and tell it to a journalist in a way that's going to help them do their job better.
They are aided by really quality PR people. There's some people that just mass pitch and see what sticks, throw stuff against the wall. But we really took a targeted approach of finding the right journalist for the right story and building that relationship. So that's all we did our retainers, we kind of worked on a retainer model, that's what I knew at Leader. So everything was kind of replicated from their model. So we started at anything from 2,500 to 5,000 a month, which was a good chunk of change for a small business. But I think it also propelled us to say we started with Nike retail, so we're not chunk change and and we do know what we're doing and we've been at this for a while and I am the most passionate person you'll ever meet to tell your story. Yeah, I believed that about myself and I told Andy every time I'd go to, that's my husband's name, every time I would go to a client meeting I would say I want to work for them.
And then I'd go to the next client meeting and say, I want to work for them. And my purpose that my aha moment at that point in time was, this is great. I'm so glad we get to tell all of these stories because I would work for all of these clients and yet I get to see glimpses of each one of them and then help parlay the learnings from this one to that one. So when you hire agency, you're getting this wealth of experience team, but you're also getting a look under the hood at all of these other brands and so it helps

Shanna Skidmore (17:29):

You. Yeah, that's how I feel about the work I get to do when you work with, I mean at this point, thousands of businesses. I get to see this under, like you said, under this hood peak and you take that from client to client to client to student to student student. So I love that so much. And so it just started growing from there. Did your services offers start to transition?

Brittany Thoms (17:51):

So it was maybe 2010 or 2011, I'll have to go back and look that we offered social media as a service at this point. Social media consisted of Twitter and Facebook, and I had actually watched the team at Nike launch these Twitter handles for each store. And I thought that's a really great way to do Twitter, is to be community specific. That's changed since then. But we started doing social media for some fun folks like the John Maxwell Company and Canna Cook Camps, and we had some really fun clients come to us through the years. Chick-fil-A was the title sponsor of Chick-fil-a leadercast, which is a business conference, much like Catalyst conference or others that you may be familiar with. And it was all just about it all business leadership principles. And so we did the social media for that for four or five years. And so we dabbled, we, I would say dabbled, we dove headfirst into social in that 2010 to 2015 era.
And now that is 50% of our business is social media and content creation and then community management. That's the other part that I think a lot of people forget about is when you have a big brand and a large audience, you have to manage that community and host them well. Yeah, social media is social, so you're looking for brand storytellers even in those arenas where you get to be the journalist. And then in 2017, we added paid social media or paid digital services, also some Google AdWords, some programmatic advertising, some paid placements in print and online and billboards and outdoor. So we really now to, at this current state 2023, we have owned earned and paid media strategists. And so anytime you leverage cspr go, you can leverage us for one or all three services. But we work really well in symbiotically and we've structured the company in a really cool way where we're matrixed and people just have such crossover and healthy crossover so that nobody feels like they're on an island and a client benefits because they have a team. It's essentially an outsourced marketing department.

Shanna Skidmore (20:07):

Yeah. Oh my goodness, I'm eating this up so much, Brittany. Okay, there's, I've been jotting down

Brittany Thoms (20:14):

All her secrets because

Shanna Skidmore (20:15):

I know there's two things I wanted to ask you that as you've talked. My first is, will you talk about the shift in your business model PR with the rise of social media?

Brittany Thoms (20:32):

Yeah, I mean it changes every day. That's what the crazy thing about social media is that it became, the news cycle is always 24 7. And so we always thought PR was kind of hard in that way, but social takes it to a whole new level. I mean, you could have a firestorm at 10:00 PM on a Saturday night and that I do think that people are just more accustomed to letting the news cycle run its course and whatnot. But it definitely changed our business model and thinking and how much time it takes to create content, how much the monitoring of 24 7 monitoring, how do we service that well and really take care of these clients? So the shift to social was, it was good, but it was the whole industry as a whole was shifting. So we weren't having to shift without everybody else shifting as well. Yeah, so I say that because we had a social media manager and one of her responsibilities for the whole team was trend spotting and algorithm changes. And so if there was a change on the horizon, she stays on top of it and lets everybody know this is what's coming down the pipeline. Let's be first to market or let's watch this trend and see how it takes in the marketplace and then we'll decide whether or not we want to implement it. Yeah,

Shanna Skidmore (21:51):

That's so interesting. Yeah, social media, I remember, I guess it was 2013, I started an Instagram the same year I started my company officially and it was just pictures of my dog and where we were going to dinner. We were living in Savannah, Georgia at the time. So it's gorgeous. It was never for marketing. And then just now it's a huge shift and in good and bad ways for small business, especially with social media. But I also, Brittany would love for you to talk about the growth of your team and how you've done that over time because that is a gifting in and of itself I think to grow, manage, run a team. And so I would just love to hear how that's gone for you, what's gone well? What are challenges you've run into with growing such a large team?

Brittany Thoms (22:44):

Yes, growing a team is the best part and the hardest part. And I do think you have to decide like, Hey, is this what I'm called to do or am I called to just do the work? And so there, there's so much to unpack in that I'm looking at a chart of our growth since 2010. And so 20 10, 2 employees jump ahead. Four years, 2014 we had 10 employees, 20, 18, 19 employees, 20, 23, 34 full-time employees. So it definitely grows over time. And as you know, need drives vision. My friend Eddie Stop says that need drives vision. And so as we would uncover these needs that clients would have, we would find the right expert for that niche. We hire really strategically on four Cs, character, competence, chemistry and calling. And the reason those Cs are important, actually Lauren car's shout out to her. She was this person, we used to have just the three character competence in chemistry and we were like, she's the best first employee ever anyone could ever ask for.
And she had high character. We trusted her implicitly. She had high competence. She was a very accomplished writer and communicator. She had great vision. She loved the clients well and treated them with such tremendous care. And she was a fun person to work with. She had great high chemistry, even helped us onboard new team members in our internship program and was fantastic. But then she was called to go somewhere else when her husband went to medical school in Augusta. So we added this fourth sea of calling because you're calling can change and it's just what drives you and what you're passionate about, what you want to do, what you're in the best position to do in that season of your life. And so people can have high marks of character competence and chemistry in their calling can still be not right now or not in this season. And so those, that's how we've always hired and that's what we've always looked for in people is are those four Cs and that's how we've grown the team. But yeah, it's not for the faint of heart and it's been challenging.

Shanna Skidmore (24:52):

Yeah. Would you say Brittany, is that now managing and running the team as the president of the company? I mean is that primarily your role, what you're overseeing? Are you still able to work with clients? How has your role shifted as the team has grown?

Brittany Thoms (25:12):

So I tend to be a serve in the role of coach and a little bit of a mentor, but also still heavily involved in the business development and the strategy work. So you wouldn't want me in the weeds of execution in the early days when I had way more time, great. I would grit my teeth and get in there and make it happen. But now I can see so much from having 15, 16 years of experience at cspr go and 20 years overall that I can see so much about what could work and what could be possible. And so coaching my team and letting them think bigger and think outside of their four walls is my primary job. And then helping clients do the same, especially potential clients. So that's where I sit. We have a director of human resources, she's great and she really kind of shepherds a lot of the day-to-day issues. Management then things, she's a confidant for the team, it's great. My husband is super gifted like former pastor, so he has a huge heart for everybody's personal journey and helping them grow as leaders and individuals. So that's really how my role has changed. But the way that we manage that, the teams is we've broken into smaller teams. I'll tell you this Shannon, because it's pressing and pertinent in the here and now. For us, we we're really latching onto this idea of a two pizza team. Have you ever heard of a two pizza? I

Shanna Skidmore (26:37):


Brittany Thoms (26:38):

Okay, you

Shanna Skidmore (26:38):

Should be so intrigued.

Brittany Thoms (26:40):

A team should be small enough that you can serve them with pizzas. Everybody can be full and happy with two pizzas. And so if a team gets too large where that's not possible, then people get, and it's not intentional, but a little bit lazier, they kind of rest on like, oh, somebody else will do that. Roles aren't super clear. Things can get muddy. But when you have a two pizza team, you have to be really intentional about, okay, this is what I'm accountable for and I'm accountable to you internally and I'm accountable to the client externally. And even if you have multiple clients, that two pizza team can really do some remarkable work. So in 20 17, 5, 6 years ago, we matrixed the organization where we created these vertical teams that were comprised of all three of our service areas, owned, earned and paid media strategists. And so what that created was a little bit of a small business within a business.
So our goal is to grow a fourth and a fifth. Right now we have three group accounts teams and we'll add a fourth later this year. And then right now our business strategy is still super organic. So whatever come, whatever the word brings us is what we end up attacking. And we don't go out and knock on doors and say, can we serve you? We're not putting ads out for our services or anything like that. And I think that that's important because it keeps us focused on doing great work. If you are campaigning for an elected position, then you spend half your time campaigning and half the time serving the public. And so we just wanted to take an approach of where we're spending a hundred percent of our time serving our clients. And if other people hear about it and we do a really great job, then we'll take on more and we'll find the right team to support it.

Shanna Skidmore (28:28):

I love this so much. I just feel like Brittany, my mind just libel moment because in the early years of my own business, that was very much, we just, I feel like found a niche. The Lord really blessed it and you just show up and do great work for people and then there becomes this moment. And I remember it when I worked in finance too. I always used to say, when everyone could be your client, it becomes hard to rest because you're always campaigning how you said that you're always bidding for business. That was something I disliked in the finance world. So recently with the shifts now we run so much in education, it's kind of that way again, almost every small business could be our client. And so I love just getting back to the heart of showing up well for your clients and the word will spread and trusting that I feel like I needed to hear that today.
Thank you for sharing that. There you go. You're welcome. Cause you're welcome always campaigning. You work in PR and marketing every day so you understand how important it is for brand and audience growth, but it is exhausting to always be campaigning and bidding for business. There's something I talk about in my work and it's called Defining Your Enough. I say it's place where abundance and contentment meet and I rest in that financially what is enough. And I think I've set that for myself coming from the hustle culture of finance and sales where it's like you can be excited about more but rest in enough. And so I come back to that with, oh, that's so good. I feel like so many amazing nuggets you have shared. I want to talk to you and so much more. Thank you. What would you say, Brittany, that you have done well or has gone well? I would love to hear one or two things and that you feel like have gone really well. And then if you wouldn't mind to share what are two, one to two things that were bumps in the road or things that you had to maybe learn the hard way?

Brittany Thoms (30:26):

Yeah, I think we have done well at the enthusiasm and the passion part. We kind of get that and that if you're not excited, you're not invited mentality. And so feeling a sense of appreciation that we get to be on the field playing the game and not sitting on the sidelines. There's always somebody on the sidelines ready to take your job always. And so you have to appreciate it. It's a thankfulness, it's a posture of gratitude. And I think we do that really well and have done that really well. I think what we haven't done really well is we love so hard and so much, it's not a bad thing necessarily, but they say hire slow fire fast. And we've done the opposite. We've had to hire really fast and we've fired really slow. And that comes with some hard knocks and some lessons learned over time.
That, and what I, I've come to realize SHA too is especially in building and growing a team that if somebody isn't the right fit for your team, that's okay. It's doing them a disservice to keep them in a role that they might not be thriving in a hundred percent of the time. My friend Tyler says, you know, better come and tell me that your calling has changed before I have to tell you that your calling has changed. And I thought that was really good. That was a nugget for me years ago that if somebody does need to go work somewhere else, that that's going to be best for them and it's also going to be best for you. So the people side and just managing right fit, right time, right place, season, all of that stuff is okay to struggle with, but it's also something that you just need to be really mindful about making the right decision first and then not having to suffer some consequences of making the wrong decision later.

Shanna Skidmore (32:18):

Yeah. Well that's so good. Hiring, growing a team, it's not easy. It can come with so many blessings for you and for the team members, but yeah, I know it's not easy. I've had a large team in the past and wrestled through, so thank you for sharing that. I would love Brittany, I love talking to everyone about how growing a business in different seasons of life and you have an even unique perspective because you work with your spouse. I do too. But I would love to hear what does it look like in your family dynamic to run a business together? I don't know what your family looks like if you have kids or

Brittany Thoms (32:58):


Shanna Skidmore (32:59):

What would you say? I call it work life harmony. How do you find that harmony of work and life? Has that been easy? I'd love to care about it. No.

Brittany Thoms (33:10):

Yeah, I mean I think we wear our hearts on our sleeves for sure. And I'm not a very compartmentalized person, so you're going to get all of me in every scenario of every arena of life. And so my husband, well, we have two boys, they are 11 and 14. My youngest, my 11 year old put up a pseudo lemonade stand in our backyard. We live on a golf course. And so we live on a tee box actually. And so my 11 year old and two of his buddies set up a lemonade stand and they're, instead of lemonade, they're selling that prime energy drink. And so they had several buyers, they made $35 in two hours and they were super excited, but their cost, they spent $45 on product. And so we had a great lesson, but we talk about business principles, we talk about all of the decisions that we make at work, our kids know all of it. And I think that's great for them. I'm excited to see what they end up doing. I think they have completely different passions and interests and even skillsets. And it's a always amazing to me that they came from the same two people. My oldest can be shy and I tell 'em all the time, I'm like, do you know who your parents are?
You can't be shy. But we celebrate how they're different and we celebrate their strengths and what makes them unique. And so I think that, you know, just run after it. Would they tell you that they love that their parents are married and business owners and business partners? There's definitely been times where they don't. If work is stressful, we bring that home and we are trying more. So in the last three or four years as we're kind of entering these teenage years to start tabling a lot more conversations at home and just saying, we're going to have to day date and we're going to have to have more carve out, more intentional time for, let's call 'em executive conversations. And so we're a struggle and it's not something we've excelled at. But then as they get older, I think we're doing better than we ever had before. And teenage years are important years to be focused in on their them and their lives and where they're at. So that's what we're trying to do right now. Yeah.

Shanna Skidmore (35:27):

Have you, Brittany, put in place any, benchmarks isn't the right word, but have you put any boundaries in place or anything that you feel like has worked for your female? Okay, we always do dinner together or no matter the busy day, we always take Fridays off or I don't know, has there been anything like that? And I'm sure it's changed throughout the years that you feel like that was a win and worked really well.

Brittany Thoms (35:51):

I have so many things about this, yes. Well, early on, and like I said, I've gotten from other people too, don't travel more than four days a month. We've rarely even traveled four days a month. But try to keep that boundary in place as much as you can. We have dinner as a family around the dinner table, no less than three times a week. And with sports, I think that's pretty good. Yeah, sometimes that looks like Saturday morning breakfast. But we work really hard at having table time and table conversations. Even our family likes to watch TV together and so we watch The Voice and other different network television shows or Netflix series that are kid appropriate. It's hard to find these days. And so we love doing that, but we just love snuggling up together, the four of us. And the other thing I think is important too is kind of those executive conversations are day dating.
It's important for Andy and I to do a 24 hour overnight somewhere once a quarter. And I just think that that makes us healthier as a married couple and as parents. And that was something we didn't have early on, but some people modeled that for us and we're like, that is a great idea, even if you, if you need to go rent a hotel room and down the street from you, but you need to get away with your spouse for 24 hours. And so the way we do that now is we drop our kids off at school on typically a Thursday, and this is just once a quarter, so it's not often, but we'll drop 'em off at school on a Thursday. We might take one or two conference calls, 9:00 AM or 10, 10:00 AM and then we are off to Highlands, North Carolina. And then we spend 24 hours from noon to noon doing no work, not talking about the kids, we're just being present with one another. And then at noon the next day we kind of start over and we get back in the car and head, head home and pick them up from school and talk, maybe have some work calls and check in with the team after that. But those 24 hours are sacred. And I just think it speaks to Sabbath in general. We all need that. Yeah,

Shanna Skidmore (38:04):

Well that's so good. We love Highlands as well. I feel like I totally went off script with you and I just asked all the things because I'm so curious. And I have one more I want to ask you before we go into kind of a quick fire round. So you've been in business for 16 years, you work with your husband, you have two kiddos, 30 something plus employees. How do you handle seasons where you feel tired, burn out? How do you maintain that enthusiasm? I love how you said if you're not excited, you're not invited, but you can't feel that way every day, I'm sure. So are there any things that you have that have helped you navigate seasons where it's a lot. It is just a lot.

Brittany Thoms (38:51):

I used to tell people this. I would just go to Target. That was my therapy. If I needed to just decompress or think about something for me, I just needed to walk up and down every aisle at Target. I don't do that nearly as much as I did when my kids were toddlers, but that was literally such a therapeutic release for me. But soul care is important. If you don't finding rest and recharging and finding those enjoyable things, they can be active. You could go on a hike if that recharges you, if nature being outside recharges you, going, even going to the gym, I know people that is their rest. And if Rebecca Lyons wrote a great book, rhythms of Renewal, I think that's a fantastic resource, especially for women who are looking to do that. But then you need safe places to talk and to just vent, especially if you work with your husband, God forbid.
But those safe spaces are wildly important. And if you don't have them, then you're going to burn out. Yeah, there's two little word illustrations to that. One is nascar. If you think about a NASCAR race and going around and around the loop 90 miles an hour all the time, you've got to pit stop, you have to change the tires, you have to fill with gas. And all of those things are so important. And the other one is just downtime in general. I mean, our screens are 24 7. There's a stat, I think 92% of Americans have their phone within an arms length twenty four seven, twenty four hours a day, never without your phone in sight. And so we've got to put that down and just find those pit stops. But people matter in talking it out with someone who's not involved matters. So if I'm a big fan of counseling and just find a great, great person for you, there's all kinds of counselors out there. Andy and I both have a great Christian counselor that just helps us navigate thoughts and emotions and feelings and go on a retreat, learn about you. My thing is know how you're wired and know what you need so that you can fill your tank when you need it. Yeah. You'll serve other people well if you do that. Yeah.

Shanna Skidmore (41:05):

Brittany, this is so good. Thank you for sharing just your wisdom and insight and your heart. I wish that I could just drive down Athens. I do need to take a trip to Athens. I have so many friends there. I love that town so much. So, and when that happens, I would love to, we'll grab coffee or something, but let's go into a quick fire round and I'm just going to kind of put you in the hot seat. I don't know if you've read these before, so I'm interested of your answers.

Brittany Thoms (41:30):

I'm thinking at them now, and I thought about this a little bit yesterday, so

Shanna Skidmore (41:34):

Okay, the first one always gets everybody. What is one thing that you would be embarrassed if people knew

Brittany Thoms (41:43):

I thought about this. I mean, I've had so many funny moments of tripped and fallen in front of influential people and made silly comments, things like that. We used to go rolling houses in Griffin, Georgia where I grew up, things that are getting caught. I think about those kind of silly things that we used to do. But I really think about this in terms of I've always had a little bit of a lazy eye. And what's funny about that is it has made me so self-conscious in times of my life and so angry that I even had this defect, what feel felt like a defect that I would try to hide it so much and I would almost stare people down, stare 'em in the eye and be like, I'm looking at you. Yeah, don't look over my shoulder and think I'm looking behind you. I'm looking at you. But it's made me very, a much more intentional leader. And I do, I stare people down in the eyes and I make sure that they know I'm looking at them. And so I think that that is just, I certainly embarrassed by it, but it's part of who I am.

Shanna Skidmore (42:49):

Yeah, I love that. Yesterday, I think it was yesterday, I was on a call with my mastermind community and I was like coaching this one of the students in our community. And I was like, oh, I can't hear you. I can't hear you. Is you're not muted. I don't know. And somebody in the group put in the chat box, they were like, Shannon, is your audio on? And my computer was muted the whole time and I was so embarrassed. I was mortified. And I just laughed because for me, everybody, if you get to know me at all, you'll know technology is my weakness. I am just like, I'm that person who's like, is your audio on? I don't know.
And I think that you're doing a great job. I think God uses what we would perceive as weaknesses or defects. I always say, I'm so hard for me, I think it helps me understand because that's how finance is for most people. True. It just doesn't click in my brain and I can't get it. And I feel like it helps me be a better teacher and leader cause I have something where I can relate. So yeah, thank you for sharing that. Yeah, so good to hear. Okay, second question. Do you have any regrets or wish you could do over moments?

Brittany Thoms (44:00):

I would do so many conversations over and just always think about the end in mind and make sure that that people know exactly how valuable they are. If I've ever had any regrets, it's that I didn't say enough or speak enough life into someone. And so I just want to be a person that always speaks life.

Shanna Skidmore (44:24):

Yeah. All right. Tell me about a big win or a pinch me moment. I

Brittany Thoms (44:28):

Have so many great wins at work and whatnot or at Sea Spark Go. But I love the fact that this is a fun little story that I got to do is I love makeup and all things skincare. I've just always kind of been a product junkie in that way. And so when I was working for Leader, we told the story of Danica Patrick's Formula One Race car. It was sponsored by Motorola. Motorola was our client. So we flew up to Chicago to do her satellite media tour and the makeup artist didn't show up Shannon. And so my boss asked me, he is like, Britney, go grab your makeup. And so I got to do Dana Patrick's makeup for a television appearance that

Shanna Skidmore (45:10):

Is so awesome as

Brittany Thoms (45:11):

Four year old. It was awesome.

Shanna Skidmore (45:13):

I life highlight right there.

Brittany Thoms (45:16):


Shanna Skidmore (45:17):


Brittany Thoms (45:18):

So funny. And I'm not a makeup artist by any means, so I did this very natural day-to-day look and she was like, I'm going on tv. Can you add a little more eyeshadow?

Shanna Skidmore (45:28):

You're like, ok.

Brittany Thoms (45:29):

So we had a good laugh about it later on.

Shanna Skidmore (45:31):

Yeah, that's so fun. What a cool life experience.

Brittany Thoms (45:36):

It was fun.

Shanna Skidmore (45:37):

Okay. Tell me about the best advice or just really good advice that you have received.

Brittany Thoms (45:44):

The best advice. I think Andy and I both received this maybe in 20 13, 20 14 when the owner of my previous company, this was not when we took him to dinner, but he drove to Athens and he just kind of sat with us over lunch and he said, there's no such thing as competition. And it was such a great phrase that stuck out with me. And I'm competitive from just a, I like to compete and I like to win, but the idea that there's enough work in the world for everyone, there's enough for everyone. And you winning in the marketplace isn't taking away from anybody else and everybody has this equal opportunity. And so I love this idea that there's no such thing as competition and I'm not competing with you. What if I'm running my race well? Does that make sense? Yeah. I'm looking,

Shanna Skidmore (46:34):

I love that. Looking

Brittany Thoms (46:34):

After to the right. And so that's probably the best advice we've ever received. Oh,

Shanna Skidmore (46:40):

I love that so much. So good. Okay. I think we all need to hear that. Yeah. Last quickfire question and then we'll send it off. What are you working on now or one resource that you would love to share?

Brittany Thoms (46:52):

So we have so many fun clients and so many fun things that we are working on now. I would love for people, if you are running a business or you have a great story to tell, or you are a marketing person kind of out there on your own and you need a team, I would just love for people to call us and say like, Hey, how can we partner together and tell these great stories and come up with big ideas? I love big ideas. And so I think that's the biggest thing that I would share right now. Today is Pie Day and one of our clients is Your Pie. And so go get a, nobody's going to hear this today, but next year go get a pizza on Pie Day from Your Pie and get saved $3 and 14 cents off your bill.

Shanna Skidmore (47:39):

That is so fun. I didn't even know it was Your Pie Day. We have a little calendar from one of my students called The Curious Year calendar, so literally when we stop recording, I'm going to go upstairs and say, see if it says Pizza Day and We Love Your Pie. Yeah. That's a national, it's a franchise, right?

Brittany Thoms (47:57):

It is a franchise. So yeah, if you want to franchise, if you are interested in franchising, I have about five or six opportunities for you, so please call me and I will point you in the right direction of the right franchise for you. The other

Shanna Skidmore (48:10):

Thing that You're like the hype girl.

Brittany Thoms (48:12):

I am the Hype girl. And the other thing I was thinking about this too, I really would love for people to find out about a o. It's one of our clients that we've done their PR kind of since inception or since they launched last summer, and RO is a piece of technology that helps you combat technology. So it's a smart home box that you put your phone in and it tracks how much time you spend away from your phone so you can compete with friends and family, but it also encourages you to habitually put your phone down and have it away from you so that you get more real life. I love S

hanna Skidmore (48:47):

That experience more real. How do you spell that? Brittany?

Brittany Thoms (48:50):

R o is spelled a r o. Okay. The website is go r, G A R

Shanna Skidmore (48:56):

Okay. We'll definitely link that in the notes. I love it. Okay, so much more we can talk about there, but let's send it off with Brittany. Going back to 2007, what would you tell yourself on day one of launching your business?

Brittany Thoms (49:14):

Don't sweat the small stuff and it's all small stuff,

Shanna Skidmore (49:18):


Brittany Thoms (49:18):

Good. That's say Rick Warren, but I still love it. Don't sweat it. It's okay. Hills are going to rise and fall and it's okay. Just keep doing what you know how to do the best next. Yes.

Shanna Skidmore (49:31):

Yeah. Yeah. That's so good. Thank you so much for coming on this show. It's like a little tease. I feel like I want to spend so much more time with you, but I appreciate your time today. Love sharing your story, and yeah, this has been great.

Brittany Thoms (49:44):

Thank you for having me, and it's so nice to meet you.

Shanna Skidmore (49:46):

Same. Hopefully we'll talk soon.

Brittany Thoms (49:49):

Yes ma'am.

Shanna Skidmore (49:50):

Hey, wildflower, you just finished another episode of Consider The Wildflowers the podcast. Head over to consider the wildflowers for show notes, resource links, and to learn how you can connect with Brittany. One final thought for today from Ira Glass. Great stories happen to those who can tell them. As always, thank you for listening. I'll see you next time.