How do you transition from intrapreneur to entrepreneur, with your boss’ blessing, then sell and expand your company? With a disciplined approach to self-care and smart systems at home. Kendra Bracken-Ferguson, entrepreneur and Supermom, has built an extraordinary career while nurturing her creative soul.
Ambitious Moms face a dilemma. The rules for growth at work change just when requirements at home increase. Solutions to outsmart the wage and achievement gaps elude most women. Why? Work infrastructure doesn’t really favor working Moms. To succeed, despite this, requires mental energy and creativity. Resources most Moms lack. What if self-care, dismissed by most to save time, is the answer to honoring your potential?
Follow the Momentum
“I never considered myself an entrepreneur,” Kendra explained. Although she planned a corporate path, joining a prestigious agency post-college, her passion for social media and ability to commercialize emerging trends led her to entrepreneurship. She said, “At Fleishman Hillard, during a brainstorm in 2002, I was given the opportunity. I said ‘let’s partner with MySpace.’ We created a mobile music studio and it changed my career. I ended up leading the digital consumer team. I was on my way to becoming an entrepreneur and just didn’t know it yet!”
Act on the Big Ideas
Kendra’s employer supported her vision. She carved a niche as an intrapreneur, starting small ventures from inside her larger organization. As an early adopter of all-things-social, she noticed a void in the market. Many influencers had near-celebrity status, yet struggled to build businesses. She forged partnerships, that helped aspiring social stars get compensated, while brands engaged in a more relevant way with customers.
Then…Go. For. It.
Kendra said, “…From there I went to Ralph Lauren, and followed the same intrapreneur track. I was a team of one.” She shared her business concept with a kindred-spirit. Kendra said, “I texted her, ‘I have an idea to manage bloggers. She said, me too!’ That Monday, I filed for an LLC. That’s how we started Digital Brand Architects.” Kendra was open with her boss about her plans, “I said, I’m going to manage bloggers. David (Lauren) said, ‘Whatever… as long as they’re wearing Ralph Lauren.’” I laughed. “There was no business plan nor did we have formal management training, but we were able to connect with bloggers and help them figure out their path to monetization. It was all networking and relationships,” Kendra said.
Trust Your Dream
After a successful run with Digital Brand Architects, Kendra decided she wanted to try her hand at entrepreneurship again and ventured out to start The BrainTrust, a brand building consultancy that she says turned into a bonified social media and digital agency by accident. Eventually her business attracted a corporate suitor, CAA-GBG, Kendra said, “When we started DBA, we had a vision that CAA would acquire us, fast forward and it happened.” Amazing! She added, “At that point, it was about actualizing our dream!”
Enlist Your Partner at Home
Like most couples, Kendra and her husband didn’t plan in advance how they’d share household responsibilities post-baby. She said, “It was more natural. We never talked about if I was going to work. I’m happy with my job and he’s happy with his job. If we both had 9 to 5 jobs, we wouldn’t have as good a marriage.” Kendra admitted, however, when she felt overloaded she spoke up, “I had to make him aware of what I needed support with because I am so used to doing so much and running on all cylinders. Having a child does change your bandwidth and it’s about asking for help when you need it. My mom said, ‘if something is bothering you, say something.’” Amen! She added, “9 times out of 10, he didn’t know it was an issue.”
Be Flexible When Your Needs Change
Kendra said, “We had an amazing nanny and made a pact, that when my daughter went to pre-school, she would go to nursing school. We tried another nanny and she was just overloaded with walking the dog, running errands, etc. …I still needed someone and tried to figure out what I really needed. I went from a full-time nanny to a family assistant…someone who can help coordinate the dog walker, schedule my daughter’s appointments and handle pickup and drop off.” Brilliant! Kendra’s an early riser and her husband’s a night-owl. When she felt exhausted by the evening routine, she suggested a more equitable approach, “I need your help…we need to divide the days. I get up at 5:30 am and do the morning routine and now he takes nights.” Kendra said, “We support and celebrate each other and we have a child together and celebrate her.” Beautiful!
Make Self-Care A Daily Habit
Predictably, I wanted to know HOW she does self-care. Specifically. Kendra said, “I have to work out 5 days a week. I have to meditate. I have to go to church. I don’t even put music on while I work out…I make space to listen.” There are countless studies on the power of mindfulness and meditative techniques to support creativity and resilience. Kendra’s self-care habits — intentional quiet time, prayer and exercise — inspire fresh ideas that fuel her success. She said, “I’m very protective of early mornings. I converted a piece of my garage into a workout space. It was too hard, especially when my husband was traveling, if I had to leave (to workout) and that’s important to me.”
Set Smart Boundaries
Maintaining healthy boundaries is hard for Moms, but Kendra is learning when to say ‘no’ and reprioritize. She said, “This week I talked to 4 people in need of advice, and I realized, I can’t do that anymore this week. I have clients, a team, a family and need to make sure I am saving time for the fundamentals in my day!” She also takes a strategic approach to keeping her network fresh. She said, “When I left DBA (the company she co-founded) I knew I needed smart people around me, that I trust…” She organizes her list each month: allies, partners, trustworthy, not trustworthy but important, then develops an outreach plan. She’s also learned to set healthy boundaries at home. “Sometimes my daughter says, ‘Mommy stay with me don’t go work out today’ I say, I have to sweetie, Mommy will be back in 45 minutes,” Kendra said. Even when they don’t understand it, our kids benefit when we model healthy behavior.
Choose Your Own Adventure & Make Time for Play
I met Kendra, her Mother and daughter, after she moderated a panel at the BlogHer Summit. “I take my child everywhere.” She said. I nodded, having traveled extensively for work with my oldest. She also recharges by taking short breaks. “I texted (my husband) that me, my Mom and daughter wanted to spend a few days in the Dominican Republic, do you mind? I knew that he was busy and wouldn’t say no,” Kendra said. She also prioritizes dedicated couple-time. She said, “Our daughter spends nights with her grandparents sometimes. We just got back from a trip for a few days by ourselves.” Amazing!
In a culture that reduces self-care to the occasional spa treatment, it’s hard to prioritize meaningful, restorative routines. However, strong self-care habits, can help you tap that inner spring of creativity needed to reach your dreams!
Many thanks to the talented and inspiring Kendra Bracken-Ferguson for sharing her thoughtful approach to entrepreneurship and growth.
For almost two decades, Kendra Bracken-Ferguson has helped to define and navigate the digital space as a creative force for brands and influencers, becoming a recognized and sought after business innovator and global digital architect.
Now the Chief Digital Officer of CAA-GBG, the largest brand management agency in the world, Kendra leads a global team of digital marketing experts. CAA-GBG is a joint venture between Global Brands Group Holding Limited (“Global Brands”), and Creative Artists Agency (“CAA”) which acquired The BrainTrust, the social media agency that Kendra founded in 2016. Kendra has been awarded the Emerging Voice Award by her alma mater Purdue University, named one of the “Most Influential African American Women” by Essence Magazine, and noted by Mobile Marketer as a “Mobile Women to Watch” amongst other industry accolades. Kendra also serves on the Advisory Boards of Zimmer Children’s Museum, Purdue University and Starco Brands (OTC:STCBD).