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Griffin Thall: “Here Are 5 Things You Should Do To Become A Thought Leader In Your Industry”

Once your company gets to a certain level of scale I think it’s definitely worthwhile to invest resources and energy into becoming a thought leader. You would do that by participating in speaking opportunities and events, which initially bring brand awareness and then in the long term result in additional speaking opportunities, mentorships, consulting and […]


Once your company gets to a certain level of scale I think it’s definitely worthwhile to invest resources and energy into becoming a thought leader. You would do that by participating in speaking opportunities and events, which initially bring brand awareness and then in the long term result in additional speaking opportunities, mentorships, consulting and interviews. These will all build upon each other providing further brand awareness, credibility and business opportunities.


I had the pleasure to interview Griffin Thall. Griffin is the Co-Founder and CEO of Pura Vida Bracelets. Since launching the brand in 2010, Griffin has established himself as a leader in growth and content marketing and helped grow Pura Vida into a multi-million dollar company with over 1.9 million followers on Instagram, providing jobs to more than 800 artisans around the globe and raising more than $1.9 million for charitable causes. Pura Vida Bracelets has been featured on Inc.’s list of “5,000 Fastest Growing Companies in America,” and Griffin was also included in Forbes’ 2015 “30 Under 30” list.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

After graduating with a marketing degree from San Diego State University in 2010, I went on a surfing trip to Costa Rica with my best friend (and now business partner) Paul Goodman. During that trip, we had a chance encounter with two bracelet artisans named Jorge and Joaquin. We were immediately drawn to not only the incredible quality of their colorful bracelets, but by Jorge and Joaquin’s notable outlook on life. The two friends were so full of joy and grateful for every opportunity life brought their way, no matter how small. Their philosophy — which Costa Ricans refer to as “pura vida” — of always embracing the little treasures in life no matter your situation really resonated with us.

After the trip we headed home to San Diego with 400 bracelets and decided to sell them at a local boutique, where they depleted their stock in just a couple of days. Paul and I saw a ton of potential there, and so we asked Jorge and Joaquin to partner with us to help share the “pura vida” spirit with others, and build the brand into what it is today. Now Jorge and Joaquin manage hundreds of artisans with us and are a huge part of our success.

Pura Vida is now approaching its 10 year anniversary. Over the years we’ve grown an incredibly engaged (#1 in jewelry) customer base as well as a social following over 1.8M on Instagram and just under 2M on Facebook, which can largely be attributed to our success with micro-influencer and digital marketing.

The brand has truly evolved from a beachside bracelet business into a nationally-beloved accessories brand and last month we sold a 75% majority stake to Vera Bradley with a valuation of $130M. We’ve grown our family of artisans to over 650 partners in Costa Rica, India + beyond, and we also have an on-going charity collection which has supported over 175 partners throughout the last 10 years, raising over $1.9M dollars for causes near and dear to us.

Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?

Anybody who is an expert in their own space can speak to their experience as a thought leader. For me specifically, that topic is influencer and digital marketing. People often reach out to me for advice about how they can apply social media and marketing practices to their business. I’m asked to speak at conferences & events and have been featured in multiple national publications discussing Pura Vida’s innovative marketing strategies. All of these opportunities come with being a thought leader in that space.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

In 2015, Paul Goodman (Pura Vida cofounder and CFO) and I were selected to be a part of Forbes’ “30 Under 30.” That was a huge honor and certainly a milestone in our career. In July of this year, we also sold a majority stake (75%) of the company to lifestyle brand, Vera Bradley. That was another major moment for the brand, just as we’re approaching our ten year anniversary.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In the early days of the company, we were really bootstrapped, as we didn’t yet have a lot of cash flow coming in. One of our employees was writing a purchase order for raw material charms and instead of writing in 2,000 pieces, wrote an order for 20,000 charms, which as you can imagine was far above our budget. For two years we had those charms in stock and just could not get rid of the inventory. The lesson here of course being to carefully check your work, not rush, and review all major orders & documents, to avoid silly, careless mistakes.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define what a ‘Thought Leader’ is. How is a thought leader different than a typical leader? How is a thought leader different than an influencer?

In my opinion, a thought leader is somebody who has passion for a specific skill or industry, has become a leader in that field and has experience to back it up. An influencer I believe is somebody that is influential in a certain space (whether that be fashion, beauty, etc.) and can use that to sell products.

Can you talk to our readers a bit about the benefits of becoming a thought leader. Why do you think it is worthwhile to invest resources and energy into this?

Once your company gets to a certain level of scale I think it’s definitely worthwhile to invest resources and energy into becoming a thought leader. You would do that by participating in speaking opportunities and events, which initially bring brand awareness and then in the long term result in additional speaking opportunities, mentorships, consulting and interviews. These will all build upon each other providing further brand awareness, credibility and business opportunities.

Let’s talk about business opportunities specifically. Can you share a few examples of how thought leadership can help a business grow or create lucrative opportunities?

As I mentioned above, participating in conferences, panels and networking events gets your name out there and will result in additional opportunities. There have been a number of occasions where I spoke at events and as a direct result was asked to consult for another company on a monthly basis or was featured in a resulting blog post.

Ok. Now that we have that behind us, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how to eventually become a thought leader. Can you share 5 strategies that a person should implement to become known as a thought leader in their industry. Please tell us a story or example (ideally from your own experience) for each.

  • Focus on building your business or core interest first: It’s important to reach a certain point of success in your company, where the founder has a solid group to support him/her and can focus on these other types of networking and brand building opportunities
  • Hire a PR team: A PR team will help bring in/coordinate new press/speaking opportunities and support the brand in securing awareness and media presence
  • Invest in Media Training: This is typically something that your PR team is able to help with, but I feel it’s important to invest in media training if you’re going to be taking interviews, speaking at events and especially for any broadcast opportunities
  • Consult for other companies: This will further solidify your position as a thought leader and can lead to many new business opportunities
  • Speak at industry events: These events are a great place to meet with consumers, build brand awareness and network

In your opinion, who is an example of someone who has done a fantastic job as a thought leader? Which specific things have impressed you about that person? What lessons can we learn from this person’s approach.

Mark Zuckerberg is definitely a role model of mine. He has to answer to investors, shareholders and the public, and in my opinion is very well coached and well spoken. He’s also a great example of somebody who has had such success in his career that it lead to high visibility and he became a household name. He was originally just a web developer and he embraced that role as a public figure to help build his brand.

I have seen some discussion that the term “thought leader” is trite, overused, and should be avoided. What is your feeling about this?

I actually think influencer is overused. Thought leader to me feels like more of an industry term.

What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

Make sure you have a fun office environment. We spend so much time working — it’s important to make sure you’re not just sitting behind a computer all day every day. Building a healthy and enjoyable company culture leads to building a successful brand — I have a close relationship with every single one of my employees and make sure I put in the effort to get to know them on a personal level. When you have a team who is excited about the brand and company it leads to productivity and great work. Eventually the founders won’t need to be involved in every small sale and decision, and they can focus on higher level strategy.

You are a person of enormous 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. 🙂

We already have! We turned two artisans into a family of 650 artisans in multiple countries. Pura Vida has spurred a movement — providing sustainable jobs and opportunities where they didn’t previously exist. We’re so excited to continue growing and building our team to support as many artisans as possible.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It’s simple but, “put your head down and get to work.” So many people want success to come quickly but it can take years to get there. Sometimes you have to be really grassroots and work crazy hours but if you dedicate yourself you will get there.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Mark Zuckerberg for sure.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@puravidabracelets on Instagram

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