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American Express VP Walter Frye: “It’s clear to me that small businesses really are core to ensuring our neighborhoods and communities thrive”

…The passion and dedication to support small business owners is nothing short of inspiring…This is my first year leading the program, and talking to local business owners as well as business improvement districts has been eye-opening… it’s clear to me that small businesses really are core to ensuring our neighborhoods and communities thrive. I had […]



…The passion and dedication to support small business owners is nothing short of inspiring…This is my first year leading the program, and talking to local business owners as well as business improvement districts has been eye-opening… it’s clear to me that small businesses really are core to ensuring our neighborhoods and communities thrive.


I had the pleasure to interview Walter Frye, Vice President, Global Brand Engagement for American Express


Thank you so much for joining us Walter! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

In college, I interned for several years at an insurance company. I always knew it wasn’t a fit with my passions and interests but I didn’t realize it was possible to love what you do until I went to a recruiting event at MTV. From the moment I entered the building, I had a strong reaction to the vibe and felt so connected to the people who worked there. The company was filled with passionate creatives of all types who I could tell took great pride at being a part of the MTV family in a space they loved. I made it my mission to land at a place where I similarly felt shared values, and I knew I’d found that place when I started my marketing career at American Express.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

I’ve been really fortunate to have extremely varied experiences over my decade in marketing at American Express. In my first position on the marketing team for one of our hotel co-brand cards, I loved opportunities to get direct customer insights and feedback we could use to continually enhance our servicing capabilities and marketing. From there, I moved to a chief of staff position on our operations team. That led me to a dream job where I was responsible for our entertainment partnerships, including our 360 artist deals and activations at Coachella, US Open Tennis and more. I’ve been in the trenches on planning with some of the world’s biggest music artists, but those have often led to some of my career highs. Now, I’m really excited to lead our longstanding efforts to support small businesses through Shop Small and Small Business Saturday — and it’s not just an opportunity to focus on a new customer segment, but this movement is creating value in local communities across multiple countries and having a direct impact on people’s livelihoods. It really doesn’t get much better than that.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I’d establish an infinite fund that positioned people around the world to follow their passions, turn their ideas into businesses, and take bold risks that continue to positively disrupt the way we live and interact with one another. My job has helped me see how important entrepreneurs are in our society — they are the lifeblood of communities around the world — and not enough people are positioned to start their own businesses and bring big ideas to life.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

American Express has supported small business owners for over 30 years. Over the years we have built on programs and offerings for business owners, and nine years ago we created Small Business Saturday. American Express founded this program back in 2010 in response to small business owners’ most pressing need in the wake of the recession: more customers. Fast forward to today, and Small Business Saturday has grown into a national movement, with thousands upon thousands of small businesses and communities rallying together each year to celebrate. The passion and dedication to support small business owners is nothing short of inspiring, and this is a defining program that makes American Express stand out. This is my first year leading the program, and talking to local business owners as well as business improvement districts has been eye-opening… it’s clear to me that small businesses really are core to ensuring our neighborhoods and communities thrive.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes! As I mentioned, we’re gearing up for Small Business Saturday on November 24th. Celebrated the Saturday after Thanksgiving in the U.S., Small Business Saturday is a way for consumers to kick off the busy holiday shopping season and make an impact on their community by supporting independently-owned businesses. This year, we took a look at the economic benefits of shopping locally and the impact of small businesses on communities and found that for every dollar spent as a small business, an average two-thirds — $0.67 — stays in the local economy. And new this year, we’re expanding our Small Business Support to Puerto Rico, as local businesses continue to get back on their feet after last year’s hurricane.

Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners?

As part of the Small Business Saturday program each year, we continue to invest in providing marketing and promotional support to small business owners. Through Shop Small Studio, a one-stop shop where small business owners can create customizable print and digital marketing assets for Small Business Saturday, we’re empowering small business owners to get involved in this national movement. The marketing toolkit has everything from event flyers and posters, save the dates, website badges to Facebook cover photos and sample social media posts.

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