The Moment | Bernadette Butler
We believe that life is a collection of Moments. Some ever so big, some fleeting, some small. It is in these Moments and the choices we make within them, that shape the people we become and what our lives will stand for.
We are reaching out to the most interesting, inspiring & successful leaders around the world to ask them about their Moments. In the spirit of our number one value, collaboration, our goal with this series is for you to experience development and enrichment from today's most inspirational leaders.
A born creative and the greatest storyteller on the planet, Bernadette Butler earned her stripes in the fast pace world of advertising in Toronto. She then moved west to head up Marketing Communications for a division of Canada's largest communications company, Bell Mobility. Never one to shy away from adventure, life and love took her across the globe to the sandy beaches of Perth Australia where she started her family. Fast forward to today, Bernadette is the founder and CEO of StoryTap.com - a user-generated video platform that guides video storytelling. StoryTap produces authentic, high-performing video for social content and was rated one of the Top 10 Innovative Companies of 2016.
Bernadette, tell us about the moment.......
.....You realized you had a great teacher or leader
The universe has a funny sense of humour, on my journey with StoryTap there were 3 incidents that oddly aligned to an important date for me - the day my Dad died. The loss of my Dad was the impetus behind the original concept of StoryTap, so this date always gave me pause. There were 3 really weird things, one was when I initially secured funding for the idea of StoryTap, a process that started months and months before that specific date. I remember saying to my husband ‘I wonder if it’s going to happen on THAT date?!’ And it did. AND, every single year since, something major for my business happens on that anniversary. It feels like my Dad is up there supporting me.
....You knew you were on the right path in your career & felt successful
I don’t think I have ever felt that I am “successful”. I am a Mom of two kids, actually 3 kids if you count this company. It’s a scary hairy rockin n’ rollin’ adventure. I have moments of WHAT!! This is AMAZING, but sometimes those moments are fleeting and then the stress and hard-work shows up. So I would say, sometimes when I want to feel successful it’s a mindset versus a milestone achievement. I work to evoke that awesome feeling each morning by putting on red lipstick, looking in the mirror and telling myself – “You got this!”
...You failed hard
The week we decided to abort the original mission of this company and pivot. It was a hard pill to swallow. But I am an optimist, so as much as it was a failure, it was also a new birth, and it’s called StoryTap!
...You received feedback that was hard to hear but worth listening to
My first year with this company (which had a completely different direction back then, and name) I was actively trying to secure a second round of (much needed) funding with a direction that I was struggling to prove was valid. It was a really hard day when the investors (after months of courting) sat me down and said here’s the reason why we can’t move forward…
I remember sitting in my car, with a broken soul crying. I really had to pause and think through everything they said. I am so happy today that they didn’t move forward. It allowed me to pivot and see the platform from an entirely new perspective, I couldn’t be happier with where we are at today.
....You made your best hire
The most magical time was when I met my now cofounder, Sean Braacx. I needed a specific skill set back in the early days of StoryTap. Initially I offered Sean a contract position to help me take this idea to market. After a month of working together it was clear that Sean was the professional ying to my business yang. We have polar opposite backgrounds but work so well together. I recognized early on the value that Sean brought to the table, and offered him a co-founder partnership. I don’t think either of us has looked back since.
...You chose to walk away
I have had several of those moments and they have all been really tough. One that stands out with StoryTap was when we had an investor who was really excited to invest in us (and at the time, we needed it!) but it just didn't feel right. Note: when you bring on an investor, you kind of become married to each other. In this case, it didn’t feel right. In fact every single time I met with this person, I had that feeling. On paper it was a beautiful marriage/ exciting and could have been a game changer for us, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling. I am a big believer in listening to your gut. It hasn’t let me down yet.
...You bit off more than you could chew
Starting this company when I did! My youngest kid was just 4 months old when I said “today is the day”. I remember pitching to a local Venture Capital firm, in person within that first month. For the first time in 13 months I got to put on my skinny clothes, and was so nervous. Mid-pitch we’re interrupted by a screaming baby! Infact their entire office was interrupted by this screaming baby. And it’s my baby. My sister (who agreed to help me watch her for the one hour) knocked on the door almost crying herself to say “I think she’s hungry?”. I had forgotten to feed my own kid! So, I threw a blanket over my shoulder (as you do) and popped my daughter on the ol’ boob and kept on pitching. Fast forward to today, it’s one of my favourite stories, and likely that VCs most memorable pitch. If that’s not biting off more than you can chew, I don’t know what is. In hindsight though, I wish I would have waited a few more months to start this company.
...The moment I saw myself and my potential
I was in a pitch competition up against 30 brilliant companies. The night before, both my kids got the flu, so I was up ALL night. However, the show must go on! So off I went for my 90 second pitch (fuelled by coffee and adrenalin), everything I had rehearsed just came out of my mouth and the next thing I knew, I had a line of investors waiting to talk to me. It was a great moment for me in self belief.
...I understood advice my parents gave me
Both my parents have given me amazing advice but there was one thing my Dad, a carpenter always said to me that has stuck: “You can only measure a piece of wood so many times before you have to cut it”. We get caught up in trying to make things perfect, but sometimes you just gotta do it. People worry all the time about trying to come up with the perfect strategy, or understand every angle before they spend any money to do it and launch it…. In this business, you will likely pivot, and its okay. I would never be where I am today if I didn’t cut the wood.
HR and Marketing Friends be sure to check out Story Tap for an authentic way to story tell your People, Culture and Products.
Fun fact: Did you know that Video is now the highest performing and most demanded type of content on every search engine and every social network-- because it out performs all other content by 1200%? Wild! Again - StoryTap is where it's at!
Say hi to Bernadette on LinkedIn