Bulldog 100 Honoree Interview: Brooke Beach (ABJ ’11)

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.

She was the 2017 recipient of the John E. Drewry Award from Grady College, given to alumni and young professionals out of college for less than 10 years.

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?”

Beach and Marketwake often hire public relations graduates from Grady College. (photo submitted)
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.”

Beach and her Marketwake team enjoy a team retreat (photo submitted).
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.”

40 under 40 profile: Brooke Beach (ABJ ’11)

Brooke Beach is a featured panelist at “A message to my younger self: A conversation with Grady’s UGA 40 under 40 honorees.” The panel takes place Sept. 13 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. in Studio 100. All are invited to this complimentary event. A light breakfast will be served.

Grady College is proud to have four alumni recognized as 2019 40 under 40 honorees, presented by the University of Georgia Alumni Association.

The 40 under 40 celebration, recognizing the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of UGA graduates under the age of 40, takes place Sept. 13.

This interview with Brooke Beach, the CEO and founder of Marketwake, is the first in a series of conversations with Grady’s honorees this year.

Other 2019 Grady honorees include:

Ashley Callahan (ABJ ’04)

Will Carr (ABJ ’06)

Robbie York (ABJ ’05)

Grady College: What experience during your time at Grady College had the biggest influence on where you are today?

Brooke Beach: It was becoming a Grady Ambassador. It helped me expand my horizons on what life could be like after college. It’s no surprise that college students can get tunnel vision. Everything is about your classes, your friends, and your free time. It can be overwhelming to have a concept of what life will be like after graduation, but being a Grady Ambassador helped me place goals around who I wanted to be. I had the opportunity to meet and learn from incredible leaders, innovators, investors, and entrepreneurs — and I was inspired to be like them. It made me think far bigger than I had before and gave me goals to strive for.

GC: What skills and/or values and/or circumstances do you attribute to your success?

BB: Persistence and perspective. I’m sure it is exhausting for the people around me, but I do not give up — I don’t even know what that means!

But perspective is equally important; it gives you the ability to see both sides and make a decision on the best path forward for the greatest amount of people. The world is hard, and we cannot keep going if we don’t acknowledge it for what it is. But the next step is more important: to decide if we will do something great in spite of the difficulties. Each of us needs to be self-aware enough to know when to learn from mistakes and change, and when to move forward. I love this quote by Teddy Roosevelt, and I feel it captures this sentiment far more eloquently than I:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

GC: What motivates you?

BB: I have one shot in this world — one chance to make something of the blessings I’ve been given. David Rae said that CEOs are less afraid of dying than they are of not contributing to the world, and that describes me perfectly. I am compelled to build, create, grow, and serve, and I know that I have the opportunity to work hard to fulfill it. I’ve experienced great loss, deaths, injuries, surgeries, medical conditions, and pain beyond belief. I’ve learned that I need to acknowledge these storms, feel the loss, and then keep going. Every single one of us has a story — it’s what makes us who we are — and I want to use my experience to help others tell their truths.

GC: What advice do you have for today’s Grady College students?

BB: You are responsible for what you become. One of my favorite books is “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie. All people should read this at least three times in their life!

In the book, Carnegie says: “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”  This could not be more true. The second you start to focus on all the reasons you “can’t,” or shift blame on others, you fail. If you want to grow, your focus should be on what you want to accomplish, why you can achieve it, and how you’ll get there.  Don’t be your biggest bully. As Norman Vincent Peale said, “Change the way you think and you can change your future.”

Grady Salutes honors alumni, provides advice for students

In a room full of Grady College luminaries, Grady Fellow inductee Suzy Deering said it best when she talked about how humbled she was to be among the honorees.

“When you see these amazing people that walk this stage…that walk our world… and the change that they are making happen, you’ve got to feel so proud that you can call this, the University of Georgia, your home, but more importantly, that Grady is your family.”

Deering was one of ten honorees at the 2017 Grady Salutes: A Celebration of Achievement, Commitment and Leadership on April 28, 2017, in the UGA Tate Grand Hall.

Alumni Awards winners included: Bonnie Arnold (ABJ’ 77), John Holliman Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award; Jason Kreher (ABJ ’00), Henry W. Grady Mid-Career Alumni Award; Brooke Beach (ABJ ’11), John E. Drewry Young Alumni Award; and Jane B. Singer (ABJ ’76), Distinguished Alumni Scholar Award.

The 2017 Class of Grady Fellows were Deering, Philip Meeks (ABJ ’76), Amy Robach (ABJ ’95), Carla Sacks (ABJ ’88) and Kathleen Trocheck (ABJ ’76). Arnold also was inducted into the Fellowship.

Loran Smith (ABJ ’62) received the Dean’s Medal.

From remembrances of faculty inspiration and cultural impacts like Watergate, to heart-felt cheers of ‘Go Dawgs,’ each honoree added to the flavor of the evening.

  • Brooke Beach started out her comments saying it was not long ago that she was attending the awards ceremony as a student and a Grady Ambassador. Beach said: “to the students who may be looking at the stage wondering the same thing that I did, ‘will I ever be up there,’ my charge to you is this…to never stop dreaming, to work really hard, stay positive and treat others well. If you do those things, you may surprise yourself with the stage you end up on.”
  • Jason Kreher used his time on stage to implore the audience to focus on the subject of diversity. “What we all have in common in the room is storytelling and diversity has got to be one of our key priorities. In my 17 years here, I am watching that slowly start to change, but slowly is the key. Everyone in this room has the ability to speed that up.”
  • Bonnie Arnold, along with Trocheck later in the program, talked about the influence of Watergate, which was in the headlines during her time at Grady College. “This situation dramatically demonstrated the power and importance of investigative reporting. It aroused the passion in young people like myself, providing further inspiration to join the profession dedicated to finding the facts and getting the story. My career ultimately revolved into a different realm of storytelling, filmmaking, but journalism is something I revere. This is why I am so encouraged today to see young people again being galvanized by the news of our time.”
  • Jane Singer, who teaches in London, could not attend Grady Salutes, but her good friend Janice Hume, read a note of thanks from Singer. “One of the greatest privileges of life in a democratic society is asking questions. And, one of greatest rewards is uncovering answers that lead to new questions. This ongoing pursuit of understanding, combined with insight, fueled by curiosity, is at the heart of journalism and at the heart of academic research, too.” Singer will be presented her award this summer by some Grady students who are studying in Oxford, England.
  • Suzy Deering talked about the foundation her classes at Grady College provided in preparing her for unknown adventures ahead. “The first step was getting into the University of Georgia, then it was actually taking the steps to make sure I was well-prepared for what my next adventure was. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to prepare me for that next adventure.”
  • Phil Meeks channeled musician Bob Dylan for the basis of his comments when he talked about Dylan’s lyrics, ‘if you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying.’ “To me, that exemplifies getting better every day, and evolving and growing as a person, and a lot of that journey began for me here on this campus.”
  • Amy Robach began her talk with an admission that journalism was a back-up plan to being an actress, but that once she started, she fell in love with storytelling and journalism. He classes taught her how to be fair and compassionate and gave her confidence for her first job. “I am so proud to be a Bulldawg and so proud to be a graduate of Grady College because this is the reason why I am a journalist. This school is the reason why I have the career I have. I truly credit this university and this college, specifically, with giving me the most magical, beautiful career because it’s a lot better than being an actress.”
  • Carla Sacks talked about her time working at WUOG while she was a student at Grady College. She met her husband at Grady, and while she thought she wanted to be a documentary filmmaker, she went on to create one of the largest PR agencies representing musicians and filmmakers. “Be open-minded, because you never know what’s around the corner.”
  • Kathy Trocheck talked about how her background in journalism has inspired her to excel at writing fiction. Her work at the Red & Black was her learning lab. “I learned to ask important questions. I didn’t learn to just ask questions, I learned to ask follow-up questions. I learned to listen and listen to the way people spoke.” She concluded with thoughts about the journalism profession: “Journalists, students, I honestly believe you are doing the most important work you can do. You are doing the work that needs to be done. I am inspired by you.”
  • Loran Smith closed the ceremony by taking a cue from the late Furman Bisher who wrote an annual Thanksgiving column. “Thanksgiving is something most Americans can celebrate every day,” Smith began. “I am thankful to be a graduate of Grady. I am thankful for our ebullient dean. Charles has credentials, vision and a fine sense of direction for our school.” He continued with words of thankfulness for Grady’s faculty, the Peabody awards and “students who will be world-changers as we move forward in this century.” He also spoke about the influence of another Grady alumnus, Dan Magill (ABJ ’42) “I am thankful that a Grady titan, the late Dan Magill allowed a country boy to learn that you can travel the world and enjoy its delights but there’s no place like home, especially if home is Athens.”

A Grady Salutes 2017 photo album can be found on the UGAGrady Flickr page, and select interviews through Facebook Live can be found the UGAGrady Facebook feed.

Brooke Beach honored with 2017 John E. Drewry Young Alumni Award

Founder and CEO of Marketwake Brooke Beach, a 2011 graduate of Grady College, is the 2017 recipient of the John E. Drewry Young Alumni Award.  The award recognizes a graduate of the last decade who has experienced a successful early career.

Before starting her own company, Beach was CEO of Kevy, a technology company, where she helped turn the company around after its pivot into marketing automation in 2015. She started her career as a spokesperson for Fortune 500 companies and helped lead nationwide PR and marketing campaigns.

A serial entrepreneur and sought-after leader in the industry, Beach has a passion for helping businesses and leaders grow.

“Grady taught me, at a young age, to not let difficulties stand in the way of pursuing my dreams,” Beach said. “I am forever grateful for that.”

“While in Grady I had to have very serious surgery on my foot. Most people told me to drop out for the semester, or even for the year, to recover. I remember a conversation with Dr. (Tom) Reichert.  He told me to keep going, to not give up and to not let others tell me what I can or cannot do—that ultimately that choice was mine,” Beach recalled. “I did not drop out that semester and went on to (graduate) magna cum laude.”

Beach will be recognized at “Grady Salutes: A Celebration of Achievement, Commitment and Leadership” on April 28 at 6 p.m. at the UGA Tate Grand Hall.  Other 2017 Alumni Award recipients include:

  • Bonnie Arnold (ABJ’ 77), John Holliman Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Jason Kreher (ABJ ’00, Henry W. Grady Mid-Career Alumni Award
  • Jane B. Singer (ABJ ’76), Distinguished Alumni Scholar Award

Read more about this year’s Alumni Award honorees at https://t.uga.edu/37u.

Registration for this event is now closed, please contact Karen Andrews, karena@uga.edu for more information.

UGA Grady College announces recipients of 2017 Alumni Awards

The University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication is pleased to honor four outstanding graduates with its 2017 Alumni Awards.

Bonnie Arnold (ABJ’ 77) receives the John Holliman Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award; Jason Kreher (ABJ ’00) is honored with the Henry W. Grady Mid-Career Alumni Award; Brooke Beach (ABJ ’11) is awarded the John E. Drewry Young Alumni Award; and Jane B. Singer (ABJ ’76) receives the Distinguished Alumni Scholar Award.

Named after the late John Holliman Jr., Grady alumnus and former CNN reporter, the Lifetime Achievement Award honors sustained contributions to the profession throughout a career. The Henry W. Grady Award honors a mid-career graduate who has been influential in his or her field. The Dean John E. Drewry Award recognizes a graduate of the last decade who has experienced a successful early career. The Distinguished Scholar Award honors an alumnus/a for excellence and sustained contributions to scholarship in journalism and mass communication education.

“This year’s Grady Alumni Awards winners underscore the breadth and depth of the college’s graduates and remind me of what an incredible level of talent we produce,” said Charles N. Davis (MA ’92), dean of Grady College. “We’re of course counting down the days to April 28 and our annual Grady Salutes celebration, where we’ll honor all Grady alumni while recognizing these outstanding winners and inducting a new class of Grady Fellows. It’s going to be a glamorous celebration befitting a college with more than 22,000 alumni.”

A trailblazer in the world of animation and president of DreamWorks Animation, Bonnie Arnold is known for critically and commercially acclaimed animated hits as well as award-winning dramas. She won a Golden Globe and garnered an Oscar® nomination for 2014’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” the sequel to the Academy Award®-nominated blockbuster “How to Train Your Dragon,” which she also produced. Her films span from the pioneering “Toy Story” to the Oscar®-winning “Dances with Wolves;” from “Over the Hedge” to the Oscar®-nominated “The Last Station.” Along the way, she has worked with many of the industry’s most creative directors. Next for Arnold is “How to Train Your Dragon 3.”

Jason Kreher is a creative director at Wieden+Kennedy in Portland, Oregon, working for clients such as KFC, Verizon, Weight Watchers and Old Spice. Prior to becoming a creative director, Kreher was a copywriter on Old Spice, Target, Coca-Cola, Heineken, Jaguar, Howard Stern for Sirius and MTV. In the span of his 17-year advertising career, he has won nearly every major industry award, including 12 Cannes Lions and the AICP’s Campaign of the Year, a distinction that puts Kreher’s work in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. In 2015, AdWeek chose him as one of the top 30 most innovative people in media.

Brooke Beach is the founder and CEO of Marketwake, a digital marketing agency that focuses on sharing stories and building brands for businesses across the globe. Before starting her own company, Beach was the CEO of a technology company called Kevy, where she helped turn the company around after its pivot into marketing automation in 2015. Beach started her career as a spokesperson for Fortune 500 companies and helped lead nationwide PR and marketing campaigns.

Jane B. Singer is the director of research for the Department of Journalism at City, University of London, where she is Professor of Journalism Innovation. She previously held faculty posts at the University of Iowa and Colorado State University, and served as Johnston Press Chair in Digital Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire in the United Kingdom. She worked for more than 15 years as a print and online journalist before earning her PhD in journalism at the University of Missouri. Her research has traced the evolution of digital journalism since the mid-1990s, with a focus on journalists’ changing roles, perceptions, norms and practices.

“Grady Salutes: A Celebration of Achievement, Commitment and Leadership” will be held on April 28 at UGA Tate Grand Hall. 

Registration for this event is now closed, please contact Karen Andrews, karena@uga.edu for more information.