Susan McPherson – Corporate Responsibility Expert, Angel Investor, and CEO and Founder of McPherson Strategies

Episode 42

I'm so excited to have Susan McPherson, a corporate responsibility expert and the CEO and founder of *McPherson Strategies*, on today's episode of Unstoppable with Kara Goldin. Susan is a friend of mine, an angel investor (and an investor in Hint), an entrepreneur, and she's been named one of Fast Company's "Smartest Women on Twitter". Susan is also a regular contributor to the *Harvard Business Review*, *Fast Company* and *Forbes* and she's appeared on *NPR*, *CNN* and *CBC* (Canada). Her company, McPherson Strategies, is a communications consultancy focused on the intersection of brands and social impact. They work with corporations, social businesses, nonprofits, social entrepreneurs and foundations. On today's show, Susan talks about what corporate responsibility is, how she chooses to invest in companies, the consumer demand for more transparency, her recent trip to Antarctica and more.

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Kara Goldin: Hi, it’s Kara Goldin from Unstoppable. We’re so excited to have Susan McPherson here. Hi, Susan.

Susan Mcpherson: Hi, Kara. I am still smiling from your Superbowl ad.

Kara Goldin: Yay. So excited. That was so much fun. I’m still on cloud nine from our Superbowl ad. It was great.

Susan Mcpherson: You’ll see in our little newsletter on Friday, that’ll be a mention.

Kara Goldin: Yay, it was so great.

So Susan, for those of you who don’t know Susan McPherson, who doesn’t know Susan McPherson, but Susan McPherson runs a group called McPherson Strategies, which is a communications consultancy focused on really social impact and how brands kind of are merging together. Some trying to figure out exactly how they do create social impact. And Susan, full disclosure, is not only a friend but also an investor in our company, Hint. And so I was talking to her, I’ve talked to her many times about her incredible business and how she’s helping all kinds of companies, including just some of the bigger companies, but also some of the smaller companies.

Intel, Kate Spade, Ann Inc, the Tiffany and Company Foundation. Lots of lots and lots of companies. And she’s in the midst of writing a book too, which maybe we’ll hear a little bit more about that. But anyway, welcome, super happy to have you here. And actually I want to mention one other thing. So Susan actually did something that maybe you can jump into a little bit more, something very, very bold. Was it last fall? I lose track of time.

Susan Mcpherson: Oh, last June.

Kara Goldin: Yeah, last June. It was in the beginning of the summer. See? I like lose track. I can’t-

Susan Mcpherson: We’re living in internet years. January was a year.

Kara Goldin: So really working for pro-choice America and orchestrating response from overall the corporate community. She got over 185-

Susan Mcpherson: Actually 360.
Kara Goldin: What, what?

Susan Mcpherson: Yeah.

Kara Goldin: Wow. Wrong information on-

Susan Mcpherson: No, no, no. The ad had 175 company CEOs signing on that basically said, “Don’t ban equality.” Standing up to state that the abortion bans that were passed in several southeastern states were basically going to harm business for all sorts of reasons. But after that dropped on Monday, June 21st, within a week, 200 more CEOs came onboard.

Kara Goldin: That’s amazing.

Susan Mcpherson: It was that plus the social campaign that went with it.

Kara Goldin: That’s huge.

Susan Mcpherson: Thank you, well you were part of it.

Kara Goldin: I was part of it, but also, the overall, just the fact that I think you’re a master of bringing leaders together too.

Susan Mcpherson: Oh, thank you.

Kara Goldin: And that was just another great example.

While Susan is having a large of sip of Hint right now.

Susan Mcpherson: A large Gulp.

Kara Goldin: A large gulp. I’ll talk a little bit more about some of the other great stuff that she’s done, including, she was part of the delegation from the Business Council for Peace, where she’s visited Afghanistan and Syria. I mean lots-

Susan Mcpherson: I’ll just let you keep going.

Kara Goldin: I know, amazing stuff along the way. And then last but not least before we jump into questions, Susan was named one of Fortune’s most influential people on, or women I should say, on Twitter. Elle magazine’s top 25 women on Twitter and Fast Companies, 25 smartest women as on Twitter as well.

Susan Mcpherson: Oh, gee. I must of been insurmountable.

Kara Goldin: I know, on Twitter a lot. Actually, you’re my Twitter buddy. I always love it when I see little Susan’s face come up there on there. It’s so fun. So anyway, welcome, welcome, welcome.

Susan Mcpherson: Thank you.

Kara Goldin: So how did you get started? You and I have known each other for ten years, but like where did this all kind of start?

Susan Mcpherson: I’ve had, and I say this all the time, I’ve had nine lives. I think you get to a certain age and if you’re a scrappy, curious individual, you have had a variety of professions and you’ve zigzagged. And I think, women, in essence, find ways to be successful in the traditional route, like if they were hired by a company. I was with USA Today in the 80s, I was with PR Newswire for 17 years in a variety of roles. And I always say what kept me at a company that long was the ability to have different projects throughout the time. I got to open our offices in China. I was able to create products. But interestingly enough, the last role I had between 2006 and 2010 was creating services for people who did corporate responsibility. PR Newswire, for those who don’t in your audience who don’t know, we used to, or if they still do, companies would be putting news releases out to the world over the Newswire.

And by just reading the Newswire every day you would get trends, what’s happening? And the company started to see about 30, 35% of the news releases going out from business were either talking about how they were curbing their environmental footprint, or they were funding a breast cancer walk or they were hosting to raise money for X. And this was a fairly new phenomenon where we saw it in rising numbers. And like any company that’s industrious, they said, “There’s money to be made. Susan, go figure this out.” So I had three or four years to do a deep dive into the world of impact.

Kara Goldin: So impact in nonprofit was like never, I mean, you knew about it and you appreciated it, but-

Susan Mcpherson: No, as a young child, and I grew up with a mother who was spent much of her life working for public television, who fervently believed that that was the the best TV on. I used to say to her, “Mom, why don’t you go work for ABC or CBS? You’d make so much more money,” looking at our kind of crappy house. And she would say, “The content isn’t as good.” So that ethos was in me. But also, I always had a bleeding heart for anybody that maybe didn’t have the necessary needs to thrive and live. And when I moved to New York City after going through a divorce in 2003, I knew no one. I knew my sister, that was it. But I also knew that a good way to meet people was to get involved in nonprofits.

So I sought out and joined Bpeace, which stands for Business Counsel For Peace. They were an organization that trained women entrepreneurs in regions of conflict. So Afghanistan, Rwanda, El Salvador, because we believe in the organization that when you have more jobs, you have less violence. And the best way to solve violence is to get trained, get people creating jobs. Well, fast forward through this organization, which was literally a network of about 350 business professionals, the majority of which were women that pooled their business acumen to help women entrepreneurs. I went to Afghanistan, it was the first time in 2005 I saw actually business being a force for good.

Kara Goldin: That’s amazing.

Susan Mcpherson: And we spent a week with them, but we’d put these women on a three year program. And during that three years, we trained them on QuickBooks. And we would help them understand how to market and if anything, like one of the women for instance, ran a guesthouse.

So guess what? We went within our network to find people at Marriott. We went to people to find people at Hilton. If there had been a woman making beverages, guess what? If I had known you, I would’ve called Kara Goldin and be like, “What knowledge can you transfer?”

Kara Goldin: So the mentorship aspect of that too.

Susan Mcpherson: Part of what we see in corporate responsibility today is skills-based volunteering, right? Companies will obviously support via checks if they can, but more importantly, or probably more with the way they think is we want to get our employees involved because employees feel like they want to have a sense of purpose. And if you have a particular knowledge, which most people who work at an organization do, that knowledge can be transferred so that it’s almost more like that than an actual … I mean I guess the role of mentoring comes into it, but I do think it’s this, “Okay, what do I have in my brain that I can transfer to somebody, that sense of knowledge is going to help them do their better job.”

Kara Goldin: So when you talk about corporate responsibility, I mean that’s essentially, for our listeners, how you would define it?

Susan Mcpherson: I mean, corporate responsibility over the last 60 years has changed immensely. And I won’t bore your listeners with the whole kind of underlying history. But I will say we went from a place where companies did what they needed to do to keep regulators at bay. And checkbook philanthropy was the notion of a company being philanthropic, meaning whatever the purview of the CEO was, which was typically a white male over 50, that check would be written to the symphony or the hospital, whatever the local charity was. Fast forward to today you have, I call it a perfect storm. You have hundreds of thousands of gen Z and millennials entering the workforce wanting to find purpose. You have consumers that now have all the information at their disposal that they can know what is behind the kimono.

They can know what’s going into the food, what is going into the sheets at their hotel. I mean we have this information so we’re making smarter purchases. Then you have the fact that we know no longer believe climate change is a hoax and that we don’t have infinite resources on this planet to which to use. So all of that coming together has led to this, well, companies need to be transparent if they’re going to be successful. And if they want to be funding causes, how did they get their employees involved? So they get a sense of purpose. And how do they do less harm or how do they do more good than harm and help the communities from which they operate? That’s a very long winded answer, but when I think of corporate responsibility, that’s it. And if I was to shorten it down to two words or three words, it’s good business.

Kara Goldin: Yeah, no, absolutely. And do you think like the majority of your clients that you’re working with, or how would you sort of counsel like an entrepreneur? Do you think it’s about the company or do you think it’s about the leader? Does it have to start with the leader?

Susan Mcpherson: I actually think it works better if it’s two pronged. And the first thing I often say to a an entrepreneur or an SME, a smaller or medium sized enterprise, I would say, “Okay, you definitely need leaders in the C suite to be making this important. But if you don’t involve your employees, it will fail miserably.” So often I say, “It’s as simple as doing a survey to find out what your employees care about.”

But the notion of sustainability and building a sustainable supply chain, as simple as buying better light bulbs and shrinking your packaging is something you can do. You don’t need your employees to get on board. You’re going to save money if you do those things and you’re actually going to be, for the most part. But from a philanthropic side of things and a social side of things, I am a huge believer in having both. And it’s like a Seesaw. If the leader isn’t saying that this is important, the employees won’t care about it.

Kara Goldin: It can’t be that-

Susan Mcpherson: But if you empower early on the employees, they will have a vested interest in making it succeed.

Kara Goldin: Yeah, absolutely. And I find from a recruitment standpoint too, that it’s massive or retention as well. So a you know, I’m working on this whole initiative around clean water. And so we decided, one of our investors is actually an attorney and she offered to set up this foundation for us. And so we’re in the process of setting up this foundation. I barely talked to people at Hint about it and they’re like, “Oh, that’s like … well, I mean we’re just in the midst of setting up. But it’s amazing how like a bunch of these people said like, “When that’s set up, can I potentially talk to you about like how you guys are going to staff it? What are the different-

Susan Mcpherson: “And maybe I can put a percentage of my paycheck in it.”

Kara Goldin: Totally. No, and I think like that’s another aspect of it as well. But I think-

Susan Mcpherson: Or, “Maybe I can go run a race and raise money for it.”

Kara Goldin: Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think it can be, I mean we’ve been laying out exactly-

Susan Mcpherson: Congratulations.

Kara Goldin: Yeah, no, it’s really exciting. I mean we’ve been laying out exactly what the foundation means overall. And it’s not just around clean water. I mean, we’re in the midst, we haven’t even announced this yet, but we’re launching-

Susan Mcpherson: You heard it here.

Kara Goldin: You heard it here. We’re launching a scholarship program at my former school, Arizona State University, and it’s called A Hint of Entrepreneurship because I’ve been a huge advocate for entrepreneurship. And actually what’s interesting is you can be from any college to apply for the scholarship. Typically scholarships are like in the business school and the journalism school, whatever.

And you can be in any school. And basically, our hope is to actually take it across the U.S. into lots of different schools to get entrepreneurs to say like, “I’m an entrepreneur, I have a business idea, here’s what I’m doing.” So anyway, that scholarship will actually run out of the foundation as well. It’s interesting because people think, I think, often that they have to just have one kind of initiative. If anyone who knows me knows that I’m all about entrepreneurship. I’m also about female empowerment, also about sustainability,

around a lot of work that we’ve done around plastics and packaging overall. But then also this clean water initiative. We finally were like, “We should really get some kind of like credit for this, all of the work that we’ve done to date. But also look at, from a recruitment standpoint, there may be people that really want to work on a lot of these different initiatives.”

Susan Mcpherson: You are a B2B company, too. You’re not just a B2C company.

Kara Goldin: Totally, totally.

Susan Mcpherson: Increasingly, companies are saying on their RFPs, what are you doing to give back? Again, much as like when we think of corporate responsibility, we think of the consumer. But increasingly, PWC, Accenture, Bain, McKinsey, when they are responding to RFPs from Microsoft or Dell or any of these big companies that bring in systems integration or reorganization, it says, “Tell me about your carbon footprint. Tell me.” So from a business perspective this is really smart and from hiring, retaining, giving you more stories to share, which we all know storytelling is vitally important for any brand and any nonprofit.

Kara Goldin: Well and I also think that especially in today’s day and age, when I look at entrepreneurs and they have a purpose or a mission, I am always saying like don’t stop at just your own company. Also figure out like what other knowledge do you have? In our case, it was around water. I have a ton of knowledge around water that we produce a product with fruit in it, but we start with water. And so I have access to a lot of the dirty secrets behind water and the cleanliness and the led contents and arsenic and PFS and all the rest of the crap that’s out there. And so I’m actually bringing this to the forefront to actually help people understand this. But again, that’s social responsibility, like in corporate responsibility. And so I feel like there’s so many companies that are out there that could do the same in their industry that are not doing it today.

Susan Mcpherson: No, I mean, well again, for larger companies sometimes I often say it’s easier to turn a rowboat around than a cruise ship. Decisions that are made when you’re a multimillion or both, multi billion-dollar, multinational, across many, many borders, et cetera, anything that costs money takes a slog. And you have to get shareholders and the board and everybody behind it. So things are a little less rapid to turn around. But we are seeing, today, there’s something like 3,900 B corps, companies registering as B corps. Which means when they incorporate, they incorporate not just to make a profit, but actually to have a social impact, and they’re measured as such. And those companies include Patagonia, Method Cleaners, Ben and Jerry’s. And believe it or not, Unilever is transitioning to a B Corp, which is going to take a long time and you have to apply.

And I’ll be honest with you, as an entrepreneur for a few years, I could not be a B Corp or I couldn’t even pass because when I first started, couldn’t offer healthcare benefits to everybody. I’m going to reapply now that I’m doing that and I’m able to do that and offer maternity leave. But the notion is, is, to me that’s a helpful sign. If you go up and see 3,900. That means that entrepreneurs are very interested in building. And if Unilever is transitioning, that’s sending a big message to Proctor and Gamble and some of these other partners.

Kara Goldin: No, I think it’s huge. I mean I think B Corp, I think it’s great, but I don’t think that just because you can’t qualify for it to be a B Corp-

Susan Mcpherson: No, no, no, no. I just meant that for me was a bellwether that this is becoming much more mainstream than it ever was.

Kara Goldin: No, I totally agree. But I also feel like there’s people, I mean, I can’t remember all of the qualifications, but I know some people are like, “Oh, I shouldn’t show up because I’m not going to be able to qualify for that.” Like I think it’s still important just to still do what you can do.

Susan Mcpherson: Oh, absolutely. I actually encourage people to fill out the application just to see where they-

Kara Goldin: Whether they-

Susan Mcpherson: Yeah. For me I was like, “Oh, my God, I’m doing that? I need to stop.”

But it’s a great education. I believe even if you’re a two person organization, there can be things you’re doing every day and even if you’re like the dry cleaner down the street, you know what, you can give $5 to charity.

Kara Goldin: I think it’s such a huge thing.

Susan Mcpherson: Baby steps.

Kara Goldin: I totally agree. So what do you think is the biggest challenge for people, whether it’s a company like a Unilever, sort of that size versus entrepreneurs and sort of making this step. And When they decide to hire, I guess the biggest step is hire, whether it’s you or somebody else like to come in to do it, but then also like what do you think is the hardest for people to kind of-

Susan Mcpherson: I think the fear of that it’s going to cost too much and they’re not going to get a payback. And if you’re publicly traded and in the United States, companies have to report every quarter, which makes you very short term focused as opposed to longterm. And we know some of these things take a long time to show results. But the thing is, I look at it this way, with depleting resources, if a company wants to be around in 20 years, they’re going to have to be smarter about the fuel and everything they’re using. You distribute the Walmart now, congratulations. But Walmart, about ten years ago basically told all their suppliers, “If you don’t meet certain environmental criteria, we’re not going to carry you on our shelves.” There was even sea change in how their suppliers were.

Now, I’m sure you would’ve passed, but I’m saying like that changed a lot of companies in terms of their fleets and how they were delivering products, the size of the packaging, et cetera, because everybody wanted to sell through Walmart. But I think the difficulty now for startups, I think for many years there was a notion like, “Well, I’ll tackle social good and impact after I make profit.” And I contend that you’ll get to profitability faster if you make this part of your core mission.

Kara Goldin: I agree. It’s really, really important. And I think it’s also, what we realized is, I think a lot of companies are already doing things that they don’t realize.

Susan Mcpherson: And they don’t talk about it.

Kara Goldin: Yeah, and they don’t talk about it.

Susan Mcpherson: I was just at KKR. We don’t associate private equity and hedge funds with giving back and investing in diversity and inclusion. I was so pleasantly shocked, I guess would be the word, to see all the good things that they were doing. And I was like, “Well why don’t you talk about it?” And they’re like, “We would rather focus on it.” Now, that’s their tact and they obviously don’t have a real consumer play, but I shared with them what I just shared with you, that there are going to be banks that will say, “What are you doing before we work with you?” I said, “So you may want to consider down the road to do some sort of public speaking about what you’re doing, if anything, you can be a leader in your space.”

Kara Goldin: No, I think that’s true. And I think more and more, I mean I was talking to somebody who came from the media industry who’s now working for a VC on exactly what you’re talking about right now. And it was interesting because he said that they’re doing a lot of things that they just don’t get credit for. And around social, so that’s what that person is doing internally.

Susan Mcpherson: They should talk about it.

Kara Goldin: They should talk about it. And I think it is probably the 2020 trend amongst the money guys out there.

Susan Mcpherson: They just better be careful that they have the pudding to prove. Or proof in the pudding.

Kara Goldin: Try not to pull one over.

Susan Mcpherson: No pink or brainwashing.

Kara Goldin: Yeah. No, I think that that’s super, super key. So speaking of investment, so you’re a big angel investor as well.

Susan Mcpherson: Well, not by money, just by amount. My number of-

Kara Goldin: Lots of different … so is this right? 14 investments?

Susan Mcpherson: Yeah.

Kara Goldin: Wow. That’s huge. And women led startups, that’s been the focus.

Susan Mcpherson: Only women led startups.

Kara Goldin: Okay. And how do you choose to invest?

Susan Mcpherson: Okay. Do you not follow my advice listeners.

Kara Goldin: All right.

Susan Mcpherson: I fall in love with the founder, not fall in love, love, like I’m not going to like go and make out with them. And I was asked this earlier today, when I did a lot of write checks for philanthropy, it was the same reason because I cared. Because, I again, want to see somebody succeed. And what dawned on me, it was when I started reading all the statistics about lack of funding going to women led and certainly people of color led businesses and minorities, I was like, well wait a minute, I can be using some of that money that I do philanthropic and instead put it into business. I’m not replacing what I do from a philanthropic, because I think the nonprofit sector plays a very important role in our world.

But I also love to help somebody realize their dreams. And I also only give, or I only write checks if there’s other things that I can be doing to help the company. Because I am not, by any sheer, I’m not like over the top wealthy. I am comfortable but I’m one of those people that I always live beneath my means. So I don’t want to go crazy writing checks, but I also want to be able to offer up value. And as an entrepreneur myself, I have been able to build up my network through companies that I have funded.

Kara Goldin: Well you’re a great angel investor and you’re very supportive and you’re constantly, I mean, as I mentioned earlier in the show, I think you’re a great networker too, which I think is an amazing asset to have in an angel investor. Because you just know a lot of people and you just sort of-

Susan Mcpherson: And I’m scrappy.

Kara Goldin: And you’re scrappy, but you’re also naturally like curious about just different people. And so you’re good at sort of connecting people, which I think it’s a great asset to have if you’re an angel investor. And I love, I mean, thank you for everything that you do too there because I think it’s huge. And you’re always the biggest cheerleader for lots of these companies that you invest in, which is-

Susan Mcpherson: You know, I was never a cheerleader.

Kara Goldin: Yeah, you were never?

Susan Mcpherson: Everybody always think I was. I was gymnast. I could see you being … I was a gymnast too. I could see you.

Kara Goldin: I hated the balance. Yeah, actually I was bars and vault, were my too.

Susan Mcpherson: I was floor and bars. Yeah. You remember the bruises you’d get on your hip bone?

Kara Goldin: Oh, I had huge … yeah.

Susan Mcpherson: And ripping your hands. You remember the chalk?

Kara Goldin: Actually, I had this weird thing where I never really got blisters on my hands. And the rest, everybody else on the team, and I never got calluses, really.

Susan Mcpherson: Well, it’s because you’re from Arizona. Your skin was already nice and tough.

Kara Goldin: Yeah.

Susan Mcpherson: That hurt so bad.

Kara Goldin: It was crazy.

You just got back from Antarctica.

Susan Mcpherson: Yes.

Kara Goldin: And we’ve talked a little bit about it, but what do you think is some of the key things that people don’t know? What did you learn when you were there?

Susan Mcpherson: I learned everything there is to know about five breeds of penguins. I learned when they mate-

Kara Goldin: Your pictures were amazing.

Susan Mcpherson: Oh, thank you.

It was funny because about a month before I went, somebody said to me, “Is this your first trip?” Ya, “is this your first time?” And I remember thinking to myself, “What? Do you think people make an annual voyage?” And now I’m already counting down the days to when I can return.

Kara Goldin: What’s the name of the company that you use?

Susan Mcpherson: Well, I went with Lindblad Expeditions who partners with Nat Geo.

Kara Goldin: It looked amazing.

Susan Mcpherson: And to me, why it was so valuable, is I, again, I’m a consummate, curious person. And if I’m going to go to at place like that, which is all nature, I want to learn and I want to have an understand of the species. And not just be able to wave at them. We disembarked and went ashore to various islands six of the seven days that we were … after we went through the Drake Passage.

And therefore, we were literally ten feet, or 12 feet, excuse me, from elephant seals, penguins, baby penguins, a leopard seal, Weddell seals. And the penguins, you can’t touch them, but if they come up to you, you just always have to give them the right away. And it’s called the penguin highway, when they come back and forth from the water where they have almost fattened themselves up for the day and then they go to their next. And they actually will regurgitate the food to feed the babies. Is just a beautiful sight, you could watch it all day.

If I was to say like one lasting memory was the sheer silence and all you would hear is the calving of icebergs when ice would crash. And when we would come across humpback whales you would hear the blowing. And again, at night on the boat, you had naturalists teaching you about what climate changes affects are of the Antarctic and what lives under. There were two divers that would go and dive each day and then come back with footage so that you could see what lives beneath the ship.

And Lindblad, they do everything they can to be sustainable. All the food is local, so it’s brought from Oshawa, which is the tip of Latin America, that’s where you board the ship.

Kara Goldin: Amazing.

Susan Mcpherson: And no, they’re not a client. But I would say, for anyone who has kids and wants to expose their children to probably one of the last places on this planet that has no inhabitants whatsoever, maybe there’s parts of the Sahara Desert that you wouldn’t really want to build a hotel, but I think it’s really worth going.

Kara Goldin: Yeah, I’m dying to go. It seemed amazing. I haven’t been to Antarctica, but up in Alaska-

Susan Mcpherson: But you and I share this passion for travel.

Kara Goldin: Yeah, no, I love it.

But the one thing that I found interesting in Alaska, I’d hear the noise of the glaciers breaking. And I would then know, “Oh, my god, it’s so close.” And it’s actually like really far away.

Susan Mcpherson: Oh, yeah.

Kara Goldin: In general. It’s like you can hear it and the echo of it.

Susan Mcpherson: Because there’s no noise.

Kara Goldin: Yeah. And that was the thing that was so amazing. And we were talking about it. That was years ago, probably six, seven years ago now. And I still hear it, I still visualize it and it was so great.

Susan Mcpherson: When you go to Antarctica, you’re going to fall in love with the sound of a certain breed of penguins that sounds almost like they’re purring. So when you get to the island, all you hear is … like that. Excuse, I did not mean to offend penguins. And there’s thousands of them. I want to put that on my GPS, I want to be listening to that in my elevator surround sound.

Kara Goldin: That’s so awesome. I love it, I love it. You’re making me want to book a trip there, for sure.

Susan Mcpherson: I have a coupon.

Kara Goldin: But the ship just seems amazing, too. And I know people always want to know, “How did you do it? What did you use,” whatever. I just think that that’s also-

Susan Mcpherson: Well, I will also say, Lindblad is birthing a new boat and it’s going to even be … it’s not, and again, it’s not like one of the big cruise ships. There’s not these …

Kara Goldin: Smaller.

Susan Mcpherson: Yeah. There were 100 passengers. And I don’t know if I’d ever like to go on a huge … I have this, maybe when I’m 90, I’ll do the Queen Elizabeth and be that lady that sits there and drinks tea and then has a shot of something or a couple shots. But I just think this is both educational and we’re living in a world where our environment, we realize how valuable it is and I wanted to see it.

Kara Goldin: No, I bet that’s huge, that’s very, very cool. Well, you’ve made me want to go there, for sure.

So I always ask this question at the end. Well, in addition, what’s your favorite Hint flavor?

Susan Mcpherson: Oh, pineapple.

Kara Goldin: Pineapple is so good. I love Pineapple as well.

Susan Mcpherson: Yes, yes.

Kara Goldin: So what makes you unstoppable? I always ask this of guests. We’ve talked about a few things. And I really think-

Susan Mcpherson: I have to say, Kara, it’s my joy of connecting people. And it took me beyond the grand ol’ age of 55, but it took me to be in my 50s to find out what my secret sauce was.

Kara Goldin: That’s awesome.

Susan Mcpherson: And there’s something about finding out the clarity and then being able to really own that clarity, it was about maybe ten years ago when I went with five other friends and we went on a weekend up in the Catskills in upstate New York to figure out our boiler plate or our elevator pitch. And literally, we promised each other that by the end of the weekend we would have that and we’d share. And I remember, it was like I put down, “I’m Susan McPherson, I’m a serial connector.” And I remember laughing out load because I’m like that sounds ridiculous. It’s like I’m self-anointed, right?

But there is something to the self-fulfilling prophecy, right?

Kara Goldin: Totally.

Susan Mcpherson: And you’ve known me long enough to know when I’m not hunkering down work, that’s what I do. And I do it out of pure joy. And I have a book coming out next March, which is called, The Lost Art of Connecting. And it’s not about networking, it’s about building those meaningful relationships that last and pass the test of time, long after we have these platforms that tell us how many people are following us. What is really going to matter are those people that when you need something, those are the people that show up.

Kara Goldin: Yeah. Well, I think the other piece of your story that I love and that people are always, I don’t know, I feel like especially, as you know, I’ve got teenagers and they’re in this hurry to figure it out. I think your story is an example of you started in one thing and it’s always easier to look back on things, hindsight’s 20/20. But that journey kind of led you to this. But you were always networking along the way, and that’s what allow success to kind of figure it out.

Susan Mcpherson: Well, I founded my company at 48. And 95% of the business has been inbound. And the only reason that happened is because of these wonderful relationships.

Kara Goldin: Totally.

Susan Mcpherson: And not having one sided relationships. And I will also say, and just something to talk to your kids about, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey. And those doors that sometimes you’re afraid to open because you don’t want to see what’s on the other side, there could be something entirely wonderful on the there side. And I’ve always been that person who opened almost every door. My late Papa said to me, “Nothing is a prison sentence.” Of course, prison sentence, but the notion was, you can always go back. If you make a journey and you open that door and you don’t want to stay on that side of the door, you can go back.

And I think sometimes when you live that way, life is full of good surprises. And not so good, but that’s a part of the journey.

Kara Goldin: Yeah. No, I think that’s absolutely super great.

So where do people find Susan Mcpherson?

Susan Mcpherson: In Brooklyn, on my roof deck.

Kara Goldin: And McPherson Strategies. But you’re on Twitter, you’re on lots of social.

Susan Mcpherson: I’m Susanmcp1 on Instagram, on Twitter. We have offices in New York and Chicago. And our website is

Kara Goldin: Awesome.

Susan Mcpherson: But you can always email me. I respond to almost all my emails. I shouldn’t say that, crazy.

Kara Goldin: So well, thank you so much, Susan. It was so fun.

Susan Mcpherson: Oh, my gosh, Kara. We could talk all day.

Kara Goldin: I know. Definitely, thank you.