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Build Like a Woman.

Being a female entrepreneur and business owner is no piece of cake—between breakdowns of all magnitudes, funding struggles, burnout, a pandemic, and anything else the universe throws their way. But with the right guidance, support, and a heavy dose of empathy, you can Build Like a Woman with intention and firepower.

Another accidental, but, probably highly intentional happy accident. It was meant to happen. It was meant to be in the world. I just didn't know it at the time. Like all good things, there's a greater plan than one that you could devise for yourself.

Kathleen GriffithOwner of Grayce & Co


A Bright Future Ahead for Female Entrepreneurs with Kathleen Griffith

Katie Hankinson (00:02): Hi, I’m Katie Hankinson.

Mickey Cloud (00:04): And I’m Mickey Cloud, and welcome to Building While Flying, a new podcast from the Sasha Group, where we interview business leaders about how they tackle challenges, stay resilient and navigate ever changing skies.

Katie Hankinson (00:22): Welcome to this week’s episode of Building While Flying. My guest today is Kathleen Griffith. Self-made entrepreneur, female founder and a leading women in business. She is founder and CEO of Grayce & Co which helps Fortune 500 brands speak and market authentically to women, and is also the founder of Build Like a Woman, a global platform, providing inspiration tools and community for women to rise and thrive. Welcome, Kathleen.

Kathleen Griffith (00:52): Thank you for having me, excited to be here.

Katie Hankinson (00:54): Yeah. Excited too. Let’s first of all, talk about how you came into this space. What’s your journey been to bringing you to set up Grayce & Co and then Build Like a Woman? Talk a bit about being an accidental entrepreneur, which you mentioned to me when we first met.

Kathleen Griffith (01:10): Well, I did a bout a 10 year stint in advertising, traditional advertising, working at a lot of the big shops; Ogilvy McGarry Bowen, Saatchi and Saatchi Deutsche. And I had the nagging little girl inside of me from the time I think I was seven, eight years old. I was always trying to sell things. So when I was little, I had a snack attack pack and was trying to sell that at school in between classes. And as I got a little bit older, I had various businesses that I grew up friends into. Was constantly trying to sell something to someone. I love the chase of building and selling. And so, I eventually experienced what I call a breakdown, the best possible kind of breakdown.

Kathleen Griffith (01:59): I just had this nine little baby entrepreneur inside of me that kept screaming to come out. And so I decided to make the leap. And I founded my company named after my grandmother, Grayce, who was a little tiny, mighty woman, 80 pounds soaking wet, who ran a one room school house on the prairies of Regina, Saskatchewan. Grades K-12. So she held down all those grades and had five kids. And I just figured if she could do that, I could certainly do this. So Grayce & Co was born. And that was really just the beginning.

Katie Hankinson (02:38): Absolutely. Well, as someone who is speaking to you from a company that is named after a family member, as I’m sure you know, we’re named after Sasha Vaynerchuk, I think that’s so fantastic to memorialize your grandmother. And so you’ve been going, how many years was that?

Kathleen Griffith (02:56): Will be seven years in July.

Katie Hankinson (02:59): Oh, amazing.

Kathleen Griffith (03:00): July 14th. Yeah. A big day.

Katie Hankinson (03:03): And so you’re working currently with a lot of Fortune 100 brands and 500 brands specifically around marketing to women, but there’s also a sort of meta-story in the sense that you set up, Build Like a Woman. So talk a bit about how that journey happened from setting up your consultancy to realizing what the opportunity was for this community.

Kathleen Griffith (03:27): Another accidental, but, probably highly intentional happy accident. It was meant to happen. It was meant to be in the world. I just didn’t know it at the time. Like all good things, there’s a greater plan than one that you could devise for yourself. But we did, for Grayce & Co, like you said had an ambition to work with the biggest best brands in the world, and wanted to work on brands that were really committed to driving change for women, for female consumers. That’s our day job is strategic consulting, brand strategy, go to market. Have a lot of fun doing that, get to wrestle with really meaty, big questions. What does the future of X look like over the course of the next 10 years? Go solve that, go figure that out.

Kathleen Griffith (04:21): And we love that, but one of the things that happened naturally just through the general process of me building my own business is you learn how difficult it really is. And I tried to find an entrepreneur in my family who I could go and talk to as I was scaling Grayce & Co. And you have various inflection points in a business as you continue to scale where you want to be able to turn to people who have experienced. And I couldn’t find a single entrepreneur. We’ve got a lot of teachers and artists and doctors and lawyers, but no one. I even went further back in the family tree to try to find someone and no entrepreneurs at all. So very much on an Island. And, couple that at that moment in time with lots of founders reaching out to us who wanted to hire Grayce & Co. Couldn’t necessarily afford us, they weren’t a really big brand and they didn’t have the budgets.

Kathleen Griffith (05:17): And so I said, “What could we do to democratize our agency services and bring them to bear for more women who want to start a business?” But do that not just with the functional nitty gritty pitch stacks and PNLs and forecasts and marketing plans and all the unsexy stuff that we know we need, but carry that with the emotional challenges of being on an Island and being exceedingly lonely as you climb and build.

Kathleen Griffith (05:47): And so, I tend to give my team time off in August actually to just work on creative projects and usually they can work on anything they want, and it’s paid time and we just come back and have a group share. But this one particular August, I said, we’re all going to focus on trying to democratize what we do in consulting for small business owners, women in particular. So, Build Like a Woman was born.

Katie Hankinson (06:14): Amazing.

Kathleen Griffith (06:15): So again, another just really magical, I say you have to follow the hot cold, I was following the heat. Blood sniffing bulldog.

Katie Hankinson (06:29): Are they called the bloodhound?

Kathleen Griffith (06:32): Bloodhound, thank you. Yeah, exactly. Just like following the heat of where to go next.

Katie Hankinson (06:38): That’s awesome. And it works. It’s such a nice compliment to working with the big businesses and brands themselves to be looking at how do you create the next generation of those entrepreneurs and help to lift them up. And let’s hope that having not been able to find any entrepreneurs in your family tree, you are the first but long new lineage of self-made entrepreneur.

Kathleen Griffith (07:00): I hope so. I’m going to force my daughter into like a show mom. The actresses, or like… My daughter’s going to be an actress, a stage mom. I’ll probably end up doing that, but on an entrepreneurial front.

Katie Hankinson (07:15): She’s going to be bringing out the snack attack pack, 2.0. I can imagine.

Kathleen Griffith (07:18): Hopefully she’ll have more friends than I did.

Katie Hankinson (07:26): Well now, entrepreneurial-ism is baked into… it was actually happening on Tik Tok. She’ll have plenty of friends out there doing it

Kathleen Griffith (07:34): Yeah.

Katie Hankinson (07:35): So, we’ll come back and talk a bit about Grayce & Co and what drives the day to day. But I do want to spend a good portion of time talking about Build Like a Woman in that, I think a good portion of hopefully the people that are listening to this podcast are women at various stages of founding or growing a business. We think about what’s happening today, where at this point where the pandemic has impacted the economy a ton, decimated to business.

Katie Hankinson (08:06): But actually, it’s so well-documented that women as well as people of color have been disproportionately affected. But even before that, some of the stats, only 2% of women owned businesses broke the $1 million mark compared with almost 4% of businesses owned by men. You sit at the thick of this now. How do those numbers look today? What kind of conversations are you having? And what do you see as the challenges and opportunities that the community that you’re curating right now is discussing at this point in time?

Kathleen Griffith (08:41): Yeah. I love this question because the conversation has historically been for good reason, a quantitative one where we’re making the case at how disproportionate things are. And also, how capable we are as women to be leaders and business owners and feminine attributes are great, and here’s how they perform on the stock market. And that’s important. I was just speaking, we were doing Davos virtually this year, and we were talking about gender parody. And traditionally last year was 200 years until we reached gender parody. Now it’s 260 years. Latest McKinsey report came out and said, one in four women is considering downshifting or leaving the workforce entirely. We had close to 900,000 women leave. So this is unprecedented. It truly, quantitatively is unprecedented. We’re back to the 1980 levels. But what I’m trying to encourage everyone to do is to not get lost and depressed in the data, because it does paint a very depressing picture.

Kathleen Griffith (09:50): But I think when you look at women small business owners in particular, the flip side of only getting that 2.2% of venture capital, which is important and needed and necessary, and incredible women are working on that. Like Karen Kahn of IFundWomen. They’re just incredible women who are taking that issue on a new from female founders fund, et cetera. But most women, two thirds of women, bootstrap their business and have historically.

Katie Hankinson (10:22): I love this conversation.

Kathleen Griffith (10:22): And so, not much has actually changed in that regard. We didn’t really have the capital before, and we don’t really have access to capital now. So not much has changed there. For those who do get some funding, the remaining 20 or so percent tends to come from friends and family. What I am encouraging people to think about is I think the silver lining in this time, is we’re going to see businesses born out of this time. We’re going to see businesses pivot in really interesting ways because women are used to running and operating very nimble businesses that don’t have a lot of funding that don’t have a huge runway. And so they’re very capable of pivoting. And, as I look at the women that I speak to, for example, I was just talking to the two female founders of a brand called Sunny. And it’s designed to take on lunchables actually, they want to disrupt the better for you category. There are two moms and decided to go and build this company during the pandemic.

Kathleen Griffith (11:35): We’re fearlessly now saying, “It’s now or never. Let’s truncheon.” I’ve got another incredible founder who we love Sarah, who started a company called Y7, which is yoga and hip hop. And just this really dynamic cover of Inc magazine, 80 fastest growing company in the US just like this dynamo. And she’s totally pivoted her business from physical spaces to now going online. And she did it, she had to lay people off, which obviously was difficult, but has now found a way to reimagine her business. And so, I think that’s what we need to focus on, is like what can we do? What’s within our control? And lean into those things. We’re actually very naturally equipped to doing.

Katie Hankinson (12:22): Yeah. I think that’s a such a key point. I know we talked a little bit the other day about this. The idea that there is only one monolithic way to start a business. Especially the last few years where it became such a rote story that you got institutional investors, they went to venture capital round. You gave where a chunk of equity of your company and then you had a big cash injection that you could spend to do whatever those early round efforts were, is kind of no longer an option for so many companies.

Katie Hankinson (12:55): And the ones who are able to immediately think about the fact that there are other paths to winning then going down that classic, the formula that was made famous by Silicon Valley, but definitely not the only way. It opens up the assumptions a little bit and gives you a new set of horizons to look at. I know you talked a bit about break down. You almost started from a point of tension early on your business. I’d love to hear a little bit firstly, about your story. And then tell me a bit about that philosophy that you have about how a breakdown with a big or a small bee can help push you in new directions.

Kathleen Griffith (13:37): The break down. The sign that you have done everything wrong up until this point. No, to me, the profound reframe in breakdowns is this is happening for me, not to me. So there’s a great Marcus Aurelius quote, you are here for my benefit, the rumor may paint you otherwise. And that is the essence of a breakdown. So I’ll define what I mean here. Breakdowns are defined in two ways. And me and my team talk about it all the time, you’re welcome to run. We’ve talked to Samsung about it, but it was that important because we didn’t have a way to talk about all of the challenges we were facing.

Kathleen Griffith (14:24): And so we just needed a quick shorthand to be like, big bee breakdown, little bee breakdown, big bee breakdown. All we know what that means, as a team with our clients, et cetera. Big bee breakdowns are those outside forces, those a cataclysmic life events, those traumas that blindside you out of nowhere.

Katie Hankinson (14:42): Like coronavirus.

Kathleen Griffith (14:43): Coronavirus. Hello, pandemic. Yeah. This is a year of a lot of big bee breakdowns. Losing the funding, all of a sudden your funder for your business pulls out. Finding out that your husband has been cheating on you for the past three years, unbeknownst to you. Losing a loved one, someone just dying. So those life events that literally break you open, like bring open the chasm of your entire being. And then these little be breakdowns are usually internal forces. So it is the knowing. It is the pebble in the shoe. It is this feeling that something isn’t quite right. You are not fully in alignment with yourself. And usually this comes from when we are not fundamentally living the life, pursuing the joy, seeking that out in the way that we were intended to. So this is usually your spirit talking to you saying, “Knock, knock, knock. You’re not where you’re meant to be [crosstalk 00:15:50].”

Katie Hankinson (15:50): Something’s got to change.

Kathleen Griffith (15:52): Something is got to change. And so this could be feeling like where you’re working doesn’t quite feel right. And yet you have the traditional markers of success. So, you can’t quite make that out. This could feel like you’re stepping into meetings and you’re not able to express yourself. You feel like you don’t have a sense of personal voice, but you don’t quite know why. You just can’t be motivated to hit the gym, even though you want to be healthy. So big bee breakdowns would all be breakdowns. And I think the interesting thing is the size of the breakdown is in direct proportion to the size of the breakthrough that is coming. So I’ll say that again, the size of the breakdown is in direct proportion to the size of the breakthrough that’s coming for you.

Kathleen Griffith (16:37): Actually, if you can reframe and say the bigger the breakdown, the greater the breakthrough, it changes everything because you know like an arrow is meant to be pulled backwards before it shoots forward. The more you’re getting pulled back, the further you’re meant to fly. And the other interesting distinction we found is, so much pain and suffering comes from not accepting life on life’s terms. It’s the struggle of resisting what is, it’s resisting the breakdown, whether it’s big or small. And what we found is that the more you can just accept it, it is what it is and surrender and give into it. The faster the breakthrough also happens for you. So that struggle where we actually find a lot of suffering.

Katie Hankinson (17:29): So a lot of it is embracing your inner stoic ally Marcus Aurelius. But then I think, in a year of big breakdowns in the form of good Lord, like one thing after another, that’s been really thrown at people in the last through 2020 and now into 21. What are a couple of examples, it could be on your own side or potentially someone you’ve coached through, that showed kind of big break down into breakthrough?

Kathleen Griffith (17:59): Big breakdowns. So 2017, I don’t share this often, but I think it’s important in context. 2017 flying high business, doing exceedingly well. I was in a relationship with someone who unbeknownst to me was keeping a very dark secret. That was not something I wanted to stay around for. And so in the course of a day, I moved out, I packed up my things I left my home. I decided to leave my home that we shared together and moved in with my parents, which in your 30s is not something that you ever envisioned for yourself in your life. And as part of that really had to make, I was not capable at that time, it was such a big bee breakdown that I could not function and run my business. And so I considered shuttering it at the time and really crawled my way into bed.

Kathleen Griffith (18:59): Just felt like I needed to spend a few months in bed, just nursing myself and reaching out to friends and family and mentors, and eventually was able to get back on my feet with bigger priorities and goals. But I think that was an example of, I truly had to give into that particular breakdown. In terms of a little bit breakdown, when I started Grayce & Co, our ambition was always to work on brands that wanted to reach and serve women exclusively. I did not want to work on Gillette men’s razors. It just did not interest me at all. And yet that was a lot of the business we were getting initially.

Kathleen Griffith (19:36): So that was a little bit breakdown where each time I said yes to something, I felt like I was compromising. It was maybe not in a category I wanted to work in. It wasn’t exclusively focused on women. And so eventually we got to that place where we pivoted from general market work to really focusing exclusively on what is now our more niche specialty. But at the time that was hard. It wasn’t that big of a deal, but I needed to pivot the business. It was not in alignment for me as a person.

Katie Hankinson (20:11): Yeah. The brilliant thing about that, I love that as an example, because small bee the stone in your shoe, really feeling a niggle that you weren’t doing the right thing. And actually you made a decision about focusing your business on the female market, which was so far ahead of where actually a whole load of marketing need then swung, that it ended up. You were riding the crest of a wave as people suddenly realized that actually this is a gigantic share of wallet, but if you’re not targeting it authentically, you might be in trouble.

Kathleen Griffith (20:45): Right. What is it? What are we, 80% of [crosstalk 00:20:49] brands don’t understand them. Oh, is that a little bit of a problem considering we’re the greatest consumer purchasing force on the planet? Oh, okay. We might want to pay attention to that.

Katie Hankinson (21:01): All right. So let’s talk a bit about that. Obviously within Grayce & Co you’ve spent the last seven years really honing those skills of how to reach, what is not one monolithic cohort of women. And, we’ve come a long way hopefully since the 1940s in advertising to housewives. But, we also have things like that Peloton ad, which felt a little tone deaf, so it’s still definitely happening. But, what are the shifts you’ve seen that you were at the head of the curve on, and how are you advising brands and businesses? Thinking that there are probably a number of brands that we’ll be speaking to that are seeking to target differently and in a more insightful way. What are some of the rules of thumb that you’re really trying to drum home still today?

Kathleen Griffith (21:52): Well, I think to your point women are multifaceted, multi-dimensional, multi-agency. And so, we are so incredibly varied and there is not a one size fits all approach, obviously. And we are really defined, in many cases by a set of paradoxes. So, there are these dichotomies and paradoxes that define us. We want to be sexy, to your point about, how do you commodify without commodify… but we don’t want to be sexualized. So it’s these very interesting tension points that really require a female lens. They require women, which is why we’re such big proponents. Even when working, when we work with other agencies is we need other women on the team. We need women who are strategists and creative directors and actual directors, and sound assistants and everything all the way on down through the supply chain.

Kathleen Griffith (22:54): It’s just so important because miss by an inch, miss by a mile. But what we’re seeing in the here and now, which I think is interesting as it relates to COVID times is normally we’re three to five years out. So we’re doing more future focused planning and goal setting. Right now we’re just about managing the now. So it is moment to moment. We are managing the now and clients have really, really taken that on and understand. We just need to focus. That’s where we need to focus right now. Is, it’s darkest before the dawn. And we just need to continue keeping our eye on the horizon for now.

Kathleen Griffith (23:37): The three key areas of what we’re seeing in terms of female consumers. One is burnout, no prize, but there’s just a profound sense of burnout taking on how shores, caring more for the family, mental, emotional, just a whole lot of mental issues, mental health issues. So we’re seeing that. And a lot of what was repressed, but always there is now being immersed, surprise, surprise. So that which was always, women have been sitting on a lot. And what we’re seeing is it’s now really just bubbling to the surface, which is fundamentally a good thing, but makes for a very uncomfortable conversation between, how does a brand insert themselves in that in a way that feels honest and not intrusive either.

Kathleen Griffith (24:36): The second area we’re seeing a lot of is more ownership. So women are really taking on this identity of building their own brands, building their own IP, their own content, their own thought leadership. And they’re wanting to take that back from others if they had given it to others. So there’s really this idea of, let me maintain my own IP, let me maintain ownership. And let me actually start to now flex in the world and share my broader opinions, thoughts, feelings, et cetera. So everyone has a microphone, not just the influencers anymore, which is really interesting.

Kathleen Griffith (25:12): And then the third is just a broader release. There’s a profound release and women just turning away from what they aren’t aligned with anymore and turning toward what they do value and feel is aligned with their personal values. So, I think we’ll be seeing more and more of that in the years ahead. This accelerated what was already happening, right?

Katie Hankinson (25:40): So much so. I agree. I think I loved what you said about defined by paradox, because I think there’s always such an interesting conversation to be had when you’re in that contradictory space and you recognize and understand that people can be contradictory and you can still speak to them in a way that is interesting. So each of those three things, I guess, where that takes my brain is it totally is bubbling up women, everybody but women, especially moms who are dealing with having to work, having to deal with the kids everything’s at home, all the rest of it is just.

Katie Hankinson (26:20): And there’s also permission to let it out because the conversation has taken us there with me too. And with many of the other conversations that are now happening in a more public way. So from a brand perspective, what advice are you giving? I’m assuming it’s about empathy hugely and letting people have their space versus hammering your own message on top of them presumably.

Kathleen Griffith (26:47): That’s exactly right. I won’t recruit you, no. That’s exactly right. It’s just be as human as humanly possible a brand can be. Be it be a human brand and with as much empathy and hold as much space as you can. We’re also having a lot of conversations with brands because we tend to work at CEO or COO top to top level about the org. So we’re doing more and more thinking around making sure the house is in order, making sure that everything that we’re espousing in market, the expectation of transparency has never been greater. And we say this year after year after year, but you can’t have a group of women in your organization saying they’re not paid the same or they were looked over for X, Y, and Z promotion. It just doesn’t fly anymore. So, we’re using some of this time to also do a bit more of that work, that housekeeping work. So everyone feels like there’s no skeletons in any closet.

Katie Hankinson (28:03): Yeah. I think that is possibly the most important thing to have come out of this phase, is where businesses have taken the time and the opportunity to do some self reflection and to see whether they truly are walking the talk or whether they’re just using words that can’t be backed up because everyone can smell that now. It’s so obvious now that you can see every access point of a brand. Actually, I think talking about some of the optimism with which you were talking about what’s to come, that is such a great little sign of positivity that the brands that are really going to come out of this swinging of the ones who have done the housekeeping, are living their values and have attracted a whole bunch of really values aligned people in doing so.

Kathleen Griffith (28:56): Right. This is a time where we have to look at what we can uniquely control, and there’s so much that is wildly out of our control right now. And so, going inward, literally in bed and really just thinking through, what can I build? What systems can I build within my company? And we’re advising small businesses to think about this too. It’s not a great time to be trying to get PR or being out in the world. What can you create? Do you want to work on writing your book right now that you actually have the time and space and capacity for? Your systems, your legal representation, figuring out who your dream team is, networking with people globally that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to. But right now it’s the norm to jump on a Zoom with someone in Dubai or Japan and that’s okay. So think about your supply chain and working that a bit more internationally, we can really take inventory and there are things that we can focus on.

Katie Hankinson (30:07): The other thing I would say, and you have shown it throughout this conversation too, is what going back to what you were saying about big bee it’ll be breakdowns. I think that’s so much permission now to be vulnerable. And especially if you’re a small business or a founder of a small business. There’s a chance to just be quite transparent about the experience that you’re having now, because that in and of itself is an expression of empathy because everybody else is having a similar ride. So, having rather than trying to polish something up, that’s excessively packaged. There’s a real value. And it’s actually easier in some ways to do the bare bones. This is me storytelling around how it is to be running a small business in today’s times.

Kathleen Griffith (30:56): That’s a great point because part of the founder burden, and especially for women founders is you’re constantly operating on a razor’s edge. You don’t have much in the bank. You’re [crosstalk 00:31:09] trapping, you’re using your savings. You’ve got a small business loan. And so you’re constantly worried about maintaining payroll and making sure that you’re able to pay your suppliers and whatever it might be. Managing your inventory. And yet you have to project this image of everything being perfect. You’re the next grade upstart, you’re on the cover of Ford’s, you’re taking on the world.

Katie Hankinson (31:36): Totally.

Kathleen Griffith (31:36): [crosstalk 00:31:36]. I think that’s actually a beautiful insight that to me, one of the greatest Achilles heels we have is we don’t reach out and share what’s going on and ask for help. And it does provide some air cover for that, because you’re universally experiencing the exact same things at the exact same moment in time as exactly everyone else.

Katie Hankinson (32:05): Which is actually in and of itself mind boggling. I sometimes stop and think that, and I’m just like, “Oh my God, everyone on the planet is having this collective experience.”

Kathleen Griffith (32:13): And never again, hopefully will it happened again, but that’s right.

Katie Hankinson (32:21): Amazing. So I’m going to ask a couple more questions. One, is a big future one. What are your future predicts? You touched a little bit of on this before, but what are your predictions for the future coming out of the pandemic, especially for female owned brands.

Kathleen Griffith (32:40): We are going to get through this. We are nearly there. This is not going to last forever. This is very soon going to be in the rear view mirror. So my prediction is a lot of women are going to stay in the game and not give up. Because that’s what we do. And that’s why I’m doing stuff like this. Because it’s hard for all of us, but we need to just link arms and keep getting up and stay in it. So one is, I don’t think we’re going anywhere. But two, I think there’s going to be clicking into a six gear. I think we all as leaders, all of us, regardless of what you’re running are finding that there’s another gear we have. And we know when we are like, I hate the term lean in, but you do know. You know when you are about ready to face plant.

Kathleen Griffith (33:35): When you are all out in your leadership, you know it, you feel it and others see it and feel it. And so I think that commitment to lead is going to be different. I think for a long time, we had been waiting for others to come and save us. And I am guilty as charged. I kept thinking, whether it’s a relationship or in business, someone’s going to come. I just tap dance enough and I’m good enough and smart enough and this enough and that enough, and someone’s going to come and help figure it out for me. And it’s, no one is coming to save them.

Katie Hankinson (34:15): We’re going to save our motherfucking selves.

Kathleen Griffith (34:18): Save ourselves. And I do. I think that is the next hundred years Jedi council. And I think we’re getting to that point. The breakdown is so fundamental that that’s where we’re going.

Katie Hankinson (34:34): Okay. We’re going to revisit this conversation three years time when the roaring 20s are well underway and we have three giant unicorns from women owned businesses in the offing. And the last question I have for you is, really about the fact our podcast is called Building While Flying. So the whole metaphor obviously is about being able to stay the course, but still be able to flex. And so just on a personal level, what are you Kathleen’s core values or what skills are you tapping into to enable you as a business owner and founder to adapt while still growing your business and brand.

Kathleen Griffith (35:11): To build while flying I do my day, first and foremost. So doing my day means maintaining all of my rituals, exercise, meditation, journaling, all this stuff before I even get to sitting in the chair. And then two is keeping my eye on the horizon while not looking down. You will look down you’re dead.

Katie Hankinson (35:38): You’re looking at the destination versus the potential chasm below, I think very wise. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us.

Kathleen Griffith (35:47): Thank you. I loved your questions.

Katie Hankinson (35:49): More to come. No doubt. Well, now that we’ve finished that thoroughly interesting interview, we’re getting ready to land, but before we do Mickey and I spent some time unpacking some of the key takeaways that really stuck out to us.

Mickey Cloud (36:04): We liken this to the post game show where we break down the really extraordinary nuggets that we can all benefit from, including us here at the Sasha Group. So get ready for it, the Sasha sidebar. Katie, what a fascinating, awesome, awesome energy you got to some depths with Kathleen. That was pretty great.

Katie Hankinson (36:28): Oh, that was all Kathleen. She’s absolutely marvelous. We had a great chat. And just what a story she’s done just so much over the last 10 or so years of building her business.

Mickey Cloud (36:41): I think for me, what I love, just what I took away and it’s something that like I want to immediately start using is just the language that she and her team uses around breakdowns, big B, little B. And I think just the shorthand of that, being able to communicate with a team, “Hey guys, I’m having a little bee moment. I’m going to be back in 30 minutes. I got to go take a walk.” Or, “Hey guys, I had a big B. I’m going to be offline for the rest of the day.” And just being able to communicate what does that mean? And I just love the language of that. And then the broader, the deeper profound thing that she talked about of where breakdowns happen for me, not to me. And that perspective on what can you gain out of it? What perspective can you gain? What benefit can you get from something that throws you a big curve ball in life?

Katie Hankinson (37:32): Yeah. I thought she was incredibly generous in sharing her own experience and the big bee that she experienced really just led to bigger and greater ambitions to her as a business leader. And also the idea of just defining that little been as like the little stone in your shoe niggle. And it really reminded me actually, the conversation we have with Kathi Sharpe-Ross who was saying the same thing, her angle is more about reinventing yourself. But that itch, that niggle is the thing that sparks it. So super interesting, the idea of those niggles becoming a drive to problem solving, which becomes an idea or a new step forward.

Mickey Cloud (38:13): And I think that ties into the other thing I want to bring up, which was this concept of Build Like a Woman where it came out of the fact that she gives her team time off in August to pursue personal projects. And they all collectively decided that they didn’t see a network for women entrepreneurs to connect on the check-in side of things, the mental health side of things. The, how are you doing side of things? And so they started that seed of idea led them to building, the concept of Build Like a Woman.

Katie Hankinson (38:49): Yeah. I think it’s you see this happening across other businesses. I think Google famously began this idea of giving employees time to pursue their own objectives or projects. But I think the fact that simply creating that time and space gave them the opportunity to build essentially a really fantastic companion piece to the core business of Grayce & Co. And just something that acts as a beacon for female entrepreneurs that really explores how to build and think really practically about how to grow a business. I thought it was a really great example of just creating different places and perspectives and opportunities to innovate.

Mickey Cloud (39:36): Yeah. As you said, she was very generous, I think from both a practical business advice and learnings that she’s had along the way, but also on the personal side of the depths of which she has reinvented or built out of some tough times.

Katie Hankinson (39:55): And also I like to underscoring the fact that women are the greatest purchasing force on the planet. And made some really good observations about just how to think about not only marketing to women, but supporting women in business.

Mickey Cloud (40:13): Yeah. 100%. Beyond purchasing, but also just the combined force that goes beyond, in terms of business building, in terms of opportunities and careers as well. So yeah, I think underscored quite well there. So what question would you ask Katie to our audience?

Katie Hankinson (40:34): I think my question’s going to be about big bees and little bees. Share your examples. What has been the stone in your shoe that has caused you to think of something different, think something differently or come up with a new idea. And maybe what have been those big bees that have caused you to pivot or change. After all, that’s what so much of this podcast is all about.

Mickey Cloud (40:58): Thanks for joining us again and for Building While Flying with the Sasha Group today. I hope you learned as much as we did. We’ll meet you right back here next time for another flight. If you’d like to hear more about how business owners and brands are navigating these times, tune in to the next episode. And if you’re so kind, please rate and review us. Plus we’d love feedback. So let us know what you think, what you’d like us to dig into next on Building While Flying across brands, businesses, marketing, and more.

Katie Hankinson (41:24): This podcast is produced by the team at, original music by Fulton Street Music Group.

Welcome to Building While Flying! 

This weekly podcast is brought to you by the Sasha Group. We’re the small-to-medium-sized business arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding media and marketing.

In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild;  building the plane while flying.

Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together. 

Kathleen Griffith’s path to entrepreneurship was full of “happy accidents.”

She says herself in her conversation with Katie: “There’s a greater plan than the one you can devise for yourself.” Her hunger for entrepreneurship appeared in childhood. It eventually led to her founding Grayce & Co, an agency which helps Fortune 500 brands speak and market authentically to women, and Build Like a Woman, a global platform providing inspiration, tools and community for women to rise and thrive in all aspects of their businesses and lives.

In their conversation, Kathleen and Katie dive into the realities of entrepreneurship for women. They share some staggering statistics—like how two-thirds of women bootstrap their businesses—discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected women, how “Big B” and “little b” breakdowns impact your business, and the importance of empathy in your marketing approach. Kathleen also shares some signs of optimism and opportunity for women entrepreneurs coming out of the pandemic. This is just the beginning; we’ll be seeing a lot more if her predictions are on target!

If you’re feeling inspired after listening to this episode of Building While Flying, here are some ways you can support women-owned businesses:

  • Shop from women-owned businesses.
  • Tell your friends and family about your favorite women-owned businesses.
  • Follow them online to hear more of their perspectives. 
  • Share their content. 
  • Check on your business-owning friends. 
  • Ask how they’re doing and how you can support them.

Other in-flight topics:

  • How Kathleen started her businesses
  • Surprising stats about women-owned businesses
  • Challenges and opportunities for women entrepreneurs
  • How breakdowns lead to breakthroughs
  • 3 key patterns we can see in female consumers
  • The best advice for brands on marketing to women
  • The future of women-owned businesses post-pandemic

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