This is one of a series of interviews honoring Grady College College alumni who have been recognized as Bulldog 100 recipients in 2021. The Bulldog 100 is sponsored by the UGA Alumni Association and celebrates the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni.
Other Grady College alumni recognized in the 2021 Bulldog 100 class include:
Brooke Beach is the CEO and founder of Marketwake, a digital marketing agency based in Atlanta.
Marketwake relies on creativity and data driven strategy to help businesses reach customers and clients reach audiences.
Beach’s career in public relations and marketing covers more than a decade and includes work at Kevy, PGi, Skadaddle Media and IntelaText. Beach has proven herself to be one of the most successful digital strategists in the Atlanta area.
Beach regularly returns to UGA to counsel students in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. You can hear more of her story from this 2019 panel, “A Message to My Younger Self,” in which she joined with fellow 40 under 40 honorees.
Grady College: What skills and/or values and/or circumstances do you attribute to your success?
Brooke Beach: “Grit and joy. These two values are vital because they about a mindset, not a skillset. I truly believe you can learn anything you want to when you have the right mindset.”
“Grit is almost self-explanatory of the two, but for me, it means that you have the determination and drive to keep fighting another day. Life is difficult, and it throws a lot of punches. But I don’t believe in letting pain be the driver of your future. Grit means you are not easily discouraged, it means you understand that “no” isn’t the end of the road, and it means that you show tenacity and persistence in running the race. Grit keeps going, always.”
“Joy is a little harder to define because it’s subjective, but for me, it is a mindset that we must choose every day. We’ve all met those people who are full of drive but have no joy—they are not easy to work with. Joy means you feel positive in spite of your circumstances. Joy connects you with people, helps you stay grounded and keeps you going when you are weary. Joy helps you see the humor in a crazy, wild and often unpredictable world. And who couldn’t use more laughter in their days?”
GC: What advice do you have for today’s Grady College students?
Beach: “There are no opportunities without people. I don’t know how many times I’ve used the Grady community as peers, mentors and business partners—it’s honestly too many to count. I was, and still am, always open to a new possibility, a new connection, a new friendship. I believe it’s been a big part of my success, and it’s something I worked hard to cultivate with my team.”
“It’s now very passe to say that every great opportunity is disguised as a closed door or a bad decision, but I have found this to be undeniably true. When the odds are against me, my commitment to pursuing a great opportunity has always been what led me to bigger, better things. Adversity isn’t ever the end of a conversation, it’s the very beginning. Think about it: Without someone to respond, you’re just throwing words out into the cosmos and that’s a very big, unhelpful place. But as soon as you get some feedback, you get stronger. You can narrow your focus and build your pitch. So whether I’m going into a meeting cold or working through something new with my team, I focus on the people and the opportunities present themselves.”
GC: What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
Beach: “First, keep a good sense of humor. Seriously, kid, you’re going to need it. Be ok with laughing at yourself and your situation—and do it as often as you can. Otherwise, life will be rough, my friend!”
“Second, I would remind myself that the story you tell yourself matters. If you are pessimistic about your ability or future, you will follow a more negative path. If you are positive and let yourself be open to possibilities, you will succeed. Mindset matters—more than who you know, more than your grades, more than perceived opportunity. Think bigger about life, and your path will follow.”
“Third, I would say to work harder than everyone around you and keep learning. This will give you an edge.”
“Lastly, I’d say ‘hang on’. I never dreamed I would be where I am today, or experience the hardships, pain, mistakes and heartache that I have. And in many parts of my journey it would have been easier for me to give up. But I didn’t, I kept going. And it was worth it.”
GC: What motivates you?
Beach: “The pursuit of meaning. I want to matter in this world and to know I left it better than I found it, even if the influence seems small. I am motivated to leave an impact on people, their hearts and their stories; to carve a different way forward, and to live life well and fully. I also want to serve God well and be a good steward of all He has given me, and to know that my life had a purpose.”
GC: Are there any books or podcasts that you would recommend to young entrepreneurs?
Beach: “There are many, here are some specifics:
○ “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if your life depended on it” by Chris Voss — a great read about negotiating
○ “Leaders Eat Last,” “Infinite Game” and “Start with Why,” all by Simon Sinek. These three titles were vital in getting me where I am today.
○ “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. The big takeaway: You are responsible for you, the world doesn’t owe you anything, so you need to decide what you will do next.”
GC: What is the most important skill an entrepreneur must master?
Beach: “Agility. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as an entrepreneur, it’s that my business is never the same two days in a row. Some of it is due to the industry we’re in—marketing is notoriously fickle, trending in one space one day, and completely crashing in the same space the next day—but a lot of it has to do with business ownership in itself. That’s why agility in all things is an essential skill; it’s not a single task but a mindset to address, strategize, and conquer anything that comes your way. To be agile, you have to not only be diligent in your response but also measured, meeting the need exactly where it is, precisely when the conditions are present. The biggest key to staying agile is keeping sharp. If you let something slide once, it’s hard to get back up on the horse. That’s why I treat agility as a practice and frequently exercise it. It’s the only way to get better.”
GC: How has your field changed since you were a Grady student?
Beach: “Every field has become more digital-focused, and marketing is no different. When I was at Grady, there were no digital certifications for Google Analytics, Ads, and more, but those are vital pieces of a digital marketing education today. I took it upon myself to become proficient in these tools after graduating. I love that Grady saw that trend and made an effort to help incorporate digital into their education. We hire a lot of people from Grady and that is a big reason why.”