Spend Time Learning Every Day | I read every day. It’s something I need to do. I am typically reading three to four books at a time. Spending time listening to or reading personal development, historical fiction or a business book every day helps unleash my creativity.
As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristi Piehl.
Kristi Piehl launched Media Minefield in 2010 following a 12-year career as an Emmy Award-winning television news reporter.
Kristi is passionate about supporting entrepreneurs and is a founding member of DePaul University’s Women in Entrepreneurship Institute. She is also a founding member of The 25 at Bethel University, a four-year cohort program that aims to empower women to use their strengths, passion and skills to uncover their potential.
Kristi was named one of Minnesota’s 500 Most Powerful Business Leaders in 2020 and 2021. In 2019, she was named a Women in Business honoree by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal and a Women 2 Watch nominee by Women Presidents’ Organization. Kristi was Bethel University’s 2015 Alumna of the Year and is on the Board of Trustees.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
During my 12-year career as a TV news reporter and anchor, I spent time with public relations professionals looking to get their clients news coverage. When I lost my job as an investigative reporter during significant layoffs in 2008, I knew I didn’t want to work in traditional public relations; I believed there was a better way for brands and business leaders to tell their stories. As I worked to connect my experience as a storyteller with my desire to help people, I took a class at my church and Media Minefield was born.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
Several years ago, Elizabeth Tumulty, former President of CBS Network, offered to be my mentor. It was startling that someone with her background and experience would offer to help me grow and scale my business. When I asked Liz how I could compensate her, she told me to mentor another woman. Paying it forward and giving back is rewarding and the woman who I mentor has plans to mentor another woman.
According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience, what is currently holding back women from founding companies and how can they overcome those obstacles?
Studies show women often struggle to find access to capital, and the statistics are more troubling for women of color. This obstacle keeps women from dreaming big and scaling their businesses. Also, many women don’t have friends and family who support and encourage them. It has been encouraging to see there are more funds and groups looking to invest in women-owned businesses.
What are the “myths” you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?
One myth is that you have to have everything figured out before launching. My business is 11 years old and if someone would’ve walked me through our headquarters on day one, I would’ve been too afraid to start. So many people delay starting a business because they believe they need a long-term strategy or detailed plan. Being an entrepreneur is about taking the leap and making decisions every day to move your dream forward!
In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder? Is everyone cut out to be a founder?
A successful founder believes so strongly in their dream they would continue to pursue it if they weren’t being compensated. They need to have the fortitude to persist even when times are tough.
Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?”
- Personal & Professional Support | We all need people in our lives to offer us encouragement and support, both professionally and personally. Helping me on the professional level is a national group with all female founders. We met through C200. I also belong to a Minnesota-based group of entrepreneurs. There are five of us who meet monthly. Personally, my family and friends offer an important perspective that my most important job is as a mother.
- Discipline & Routine | My days are regimented. I wake up early, exercise, walk the dog with my husband and enjoy some quiet time before the rush of the day begins. I then read about what is happening in the world and tackle my most urgent “to do’s.” I know this routine allows me to show up in my most productive and effective state when meetings and new challenges arise.
- Confidence to Say No | Learning how to say no will transcend your personal and professional life. I first learned this from the book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown. Once I was able to clearly define my strengths, goals and unique abilities, I realized saying no to some invitations and obligations allowed me to have the biggest impact on the projects and people that matter most.
- Spend Time Learning Every Day | I read every day. It’s something I need to do. I am typically reading three to four books at a time. Spending time listening to or reading personal development, historical fiction or a business book every day helps unleash my creativity.
- Define Your Non-Negotiables | When I started my business, I had to get clear about my non-negotiables. I wasn’t going to miss my sons’ birthdays to chase a tornado (like I did when I was a television reporter). With each season of life, I’ve learned it’s necessary to define my non-negotiables. When my son played his last high school baseball season, I committed myself to attend every single game. Once it’s defined, I make it work and protect it.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
People make the world a better place. Personally, I block time on my calendar so I am able to invest my time and resources in organizations that impact the next generation of leaders. At Media Minefield, every team member gets paid time off to volunteer in their communities.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
The world would be a better place if we all lived by “The Golden Rule.” Let’s treat each other the way we’d like to be treated. From the grocery store to social media to the workplace, we’ve lost the ability to appreciate the differences in each other and treat everyone with love and respect.
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, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Brene Brown’s books give me the courage to develop myself and grow my business. I’ve flown across the country several times to hear her speak, and I’d love to meet her! Her books and TEDTalk are part of the development track for our company leaders.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.