We had the good fortune of connecting with Krista Clive-Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Krista, what is the most important factor behind your success?
One part is understanding personal branding as a business model, because I never felt like I fit in anywhere and I couldn’t understand why I had all these different things that I wanted to do and how it all made sense. So through that misunderstanding of my own self and trying to make sense of it, I created a personal brand framework that allowed me to make sense of it all. That’s really the genesis of how everything I’ve ever done has been successful because I, as a consumer, went out looking for specific things and I couldn’t find them in the marketplace. So I created them! All of our customers love dealing with us and with me because they know how intimately I understand their challenges. I believe that people don’t just buy products and services, they actually buy experiences and solutions to their problems. And so I can solve problems for consumers, with the companies and the brands that we’ve built simply because I understand them so incredibly well.
What should our readers know about your business?
My company is called KCS Family of Companies, which is the parent company for CLUTCH Personal Branding, Merack Publishing, Little Authors Academy, and Unknown Voices. I am most proud of creating an alternative, innovative new business model, where I can help women business owners advance their careers and live the life of their dreams through collaborating with me and each other and creating something epic together. It was not easy! My business journey as an entrepreneur started in 2001 with my first company, which was a professional organizing company that I franchised up in Canada. We had three locations and 36 employees, and it was the worst nightmare of my entire life. After the birth of my daughter I decided to take two and a half years off during her formative years before she went off to kindergarten. When I got back into business building, I was able to take all of the mistakes that I made in my first company, and really look at how to cure those things so that as I was building my business, I also could architect my dream life. Which has allowed me to complete a one-year adventure in South Africa last year, spending the last four months in Canada, and now being back in San Diego. I’m looking to spend, three to six months of my year, each year in foreign interesting, beautiful places while being able to run my companies from afar. The most important lesson that I learned, actually, there’s a couple of things. I read a book called Built to Sell by John Warrillow and it was so impactful for me that it’s an annual reread or read-listen, in my case on Audible, every year. The second thing was this concept of the customer funded business. That was different to how I built my first company. This time when we started scaling and growing, I actually took on paying clients at a slightly discounted rate from what it would be in the end. And I worked with them and allowed the work that we did together to then tell me what products to introduce next and what services to offer. So that a hundred percent of the way that I built these businesses was driven by what the customer wanted and not what I wanted to sell to them. I think that has been incredibly successful because there isn’t any extras and it really reduced the margin for error because it was always 100% in service of what the client wanted. I think being yourself is the most important thing to success as a brand, as a person, and as a company. Just to be authentically true to who you are. And build your product line, your services, and your offering, as well as your company and the way you architect the business itself, by always staying true to you. With that, you can’t really go too wrong.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When many of my out of town friends and family come to visit, typically food drives a lot of our decisions. We’re always looking for an experience. So quite often, right from the airport, we will drive to have lunch on the patio at The Prado, which is one of my favorite places in San Diego. Especially if you can get a table by the fountain on a beautiful day, there’s nowhere better! Then usually spending some time in Coronado. I love the Hotel Del and having the experience of either staying there or just being at the restaurants and the facilities and riding bikes. We have an eight mile loop that we do in Cornado, oftentimes on Sunday mornings. We’ve got it mapped where we ride for four miles and then we break and have brunch, and then we get back on our bikes and continue the loop all the way around. I lived for a long time in North County, and there are so many fun places for brunch, like snooze in Del Mar is super fun. When I very first moved to San Diego in 2008, I lived in left field of Petco Stadium in the building called the Legend, in a very legendary suite that had city-ocean-ballpark views. So returning back to the Gaslamp is always fun. We love going to all the different restaurants for a different course. So going to like Fred’s for the Mexican, just for taco chips and a margarita. But then switching gears and going across the street and having Italian for dinner. And then crossing the street and having something completely different for dessert. And I always am a movie person. So I always take people, especially who don’t have access to something like the luxury theaters, doing something like that. They always get a kick out of it. When we’ve got a team outing, we’ve done a couple of team dinners up at Pacific Coast Grill.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to give a shout out to my coach, Jennifer Packett. I feel like it doesn’t matter where you are, even if you’re considered an expert in your field or you’re at the top of the game competitively, the real measure is how close to the achievement of your own potential are you? I feel like everyone needs a coach. Jenn has helped me immeasurably week-in and week-out to observe and honor my blind spots and show me what’s inside them so that I can reach new levels of self-actualization advancement.