Hope Paterson. Co-Founder & Chief Culture Officer at Kidevolve and Super Nanny for Entrepreneurs.
Building brands that stand out from the crowd is tricky business. It requires creating a unique voice that sets the brand apart. According to Hope Paterson, Co-Founder and Chief Culture Officer at Kidevolve and Super Nanny for Entrepreneurs, the recipe for brand success is adding a dash of personality into the way you communicate with your team, clients and online global community. This helps you build trust, which leads to loyalty. Wise words from someone who’s spent their career pulling the creative and inspirational spark out of business owners looking to make a real difference. Read on for more of Hope’s very cool career story.
What does your job entail and what does a typical day look like?
I don’t have one job but rather split my work between two main areas. I am the Co-Founder & Chief Culture Officer at an organization called www.kidevolve.com. Our goal is to custom create innovative kids’ mindfulness programs in the GTA. We work with top experts in the newly emerging subject, curate remarkable resources and deliver our fantastically fun programs to inspire kids to master healthy and effective interpersonal strategies that can be used for life.
I also act as a Super Nanny for entrepreneurs. Basically, people pay me to care about their businesses as if they were my own. I support their nascent ideas into practice, coach brand culture and put structure in place to operationalize and achieve goals.
The main focus in all my work is creating culture. Creating a solid, sticky brand culture is like sourdough. With the right kneading, you can make a tasty, hearty loaf that will continue to tell its own story. I dig helping to build brands with authentic flavour so they stand out in the crowd.
My days are never the same twice; which I love. This varied schedule means I have to work hard at building clear boundaries between work projects, creative endeavors and family.
Can you briefly describe your career path and how you got your current job?
I always veer towards brands and people that prioritize creative culture. This has led me to follow inspiring leaders with the spark to make a real difference in the realms of food, kids, education and health. My path to get here was diverse, and full of travel. For the last 20 years, I have been involved in numerous start ups ranging from running a restaurant in a small village in Laos PDR, running a kids cooking camp in Prince Edward Island, authoring a kids cooking curriculum in Bangkok, founding an events catering company in Toronto, diving into oyster wholesales in Montreal, helping to build the leading Real Food For Real Kids catering company in the GTA from ground zero to 10K a day and heading up Toronto’s Rainbow Food Education Foundation as the Executive Director. My signature skill is being a master generalist who builds memorable culture and brands from inception to success.
What’s the coolest part about your job and what’s the biggest challenge?
The coolest part of my work is pulling the creative and inspirational spark out of business owners (and myself). This spark is in all of us. We just have to know how to coax it out. My secret weapon is to take a step back, shake things up, let them settle and add some fun to the mix. I have a huge reverence for the importance of building fun into the personality of your company’s culture—the brand. Whether you’re in the service industry, selling a product, fundraising for a Not-For-Profit, there is a way for all businesses to braid fun into their practice. I don’t take this lightly and have been known to throw costumed board meetings, design corporate tribal councils to jack up team communication and discard entire projects when they miss the true tone test. Adding personality into the way you communicate internally with your team, how you engage ambassadors, clients and an online global community is becoming more important than ever. It helps you build trust, which leads to loyalty.
The challenge with all this ‘fun stuff’ is deciding what fun looks like for each company/leader. It’s a personal thing and has to resonate in a way that feels right, otherwise it can miss the mark and look like a cheesy campaign that’s trying too hard.
What advice would you give to a job seeker looking for meaningful work?
I’m on a mission to weave a good work life. To make this happen, I keep three ingredients in mind:
Follow your gut It’s that internal voice that always knows when something feels right, or so NOT. Learning how to listen to this voice is always the hardest part of the equation.
Surround yourself with inspirational people Instead of calling it networking, I call it people-building. I follow people, not salaries or resume building opportunities.
Take any and every opportunity This will make you busy, but if you try enough different and new things you’ll be sure to find something that sticks.
What can you identify as the biggest opportunity and hurdle in your sector right now?
This is an exciting time for entrepreneurs. There are endless opportunities, and a global reach. Yet, this open road can also be a hurdle for many new business owners. Many entrepreneurs struggle to focus on how to work both ON their business and IN their business. How much time should be spent on the supporting structure like—operations, HR and finances? And how much attention should be paid on cultural engagement or your brand story? The latter often gets pushed aside as a fluffy nice to have. Or many people think it doesn’t matter at all. But this soft stuff is the magic ingredient that needs to be incorporated into all elements of the business, as early as possible. Why? Because it gives context. It pushes personality into the world and answers the ‘why’ you are doing what you’re doing.
Spending time cultivating a brand that sticks is not a nice to have, it’s a must have.