Eight Questions With: Stacy Sutton

The VP of Marketing for BAMFi shares her guerrilla marketing tactic, built up throughout her career: a personal network

If you could teach a college class, what would it be called? And what would it cover?

I’d teach a class called “Build Your Network to Grow Your Career.” I’d teach the students how to (a) figure out what they want to do for their first job, and (b) land their first job through building their network. Then, I’d cover how to continue building their network over time to help grow their skills and advance their career. I mean, everyone has heard, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” but I don’t think most college students (or even most people in the workforce) know how to build and nurture an appropriate network. I’d cover the tactical as well as the strategic and really delve into the nitty-gritty. I think a lot of recent graduates struggle with turning that hard-earned degree into a paycheck (and, more importantly, a fulfilling career).

What is the best business advice you have ever received?

The best business advice I ever received wasn’t advice so much as pointed questions that helped me figure out what to do in sticky situations. I was a member of Vistage for over five years when I owned a business, and my chair/coach Tim Fulton had a way of asking just the right question. More than once, he’d ask me what I was going to do about a situation, and I’d say, “I don’t know.” He’d press, “If you did know the answer, what would it be?” and suddenly I would know the answer. One time I was complaining about an employee and he asked, “Stacy, how is this story going to end?” I immediately sighed, my shoulders dropped, and I said, “I’m going to have to let him go.” The situation was clear as day, and Tim’s probing questions probably saved me months of wasted time and anguish.

What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

Balancing raising a family with owning a growing business. Doing either one alone is incredibly stressful, difficult and relentless. Doing them at the same time is insane – you can’t help but feel guilty all the time because you always feel like you’re shortchanging everyone and everything. And yet…I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Doing both was also incredibly fun, loving and rewarding. The business has long since been sold, but I look at my two adult daughters with pride every single day. No regrets!

What is the smartest marketing, communications or PR thing you’ve ever done?

I struggled to answer this one because I’d like to think I’ve done a lot of smart marketing, communications and PR things over my career! Yet I keep coming back to my personal network as my crowning achievement. Because it’s taken time and work for 30 years to build the group of colleagues and friends that I’ve managed to surround myself with. I guess you can consider it a “guerrilla” tactic. If I need marketing advice or have a question about a tool or need to reach an expert, I know someone who can help. It’s easy to run a campaign that produces results (and I have), but investing the time and care into nurturing a network of like-minded people takes ongoing effort.

What are you currently reading / listening to?

I have subscribed for many years to two (paper!) magazines that fuel me: Wired (technical innovation gives me hope for the future) and The Sun (quality writing that keeps me in touch with the human spirit). I’m an avid podcast subscriber – as a people person, I love podcasts that help me understand how people tick (Hidden Brain), give me hope for the future (the TED Radio Hour), or tell stories about the human experience (The Moth; Terrible, Thanks for Asking; This American Life). Though I’ve had to stop listening to StoryCorps on the way to work because it brings me to tears every time!

Whom would you most like to eat lunch with and where would you take them?

I would love to have a long lunch with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, complete with festive cocktails, on the patio at Ladybird overlooking the Beltline. This is the perfect setting for lots of laughs among the three best friends that I feel like we are (even though they have no idea who I am).

What is your motto or favorite quote? Where is it from?

“If it is to be, it is up to me,” which is an incredibly powerful sentence (made up of ten words that each contain two letters). My mom said this to me decades ago and it stuck: maybe because my mom isn’t usually the type to pass along mottos or quotes, but also because this really resonates with me. As much as we’re all in this together and it’s important to surround yourself with good people so you can support them and vice versa…you also must look out for yourself. No one is going to hand you anything and no one is going to save you. It’s up to YOU – and no one else – to make your life what you want it to be. I also love, “If life was fair, I’d be a lot worse off,” which I overheard someone say at a party years ago. That also resonated because it’s so true. I think we all tend to complain about the 5 percent of our lives that aren’t perfect, when in reality, anyone reading this is probably quite fortunate and privileged. I try to appreciate everything I’ve learned, everything I own and everything I’ve been able to do, but I’m sure I still take it all for granted far too often.

If you weren’t in your current profession, what would you be?

This is probably the dream of half the people out there, but I’d love to be a travel photographer. There’s nothing more exciting to me than traveling, especially internationally. I love meeting people from other cultures and seeing places that are different from where I live. I’m a terrible photographer, but if I could start over, I’d learn to be a great one and then I’d capture the beauty of the people and places around the world. I suppose I’d have to get more adventurous in my eating habits first, though!



Eight questions with… is an occasional series where we ask marketers to share a little of their professional and personal insights. To suggest someone you’d like us to ask eight questions – or to answer them yourself! – go to https://arketi.com/8questions.

By Arketi – November 6, 2019

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