Kathryn Porritt of Luxury Influencers: “Hire the best talent you can afford, and keep investing in them”

Hire the best talent you can afford, and keep investing in them. I came to understand this really well in my first business, but where it’s really come to the fore is in this business. We hypertarget our client’s partners and their ideal clients (literally pick and choose who they want to work with and […]

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Hire the best talent you can afford, and keep investing in them. I came to understand this really well in my first business, but where it’s really come to the fore is in this business. We hypertarget our client’s partners and their ideal clients (literally pick and choose who they want to work with and find ways to make it come to life). I use the same philosophy with our team. Pick who you want on your team, and go make it happen. Be audacious and brave in your recruiting. You will be rewarded.

Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.

How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?

In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kathryn Porritt.

Kathryn Porritt is the leading premium and luxury offer business strategist in the world for personal brands and CEOs transitioning to their legacy business.

She teaches entrepreneurs how to create a potent personal brand that sells to luxury clients and creates multi-generational wealth, massive impact, and a legacy to leave behind.

Kathryn has founded and run two multi-million dollar global companies, authored a book with Penguin-Viking, and revolutionized luxury branding and marketing for experts, thought leaders and personal brands with her innovative ideas based on a luxury business model. Her internationally renowned company, Luxury Influencers, represents some of the fastest-growing, maverick entrepreneurs in coaching, health, technology, spirituality, creative, and lifestyle industries.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up in a beautiful coastal town in Australia, not far away from Byron Bay, where all the Hollywood celebrities seem to be migrating to now. I understand why — in my opinion, it’s the most beautiful place on earth.

I had an idyllic childhood — my grandparents had a local business, my dad had his own business and my mum was a successful art teacher. I was a high achiever from the get-go — I loved to compete and succeed. I had parents who let me fly and fall — with a very safe place to land at all times.

I’m very grateful to them, and my small town upbringing. It set me up for success.

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

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill

I’m a big believer in failing fast. I say to my team all the time that no one will ever get in trouble for having a crack at something. If it’s a good idea, have a go. That’s the only way we’ll know if it will fly. But, as a business owner, it’s my responsibility to create a safe place to land. Just like my parents did with me growing up. That’s a great way to run a business and enjoy life, in my opinion.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

I have been blessed with much success, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to do what I love. I’d say my top three attributes are:

  1. High appetite for risk — this stems from not being afraid to fail. I love trying new things, being creative with ideas and pushing limits. Obviously, I’ve had my moments where I have crashed, made mammoth mistakes and had a great big cry. But, I am really resilient and dust myself off and have another try in a different way.
  2. I know what I’m good at — I work with some of the most exciting experts on the planet to help them create a luxury brand and commercialize their influence at the highest level. In that playing field, you have to know what you’re good at and not be afraid to say it. I tell my clients to check being “humble” at the door. I want them to turn up super-confident and knowing they are the best in the world at what they do. That kind of attitude breeds extreme pioneering, bravery, and ultimately, success.
  3. Big vision — when someone says they want to go to the moon, my answer is always “why not Mars?” I’ve always thought really big. My opinion is that if you’re the best at what you do, then don’t constrain yourself. Go after the most audacious goal possible. It helps if #3 combines with #1, because you’re probably going to have some failures on the way. But, boy, it will be fun.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?

My first experience as an entrepreneur was as the Founder and CEO of an ecommerce company in Australia in 2005. I started that business when I was pregnant with my daughter, Penelope. Like a lot of parents, I took the opportunity on maternity leave to start that company and see if I could make it stick. It turned out to be a great choice. For 9 ½ years, I grew the company to become one of the most successful and beloved online stores in Australia, with hundreds of thousands of customers, a big following online, a book, loads of awards…

BUT. It was a volume play. And, my kids had grown up in that business. While it was fun (it was in the party and wedding space, so literally fun for my kids), I was in hustle city for most of those 9 ½ years. I love to work, but I love my family more…

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?

So, I decided to sell that business and start something fresh. I deliberately wanted to do something very different to what I had done before. I didn’t want small margins and volume. I knew there had to be a better way.

I took some time to think about my skill set and what I really was passionate about. I landed on marketing and branding. They really are my core skills.

When I started looking at all the marketing and branding companies around, I felt like I was in the sea of same-same. Even though I was in a space that should be filled with innovation, it didn’t feel that creative to me. So, I took that as an opportunity.

Once I started looking at people like me who had a great business but weren’t really doing much to commercialize their personal brand, I realized that there was a BIG gap in the market. And, one that I was really excited about filling.

I launched Luxury Influencers to represent the most elite experts and help them commercialize their influence at the highest level. I was wary of volume, so used a luxury business model i.e. starting at the top (working with the most elite) and then working your way down to more leveraged offers. This model worked beautifully for my lifestyle, and allowed me to attract and work with the best of the best. It’s what I now teach my clients to do also — being in a category of one is so much fun when you love to create and lead.

Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?

Totally. I was in a privileged position to pick and choose what I wanted to do. So, I literally thought, “why not pick and choose my clients?” That’s precisely what I did. I reached out to who I wanted to work with, and because I had such vision and bravery, it worked from day 1.

In an effort to avoid volume, I wanted to play at the pinnacle of the market. I was running away from what I used to do, having a competition with myself to see what I could achieve.

I went in with a huge amount of ambition and passion and creativity and it worked. We are extreme innovators in the marketing and influencer space, giving the most elite experts a playground to be audacious. It’s what I did for myself, and now I give my clients the opportunity to do that too.

What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

It had been a long time since I had sold anything at a premium level. I’d been in the high-volume, low-margin game for almost a decade, so selling my packages at a 100K dollars minimum felt a little sickening at first. But, I knew deep down that I was worth it, and that discounting wasn’t going to attract the audience I wanted to work with. So, I swallowed hard, remembered that I was good at my craft and went in pitching with absolute bravery.

That next-level bravery has served me very well. I remember very clearly the first time I sold a premium retainer and how I almost was sick as I said the number out loud in the sales meeting. Now, I step into those meetings knowing my worth. But, the first time, your ambition needs to be bigger than your fear. And, mine is. I now make sure my clients understand this too and integrate this into their lives and businesses.

How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.

We are redefining influence. That’s awesome to say and I believe it’s true.

The market is so ready for this. The whole influencer game is broken. Online marketing is broken. The way experts are commercializing their expertise is broken.

So, we’ve come in and seen this and connected together new ways of commercializing influence for the world’s most elite experts. They are able to now monetize their influence for maximum impact. And the brands they work with are able to maximize their marketing dollar in a way they have never seen before. Ultimately, the people served by both the brands and experts are also being more deeply served than ever before. Everyone is winning.

Effectively, what we are doing is allowing the world’s most elite experts to deepen their influence and then connect with brands to monetize their influence at the highest level using a luxury business strategy.

Elite experts then get to really lead and innovate and be paid incredibly well to do things like speak, write books, consult, join boards and advisory panels. They’re creating massive impact even with a small audience, but it’s all extremely potent and paid well because of the authority and deep engagement they bring.

Brands love it because they’re partnering with true, authentic influencers, not just the ones who sit on beaches and look pretty all day. The dollars they invest with these experts are so potent.

Through Luxury Influencers, I feel we are literally changing the world. Our experts are changing the world, and we’re facilitating that by representing them and negotiating these extraordinary partnerships, as well as, finding them a bigger audience.

An example of this is one of our clients who is in a tiny, tiny niche in the defence and aerospace industry. She is now the leading influencer in the space and we have been working with her to take her expertise to a broader audience one layer deeper than the big players in the market. Through her new consulting work, she is bringing the most incredible innovation to CEOs and teams of companies in underserved industries and the initiatives they are now working on could change entire industries (and the planet).

It’s pretty extraordinary.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

It might sound corny, but I 100% believe I am nothing without my team. I constantly say to them that this isn’t the Kathryn Porritt show, and I love it when they bring their innovative ideas to the table and speak truth to power. Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me when you have a better idea. Tell me when you have an awesome pitch that feels so crazy it might just work.

I’ve worked really hard on my own leadership skills, and to attract and retain the best talent around. I have an extraordinary stable of incredible marketers, communicators and operators who work with me and with my amazing clients.

I love it when they come to me with an idea that blows my mind — and it happens probably once a week. We’ll be strategizing a client campaign, project or brand, and I’ll have something in my head as a seed of an idea. I plant it for the team, and then they come back in with their own ideas. I LOVE it when they’re able to take that seed and make it into something extraordinary. A mind blowing animation. A masterful way to attract a client’s dream client. A deeply engaging way to partner with a brand.

I truly believe we are building the most creative team on the planet to serve the most elite brands and experts on the planet. I feel very lucky.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

I am constantly surprised at how shallow so many businesses and brands are. What I mean by that is that they’re missing out on a huge amount of influence, impact, and wealth by only scratching the surface of their business.

I interviewed someone fairly famous last week, who has a very successful business and is featured on a TV show regularly. You would think he would have all the layers sorted out. But, when we got talking about book deals, speaking, board appointments, consulting, and advisory positions, not to mention endorsements, sponsorships, and partnerships…he had none of it sorted. Literally, none. And, he’s sitting on a goldmine. A goldmine of wealth potential. A goldmine of impact potential.

The potential to create a legacy — deeply.

That’s my mission. I’m going to connect with every elite expert who has that problem and fill in the underbelly of their business. So they can change the world in their own way.

Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?

Nope. Honestly, I’m kind of obsessed with people who always knew they would be famous or successful or achieve at the highest level. I’m writing a book on Luxury Influence just now and one of the main rabbit holes I’ve gone down is finding successful people who knew they would be a success ALWAYS.

People like Warren Buffet, Rebel Wilson, Lukaku, Steve Jobs. From a young age, their success was just never even in question.

I love that level of knowing. It’s beyond confidence. It’s a deep, inner knowing. It inspires such brilliance. I want to study that more and understand how we cultivate more of that as parents and a society.

In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?

I actually went on a retreat with a well-known coach when I decided to start this business. I believe in getting help from those who know better, absolutely.

Unfortunately, it was one of the worst experiences in terms of coaching delivery I have ever been a part of. BUT, the great part was that it was a shared experience with some amazing entrepreneurs and experts and we all felt the same way. It gave me the chance to get to know them, test my ideas on them, validate my concepts and ultimately serve many of them. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my professional life.

Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?

I practice bravery every day. We test innovative ideas, we reward extreme creativity, and we never shut down a client’s most audacious dream.

When a client tells me their big dream is to work with a specific celebrity or be interviewed on the world’s biggest platform, I never say no. We simply find a way to make it happen.

That kind of culture in a company means we’re almost always out of our comfort zone. If you’re in your comfort zone and you are telling the world that you’re redefining marketing, then you aren’t really being in integrity. I love extreme pioneering. It’s how we roll.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. That I would need to understand psychology so much. I’m a “just get it done” kind of girl, and I didn’t appreciate how pushing people towards their biggest dreams would impact even the most brave experts. I have zero skills in this area, so I have brought in the best coach in the business to help our clients through those moments. She’s the genius whisperer. And she allows me to sit in my zone of genius while she helps our clients through those moments that invariably happen.
  2. Hire the best talent you can afford, and keep investing in them. I came to understand this really well in my first business, but where it’s really come to the fore is in this business. We hypertarget our client’s partners and their ideal clients (literally pick and choose who they want to work with and find ways to make it come to life). I use the same philosophy with our team. Pick who you want on your team, and go make it happen. Be audacious and brave in your recruiting. You will be rewarded.
  3. You can run a fast-growing, highly effective company remotely. I think many companies have come to know this over the past 12 months. We were already 100% remote before COVID, but I don’t think we were really exploring how deep the culture can become with a remote team before. The world in chaos has made us more close-knit and reliant on one another. I can’t wait for us to all finally get in a room together later this year (hopefully), but even if we can’t, I think we are continually innovating the remote working concept.
  4. Leadership almost never comes from fixing. As someone who goes like a rocket, I tend to want to fix things quickly so we can keep moving forward. I have learned to slow that part of myself down, and allow the team the creative freedom to find innovative solutions to issues. It still takes extreme willpower not to jump in. I’m certainly not a patient person; but honestly, when I do take a breath and empower the team, they are magnificent every time.
  5. Communicate vision ALL. THE. TIME. As the leader of a company that is trendsetting, I have had to learn to communicate my vision constantly — to my team, my clients, my partners and suppliers. I’m ideating all the time and I forget that I haven’t had a deep conversation with the people that matter about those ideas, so they’re flying blind. I’ve had feedback multiple times in my career that I run at 1000 miles an hour and my team feels like they are constantly chasing behind me picking up the pieces. I can’t operate that way and empower the team. That’s so unfair. So, I now slow down, and deliberately communicate as often as I can. Cameron Herald’s Vivid Vision exercise has been great — I keep ours updated and share it with the team, refer to it and live by it.

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?

That’s exactly what I’m doing right now. By representing some of the most exciting experts on the planet, I’m allowing them to deepen their influence, commercialize their ideas, partner with brands who can make their dreams come true, and find the perfect audience to impact.

Our clients constantly tell us we have changed their lives. I don’t take that lightly. It’s immensely satisfying and important work we are doing, even if it’s just “influence” and “marketing.”

A little marketing company that is changing the world. I truly believe we are doing that every day in every way.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

There are a few Luxury Influencers who follow our model, but probably don’t call themselves an influencer. They’ve achieved incredible success and impact through their personal brands and are impacting the world in amazing ways.

A few who come to mind immediately are Martha Stewart, Chip & Joanna Gaines, Ryan Reynolds and Brene Brown. I’d love to sit down with them and pull apart their businesses. My bet is there is gold in there for us to learn from, and also some diamonds left to mine. Fun!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Head on over to luxuryinfluencers.com and check out what we’re up to — whether you’re an expert or a brand, or simply interested in the future of marketing — we have something for you to enjoy!

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