Tuesdays with Corey interview with Barb Giamanco, Barbara LoRusso, and Julie Gareleck
In memoriam: Barb Giamanco is remembered and loved for her candor, boldness, and authenticity. Her passion for coaching and mentoring women in sales positively impacted the lives of countless professionals. Here is a more complete obituary for Barb. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/obituary-barb-giamanco-deb-calvert/
Barb Giamanco heads up Social Centered Selling. She’s the co-author of The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media and authored the Harvard Business Review article Tweet Me, Friend Me, Make Me Buy.
With a successful C-level background in Sales, Technology and Leadership Development, Barb capped her corporate career at Microsoft, where she led sales teams and coached executives. Through the years she has sold $1B in sales.
Barb is consistently recognized as a Top Sales and Business Blogger, a Top 25 Influential Leader in Sales, a Top 25 Sales Influencer on Twitter and one of Top Sales World’s Top 50 Sales and Marketing Influencers for the 3rd year in a row. And recently, Barb was named one of the Top 65 Business Influencers among other leaders such as Ariana Huffington, Melinda Gates and Sheryl Sandberg.
Barbara LoRusso is the Director of Client Development for LoRusso Law Firm, an Atlanta-based civil litigation firm opened by her husband, Lance LoRusso, almost 10 years ago. Prior to this, Barbara was doing consulting and research work for a non-profit trade association here in Atlanta for almost 20 years. She has a Ph.D. in Applied Psychology from University of Georgia and went to Emory as an undergraduate.
Barbara has been an active volunteer with charitable organizations and currently serves on the board of SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center in Marietta.
Connect with Barbara on LinkedIn.
Born into an entrepreneurial family, Julie Gareleck was convinced that business was not her passion and that becoming a reporter was more intriguing. At the age of 21, Julie punched her international card, in Paris, working for Angela de Bona, the top PR Agent, representing the top fashion photographers in the world. A venture to Philadelphia after Paris directed Julie to work for a leading entrepreneurship institute.
In a few short years, she was recruited to join a venture capital organization, focused on early stage companies in Technology, Biotechology, among other industries, as its Executive Director. Julie earned her place in the Board Room at the age of 25.
A transition to Atlanta over 12 years ago enabled Julie to take her strategy experience and work as a senior strategist for interactive advertising agencies. It was here that Julie realized there was a gap between business-based strategy and what was defined as strategy at agencies. Junction Creative Solutions was born out of the need for strategies that intersect key business segments and the need for a firm that can manage the implementation. For over 8 years, Junction has worked with nearly 225 companies, helping do just that.
Julie has created an environment that empowers her team and her clients to be the very best they can be, and success follows naturally. She has earned the respect of her peers not just for her shining personality, but for her authenticity, integrity, and drive as a business leader. Her portfolio includes measurable integrated strategies for prominent brands across various industries, including Yahoo!, Mailboxes Etc., National City Corporation (PNC Bank), GE Energy, Mohawk Industries, Schweitzer-Mauduit International, Inc. (SWM), and Alcatel-Lucent. Early stage companies in the portfolio include AcuteCare Telemedicine, 85 Broads, Intelaplay, Competitive Sports Analysis, XIOSS, Infinite Resource Solutions, Guardian Watch, Pro Diligence, Cost Management Group, the National Tennis Foundation, Saffire Vapor, among others.
Julie established the JXN Executive Roundtable in 2012 as a resource for entrepreneurs, senior executives, and marketing leaders to share industry experiences and insights. She remains actively involved in industry organizations often participating as an expert panelist or guest speaker.
Intro: Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it's time for Atlanta Business Radio, spotlighting the city's best businesses and the people who lead them.
Lee Kantor: Lee Kantor here with Katy Galli. Another episode of Atlanta Business Radio. And Katy, this is going to be a special one.
Katy Galli: It absolutely is. So, welcome to a special edition of Atlanta Business Radio Tuesdays with Corey hosted by Corey Rieck and Lee Kantor.
Lee Kantor: All right, Corey. You want to tell us a little bit about your vision here, Tuesdays with Corey. What do you got in mind?
Corey Rieck: Yeah. Thanks, Lee. What we want to do here on the show is highlight very, very successful female executives that are very successful in Atlanta and changing the way things are done.
Lee Kantor: And why did you choose this subject matter? Why is that important to you?
Corey Rieck: Because I think there's a lot of success out there, and a lot of the female executives that are successful don't really talk about how they got there. And I think it's just a way to highlight people that have been very, very strong and are driving a lot of good things in the community.
Lee Kantor: And it's important to kind of educate other business owners and female business owners, kind of the good, the bad, the ugly of the process?
Corey Rieck: Sure.
Lee Kantor: And who do you have with us today?
Corey Rieck: Well, today, it's my great pleasure to have Barb Giamanco, who is a very, very excellent social media person, and owns and operates Social Centered Selling. Good morning, Barb.
Barb Giamanco: Hey, Corey. Thanks for having me.
Corey Rieck: I have Barbara LoRusso, who is the Client Director of Client Development of LoRusso Law Firm here. Good morning, Barbara.
Barbara LoRusso: Hi. Thanks, Corey.
Corey Rieck: And I have Julie Gareleck, who is the successful CEO and Executive of Junction Creative. And they're a strategic company to help companies get on track. Is that right?
Julie Gareleck: Exactly. Thanks,, Corey.
Lee Kantor: Good stuff. And who are we going to lead off with?
Corey Rieck: Well, we're going to start off with Barb Giamanco. Barb, you have a great deal of experience here with social media and related business. How did you get started in that?
Barb Giamanco: Well, funny story. When I retired from Microsoft, I had been running a national sales team there. And at the time, I thought the company was getting too big. If you can imagine, Microsoft, there's 33,000 people at that point. And I thought, "Okay. They've grown too big. I want to go do my own thing." But, Corey, I have a passion for people development, as well as technology. So, I started investigating the early social media tools back in 2001 and 2002. And then, in 2003, LinkedIn came on the scene, and I said, "I think this social media stuff, even in the infancy, I could see it's going to change a business and I could see it would impact sales." And I said, "I'm going to be known as the sales meets social media gal." So, here we are.
Corey Rieck: And you've certainly done that. I actually have known Barb for a couple of years, and she has helped me and my company with my LinkedIn profile, and is really extremely knowledgeable and has been extremely helpful to me personally.
Barb Giamanco: Thank you.
Corey Rieck: Now, you've written a couple of articles and books, and you've been in Harvard Business Review. Tell us about that.
Barb Giamanco: Yeah. So, again, being ahead of my time in 2009, I wrote a book called The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media. And that actually was published in 2010. And at the time, people were like, "Social selling, I don't really see it." So, it took a little while for that to catch on. But funny story about the Harvard Business Review, people still ask me today if I had a press agent who got me published in the actual magazine. And actually, that's not true. It's social media that did it for me. As it turned out, in February of 2012, it was about 6 p.m. on a Tuesday night, I remember it well because I simultaneously got a tweet on Twitter and an email from one of the editors that said, "We're gonna do a summer edition about how sales has evolved, and you seem to be the go-to person with respect to sales meets social media. Do you want to write for us?"
Corey Rieck: Let me think about that.
Barb Giamanco: Yeah. So, once I picked myself up off the floor, resounding yes. And then, of course, I said, "Well, how did you find me?" And as it turned out, unbeknownst to me, one of their VPs had heard me on a webinar. They signed up for the newsletter. They were following me on social, and Twitter, and LinkedIn. And so, it does work.
Corey Rieck: That sure does. So, you have sort of a lot of experience in the C-suite.
Barb Giamanco: Yes.
Corey Rieck: Walk us through that if you could.
Barb Giamanco: You mean reaching C-suite executives?
Corey Rieck: Experience yourself or both. Your initial experience running sales organizations. And then, also, reaching out and how the two sort of are intermingled, if you will.
Barb Giamanco: All right. So, earlier in my sales career, there was this thinking that do anything you can to get in the door and then try to work your way up, which I don't know, call me lazy, I sort of thought, "Why would I want to do that? Why wouldn't I just try to go right to the top?" So, I always set my sights on going to the executives who actually were responsible for the budget. And also though, at the time, there were less decision makers as part of the process. So, today, I would say still try to go for the highest level decision maker you can get to because they have access to various pools of money, and they can pull together budgets for you.
Barb Giamanco: But also, we need to recognize, there are a lot of people who influence the decisions now. CEB has said upwards of seven people can be involved in a buying decision. So, now, you need to go high, but you also need to cultivate influencers who have a say in that decision. And then, today, I use social media to reach a lot of those execs because they are not answering the phone most of the time, and they're not responding to a lot of emails, predominantly because salespeople just crank out a lot of spam out of garbage.
Corey Rieck: How have you used your experience being personally in the C-suite to get to these folks now via social media?
Barb Giamanco: Well, I think the most important thing, Corey, is that you need to remember, they're people just like us. I mean, they've got a lot of challenges they're dealing with. They're dealing with a lot of stress. And I think part of it, though, is you really have to constantly be educating yourself, staying on top of trends, and things happening in the business, and you've got to be on top of what's happening even with the competitive landscape.
Barb Giamanco: So, I go in believing that I have something of value to offer. And because I've done my homework, and I'm pretty knowledgeable about what's happening, I can bring a lot of insights to the table. The salespeople who are not doing so well these days are the ones who just want to pitch. They just want to roll in and pitch features. And C-suite execs don't really care about that. They care about how you're going to help them increase pipeline revenue, and reduce costs, and improve productivity, and all these sorts of things.
Barb Giamanco: They, also, are super busy. So, if you can be the resource who says, "Look, are you guys thinking about artificial intelligence and what that's going to mean to your organization? And have you thought about this and that?" And you become sort of that resource arm. And I know one of your guests is very well-versed in research, and I'm betting she would agree with me that when you bring those insights to the table, execs will talk to you. They'll take a meeting with you.
Corey Rieck: Well, you certainly differentiated yourself. I noticed, and knowing you, and looking at your bio, you've mentioned that you've sold a billion dollars in sales.
Barb Giamanco: Yes.
Corey Rieck: Walk us through that.
Barb Giamanco: Well, I'm old, Corey.
Corey Rieck: Hey now. At 53, I'm much more reserved about how I think about that. How about we use the word experienced?
Barb Giamanco: Yes, I'm very experienced. So, I've been in sales for a very long time. And then, also, most of my sales experience has been in enterprise selling. So, we're talking multi-million dollar deals. And then, you couple that with the 15 years I've been in business myself, and I continue to sell pretty big deals now. So, yes, I've crossed the billion dollar mark in terms of selling. So, I know a little bit about how it gets done.
Corey Rieck: So, you have a lot of experience with LinkedIn, and blogs, and social media. Is there one aspect or one tenet that you like better than any other with the social media, all the different weapons, if you will, that are out there?
Barb Giamanco: Well, like Julie, who's a strategist, I'm a strategist too. So, it's not about the tool. It's about who you're trying to reach. And so, people get all, "Oh, you've got to be on Pinterest, and Instagram, and Twitter, and LinkedIn, and this." No, you actually need to fish where the fish are. Like you have to determine where your prospects spend time online. And also, to be fair, depending on the industry, there are many exacts in certain industries who are not really participating online at all. And so, for me, it's continually a mash up of good offline and online strategies.
Barb Giamanco: I would say, if you do a lot with business to business selling, LinkedIn is probably some place you definitely need to have some presence. And then, as far as the others, I like ... so, I kind of work with LinkedIn and Twitter, predominantly. Twitter, because there's no gatekeeper. I can talk to any executive anywhere in the world with nobody stopping me. And I often start a lot of relationships there that then move to business relationships on LinkedIn. So, bottom line, it really depends on the customer and where they're gonna tend to spend time. And I think it's also important that you ... so, there's a big thing in the industry today, Corey. Everybody's about to sell stock, right? More, and more, and more. No. I say less, less, less.
Corey Rieck: What do you mean by that?
Barb Giamanco: I mean, you don't need 25 tools to be successful. And in fact, you'll burn yourself out. And if you're a smaller business, that's ridiculous, unless you have the money to hire an agency. But less is really more. A few tools used really, really well as part of your selling strategy, that's how you get the traction.
Corey Rieck: Walk us through Twitter, and what you do, and what advice you would give to the folks listening out there about how to use that because that's the first ... I have not had a lot of experience with that personally trying to use that as a way to build relationships with executives.
Barb Giamanco: So, Twitter, it's kind of an acquired taste, and it takes a little effort to start to build a bit of a following. But one of the ways that people can get started, aside from just setting up the account, is if you're using linked in, you can also connect your Twitter account to your LinkedIn account, so that in the beginning, when you're getting started, if you post a LinkedIn status update, it can simultaneously post to Twitter. So, you can start to share your content, your messaging there. And then, you just get a list of your prospects, and you start to search them out or connect with them. Most people put their Twitter handle on their profile, LinkedIn profile these days. But that's what I did. I just created what's called a Twitter list of my top prospects, and went out, and found the ones that were there. I followed them. I started watching what kind of content they shared. I would pick it up and retweet it. Occasionally, I interject and say, "Oh, that was a great article. Thanks for sharing. Here's what I liked about it. And so, you just start talking to people, but you gotta do it in 140 characters. And personally, for me, when I'm trying to reach an exec, I'm not trying to pitch, I'm looking to see what they share personally. People tend to be a little more personal on Twitter. So, are they talking about the kid's baseball game or a charity they're involved in? And I look for that sort of common personal connection.
Corey Rieck: Very good.
Lee Kantor: Trying to make it human and not-
Barb Giamanco: Pretty much.
Julie Gareleck: ... leverage it as a kind of mass medium where they're just kind of like a robot kind of automated stuff that's just coming out that's meaningless, really.
Barb Giamanco: That's right. I mean, spam, spam is spam. So, I don't use any of the tools to sell. It's to start the conversation and to build that relationship because some things in sales I don't think are ever going to change. People buy from people. And so, I don't pitch. I'm just looking for ..., So I'll give you great example. A CMO, a former CMO, chief marketing officer at Brainshark, I wanted to do business with her. And so, I started following Robin's profile, happened to know that she's an avid bicyclist. And once a year, raises money for a charity that's really near and dear to her heart. Now, I've been following her for a while and I saw it. And all I did was pick it up. And by the way, that charity spoke to me as well. And all I did was pick it up and share it and said, "Hey, Robin Saitz is writing for charity. Think about making a donation. It's a great cause." Boom, she responded to me in like fifteen minutes, "Thank you so much for sharing with your network," da, da, da. That's how our relationship started. And then, before you knew it, we were doing other things, and they were inviting me to do work with them, and that's how it goes.
Lee Kantor: Right. So, you're doing it as a human being to human being, and not kind of as a technology tool that's just done in mass. And that's the mistake, I think a lot of people-
Barb Giamanco: Absolutely.
Lee Kantor: They get kind of enamored with the, "Oh, I can send this out to four million people. So, I'll just keep doing that. It's free. There's no friction there." But what you're doing is losing credibility and authenticity.
Barb Giamanco: Very much. And this is my message for any sales leader who's listening,, when you push your people to keep sending more and more emails, or make more and more phone calls, or send more tweets, or whatever, and you're not paying attention to the quality of the messaging, you're actually harming your brand. You're not helping it because think about all the stuff that flows into your inbox, it's ridiculous.
Lee Kantor: Right, you ignore it. I mean, you have to ignore it because there's so much.
Barb Giamanco: And not only do you ignore it, if you're like me, by the time you get the fourth, "Did you get my other three emails?" I'm like, "Who are you? And I will never buy from you. I don't care what you sell."
Lee Kantor: It becomes a negative. It's not even a neutral. It's a negative.
Barb Giamanco: It's a negative, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Lee Kantor: Now, do you have any rules of thumb for how often to post, or do you just kind of go with the flow of the individual that you're targeting?
Barb Giamanco: I think everybody needs to develop their own cadence for me, personally, because it's hard to remain visible. So, I definitely post something every single day. At a minimum, it's a LinkedIn status update. I'm going to weigh in on a few comments. What I try to do, Lee, is say I have ... every morning is routine for me now, but 15 minutes to kind of check my accounts. Has anybody commented, sent me a message? What about a status update? Have I been mentioned that I can weigh in and comment? So, I'm active every day, but it's usually fifteen minutes or so that's outside of any research I do to prepare for sales calls and that kind of thing.
Lee Kantor: And then, when you say ... like, if somebody mentions you, then you respond, you-
Barb Giamanco: Absolutely.
Lee Kantor: But then you might post an original piece of content.
Barb Giamanco: I do. I'm a blogger. So, I blog. I have a podcast. So, in my case, it's a little bit different because it's ... I mean, this is what I do for customers. And so, I don't buy that business of the-
Lee Kantor: The cupboard's children
Barb Giamanco: Right, don't have shoes. I don't buy that. If you're in the business of creating a social media strategy and coaching people on their sales activities and efforts, you darn well better demonstrate you know how to do it.
Lee Kantor: Exactly. If you can't do it for yourself-
Barb Giamanco: Right. And I drive a ton of business inbound as a result of my efforts. But yes, I mean, I have a great post that I hope people go to the blog and check out. It's 17 ways to become a content concierge. You don't have to write blogs to create content. It can be longer status updates to start a conversation. It could be coming on a radio show. It could be recording an audio tip on your phone. There's lots of ways. And so, I think, sometimes, people get all hung up like, "Oh, I have to blog. I have to do this." No, you've got to find the right thing for you.
Lee Kantor: Now, if somebody wants to learn more, where should they go?
Barb Giamanco: So, they can go to barbaragiamanco.com. And the business website is scs-connect.com. And I’d love to have you follow my podcast, The Razor's Edge. You can find it on i-Tunes.
Lee Kantor: And then, what's the pain your perfect prospects are having where you're the perfect solution?
Barb Giamanco: What's the pain they're having? Two things. Either there's still fence sitting and thinks social media is for kids and has no place in driving business growth, or they've gone down the path of some social selling activity, but they've been taught how to use the technology to kind of broadcast, they're not getting any results, and they feel frustrated. So, those are two kinds of customers for me.
Lee Kantor: Good stuff. Well, thank you so much for being part of the show.
Barb Giamanco: All right. Thanks, Lee. And thanks, Corey.
Corey Rieck: Thank you, Barb.
Lee Kantor: All right, Corey, who you got next?
Corey Rieck: We have Barbara LoRusso, who is the Client Development Director at the LoRusso Law Firm. Barbara, welcome.
Barbara LoRusso: Thank you.
Corey Rieck: Did you learn something there, Barbara?
Barbara LoRusso: I did.
Corey Rieck: Take notes?
Barbara LoRusso: I did. I was up here, locked away in the vault.
Lee Kantor: So, what are you doing for folks?
Barbara LoRusso: Well, LoRusso Law Firm is a civil litigation law firm in the Windy Hill area here in Atlanta. And the owner happens to be my husband, Lance LoRusso. And we have three other attorneys. So, we're sort of a boutique civil litigation firm.
Lee Kantor: And then, what does that mean, civil?
Barbara LoRusso: Civil litigation is anything other than criminal litigation. So, your company is sued, and you need defense, or one of the largest part of our business is catastrophic personal injury work. And another segment of our business is also law enforcement defense. My husband, in his previous life, was a law enforcement officer here in the Atlanta area. So, while he was doing that, he went to law school at night-
Lee Kantor: Wow!
Barbara LoRusso: ... and became an attorney. So, his passion really is representing law enforcement.
Lee Kantor: And helping them. So, now, what's your role as client development? Like what's a day look like for you?
Barbara LoRusso: Well, it started before Lance had a lot of other attorneys in the office. It was really kind of selling lands, if you will. So, my role on a daily basis is helping drive the social media strategy, things that Barb has talked about.
Lee Kantor: To create thought leadership and do research.
Barbara LoRusso: Yes. Lance is a unique lawyer, I think, in terms of he loves marketing. Most attorneys, you have to kind of drag them to the water trough.
Lee Kantor: It's like unnecessary ego, right.
Barbara LoRusso: Yes. You have to drag them to the water trough and make them drink. But he's ... almost, I have to hold him back sometimes a little bit and do some of the smart things, like what Barbara is talking about in terms of making sure you're doing the right strategy, and what is selling his authenticity and his passion.
Lee Kantor: Because he gets distracted by shiny objects, he'll try lots of things a little bit instead of maybe going deep on something?
Barbara LoRusso: Well, he is really focused. And our strategy is really a lot of law enforcement officers are on Facebook. We don't do as much business-to-business selling in terms of LinkedIn, but Facebook and Twitter, things like that are more of his wheelhouse in terms of where are our customers, because unfortunately, a lot of the law enforcement clients that we have are also our personal injury clients. People think that police officers are more at risk in terms of being injured, being shot, things like that on the job, but driving around every day is really risky. And so, a lot of our clients have been catastrophically injured on the job as law enforcement officers. So, that's really our focus in terms of keeping our focus on law enforcement.
Lee Kantor: Right, and you just want to serve that ecosystem.
Barbara LoRusso: Exactly.
Lee Kantor: Now, your background, you have a PhD in Applied Psychology. How does that tie into your work in marketing?
Barbara LoRusso: How did I get here? Well, yes, my graduate degree is in Applied Psychology. And for about 18 years, I worked in that space creating employee selection tests and kind of helping implement those across large insurance clients all around the country. And I'll talk a little bit about how Corey and I met in terms of my journey because one of the reasons I started working with the law firm is that we needed more kind of work/life balance. We had several older relatives that needed assistance and looking after. And so, that's how I ended up moving into working with Lance, so I'd have more flexibility, And my job previously had kind of morphed into working not just with the research side of the business, but also client management, and client development, and that sort of thing. So, that skill set that I brought to the law-
Lee Kantor: And you like that?
Barbara LoRusso: Yeah.
Lee Kantor: The building the relationships, and kind of nurturing those relationship, and seeing the impact. That's probably very rewarding.
Barbara LoRusso: Yeah, that's very true. And unfortunately, with the type of practice that we have at the law firm, you're sort of seeing people at kind of the worse part in their life, if you think about it. They've been involved with a serious injury, or they've been hurt on the job, or gone through a traumatic experience. And fortunately, for most of us, we don't need a litigator every day. We don't need a lawyer every day. So, our goal is to kind of stay top of mind, be a thought leader, be kind of an unabashed advocate for our client base.
Corey Rieck: Well, I think one of the things that has impressed me, I've known Lance and Barbara for 18 years. They're good friends, good clients. And one of the things that's impressed me most about you and Lance is you always seem to be two steps ahead of everybody else. And Lance, obviously, if you were on the show, you would realize he's kind of a different animal. And I say that with all due respect. But he does enjoy the marketing, he does enjoy the writing, and he is very, very good ... he's very convincing. And you guys are always two steps ahead of the other people that compete against you. And so, you guys are just an outstanding team. And it's nice that you're wired so differently.
Corey Rieck: And I mean, Barbara has a PhD. My wife and I stopped playing games at the LoRusso's because we know we can't win. And she brings just a great ... even if she doesn't know something, one of the things that's impressed me most about you is that you figure it out. You figure it out on the fly, and it's right. There's a number of things you've helped me with my shop on. And I know in the beginning, you didn't know exactly what needed to be done but it was always done, and it was always done right. So, we certainly appreciate that. But what you guys have done marketing-wise, I think, is superlative.
Barbara LoRusso: Yeah. Lance is ... one of the things in terms of focusing on specific things that reach our target market, he has a blog, Blueline Lawyer, that he writes on very regularly where he's sharing information, current topics, legal trends that are important to our client base, as well as he has four books out on, everything from business development strategy for attorneys, to critical incident response for law enforcement, to his latest book about law enforcement and media response called Blue News. So, driving appropriate content and content that speaks to our audience is the key there.
Corey Rieck: Well, I think your firm is in an extremely unique position because of Lance's prior experience as a law enforcement officer. I mean, obviously, he has great credibility with those folks and has done a great service to them, protecting them, and helping them the way he has. And he's also a guest that's very much in demand on various radio shows, news shows. I mean, there's a couple of times of the week, I'm going to turn on the TV, and Lance's on there talking about something.
Barbara LoRusso: Yes. Either responding as a client's attorney in terms of media response, or I think he's ... we estimate he's done probably over 400 media interviews at this point from his life as a police officer through now. So, he has a lot of experience with it. And he is a very passionate advocate in that space.
Corey Rieck: And as the old saying goes, he's kind of a hard dog to keep on the porch. How do you do that as the head owner there?
Barbara LoRusso: I'm the head owner?
Corey Rieck: No. I mean the head owner of Lance, keeping that dog on the porch metaphor.
Barbara LoRusso: Yes, yes.
Lee Kantor: Your name's on the sign, right?
Barbara LoRusso: Yeah. I'm not an attorney. So, there's that, but yeah. You do have to pick the right tool to use out of the tool box in terms of what is going to speak to your audience as we've been talking about but, also, where does that person's strengths lie? And he's always loved reading. I'm obviously reading, but he also really loves writing. And, of course, most litigators love talking. So, he fits that bill as well.
Lee Kantor: Now, how did he write so many books? I mean, what's the writing process like? Do you help in that regard?
Barbara LoRusso: I have. I do a lot of the editing. So, we have ... even everyone in the law firm, if they're up for it, they'll read the books before they go out. And of course, we have professional editors as well. And we work with Book Logic, which is the self-publishing firm.
Lee Kantor: Right, local firm.
Barbara LoRusso: Yeah, in Alpharetta. They're a great team. And the books, each have evolved in different ways. When Cops Kill, which is his book that discusses officer involved in shootings, that kind of grew out of amalgamation of his blog posts, and then added onto that, and it grew into a book. Then, Blue News was written just, "Let's do an outline. Let's sit down and write."
Lee Kantor: Did you help in that regard, the outline?
Barbara LoRusso: To a certain extent, yes.
Lee Kantor: From a structure standpoint?
Barbara LoRusso: Exactly, exactly.
Lee Kantor: And that's an important part of writing, so that you do stay focused in the ... so, advice for an author out there or aspiring author would be to kind of spend maybe more time than you think on the outline?
Barbara LoRusso: Yeah, I think every writer kind of writes in different ways. But as an attorney, I think that his tactic, I think it was to start with an outline of what he wants to talk about. And one of my inputs with the book was to give concrete tips on how to handle media response, not just-
Lee Kantor: Like the very actionable, not hypothetical.
Barbara LoRusso: Exactly. There are a lot of examples in the books.
Lee Kantor: Stories.
Barbara LoRusso: He does or interviews with local media personalities, as well as longtime reporters here in Atlanta area, as well as kind of thought leaders, boots-on-the-ground folks who are law enforcement leaders who have been through difficult situations.
Lee Kantor: So, now, an important lesson for people out there, when you're serving a group like this, it's, I guess, a niche, to target a niche that resonates with you, and that you can serve effectively, and to really immerse yourself in the community. And like his unique background of being a law officer and an attorney makes him uniquely qualified to really speak to that and serve that ecosystem.
Barbara LoRusso: Exactly. If you don't have that credibility, and that knowledge, and background of what a very specialized profession that law enforcement is, everyone watches Law and Order and they think that they know-
Lee Kantor: They've figured it out, right.
Barbara LoRusso: ... that they know-
Lee Kantor: Because they've seen every episode.
Barbara LoRusso: Yeah. We watch, so we know how to save everyone with George Clooney helping. But that's not really true. And unless you kind of have that background-
Lee Kantor: And that if you don't have that level of empathy as an outsider by having walked in their shoes, he is uniquely qualified.
Barbara LoRusso: Exactly.
Lee Kantor: So, now, if somebody wants to get a hold of you guys, what's the best way?
Barbara LoRusso: Lorussolawfirm.com. And the blog is Blueline Lawer, as well as on social media, it's Blueline Lawyer.
Lee Kantor: Good stuff.
Barbara LoRusso: Yeah.
Lee Kantor: Well, thank you so much.
Barbara LoRusso: Thank you.
Corey Rieck: Thank you, Barbara.
Lee Kantor: All right, Corey, who's bringing it home? Who's the headliner?
Corey Rieck: Next, we have Julie Gareleck. Julie is the CEO and Managing Partner of Junction Creative.
Julie Gareleck: Yes.
Corey Rieck: And tell us about your company, Julie.
Julie Gareleck: Sure. Junction Creative was really formed out of something we've talked about here, Barbara and Barb, is a passion. I started Junction really as a hybrid between a traditional business consulting firm and an ad agency. Eight years ago, I saw a gap in the market where I saw agencies that were pumping out truly brilliant, creative, exciting campaigns. They were adopting social media. And on the other side, I also saw a lot of companies struggling to sort of figure out what that looked like. And a creative mind can't always determine business value. And so, I saw that there was an opportunity to create an actual business strategy, and then tie a series or a comprehensive set of solutions across the company that would help them employ an effective strategy. So, our team will actually help with the thinking. We'll do the research. We'll help define those strategies. And I think one of our best assets too is that we'll stick around. We'll actually execute and will prove it through our results. And so, that's where we've been successful over the last eight years is that our metrics and our results speak for themselves, and our clients are growing, and we're able to reference actionable things that we've done, not just a fancy PowerPoint presentation that's sitting on a shelf that they overpaid for. So, we just took a different approach.
Corey Rieck: Yeah, there's an old saying I just made up. It's all about the money.
Julie Gareleck: Yeah.
Corey Rieck: So, you didn't always have the business want-to. Walk us through that?
Julie Gareleck: So, I was raised by entrepreneurs. My mom, before we were born, had her own salon at the age of 22, which back in that time, women didn't start their own businesses. My father worked in Corporate America for 20 years. And then, one day decided he was going to go out on his own, bought a restaurant when I was in high school. And my sister and I sort of looked at each other and said, "Oh, gosh, are we still going to get to go to college? What if this isn't successful? And so, for 10 years, we worked side by side with my parents. They were unbelievable advocates in teaching us how to run a business. We were responsible. So, we weren't just employees. We were helping manage a staff of 25 at the age of 20 and 21. And I swore after that experience after college, I would never go into business. Swore it up and down. I was gonna be a reporter on the news like Barbara Walters. I was going to do investigative journalism. And after I did PR in Paris for a PR agent, I learned sort of how to do it in a couple of languages, came back, and I've been doing business ever since. So, clearly, what I thought I wasn't passionate about ended up to be one of my biggest passions.
Corey Rieck: So, when your parents had the restaurant, was at in Atlanta or was that-
Julie Gareleck: It's in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Yeah. So, a big civil war town. We've got about a million and a half visitors a year. We were right on the strip. So, we served hundreds of thousands of customers every year. So, there's always a line around the door. So, talk about high-pressure situations at a young age. But it was fun, met a lot of great folks, and really learned the backbone of what it means to run a business. It's not glamorous. It's not sexy, as everybody would say. It's hard work. And I feel that that really escalated my career much faster, largely because instead of worrying about going to happy hour with my friends, I was still in the office working until 8:00-9:00 at night to make sure that I was doing my job.
Corey Rieck: What did you take in your experience from the restaurant? And what helped you from bad experience get to where you are now?
Julie Gareleck: Gosh, I mean, there are so many lessons. I mean, it really teaches you ... what I think is most important now in today's culture is it teaches you how to work with different people. You work with people from all walks of life that have all different experiences. And then, you also are waiting on people that all come from different backgrounds. They all have problems. They all have success stories. And so, I really use it as an opportunity because I love communication and love learning about people. I did. I learned about every single one of them. And I think that that's how I was able to extract as much knowledge as I could because as I went into a corporate environment and started working, I would see things in the restaurant that you would say, "Oh, once I get through college, I'm never going to deal with this again." Well, guess what? Every single one of those lessons I learned, only this time it was someone that had three degrees and made a lot of money; but yet, they were still at the core making these decisions and maybe making some mistakes who are treating people a different way. So, it really equipped me that when faced with adversity in the corporate world, it didn't scare me, and I knew how to handle it, so.
Corey Rieck: So, you started off as a reporter and you were in Paris. How was that?
Julie Gareleck: So, interestingly enough, I was in college, it's my senior year, just getting ready to graduate, I saw a flyer on the wall in the language department about getting a job in your field if you were able to get into Boston University's International Program. And I went to the guidance counselor or the counselor at college, and she said, "Oh, we've never had anybody from a state school ever get accepted to this program. It's pretty hard to get into it. I don't know that you really want to spend your time doing that." And I thought, "Well, let me see if I can. So, I put together the packet. I was accepted. Eighteen of us went out of a pool of a thousand. We were actually placed in our fields. So, we did interviews. We told them what we were looking for, and ended up getting matched with a PR agent for fashion photographers. I knew nothing about fashion at that point. Learned that she's one of the most renowned PR agents that's in the business in New York and in Paris. And on the first day, she said, "Do you want to do this in English or French?" And I said, "Well, I'm in Paris, so let's do it in French." And she never spoke a word of English to me for the remainder of the six months that I was there. So, after that, I came back, and that's when I was sort of deciding what's the next step. It was a great experience for me. And also, different people, different language, different culture, and came back with a much greater appreciation for what we have here.
Corey Rieck: Sure. And then, you worked with venture capital. Walk us through that.
Julie Gareleck: Yeah, absolutely. So, I moved to Philadelphia, started working for an entrepreneurship institute that was focused on early stage companies. And I spent most of my time reviewing business plans, marketing models, financial models. I was quickly recruited, actually, to join a venture capital organization where it was my responsibility to source deals, find those companies that were investable or looks like they could be investable. So, I would review, again, business plans, marketing strategies, models. And so, during that time, I probably reviewed anywhere from 1000 to 2000 a year, and spent quite a bit of time learning about different industries, and learned what makes a good business plan, but then, also, you know, where the gaps are in a marketing model and even financials. It's not something that you can always teach in a classroom once you get into practical business setting.
Corey Rieck: Generally speaking, and realizing that there's variances in very different businesses, what makes a good business plan in your estimation, generally speaking?
Julie Gareleck: Being realistic. What I deal with a lot of our clients is you can put together the best financial model, you could be on paper $150 million company. The reality is most companies today won't see $100 million and they won't even see $10 million. And so, what I always try to counsel my clients on is, let's take a look at sort of this from a realistic standpoint. Once you have the technology, or you have the product, or you have the service, that's actually scalable. Some businesses aren't designed to be scalable. And by scalable, I mean they're not designed to be $10 million companies, but could they be a $2 million company with margins at 80% making a lot of money? Absolutely. It's all about being realistic about the goals and objectives for the entrepreneur, what they actually want out of the business. And then, also, putting together a plan that is realistic, it's achievable, and that there's a strategy and a plan to execute against that.
Barb Giamanco: So, how have you used your experience in Paris and your venture capital experience? I mean, how was Junction Creative, how was that born?
Julie Gareleck: It's really passion. I mean, one of the things I learned early on, I'm very passionate about people. I am passionate about helping people. And for me, it just so happens that I'm passionate about being able to impart my knowledge and the things that I've learned to help them run their businesses more successfully. It even could be a department within a company, but arming them with the knowledge that they need to make more informed decisions that can have a very positive impact. Oftentimes, my clients will often say that I care probably too much about their business, but I am passionate about what I do. And so, to me, it's a puzzle. If there's a problem or a pain point that a client's going through, we will rip it apart. And so, we can figure out how to put it back together again. And so, every client is different. Barb had mentioned, every strategy is different. The pieces are different. But at the end, they all have their own unique puzzle.
Corey Rieck: So, in your organization, how many employees do you have?
Julie Gareleck: So, we have seven full-time. We're actually in a period of growth right now. So, we'll be adding two more here.
Corey Rieck: Yeah, you hate to hear that, right?
Julie Gareleck: I know. We're very excited about it. And so, at our height, we had 15 people in 2009. But I think for us, I like the boutique aspect. It enables us to be agile. And one of the other benefits I have is I have a few ex-entrepreneurs who have sold their businesses and are almost at retirement age or in retirement age, if you will. And they love to consult on very specific projects. So, if I get a client in a specific vertical, and I can really leverage their experience, I'm able to bring them in on a part-time basis to help out with that client and really bring even more knowledge. I mean, I have 20 years of experience, but there's nothing like sitting next to somebody who has 45 years of experience and has done it successfully.
Corey Rieck: Who would be somebody good for you to help? Who would be a good prospects for Junction Creative?
Julie Gareleck: Yeah. Folks ask me this all the time, and I would say we do work across industry vertical. That's sort of one of our ... we don't focus on one industry. So, we're able to leverage a lot of insights across industry, but if there's a company that's looking for a new growth strategy or the strategy that they've been employing isn't generating the results they're looking for, sometimes, it's helpful to have an external source take a look at it and see if there's something that we can retool or fix. It can also be a startup or an early stage company that's taking something to market. We always like to make sure that it's a good cultural fit for us, but we really can work with a number of company, whether it's a small to mid-sized company. And we've been very fortunate to work with some Fortune 1000 companies as well.
Corey Rieck: Do you have specific company metrics that resonate with you that you're drawn toward, that you're passionate toward a certain size company, a certain kind of industry?
Julie Gareleck: I would say, honestly, I think why we're so passion about what we do is that we don't just have one type of company we're looking for. I think, for me, what's most attractive is knowing or seeing a path to help them. If we do see a client, and it's completely not in our wheelhouse, and maybe they're not ready for a change, or we don't feel we can impact them in a positive way, we won't take them on. We're not going to sell a client that we can't help. And so, for us, we take a look at and see how much impact we can drive for them. And I mean, those are the clients that sort of keep us going all day long.
Lee Kantor: Now, as a kind of hybrid between traditional consulting and also creative boutique, what's usually the point of entry? Is it more from the strategic side or is it more from the creative side?
Julie Gareleck: Yeah, I would say in the early years, it was more on the creative side. I don't think a lot of folks understood our model. They were like, "Oh, you're an ad agency."
Lee Kantor: And you're like, "Not exactly."
Julie Gareleck: Exactly. And so, it took a number of years. So, in the early years, I would say the point of entry was predominantly creative.
Lee Kantor: So, they said, "I need like a website redesign," or it could've been something like that?
Julie Gareleck: It could have been. We worked with a client like Yahoo! where we basically did all of their integrated advertising campaigns, creative development user experience. We, also, worked with small companies on building websites, and logos, and the brand collateral, if you will. Now, where we're finding the most successes that we do approach every client, even if it is a creative client from the strategic side. We want to make sure that even when they come to us and say, "Look, we want to play this big ad campaign and this is what it needs to look like," we take a step back and say, "Well, what is it that you're trying to achieve?"
Lee Kantor: Right. What outcome do you desire? Let's start there.
Julie Gareleck: Exactly.
Lee Kantor: We'll work backwards.
Julie Gareleck: Exactly because from a creative standpoint, we can execute just about anything. But from our standpoint, we want to make sure it's the right solution. So, we'll ask those questions. And we've worked with a lot of our clients for five to seven years. They've stayed with us. They've grown, which is also a testament to sort of what value we've provided to them.
Lee Kantor: But a new firm that's looking at you guys, what's the problem they're having? Is that they're plateauing or they're kind of going backwards?
Julie Gareleck: We see a lot of companies that are focused on growth, but they're nervous about the political environment. They're nervous about the economic climate. They're worried that something is coming ahead-.
Lee Kantor: They're waiting for the stops, so there's no change.
Julie Gareleck: Well, I-
Lee Kantor: When does that happen where they ring a bell when they say, "We're going to pause for a while."
Julie Gareleck: In 2008, everyone called at once saying, "Oh, we should have thought about this a year ago." I will say this time, it's very refreshing to see that companies are thinking about it already. They're nervous about it, they're reaching out. And so, we're able to get them at a place where we can help them. Once the damage is sort of done or where they've plateaued, it's much harder.
Lee Kantor: Right, you're reacting there, right-
Julie Gareleck: Exactly.
Lee Kantor: ... instead of being proactive.
Julie Gareleck: Exactly.
Lee Kantor: So, this must be exciting time for you.
Julie Gareleck: It is. We have a lot of exciting clients and just enjoy it, what we're doing.
Lee Kantor: And then, you mentioned the importance of cultural fit. How did that come about? You have some scar tissue of maybe things that weren't a cultural fit and you kind of did some things that, in hindsight, you wish you hadn't had done in this regard? I mean, obviously, it was a learning opportunity, but cultural fits is very important to you.
Julie Gareleck: It is. As an entrepreneur, when you're starting a business, you think you have to take every client or every client is gonna be a great client. What I've learned is that for us to be able to come into a company, work with the C-level, work with the employees, there has to be a desire to want us in the room. If you don't want us in the room, it can become very contentious. And quite frankly, it's a waste of money because we will push and we will execute. So, I will say not that I've made mistakes in the past because I appreciate every client that we've had-
Lee Kantor: Right, they're all learning.
Julie Gareleck: They're all learning. They are all learning experiences. But what I will say is that if there's a desire for change or there's a desire for something different, then we're the firm. We aren't the yes-man. We're not going to sit in a room and tell you how smart you are. What we are going to do is we're going to listen to you and we're going to say, "Here's how we can execute it," or, "Hey, you're on target. And here are the other three things that you can do to do that." So, we're not an adversary. Rather, we're a partner. And if somebody sees this as an adversary, then it's never a good fit.
Lee Kantor: It's probably not a good fit. Good stuff. Now, if somebody wants to learn more, is there a place to go? Is the website the best place to learn about you guys?
Julie Gareleck: Yeah, absolutely. You can go to www.junction-creative.com or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org I answer my phone. I don't have an assistant. So, if you call me, I'll answer the phone.
Lee Kantor: Good stuff. Well, thank you for being part of the show today.
Julie Gareleck: Thanks for having me.
Lee Kantor: Well, Corey, how did it go, first episode? Do you feel good?
Corey Rieck: Yeah, I thought it was very good. It's interesting. I had one thought when I was listening to all the success and the room talk. And with all the success you've achieved, when do you sleep?
Julie Gareleck: At night when it's still dark sometimes.
Lee Kantor: So, now-.
Barb Giamanco: The key to being successful, Corey, is not working 24/7.
Julie Gareleck: Yes.
Katy Galli: Exactly.
Julie Gareleck: I agree.
Lee Kantor: Recharging has to be part of the process.
Barb Giamanco: Absolutely.
Lee Kantor: Now, we're going to be doing this on a regular rhythm where we're going to be interviewing leaders, female leaders. So, keep the word out. Ladies in the room, if you know any other female leaders, please help us identify them, and get them on, so we can help tell their stories because it's important to get the word out about this group, right?
Corey Rieck: Yes, sir.
Lee Kantor: And if somebody wanted to learn more about you and your firm, Corey, what's the best way to get a hold of you?
Corey Rieck: Yes, it's The Long Term Care Planning Group. It's www.thelongtermcareplanninggroup.com
Lee Kantor: Well, thank you for sponsoring the show. It's an important show, and we help to serve the females out there doing cool stuff.
Corey Rieck: Yeah. Thanks so much, Lee. And thanks to all the guests that appeared this morning.
Barb Giamanco: Thanks for having us.
Barbara LoRusso: Thank you. Thanks, Corey.
Lee Kantor: All right. This is Lee Kantor and Katy Galli. We will see you all next time on Atlanta Business Radio.