Elizabeth Newton is newest Grady alumna to be honored at Bulldog 100

The most recent class of Bulldog 100 honorees as selected by the UGA Alumni Association will be honored Feb. 18 in a ceremony in Athens. Bulldog 100 celebrates the fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni.

Grady College is proud to have four alumni recognized this year: first-time honoree Elizabeth Newton (ABJ ’99), founder and CEO of enewton design, and three honorees who have been recognized in the past:

Elizabeth Newton is a first-time honoree and we had a chance to catch up with her about her popular jewelry, most known for their classic and stylish necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings.

Newton graduated with an advertising degree from Grady College, and she comes from a long line of Bulldogs including her husband, Ben, who she met at UGA, her parents who met at UGA orientation, a brother and grandparents, among other family members.

Newton was involved with Kappa Alpha Theta as a student, which set a strong foundation for one of her guiding principles of connecting with others.

“Relationships are so important in business development,” Newton said.

Following graduation, she went to work for a dot-com company specializing in bill pay online, long before it was commonplace. She then went to work for a furniture design company.

Her company, enewton design, started in 2011 the way many passion projects do…as a hobby. Once she had kids, she started making bracelets for friends, her kids’ teachers and others. Before she knew it, she was making sales calls to boutiques when she was on the road during traveling soccer tournaments where her triplet daughters were playing.

“People were literally buying jewelry out of the trunk of my car,” she says laughing.

Today, enewton design is an Atlanta-based company employing more than 75 people who craft all the jewelry by hand. The jewelry is available in more than 1,200 boutiques nationwide.

Here are a few excerpts from an interview with Newton. The following comments have been edited for clarity and length.

Grady College: What lessons learned from your time as a Grady College student have most helped you succeed in your professional life? 
Elizabeth Newton and her family.
For Elizabeth and her husband, Ben, attending UGA football games with their four children is a family affair. They are pictured here at the Orange Bowl Dec. 31, 2022.

Elizabeth Newton: I have been a Bulldog since birth because my family has generations and generations of Bulldogs. I can remember one thing my dad always said was that that your education is not always in the classroom, but it’s also the people you meet. As an advertising major, I recall a lot of group projects. And, as a former athlete, I learned from an early age to learn to work as a team. I have learned to capitalize on the strengths of others and make sure everyone is aligned with what makes them excited, since that is typically what they good at. In my classes, we talked a lot about the end customer—who is your audience? My entire career, that is something I try to think about. We have one focus and that’s our customer. Learning to really emphasize our audience and understand demographics is something I learned at Grady College.

GC: What skills should graduates and young alumni have for success early in their careers? 

EN: One of the first things we do before we go to interview someone is go to their social media platforms—and I am thankful I didn’t have Instagram when I was in college! I really hate it for them because it is such a liability, but understanding your personal brand and knowing what’s out there is something we want to see.

Another thing my Dad taught me is that hard work is what pays off. For example, we have a UGA graduate, Rebecca Christopher, on our executive who has the mentality to be the first one into the office in the morning and the last one to leave. She is focused and she does everything she can to learn and absorb and go the extra mile beyond just what’s being asked of her.

Another piece of advice is stay off your phone when you are at work unless you are doing work on your phone. We make our kids put them in a drawer, unless it’s for your job.

Finally, observe, listen, learn and make a difference. You are only going to be as good as the work you put in outside of what everyone else is putting in. And, it’s pretty simple, but always speak up, look people in the eye and be kind.

GC: As a working mother with an incredibly successful business, how do you manage the work/life balance?

EN: This company started when our kids were young. The jewelry was originally gifts for friends. We built the company to support our lifestyle and call on businesses where we traveled for soccer. My husband is incredibly supportive and we both have flexible jobs and my children have been involved since day one. Another lesson my Dad taught me is to surround yourself with people who excel in areas that aren’t my strength and because I have tried to do this, it enabled all of us to be successful. But make no mistake, we have worked our butts off, but we also enjoy life. And, we don’t miss our kids stuff.

GC: How has the network of Grady College alumni helped you professionally? 

EN: The importance of relationships built at UGA are so important. They can help catapult your career and instead of going through the chain, you can just pick up the phone. I will pick up the phone and it’s amazing how receptive Georgia alumni are in helping one another.

Elizabeth Newton founded enewton design in 2011. Today, the company is based in Atlanta and hires nearly 75 employees who hand-craft the jewelry.

Bulldog 100 Alumni Profile: Kevin Ouzts

Editor’s Note: Gray College is proud to have six alumni recognized by the UGA Alumni Association this year as Bulldog 100 honorees. Five of our alumni are repeat Bulldog 100 honorees from 2021:

Alumnus Kevin Ouzts (ABJ ’04) of The Spotted Trotter, returns to the Bulldog 100 list for the first time since 2017 and is profiled below.

Kevin Ouzts is an example of a Grady College graduate who used his education outside of a traditional media role.

Ouzts family
Kevin, his wife, Megan, who oversees all the accounting and business side of The Spotted Trotter, and their daughters, Olive (3) and Ruby (5 months).

Although he started out working with two of Atlanta’s leading corporations, UPS and Home Depot, Ouzts soon felt the pull of a culinary career. He went back to school at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, and found chef work at Sean’s Social Club and Restaurant in Inman Park and Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta. In 2009, Ouzts won a coveted internship at the James Beard-awarded restaurant, The French Laundry, in California’s Napa Valley. When he wasn’t working at The French Laundry, he interned at The Fatted Calf, a charcuterie and meat shop in Napa, to learn the craft and prepare himself for opening The Spotted Trotter. After his return from California, he and his wife, Megan Ouzts (BBA ’02, JD ’05), opened The Spotted Trotter, a USDA-certified charcuterie and butcher shop in Atlanta. In addition to owning the business, Kevin serves as its executive chef.

The Spotted Trotter uses humanely-sourced meats through its wholesale and retail business, and has morphed from a business with start-up sales at local farmer’s markets, to a business selling products in 50 states. Currently, shoppers can find The Spotted Trotter Boutique Batched Charcuterie and meats distributed on Delta First Class flights to Europe, at the Miami Dolphins Stadium and in The Ritz Carlton hotels, just to name a few of their current partners.

Since opening The Spotted Trotter, Kevin was named the Invest Atlanta’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016 and in 2021, two of the restaurant’s salamis received Good Food Awards.

Following are some excerpts from an interview with Kevin. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Grady College: Tell us about being in business with your wife, Megan.
Kevin Ouzts: Yes, she is amazing. We met at UGA. She went there for undergrad and then went to law school there. We met in her third year of law school. She has her own career as an in-house employment attorney for Waste Management, while simultaneously running the admin/accounting and business side of The Spotted Trotter.  And, we have two daughters, Olive (3-years-old) and Ruby (5-months-old). So in short, she is an absolute Badass!
GC: What skills did you learn at Grady College that you still use at The Spotted Trotter?

KO: College was a place that helped me tackle my discipline and the skills to develop a plan and follow through until it’s complete. I learned the importance of relationships and working with people who you may or may not identify with to get something completed.
GC: What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
KO: Two things: intense sacrifice in the short game develops greatness in the long game, and second: remember you don’t get what you wish for; you get what you work for.
GC: What skills should graduates and young alumni have for success early in their careers?

KO: There are several skills. Active listening is so important to business and personal relationships and something I strive to do every day. Staying calm is critical to the vitality of high pressure in any business situation. Being thorough is important because we communicate so quickly now with digital formats. Reading only the first few lines of an email or a headline of a text can lead down a very difficult road for so many, so being thorough is critical.

GC: Do you have any favorite books or podcasts to recommend to young entrepreneurs?

GC: The podcast I recommend is “Timeless Wisdom for Leading a Life of Love, Friendship and Learning: The Ezra Klein Show.” And there are two books: “The Greatest Salesman in the World” set, by Og Mandino, and “Outliers,” by Malcolm Gladwell.

GC: Charcuterie is so popular right now. To what do you attribute its popularity?

KO: The approachability of the food and the uniqueness of how it is created. There’s a mystique and unique quality to making charcuterie that folks are just starting to learn, but in actuality, it’s been a food staple in Europe for over 3000 years. It’s amazingly delicious and quite easy to enjoy.

GC: Do you have any advice for homemade charcuterie chefs?
KO: Never forget the most important but often overlooked ingredient to making good charcuterie: time!  You can’t substitute for the proper amount of time that it takes to make it taste amazing. And always, no matter what recipe you are using, always, always, always use good meat.
Kevin Ouzts takes meat out of his smoker.
Kevin Ouzts said the best piece of advice he has received is “Embrace the failures.” “After all,” he says, “if you’ve never failed, have you truly ever tried?”

Bulldog 100 Honoree Interview: Leo Falkenstein (ABJ ’13)

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:

Leo Falkenstein (ABJ ’13, BBA ’14) is the co-founder and executive producer for Consume Media, an Atlanta-based creative video services marketing agency.

He has turned his passion of creating videos in college into a comprehensive digital video operation that helps businesses and organizations share their stories with online audiences.


Grady College: What motivates you?

Falkenstein: “Fun. I want to do things that I enjoy! I started making videos because it was fun. I started a business because it sounded fun. I continue to operate Consume Media because I truly can’t imagine doing anything more fun.”


 GC: What is your favorite memory from your time in Athens?

Falkenstein: “My time in Athens was also a lot of fun.” 

“Athens has a legendary music scene and there is something truly special about experiencing a concert at the Georgia Theatre.”

“When we were students in Athens, Consume Media worked in the music industry; creating concert films, music videos, and tour promos for local artists. Over the course of a few years, we worked our way up from having absolutely no clients to being well-known in the Athens Music Community.”

Falkenstein at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta for Consume Media (photo submitted).

“After years of grinding, we filmed our largest production ever: an 11-camera production with Perpetual Groove at the Georgia Theatre. I remember feeling like Consume Media had reached new heights, but looking back,  we were only going to keep climbing from there.”


 GC: How has your field changed since you were a Grady student?

Falkenstein: “It’s exciting that Consume Media is in the emerging space of Video Marketing. When I graduated from Grady in 2013, Video Marketing was barely even a term. Now, every business is expected to be using video for every product at every stage of the customer lifecycle. The industry has come a long way from just creating a video and praying for it to go viral on YouTube.”



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

Falkenstein: “For me, it comes down to these three things.”

  • “Don’t Quit. When starting something new, it’s incredibly easy to give up. You have to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Consume Media didn’t hire our first employee until year five. If you are passionate about something, work hard at it every single day. Follow your dreams and you won’t find yourself looking back.”
  • “Always be Improving. Our product has changed and evolved tremendously since 2012. I feel like in order to grow a business, you must always be looking to improve your product. In order to succeed, you need to give the customer what they want! Never stop learning, and always strive for something greater.”
  • “Truly Care. Care about your customers! Life is all about relationships. Be good to others and watch your network grow.”
 GC: What is the most important skill an entrepreneur must master?

Falkenstein: “Both in life and business, communication is a vital skill. In business, communication can be the reason a project succeeds or bombs. I’ve learned that more often than not, mistakes and missed deadlines are caused by bad communication internally, not by an inept team. If you can master and facilitate communication, you can lead any team.”


Bulldog 100 Honoree Interview: Marc Gorlin (ABJ ’95)

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:

Marc Gorlin (ABJ ’95) is the founder of Roadie, a crowdsourced delivery service and platform,  and co-founder of Kabbage, a technology company that helps companies secure small business loans.

2021 is Gorlin’s seventh consecutive year being honored by Bulldog 100. He is a serial entrepreneur with two companies among the top-100 fastest growing Bulldog businesses.

Gorlin is a regular voice at Grady College and UGA when it comes to entrepreneurship. In 2016, he was a featured speaker for TedxUGA. You can see that talk here. 


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

Gorlin: “Grady equipped me with communication skills that are critical for any entrepreneur— specifically, how to tell a good story, and how to talk to lots of different kinds of people. You have to be able to connect with people who don’t think like you and be able to get them to see things from your perspective. Finding the story in an idea is how you do that. You can buy accountants and lawyers, but good storytellers are hard to come by.”

GC: How has your field changed since you were a Grady student?
Gorlin poses for a photo with Dean Charles Davis (photo provided).

Gorlin: “It sometimes distresses me that my degree in Newspapers no longer exists at the school I graduated from. So much for my early aspirations to be the next Lewis Grizzard.”

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

Gorlin: “No matter what your project is, you need to factor in inertia. You have to just go — just get started. There’s value in the grind. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to build a tech startup or write a book; you have to take the first few steps, and then you have to just keep moving. There will be times that you have to make decisions with imperfect information. Embrace that. Perfect is often the enemy of done.”

Gorlin attends a UGA football game with his family. (photo provided).
GC: What would you tell your 20-year-old self?

Gorlin: “People like to do business with people they like. Find ways to say yes. At the end of the day, business is really just a continuous set of problems you have to solve. So above all other skills, try to work with “figure-it-outers” first.”

GC: What is the most important skill an entrepreneur must master?

Gorlin: “Starting things is a messy endeavor. Be cool with it.”

GC: What is your favorite memory from your time in Athens?

Gorlin: “I started one of my first businesses when I was at UGA. My dad encouraged me to get my pilot’s license while I was in college, and after doing so, I started Classic City Air Tours, giving students and parents tours over Athens in a Cessna 172. Highlights of the tour included UGA Sanford Stadium and Kenny Rogers’ farm. It didn’t hurt my dating life, either.”

Bulldog 100 Honoree Interview: Rebecca Berton (ABJ ’11, AB ’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:

Rebecca Berton [Holton] (ABJ ’11, AB ’11) is the co-founder & CMO of Rheos Gear, a company that specializes in nautical eyewear. She co-founded the company with her husband, Jake Berton (BBA ’08).

Rheos Nautical Eyewear is a team of eyewear specialists who love water sports. They believe the best of us comes to life out on the water. The company provides unique eyewear for water sports.


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

Berton: “I’ll never forget sitting in the SLC (now referred to as the MLC, for Miller Learning Center) during Law of Mass Communication and feeling my phone buzz in my pocket. I was expecting a call to hear if I’d earned a spot as the Coca-Cola intern for 2010. I ran out of the room to answer (sorry, Professor) and sure enough it was Scott Williamson on the other line. He offered me the position which launched me into my future career success — not only from the tremendous work experience but also from the mentorship and confidence it instilled in me and my capabilities.”


Berton shows off some Rheos eyewear.
GC:What advice do you have for today’s Grady College students?

Berton: “Say yes. Say yes to new experiences, meeting new people and trying new things. Go outside of your comfort zone. Apply for a job that feels out of reach. Take risks. Travel the world (when it’s safe again) and build the life you want for yourself. Everyone says life is too short, but life is LONG! Make it what you want one step at a time. Every decision you make builds habits and habits formed early last long into your adult years, whether that’s social, health, career or otherwise.”


Rheos glasses are specifically designed for water sports and activity.
GC: Are there any books or podcasts that you would recommend to young entrepreneurs?

Berton: “A million! There are lots of inspiring podcasts and books for entrepreneurs (How I Built This, Let My People Go Surfing, etc.) however I’m a big fan of giving your brain a break from the hustle. Laugh alongside “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” and drive cattle with Gus McCrae and Captain Call. Read what makes you happy. Listen to what brings you joy.”


GC: What is the most important skill an entrepreneur must master?

Berton: “Stamina. Entrepreneurism is an endurance sport. You can’t sprint your way to victory or you’ll burn yourself out. Resilience, tenacity and the ability to keep driving forward will serve you far better than a burn-and-churn approach. This is something I constantly remind myself, so it’s easier said than done! Take time for balance and learn how to ask for help when you need it.”

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.”

Bulldog 100 Honoree Interview: Heather Adams (ABJ ’98)

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:

Heather Dixon Adams is the founder and CEO of Choice Media, a media relations agency outside of Nashville.

Leading an all-female team, Adams develops communications and media placement plans for brands and authors including Jen Hatmaker, Ernie Johnson and Emily Ley, just to name a few.

Adams started her professional journey in a series of government PR jobs before landing a job at Thomas Nelson publishing where she worked as Director of Publicity. In 2010, she started her own PR agency, eventually leading to the creation of Choice Media in 2014.

Branching out on her own was one of the best career moves Adams said in a Grady Conversations podcast interview in 2019.

Adams admitted it was not without trepidation, but the key is stepping into the fear.

“If you believe in your gut that you have a product, or a service or a message to share, and that it’s going to bring value to somebody else and you are solving a problem for somebody, then you definitely need to step into that and go for it.”

Adams has her own podcast, “This Intentional Life,” advises college women through AOπ where she was an active member at UGA and serves on the Grady Society Alumni Board.

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

Heather Adams: Two things immediately come to mind. First, Grady is where I learned to write clear, concise and compelling. Strong writing and communication is the foundation for everything I do. Honing this skill has benefitted my every day since graduation.

Adams speaking on a panel about mentorship in Nov. 2019. “I want to be invested in our students who are here now,” Adams said. “I think it’s important to develop those people who are coming behind me.” (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)

Second, Conrad Fink helped me advocate for myself in my first internship. I sat in his office and he looked over his desk at me and said, “Heather, our students have value. Demand that for yourself. Go back and negotiate for a paid internship or I will not approve this for school credit.” It’s the first time I realized that, even as a college student, my competence and skill had value and I shouldn’t take the first offer I’d been given.

GC: What skills do you attribute to your success?

HA: Initiative—It’s the number one trait I look for when making talent selection decisions. Developing deep, meaningful relationships – it’s the whole reason I have a successful career. Relationships helped me build my valued media contacts. Relationships opened doors when I was laid off and launched a new company. Leading with relationships is how I’ve cultivated a collaborative culture in my business.

GC: What would you tell your 20-year-old self?

HA: Relax

GC: What motivates you?

HA: A crisis. This sounds crazy, but I am my strongest, most clear, laser-focused when there is a crisis that needs navigating. A big vision emerges and the steps to execute are immediately evident to me. I run toward the flames. I
think that’s why I was able to double my business in the year of a pandemic. When everyone else was contracting, we were expanding.

Heather Adams and one of her two sons, Thackston, at the college’s 2019 Homecoming Celebration. “I think it’s important, particularly raising  boys, for them to see that mom can be a CEO and still be an invested mom.” (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)
GC: Are there any books or podcasts that you would recommend to young
entrepreneurs?​ ​

HA: Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead book and podcast, Shawn Achor’s Big Potential book, Lead to Win podcast, Business Made Simple podcast, and of course I’d love for you to listen to our podcast, “This Intentional Life.”

GC: What is the most important skill an entrepreneur must master?

HA: The ability to navigate change.

GC: How has your field changed since you were a Grady student?

HA: I graduated from Grady in 1998. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest – none of it existed. When I first entered the world of PR we were looking up media contacts in a Bacons Media Guide, which looked like a
huge phone book and was only updated once a year. This also dates me, but when I needed to pull media clips for my clients, I read the publications, physically cut out the articles and taped them to a white sheet of paper and then made copies for everyone in leadership. The ways we communicate with media, secure coverage for clients and all the formats of media where coverage can occur has DRASTICALLY changed since my graduation.

Eight Grady College alumni make Bulldog 100 list

Grady College is pleased to announce that eight alumni representing six businesses are represented in this year’s Bulldog 100. The Bulldog 100 is a list coordinated by the University of Georgia Alumni Association of fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni.

Congratulations to the following Grady alumni who will be recognized for their leadership, commitment to community and entrepreneurial spirit:

  • Glenn Carroll (ABJ ’76), Carroll Media Services
  • Marc Gorlin (ABJ ’95), Kabbage and Roadie
  • Katherine Mason (ABJ ’12) and Jennifer McKissick (ABJ ’12), SculptHouse
  • Brittany Thoms (ABJ ’04), See.Spark.Go
  • Kevin Planovsky (ABJ ’05), Matt Griffin (BBA ’05, MA ’12) and Michael Lentz (ABJ ’06), Vert.

More than 533 nominations were submitted for the 2020 list. A complete list of winners can be found on the UGA Alumni Association website.

The honorees will be recognized in a ceremony on Feb. 8, 2020, in Athens.

Grady alumni have made top spots twice in recent years. Vert Mobile was named the second fastest-growing business for the 2013 awards (announced in February 2014), and Kabbage, Inc., won the top stop for the 2014 awards (announced in February 2015).

Applicants were measured by their business’s compounded annual growth rate during a three-year period. The Atlanta office of Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors, a Bulldog 100 partner since the program began in 2009, verified the information submitted by each company.

Nine Grady College alumni to be honored at 2017 Bulldog 100 awards

Nine graduates of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication representing eight businesses will be honored by the University of Georgia Alumni Association at the 2017 Bulldog 100 awards ceremony in February.

This annual program recognizes the fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni. More than 500 nominations were submitted for the 2017 list.

To be considered for the award, a company must be in business for a minimum of five years, have verifiable revenues of $100,000 or more for the calendar year 2013, and operate in a manner consistent with the Pillars of the Arch and in keeping with the values and image of UGA, according to criteria set by the UGA Alumni Association.

The following Grady College alumni and their businesses will be recognized:

•     Ashley Kohler (ABJ ’96), Awesome Incorporated

•     Mary Butin (ABJ ’86), Butin Integrated Communications

•     Katie Jacobs (ABJ ’05) Cheeky Peach Boutique

•     Darren Gaynor (ABJ ’98) Crate Services Inc

•     Marc Gorlin (ABJ ’95), Kabbage Inc

•     Christy Hulsey (ABJ ’98) Redbpower Company

•     Kevin Outz (ABJ ’04), The Spotted Trotter

•     Michael Lentz (ABJ ’06), Kevin Planovsky (ABJ ’05), Vert

The final rankings—determined by a compounded annual growth rate over the last three years—will be released during the ceremony.

In 2015, Kabbage, a company that provides small businesses with financing, was recognized as the number one fastest-growing business on the list.  Another business founded by Grady alumni—Vert—was ranked second in 2014. It is a full-service digital agency specializing in mobile, social and emerging media and brand experiences

The public, including UGA alumni and friends, is invited to celebrate the Bulldog 100 honorees Feb. 4 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. The evening will begin with a reception, followed by dinner and the awards ceremony. Registration is open at alumni.uga.edu/b100.