So, you’re a Founder of a business and you want to know what your customers are thinking and what the general consensus on your brand is. How do you do that? Sure, you could look at data and analytics, you could mathematically figure out who your demographic is and send your marketing efforts in that direction… or, you could try talking to them? No amount of numbers and statistics can quantify how your customers are feeling and thinking - you can only get that through having a direct conversation and listening to them.

In this episode of Building Brand Advocacy, Paul is joined by Karen Riley-Grant, former Chief Marketing Officer at Levi Strauss & Co., the world famous American clothing company known worldwide for its Levi's brand of denim jeans. Prior to this she was the Senior Director of Global Marketing for Chuck Taylor at Converse, as well as the Marketing Manager for IGN Entertainment.

If anyone knows the meaning of brand advocacy, it undoubtedly has to be Karen.

Building Brand Advocacy 029: Karen Riley Grant, Live Fireside Chat

Paul: My name is Paul Archer. I am the host of this. And today I am incredibly excited to have a wide ranging Fireside style chat, even though we're on completely different sides of the Atlantic with Karen. Karen, give us a little summary of who you are and why we're chatting today.

Karen: Well, good morning. First, thanks for having me as the first kind of live subject here. My name is Karen Riley Grant. I have been in the world of brand marketing for a very long time, two and a half decades, I think. I've got a bit of an obsession with big global brands. So in my career, I've started out back in the Gap, back in the late 90s, and then moved over to Levi's, spent a lot of years there, and then moved over to Converse, another amazing global, iconic brand, and then came back to Levi's, and then most recently held the role of the Chief Marketing Officer based in San Francisco. So I've spent many days really obsessing brands. What makes brands great? How do you build global brands? How do you build amazing, stellar teams? How do you have fun in the middle of all that? Because you should have fun when you work. Shouldn't all be hard, right? And so, yeah, that's who I am. And I also am a human. I've got a handful of kids who live in San Francisco Bay Area. I got three kids, two dogs. Love to travel all around the world and feel very fortunate that my job has allowed me to do that. Most recently, we lived in Singapore, just love the Asian experience. And now, back in the Bay Area,

Paul: Amazing.

Karen: At Hawaii .

Paul: There you go. Wow. I'm wonderful intro. Now, I know that we've been catching up quite a lot over the past couple of weeks and a little snippet like ten minute little catch up call. Last night took an hour and a half as we got into all sorts of different things. Quite a lot over the past couple of weeks and a little snippet like ten minutes at little catch up call. Last night took an hour and a half as we got into all sorts of different things. So I'm excited to see where this one goes, but I'm going to start off with a bit of the foundational things because you've got such a unique experience working with iconic brands, right? I mean, the last sort of three brands, they're more than a century old, particularly Levi's, what, 150 plus year old brand?

Karen: The 501 actually turns 150 this year. So it's something you can't touch during the test.

Paul: If ain't broke, don't fix it. You have such a wealth of history there that you're calling on for a brand, but then also it's a brand which I think is widely respected for staying Karen and being in the conversation today in a global social environment. How do you do that? How do you sort of stay true to those roots yet still be current and relevant?

Karen: Yeah, I think that's the question of the day, right? And I think what's fascinating is I've spent my career working on kind of heritage brands, and I'll come back to Levi's in particular in a second, but I've recently stepped down from my post there and I've been working with startups and nonprofits and new businesses. And what I am really fascinated by, and this is why I'm really excited to talk to you this morning, is that the things and the elements and the fundamentals that are required for heritage brand to stay relevant are these same elements and fundamentals that a brand new startup brand requires. And so I think there's something really powerful in really understanding those fundamentals and it starts and it's like basics. And I think what's also fascinating about the question is, in the last few years, there's been such an obsession with all this lower funnel tactics and search engine optimization and all the fancy things Metaverse and all the digital things that are happening out there in the world. And that's not the stuff, those are the tactics. But really, truly what's at the core of it, whether you're a 107 year old heritage brand that just has to stay relevant and keep inventing and keep pushing, or a brand new startup, it's the who you are. It's like the soul, the brand soul. And really what's in there, really understanding and knowing who you are. Yes, the mission and the vision, but the purpose, why are you here? What are you trying to do? How are you creating products that your consumer wants? So I think it's really about knowing who you are first and doing some real soul searching. I mean, going deep into what are the values, how do you stay absolutely tethered to those values no matter what, that's something at Levi's was really important. What are the core values of the brand when it was conceived in birth 170 years ago? And how you pull that through to today and not become untethered? Because the minute you become untethered from the values and your true purpose, the wheels come off. Like you lose the plot and you end up trying to be someone that you're not and most likely chasing the competition. So I think that's at the core of it. But beyond that, then you go, okay, how do I take these values and how do I make the consumer today care? And so that's the point. In using my experience, the brands that you mentioned, I was there for a long time, 25 years in this world, and I can count the brands I've worked on in one hand. So seeing the highs and the lows and the early 2000s at Levi's was not that successful. It was hard. It was a hard time. Business wasn't as strong. And I think it was a point in time where we're trying to be a lot of things that we weren't. I had the opportunity at that point in time in my career to work on all the portfolio of subbrands, and there were a lot sub brands, and it was like trying all these things and trying these new things, and we kind of forgot the core and the essence and the soul of the brand. And when the company started to really turn around, it was around, hold on, what do we do best? Who are we serving? How do we do this? Right? And so I think that angel question of who are you? Kind of like a person, like who are you? What are you all about? Brands are souls. They have personality, they have a tone of voice, they have value system. That's everything. And then I think what's been really fun in my last couple of years of my career in working over in Asia for that, how do you make a brand that is really old and relevant, a heritage brand, relevant in markets that it may be new? And how do you introduce that? That's where the tactics all come in, right? That's where you get real clear on what your consumer wants, kind of obsess the consumer, kind of like an unhealthy point where you go, okay, really getting into the mind and then make sure it works. But you have to do that without changing who you are.

Paul: And how does that work? How does that work? If you think about it, for a brand like Levi's, understanding the customer, they have such broad appeal. I mean, I'm wearing a pair right now. You're probably wearing a pair. We're on different sides of the Atlantic. We probably look quite different, particularly if you were going to do one of those persona mapping that an agency will come in and work with you. In fact, my parents will have some and I've got a little pair for my little boy that's massively different. So actually it's all well and good saying, okay, we've got to be obsessed by the consumer. But if your consumer looks radically different across the board, how do you really use that as something you can deliver on?

Karen: I do think Levi's is not alone. There are a lot of global brands that appeal to the zero to 99. But I remember back in the day sitting and I think writing even a brief that was like target 0 to 99, how do you do that? How does an agency, if an agency gets a brief that says we want to reach all people all the time, we want to be all things to all people, I don't even know how you would address that. I think you end up diluting the message and watering it down so much that it's not sharp. So what you have to do, even if a brand is democratic and inclusive and global and does have an audience that spans the generations, you got to pick a lane. Also talk about how much money do you have? Do you have all the money in the world to speak to everyone? No, I don't know. Even brands with hundreds of millions of dollars, still, the world is a big place. It's a cluttered place. There are a lot of platforms. There's a lot of work that has to get done. And today, it's not the day of you put on a TV spot, sit around for six months, you do it again, you sit around six months. God, I wish we had those days back. They were so much easier and cleaner back 20 years ago. But it's always on. It's 365, 24/7. So you have to zone in. So even levi's zero to 99, global democratic inclusive. Yes, there's still a very sharp focus on 18 to 24, really sharp focus on consumer segments within that now, that would inform product and content and where we show up. Media really important to do that without alienating the balance of the audience. And so I think therein lies where brands get in trouble, where they go, I got to get everyone. Either I dilute it and a message means nothing. It's like, hey, come shop here. Well, okay, why would I shop there? And they go really tight in kind of contract and go, I'm going to get the 22 year old. Okay, well, maybe if you go too sharp in the message, you're going to really make some other loyal consumers that maybe have been buying you for a long time really mad. So how do you do it in a way that doesn't alienate? So it's when you're talking to consumers, you do a gut check, hey, what do you think? How do you feel about this work? Right? You talk to all the consumers before putting things out into the world. But the halo effect and also understanding the influence, right, of the core, core, core target, that younger consumer on the older loyal consumer, there's a science to it, but I think we can't try to be all things to all people. I think when that is the brief, if I was sitting on the agency side and I got that brief, I'd be like, okay, that's like air. I don't know, how do you market this? And I think there's a real danger in that. So you got to be sharp and get aligned with your partners. That's also a really hard part, too. I mean, I've been in conversations where sometimes you got a younger core target. Well, maybe there's no one in that younger core target sitting on the leadership team. I know, I laugh. I'm like, I'm like the target. I'm not going to tell you who the next band should be. I've got amazing team does that. But I think you've got to have your finger on the pulse of the consumer and then back it up with data for those that are like, I don't know about that data is key to helping to support that. But you got to go sharp to cut through in today's world.

Paul: Talking about sort of data. Like, we recently did a survey of a lot of brand builders and marketers at Jewel, and what we found is unified across the board is that the biggest pressure that they're feeling is they've got to do more with less, right? Everyone did so well in COVID and then they're expected to maintain that, or particularly if you did well, you did well. And then for some brands, they obviously didn't do so well, but particularly the D2C brands. And then now they're expected to maintain that. So that was the first thing. The second one is that they have to be proving value of every single decision to the CFO as marketers, which they never previously did and they never previously had been doing that. When you talk about data, is that the kind of thing that you're talking about? Like something which you can take to the board, take to the investors, take to the CFO, the FD, whoever it may be, and be like, this is why we're investing in this, because I've got the data that shows that this is going to give us an ROI. Well, sometimes is it got to be a gut check, I've got no way. But I feel that this is going to work in my gut and you got to trust my 25 years of experience.

Karen: I would say, and this may be controversial for creative folks out there, I think, standing in front of a CFO and say, you got to trust my gut, I would ask myself to leave the room. You tried that. I mean, it's funny, I think we talked yesterday about I can't remember what point in my career and I was sitting and looking at a deck that was going in front of the kind of leadership team around, kind of supposed to be the success of a program. And it was all video and pictures and it was amazing, it was beautiful. I knew and the team knew, like, this is amazing. This Sizzle is going to just knock them out of the park and like, who's your audience? Who's your audience? The financial folks, the ones that are obsessed in the KPIs to ensure that we're growing and we're meeting our metrics. We're recruiting new fans or retaining new fans or driving increased revenue. They want to see the numbers. Ever show a Sizzle reel to a CFO unless they ask, which is great, put in the appendix, put all the visuals in the appendix, but talk their language. And so, yes, it is about the numbers, it is about the KPIs. Now, the difference is, and it's outsetting that really clear KPI dashboard at the onset, this is what we're going to get after. Are we all clear here? Some things can be measured. The footfall, the traffic, the immediate revenue uptick that can be measured within X amount of time frame. The longer things, the brand health, the brand equity is going to take a minute, but it still can be measured. And so that's where I think during COVID there was such a there's so much pressure on businesses. My God, and we're still managing and waiting through these and navigating through these waters in many parts of the world. So I'd be naive to say it's done. We're all good. We're all back to normal. Like, we're still managing. Brands had to get real tight, spend got real tight. And so it became a bit more of an obsession on the lower funnel tactics and the short-term revenue that was required to sustain the business, to get through the pandemic and stores being closed, and how are we going to kind of keep the business afloat? What happened was, and those are easy to numb, here's a footfall, here's what's happening. Or not footfall. There was no footfall. Here the onsite traffic. Here's what we're finding. Here's what we're driving. Here's engagement in social, easy, quick, KPIs, day to day reporting. It was like, got it. What was happening was the bigger brand awareness driving the brand equity building the things that take a minute, that real brand health. That's what drives really strong brand health. And that doesn't happen overnight. It takes a minute. So I think we lost patience during COVID because it had to be right now. And there was so much demand and pressure to deliver, deliver, deliver. There wasn't a lot of patience to go. This is going to pay off in a year. This is going to pay off in 18 months. We're going to go here and build. We didn't have the luxury, many brands didn't have the luxury to do that. And the brands that pulled back on those kind of upper funnel tactics and those kind of bigger brand building moments lost share customers, and they've been trying to crawl their way back. Now I think some have done it and they're, okay, we're back. There we go. Those two years are really terrible. It's going to continue to move on. Those brands that did invest in that during those really intense times are even that much more ahead. So a long way of saying you always bring everything can be measured. Everything can be measured. And it's about the short-term revenue requirements. And those are the ROI associated with that. And the KPIs and the long-term brand equity. That is that is what is required. And I wish brands obsessed that part more, but it's not an either or. It's an and when speaking to the financial community, investors, your CFO, your CEO, you got to show them the numbers so everything can be measured. Everything can be a quantitative or qualitative read. They can't just be like, I just feel it. I just feel it. And if someone has a CEO who will give millions of dollars in budget when they just feel, oh, please let me know. That's amazing, continue on you. But in my experience, that has not been the case.

Paul: That makes total sense. Who do you think were the standouts of the brands that had managed to invest in the brand equity and are now the ones that are flourishing and still evidence that this is definitely a path that work?

Karen: I think brands that really took the time to invest in accelerating the digital experience, I mean, the one that always comes to mind. I spent a lot of time in the Nike Inc. family and so it's still a brand I obsess but watching. I was in Asia during COVID and we were prepping for the Tokyo Olympics and when that didn't happen, what do we do? And a lot of brands took whatever funding they would have put towards the Olympics and activations and on the ground kind of engagement, and they put it to the bottom line because they needed to they needed to make the numbers. Nike Inc., it seems, it appears that they didn't. They directed that into really accelerating their digital experience, their app, their stores, really connecting all of the touch points. And so I think the brands that spent time connecting every single touch point between mobile and app and loyalty in store and online just crush it. And as a consumer, that's why I have not worked with a lot of brands in my lifetime, because I'm obsessed with brands and I really want to be part of brands that I personally consume and love. And that brand in particular Nike, made me a stronger consumer. I just been blown away by what I can do when I walk into a store and how seamless that is. So I think the brands that really obsessed that digital experience, knowing that people were home, they rolled out content series. Alloy is another example. They kind of launched a whole movement online to support their fans and consumers at home because they were stuck. What value can I bring you? And I think back to the values, right? What is the purpose? How can I obsess my consumer? What do they need right now? So I think those brands that really got close to what is my consumer going through right now, how can I meet them? They want fast, they want easy, they want at home. Okay, everything just pivoted. And so I'm really blown away and I think now we've got otherwise have some catch up to do because that's what the consumer expects. The bars.

Paul: Yeah, exactly. It has been and I'm perfect examples of some of those brands that were able to hold out for a bit. There was a weird vibe that sort of happened there as well. And it definitely was a noticeable split in the brands that had communities already and the brands that thought they had communities. And what was interesting is because you were the sort of brand that had built a community intuitively. As soon as the shit hit the fan, everyone was like, oh, okay, how do we support our community? Because they had that right mindset. And then there were those who are like, yeah, build a great Instagram following, and then it hits. It like everything starts falling apart. They're like, Right, here's a bigger discount so you can continue buying from us because we're not going to hit our Q2 numbers. It's just like, no, you're not going to hit your Q2 numbers. It's a global pandemic. That's okay. Like, give yourself a bit of a break. And the others are clearly the ones who invested, and now those have just accelerated in so many ways. Whether it's like Nike at the very top, who did a great job of this, but also all those C2C brands at the bottom end of the long tail of this, it's just doing a phenomenal job. So completely see that.

Karen: And you hit on something in there that, pandemic or no pandemic, brands need to connect with their consumers on the things that really matter. And if you just sit and hit your consumer with a buy one, get one free, we got 40% off. I mean, good God. A, like, they're becoming numb to the masses, are not paying attention. But B, more importantly, you are diluting your brand. If you're saying you could always get me on sale, I'm always going to give you something free. I only have product. You are a one dimension brand. So to find the different ways in to connect with a consumer, whether it's for some performance brands giving content, bring their ambassadors in to give workouts and exercises and ways in to be healthier and have a healthier lifestyle, or during that time. Levi's we did an amazing kind of around the world concert, and we kind of brought all the music and entertainment into the homes of our consumers. Like, what do they want? Because they're not shopping for your product. 365 days out of the year, even your highest, most engaged consumers are buying some 20, most likely. Okay, there are a lot of other days in the year, and you're posting every day on social. So what are you bringing them that they really want and they really find useful? And if they feel they can turn to you, oh, if I go there, I'm going to get X for me. They're already top of mind. By the time they go, oh, wait, I need to buy a new pair of Sneakers. Oh, wait, I need to buy a new beauty product, insert product here. You're going to be the go to brand because they can count on you. It seems so, like, basic and fundamental, but I think oftentimes I've started just unfollowing brands that are just constantly discounting or constantly promoting. I'm like, I'm good. I already bought you twice this year. I'm good. I don't need any more. How many sleeping bags do you need in a year? Probably don't need many. That was a bad example, but you get what my point? So I think it goes back to that consumer obsession, and it's spending time with them. I think the other piece is, here we are, we're on a virtual call. We're sitting in two places. Like, we're not out in the world as much as we used to. Together with your teams, like shop the market, sit with consumers, talk to them, take group out to dinner, really understand what they want and listen, take a minute, put the work away, put the KPI dashboards away, put all the Zoom calls away, go out in the world and talk to your consumer and find out. That's the hygiene that has to happen on an ongoing basis. But it's that deep relationship, and it's something that I know at the way you're very passionate about. Like, how do you connect? How do you create that deep relationship with your consumers?

Paul: Yeah, the number of conversations I have with founders or CMOs and say, when's the last time you picked up the phone? And I'm a marketer, I do one too many. I have a CRM thing which automates a flow where I can hit X trillion people automatically without ever leaving my seat and never actually have to speak to a real human about it. Unless you have a store, and then you walk the actual floor of it, but you've got these orders that are coming in, and as soon as that order comes in, there's often a number associated with it. If you just pick up the phone and say, hey, why'd you buy it? Who told you? What inspired you? Why'd you get that one, not that other one? Why did you get us not your biggest competitor? And then that information you get qualitatively from there can just inspire and inform so many different innovations, and it's so easy to do. And the number of people who would be listening to this right now who've never, ever done that will be like, vast majority. And again, I've done this countless times, asked the question, maybe one in ten have done it in the past month or two. And so I think that's one of those things of deeply understanding those customers and getting into that mindset of them so that you can tailor your solution, so you can give them a remarkable customer experience. It's that which means that they go and tell all their friends about it, which that's your exponential growth curve. That's the thing that drives it all forwards.

Karen: Well, think about the power of customer reviews on a site. Right? I mean, customer reviews are everything. I mean, I know when I go in and I slide, like, what did they say? Okay, I don't know who Sheila and Wisconsin is, but she raved about that. Oh, ten other folks said, okay. Therefore, I mean, the power of word of mouth is incredibly powerful. So whether or not you're an older, more heritage brand that sells a call center like 1800 number, listen, collect those that feedback, put in a report, share it with the product teams, share it with the marketing teams. What are you seeing? What are those trends? What are those insights or the customer reviews? My god, those are so, so powerful. And yes, if you can't you layer on all the other kind of quantitative sophisticated studies that are needed to understand kind of the measurement of the brand and the long term immaculate and all of those big measures that are so critical, but it's right in front of you. And I would say not even to discount smaller qualitative groups. I think I was mentioning one of the and I have amazing research partners over the years of the companies I've worked for. And I love consumer research and I hate using the words down and dirty because I make research. Friends would say, oh, my god, don't even talk about down and dirty research. I can't listen. But one time we wanted to get a quick pulse check with some friends who were at Converse, and we had an amazing recording studio in Brooklyn and we brought in some of our kind of artists and had some pizza and case of beer. Just ask questions. So it doesn't always have to be this really intimidating study that you wait months now that is needed for certain businesses in certain parts of the maturity to inform certain measures 100%. And I would obsess when those reports come out and salivate over every single measure. However, sometimes just sitting with a handful of really deeply connected individuals that are that core, core, core consumer, you're obsessing and just asking is so valuable and insightful. I think what's happened we're so because I think partly a lot of us are still working from home or coming into the office a couple of days a week. And so we got to make that time with the team productive. And you can't ignore that. We got to get out in the world where's your consumer. I know coachella just happened here outside of LA for a lot of brands. Go walk, go walk that festival. Go look, go talk, go listen, go hear, observe, get out into the world. And it's mind-blowing and it's eye opening, and we need to do that more.

Paul: I wonder whether coachella would be the most accurate cross section of your customer base. I suspect if you want to understand what a whole bunch of one of the influences in a field not wearing very much would be like coachella, but what is the one in the midwest of all that is going to get that real customer base that sort of falls under there. But maybe that's just my opinion of coachella malaysia.

Karen: Oh, gosh. I know we can go on and on about coachella. I think. This. I think the music festival scene has changed remarkably and they're all around. I said my old team at Levi, I just came back from Bangkok rolling loud as a big partnership that we launched this year. And it's amazing to see this explosive, amazing, spirited moment. They're not just one stop shop and one festival, and that's where everyone comes from around the globe. They're everywhere. And that's what's exciting. And I think for big global brands not to rely on, like, that's the one market and the one festival we're going to support. Like, where are they? They're global. Go everywhere. Go to Dubai. Go to South Africa. Go to Tokyo. Where are your consumers? And I think there's more and more. Music is such a huge connector. And so it's an incredible wag. And back to what does your consumer want? How do you connect with them in those moments? There are brands doing an amazing, amazing thing. And I felt fortunate enough to be part of Levi's team and being part of those moments and building those programs. And it's just to sit there and watch and just listen and hear and have them engage with your product, the design team there and watching the styles, so many insights can be garnered that are just so valuable to really propelling the brand forward.

Paul: Well, I mean, talking about influencers and images of Coachella that sort of sits on there, where's your head at with that sort of base? I mean, it's evolved massively over the past few years. Levi's has a very different approach, I think, on it because of obviously the artists you work with and musicians and things. But where do you think that is for all the other brands? Like, and where do you think it's going?

Karen: Look, I think this is working with influencers and I'd even put collaborators in there because I think when you look at partnerships right outside of just kind of what's happening within the brand are really critical. And I think it's been fascinating to watch over the decade. Even just the influence of influencers really accelerate across the globe, I think. And I think when I actually moved to Asia for the first time, it was 2018, and the agency loaded me up with this whole kind of the influence of influencers in China and this 100 page document, and they're like, Whoa. Oh my God, they're so powerful. They're everywhere. Where to watch now? Every brand all over the globe really rely on that endorsement. And I think it can be more powerful than media in some ways, get more for your return in some ways, but I think there is an over dependency at times on the people. And so I think I was even kind of just reflecting on Superbowl. I don't have an accurate count, so don't quote me on this, but it was brand with an influencer, the front brand with the influencer at the front brand. Everyone's depending on the equity of that influencer to help build the equity of the brand. And you need that from time to time, right? Launching a new category. You need to borrow the equity of an influencer who's engaged in that category to get that off the ground. A new market. Yes, got it. But I think brands are most afraid to just be them. I love to see just brands with work that's just about the brand. I think what happens in the danger if brands don't have a really clearly articulated filter for who should I partner with and why? It can't just be about their audience. It can't be I want to part with them because they've got a huge audience and they're amazing and they're everywhere great. And we're going to work on there. It has to be back to the values. You'll see, they've got a constant theme here. You got to find influencers and collaborators that really share the core values of your brand. And when you spend the time to really search and hunt and the criteria, all the checkboxes that they have to check in order to kind of cross the finish line go, yes, this is a great partner because all of these ways and yes, you know what? They have a huge audience. That should almost be the last thing that you check, not the first thing. So if you partner with someone that doesn't align with your values, A, it looks kind of confusing to the consumer. And we've seen this, there are a lot of examples out there whether it be a collaboration partner and go, you want a surprise? Oh wow. But not go oh, that was a strange one. A consumer can tell when it's not a great fit. And I'll tell you from the inside, if you don't have a partner that's got the right values, it can be really hard. Oh my God. It just can be really hard. A shoot or a contract negotiation or a product drop can be really hard. And the last thing you want is for something to go sideways. Wait, so for you drop and then you got a hole. Oh, my God. That content. They didn't approve it and now we're off. Oh my God. They didn't approve that design and we have a product hole. We don't have anything to ship. It's not working with collaborators and influencers don't follow regular go to market. And I'd always love conversations with commercial partners because here's the go to market and here's how it works. When you work with someone else, a third party, it's like a choose your own adventure and it's going to be a different timeline and it's going to work differently and you need to have teams that can really foster that relationship. But all that said, I think when you've got a team, it goes back to having amazing talent and incredible humans who really understand the space, who can own those relationships as part of the brand. Sometimes it's hard when it's being managed by a third party and make that relationship with the brand, really make that relationship with the brand or with the influencer and foster that over the years. What comes from that are really beautiful. The output is just incredible and the relationship just goes and flows and you never know where it is going to go because it's so natural and organic. And I think those are harder to find, but are so much more powerful and authentic and believable and relevant. And so you can do so much more when you're really kind of open, but it's spending the time to make sure you've got the right brand filter before you have that first phone call or first email to that partner on the other line and being aware of what you're getting into. But they're powerful. They're powerful and they can be incredible to uplift the business, but they got to be right. They got to be right.

Paul: Anyone who knows me, I'm like a broken record on this. But the main approach that people take to actually finding a collaborator, an influencer, a creator, a brand ambassador, they're like, okay, cool, well, who out there would be interesting to us? Maybe there's a list of people who have similar demographics to us and actually, almost always they skip the core bit. It's like, well, who already loves us, who is an existing customer, who's bought from us five times in the past six months and who engages with us on all of our socials and already posts about us in an authentic way because they have that authenticity and that authenticity that they're able to drive. Obviously it ticks all those boxes because then you're like, yeah, the content is going to be right because they get it, they get you, they get the brand values, they take them on board. It's going to be cheaper because they'll do it for less, because they get to work with the brands that they love. That's just a big thing there. And in many cases, obviously not with the top end of it, but many cases they'll do it just for free product because, well, they love the brand. I want to sort of shift gears a little bit. Wanted to ask you particularly, you talked about COVID Obviously you were leading presumably pretty large team at Levi's and keeping them engaged during that period of time and kind of sticking to your brand values. I'm intrigued to hear about how that went. How did you approach that? Because it was a challenge for everyone, but the larger the team, the more important it was to actually keep people connected to it.

Karen: It's a great question and I'd say, look, we all, I think leaders everywhere were struggling with that and I'd even say now, not everyone's returning the office and still remote in some cases. And I think when you're working also with the creative folks that was the biggest concern. Like you've got to get simulated and get inspired. So I do think we try to connect as much as possible. At the time during COVID I was sitting over in the Asian markets and had a pretty big complex kind of set of markets that I worked with. But I think what it did for us, and I'd say for the whole global team, all the European markets and the Americas, we were connecting far more often than we ever did before because we could connect. And actually I think one of the events we were working on was kind of this global music festival, virtual music festival for 501 day that year and so we were able to get on the call and connect with all of our colleagues all around the world, which we'd never really done before. You'd have the morning call for the European and  US team, then you have the evening call like you'd kind of slice the calls and everyone wanted to be together because I think we just drew so much from that time, like many like I'm going to shut my family out, how's it going? What's happening? Now, for those who are kind of in our time zones, it meant really late calls. And so part of it was hard because we were starting to build a muscle that now I think we're trying to kind of let go a little bit because we're on calls at 01:00, 02:00. But it created this much richer connection because I think that we found this kind of this lifeline. Lifeline? How do I stay connected? How do I stay inspired? What are we seeing? So I felt like there was more connectivity either on the calls or WhatsApp groups and just sharing in articles or I found this or did you listen to this band oh, this is amazing. Or this is happening live stream. And so it started to connect folks in ways that were not about oh, we have this presentation do or oh, hey, can you send me your KPIs? Got to drop it into the deck for the CEO. It was about things that they loved and were inspired by and so I think it kind of opened up the aperture a bit of how teams can connect and so that was something that was really amazing. And so my hope is that even in this world now, where we are back in person, how do you keep that going? Not the 02:00 in the morning calls because God bless trying to do that from Asia was working on Singapore hours. US hours from Singapore is not something I'd ever recommend. I think my body felt like it was jet lagged all the time, but that connective tissue. How do you disconnect on things that aren't about the work but things that are about what inspires you and share that? And I think really watch. I think we all were concerned during that time with just the mental health of our teams. Are you okay? I think I had more one on ones during that time ever, and they would start, like, how are you doing on this? How are you as a human? How are you? And that's something just as a leader, whether in person or not in person. Or pandemic, no pandemic. Like, leading with empathy, right? Like, how are you? This should be a good place to work because this should be inspiring a culture of transparency and collaboration and just fun, right? You want to get to work and go, I really love the people I work with. And I think that's what got us through is just the human part and kind of putting work in the back seat for a minute. Not to say that we didn't do work, my God, I think we were probably more productive. I'm sure lots of brands and folks around the world could say that, but I think really just connecting on a very human level, trying to inspire and uplift. And I think as leaders and managers from that time, our job looked so different. And I hope now that it's kind of returning, that doesn't get ditched. Oh, no. We should always lead through empathy, right. And manage a team really caring about the human first and the marketer second. Like, how are you? How's your family? How your friends? Have you had a vacation? Are you sleeping well? How are you doing? I'd like to think, and I know I say that because I would like my manager or whoever I'm working for to ask those questions of me. Right. I'll be more of an engaged, loyal employee with that type of culture. Yeah.

Paul: And whether it's COVID or not, that's kind of the best way it should be starting any of those sort of sort of dialogues. And how is that? If you think about the kind of connection with customers, so there were always the classic five, four, 5Ps of marketing that people learn in business school. Is that the same is the way that brands grow today completely different to the way they did 10, 20, 25 years ago when you started your career?

Karen: I think it's radically changed. It's funny since we were joking about kind of the classic 4Ps, and those of you who are listening or will listen to this and gone through kind of the 4Ps, it's critical. Price, place, promotion. I mean, that is critical to developing great advertising. Advertising is not building a brand. It's a part and it's a piece and it's a component, but it's one piece. It is a piece of copy, in fact, in today's world, with how we have to connect with our consumers, that's one piece of it. But 20 years ago, madman days, it's like you had a campaign, you put out there, you didn't have loyalty, you didn't have the expectations of the consumer. You didn't have this completely seamless shopping experience. So it's changed. It's changed, I think. And I like to kind of think about the 4Ps a little bit differently as a leader and manager of teams. I think it's about the people we talked about kind of, yes, the right culture and how do you foster that? But hiring the best people in the industry, period, the people who really understand the space, I would say that is everything. Because at this point, I don't sit and make up the ideas. In fact, you don't want the creative ideas for me. That's not my job. My job is to give the team clear direction, to inspire a team and get out of the way. Give them the runway to go. But it's having the people, hiring the best talent and retaining that talent so that people is the first P, the other P. It's People, Process, Plans and Performance. Those in my in mind are the new 4Ps that really build a brand. You've got the amazing people. You hire the best talent in the industry, and you retain them, and you foster that culture that's going to keep them engaged. Process is the other one, which is like, the least sexy thing ever. I remember one time in a meeting, I don't know, 10, 15 years ago, we were sitting in a room, and we're talking about kind of go to market and process. And someone goes, well, process isn't sexy. I laughed. I was like, that is true. It's not the sexiest. But if you have time in your day to think, if you have time in your campaign development cycle to really go out in the world and ideate and create, what is sexier than that? Nothing is sexier than that. So I became really obsessed with the process. How can I help get more time for my team? How can I get better, closer, stronger alignment with partners up front? How do we lock in on an idea with the leadership team and not change it? Don't change gears. Okay? How do you look at the process of how you need to go through, develop a plan or campaign and make it tighter every time? All in service to giving your team more time, more ability to think and create. The work is always better if you have it time crunch because the process is so broken that you've got, like, two weeks to turn around and brief it in the creative. Some people can operate under pressure, but God bless. I don't know anyone who goes, I work best to develop an entire body of work in two weeks, but no one ever. So it's about the process. And as a leader, how do you give your time? Give that time to your team, right? And then from there, you get the best people. You get the really amazing process that gives lots of time to breathe, and then it comes down to the plans and I think right now that's where we marinate. That's where we spend most of our time. It's just developing plans, putting them out in the world and doing it again and again and again because of the nature of our world and the sense of urgency to get out there with newness and the expectation from the consumer. That's where we spend in marketing most of our time, is building our plans, which is needed, but we forget the last key, which is performance.

Paul: I want to go back there for a second. We're going to the people that bit. We're pretty well established. Just start with the process there. Talk me through an example. What do you mean? Is this like, right  we always sit down on Monday at 09:00 A.m. and we discuss what we're doing for the week. We're working in sprints. Add a bit of color to this. I'm fascinated.

Karen: So I think the process comes in always yes. And that with your team. Are you meeting regularly? Are you getting the right input? Are you getting the right feedback? Are you giving feedback in a timely manner? Are you the clog? Where's the clog happening? How are you able to keep things moving in a really fluid way? But I'd say even like really stepping back. And for consumer product goods, you have a go to market calendar. When does marketing come in? Can marketing come in earlier? How does the brand team get in a little earlier? How do you make decisions earlier? How do you say, oh, we want it here's ten products. Which one should be the one that we push? Don't be the last step and then we're going to get it. Here's the answer. We're going to market this cup, and then we're going to have five days to go develop a campaign for the cup. How about twelve weeks prior? When you're looking at a cup and a plate and the utensils, you have a conversation and you're part of that conversation. So it's really changing the integration of the functions upstream. And I think there's something so powerful in that and it can be scary to some that have been kind of working a certain way. But when you've got cross functional alignment that is required to get a product from development out into the world, the folks that are leading should be part of those conversations. So if you're able to get anything earlier and extract anything earlier, even just a nugget of an idea, I think it's going to be a cup. We're going to be launching a new cup. Okay. Anything you can give the creative teams to start thinking about? Noodling on. Okay. Can look like this. And then you got naming and you've got consumer research. All these things that come from once an idea is landed that you want to market to the world. But I think there have been times where marketing kind of comes in. It's done. Here it is go make a campaign and make it sell tons and recruit millions of consumers. You're like, oh my gosh, if I could have had six weeks more, just a bit more. And so I became really obsessed with how early on can we actually make that decision? How do we lock in and go, we got it. Okay, you don't have to show me all the things and how the cup is made, but I know it's going to be a cup. Okay, cool. I think that is like really opening the aperture of the development cycle. And how do you just get in earlier? Just be able to let teams breathe. So that's like the big, big macro process. Like, how do you just get in there earlier and even before that? I mean, three to five year, you're looking working on strategic business plans like, wow, in five years, if you can get that far ahead. And then yes, once you're in it and you're making the cup and you're working on all the things, is the team talking? Are they talking? Are they engaging? Are they listening? Everyone kind of gets their silos and they're kind of blinders on it like, I do social, DA DA DA. Hold on. Have you talked to the media and the PR over here and oh, the creative's happening over here? And we've got just talking. So that, I think is part of the process. So many amazing things are uncovered when people talk. It sounds so crazy. Like, just talk, ask questions, get the answers, but listen, your idea may change when you find out what's happening over there. Oh, that may spark a whole other idea over here, but it's finding those points to connect, having the right conversations at the right time that can lead to really solid, powerful ideas and decisions. And then, they said, as a leader, get the hell out of the way. Like, just go, I'm over here if you need me, but my job is to keep the path clear. So part of the process is what are the obstacles? What's falling? What's prohibiting the work? Where are people getting stuck? Where is attention happening? Focus there. That's everything. So if you can effectively remove those barriers, oh, so and so said this, let me go have a conversation with that function. Okay, that was a misunderstanding. Okay, we're all good. We're all good. Everyone's on the same page now. Okay, go. The thing is, leader constantly connecting in with the cross functional partners, with commercial team, with leadership expectations. So it's less about when you get into certain part of your career being on set for the shoot. I miss those days, but it's like, okay, let's make sure we're aligned at the most senior level so that's all process and that can feel really unsexy. But God bless. And you get an extra six weeks of creative development and you get a really amazing brief into an agency because you have the time to talk and think and turn it inside out with partners. And you feel so good about a really good brief, an agency to go, this is the best brief we've ever read. You just like, it's a high, okay? To get that. That's what you want. You don't want an agency to go, oh, my God, how much time do we have? And how much mind what went, okay, we're going to shut down the commute. We have to start now. But to go, this is juicy. To get a really juicy brief or plan takes real thought, right? It takes sitting in a room together as a team for five old days, and you don't go. You just sit and you talk, and you get out in the world and you talk. One of my favorite parts of the process, talk about sex. Process can be sexy. Brought our team together last year for the first time. We all could kind of fly in together, and we went to see Wu-Tang Clan in New York. That was, like, the first kickoff event. We're like, we got a week of meetings. What's happening in New York? Wu-Tang clan is coming together. We're going to go. And it's just like, let's go listen to something. Let's get really inspired and excited. I'll go sit in a conference room and talk about what we're going to do for the next year. But that's part of the process, right? So it's understanding where there's room to make it better, where there's room to think and create.

Paul: Okay, so tips for anyone who's listening. So when you have your sales kick off, go watch the Clan.

Karen: And I think now as the work world is changing and folks aren't together every single day, and maybe using once a month to get together, which I think is great, get out of the office. How many times have you gone to a conference in some amazing City you've never been to, and you like, your face is pressed against the window pane in the boardroom going, that looks cool down there. Can I spend a day just walking along the streets of Copenhagen? I get up, no, my flight's got to go back. But back to consumer. Where's your consumer? They're not in that boardroom. They're not probably in the lobby of that hotel that you're staying in. If your consumer obsessed and you're work, go find out where they are. And I think that was something when I went to Converse, and I worked for an amazing gentleman there, and it was about getting out the world. Go see it. I was like, really? We can go to go to these things and go listen. I mean, we'd go to shows and observe and do that. If you're getting your team together before you even put up any kind of slide on any screen to start reviewing the KPIs from last season, go have a minute together. Go out there in the world and experience the city that you've never experienced and the team and talk and get to know each other. It's the trust, right? You got to have the trust of the team. That's the core foundation of building a team, right? And the transparency, and then the collaboration comes and beautiful things can happen.

Paul: Love that. Okay, so we've gone through process. There's a bit of plan in there as well. Final one.

Karen: Performance.

Paul: Performance. Or put all the money on performance marketing. This is what you're saying. Just give it all to Zuckerberg.

Karen: That's what you take away. I've done. Not done my job. No. God bless performance media. We'll go on off a tangent on that. 1 may take a while. No, I think point is we are moving so fast. So fast, we're stuck in our plan rut, which is important. And the plans are so integrated and robust and ongoing, right. We don't have, as I mentioned, for those who are listening, who used to be part of the old school, you made a campaign, you waited six months and you did it again. And maybe there's a radio piece of copy that went out there, but it's always on, I mean, social in itself. And now you've got Metaverse and all these other digital platforms and dimensions that we have to engage in, it's nonstop. And so we're not stopping after we launch something of how to do, hey, we set some KPIs up front. We have a dashboard. I go, is it complete? Do we measure it? Are you measuring it in the moment and revising? Are you constantly optimizing your investment? What is happening? And I think teams that do it well are just on. It gets tighter and tighter and then they take the learnings and they put it into the next program and it gets better and better and better. And then there are some teams that go, oh, wait, we have some hold on, I think I had some KPIs. I think it was sales. I don't really know. Maybe hold on, this is due tomorrow, so I can't really spend time. I don't have time to get to that reporting. And that's really, really dangerous. It's really, really dangerous because there's no time. Team bandwidth is thin. There's so much work to spend time just looking at previous programs seems like a luxury, but if you don't obsess the performance, you're never going to get better. You may end up doing the same thing that didn't work again because you didn't actually dig deep enough to find out that it didn't work. So after the plans in the world, it's performance and it can be real time, it can be things. If you've got a longer brand equity driver, you're not going to get that read the day the campaign hits. But what happened when it did? What happened? How do you do the next one? So before the next brief is written, do you have an accurate assessment of the performance before you brief in another one. So that's hard. That's the back of process. Where's the time in there? The team can just stop. Pencils down. Pencils down, everyone. How'd you do? Did it do well? Did it don't do well? Is the competition crushing us? Did they do better? How'd it look? Are we proud of it? Did we crush it? Are the numbers so amazing? The board is, like, wants to give more investment. That's what you want. It worked. Can we have some more money to do some more? Or don't give me another dollar, because I know how I can optimize this and I can do more with less. That's usually what you have to get into. And if you can do that, finance partners love you. I don't need more money. You need to cut right now. No problem. Because we've optimized this so tight that I can get a higher ROI with less money. That's possible. So you can only get there if you obsess the performance. So those are my four piece.

Paul: Love them. That's amazing. I think it's one of those things in the tech world. It's something which people stick to the process of agile, methodologies and growth marketing. Everything is very rigorous in terms of the time frame that people work. There are set in stone ceremonies that you must abide to, and you cannot break it. You have a sprint. And this is exactly the sprints that we work with. And it's that kind of rigor that then opens up the freedom for creativity. And it testing and really short loops, feedback loops, so that you can listen, you can understand something, whether it's working, whether it's not working. So you're finding that one thing that just will be the thing that nudges drives that company massively forward, but most of the things won't. Most of those things will fail. And that's cool, but it's good to know that much, much faster. So you can find the one thing that's going to have a massive exponential impact on it. And that's what I quite love about that process, is it's boring, but it's sexy. When it works.

Karen: It feels counterintuitive, but it's go slow to go fast. As a human, I travel in, like, one speed, I feel like, but if I slow down a minute, like really slow down and take it in, make sure I'm grounded. Make sure, okay, are we rooted to our values? Are we diluting any of our messaging? Are we doing blah, blah, blah? Go slow with the team. Check if that's all aligned and crystal clear and you've got all of that ticked and tied. You can speed and race, but if you are not slow and you're not connected and you're not aligned and you've got the wrong KPIs and you go fast, danger, danger. Wheels come off. Wheels come off and you feel it. But it is about going slow. It's taking the time at the right points in time during your process to just check in, ask the questions, ask the questions, know when the questions need to be asked. But having that kind of philosophy of going slow that so you can go fast is really kind of beautiful. It gives you some permission. Because I think right now, everyone's got to win. Everyone's got to win. Numbers have to be higher and you double the bid. It's like the pressures are mounting and it's a lot, it's intimidating, it's a lot to go. Hold on, we're good. Take a breath, take a breath for a second. Let's figure this out. Are we good? Okay, we're all going to hold hands, we're going to do this off the races. It's kind of cathartic if you think about it, but it's a must.

Paul: What's the priority though? So process and obviously plan performance, those parts of it or the mission and the vision of the company part is that which one should come first and are they separate?

Karen: You know what you just did? You made it a 5Ps, because Prioritization is everything. Look at that. See, here you go. Okay, I'm writing this down we got a new 5.

Paul: New creating right here.

Karen: 4Ps are dead. Product, Price, Place, Promotion, you're out. No, but Prioritization and it's kind of back to part of the process, right? Because I think that's the other thing. There's so many things. Everything seems important. Everything. I got to do all the things all the time, all at once. It's everything all at once. But in our world of branding world, if you are not Prioritizing, you could have people running in different feeds at different paces against different bodies of work or initiatives. So you got to Prioritize and the values, who you are, your brand, purpose, always is number one. Always is number one. And I think when something new comes along and I'll use to go back to my favorite topic, which is the Metaverse, which is another topic for I think you've already covered in your podcast. Metaverse comes along, a new dimension. All of a sudden it's like we got to drop everything and these amazing, sexy, fun, potentially big ideas and NFT that world and the ideas that were coming and landing the inbox were just like these are crazy, the things they'd seen. We did an assessment of all the stuff going on in the world. It was like 30 different programs, all different shapes and sizes all over the world in this space. And somehow and I'd say not all. And I'm sure there were some brands that did amazing experiences and created something new in this new dimension. But there are a lot of things that popped up there that were just off and bad, because the Prioritization wasn't there to put values and purpose first. So when we sat down and go, okay, what are we doing? How come if we're going to sign up for an event, we kind of go through, does this match these things? Here are my criteria. Here's our brand purpose, here are the values. Or a partner with influencer in collaboration. To go back to our earlier conversation, I'm going to vet this opportunity based on who I know we are as a brand, what is most important to us as a brand, and then it's going to output some answers of who we can partner with. Somehow in the Metaverse came along, all of that was like everyone had the amnesia and it was like, we got to get out there and it was like throwing digital spaghetti on the wall. And it was like, hold on, we are doing some really dilutive things on platforms that have crazy carbon. We are about sustainability. Hold on, we've lost the plot. We are going after things that are not aligned to the values of the brand. So it comes back to that brand values are the number one priority. You can't divert, you can't become untethered to that. And then you put the brand values through the filter, whatever the new dimension is, because there's going to be something else right? There's going to be a new platforms. It's exciting to think about what's going to come in the next five to ten years. But if a brand doesn't know who they are, back to the first question. How do you make 147 year old brand relevant? Who are you? What do you stand for? What's your mission in this world? What is your purpose? Who are you? What are the values that carry you forward? What are your principles that you're tethered to start there? Always, always then put it through whatever fancy, disco, shiny thing, new object of the day, and sometimes it may not come out and go, you know what? That's not for us. Or if we do that, we only do it this way. I know there's 14 different offers to do these other cool things that these other vendors want to do, but it doesn't say no. Say no more than you say yes. And I think there's such a desperation right now to just be relevant and to try all these new things that we're like, yes, yes. And not everything is a yes. There should be more no's than yes. Because what you do suggest to should be so solid and you go, oh, that just feels right. So when the consumer sees it, they go, that made so much sense. And you see how they did that, oh, my God, I couldn't believe they did. It just blows your mind what you see when you see those new ways of experience that go brand, that make sense. They've gone through the right filters, they've gone through the check boxes and I guarantee you they've said no more than they've said yes. But it comes back to who are you? Don't change that. Be who you are and be confident and own it and boldly go forward.

Paul: So the number one P of all is purpose. That's where you would prioritize it above all the others.

Karen: Well, that's now a 6th. Okay. No, I would say though, people I would still put people first.

Paul: Okay, good. Prioritization. I would 100% agree. And I think that that is like and, and that's that's my opinion on the the shift is that now it's all about people. Previously it was about ads, it was about distribution of different channels. Now it's about people. Whether that is Joe bloggs on the street, whether it's about an artist, whether it's an influencer, a creator, an ambassador like partner of some variety. It's now human led user generated content is user it's people generated content. And it's how does a brand so if that's the perspective, has that changed the way that a brand is? You mentioned earlier that a brand is like a person. It's got values. So is marketing now about building friendships? Is it like the brand person is making friends with lots of other friends? What's your mindset on that?

Karen: I think that if a brand isn't it for the long game. It's about building those relationships. It's not about selling the thing. We know you got to sell the thing to exist in the world, but you can sell the thing all day. If you don't have a relationship with the person and the people, you're not going to last. And it's about who do you need to recruit next? How do you build that, how do you foster that? How do you maintain relevancy that's everything? Yeah, I do. I think brands today need to really think about who is out there, who do I need to connect with in a real, real way? I think it's really cluttered and there's a lot of choices for consumers. It's overwhelming. I get overwhelmed. I'm like, oh God, and I live in this. I have a very short list of like, okay, I can trust it, I can trust but I think it's about people building that trust, building that love. That real love. It's an emotional connection. It's hard. It's hard. But you don't do that by discounting your brand all the time. And you don't do that by doing just come in and get a free tote bag. Okay? But that's not going to be kind of what sits in here. And so that's everything. How do you build that love for your brand that creates those real authentic connections? If you can figure that out, your product is going to fly off the shelves. Your product is going to fly off the shelves. But it starts with that.

Paul: Love that. Amazing. Yeah. We don't like hanging out with our desperate friends right here's. 20% off his 30% off. Buy my stuff, please. Its like

Karen: Do you have anything else to talk about? Do you have anything else? If you're at a party and you're the person who just talks about the same thing, every single time you see them, you're like, you're going to stop wanting to sit next to them when you see them at the couch. Okay. You could okay. I'm just to nod to you and keep on like you're going to talk about the same thing over and over and over again. You're going to stop being friends with that person. Right. Have dimension, have depth, have substance. That's what gets folks in. I know when I meet someone who's like, my God, they're so interesting, there's so much dimension there. Oh, my God, I can't wait to see them again. There's this magnetism, they're drawn to that. That's what you want to create. How do you do that? That's hard. That's hard. That's where you got to go slow and figure out how do you get in here? And then off you go.

Paul: Most reputation building, it takes a lifetime to build and seconds to break if you want to. Thank you very much. Karen this has been marvelous. We are coming up on time now. I know we can and have and probably will continue gossiping about this stuff for a long time, but I think we will be turning off the live stream. But before we do, then tell us a little bit about what you're up to right now and what's next in Karen world.

Karen: Yeah, I feel like I've never been more excited about where I am in my career. I think the last hour kind of illustrates the passion I have for brands and brand building. I've been working with really big established iconic heritage brands my whole career. And I started working with some startups. I'm actually here in LA. Working with an incredible startup called Shop Zero. Young Gen Z, female founders that are set to revolutionize the way that we shop for sustainable fashion brands. And they're just building less than a year old and we're building. What is your purpose, what is your mission, what is your vision, who's your consumer? Like, all of those core components, we're working on that right now. And so that's where I'm just finding so much joy and enthusiasm and energy. How can I help? It's exciting. That's just one, but I think I'm going to dabble in this area and we'll see. I don't know. Never say never to the corporate world again. But I think I'm going to take a minute. Go slow. To go fast. I'm in my go slow right now. I'm going to take a minute. I also have some kids I kind of love and a couple of dogs and a husband. And I'm going to take a minute just to go, hey, remember me? I'm the one who sits in the kitchen on call all day long till 02:00 A.m.. I'm back. So, yes, I'm going to take a little bit of time and just see what's next. See what's next.

Paul: Sounds super exciting. Well, I can't thank you enough for making the time. This has been really fun. And until next time, thank you very much. Karen Riley Grant.

Karen: Thank you so much.

We can't wait to meet you.