Leading with a commitment to people, clients, and the community with Beth Johnson | Greater Washington DC DMV Changemaker

Leading with a commitment to people, clients, and the community with Beth Johnson | Greater Washington DC DMV Changemaker

In this episode of Partnering Leadership, Mahan Tavakoli talks with Beth Johnson, Founder and CEO of RP3 Agency. Beth Johnson shares the setback that helped birth RP3 and the organization's many successes over the years. Beth Johnson also shared why she initially became involved in the community and including her involvement in Washington Area Women's Foundation and Leadership Greater Washington. 

 
Some highlights:

-Beth Johnson shared how her mother's resilience played a role in her upbringing. 

- How an unexpected setback led Beth Johnson to found RP3 Agency.

- The importance of relationships in growing RP3.

- Why Beth Johnson chose to get involved in the community.   

- How Beth's authentic leadership and growth mindset have helped her team navigate through the pandemic.

 

Book Recommendation:

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

 

 

Connect with Beth Johnson:

Beth Johnson on LinkedIn

RP3 Agency website

 

 

Connect with Mahan Tavakoli:

mahantavakoli.com

 

More information and resources available at the Partnering Leadership Podcast website: 

partneringleadership.com

Transcript

Mahan Tavakoli:

Welcome to partnering leadership. I'm really excited this week to be welcoming. Beth Johnson. Beth is the founder and CEO of RP three agency, which is an award-winning creative communications agency and their client roster includes fortune 500 brands. Like Norfolk, Southern Marriott, Hilton, supply management, the Coca-Cola company and local brands, including children's national health systems, giant food and Long and Foster.

Beth has had a successful career in advertising agencies since starting back in 1994 with the Dan Rosenthal companies, helping that organization grow before then in 2009, launching RP three. Additionally, she is really impactful in the community involvement, whether it's been in serving on boards, including leadership, greater Washington and greater Washington board of trade.

Or her leadership at junior achievement of greater Washington, she really believes in and acts by giving back to the community. So she is a leader that has been impactful both in her organization and in the broader community. 

Can't wait to share this conversation with you because I've had the pleasure of seeing Beth's authentic leadership, both with respect to how she leads her own organization and how she leads in the community. And I think there are so many insights to gain from Beth. 

I love hearing from you. Keep your comments coming. Mahan@mahantavakoli.Com. There's a microphone icon on part doing leadership.com, you can leave voice messages for me there, don't to follow the podcast on your platform of choice and those of you that listen to these on apple a rating and review will help more people find a conversations and benefit from them.

Now, here is my conversation with Beth Johnson.

 Beth Johnson, welcome to partnering leadership. I am thrilled to have you in this conversation with me.

 

Beth Johnson: 

Thank you, Mahan. I'm so honored to be. 

 Mahan Tavakoli:

Having gotten a chance to see your life leadership in action, Beth, your commitment to the community and the enthusiasm with which you embrace and do everything you do. I can't wait to get to some of your professional experiences and some of your impact, but would love to know first whereabouts did you grow up and how did your upbringing make you the kind of person and leader you are today?

 

Beth Johnson:

So Mahan, I was raised in Southeastern Virginia. And I had the advantage of just an incredible mom who is truly one of the most resilient people I know. So I was raised by a single mom. She actually got pregnant as a teenager and married her high school, sweetheart. And I have an older brother and after he was born, my father was deployed as a Marine in Vietnam and actually had a hand-to-hand combat. And my mother tells the story about when he came home, he was truly just never the same. And I think that was prior to our understanding today of PTSD and treatments for it. And so ultimately our, my dad left our family when I was five.

Here's my mother. She has no education, no skills to speak of and two kids to feed. So you can imagine what a moment and a crisis that was for her, but to her credit, she really made the decision that at that time that she was going to make a better life for her kids and for herself. And I was so lucky cause I remember when she actually decided that she was going to go out and get a job, which was obviously a necessity, we didn't have a babysitter, so we got to go on the adventure with her. So it was, it's just one of the greatest memories I have is hopping into her green Buick Skylark and my brother and I get in the backseat of our coloring books and I'm five and he's seven, of course, we're fighting over the line and the back seat and we're driving to my mom's interview, her job interview and it was so exciting and so fun, my mom was dressed up and she, and I think she was interviewing as a receptionist for a TV repair shop or something like that, but it was a job. And she went in and we stayed in the car and colored. And I remember when she came out the look on her face and I need, she was beaming.

And that was the beginning of this incredible journey for her, where that was a job. And then that led to another job. And then ultimately she. Got into real estate. She found out she was really good at it. She was super successful, ended up buying the company that she worked for and became just incredibly successful in real estate, in both residential and commercial.

And I think. Just having that as a role model was such a foundation for me somebody who has a vision for yourself and others around you and just made it happen. She had the grit and the resilience to get there. And so she always said to me "Beth, you can do anything you set your mind to."

And I think just having someone who proved that was really valuable. And I would say that's a foundation to the way I think about leadership.

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

What a beautiful story, Beth, because you saw in your mom's behavior as a role model, as a mother, what that resilience is all about after experiencing a tremendous setback with your father emotionally before he left. And then eventually when he left, I would like to stay on that a little bit more as a five-year-old girl, you were old enough to understand that your father had left. How did that impact you?

 

Beth Johnson:

Wow. I'll tell you? That's hard because my father never came back and he went on to start another family, which is really odd. So I think, in some ways It left a void in my life, but I was so lucky that I filled that void in a healthy way. I actually married someone who is a fantastic father who would never leave and who is just a great partner to me.

And I think having my dad leave was obviously it could have created a scenario where I made bad decisions about men in my life, but instead I think maybe it was my mother, maybe it was other influences, but I was really determined that I was going to have a very different future in a very different relationship with my own kids and in my own family and I've been fortunate that it has turned out that way.

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

It is incredible Beth. And for anyone that knows you, they know that family is really important to you, the love of your life is a big supporter of you and everything you've done throughout your life, your husband and your two daughters, people, lot of times either seek the chaos that came from or make sure that they don't go back to that chaos.

 The lessons that you learned and your mother's experience as a role model, you obviously had a lot of great things going for you, and eventually you became a first-generation college student.

 

Beth Johnson: 

Yeah I'm actually really proud of that as is my mother, because my mother was raised by parents who were loving wonderful parents, but they stopped their education in the eighth grade, so they could farm. It was not in my mother's world. Education was really just not even on her horizon, but for me, she really felt determined. She wanted us to go on to college.

And as a kid, I had this insatiable curiosity and this strong desire to broaden my horizon. And growing up in a small town without a lot of money obviously struggling through being raised by a single mom I wasn't exposed to a lot of people outside my town.

So I learned by reading books and asking questions of other people and through all of that, I decided very early on that I wanted to be a journalist. And I was so determined Mahan. I worked at the school newspaper and then I got a job at the radio station. And then I worked as an intern at the sports network, all of this, like when I was in high school.

 It was all part of my master plan and getting to college was just this amazing feat. And I worked hard. I worked my way through school. My mom worked hard. We both were so committed. And when I got that diploma that was just a big day in my life. And it education is so valuable and I definitely recognize that. And I'm grateful for all the sacrifices that she made so that I could achieve that.

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

So your mom made it a lot of sacrifices, but you did also in having to pay for school as you were going through school. So you had to develop a certain level of grit and resilience all throughout. As a mother of two daughters, which because of you and your husband being a hardworking parents, committed and still together, your daughters are much more fortunate and don't have to struggle the way you did.

How do you ensure that they develop some of the resilience and grit you had to develop by just the fact of your sheer circumstances?

 

Beth Johnson: 

Oh, that is such a good question Mahan, and it's one that my husband and I have talked so much about because I do think I'm the person that I am today because I did have struggles. And we've talked about that because our girls have a very different upbringing. 

However, the one thing I learned in parenting that, you know, and I'm proud of this, we have been very intentional about not rescuing our children and allowing them to just to make mistakes and then to address the real consequences of those mistakes. And when there are problems in school, I bit my tongue, I allow them to deal with the teacher. I think because of the question you just asked it, I think that's a real issue with parenting today.

 How many people get participation trophies. At some point, kids have to overcome adversity in order to have the skills to address real life issues. And so I have to say the thing I'm proudest of most in my life are both my daughters. They are incredible. One of them is actually hiking on the Appalachian trail right now.

Talk about someone who has grit and resilience. She she's an amazing outdoor adventure and my other one is just brilliant. I They're both amazing, brilliant, hardworking girls and they have that work ethic, but they also understand their privilege. And I think they understand the responsibility that comes with that privilege. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

That is wonderful to hear both as a parent and again, as an entrepreneur that has succeeded. Part of the reason for your success all throughout has been the grit and resilience that you developed early on. So eventually after graduating from college, you land at Dan Rosenthal companies, what was that experience all about? You spent 15 plus years there.

 

Beth Johnson: 

Yeah, I absolutely loved. I found my way to advertising after realizing that journalism wasn't all it was cracked up to be. So I, but I love the storytelling piece of it. And I found my way through a marketing department and met Dan and he's this brilliant creative leader, starting his company. I joined where there are just a handful of us, I think three, four or five, I can't remember exactly. And I stayed with him and grew the business with him over 15, 16 years. Honestly, it was such a happy time. I loved being a number two. I was like, this is the best of all worlds. I was able to really build out a leadership team. I had wonderful client relationship. A wonderful culture, just a great experience.

And he was smart because he made sure that I had strong mentorship throughout my journey there. And I really did. So I was growing and learning, and which is the best thing about advertising because you're constantly working on different industries. ruled my desire for just learning and being exposed to a lot of different challenges and industries. It was a great experience, but it had a terrible ending mud.

And I will never forget. It was June 12th at three o'clock, 2009. And I had a meeting scheduled with Dan. And if you remember that time, it was the great recession and advertising and recessions are often not a fun bit. Our business was in decline, however we were doing okay, or so I thought. 

Dan called me into his office and I closed the door and I sat down and I looked at him and. There was this look on his face and it was just ashen, his face was just white. And I was like, what is going on? And he dropped a bomb on me. He told me in that meeting that he was shutting down the company, not in a week, not in a month that day.

So literally all of us on the team, all, I think there were 30 employees. Everybody was fired that day. No severance, no notice, no warnings. And I am just reeling from this news and I'm thinking, wait a minute, I'm on deadline. I'm working on four assignments for clients. I have to get out by the end of the week.

 What are you talking about? So this it was just one of those moments where you take a step back, breathe through it. He pulled us all into the conference room and share the news and lots and lots of tears. And I remember I just said out loud to the team listen, everybody here is experiencing this together and I will do anything to help anyone if I can help you with your resume, whatever I can do, I will help you. But I am going to come back and I am going to help these clients transitions. We can't just abandon our clients. We all went home. I'm sitting down with my husband, telling him what's going on, go back to work the next day, even though I don't have a job.

And do you know, Mahan that my entire team, the entire agency showed up to work and continued to work with no paycheck. Even though Dan had a fire sale going on in the office, selling our furniture out from under us. I'm not kidding you. And we are literally continuing to work. And and that was the time I was like, Okay. guys, I'm starting an agency. And I literally bought my computer from Dan. I wrote him a check. I put my computer online and my stuff on my chair and I rolled it to the elevator and I press the down button and on the eighth floor, like one floor below us. One of those startups spaces, this was before we worked, it was Regis.

And I went down there and I said, I need an office. And I started RP3. And I have to say that team, some of them are still with me. That team was incredible. And what we ended up doing is obviously all the things you have to do very quickly to start a company, which by the way, I had no idea how to do any of them.

So talk about learning on the job. But we started with a book of business, which was ended up being such an incredible blessing that we were able to start that way. And then I hired as many of the people as I could. And ended up. Being able to pay everyone back who helped us through that time, which was just a really great feeling. 

So everybody ended up just fine, but it was a little painful, a little tumultuous and it very interesting way to start a company. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

Yeah. And what an incredible moments both for you personally, and then for the other team members, I wonder Beth, what was it that kept these folks around after they had been laid off and weren't getting paid to stay and work with those clients?

 

Beth Johnson: 

It's funny. I've reflected on that. And I think I have just been really lucky in my career Mahan to work good people who really care about each other and the clients and the work that we do. And somehow we had just built a culture that was that way. And everyone just really wanted to do the right thing and wanted to help.

 I'm not kidding. Every single person in the company came and helped us. It really is phenomenal that happened. It was a special place. It was a special place and we have, and many of us are still together and in one way or another, some of them are my clients now, which is funny, but advertising is a really challenging business. The highs are high, the lows are low. You have ups, you have downs, you're on a rollercoaster ride. Clients do crazy things all the time. There's always new challenges every day, which makes it fun and interesting, but it's also a really bonding type business because there's a lot of togetherness, there's a lot of comradery and collaboration and creativity that happens just so you really get to know people. It feels more like family than like a business in some ways, and even the dysfunctional parts, so it's a wonderful feeling that everyone was there and supportive and still can connect back with the origins of Rosenthal partners. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

It is Beth also a testament to your leadership of the team and the relationships you have developed. I understand that advertising has its ups and downs, and there are great teams in advertising and there are not so great teams in advertising. Also one of the things, as obviously this podcast focuses on leadership and I'm fascinated with leadership on what makes great teams work. And one of the groups that I'm fascinated with is special forces. And a lot of times when people think about special forces and how they operate is that yes, they are patriotic, but they are not standing up for the country in many instances.

And yes, they are proud to be in the SEALS and in the Navy, it's not the Navy. They are standing up and they're willing to put their lives on the line. In most instances for their other teammates for people that are in their unit. So that is the skill of a great leader to have so much purpose and be willing to take that first step where the others have trust and faith in the leader and are willing to follow in those steps for the team and for the leader.

 

Beth Johnson: 

It's interesting because when I think about that time, it really was the people, the friendships that probably kept us together. That's probably the best answer we, we cared about. We just did. And you also get that type of relationship with your clients and you feel you want to do the right thing.

You want to support them. You want to have their back. And yeah, it's what you said really resonates.

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

And I think it's really important in this day and age, where organizations and teams talk about organizational purpose for leaders to reflect on what it is. That brings people together, even when they don't know if they're going to get paid or not to do the right thing for each other and for the clients learning from your experience and your lessons.

Now in that first year, you also won an award agency of record for a fortune 300 company going against some national agency contenders.

 

Beth Johnson: 

Oh, my gosh. It was such a shock to us and to everyone in the industry. And I still Marvel at this company, Norfolk Southern and hiring us that we laugh about it today because we signed with them in 2010 and we're still their agency of record, but it was an amazing story.

We actually had pitched. Their trade association and lost when we were at Rosenthal partners, but we made this great impression on Norfolk Southern, which is one of the three freight rail companies in the country. And when they decided that after being with their agency for many years, that they were ready for a change, they went all out for the national search for the best agency in the country.

Now, meanwhile, they call us up because they remembered us from this pitch. We liked you guys. And I said, yeah we have started over and I have this small business. And by the way, we had three full-time employees at the time. And I said, honestly, I said, we were just getting started and they're very Southern and very nice. 

That's Okay. We just liked the best ideas. And do you know, it's so funny Mahan because they went around and visited, flew all over the country and visited all these agencies and they came to our little office where we shared an office and they were all, we're all crammed in there. And. It's just such a funny moment.

Frank Brown was the client. I loved him. And and we laugh about it today because I showed him our future office space on a board and they were helping us prep for the pitches. They were all the agencies. And then we came to the final pitch and we actually made the finals and we were up against all the big Madison avenue guys. And the night before the pitch, we went out to dinner and it was three of us pitching, and we had worked so hard on this. We had all these great ideas and we were so excited, but the night before we walk into this restaurant and there's another agency and their big agency, and I know who they are, everybody knows who they are. And then looking at them at dinner. And I am just breaking out into a cold sweat.

I'm like, oh my God, what are you doing? And I will never forget walking into that room. We're talking the longest conference table you've ever seen 18, 20 people deep and all you're filled with older older men, to be honest. And we're standing up there and swear I thought I was going to throw up, but some how, some way we made it through that pitch. We're thinking, okay we pitched our hearts out. I loved the work. It's a total testament to the creativity of our team. The next day we drove back, we were in our little tiny office and a package arrives. and so I go to the front desk, you get the package and it's from Norfolk Southern. And I open it up and there's a crystal train, which I have in my office here. And it says, congratulations, you won the business. And honestly, Mahan. I thought we were going to get kicked out of the religious space because we ran around screaming our heads off.

 It was it was utter mayhem. They literally were telling us, "you need to be quiet." And honestly, that's when I knew, I said, Okay, this is real. We're really going to build something here. It was the most amazing. Experience And so fun. And they're still the most incredible client today.

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

You continued screaming and doing great things in building the organization over the years, which is outstanding building on that initial breakage. Having something that you didn't expect being laid off building on the bonds and the relationships that existed before to have a core of people work together and then have this win to start what ended up being to this day, a very successful organization.

Now, in addition to that, eventually you got very involved in the community. And one of the things I love about you Beth, is that you are both a driven and smart business person, but you're also very committed to giving back to the community. How did that come about for you?

 

Beth Johnson: 

Actually I attended the women's foundation luncheon in 2008, so was right. I started the agency. It was their 10 year anniversary. And to be honest, Mahan, I didn't know anyone, but I got this invitation somehow passed along to me and it spoke to me. So I said, I'm just going to go and see what this is about.

And I showed up and I sat this is think the biggest ballroom in Washington with 1500 women and everybody knows each other. They're all best friends. And I am literally walking to the back of the room to the last seat of the last table in the corner, sitting by myself, feeling quite intimidated.

But a woman by the name of Janetta B Cole, I think was her name spoke. She is this incredible strong black feminist leader. She spoke so passionately about the disproportionate impact that poverty has on women, especially women of color and especially women who are mothers. 

So it really struck a chord with me. And I remember she said " if you educate a man, you educate a man, but if you educate a woman, you educate a community." And I have to say, that is a whole notion of that really took my breath away because I have since learned that the importance of, the investment in women and girls and the return that you get on that investment because women are so likely to pay it forward.

So I was so moved by the mission, I think partly because I was raised by a single mom who struggled a lot as we were growing up and we certainly had our share of help and support from the community, so after sitting in the back of the room, when the lights came on, I looked up at the front and I said, you know what, I'm going to be brave.

And I I'm actually a shy person, but I decided just to walk right up to the front of the room, And I was looking for somebody who had a name badge with ribbons, you know what I'm talking about, right? who has a name badge with ribbons. And so I walked up to this woman that I had never met before, I introduced myself and it turned out that she is now one of my dearest friends. Her name is Jen Cortner. She was on the board. I know at the time they really needed major donors. And I said, I can't do that, but I feel drawn to this mission.

I feel like I could help. And this is what I do communications and advertising. So if you ever need help, here's my card. And I would do this pro bono. I would just support you guys from a volunteer standpoint. So a few months later phone rings and sure enough, they asked for my help and that truly was the beginning of this incredible journey of not only supporting that organization and working on issues around women and girls. And I ended up on the board for nine years and ultimately chair the board, but also I think just really learning about the power of community and what that can do to make a difference, not just in solving problems in our community, that we all care so deeply about, but how that community can rally around each other to provide all the support we need just to be strong business leaders and to be good for the people in our lives.

So honestly, going to that luncheon was life-changing for me, and also just as an aside we worked on a campaign for the women's foundation pro bono. It was our ironically it was our very first account at RP three and it came with $0. So it was like, yay. We have a client. Oh, we don't have any money but Mahan we did this amazing work.

We, we worked on a campaign it's called be that woman and to this day, it is the work, I am proudest of. It not only supported the organization to help them grow their community and achieve, actually exceed their fundraising goals, but it also won national awards. So it was recognized nationally for an Effie award, which in our industry is the Cleo's, it's a big deal. But more importantly, it really helped. And it came at the right time and it also helped me build confidence and again, just build that sense of community. So very greatful. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

And you have continued contributing whether it's through the women's foundation, which as you said, you eventually served as board chair, Leadership Greater Washington, junior achievement. So you stay actively involved in giving back to the community, and that community is important, both in terms of what we contribute to it, and the community is there for us we need it. Now we talked previously about the fact that advertising agencies have their ups and downs all of the organizations, most especially advertising agencies were hit really hard in March, 2020 when we were hit with a pandemic. How did that hit you, Beth, and how were you able to handle 2020 into 2021?

 

Beth Johnson:

Mahan, it was really tough because so much of our business was tied into the hospitality industry. For starters, I think for some agencies who had clients outside government or whatever, we had not worked in that space so a lot of our business was tied into industries that were impacted.

 We were very fortunate that we also had these essential clients, like giant food and grocery Norfolk Southern for instance, and healthcare clients that stuck with us. But to be honest, it was really challenging. Within I would say a three or four week period, we lost at one point, we thought it was 50% of our business.

We ultimately recovered some of that. But it was one of those defining moments in your life where you think okay, I can choose to look at this as the worst thing that's happened or I can choose to turn this obstacle into an opportunity.

So I really practiced being present every day and just focusing on the things that I could and I was very disciplined about communication with my team, because that is the hardest part. Right? How do people feel, how are things going? I wanted to be transparent and honest about what the agency was facing, but also supportive.

And I wanted people to understand that I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't have all the answers, but that they could count on me to to be open with them and to do what I could to support them, which is what we ended up doing.

And in the end, we were very fortunate because we did have clients that were just stayed committed to us, even the clients that cut back or paused, kept us on board. So we were able to piece it together. We benefited from the government funding, the PPP money. Thank goodness for that I'm forever grateful. I gladly took it and used it wisely. And in the end, In crises, there's always a silver lining. I used to have a friend who said "never let a good crisis go to waste." And do you know what happened Mahan?

This happened also in when we started the agency in a recession, but we were able to start building relationships with new clients and new talented team members that otherwise may not have been as accessible to us. So we used it as an opportunity to recruit and to find new people who wanted to join the agency and to find new clients and sure enough, it's really amazing.

I still Marvel at the fact that that we came through that and that we're actually going to be stronger as a result. And we're still not quite back to where we were, but honestly we will be by the end of this year and into Q1 of 2022. And I'm so incredibly indebted to my team because Mahan, I could never have made it through this if it were not for the incredible team at the agency that stayed dedicated to our client, to me, to the vision, making it all happen, working so hard, shifting into the remote workplace, trying to figure out all these things mean, it was just amazing. It really was. And I'm so proud of everyone and I am grateful to them and we actually pulled out an operating profit in 2020, and I took the entire thing and distributed it to all of our team because they earned it. They went through a lot. It was not easy. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

There is so much beauty in the statements that you just made, Beth. I just wanted to underline the fact that sometimes people might listen to this and think you're on a podcast. That's going to be listened to around the globe. That's why you're saying this. But one of the great things is when we are having a drink at a corner of a room or has been more the case over the past year, A one-on-one zoom conversation.

You see the same things about your team having stepped up, which is a credit to them and a credit to your own authentic leadership. The other part of it is I'm a big advocate for anti-fragility becoming stronger as a result of breakage. We don't want the breakage, but with breakage, we can become better and stronger as a result, whether it was when you were at five years old, your mother as a role model and example, or when you had to start a RP three and he didn't have a choice with that breakage, or now with the breakage of the pandemic and the crisis, you have become stronger every time as a result. And that's in part what great leadership and growth mindset for individuals and leaders is all about.

So I'm also curious, Beth, you have a very authentic leadership style. Part of it is what you have seen in role models all around you throughout life from your mom on. Part of it I'm sure you are a student of leadership also. So when you're asked for leadership resources. Are there any that you typically find yourself recommending whether books, videos, any practices that you typically recommend for people to become more effective leaders?

 

Beth Johnson: 

Oh, Yes. I could. I could speak forever on this. One thing that has really changed my life is meditation. Practicing gratitude and practicing meditation has become a part of my everyday life. And I really credit my anti-fragility as you said to that, because I think growing up and even early in my career, I was someone who was motivated by fear. 

Fear of failure, fear of not doing the right thing, saying the right thing, winning, whatever it was. And I think that through these practices, it's really helped me shift into much more intentional goal setting. And it's about something that I would recommend. And there's a ton of apps that you can access.

I use Headspace, but there's plenty of others and I've actually taken the classes. And it's just something that has really helped ground me. And this is not news to anyone, but do you know Simon Sinek? Yeah, so he launched his first book, which was " Start with why" back in 2009, when I started the agency and he's famous for all of his Ted talks, which is great.

 Because you can really digest his content through TedTalks. But the way he packages his ideas and he talks about purpose in organizations and really tapping into the why is something that really inspires me. And actually when we started the agency, he gave us a vocabulary and a language because in essence, that's what we do with our clients.

We help them find their why, the good that is within their brands and bring it out and expose it and connect it with their audiences. So I follow him religiously, everything he does. He does a lot of great work around millennials and gen X that will make you laugh, but will also help you understand how to motivate and inspire these young folks who are so brilliant, but just have very different needs than we had growing up in the world. So I recommend him. So those are, my resources that come to mind. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

Those are outstanding recommendations. And again, as we go through the disruption and the younger generation, people are looking for more meaning in what they do and purpose with their roles and organizations. So Simon Sinek. Is great at helping organizations and leaders recognize and connect to that purpose.

One of the other things I love about you is that you have a way of pushing yourself outside of your own comfort zone and you and your family decided to go summit Mount Kilimanjaro. 

 

Beth Johnson: 

Yes. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

What guide you to do that? And what was that experience like, Beth?

 

Beth Johnson: 

Oh my gosh. Talk about a life. If anyone wants to call me, I have so many resources and recommendations, that honestly is one of the best experiences I've had. And it's something I would have never done if it were not for my daughter, my older daughter is an outdoor enthusiast. She's been doing all kinds of crazy things. Hiking, climbing glaciers, she was young. She's been very lucky to go on some amazing trips. When she graduated from high school, we said we would take her on a trip and I always wanted to go to Africa to see safari. She said mom, I don't really want to go just sit in a Jeep, can we climb Mount Kilimanjaro? Okay. Honestly, Mahan, I am a person who loves a nice hotel room, okay.

 But it was a tremendous experience for our family because we trained for it. What gets you with Kilimanjaro is the altitude. That's the challenging part. We took our time and acclimated. And so we were really fortunate that all four of us made it together. We summited together. And it's a very high altitude. It's 19,324 feet. So you're up there it was the most amazing experience because we had nine days with each other, no devices, no cell phones, just ourselves and our other our guides who were amazing. And our fellow climbers. And honestly, like I came back from that trip and I just had a whole different perspective on life. It just really, it was a life-changing beautiful experience and it's something that I highly recommend.

And the Stanley cup the capitols had just won the Stanley cup. So we were the very first people in the world to tie the Stanley cup banner to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. The capital's there. I don't think it's still on there cause they probably took it down, but we did tie it up there. 

It was a fun experience. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

You set new records do great things, whether it is in your business or it's in the community, or by taking the capitals at two places they've never been before. That's wonderful Beth. 

Beth Johnson, it's been an absolute privilege and honor, they're getting to know you have this conversation for the partnering leadership podcast to share with the community.

 Other leaders can learn a little bit from your life lessons, your lessons of anti-fragility, breakage that none of us wants when it happens to us in life. However, breakage that can be used to help us. Help those around us, help our organizations become better. You have done that and you have also through your leadership in the community, contributed so much to so many people in our community and our region.

I am truly thankful for your friendship and this conversation, Beth Johnson.

 

Beth Johnson: 

Mahan. Thank you, so much for having me. I truly enjoy every time I'm with you.

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

Thank you, Beth.