We were lucky to catch up with Amber Hurdle recently and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Amber, thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us about a time where you or your team really helped a customer get an amazing result?
McKenzie Stone & Tile is one of many client success stories, and is a perfect example of a business owner fully embracing the Velvet Machete Brand Strategy to the benefit of the owner, the team, and customers.
Narelle Hooker began as a podcast listener, and enrolled in my Velvet Machete Leadership Academy leadership certification program. Upon getting remarkably clear on her personal brand, she built on her self-awareness and renewed confidence to start aggressively tackling her employer brand. Then while attending our leadership retreat, she was surrounded by other powerful women who shared in her tenacious drive for success, giving her further permission to be her boldest Bombshell self, all in service to her team, customers, and loved ones.
Her next step was to hire us for consulting. By using people data, we surveyed her current team in order to see and harvest the greatness in them while recruiting the right people who not only were a behavioral match for the job, but a fit to the team, as well. We also implemented a structured operating system and updated their cultural basics to put repeatable systems in place and to amplify the “family rules.” The team dynamics strengthened, personal accountability increased, and the culture shifted through the newly empowered trickle-down leadership that begins with Narelle.
To take it to the next level, Narelle flew me and my brilliant photographer out to MS&T headquarters in Eugene, Oregon, where I conducted a senior leadership strategy session while everyone in the company participated in the branding photography session. With fresh images of team members, equipment, product, and the behind the scenes of the business, MS&T now can visually tell the story of what it looks like to work for and do business with their company.
Day two entailed an all-team training that brought together personal branding for each participant, as well as how their brand fit into the whole to solidify their ability to work together at the department and global level to reach their shared goals. It was magical to see everyone realize how they uniquely contributed to the big picture and how much ownership they each took once they had that awareness.
Fast forward to today, the business is quickly gaining market share and executing with a rockstar team, even in the midst of a talent shortage. Narelle’s personal brand is also growing within the industry as a seasoned pro, and leader in the world of fabrication.
With this level of intention, Narelle began with strengthening her personal brand as a leader and owner, which strengthened her employer brand, helped the company recruit and retain top talent, and ultimately strengthened the business brand because she is happy, with engaged employees serving their very happy customers.
Words cannot express how impressed I am with Narelle’s commitment to her team, her customers, her industry, and importantly to her own self-awareness.
And it all started with her listening to my podcast…
Amber, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
We are employer brand architects that help companies become an employer of choice that attracts and retains top talent, and we are personal brand builders to help leaders become more influential and drive results. We offer keynote speaking, consulting, in-person and virtual training, group and individual coaching, or for many, a combination of all of that.
After overseeing the internal rebrand when Marriott Hotels acquired Gaylord Hotels, I decided to go out on my own to continue to support senior leaders in becoming their most influential and impactful selves, and to help companies strengthen their culture and ability to be known as a best place to work.
Beyond keynote speaking, our core offerings include:
For Employer Brands: Employer Brand Central, a subscription-based solution that helps companies improve recruitment, retention and employee engagement to drive business results.
For Personal Brands: We also built Velvet Machete Leadership Academy that helps leaders strengthen their personal brands as confident, compassionate leaders who are influential in rallying support for operational goals.
For Business Brands: Velvet Machete Business Branding guides business owners through creating a brand guide that details their brand messaging, brand personality, and visual brand so they are consistent in their marketing, talent acquisition, employee engagement, and customer service.
Finally, since I have a heart for powerful women who have always been told they are “too much” or who have likely been marginalized, we have the Bombshell Business Woman sub-brand. I redefined the term “Bombshell” to mean a bold, brave, unwaveringly confident woman in business. Through my book, The Bombshell Business Woman and the Bombshell Business Podcast, I can offer free to super affordable opportunities to serve women leaders.
At the end of the day it is all about helping leaders and companies define and position their value. That is my superpower that I will use in service to others for the rest of my life.
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
Like many people, 2020 was a doozy of a year for me. My parents almost lost their lives and certainly lost their home in the Nashville tornados. Just weeks after that Covid came to the States and dismantled my speaking business since groups were suddenly not meeting, and because I served industries that were hardest hit by the pandemic.
If that was not enough, I found out at the end of the year that I would soon be divorced.
But don’t feel sorry for me.
I believe that things don’t happen to you, rather they happen for you. And that thought alone helps anyone be resilient.
It was as if someone wiped everything off of my desk and told me to only pick up what I really wanted on my desk moving forward. Let’s just say I left a lot on the floor!
I redesigned my business model in a way that far more aligns with how I want to do business. I continued to socially distance from many people who were simply not an energetic or values match for me. I focused on investing in specific people and groups to strengthen my people environment only with people who are true to their own personality, values, and priorities, no matter the pressure they are under to act otherwise.
One of the ways I was a successful teen mom is because I was careful with who I surround myself with. 2020 helped me course correct in that area that had gotten out of my control, and my business and my life have flourished since.
When I think about my #1 success strategy, it’s knowing who is wearing your jersey. Not everyone who acts like your friend is your friend—in business and in life.
From clients to colleagues to friends I am joyfully aligned with everyone in my life and it’s amazing!
What do you think helped you build your reputation within your market?
My reputation as a globally recognized branding professional is a direct result of me being consistent with sharing what I am about. You call it leadership, I say that leadership begins with an aligned personal brand. You say culture, I say the culture doesn’t matter if you don’t have an employer brand that shares the outcome of your culture in action. You say you gain market share with social media, content marketing, or digital ads. I say none of that matters if you don’t have a strong business brand that keeps you consistent in sharing your brand message in your brand voice in a way that is compelling to your ideal customer(s). There are many things I do for and with my customers, but it all begins with my award-winning, proprietary Velvet Machete Brand Strategy.