The cavnessHR Podcast can be found at the following places or you can just type in cavnessHR on the respective site.
iTunes: https://cavnesshr.co/theca54f53 Google Play: https://cavnesshr.co/googl6be3a
Pocket Casts: https://cavnesshr.co/pocke97daa Stitcher: https://cavnesshr.co/thecae7de3
Breaker: https://cavnesshr.co/breakb93d8 Spotify: https://cavnesshr.co/theca9811a
Castbox: https://cavnesshr.co/theca97b36 Anchor: https://anchor.fm/cavnesshr
Overcast: https://cavnesshr.co/thecae86ea RadioPublic: https://cavnesshr.co/theca4ba98
Social Media links for Christina!!!
Christina’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brennanchristina/
Christina’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/_CBrennan
Christina’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_cbrennan/
Christina’s Book Recommendations!!!
“So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
“Why is Jane so Mad?” Paperback Jeffrey Cheatham II
“Strengths Finder” by Tom Rath
Resources from Christina!!!
I would absolutely encourage folks to follow up with me and I'm also happy to take a 30 minute call if any of your listeners, who just want to maybe work on your elevator pitch or talk about their communication challenge. Or if you're kind of new in the industry or something and have questions about
Link to download the reading list:
Jason: Hello and welcome the cavnessHR podcast. My guest today is Christina Brennan. Christina are you ready to be great today.
Christina: Always ready to be great.
Jason: As a communications consultant Christina helps professionals and companies figure out what they're trying to say and helps them say it well. Through workshops, seminars and one on one coaching. Christina works to build messaging development storytelling and public speaking skills with her colleague Brian Rutberg, Founder of 3C Coms. As well as subcontracts with local agencies. Formerly an active volunteer in the startup community. Primarily through pitch coaching with organizations like 1million cups and Founders Live. In 2019, Christina is focusing her volunteer time on social justice causes. She's State Coordinating Committee member for the Washington State Poor People's Campaign. A national call for a moral revival. She has a diverse background in Marketing, Advertising, Sales and Journalism and played college basketball while earning a Communication degree with a business minor. She generally wants to everyone to make it. Christina believes being able to get your message across as a major key to success. Communication is skill you can learn and always improve on. Christina, what are you focused on right now?
Christina: Today I'm running a workshop. That's pretty fun. That's my favorite thing to do all the time. This weekend I'm going to be working on a poor people's campaign event. So, I'm just really keeping myself busy and trying to help people whether it's through the work side or through the volunteer side. Always trying to lend a hand.
Jason: Christina, what is your definition of a good communicator? What does it mean to you?
Christina: I think a good communicator is somebody who really understands their audience or at least tries to put some effort to understand their audience and speaks to their audience and not at them. So, whether that's a one on one conversation or you're speaking to a room of thousands and you might be thinking like well how do I speak with a room full of thousands. You can still connect with them and make it feel like you're having that one on one conversation like you're actually talking with somebody instead of just at them.
Jason: A lot of introverts would tell you I'm not a good communicator. I think introverts can become good communicators. What can introverts do to make themselves believe they are good communicators.
Christina: So, introverts absolutely can be great communicators and we are actually living in a great time for I think the introvert to really explore those skills because we do so much online. You don't have to be necessarily out in front of people, you don't have to be speaking on a video. You can kind of take your time to gather your thoughts and right back at your own speed. That's one thing I would say make sure you are just kind of leveraging some of those other tools. If you're not as comfortable being out there make sure that you're great at writing those emails. If you're a little bit less comfortable in person. Then just some tips for getting comfortable in person. Because, ultimately, you need some kind of social presence. You have to show up to events if you're making a name for yourself in your industry. You're probably speaking at events or being asked to speak within your company. If you're trying to grow you probably have to present to senior executives within the company. So, it is a skill that you need to build up and just like anything else you got to do it. You've got a practice. You have to keep working those muscles. So, it's not like three months have gone by since you've got in front of a room and now, you're panicking and feeling nervous. Just slowly put yourself out there and build up those muscles and then also build up a team like maybe you're not the best person to go out pitch for the for the company. Maybe you need to get somebody else in there who has those strengths.
Jason: You bring up a good point. Can you talk about the importance of having a social media presence in today's age?
Christina: Yeah absolutely. Why is it so important for us to be on social media? It's just because that's where everybody is. You know it might have been a different case 10, 15, 20 years ago. But you've got to go where the people are, even though we have all this technology, even though AI is taking over. People are still the consumers, we're still the ones running that show or ones with the creative process. We've really got to be able to connect with people and their online now. So, you've got to be online too. I also think it just helps you reach so many more people. I've met several people through Instagram that I end up meeting in person. At events or things like that. It's just been a really good tool for me. I think one thing that discourages folks is that you think maybe you have to have some huge following for it to actually be a tool for your revenue stream or whatever your goals are around it. I don't think it's about that. I think it's about connecting with people who align with your message or align with your values. You are trying to build that big audience then you need to be listening to them and figuring out what type of content they actually want and connecting with them. It kind of comes down to that connection thing which I'll probably talk about a lot. It's where the people are, so you've got to get on social media. Some way, somehow I think.
Jason: Gary Vee says it all the time, I started at zero.
Christina: Yeah, everyone starts fresh and again you don't have to have tens of thousands of followers to leverage these tools. I think it's more about quality and then the quantity comes down the road.
Jason: College graduation is coming up this summer. For people with a communication degree, well any kind of degree graduating summer. What advice do you have for them to go out and get their first position? What should they be doing right now?
Christina: I'm going to give you a quick little anecdote before I answer that one. When I was in college. I actually changed my major several times. I switched from Acounting to Communication. I was in a marketing class. I was going after a business minor. So I kind of took a little bit of everything kind of experience my career path a little bit too. But this girl that was in my marketing group that we were working on this project. I was talking about how I this made this decision to switch to my degree comms. She said well you know that's a MRS degree right. I was like what's the MRS degree? She's like a Mrs. because you can't do anything with it. So, you will probably have to go marry some rich guy. I think some people see it as a lesser degree. But for me actually I did take these different business classes in PR and Marketing and I learned a lot of other things. What I've noticed now being on the business road is that Communication is a skill that a lot of really talented smart people are not great at. It's super important regardless of your role.
Christina: So, what I would say as a graduate, is to first of all Communication can apply to anything. So, don't think that you're not qualified for certain jobs or something like that if the Communication degree isn't listed on the types of degrees that they want still apply. If you think that you got it, if you think that it's something that you want to do. Still apply. It's all about how you package up those skills and talk about how it's going to impact that company or impact that role. It doesn't really matter and that goes for anybody with any kind of degree honestly. I would just really highlight the impact of the projects that you worked on and the internships that you had. Talk about your results. I think you just have to not pigeon hole yourself. But honestly, I've looked at job postings and stuff and communication reviews on everything because it really does touch every part of the business. You don't have to just go straight into marketing or advertising. You can up end up in HR. You can end up in a startup, doing 5 different jobs. I think that the biggest thing is just to keep your eyes big. Go for whatever it is that you want to go for, don't think you're not qualified because you are.
Jason: Christina, you're active in very many social justice causes. Can you talk about what you're really passionate about right now?
Christina: Absolutely and you mentioned it earlier, Poor People's Campaign. It's a national call for a moral revival. So, it is a national campaign in 40 states and then each state has its own committee. That's part of the campaign and then we're also in regions. I actually get to participate in regional calls where we Study different elements of the campaign. Which are systemic racism, poverty, the world economy and ecological devastation and then how those four pillars kind of touch each other and how those issues are compounded by each other. So, it's a really big broad net. So it's a lot of different things we did 40 days mass action back in the summertime. I got arrested a few times for protesting. Well not for protesting. That's not a charge but, because of the actions that I took during a protest. Then lately we've been doing more educational stuff. I actually participated in the women's march weekend and led a nonviolent direct action training. This weekend we're going to be doing informational meeting with the Tacoma urban league.
Christina: So, getting to meet some of the folks that work with them and some of the folks that they serve and talking about the issues. What I really like about the poor people's campaign is that we're not doing this for poor people we're doing this with poor people and impacted people. It's not like we're trying to be part of the non-profit industrial complex. It is really about grassroots. Getting together with the community, always bringing food to all of our events. Always inviting impacted people to speak. So, we let those houseless folks lead us. We let people of color lead us. We let other people with differently abled folks and LGBTQ community. Anybody who's been impacted by these different systemic issues that's kind of what we're focused on is the system level. But we also believe in shifting this moral narrative. It's a little bit of both and I'm really passionate about that.
Jason: From you point of view. All this stuff you are doing is great. Do you think that's been a positive impact on your business, a negative impact or no impact at all?
Christina: I would say that being involved in social justice causes has helped me in business. So, justice is just like a value of my mine right. Being able to live up your values and being able to do things that align with your values and be around other people who align with those that's really fulfilling. I think when you fulfilled outside of your nine to five or your eight to midnight. If you can do something outside of that that's motivating you and fulfilling you and inspiring you that it's going to help you and your work life. Because, even if something's kind of boring or hard for work and stuff I know that I've got like my poor people's campaign family. That's going to be there to support me and know we're going to go out and help some folks this weekend. That just kind of keeps some fuel on the fire. So, whatever that is for you there's a concern amongst family members and such that it could be harmful. Just from the arrest standpoint specifically. There's definitely that to consider. I don't know what industry and what types of jobs your listeners have but it's definitely something to consider. We talk about evaluating risk for yourself before you participate in a direct action. So is it important for you to have a super squeaky clean record? Maybe you want to adopt children in the future. So, you can't have anything on your record. I will say one thing too for anybody interested in the poor people's campaign we don't do anything that would be a felony.
Jason: Christina, can you talk about a success you had in the past, what you learned and what we can learn from your success.
Christina: First of all, to think about successes is like a thing like, I achieved this thing. Like I did this thing and I was successful because of that. I'm going to take a different look at it, like I am successful, like that is just who I am. I'm a successful person because I keep progressing. Success to me is about progress. But with that being said, one thing that I think was a big success for me very early on in my career was when I moved down to Texas. So, right after college I had got this temporary gig at a non-profit and I was loving it. I was making 22 bucks an hour. Fresh out of college in 2012 which was decent money minimum wage in Colorado, then was 7.25 or something. I thought that was really cool. Then that job ended because it was a temporary job. Also, during that time my family's home caught on fire. I'm still living at home with my parents. My partner had moved down to Texas for a job, so my life was just like in this crazy. Like I was literally living in a hotel. I had a plane ticket to go visit my partner down in Texas and I decided just to move down there instead. I went into one of the only advertising agencies I could find in a small area of Texas. Down in the valley in the Rio Grande Valley. I lived in Harlingen, worked in McAllen for those of you who are familiar with the area or maybe you've seen the news headlines recently.
Christina: Down there in the border and there wasn't a lot of agencies marketing advertising or otherwise. Not that type of marketing. So, I drove over like 35 miles and I knew I was not staying in Texas. This is temporary. This is a stepping stone. This was my partners first opportunity out of college. They paid for his relocation and stuff so it worked out well for him to get started and I went too. I walked in there and I was like look. I don't want a regular job. I'm not a regular job kind of person. This is who I am this is what I'm good at this how I can help your company be better. I made myself a job right there. Contract position and it started out super part-time. But I was able to work my way into a full time role and I was actually the office manager, when I left that role about a year and a half later. At the time I'm still working tables and stuff like that and I've always kind of had at least two streams income. Mostly earned income and I work on that passive income. That was a really big success for me because it gave me a lot of confidence. Moving forward to be like I don't have to go into this kind of corporate structure that everybody else around me seems to be going into. It gave me a lot of confidence to pursue the entrepreneur route.
Jason: Follow up question. Talk about a time you failed in the past, what you learned from this and what we can learn from this.
Christina: I would say one of my biggest failures was a time that I had this sales gig and I had it in my head that I was gonna build up my own team and open up my own office and I was helping somebody else do just that. I was watching somebody else that was my main mentor. In this kind of industry and I moved down to Houston with her from Seattle. To help her open up her office and we were growing and starting to build my team. But then I just kept losing my team and kept losing my team and kept losing my team. Because sales have a lot of turnover. I highly suggest everybody do at least one sales job. Or at least a customer service job. But sales even more so. Basically, I just kept failing over and over and over again and I thought that quitting and like moving on to something else was a failure. So, I just kept going in this cycle and didn't have the mindset to pull myself out of it. So finally, I quit and I moved back to Seattle and it just opened up so many opportunities for me. That's why I started the entrepreneur thing again. Started working on my own.
Christina: I've just had so many good experiences since then. But because I saw quitting that job as a failure I was like, this means that I failed. Even though I was like failing continuously the whole time. There my lens was blinding me for making that decision and like I could have maybe left two months earlier. Maybe if I had just left those two months earlier. I would've gotten into this track that I'm loving right now. That much sooner. I say what's folks can learn from my mistake is, don't get hung up on the failure. If you know that it's the right decision for you in that ending something might be a failure. But it's the right step to make to open you up to other opportunities.
Jason: Christina, I understand you have a book to recommend to our listeners.
Christina: I have a couple. So, for a business book. One of the books that really helped me and I think this could also help folks who are having a hard time describing themselves who are out there in the job hunt. It's called “Strengths Finder”. So, it's a book you read like 30 pages on this philosophy about how if we just tapped into our innate strengths instead of trying to force everybody to be at least this good at everything. If we just honed in on our innate strengths we'd be "A" better at things that we do. "B" we would be happier. Then you do a test online. It's kind of one of those highly agree, disagree kind of tests and it's timed. Then it shoots out your top five Innate strengths. Then it gives you general advice around it, what type of jobs you'd be good at. How to approach people with that type of strength how to work with different types of strengths. It's a good team builder and it's good for an individual to get some language about how to describe what you're really good at. Take that into job interviews, take that into sales pitches. Then some other books from local artists. I just want to shout out real quick Ijeoma Oluo, who dropped a book last year called "So You Want to Talk About Race" if you're interested in the social justice thing. Then that's a really good book to start just to kind of understand why it is important that we talk about race. Another local author and activist and prior mayoral candidate in Seattle Nikita Oliver dropped a poetry book called "Pebbles in My Shoes". Then I just found another local author who writes children's books where he makes black kids the hero of the book and his name is Jeffrey Cheatham who's got a book out called "Why is Jane so Mad". Those are my book recommendations.
Jason: Christina do you have a discount or free resource for the listeners?
Christina: I would absolutely encourage folks to follow up with me and I have a link for a reading list that includes none of the books that I just mentioned. But some other ones really focused around communication, creativity and public speaking skills. Then I'm also happy to take a 30-minute call if any of your listeners, who just want to maybe work on your elevator pitch or talk about their communication challenge. Or if you're kind of new in the industry or something and have questions about Entrepreneurship.
Jason: Christina, can you share your social media links for yourself or your company so people can reach out to you?
Christina: Like we said social media is important and so I've been really active on Instagram lately which is @_cBrennan. It's also my Twitter handle. If you hang out over there and then LinkedIn is the best place to connect with me. I've got more tips and articles and things there as well.
Jason: To our listeners will have the links to the book recommendations and everything else on our show notes and the show notes are at www.cavnessHRblog.com. Christina, we are coming to the end of our talk. Do you any last minute wisdom or vice on any subject you would like to talk about.
Christina: I actually came up with five tips to talk about, but we just kind of didn't get there. We're having such a good conversation. I'll go through them real quick and then I'll send them to you so you can put them in the show notes as well. But for any type of presentation, any type of communication always lead with the benefit. We kind of talked about that earlier. Open strong, make sure you get that attention early. Skip the jargon. Make sure that you know people, understand what language you're using. Define acronyms, things like that. Storytelling versus facts. People will remember your stories before they remember the things that you tell them and then always have a call to action. So, my call to action is to connect with me on social media. LinkedIn specifically is a good place and to just go be great today right. Is that our call to action? I'll let you do it. Sorry if I ruined it for you.
Jason: Christina, thank you for being here. You are doing a lot of great things for a lot of great causes.
Christina: Yeah, I'm excited to see cavnessHR grow too. Thank you for having me.
Jason: To our listeners, thank you for your time as well and remember to be great every day.