Brand Fundamentals & Inclusive Responsibilities: ‘How I Work’ EP27 with Kathy Galloway (kgallowayconsulting)

kathy guzman galloway headshot and how i work blog cover

Kathy Guzmán Galloway is a girl mom, entrepreneur, educator, strategist and 20 year veteran of the CPG marketing world.  She is the CEO at kgalloway consulting, where she helps startups to Fortune 500 organizations drive growth with strategy and innovation.

How I Work, Ep 27 with Kathy Guzmán Galloway (kgallowayconsulting) 

Kathy joins Josh Becerra in episode 27 of How I Work to discuss the importance of taking over your career and getting back to the basics with your brand fundamentals. She emphasizes the importance of all members of the organization having tough conversations and a willingness to permeate beyond them, plus:

  • Narrowing it down: Articulating your purpose and goals
  • Ensuring the brand owner is the owner of the brand
  • Shifting away from a mindset of scarcity: shoutout Rachel Rodgers

Learn more about Kathy Guzmán Galloway and kgalloway consulting:

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Transcription: How I Work, Episode 27 (Kathy Guzmán Galloway, kgalloway consulting)

Josh: Hi, everybody. This is Josh Becerra. Welcome to another episode of How I Work. I have the pleasure of interviewing Kathy Guzmán Galloway today.

Thanks for being here, Kathy.

Kathy: Thank you for the excellent pronunciation. That is rare, that I get that. I appreciate the Guzmán being said well. I’m excited to be here too.

Josh: Awesome. I should say my name is Josh Becerra. Let’s get the pronunciation right.

Let me tell you a little bit about Kathy. Kathy is a self-described girl mom, entrepreneur, educator, strategist, and 20-year veteran of the CPG marketing world. You are the CEO of Kgalloway Consulting. This is where Kathy helps startups to Fortune 500 organizations drive growth with strategy and innovation. Super excited to have this conversation today.

Kathy: Thanks. Me too.

Josh: I love the CPG kind of history, so why don’t you just tell listeners a little bit about your career path, starting back with that experience, all the way through, to now Kgalloway Consulting, and we’ll talk more about your podcast.

Kathy: Absolutely. I like to talk sometimes about how I started as a customer service rep for a phone company, which is a great place to, right out of college, kind of get the bare bones at AT&T answering phone calls for the very early subscribers of cell phones, because, of course, that’s how old I am, that people were just barely getting into cell phones at the time. That was a great place for me to sort of really understand the value of service, which has paid off even today, I still really rely on those skills.

At some point, I got myself on a working team for Boost Mobile, which had just launched around that time. I was on a task force, [unintelligible 00:02:09] functional task force, and there was a marketing leader who led that team and I thought, like, “I need to be at the center of this wheel, not on the inside of this wheel.”

Josh: Here you go.

Kathy: That’s what led me to go and get my MBA. Now, I’m a Jersey girl, I was born and raised in Jersey, and made my way to Texas to get my MBA at the University of Texas at Austin, which in and of itself was an experience, like New Jersey to Texas.

Josh: Sure.

Kathy: Just night and day, it was something. [laughs] I survived it and made my way to PepsiCo, and that’s really how I ventured into CPG, or Consumer Packaged Goods, made my way into the PepsiCo universe and was there about eight, eight and a half years. I was at the Frito-Lay division in Dallas, so I stayed in Texas. It’s one of these organizations if you ever get a chance to meet someone who worked there, that really chews you up, and then spits you out, and you’ve got nothing left to give. It is a tough place, but really the best learning ground for somebody at that point in my career to really understand how to leverage consumer insights, how to understand the way you translate insights into strategy. Then probably most importantly for PepsiCo, in particular, is the execution around that strategy. They are very much the last mile excellence type of an organization. There was so much learning for me, they’re really about business fundamentals. They very much take sort of a generalist approach to marketing, and it was a great opportunity for me to learn. Even though I hated it to death when I was there, now I am extremely thankful for the time I spent with them.

I left there and worked in a handful of other companies still in the CPG world until I was laid off twice and quit a job with an unfortunate abusive owner of a company and finally said I think I’m done with this, I can’t stick around with people sort of dictating what my career looks like, dictating the kind of work that I should be doing, telling me what success looks like versus me deciding what success looks like. I had young girls at the time. My daughters were, one of them was a toddler still, the other one was just in elementary school and I thought I need to take control over my career, and that’s when I started my consultancy. This April, this coming April will be 10 years since I started my business. Time, it goes by really fast. It has been so much learning, so much growth, so much of me really understanding what my zone of genius is and how I can really deliver value to others in a way that makes me happy and proud of the work that I do.

In the last few years, I’ve also been able to expand how and where I spend my time, even beyond client work, mentoring, teaching, volunteering a lot with folks who are starting CPG brands, as well as investing in brands, and in particular, people who look like me, which has been such a blessing for me to be able to give back to those that I know are trying to build something for themselves.

Then that also led to the podcast. Got a lot of women over the years coming to me and saying, “Hey, I see what you’re doing. I have similar issues. I don’t know if this job is right for me anymore. I’ve got young kids. I want control over my career. How did you do this? Why did you do this? How can I do this?” That led to the podcast, The Fork In The Road podcast. We talk to women who’ve gone through this moment in their lives and how they got through it. Then in the current season that we’ve got out, now we’re talking to the experts about specific things I need to do to get ready to get through that fork in the road, in addition to me talking about what it is to be a consultant.

I’m hoping that that platform and a lot of those conversations are really helping women to figure out what comes next for them. Whether they stay in their jobs or they decide to make candles or become a consultant, whatever their path is, there’s something there for them. That also has led me to create a new course called the Consultant Launch Course for those women who do decide, women or men who decide to become consultants, it really takes you from point A to point Z and starting your consultancy.

Between all of that and 13 and 15-year-old girls at home that my husband and I are raising, I’m a pretty busy girl, and I like it that way. I like it to be packed.

Josh: I appreciate you taking the time here. There’s so much to grab onto. Let’s get started. I’ve got questions related to a number of those different things.

Let’s start with Kgalloway Consulting. I know you’re all about helping brand owners articulate their purpose and goals through brand fundamentals. You have a brand fundamentals framework. Why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about what these brand fundamentals are.

Kathy: I love talking about brand fundamentals. They were really born out of my witnessing brand owners, in particular those that are startup or fairly young in their journey as brand owners, really struggling with how to say all the things. We have so much that we want to say. If you own a brand of potato chips, you want to talk about the potatoes, you want to talk about how they’re manufactured, you want to talk about the low sodium levels, or in your founder’s story, or where you’re sourcing the potatoes from. There are just so many pieces to the puzzle, and that can really be overwhelming, especially for folks who’ve never done marketing and really don’t have a traditional approach to CPG marketing, can be really overwhelming. My brain works in that, I like to find a place for everything and put everything in its place.

That’s really where the framework came from, is to give everyone an opportunity to think through how do all these pieces work together and where do they sit in the grand scheme of my brand. That’s what brand fundamentals are. It starts with purpose, why does this brand exist, what is the tension in the world that is out there that we want to solve for. It leads into a mission, which is the thing we’re out to go and do in the world that we want to accomplish. Then arguably, the most important of those pieces then is the positioning, which is really about the solution that you are bringing to the market that helps a particular person with a particular problem in a unique and differentiated way. At the end of the day, that positioning and that product is the tool that allows you to live into your purpose and to execute around your mission. This is really how I talk to brands about how do we bring all of that together.

Brand fundamentals also includes brand identity, as well as brand voice, but the bigger components that people struggle the most with are going to be purpose, mission, and positioning. I do trainings on it, I do workshops, and I also consult and coach day-to-day on getting those completed. That is probably my favorite piece of work that I do. I love doing that.

Josh: I love that you’re focused on fundamentals. Some of the writing that I’m doing in the conversations that I’m having is like, let’s get back a little bit to just business fundamentals. I think brand fundamentals as well. Sometimes we get a little bit lost in all these high-tech solutions, and there’s all these KPIs and data, and we’re always talking about all the latest and greatest, but it is sometimes the fundamentals that help us actually achieve the goals and reach for that mission or purpose. The audience of this podcast is a lot of digital marketers. I’m just wondering how you connect some of those fundamentals to a digital marketer’s work. What are some key use cases where you’ve seen this framework being super effective?

Kathy: I love that you bring up business fundamentals because it operates in a lot of the same way in that it is really difficult for anyone to help you when you as the brand owner don’t know what it is you’re trying to accomplish or where you’re headed. You don’t need to have all the answers of how to get there, that’s what experts are for, but you have to have some idea of where you’re wanting to go.

Whether we’re talking about digital marketing, or we’re talking about manufacturing, or we’re talking about distribution, it really doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, you’ve got to have that vision, and that’s where the fundamentals come into play when we’re dealing with experts. I say often, and maybe not even often enough, but I try to say it as often as possible that I like to let the experts be the expert. As a brand owner, it is not our job to know what are the current trends regarding digital marketing. We don’t need to know all things regarding social media. That is not my job. My job is to know my consumer and my product and my brand, and then I can bring in an expert to help me translate that into something meaningful for the audience.

The way that I can enable a partner like an agency best enable them, I should say, is to give them those fundamentals to help them understand what my purpose is, what is my mission, who is my audience, and what is it that I’m offering them that is bigger, better, and different than what they could get from the competitor. That’s critical as I’ve seen in my 20-plus years of working with agencies and vendors, whether that’s in digital marketing, advertising, at packaging graphics, it’s vendors working on website development, really doesn’t matter if they don’t understand where you’re headed. It’s really hard for them to translate that out.

Now, what happens a lot, and is a huge pet peeve of mine, is that the brand doesn’t know. They show up to the agency, and then the agency, not having something to jump off from, helps to create it. For some agencies, there are some agencies where they’ve done a great job at bringing in traditional marketers and understand how to build that in a way that makes sense for the business, they’re successful. Other agencies are building it through the lens of an agency. They’re building this consumer profile, they’re building this positioning through the lens of how do I then take that and turn it into advertising. That’s one small piece of what fundamentals do for us as a brand owner.

With and when that happens and they’re doing it again through the lens of an execution on digital, there’s going to come a time when the brand owner is going to turn around and say, Hold on, this actually isn’t working for me. As I’m thinking about innovation, for example, now it doesn’t feel like it doesn’t quite fit as well as I thought that it was going to, or the opportunities don’t seem to match this consumer profile they’ve identified. That can be a real risk for the long term. It’s really important that a brand owner comes in with a perspective and a point of view. The agency can absolutely help us optimize, especially when it comes to language.

I’m sure your team in particular, having people that can help us turn our ideas into valid words so we can all be using the right language, that is definitely an expertise an agency can bring. Understanding where we’re going and what that’s strategic approach, has to come from the brand side. I try to educate brand owners about that as much as possible. I think it’s also incumbent on the agency partners to say, Hey, these are things you need to think about, we cannot do them for you and have them bring that to the table. I’m super passionate about this and making sure the brand owner is the owner of the brand, not the agency.

Josh: Yes, I love that. One of the things strategically that we did at Augurian was, we decided we weren’t going to try to be a full-service agency, so when people do come to us, and they’re looking for brand messaging, design logos, we are very clear that is not us. What we can help you do is deploy great paid media, do your search engine optimization, all of your back-end analytics, connect the dots for you, content marketing, understanding how your prospects or consumers are talking about your solutions online. That’s where we at Augurian could help with language.

I do feel like many times, there’s agencies that are kind of saying their full service, but maybe they don’t have the thinking that they need to have to be able to actually deliver on some of the brand promises that you talked about. I really love that.

Kathy: Yes, that’s just fair. I think, to just to put another nail in the coffin on this one, is that, that thinking, what’s really important to me, I guess, if the audience here are those agency owners, what I would encourage them to think about is that the work they help the brands do has to have legs beyond the scope of work that’s in front of them. This is work that has to live in perpetuity in everything they’re doing, the way they think about investors, the way they think about which brand partnerships they develop, the way they think about the retailers they’re going to execute against, obviously innovation, as I mentioned before. There are a lot more legs to it than just that scope of work. That would be my one ask, is that they just try to think a little bit more broadly to help that brand really live into that work.

Josh: I love that. I would say that that’s why probably you’re seeing much success with Kgalloway Consulting, is that I don’t feel like necessarily all brands have it together. There’s many times where we’re being asked to do campaigns and stand things up, and then there’s like, it seems like on the brand side, there’s kind of some prioritization that needs to happen, or we’re trying to push and ask questions. I’m sure that there’s brands out there that can really use help and kind of go back to the fundamentals on some of this stuff.

Kathy: Yes, exactly. I think that’s exactly right, particularly for younger brands and those founders who don’t have experience in this space. They were an engineer, they were a school teacher, whatever their background was, and now they’re trying to launch this business, it’s a lot, it’s a lot of work to do a CPG product. I like to say that, and I work with startups, that I would never do what they do because I know too much about how hard it is. The reason it works for them is that they have no idea what they’re getting into, and that passion and that excitement really pushes them along, and thank goodness that it does because otherwise nobody would launch anything. Then at the same time, it means that they don’t know what they don’t know, and that really can hurt them as they continue to grow.

There’s a point in time somewhere around a million dollars in revenue where shit gets real, and then all of a sudden they’re like, “Oh, crap, I’ve got to think about what I’m really trying to do here,” where the rest of the time you’re just like, “I’ve just got to get sales. I just didn’t get money in the door,” so you’re doing whatever you need to do to make it happen, which is appropriate. Then the shit hits the fan and you’re like, “Damn, I’ve got to figure out what I’m doing here because, A, either I’m getting work back from partners that isn’t good enough, or the work that I’m putting into the market is not delivering the results I want, or I’m seeing a bunch of opportunities and I just don’t know where to start from.” All these things are happening and absolutely without that prioritization, without sort of those fundamentals in brand and in business, as you talked about, it can be really hard to move forward.

I think we’ve belabored that point, but an important topic, nevertheless.

Josh: No, I love the conversation, I really do. Another piece that you talked about in your story, shifting gears a little bit, is your podcast, Fork in the Road, where I understand that you share stories of women who face the choice between leaning into a career they’ve invested in for a while or daring to venture out on their own. In the digital marketing world, I would say we could probably do better from a diversity, equity, inclusion perspective, both from a gender perspective, but race and a lot of things. At Augurian, we see this as a journey that we are on, and we’re actively trying to have impactful conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion. In this kind of digital marketing industry which I operate in, I would be really curious because you’ve had so many of these conversations, your own life experience. Basically, what kind of advice would you have for someone like me to help women within my organization make leaning into their career and sticking around a fulfilling choice?

Kathy: It’s a great question and I appreciate that you’re asking. I think just the fact that you’re asking, is a great place to start. That willingness to have to permeate beyond a conversation, and that’s really where it needs to begin. Fortunately, culturally, we have an environment in corporate America more broadly that has not prevented but created a lack of openness from women and otherwise that says, I don’t feel comfortable asking for what I need, I don’t feel comfortable expressing my true desires or taking a little bit more control, whether that’s over my day to day or even where my career is going because there are people in power who just operate differently than I do. There’s less of a willingness to show up and say, “Hey, I know you’re telling me this is how it needs to be, but that doesn’t work for me. I would rather it be this way.”

While we as women need to work on that and need to be able to advocate for ourselves and show up at the table and say, “This is really what I need and want,” you can be a partner in that by allowing, not only allowing the conversation to happen, but igniting the conversation and asking the question, is this working for you, is this what you want, what would you want differently. Now, that doesn’t mean that everything that’s asked for is going to be given, that it’s impossible. We’re all here to earn a living and to run a business that’s successful, but just the mere fact of having the conversation changes the dynamic. Even if we don’t get anywhere, nothing changes the fact that we’re acknowledging the need, acknowledging that it’s an issue, acknowledging that this is something we need to work through at some point, that alone can make a world of a difference.

Then beyond that, then there’s all the obvious stuff, is for as much as men of my generation and younger are beginning to take more and more responsibilities at home, and sharing the workload of being a household manager, it’s not just about rearing kids, but really about managing a household, women still take the burden of that, the share of the work. Just understanding that a woman’s plate is often much heavier loaded in and outside of the home than than a man’s is, is important to recognize and to understand or try to bring that flexibility into the workplace. Understanding that the way we communicate is different than how males will communicate, especially women of different cultures, women of color, Latinas or Black women, they communicate in different ways, and sort of understanding and recognizing that that is a truth that we have to appreciate the same way that we might say that other cultures communicate differently.

It reminds me of being in college, and even during my MBA, where we would talk a lot about the rising of China. That China was still really young and new, we didn’t know what was going to happen and that it was growing and growing, and we needed to know how to work with them because the Chinese culture is very different than an American culture. There was so much awareness and acknowledgement of that at the time. That is no different even within Americans. A white male, a Black male, a Black female, a white female, we talk differently, we think differently, we have different motivations. I think it’s important to recognize that about people and not to make assumptions. Some of those things are obvious and things we talk about all the time. I certainly have heard through the podcast and speaking to people that I know that if I was going to give one piece of advice, it’s just acknowledge it. Just be willing to have a conversation that says, I realize this may not be perfect, what can I do to make it better. Even if in the end you can’t make a ton of changes, just the conversation is helpful.

I hope that helps.

Josh: Yes. I love that. That has been some of the experience that I’ve had personally on this journey, is not everything happens but the conversation alone is helpful. There have been things that we’ve been able to do and accomplish in our organization over time that I think have come from those conversations. I would hope that more and more leaders are willing to extend that and try to really reframe it. I think what you’re talking about when you give the example of there are all these people who would be out educating leaders on how is it that they can work with other business leaders from China, and how do you make sure things don’t get lost in translation.

I think you’re so right on, that within the United States, have similar cultural dynamics and we just don’t even acknowledge. There’s an expectation in business that one culture is the right way to do business, think about business. I think acknowledging, like you said, and being willing to educate yourself, much like you people were when it was like we need to go to China and do business. We can do all of those same things here at home. I love that.

Kathy: Exactly. The good thing is that, unlike with people trying to learn about Chinese culture in the ’80s and ’90s, you have these folks right in your office. You don’t need to go to China to figure this out. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars. Grab some of these folks, do a little lunch in the cafeteria together and just talk to them and get to know them and understand what’s going on in their lives. It’s not as difficult as it may seem. The hardest part is taking that first step. It’s vulnerable for everybody on both sides of the table. At least if you care, it’s vulnerable. If you don’t care, then it’s not vulnerable. For those of us who are interested in making it work, it is vulnerable to say, Hey, I just want to have this conversation, I want to get to know you. Once you peel off that mandate, then it’s all good swimming from there. Take that first step.

Josh: Awesome. That’s great advice.

We’re getting close to time here, but I do love to ask this question as a final question of all of my guests. That’s basically, who’s inspiring you lately? What books or podcasts or media you’re consuming that you find as interesting, intriguing, challenging maybe some of your perspectives? Do you have anything you could tell us about who that might be?

Kathy: Yes, absolutely. I am down a deep, deep swim hole with someone right now. Her name is Rachel Rodgers. She authored a book called We Should All Be Millionaire. She’s a Black woman who has built an empire around helping other, specifically women of color, but more broadly, people in general or underrepresented people in general to find their way to wealth by changing mindsets. It is really what she’s offering, is just how do we think differently about what money is, how we interact with money, how we earn money, and ultimately what earning money can do for us and for others.

What I love about what she’s doing is that, if you just read her work and didn’t know that she was a woman, didn’t know that she was a Black woman, some of the pieces, some of the fundamentals of what she’s talking about are things that you’ve heard white men talk about for 10,000 years. The folks who have built their wealth in America are talking about these fundamentals. What she has then done is to add a layer of complexity and nuance on top of that, that says, here’s why we have not done this. We have not done this because we have been told X, Y, Z, because we have learned X,Y,Z, because we’ve grown up in a culture and a generation of X, Y, Z, that is different than what a white man in 1950s corporate America would have experienced, and why you need to change the way you think about this. That we need to, for example, get out of a mindset of scarcity that, “I’ve got to save every penny because no more is coming,” and shift to a mindset of, “There is so much money out there for me to have, I just need to go out and find it.”

I think in that way, she’s been just so inspiring to so many people. Again, really just forcing us to just think so much differently about our relationship with money and with wealth, particularly as people of color in this country where we are so far behind that it can feel so daunting to want to catch up. She built this community around this idea and around galvanizing people to try to move forward that way. I love that.

I first got the book as a recommendation from a friend. When I was two chapters in, I went on Amazon and I bought so many copies to send to people. Amazon thought I was doing something illegal and they cut me off.

Josh Reselling.

Kathy: They cut me off for two weeks. I’m like, “Okay.” I sent a bunch of my friends. She has a membership that I’ve joined in, and she’s got a Facebook group where you connect with a lot of people. I’m heading to a retreat of hers in Puerto Rico in January to work on business systems and think about how to grow your business. Like I said, I’m all in on Rachel Rodgers, and she’s been a super inspiration that way, and hopefully someone listening will go and find her and get some learnings from her as well. My biggest recommendation is for Rachel Rodgers.

Josh All right, outstanding. I haven’t heard of her, but I’m going to go buy her book because I’m sure that all of that is applicable, and I would learn a whole heck of a lot. That sounds great.

Well, Kathy, this has been awesome. I’ve really appreciated the conversation. I wish you the best of success, continued success, and that’s going to be it for this episode of How I Work. Thanks.

Kathy: Thank you.

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