Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Rachel Cross. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Rachel, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Owning a business isn’t always glamorous and so most business owners we’ve connected with have shared that on tough days they sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have just had a regular job instead of all the responsibility of running a business. Have you ever felt that way?
I spent the first 12 years of my career in corporate America in various marketing roles, and it was a great training ground. I had amazing mentors, learned valuable skills, build lifelong relationships, and discovered what sets my soul on fire. I also learned what I don’t want out of life – working on projects I don’t believe in and under leaders I wasn’t sure I wanted to emulate. Sometimes, you have to start with what you don’t want to clearly define what you do want.
That’s how I made the leap of faith to go out on my own and start my own boutique marketing consulting firm. After 11 years of owning my own business, I can honestly say I wouldn’t change a thing about being my own boss. Sure, there have been ups and downs – like times when business was slower than I would prefer – but being able to define my own goals, pick my clients and projects, and do work that matters to me is more important than anything else. Plus, I love making my own schedule, working from anywhere in the world, taking 6 weeks of vacation a year, and having ultimate flexibility and freedom.
Rachel, 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?
I am passionate about brand strategy for growth-phased companies. Many people equate “brand” to a logo and a website, but when I talk about brand, I mean these four areas: 1) Culture – who you are; 2) Product or Service – what you do; 3) Experience – how you feel to anyone who comes into contact with you; and, 4) Expression – what you look like and sound like.
When one or more of those areas are misaligned, your whole business is affected, so I help clients define how they’re doing in those areas and help come up with plans to align them.
I am especially passionate about company culture because the other three areas are heavily influenced by it. From defining company values and operationalizing them to developing employee roadmaps and retention programs, it’s incredibly sacred work to dive into the guts of an organization and help them clean out their closets (so to speak).
My favorite roles include being an adjunct member of an internal team (usually marketing) and acting as CEO or CMO whisperers, helping identify and fix culture, leadership, and brand expression gaps.
What’s a lesson you had to unlearn and what’s the backstory?
Growing up as an immigrant, my family didn’t have a lot of money compared to our neighbors, my classmates, and my friends. This created a scarcity mindset – meaning, I believed there was a limit to how much I could have and achieve in life, so I only reached for what I knew I could accomplish. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have big goals, like getting into the college of my dreams (UCLA), but it did mean I thought I had to take on every client and project that came my way when I first started my business. Instead of carefully defining what an “A” client looks like, I learned the hard way that not all business is life-giving (one of my values).
Luckily, there are no horror stories here – just a recognition that some clients and projects will align better with my personality and values so will bring me more joy. With this knowledge, along with the belief that the universe is infinitely abundant, I am more selective about who I work with and am clear on why I’m choosing to do so. It results in taking on projects I’m really passionate about where I feel I’m able to add massive value while being paid what I think I deserve.
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
While “pivot” felt like the word of the year for 2020, I recently had a major pivot moment in my personal life. After an epic January snowboarding in Mammoth Lakes (California), Park City (Utah), Brian Head (Utah), and Lake Tahoe (California), I ruptured my Achilles playing soccer. A week later, I had surgery to repair the tear and was on a knee scooter for four weeks, then crutches for a few days, and have been walking in a boot ever since (now almost eight weeks post-surgery at the time of writing this).
I had to cancel snowboarding trips to Big Sky (Montana), Telluride (Colorado), and Mount Tremblant (Quebec, Canada), plus a canoeing/hiking trip to Black Canyon, Arizona. Besides putting a dent in my travel plans, my injury and surgery forced me to slow down and learn a new rhythm. I could no longer be on the go, working long hours, and then socializing with friends every day. I simply didn’t have the energy and wasn’t mobile enough to be out and about as much as I was pre-injury. I have since embraced this new slower rhythm as my new normal. I am enjoying the lack of rushing around, having more room in my schedule, and enjoying simple nights at home.
Additionally, the situation has forced me to not only receive help, but proactively ask for help. From friends bringing over meals to having my sister stay with me for a month to assist with basic things like cooking and taking out the trash, it has reminded me I have an amazing community – one I can rely on more often.
I’m not sure I would have chosen to learn this lesson the way I did, but it’s been a meaningful journey thus far.
- Website: https://www.rachelkgroup.com/
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachelkcross/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/rachelkcross
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQiKBmW6su7KJFnnCrHMkFw
The Youngrens, Molden Works