In episode 51 of “How I Work,” host Josh Becerra interviews Colleen Kranz, a strategic marketing and growth leader. Colleen’s journey through her career is an inspiring tale of embracing resilience, cultivating purpose, and driving growth through meaningful connections.
How I Work, Episode 51 with Colleen Kranz
Colleen is a dynamic and innovative leader with a penchant for B2B technology brands. Her path to success is a testament to the pivotal significance of uniting innovation, personal growth, and a clear sense of purpose. In this episode, Colleen offers profound insights that underscore the impact of focusing on individual strengths and forging powerful relationships to achieve business excellence. Additionally, she provides a window into her esteemed list of thought leaders, bloggers, and podcasters who have significantly influenced her career trajectory. Plus:
- Balancing Passion and Career: The Power of Pursuing Interests
- The Concept of Building Your Second Brain: An Innovative Approach to Knowledge Management
- Navigating Uncertainty and Adversity: Prioritizing Mental and Physical Health
To learn more about Colleen Kranz and Catapult North visit: https://www.linkedin.com/company/catapultnorth/
Transcription: How I Work, Episode 51 (Colleen kranz)
Josh Becerra (00:02.702)
Hi everybody, this is Josh Becerra from Augurian and welcome to the next episode of How I Work. I’m super excited to have Colleen Kranz with me today. Thanks for being here, Colleen.
Colleen Kranz (00:13.533)
Oh, I’m so excited to be here. Thanks, Josh.
Josh Becerra (00:16.214)
Yeah, well, let me tell the audience a little bit about you. So Colleen is a dynamic and innovative strategic marketing and growth leader with over 18 years of experience helping to elevate B2B technology brands. Having honed her skills in a variety of roles from startups to 300 million plus corps, she’s known for her keen ability to navigate growth challenges and drive exceptional results. The founder of Catapult North.
She’s passionate about helping startups and solopreneurs drive smart, healthy, profit through purpose. Oh, and you’re also a big fan of aviation and sauna, and we’re gonna get into that in just a minute. So, excited to have you.
Colleen Kranz (00:57.506)
Thank you so much, Josh. And did I see that you just had a birthday recently? Did I see that? Oh, happy birthday. Yes. And for anyone listening, if you don’t already follow Josh on LinkedIn, you absolutely need to. Josh, your posts are really inspiring for marketers, of course, but really anyone would benefit from your content.
Josh Becerra (01:04.15)
Yeah, the big five-oh.
Josh Becerra (01:08.622)
Josh Becerra (01:20.826)
I appreciate that.
Josh Becerra (01:24.694)
Yeah, well, I think that your career and story is also super inspiring. I’m excited for you to share with the audience how you’ve woven together marketing and leadership, aviation, sauna. So why don’t you start by just telling the audience a little bit of that story and how like these experiences kind of weave together.
Colleen Kranz (01:45.41)
Absolutely, sure. So just to set the stage a little bit with my background, we’re gonna go a little bit further back here. I grew up on a hobby sheep farm in Southern Minnesota. And my parents were both leaders in our community. My dad was a lieutenant colonel in the army, worked in government logistics. And my mom led our church Sunday school.
Children’s Choir and was, if you believe it or not, president and founder of our local Goat Club. So why am I sharing that to set the stage? So as I look back, there are really three themes that were really shown to me growing up. And the first is if you want action, you need to inspire. So that was really plain to me. And then two, you really need to listen as much as you talk.
Josh Becerra (02:16.442)
Colleen Kranz (02:39.014)
I think there’s, as a leader, as growth builders, as marketers, there’s so much power in being able to truly understand and listen to our customers, to our stakeholders. And three, there’s really nothing that replaces hard work. And so as I look at how my experiences are woven together, those three themes really have stuck out for me in my early beginnings.
Josh Becerra (02:55.532)
I love it.
Colleen Kranz (03:07.074)
So as far as my beginnings in marketing, I really found my calling in marketing and communications in college and dove into my marketing career, had a really great experience with a startup within a manufacturing company. To cut my teeth, to dig into managing 50 plus events per year, had a lot of leeway with growing community management, really diving into programs with professional organizers to reinforce a brand within a channel. Social media, so a lot of these modern marketing things that we use today, influencer programs, I was given leeway to explore them from a really young age in the beginning of my career.
Josh Becerra (03:45.078)
Yeah. Very cool.
Colleen Kranz (03:59.154)
So at that same time, as I was kind of building my career, my husband Ed and I decided to build our own airplane in our garage. Why? We’ve always been passionate about aviation and we were part of a flying club and our airplane got stuck in the Apostle Islands because a headlight went out.
And, you know, we’re a little DIYers, so we were a little frustrated. And we thought, like, this is a headlight. We could we could replace this. That led us down the path of realizing that you could build your own airplane. It doesn’t take an engineering degree. It takes learning, learning and following instructions and working with tech counselors. So we decided to build the plane and share the journey on our YouTube channel. We were getting a lot of questions about how it all worked and we thought it was a good medium to help people who wanted to learn more about it. And to close the loop with the sauna, we really got into sauna design because we experienced the benefit of sauna first hand.
Both my husband and I lost our parents at a young age. I lost my mom when I was 13 to cancer, and Ed lost his dad a few years ago to a heart attack.
So longevity, health are really important to us. And we feel like not enough people had knowledge or access about good quality sauna. So that also prompted us to share the journey, build a new model that we thought was really interesting and unique and share the journey, share it with others.
Josh Becerra (05:47.614)
Yeah, I think it’s pretty amazing. So with the aviation project, that turned into Good Plane Living, the YouTube channel, right? Do you want to just talk a little bit about that in particular, like how big that grew, kind of what that looked like?
Colleen Kranz (06:05.23)
Yes, so how that started really was a time lapse video of Ed and I building the airplane in our garage. So we started on February 14th, Valentine’s Day with Papa Murphy’s pizza and a box of sheet metal.
And so we decided, you know, since a lot of our friends were asking us, oh, can you share, share about this? We decided to take those time-lapse videos and put them on a YouTube channel, categorizing with the stages of the build that we were working on. So it was educational because people could see slowly how this airplane came together.
and how the parts fit together and slowly over time this thing became an airplane. Like this box of sheet metal came together to be an empennage, a tail wing, the wing kit. And we just started with the tail kit just to see if it was something that we could do. And then slowly we would put piece by piece onto it. So it was a very exciting time when we then took the airplane from our garage and brought it to a hangar in Red Wing, Minnesota, to put the wings on and to prep it for first flight. And the moment that we saw that airplane in the air, we had a test pilot who had inspected the airplane. Obviously we had multiple inspections on this thing, but to see that baby over the course of three and a half years fly in the sky was absolutely incredible. And that’s what prompted this shift in our content.
Josh Becerra (07:26.271)
Josh Becerra (07:42.627)
On Good Plane Living from builders to explorers to sharing the journey of what it means for a family to travel the country in their own airplane. We started before our children were born and we finished when my son was about 18 months, I think. So we started vlogging about the real life of flying into airports and refueling and potty emergencies in the air and our it really was impactful when we posted a video of a journey to Johnson Creek which is this remote landing strip and it’s one that you could really only get to by airplane it takes many hours if you were to hike there.
And there’s a big bathtub up at the top of the hill that you hike up to and it’s fed by a hot spring and we took this pan of like being in the tub on the side of a mountain fed by a hot spring and that video reached over a million people so it was just it was reinforcement that following what you’re excited about and teaching people and
Josh Becerra (08:47.15)
Colleen Kranz (09:07.758)
Talking to people and creating a community is something that is special and people wanna join you in that. So our channel has, I think 8,000 subscribers, obviously people that are into aviation, some people that are looking to learn more about the build process, so they might go back to our earlier videos and we also share the journey on social media.
Josh Becerra (09:31.842)
I think it’s really cool how you’ve kind of been able to do your kind of career and have like some of these You know other plates in the air, right? You’ve been able to do that when we were talking earlier. You said that side gigs have added to your belief system and career. So what do you mean by that? Like what kind of things has that added to your belief system?
Colleen Kranz (09:58.39)
Yes, yes, I love that question. So I think having multiple passions, different areas of knowledge that you’re building, you as a person, even outside of your career, allows you this really interesting flywheel of learning across different areas of your life. And then using that knowledge cross platform.
So in my career, you know, when I was working with my first tech B2B company, I really didn’t have exposure to what building a YouTube community was like. How are the social media channels different? You know, I was posting on Instagram and building a following on LinkedIn. And so I think that being able to have that side passion or the side hustle or exploring new opportunities that you don’t necessarily get to do in your day job, just builds your knowledge as an individual outside of your current employer. And I think that’s an asset that we can use, we’re building for the future wherever it might take us. And also it’s just, it’s wonderful to have this passion and excitement about your own endeavors outside of what you may pull in for revenue for your day job. So it’s this intricate web,
I think people can build with their passions, with their hobbies, and transferring those skills to unknown areas of their life. I would have never thought that we would have a YouTube channel called Good Plain Living or that we would get into these other endeavors, but it’s like this stepping stone. Follow the yellow brick road of where it leads you.
Josh Becerra (11:44.758)
Yeah, I love that. And I do think that sometimes, especially in the US, we’re just so kind of focused on our career being like the sum of who we are and what we are. And yeah, being able to go out and explore different things and show that you’re kind of more complex as a human than just what you do for a career or at work and having the opportunity to do other things and have that happen through side gigs or hustles or whatever it might be. I do think that that’s super cool, need to kind of think of themselves as a little bit more complex human, right? Like with interests, desires, needs that maybe won’t, can’t be satisfied in the workplace, right?
Colleen Kranz (12:27.054)
I love that point.
Colleen Kranz (12:36.678)
At the end of the day, we all love working with humans, with people that have interests that are memorable. And so I think that as we are vulnerable, share more about our life, what our passions are, that people can really connect with that and kind of build that relationship and help each other.
Josh Becerra (12:58.23)
Yeah, I do want to get to some of that kind of side of your work now that’s in the coaching. But before we go there, I just want to kind of wrap up a little bit on the career side of things. So you said in your first job you learned to cut your teeth with kind of doing and not striving for perfection. So what did that look like back then if you have some examples of doing instead of striving for perfection? And then how does that continue to impact how you approach work today?
Colleen Kranz (13:33.538)
Sure. Yep. So you are looking at a reformed perfectionist, someone that in her early life would obsess over every detail.
And so in my early life, that would mean anxiety beyond belief when managing an event calendar, thinking that I had to do everything to the same level of perfection. Holistically, when looking at a campaign, checking off all the dots, spending the 10 hours on everything, you know, down to a paragraph.
And I think that I learned early on that, you know, one, it takes a lot of time to market. We all know speed to market is something that we need to prioritize. But I think also it burned me out from an early stage in my career. And I questioned if I was going into the right field. So I think that what I learned is that I think it’s called the Pareto principle that
Josh Becerra (14:35.194)
Colleen Kranz (14:44.366)
80% of the results normally come from 20% of the activities. And in the startup that I worked in, I learned a lot about how entrepreneurs, growth builders, we have this tendency to fizzle out and get overwhelmed and burned out before we can prove our business concept. So early on, I had this just rude awakening that…
Growth builders are particularly conditioned to look at these external factors and really not maintain this like bubble of protection, kind of looking at our self worth through the lens of what we can achieve. So I really learned today to embrace what startups and startup founders have known for years is to really just focus on the top activities that create the most momentum. So in my endeavors in Good Plain Living, in Sonnable, which is the mobile sauna company, I learned to embrace that minimum viable product, to feel really good about what I’m going to market with, but to know those really impactful activities that I need to focus on. I’m still working on that, Josh, but I think that’s where magic can happen when you’re bringing something to market.
Josh Becerra (16:07.662)
Yeah, and I think we’re all still kind of working on that for sure. I can, I will sign myself up for that as well. But I do think, you know, you spoke about longevity, right? And like giving yourself a kind of a break and not being a perfectionist and not having that level of anxiety and all of those things that go along with it. I do think it also helps with this concept of longevity, right?
Colleen Kranz (16:34.225)
Josh Becerra (16:36.554)
Well, so you talked a little bit about how you’ve seen, worked with founders. I know you’re super passionate about helping mentor people, building them up, coaching them. And the last couple of years, of course, have been crazy, right? We’ve got economic uncertainty, COVID, political, cultural divisions, all these things that are happening.
And so in your coaching and working with people, mentoring, what kind of advice or antidote, you know, I know you’re very big on like the people side of things. So what kind of antidote do you have for entrepreneurs, leaders when they’re facing uncertainty or adversity, either in their profession where they might be feeling that sense of burnout or personally like mental, physical health? Do you have any advice?
Colleen Kranz (17:32.094)
Sure. Yes. And I think to hit on the point earlier, I think that because entrepreneurs, growth builders, startup founders were conditioned to look externally, it’s different. It’s hard to prioritize our internal health. And it is not our fault. Our society has conditioned us this way. So it’s very true that we need to put on our own oxygen mask before we can really be of benefit to the world. I’m also a firm believer that physical and mental health are underrated in the world of business. I know when I am physically not feeling well, mentally, you know, I have anxiety, I’m not showing up as my best self and I’m not able to create the impact that I otherwise would. So I think taking the time to organize yourself.
From a mental and emotional and planning perspective your vision of how you see your company impacting the world But also taking the time blocking time in your schedule to take care of yourself Both physically and mentally. So what does that look like? For some it means having a time block on their calendar for the physical activity that they know that they need. Both for physical health, I know that my movement and my action in my day are a big reason how I work with my anxiety. I’m typically a very high anxiety person, so I depend on that as a pillar. And then also just mental health. I know a lot of entrepreneurs that have started learning more about meditation.
10% happier using meditation apps. I have a good friend, Ryan McKesson, who uses the mantra, be where your feet are. And I think during these times of uncertainty, anxiety, we can get wrapped up in these negative thoughts and worries and our, we call it monkey brain, where we just get wrapped up in this negative loop of thought. But I think that if we can bring ourselves back to where our feet are.
Where are we at this moment and how can we make an impact right now? I think there’s a balance that we can strive for between accepting the reality of how we’re feeling today and honoring those feelings, but also weaving in a narrative that’s focused on the positive. So lastly, I know that,
We’re always striving for more as growth builders. We’re trying to increase profits. We’re trying to grow our audience. But to remember that we have value just by being us, not dependent of the growth that we grow. And it’s not dependent on our results. It’s just built internally.
Josh Becerra (20:30.37)
Yeah, I love that. And you know, you kind of alluded to this, but I know you talk about smart and healthy profit through purpose. So like, kind of speak to that a little bit more, just like, what do you mean by smart and healthy profit through purpose?
Colleen Kranz (20:46.866)
Absolutely. So let me break down my beliefs on that a little bit. And I believe it applies to both business and our personal lives. So when we talk about smart profit, we’re talking about this theme that has come up, that longevity, that sustainability, that being in it for the long haul and not, not quit gains, not cutting corners.
When we talk about healthy profit, we’re talking about good margin. We’re talking about a margin to thrive during economic downturns. So I think that when we look at purpose and how that third wheel fits in, I love the idea of aligning our business models that solve a problem, that’s focused on a customer problem, to help fulfill their purpose. And I think there’s a magic that happens when our business purpose aligns with the purpose of our customers and it allows them to fulfill their purpose. So it’s kind of this holistic triangle that I’ve learned more about being smart, sustainable, having a healthy margin to survive the longevity and then really being focused on our purpose and aligning that with our customer.
Josh Becerra (22:06.73)
Yeah, I love that. You may or may not know this, but at Agurian, we talk about our why. Our why is to grow our people, clients, and company so that together we can do extraordinary things.
And so it is, it’s about saying like we have internal stakeholders that we want to cultivate their growth in their careers and in their kind of craft. We have our clients, of course, that we want to see them grow. Like that is something that’s important to us. And of course, we want our company to grow. And if we do those things and all those things well, all together, we will do extraordinary things. So anyway, I’m a big believer in getting the purpose right, getting it aligned to your clients kind of purpose as well. So thank you for sharing.
Colleen Kranz (23:00.222)
And I have seen that firsthand, Josh, and it’s inspiring. And I love that you’re setting this precedent in the market that great businesses are doing this. And it truly not only creates a good experience for your employees, your customers, but you’re making a big difference in the world.
Josh Becerra (23:19.914)
Yeah. And it helps as an individual be like through business, you can have so many rewards by seeing the growth of people, of your people, the growth of your clients, right? And of course of your company as well. So anyway, I’m a big believer in it and I think you probably do a better job at articulating it than I do. But it is something that I think more, if more companies focused on especially the people side of their business and the aligning to their clients needs, better off in business in a lot of ways.
Colleen Kranz (24:00.274)
Right, right, and it’s a lot of fun and it’s a great place to be.
Josh Becerra (24:04.778)
Yeah, yeah, for sure. So this has been an amazing conversation. We’re running out of time. I do have one question I love to ask every single one of my guests, which is, you know, you obviously are a thought leader and a big thinker. So who are some of those thought leaders and big thinkers that are out there that are kind of inspiring you or challenging you? Um, I know that our audience likes to hear book recommendations, podcast recommendations. So what do you have for me?
Colleen Kranz (24:31.506)
Yes, yes, I get really excited about this part. So, and part of my passion and inspiration comes from thought leaders, authors. So that’s, you know, how I get ideas. That’s how I fuel up. So I love this question. So a LinkedIn person that I follow is Eric Partaker, Eric Partaker. And he is a CEO coach, wonderful, actionable, tactical advice on LinkedIn. And one piece that I started implementing earlier this year is his three important meetings in your day that you need to have with yourself. One is the shutdown routine. So you put time on your calendar at the end of the day when you wanna shut down, and you put your checklist in that calendar invite.
What do I need to do? What do I need to review? Next two weeks, final email run through. And then afterwards, shut down the laptop. Say shut down and walk away. And by doing that…
we’re truly able to separate, to go enjoy and be with our families instead of taking this ticker of work with us. So I’ll let you go see those two other meetings with Eric, but it’s really made a difference in my life. Go follow Eric. I just read a book that I’ve been wanting to read for a while, and we haven’t talked about this yet, Josh, but I am a note taker and I am sometimes a digital hoarder. And so the concept of building a second brain is really about taking digital note taking to the next level to allow creative thought between different concepts, to lessen your anxiety from having to remember every single detail, and also to help you feel organized in your life.
Josh Becerra (26:40.627)
Colleen Kranz (26:46.583)
to be able to take your brain knowledge and create exponential benefit. So I haven’t created my second brain yet, but I just started and I’m very excited, even just to take that concept into my planning teams and my work and to be able to have an area where I have this organized space for my project. So, Building a Second Brain by Diego Forte.
Josh Becerra (27:10.17)
I love it.
Colleen Kranz (27:10.786)
There are two newsletters that I look forward to reading every single week and that is James Clear He’s author of Atomic Habits his 321 newsletter. You like that one, too? Oh Yes, I love it. It’s simple. It’s clear. It always gives me inspiration And the other one is the Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday
Josh Becerra (27:21.458)
3, 2, 1. Yeah, I read it too. Ha ha.
Colleen Kranz (27:35.858)
It’s just like the timeless knowledge of the Stoics that you can, you know, take a moment of calm to bring into your day. It’s a big one. And then I just made two podcast recommendations. Definitely if you have not subscribed to Josh right now from this podcast, you should obviously subscribe and follow Josh on LinkedIn. My two other podcasts I enjoy are Tim Ferriss’ podcasts. He’s the author of the 4-hour workweek and Andrew Huberman, Huberman Lab podcast has been an inspiration for me from a physical and mental health perspective. So those are my plugs.
Josh Becerra (28:12.663)
Wow, that is a great list. We’ll make sure that we get those captured in the transcript so they’re on the page or on the YouTube video description. This has been amazing. I really appreciate you and your time today, Colleen. And I will also say you need to follow Colleen on LinkedIn because you are like the expert at the carousels. I love those carousels that you produce. So anyway, um,
Colleen Kranz (28:45.108)
I appreciate it, Josh. Thank you so much for what you do creating this podcast and making space. I really appreciate the time today. Thanks.
Josh Becerra (28:52.442)