She’s Her Own CEO® Guest Interview: Kathy Heasley, Marketing Executive and Brand-Builder

She’s Her Own CEO® Guest Interview: Kathy Heasley, Marketing Executive and Brand-Builder

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SHOCEO® Reading for Success: Ten (10) Minutes.


For this edition of the She’s Her Own CEO Guest Interview, we are excited to introduce marketing guru and brand-master, Kathy Heasley!

Kathy is the founder and president of HEASLEY&PARTNERS, Inc. and the creator of HEART&MIND® BRANDING.  She has dedicated her professional life to developing businesses that connect with the heart and open the mind.  In the process, she has transformed organizations and helped them to become breakthrough brands.

Kathy was a driving force behind the growth of Cold Stone Creamery, Massage Envy, MicroAge, SJS Investment Services and many other heart-based brands people love.

It was while working for a high-tech firm in the early 90’s that she realized the power of heart-driven companies.  Ever since, she has made her mark nurturing organizations and leaders around the world giving them the “permission” and the process to bring their heart to life.

Kathy is the author of the study program, “Building Your Business Into a Brand: The Five Stages of HEART&MIND BRANDING,” co-author of Seize the American Dream: Ten Entrepreneurial Success Strategies, and a contributor to the book Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneur’s Soul.  She speaks at business events around the world and has helped hundreds of organizations develop and grow their businesses through branding.

Kathy was honored in 2012 as one of the Top 25 Women in Business by the Phoenix Business Journal.  Before founding HEASLEY&PARTNERS in 1994, Kathy spent ten years helping big companies like Coca-Cola, Ryland Homes, Exxon, Dr Pepper, and small-to-midsize entrepreneurial companies in the areas of finance, insurance, hospitality, and technology. 

If you haven’t yet met Kathy, we’re so excited to introduce you to her here on She’s Her Own CEO®.


Kathryn Brooks, She’s Her Own CEO®:  Kathy, what are the educational and career experiences that have made you into the fabulous and successful CEO that you are today?

Kathy Heasley, Heasley and Partners:  I graduated from Penn State University with a BA in Advertising.  I love helping young professionals make the leap from college to the real world and currently serve on the Penn State AD/PR Alumni Board for the university’s top-ranked Bellisario College of Communications.  That’s a big part of the board’s role.  Personally, I established an internship program to bring students to Phoenix — a land of opportunity — to work with companies and gain a broader view of the world.

I firmly believe in the power of education and guiding through experience.  I enjoy guest lecturing, and have served as an advisory board member at Grand Canyon University’s Executive MBA Program and as a business plan panel judge at Thunderbird’s Walker Center for Global Entrepreneurship.  That was a lot of fun.  I am also a repeat speaker at ASU’s Center for Services Leadership Symposium.

After college, I spent 10 years gaining agency and corporate experience.  I worked as a PR writer, a media buyer, an advertising manager, a distributor marketing manager, a director of corporate communications…at one point, I had done so many different jobs in the field of communications that I thought I’m never going to get good at any one thing.  Little did I know having many jobs within the communications space would turn out to be a blessing.  It gave me a broad business perspective and helped me launch my own business that serves the many needs of clients.

If I have to look back on my professional career, there were four important, defining moments that explain the heart-based approach I developed at Heasley and Partners:

1. The first critical decision happened while I was an undergraduate at Penn State. I made the decision to take an Advertising/Marketing degree track versus a Journalism track. I realized I was not going to be a reporter; it wasn’t in my DNA.  I was deep into an in-depth liberal arts education at Penn State, and honed a very specific and useful writing style I learned in the advertising and copy writing class at Penn State which teaches writing that connects with people.  This class was a massive key to my success as a writer and as a branding executive.

This style and methodology works in every industry.  It impacted me very positively when a professor at this major university called me out for my writing talents.  From then on, I knew I was a writer which to me is critical to brand development.  People think branding is about logos.  To me it’s about words.

2. Another big milestone was understanding and defining what HEART felt like. I was a part of a massively heart-based technology company during the early 90s. Although the industry and products were not overtly glamorous (network test and measurement), it was an exciting, magical time to be a part of a growing organization in the technology space.  The company was successful and the founder was charismatic and loved by the press. The place was electric, overflowing with energy and drive. This was my first corporate exposure to what HEART was.  It was invigorating.  We were changing the world.

3. Then…that technology company went public, and the HEART left the building. I knew then that HEART was magical and that I wanted it again. I wanted to feel that energy, that collaborative spirit, and knew that this was how I needed to work.  From there, I started my own company.  And the charismatic founder of my former employer, the technology company?  He became my first client.

4. Later, another one of my clients was the United Methodist Conference in Arizona. My objective was to help them become more relevant and modern. Ed Grant, one of the church pastors, was super progressive and we were doing great things to help the church be more relevant to the community.  He said, “Kathy, you’re a very sensitive person, you don’t belong in business. You’re too sensitive.” He meant it as a compliment because I really do “feel” the brands I create.  I thought for a short time that maybe he was right.  However, one day when I was driving on the B-Line highway in Arizona, it dawned on me, “Wait a second, this is why I DO need to be in business.  This is my way and my nature.  People buy with their hearts and justify with their minds.  All industries lend themselves to my approach, and this is why I’m here. To help bring that heart out.”  I have had the opportunity to impact some very high-profile people.  I have opened people’s eyes to new perspectives and have helped them arrive there.  I’m very grateful to Ed for helping me understand my gift.


Kathryn Brooks, She’s Her Own CEO®:  You are a successful entrepreneur and have developed a trademarked approach to achieving marketing success with your clients called HEART&MIND BRANDING®.  Please take us “behind-the-scenes”.  Tell us your favorite example of how you Lead, Provide, and Create in your professional and/or personal world!

Kathy Heasley, Heasley and Partners:  If someone could play back the movie of my childhood, you would see that I was a child who was sensitive to other people’s feelings.  I felt sad for the kid was teased and I knew then that was wrong.  I was raised Catholic, but went to public school.  I had a love for Jesus, and would gaze at the nativity scene with reverence each year at Christmas.

From my high school years, it was apparent that I was a natural marketer.  I enjoyed promoting events and happy occasions in order to build engagement and excitement among my colleagues, friends, family…and potential clients!  A fun example during high school was a Christmas decorating contest at school.  I took the initiative to put together a team of my friends and to develop a creative plan and strategy.  I decided that we wouldn’t just do something as simple as decorating individual lockers.  Instead, we would decorate the entire bank of lockers — a much larger undertaking!  This was no small feat.  My team wrapped all of the lockers, carved out each one from the paper so that each was still functional, and then put a gigantic bow on the whole production.  My team won the competition, but not just on the executional merits.  The results came from the heart, and my approach was all-in.

I made a production out of everything and was always doing communications in some way.  I was the one who orchestrated the neighborhood haunted house, the Star Trek fan fiction, and the in-home talent shows.  I was always emphatic about promoting our productions and ensuring that the other kids would come to them to be in the audience.  My communications definitely had a commerce angle…but with HEART.

I know now that I was not put on this earth to nurture children.  I am here to nurture adults who have much to give…and who want to give even more.

In my firm today, I work with clients who are extremely ambitious, and who are driven 99% by wanting to do something for this world.  Yes, they have a product or service to sell, but they want to go beyond transactions.  They not only want to find a better, more consistent transactional method, but they need more.  They want to find their way, and their path of self-actualization.  Through working with me, my clients find that brand development becomes a life-transforming event.  It is truly an exercise of self-actualization.

I have worked in and supported many sectors (both B2B and B2C), including home building, finance, consumer products, hospitality, technology, and more.  When evaluating potential clients, I look for a company with natural energy in it who is led by a CEO or founder who sees something bigger.  I find the energy, harness it, and explode it out there.  Some companies have it, and you can feel it when you walk in their office.  Others do not.

My HEART&MIND BRANDING® methodology includes five elements:

Heart:                   What is the story, the heart, of your business?

Message:             How do you put that heart into words?

Image:                  Do the visuals that represent your business convey the right message, the heart?

Actions:               Do your employees deliver the brand through their actions both inside and outside of the office walls?

Systems:             What’s working for your brand, and how do you build the systems to make those things repeatable and consistent?


Kathryn Brooks, She’s Her Own CEO®: Being the CEO of your world can take many forms (for example, volunteering in your community, holding a formal corporate position, engaging in creative pursuits, or being a reliable family member).  In your opinion, what is the best way to achieve success and to become the boss of your world?

Kathy Heasley, Heasley and Partners:  Be self-aware of your gifts and talents and the things that you love to do.  Have the freedom to give first, and accept nothing in return.  This can be through volunteering, giving money, starting your own business, or doing something artistic for the sheer pleasure of it.  Understand what you love and where you can apply your natural talents.  If you love doing an activity, you probably have talent for it.  And through that, you can lead in whatever way you want.

I believe that age is a number and that chronic disease doesn’t have to happen if you prevent it.  I exercise every day of the week.  Being a leader and the CEO of your life means spending most of your day enabling everyone else’s success.  While rewarding, you need to make time for yourself.  I carve out one hour a day for exercise.  I have been doing P90X for 10 years, and I am the strongest I have ever been.

Work/life balance is a popular term right now, but I believe that if your work is bigger than you, you are giving to others and you’re enjoying it, you have achieved a wonderful work-live.  No balance required.


Kathryn Brooks, She’s Her Own CEO®:  Any additional advice you can share with motivated ladies with high aspirations?

Kathy Heasley, Heasley and Partners:  I’m a believer in following your heart.  The heart is where your spirit resides.  It is generally right.  The longings and the dreams that you have inside yourself mean something.  Go with your dreams, inspire others, and work hard…you’ll be surprised how many people you will bring along with you on your success journey.


Kathryn Brooks, She’s Her Own CEO®:  Thank you, Kathy, for sharing your HEARTfelt and HEARTful approach with us.  Be sure to order a copy of Kathy Heasley’s book, The Heart Effect, later this year!



What techniques do you use to connect with your clients, your students, or your family?  Do you have a process to better understand your audience, or do you need more of Kathy’s advice?  Subscribe to the blog, and share your thoughts below!

xo Kathryn