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Ep.30 Show Runner – Kristan Kirsh

Ep.30 Show Runner – Kristan Kirsh

•Marketing Renewable Energy with Brand Stories that Captivate Customers and Capture Market Share•

With over 20 years of global marketing experience, Kristan is driving change and using new technologies that solve big problems in energy, water, and other industrial processes.

A rock star executive marketer and brand leader, her personal journey started with the Peace Corps & social services, and she tells us how an incredibly supportive boss helped to harness her passion into social marketing that can change behavior.

A client once said, “Kristan has the perfect balance of smarts, skill, savvy, and sense. She understands the science behind the product, the engineering, the materials and she also understands marketing.”

Senior Director of Marketing Communications at NEXTracker, the #1 solar tracking company globally

Lessons you will learn from this podcast:

  • The business of renewable energy sources, the art of nurturing an extremely long sales cycle, and the politics of marketing energy.
  • How to pitch Influencers and champions to help to tell stories for large scale solar utilities.
  • How companies like Facebook are using wind farms, solar farms, or rooftop applications to help cancel out emissions and soften their carbon footprints around the world.
  • How layering software intelligence like machine learning, Artificial Intelligence, and IoT on top of hardware can maximize the production, reliability, and performance of renewables.
  • Storytelling that connects Gretta Thunberg, climate change technology, software, and WIRED.
  • B2b strategies, technology marketing and the challenges GLOBAL MARKETERS face given typical constraints like budgets, lean teams, and flexibility.
  • The role of a trade organization, industry association, and government networking on the policies of renewable energy sources.

>> Hi everybody, it’s Kathy. And today, we’re talking to Kristan Kirsh. She’s a senior director of marketing communications at NEXTracker which is ranked the number one solar tracking company Globally. She’s a rockstar executive marketer and brand leader. Kristan galvanizes teams and develops distinctive marketing programs for the digital age. She’s known for energizing organizations and telling brand stories that captivate consumers and capture market share. With over 20 years of global marketing experience, Kristan is driving change and using new technology to solve big problems in energy, water, and other industrial processes. Not only is she at ease crossing the international borders and the marketing borders from B2B to B2C, but she also uses her bilingual communication talents to help brands like GreatSchools and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. A client of Kristan’s said this, this is so cool, Kristan has a perfect balance of smarts, skills, savvy, and sense. As a marketer, she single handedly pulled together her company’s story with logic, consistency, and a sharp eye for details. But more importantly, a strong understanding of how the company needs to be positioned to succeed. She understands the science behind the product, the engineering, the materials, and she also understands the marketing. Wow, Kristan, welcome to the Show Runner Network. That’s a great introduction and a really great story that your client told about you that’s amazing. So thank you for joining us on the Show Runner Network. I’d like to hear a little bit more about your professional journey and what led you to your current position in the solar industry.

>> Sure, so I started off in the, first of all, thanks so much for having me. It’s great to be on and great to hear about your background as well and all the good things you guys are doing. I started off, actually, in social service. And I had no interest in marketing. I didn’t even know what it was. My initial interest was working in international development. I had a ladder up approach of starting off in the Peace Corps and then I worked throughout Latin America for about seven years and with the likes of the World Bank and USAID and so forth, out of having my base out of DC. So, in that experience I had this incredibly supportive boss. Getting to those mentoring and sponsorship kind of questions of what was important for you in your career. This boss of mine took a very active approach in guiding me in what my interests were. And at the time this is at the very beginning of the internet and exploding, and not everyone had websites. [LAUGH]

>> I remember that.

>> Showing my age here.

>> Yeah

>> So he asked me, hey, you know, I’ve heard of this internet thing and I’m wondering if you can put together I know it’s not in scope of your work, but can you figure out this HTML thing and kind of create some brochures for us, and so I created a couple of brochures and read up on HTML and kind of had to ask those basic questions of, well, why are we doing what we’re doing, and what’s the goal of the company? And kind of these basic things that any company has to do is explain what they do and what their value proposition is, and what kind of void they might be serving. So, from that experience, that parlayed into me wanting to move back to California. I’d been gone about 10 years. And working in this first field of my career and I found myself at Cisco Systems, working in Americas International and easily being able to tell the story of Cisco, and what Cisco does, or did at that time. Bringing internet through their hardware, and their routing and services businesses throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. My marketing career took off from there. So I’ve been working in it for a couple decades now. So yeah, it’s been a great career so far, and there’s always been a heavy marcom piece to my work. So I’ve been a marketing director, communications director, and now doing what I do now at NEXTracker as I run global marketing. So there’s always been a thread of international, a thread of working in some type of thing that’s very big. I think you had remarked about water production and working in large industrial processes like oil and gas.

>> Right.

>> I was solar. I’ve been in solar just shy of five years. I don’t know if I’m built for anything small. [LAUGH]

>> [LAUGH]

>> I think I like tackling those deep, from stemming from my days as a Peace Corps volunteer and wanting us to tackle those big issues. And how can you do that, through, let’s say social marketing or public health. And how can you spread something and create change behavior, through marketing?

>> Right.

>> Through social media, through video through what have you.

>> Yes, it’s so interesting. I’m fascinated, the solar industry and what’s going on. So let’s talk a little bit about that. Tell us about the future of solar technology marketing and how it’s changing. And we’re looking at energy differently and more sustainable. You must be so excited to be a part of all that, how does that all work?

>> Sure, so I would say that large utility skill, well, let me just give a little primer on solar. So we’re in two different kind of sister industries. You’ve got your roof-top solar, which could be a residential business, a residential application, or a commercial-industrial application. And that’s where you hear these big, kind of Vox or New York Times or Wall Street Journal’s talking about how Facebook is wanting to decarbonize and lower their emissions of their data centers because data centers are massive carbon emitters. So from there, your Facebook, Google, they’re all competing for renewable assets. So they’re looking at zero carbon and wanting to be, they basically want to mitigate a lot of the carbon emissions, that they’re emitting through all their processes and this incredible technology through the internet and Google and Twitter and LinkedIn and these incredible technology companies around the world, yet they have these data centers, so what do you do? Well, right next to it, you might be in a very remote area in India, or the Middle East, or in Africa. And if you can install a wind farm or a solar farm close by, or even like what I was saying, a rooftop application to cancel out those emissions.

>> Ah, okay.

>> And then the large scale utility application could be behind the meter or in front of the meter. That means if it’s behind the meter, that means it could be, I’ll give an example for California, for some of your California listeners.

>> Sure.

>> The Central Valley of California, you’ve got large farms, dairies. And they are incredible supporters of solar and wind, because they can produce The energy and consume it on site. So that could potentially be behind the meter application. And then in front of the meter would be of course, these large power plants that are competing on the same par with nuclear, with coal fire plants, with oil and gas plants, and so forth. So that’s where the application where NEXTracker plays, and the role that I play in global marketing, and reaching those markets and our customers. All the things that we can do as global marketers in the solar industry, and what’s exciting about right now is the ability to play in the machine learning and artificial intelligence, and IoT space.

>> Wow.

>> So it’s not just providing the hardware for example, it’s layering on those software intelligence connected technologies on top of the hardware that allows you to maximize your production. Maximize your reliability and your performance, which is a lot more attractive to let’s say a bank. Let’s say BBVA or HSBC, or JP Morgan, right? So they’re lending to a developer, much like a house or a housing development. And then that developer will develop the solar power plant, and they will choose a construction company to build it. And then they would choose a technology like ours. That’s kind of the chain of command there in terms of the deal. And that could last like the sales cycles incredibly long.

>> Yeah, it’s just so interesting how you’re marrying not only the solar technology, but also the machine learning to this. So you’re really taking this to the next level.

>> Absolutely, now it’s super, super exciting. So, a piece of that is okay. So now, how do you, when you’re always wanting to speak to your customer. But then us as marketers, we think about influencer marketing.

>> Right.

>> Who are those champions that are going to say, oh, NEXTracker. Or Sunrun, or Sungrow for example, is an inverter company that plays in large scale utility solar. How are we getting to influencers and champions beyond maybe account based marketing?

>> Right.

>> Which would be highly targeted to our direct customer. Think about, how can I connect the dots between let’s say, a publication that I esteem highly, which is like WIRED magazine? WIRED or TechCrunch, or Courts, right? So we need to tell that story let’s say in a press release or when we’re pre-pitching, we’re story pitching.

>> Right.

>> So we are creating this technology, a software system that is allowing you to get greater boost from your energy plant. And how do you pitch that story and create a hook for, let’s say, a Matt Simon, or an Eric Niiler who writes for WIRED or Nat Geo, for example? And say look, this is climate change, okay? So climate change is everywhere, we’ve got Greta Thunberg, we’ve got Arnold Schwarzenegger. We have all these kind of folks from all these various places around the world that are really raising and elevating that discussion. Okay, so now WIRED is piqued and they’re they’re thinking, okay, how can we get in that narrative? How can we begin to understand how software and all the technologies that we talk about on the cutting edge. And how do we connect that to maybe something that Gretta said, just to get some lift for them, and how to connect to gen Z for example. Well, I come in and say, hmm, all right Matt Simon, I’ve got a story for you. I’ve got this incredible machine learning technology that is a game changer and it’s increasing production. Yes, it’s giving more money and profit to our customers. But at the same time it’s changing the conversation around solar and being price competitive with the big contender, which is oil and gas.

>> Yeah.

>> Cool storytelling allows, let’s say back to the WIRED example. Matt can say, wow, we got this new technology and climate change, and how can you mitigate against these big inclement weather events. And so, it’s basically around storytelling, and that’s one of my absolute favorite aspects of the work that I do.

>> Well, it is just really fascinating the way you weave a story around this technology. This NEXTracker which allows the solar companies to really get more out of their equipment. And then you put on that, the machine learning and then you’re going out there, and you’re finding influencers. And you’re creating a story that makes this an interesting narrative for people to hear about, and learn about. And it just really adds to this technology, and brings it to the forefront. And I think that’s just amazing because who would have thought you could do that. Who would have thought you could tell stories about this kind of stuff? And you’re doing that.

>> Yeah, well, I mean, at the end of the day, like our technology that the hardware piece of it, steel, right? And solar tracker, the small subcategory of solar trackers has always been considered, oh, you’re just bending steel.

>> Right.

>> We’re doing so much more than that.

>> Right.

>> Also looking at the personalities as well. I’m looking at those leaders and visionaries within our company, within our industry.

>> Yes.

>> And how to thread those stories and their advocacy.

>> Yes.

>> And persistence in staying within the industry. Knowing that at some point, there’s gonna be a tipping point in price.

>> Yeah.

>> That we can be price competitive with oil and gas.

>> Wow, that would be amazing. That’s amazing, the work that you’re doing. All right, I’d like to hear some of the most critical marketing challenges that you and NEXTracker, what your team is focusing on for this year coming up. What are some of the other things that you’re doing?

>> Mm-hm. Well, I think I’m probably not alone in saying that, we’re all strapped for resources.

>> Yes.

>> [LAUGH] I’m hiring by the way.

>> [LAUGH]

>> [LAUGH] Strapped for resources, and of course doing more with less.

>> Yes.

>> So what are those strategies around getting a hold of the primary customer that we have in utility-scale solar, around the globe, when there’s such a long lead cycle, I mean, the sales cycle? It’s so long, we know that we will be bidding on a project two or three years from now. And then we bid on it, we hope to get it, it’s a year, maybe three months at maybe it’s shortest, to a year to year and a half, two years before we get the bid. And then we construct it, and then we service it. So, I think it’s important to have a host of strategies, use integrated marketing as much as possible. And again, account-based marketing is really key. And looking at those places, use some one-on-one basics of trying to find out where to hit them in multiple levels.

>> Mm-hm.

>> But then understanding gen Z, and millennials, and that they’re a lot more on social media. And how can they be influencers to maybe those older decision-makers who are signing the checks. So kind of, I guess writing a story, reaching customers, it’s a big challenge. Yeah.

>> And probably for us, we’re number one in our category globally. Which is an awesome position to be in, but we don’t sit on our laurels. I mean, obviously, I’ve talked about machine learning and all the software helping to add value for our customers. That we have to continue to innovate, we have to be pushing those boundaries. Oil and gas is certainly doing it, nuclear’s doing it. So, these are also competitors of ours. We could talk about that one for hours for sure.

>> Well, specifically in the B2B category, in this technology marketing and I understand you have this really long sales cycle. Is there anything in particular that you’re using right now? How do you get in front of your B2B customers?

>> Many different strategies. I think one important one is to, particularly for solar and renewables, is to be involved in your trade organization. Now let’s say you’re manufacturing a widget. Who is advocating on your behalf at your state legislature? How can you connect with them for them to be able to be that champion influencer marketer? In a broader scope that your brand is being stated at state legislature or even on the national stage. For example, the Solar Energy Industries Association is super important to us. We are massive supporters. They also deliver and they work really hard on policy. And are very strategic with state initiatives to move things that are very important to us as an organization. So I think, looking at out of the box and looking at different players that you can partner with and have build those relationships with is a smart thing to do.

>> Wow, and that all comes down to the purview of you in the marketing department to work on those kinds of things like state initiatives.

>> You have to know policy, which actually comes handy for me. That’s my background, my master’s degree is in international public policy and public health. So, [LAUGH] lo and behold, here I am.

>> [LAUGH]

>> Yeah, so it’s allowing me to exercise that muscle for sure.

>> Yeah, well are there any other non-tech brands maybe, or other brands that you’re following that maybe we can learn some lessons from?

>> I love what Beautycounter is doing, are you familiar with Beautycounter?

>> No.

>> Beautycounter has worked really hard. The CEO and their their founding group has worked really hard to get BPA and phthalates and other carcinogens that are in makeup. What I like about them is that there’s an advocacy component to what they do. There’s a mission driven kind of baseline from which they operate as a company. I believe they are a B Corp, which is also a good thing. I don’t know for those viewers or listeners, if you’re familiar with B Corp. It’s a sustainability and business kind of ethics certification organization that audits your company and kind of gives you a scorecard. And so back to Beautycounter, they have a big component at a national level. Trying to get the FDA regulating more stringently on the beauty industry. They’re massively delinquent in including pretty awful things in the things that we put in our bodies and on faces every day.

>> Wow.

>> Doesn’t sound fun, but what they create is a stunning product. They have this huge line, they are on par with, from a CPG standpoint, their packaging is beautiful. They’re just a lovely brand to watch over time and see how they tell their story. So, massive supporter of them. I don’t know, beauty industry, that’s probably a little out of the box for renewable energy.

>> Yeah, [LAUGH] yeah, I like that spin that you took on that.

>> I love Allied Industries, like EVgo and the larger mobility space. For California folks, this is of a massive interest. EVs have seen an incredible, electric vehicles have seen an incredible uptick in the most recent years. Vast majority of them being in California, California owners. But I think their user interface is beautiful. The big improvement on the car charging infrastructure that we’ve had over the last five to ten years. Which is the only way, I think, that people will, it’s the only way I think, in addition to obviously, all the car industry embracing having a line or two or three of electric vehicles. But I like what they do and I think what they do is beautiful. I love beautiful design, so anywhere where there’s beautiful design and aesthetic user interface. I hate to name a couple offenders, but folks like NetSuite, I mean, [LAUGH]. We use NetSuite, they’re fine, but I mean, it’s time to upgrade on UX, right?

>> Right.

>> I love good UX, I love good design.

>> Yeah, and I also seeing a thread here too of the advocacy and the mission driven. And you talk about the EVs, and interesting thing I was just reviewing some of the Super Bowl commercials this year. And we had three EVs in the Super Bowl. And nationally, only about 1% of the advertising dollars go towards EV. So it still hasn’t gotten a lot of momentum out there in marketing and advertising. And so it’s interesting, but the sustainability, piece is big, and people wanna know about that and it’s a big trend in marketing. People wanna know how much does a company care and what are they doing to reduce their footprint. So a lot of the things that I can tell that you’re involved in, not only with next tracker, but some of your other favorite brands are really answering those questions and our forward are forward thinking.

>> That’s where crowdsourcing can play, have a role. When you have plug-share and a user base of people that are updating real time availability of a charging station in some random place near like, let’s say Blythe, California.

>> [LAUGH]

>> Which is probably a place that you have heard of.

>> [LAUGH]

>> Haven’t been through on the way to the East.

>> And you’re gonna have to stop there and hook up I know. [LAUGH].

>> Right, right, so social media, crowdsourcing, getting your users involved. People love to talk about their cars, whether it’s an EV or a combustion engine car. People love to talk about what they have. I think the EV industry has capitalized on that and taken advantage and done a really great job at exposing why people are excited. And why it’s so much easier and range anxiety, and it’s not bad anymore. It’s 300 miles on my Chevy Bolt, for example.

>> [LAUGH], Oh, [LAUGH]

>> Cool stuff.

>> I have a question for you, and thinking about that. You have over 20 years of [BLANK_AUDIO] Global marketing experience. And I’m curious to know, how does the US stack up to other countries with their openness to this sort of sustainability and to solar?

>> Europe definitely leads, I guess probably no surprise there. Paris Climate, they have much stringent regulations on, and big lofty goals that we thought were lofty. But they’re actually starting to achieve them now. I say, India where you have Prime Minister Modi, for example. When you have presidents who are embracing renewables for such obvious reasons. When portion of your population is actually experiencing asthma on a regular basis, or China. Those are obviously massive countries, and they’re behemoths.

>> Right.

>> And China, but they’re contenders, and they’re doing great work at the same time. And I think a lot of those stories are not told.

>> Mm-hm.

>> Australia struggles like we do, politically from a red and blue divide. The blue being on the side of the renewables and the forward thinking mission driven, thinking longer term for the planet.

>> Right.

>> Whereas the red states, those more conservative opinions are the naysayers of climate change and so forth. I think Latin America, certain countries like Brazil, Mexico, they’re leading the pack and doing some excellent work. There’s other examples everywhere. I mean, in many places of Africa as well. They’re really trying to do it on a smaller scale and working with local communities, and-

>> What about, I’m curious to know, what about oil rich countries? How is the marketing of alternative power going there? How do you attempt to that?

>> Mm-hm. I’ll tell you it’s a lot easier than working with Texas and the tri-state area of Louisiana and Oklahoma who are stalwarts. Saudi Aramco and other companies, and the utility industries of the Middle East, the North Africa region are massively supporting renewables. They’ve had fits and starts over the years. But in the most recent years they’re seeing price competitiveness. And it all comes down to price, to allow this to happen on a large scale. So, most recently I had the opportunity to go to Saudi Arabia. I was just in Abu Dhabi last a couple weeks ago. And they’re now putting renewables next to water production, next to oil and gas, and so it’s very much part of the conversation, and the national dialogues. So, you also have to think about how and I don’t know, I can’t quote it exactly how much let’s say Saudi Arabia or the Emirates are using their natural resources for their country’s own power production, or electricity use.

>> Right.

>> Versus something that they have everyday that’s up in the sky that is renewable, and they have an abundance of, right?

>> Yeah.

>> And going back to your international question, you also have to look at a radiance. Where does solar really make sense? We have demonstrated that we can deploy it worldwide, and that it works. But there are certain areas obviously where the Aradiance, which means this larger solar value that you can produce a lot more energy.

>> Wow, well, we’re really getting a good lesson here on renewables from you and marketing. So I appreciate all this. I’d like to talk a little bit about you now, Kristen. I read in your intro what your client said about what a rock star marketer you are. I’d like to hear in your own words, describe your personal brand and your leadership philosophy.

>> Well, I love to manage teams. I love a tight knit team, leadership philosophy. I’m a huge connector to quote, was it Malcolm Gladwell and the Maven, or The Connector. I can’t remember his three paradigms, or his framework in, was it Tipping Point? I don’t know if you’ve read that.

>> Yeah, I have read Tipping Point, yes.

>> Mm-hm. Where things happen because there’s a catalyst. I would say my marketing brand or my brand as a professional would be a catalyst. Like beginning things and looking at the strategy, and who do I need to speak with to make things happen. And I think that’s what I do a lot here, the current role that I have as well as my other roles. I’m an enthusiastic marketer, I love what I do. I evangelize people that also catalyze, so probably that kind of projecting and loving that, that people like to. [BLANK_AUDIO] Promote, maybe what I’m currently promoting, whether it’s EVs or beauty counter, or solar energy. Like anyone, if you’re interested in what someone does and you like it, you’re gonna promote each other. But I would say catalysts, I’m a big, I connect a lot of dots. I love to make things happen. I wear a lot of hats.

>> Mm-hm.

>> So, that video that you spoke of that I just produced, I storyboarded it. I worked with the all the people involved from day one, and did the voiceover. And wrote the script, and came up with what I wanted it to look like, and then I get by in. So I like [INAUDIBLE] running projects from A to Z.

>> Yeah, and I love that word, catalyst, that’s a good one, that’s a good one. I’m wondering if there is a, looking at your career and giving us some advice. Was there a personal learning experience or a time in a situation in your career where you faced a professional obstacle, and how did you overcome it?

>> Yeah, I’d say early in my career I probably bit off more than I can chew [LAUGH].

>> [LAUGH]

>> I would say just be humble and just open your heart, and your smarts, and your brain, and take it all in. I don’t know if I did that so much earlier on in my career.

>> [LAUGH]

>> And that’s maybe the advice that I would give to someone coming into marketing.

>> Right.

>> And explore as much as you possibly can. I mean, as far as experience, one experience. I have so many where I faltered, and you just got to get it back up and be humble about it. That’s all I can say. Be mindful about it. I think I would say, working for a company, not just this company, but the last few companies I’ve worked for, and then even earlier on in my marketing career. When you look at the wheels of personality traits.

>> Yes, the disc? [LAUGH]

>> The disc.

>> [LAUGH] Yeah.

>> So as an extrovert. Marketers are typically typically extroverted and sometimes that’s not the case. But for the most part we can generalize. And then working for an engineering company. I am really interested in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering, but I’m not an engineer. Now what are the stereotypes of engineers? They’re introverted. They like to problem solve. They like to tinker and mull over things. They don’t want to overstate. Things that marketers don’t do [LAUGH].

>> The opposite, right, they’re probably the D, right?

>> Odds or is there opportunity for growth? So maybe I speak specifically to any of your listeners that come that are working in technology or science, or the engineering fields, where you’re working with more folks who are trying to solve real problems. But they’re not boastful about it and they might not go out of their way to talk about what they’re doing. But you have to bring it out in them, take a step forward and work really hard to learn how to work with them cuz they’re invaluable to you. And you’ll learn so much more, and you’ll be a better marketer because of it.

>> Yeah, and I think you’re very self-aware when you talk about the disk. I would imagine that you are an I or an S, and then our engineers are D, somewhere over there, so you’re at the opposite. And they say that groups that solve problems, that are different from each other come up with better solutions than groups that solve problems that are the same. So, you know, I think you’re really bringing something to the equation here with the engineers. And that was in the quote that your client gave how you really understand the science and the product but you also understand the marketing. And I think that’s a really unique thing that you’ve got going for you. Thanks, thanks. Well I mean, isn’t that what we’re talking about? I mean just the Oscars the other night. Diversity and including more LGBTQ and women directors. And are we stronger because we’re more diverse?

>> Yeah.

>> Cuz it’s the same thing. I mean, I think all industries are facing this. More women in the board room, more people of color in the boardroom. We’re going to be stronger because of it. It’s that same underlying principle of having diverse points of view.

>> Yeah. But I think what you’re doing too is that you are teaching us and you’re doing to understand people that are not like you. You are not an engineer. But you are really open to understanding. And you value what they’re bringing to the table. And you’re adding to it your difference to that. And I think that’s the big thing too. We don’t just wanna a bunch of people in a room that are different. We’ve gotta listen to each other.

>> Right.

>> And that’s where the value is.

>> Well, that’s what I was saying. Early in my career, I don’t know if I would have listened to that.

>> Right.

>> It’s almost like chicken before the egg and the scenario of real experience. You actually have to live through something to get it or maybe just listen to this podcast and then you’re all done. [LAUGH]

>> And then you don’t have to make those mistakes that we already made. Well, this is a good subject that will take take us right into my next question. And I’d like to hear your thoughts on mentoring and maybe what that’s meant to you along your career and if there’s any lessons that you learned that you might be able to share with us. Oh, I love the current dialogue, discourse between mentorship and sponsorship right now. Yes. Especially with female mentors or sponsors like what does that really mean? I don’t know if you’ve probably experienced this with some of your the folks that you’ve interviewed. I kind of advocate more for the sponsorship. Because that you’re almost accountable and there’s an unwritten contract between two people that I’m going to watch you in your career over time.

>> Right, yeah. And help you and move you along. And I can do that because I have the connections, right. Mentorships sometimes, I think those certain programs where mentorship is imposed.

>> Yes.

>> Ization feel obligated. I’ll give an example my daughter who’s ten. She was chosen because she is a leader in her little fifth grade community. [LAUGH] And she was chosen to work with kids, the buddy system with the kids special needs. And it’s imposed by her. And she’s trying, she’s grokking it. She’s trying to figure this out like, if this kid keeps on running away from me and not wanting to talk to me. [LAUGH] How do I meet him where he’s at like, actually that you’re being imposed this buddy system where you need to be this little buddy mentor person. But they’re not thinking about it the right way, the educational system.

>> Yeah, that’s interesting. It’s starting young, isn’t it?

>> Oh, absolutely. Yeah. It’s a great idea. If it’s imposed on you, that you need to mentorship someone rather than you deciding, I’m gonna pick a few people out because I really think I could sponsor them.

>> Do you have any advice for people that are sponsoring right now, people that are sponsoring, people that are sponsoring people within their organization? What are some of the best things that a sponsor can do to pull up people. Well, I’m fairly goal oriented, so I would advise to tie a project or percentage of your time to something that you wanna work on. And that sponsor guiding them and now and helping them to navigate that project. So you’re actually seeing something get done.

>> Right. Yeah, I think that’s important.

>> It’s really simple but i like to see results.

>> And speaking of results, you have any advice for the women listening today? How can they excel or achieve their goals in marketing in business today? What’s the best way for them to do that?

>> Well I think we can get myopic in our work. We’re extended. But to the extent that you can connect, like I had mentioned your trade organization or some type of affiliate organization that’s getting you out of your thinking. Maybe it’s a LinkedIn group. Or HubSpot, make it a point of reading a HubSpot blog every Thursday at nine thirty with coffee.

>> Ah.

>> No one interrupt you.

>> Right.

>> Continue to learn. There’s that but I also would say too, we’re always evolving our narrative and what we can offer. And hopefully expanding that narrative, because we’re offering more and learning more. When I think about my career and the various things that I’ve done in places that I’ve worked in nonprofits and for profit companies. There’s not an instance where I don’t think about right now in working in solar 30 years ago I installed a 36 watt panel on my corrugated zinc roof in the Dominican Republic as a piece for volunteer.

>> Wow. [LAUGH]

>> And I taught how to install solar And how to use a car battery as a motherboard, and I got to put little switches by my bed and my mosquito net. I think about now, I’m reinstalling solar arrays that are from 63rd and down to Battery Park for example nine square miles of solar, imagine the tip of Manhattan. Now like what kind of picture does that paint in your mind?

>> Yeah. For this little zinc roof, and pounding at third small little 36 watt.

>> [LAUGH]

>> And now I have this, where I’m photographing aerial drone. National Geographic photographers are working with me to film these incredible installations that are powering 74,000 amps. But no, there’s beauty in tying, and looking for those bookmarks, and then everything in between.

>> Yeah, yeah, well, I really hear your enthusiasm behind storytelling and how you weave that into the renewable story, and to the solar, and to the story of your career. And wow, I just love that story of you starting at the Peace Corps and where you are now. That’s fantastic, we had a great study. [LAUGH] You know I have one last question to you. I’d like to know if you have a daily habit or two that contributes to your success, any thing you’d like to share with us?

>> I make my bed.

>> [LAUGH]

>> Simple, but I really do. It’s so ingrained if I don’t make my bed, I will walk right back up into my house after getting into my car. I make my bed. It’s super stupid, but I just make it. And then Mondays, Mondays I’m really into exercise. So, if I don’t do anything in a given week because I might be busy, and with kids, and this and that, and just life. If I did a spinning class on a Monday morning at 6 AM, then I achieved something. I love it.

>> Get it in early, get the exercise in early in the week. You don’t have to feel guilty. [LAUGH]

>> [UNKNOWN] in our busy lives and trying to find a place for that, so.

>> Yeah, yeah, any marketing resources, books, podcasts or anything that you wanna recommend to our listeners as we close out here. I do, I do. I’m thinking of on a podcast, a huge podcaster by the way. So, we all listen to so many podcasts that are in our industry and maybe in marketing. Now, a podcast that will really get you out is one that I love, it’s called Ear Hustle.

>> Oh, okay.

>> You’ve ever heard of that. I wanna say it’s by Sarah Koenig who started it, but I think she might have done Serial, the NPR journalist. She found a guy at San Quentin Prison who had started this small podcast or had some connection to him, and they created a podcast. So the Ear Hustle is effectively this guy in prison and when he’s in the lunch line getting his food, he’s quiet and he always, the hustle is what’s on the prison grounds.

>> Oh.

>> Dead, but behind closed doors, and in lines, and here and there.

>> Oh.

>> And that’s where you get the good story.

>> And it doesn’t, it gets you out of what you think is prison life, and stop thinking about prisoners as being a certain way that they’re all just people, and that they have lives, [LAUGH] and that they can contribute, and they just had been down and out. And had some challenges and gotten to the situation they’re in, because they’re in. So, that’s when I would recommend, I love Storied by a gentleman by the name of Michael Margolis. He’s one of my favorite kind of Simon [UNKNOWN] style leaders, coaches, kind of corporate storytelling folks. I think what he does is really good. He just came out with a book called TedX that I recommend.

>> I’ve heard of that, TEDx.

>> Yeah, and sadly I don’t have a lot of time to read. So I have a long commute, and I do a lot of audio books.

>> Me too, I love audio books, it’s my favorite.

>> Yep.

>> It’s a great resource. Well, thank you Kristen again for sharing all your stories-

>> [LAUGH]

>> And your advice, and thank you for mentoring us today. It’s been fantastic to hear about what you’re doing with renewables, and how you’re marketing those, and just making the world a better place too, you’ve come full circle having you.

>> Thank you, Kathy.

>> [LAUGH]

>> Appreciate your program. Thanks for having it.

>> Yes, thank you so much.

>> That’s our show for today. Our latest interview and show notes have been added to our showrunner Hall of Fame, at the Don’t miss an episode by subscribing now, to the showrunner Marketing Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or Google Play. And to network, motivate, and gain some more wisdom from the top, follow Advanced Marketing Strategies on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn. Keep learning and growing, and thanks for listening. [MUSIC]

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