Earlier this year, BluePrint Media launched the Trailblazing in Agriculture podcast. The podcast has been a true team effort, and the business is excited to use this platform to tell the stories of the agriculture industry’s pioneers and innovators. But you may find yourself wondering about the business behind the podcast, and that’s why I’m so excited to release this episode.
BluePrint Media was founded in 2005 and is led by three remarkable women – Lisa Bard, executive principal; Kathie Bedolli, creative principal; and Leslie McKibben, administrative principal. In this bonus episode, Lisa, Kathie and Leslie share about their backgrounds and their journey to launch BluePrint Media; they discuss their passion for serving clients in the agriculture industry and highlights they’ve experienced since founding the company; they share about what the future looks like for this growing business; and, since we’re launching this episode on small business Saturday, the trio also talks about the joys of owning a small business and encourages us to support small businesses of all kinds.
I’m so excited for you to hear from these powerhouse ladies and to learn more about BluePrint Media. Lisa, Kathie and Leslie are truly remarkable examples of the powerful things that can happen when we take some risks and follow our dreams.
Episode 3 Transcript
This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Jessie Topp-Becker: Hey, Trailblazers! It’s Jessie and it’s time for another episode of Trailblazing in Agriculture – a podcast for anyone interested in hearing the stories of the agriculture industry’s pioneers and innovators.
Today’s episode is special because not only is it a bonus episode, but it will also one give you a glimpse at the company behind the Trailblazing in Agriculture podcast. BluePrint Media was founded in 2005 and is led by three remarkable women – Lisa Bard, executive principal; Kathie Bedolli, creative principal; and Leslie McKibben, administrative principal.
As a member of the BluePrint team myself, I suppose I’m a little biased, but this episode is a good one. Lisa, Kathie and Leslie share about their backgrounds and their journey to launch BluePrint Media; they discuss their passion for serving clients in the agriculture industry and highlights they’ve experienced since founding the company; they share about what the future looks like for this growing business; and, since we’re launching this episode on small business Saturday, the trio also talks about the joys of owning a small business and encourages us to support small businesses of all kinds.
I am so excited for you to get to learn more about BluePrint Media and the vision of the trailblazing women who founded it.
Welcome to the podcast, ladies. I’m looking forward to hearing from each of you and appreciate you taking the time to visit with me today. Since there are three of you joining us today, and that’s a first for the Trailblazing Podcast, I thought we would start the episode a little differently. We just celebrated Thanksgiving, which is one of my favorite holidays, so I’m curious, can each of you tell me about your favorite Thanksgiving tradition or Thanksgiving meal food? Leslie, let’s start with you.
Leslie McKibben: Our Thanksgiving traditions have changed a lot over the years. Regardless of that, one thing that we do do is get together in some form or another every year, and what makes it especially special now is having these grandbabies, because they always make it so much fun. But as for food, I have to say mashed potatoes and gravy. I don’t allow myself to eat those any other time of the year pretty much but on Thanksgiving, I enjoy them.
Jessie: What about you, Kathie?
Kathie Bedolli: Our only weird thing is that my husband believes there’s no such thing as too much turkey; so even if it’s just two of us, he’ll buy a 25-pound turkey. I think that’s a little weird.
Jessie: What about you, Lisa?
Lisa Bard: We don’t have any staunch traditions because Thanksgivings always been a moving target. Now that my kids are older and they have wives of their own, they’re kind of coming and going. So our food traditions vary, where we do it varies, but we always end the day playing games and it gets a little rowdy, and it’s a lot of fun.
Jessie: That’s great. Well, thank you all for sharing that. It’s always fun to hear about what other families do, and I think Thanksgiving, especially this year, is a good opportunity to reflect on what we have to be thankful for, so I appreciate you sharing that. Let’s transition a little bit now and talk about BluePrint Media. Lisa, let’s start with you. Can you give us a little bit of background on how BluePrint Media came to be?
Lisa: Basically, BluePrint has been an evolution from many, many, many years ago. I started out as a sole proprietorship when my kids were born. We started our family and I didn’t want to have them in a daycare situation, so I started working from home as a sole proprietor and did that for a number of years. Then the work came on and there was more work than just one person could do, so then Kathy and I joined forces and we became a partnership. We did that for a number of years, and then life kept changing.
BluePrint was born in 2005. Since then we’ve continued to grow with adding additional contractors and people and clients and things like that. It’s been a very slow, methodical evolution that I think evolved with our kids growing up. It was born of the desire to be stay-at-home parents and be at home with our kids, and yet still have a profession and still contribute to the industry – an industry that I love – and then the desire to contribute to my family and to still have a foot in that professional door. I would say that even with all those changes and variations, we’ve stayed very true to serving agriculture and championing that balance between family and work that’s always been a cornerstone of the company, and it remains thus. We’ve remained committed to a business profile or business model that relies on independent contractors all over the country.
Jessie: Before you started off on your own, prior to that, what was your background in terms of work experience that really drove you to wanting to start a company in the communication sector. And beyond that was the plan always to focus on serving clients in the ag industry?
Lisa: Well, my background is varied. I was born and raised on a commercial and seedstock cattle operation in northern Arizona, came to school in Colorado and never went back to the home operation even though I was still involved in it. I love the cattle industry; I love the seedstock industry; I loved ranching. My bachelor’s is in animal science with a focus in beef cattle. My master’s is in management systems and range management. So I had a love of those things and working the land and working with cattle, and working with seedstock and genetic evaluation. I also worked for a seedstock organization when I was in college, and after graduation, I worked for two nonprofits as director of member services and communications. So again, those things kind of evolved.
I started doing it on a contract basis when I went out on my own doing what I knew, which was communications and member services for nonprofits in the cattle industry. Because of that evolution, I think it was an easy path to go from what I had done and what I knew going forward. I think it was always something that we wanted to serve agriculture because, again, that’s what we knew. Most of the people in our company have an ag background and we love it.
Jessie: There are inherent risks with starting any new business, and I imagine that this situation was no different when you started off on your own. Where did your drive and passion for launching your own business come from, Lisa?
Lisa: Some of it was necessity. Some of it was, why not? I was raised by a dad who was a very astute businessman, an entrepreneur and a self-starter. And my mom was fearless. So I think I was always surrounded by that attitude of, you know, if you want to do it, figure it out. And I think there’s a lot of that self-starter, self-motivated attitude that comes in agriculture. You know, when you’re faced with having to do things at a very young age and there’s nobody around to tell you what to do, you just figure it out. And that’s kind of what I did. Faced with the challenge of wanting to be home with my kids, but still wanting to engage my mind and my background and my training, it’s like, figure out a way to do it, so we did. There probably was some trepidation. I don’t know that there was ever a fear in getting started. I borrowed money and set up a business plan and had a strategy and just kind of built the plan and work the plan.
Jessie: Kathie, Lisa mentioned that after she started, you were the first one to come on board and team up with her. Can you talk to me about how that happened?
Kathie: It’s kind of funny, actually. We met when our oldest sons were in preschool together. Basically, Lisa just pulled me in. She was on the board at the preschool, and she just sort of pulled me in and said, “You need to be a part of this.” We started working together. Though we’re polar opposites, as far as our backgrounds and our personalities, we just clicked and became friends. She was contracting design work for someone else in Fort Collins, Colo., and kind of pulled me into that. I started very, very part time. And then, about two years later, we started working together for an organization that was doing magazines for the cattle industry, so it’s been a long partnership.
Jessie: Gotta love those friends who pull us into crazy ideas, right?
Kathie: Even if it’s kicking and screaming, yes!
Lisa: There was a bit of that.
Jessie: Kathie, in your role with BluePrint, you’re one of the top designers, you’re the creative principal and you do a lot of the design work for clients. Where did you learn how to do design and layout?
Kathie: Honestly, when Lisa and I started working together, the things that we were working on were a lot done in Microsoft Word, which is not a design program by any means. And Lisa was using a very old-school program – Adobe PageMaker – and recommended that I go take some classes on that, so I did. I took a bunch of classes in the Adobe platforms and a lot of it was just trial and error, and learning on my own beyond those classes.
Jessie: That’s really neat, just to think about how your journey has changed and how you got started in something doing design and layout that you may never thought you would have the opportunity to do.
Kathie: It was never anything I ever considered. Being a city girl who only touched agriculture through my relatives in southern Minnesota, I had no attachment to agriculture, no background in it. I have been on a path that I would have never seen coming, but I love it. I love working with people in the ag industry. They’re the best.
Jessie: That’s kind of remarkable actually as I think about it, because you had to learn the design and layout standpoint, as well as the ag and cattle industry. And those are two, obviously diverse industries, so to have to learn both of those that’s really remarkable, Kathie.
Kathie: It’s funny, and there have been, you know, some great stories along the way. Some aren’t appropriate for podcasts, but things I didn’t understand or things that just made me laugh to say out loud. Being a city girl, it’s certainly been a learning experience for sure.
Jessie: Leslie, it’s your turn. How did you come to join the BluePrint team?
Leslie: It was a bit of a journey. Like Lisa, I’m somewhat of a self-starter and adventurer. However, I am a little bit more of a free spirit. I traded in formal academic schooling for schooling in the world. I was certified as a windsurfing instructor, ski instructor, scuba dive instructor and karate instructor – got my black belt. I came out of the mountains from teaching skiing for years and decided I needed to find a real job in the world, so I got involved in a health club in Colorado, and eventually started managing that. So I have a number of years in management and finance. But I decided that I wanted to be home with my youngest daughter at that time, who was five, and was trying to figure out a way to do so. Since I had pretty much been raised with horses, I decided that why not just jump into training horses as well. I started training horses and breeding horses and raising some Quarter Horses. Our kids all rodeoed, we all team roped. We had friends that ranch in Saratoga, Wyo., so we were up there helping them ranch a lot and working our young horses. That was always a lot of fun, and it afforded me the opportunity to be home with my family, still contribute and still do something I love.
But that season had come to an end, and prior to it doing so, I had met Lisa several times through the horse world. I actually decided that I wasn’t able to continue doing what I was doing, so I decided to put an ad in a rural newspaper advertising my skills, which basically boiled down to management and finance. So I thought I could translate that into maybe offering some bookkeeping services, and that would allow me to be home. Lisa answered it, and we decided we knew one another, and that’s how I got started. I started working the books for BluePrint, and my job has since evolved into a lot more than the bookkeeping. I had a fairly good understanding of the ag industry because of my background, but I had to learn a lot about a lot of things in the company. We’ve grown and we’ve morphed and we changed. My job today looks very different than it did when I first started. And it was very diverse along the way, but it has been, like Lisa mentioned, constantly in a state of learning. And I’ve enjoyed that. Some days I’d like to kind of put a halt to it once in a while or slow it down, but for the most part, it’s just been a great journey, these last 11 years.
Jessie: It’s funny that you talk about taking on other roles that you maybe didn’t start with, because of our conversation earlier this morning. In addition to finance management and all the other things that you do, you’re kind of our go-to tech guru now.
Leslie: Yes, I’ve had the chance to do anything from helping to assist run an association office to sale management, reconciliation and doing the books for one of our clients who ran a construction company. So the journey has been very diverse. I was actually a copy editor very early on when I started with BluePrint with some of our magazines. I also do a lot of the ad work and book work for the magazines and the proofing. So yeah, very diverse.
Jessie: With the three of you running the company, how do you all balance decision making? I assume that you don’t always agree on things 100 percent of the time, so what does it look like when you’re faced with some of those decisions? How do you work through that process?
Kathie: I think you’d actually be amazed by how much we actually do agree most of the time and have for years, considering we’re three very different women. I think our basic core principles often lead us to the same conclusions. But we’ve also kind of structured it so that we each have our own lanes.
Leslie: I would echo what Kathie says. We do stay in our own lanes, and we have our skill sets and our perspectives that we come from, and we always do a wonderful job of just bouncing all that off one another and discussing it.
Lisa: I would like to reiterate that it is that mutual respect. Kathie and I have known each other for so long, and as she said we are polar opposites in so many ways. But even from the very beginning, that first time sitting on my deck trying to figure out if we wanted to jump into this thing, we talked about that: this is what you do, this is what I do, this is what your strengths are, these are my strengths and let’s capitalize on all of those. We’ve always been very respectful of each of our strengths, as well as challenged them.
Some of the best conversations we have is when everybody’s in knee deep, and it’s like, “Okay, that’s a good idea, but how about this? Have we thought about this? Have we considered this and what happens if this happens?” So there’s a lot of intellectual conversation and a lot of fun conversation about things when we get to those decisions and trying to figure out what’s important. I would agree with both Leslie and Kathie; it’s mutual respect, that agreement of what our core values are and what our intent is for the company. When we stay true to those, which we have, it has worked.
Jessie: That awesome. I think there’s a lot to be said for that mutual respect, especially in today’s day and age. We can disagree at times, but just having that respect for others and their opinions, so you are all a shining example of that. The three of you have obviously done a lot since the company launched We’ve talked a little bit about some of the changes that the company has undergone in those years, what have been some of the highlights?
Kathie: The Santa Gertrudis World Congress had to be a huge highlight for all of us because it pulled in so many of our team members and brought everybody’s strengths out. We even had to pull in some new team members to help. It was a huge event, a large success, so I look on that as one of our big highlights.
Leslie: That’s funny Kathie, because that’s the one I had made a note about too. This project was so incredibly large and to see the diligence and the effort and the integrity and how everybody jumped in to make this happen. And the fact that it ended up being beyond our wildest imagination in terms of success.
Lisa: And I would agree, that was first on my list. But in looking back on all that we’ve done –– we did the Braunvieh Association of America’s 25th anniversary sale at Stock Show. And working with other clients, one in particular, we did a very long, in-depth strategic and business plan for them that resulted in some other things, and I loved that. I loved working with the Beef Improvement Federation for their 50th anniversary. Honestly, I think the biggest highlight for me is the longevity that we have had with our three biggest clients. The relationship that we have with Nebraska Cattlemen, CALF News and Santa Gertrudis Breeders International has been outstanding. Those clients and our longevity with them, that’s my highlight for sure.
Jessie: It’s neat that you all kind of touched on Santa Gertrudis World Congress, especially because I feel like that event was unique because it encompasses so many of the services that BluePrint offers. Can one of you give a little bit of background for the people listening who might not know what Santa Gertrudis World Congress was?
Lisa: It was an international, multinational, 17-day tour of the Santa Gertrudis breed. It was in the United States and it was a bus tour. We went from Atlanta, Ga., through five states down into Kingsville, Texas, back up to San Antonio and College Station. We had over 100 participants, some domestic some international. It encompassed a number of seminars and professional presentations, ranch visits where we went to an individual ranch and they would host the entire delegation. There were a lot of social events as well. It was just a 17-day inbound, cross country celebration of the Santa Gertrudis breed.
BluePrint did everything from total event planning, all the finances, I mean, it was a turnkey operation. We managed the registrations, we managed the sponsorship packages, we managed all of the branding, marketing, promotion, and the actual event itself, from the tour to all of the accommodations to all of the meals, even being on site for the entire 17 days. Judy, our event planner, rode that bus the whole way. We coordinated with all of the ranches; we managed all the finances. It was a big project, and it brought in the talents of everybody on our team.
Jessie: How has BluePrint evolved over the years, specifically, in terms of the types of work that you do for clients, and maybe even in the number of clients that you serve?
Kathie: When we first started, we were strictly design and layout print media. We had nothing to do with the communications, ad sales or any kind of marketing. We were simply a production source. So that’s evolved tremendously over the years with our magazine clients to where we are creating editorial, managing the editorial, we’re responsible for ad sales in some regards. And then of course, it’s not just about print media any longer, right? It’s websites and other forms of communications from press releases to eblasts and other kinds of online communications. We’ve really evolved in a lot of areas we didn’t expect.
Jessie: What do you think jumpstarted BluePrint’s growth and started that positive trajectory?
Lisa: BluePrint officially came to be in 2005. At that time, both Kathie and my children were older, they were in junior high and high school, and our needs were changing, my needs were changing. And it looked like there was a clearer path to be able to contribute more to the business. It was a very strategic and planned growth at that time. I’m a planner, so when we did that jump into BluePrint, we had a strategic marketing plan. I also think that we were the right vehicle at the right time. There was more of an acceptance for offsite, outsourcing things. We had had enough success in what we were doing that we really had developed some repeatable processes that we could then market to other clients and say, “Here’s what we do, this is how we do it, this is why we’re better than others, this is what we can deliver for you and these are our prices.” The time was right, the plan was right and we work that plan.
I also think that we looked for opportunities and we capitalized on them. We were looking for other places that our business model and our processes would be of benefit, but then we also remained very committed to our core values, which are integrity and stewardship, and those are the things that we remain committed to. I think it was just a matter of staying committed to what we knew we wanted to do, how we wanted to get there, and being open to those opportunities that would present themselves along the way.
Jessie: As the company has grown, you’ve brought on other talented individuals to be a part of the team. Tell me about the process for finding the individuals who have the ag background or, more importantly, the skill set that you need to serve your diverse clients.
Lisa: Most of our contractors have found us, particularly when we were not in a high growth capacity. We would have people come to us and say, “I heard about you from somebody else, and I’m interested in working for you because your business model matches what I need in my life right now and I have this skill set that I can bring to the table.” So it was a mutual thing that somebody would find us and we would either put them to work under the skills that they brought to the table, or sometimes they brought unique skills that we could now offer our clients because of that particular person. It has been a really satisfying process that people come to us and want to work for the company. We’re pretty clear now on this is the kind of the profile of what our fabulous team member looks like and everybody on our team fits that profile. It’s allowed us to be able to capitalize on some amazing skill sets.
Jessie: I think it’s really fun to hear you talk about how, at times, contractors hear about the company from a mutual friend or from someone else and come to join the team; I can obviously personally attest to that. I think it just demonstrates that interconnectedness of agriculture and the importance of networking. And it’s all about who you know and communicating with people and seeking out opportunities. I think a lot of us on the team can attest to how everyone is kind of connected and has come to create this dynamic team.
Lisa: Kathie can attest to that, because with her not having the ag background when she came in, she’s like “good grief. You guys all not only know each other, but you dated each other, or you babysat for each other.” Kathie, you have to chime in on this one because it’s hilarious.
Kathie: Well, I mean, it’s six degrees of Kevin Bacon, right? And it’s the personal relationships. In commercial real estate that I worked in previously, sure, we knew people, but we didn’t have personal relationships. It was like, “Oh, I dated your cousin’s sister. Oh, I married him or I went to school with him or her.” It’s just hilarious. It’s very inbred as I used to always joke.
Jessie: I don’t think any interview in 2020 would be complete unless we talk about how COVID-19 has impacted the company. Can you walk me through what the last 11 months have looked like for the company and your team?
Leslie: From my perspective, what has changed is we have certainly had to jump through a lot of different hoops and figure out how to navigate the changes that were coming about. Obviously, we had the advantage of already being a virtual office, so we didn’t have to make that adjustment. I kind of sit on the backside because I primarily handle the finances, so the majority of my conversations with our clients have to do with bill paying. It offers me a great perspective on our clients that are advertisers. We have the opportunity to chat considerably about how their lives are and how they’re navigating the pandemic. That agricultural aspect of it all makes it really enjoyable because you get to touch base with people who are going through the same thing, and they’re all trying to figure out how to navigate it. It’s such a treasure to be able to have those relationships with these people and to hear their perspective on how they’re working their way through it. It becomes a sense of family and teamwork. From my perspective, that’s been the biggest change. There’s been more personal interaction, I think, with a lot of our advertisers and clients, and there’s been a lot of change in how the company is moving and focusing in order to successfully come through at all.
Lisa: I would agree with that. Certainly, it’s been difficult, but we’re blessed. I can’t imagine being a restaurant or something in the hospitality industry or an airline. There have been some difficulties, but it also has been really wonderful to see how people have done what agriculture does best, you pull your hat down, you pull your boots up and you just get to work. We have doubled down on development and trying to make us a better company and trying to look at innovations. I think, to a degree, we kind of took a deep breath and maybe didn’t overreact – maybe we underreacted – and just tried to learn and see how this thing was going to pan out. We’re in it for the long haul. We’re definitely looking more at development and trying to see how we can be a better company and offer better services to our clients and to potential client.
Jessie: As you’ve taken that time to evaluate the company and look at some of the things that you do, what does the future look like for a BluePrint?
Lisa: In my mind, it is different and yet the same. We are going to maintain our core values of integrity and stewardship. Stewardship is, in broad terms, responsible management of resources, and our resources are time, talent and finances. And we manage our finances well, we manage our clients’ resources well, and we’re going to continue to do that.
I think the future also looks different in that we are going to capitalize on some of these other opportunities and look at what we can do to expand our work for our contractors and for those really talented individuals that are working from home. They’re balancing family; they have an agricultural skill set that is unmatched. We want to find more work for those people and give them that support system so that they can successfully balance what they want out of life, and we’re there to help provide that support for them.
I think it’s also really important that we look at how things are going to change. Agriculture is changing; we’re a smaller percentage of the population. People have food choices that they debate about and they talk about. Sustainability is a very big issue right now, and there are environmental concerns and the demographic of the world is changing. We now have more people in urban situations than in rural situations than ever before, and urban residents have different priorities than rural residents. How do we as agriculture address those needs, preferences and opinions in a very proactive, non-defensive, innovative way. I think that is what we want to do is to be able to find a spot at the table for all of that.
Jessie: We’re going to launch this episode on Small Business Saturday. I’m curious, what does it mean for the three of you to be leading a woman-owned, woman-run small business?
Lisa: Everything, and I don’t mean to mean to be slight on that. All of my adult children work in large operations and corporations or things like that, and I talk to people who work in a corporate setting, and it is very, very different than small businesses. It just is. We’ve always been that. We’ve always been that small, independent business, and I take great pride in it. I think it is something that is good to be proud of. To be women-owned, I don’t know that we ever set out that we had to be that; it’s just what we were. We’ve got some amazing, incredible minds that work in our company who just happen to all be women. It’s a sense of pride now that that is what we are. We’ve been around a long time, and to be able to support that cause and to stand among other small businesses, other women-owned businesses and stand shoulder to shoulder with those that we respect and admire is humbling. It’s an honor.
Leslie: Yes, I think I echo that, Lisa. It is so amazing to be able to operate this business as a whole autonomously, where we’re not reliant upon corporate or whatever else. One of my favorite things is seeing younger, talented women being able to come into this company and the setting that we have, and to bring their skills and their talents and their integrity and their vision, and to be able to share that and utilize it. It is partially what helps fuel us in a lot of the direction we go, as Lisa mentioned earlier, because of the talent of these women. It is an incredible honor to be able to work with other professional women with the character and integrity and the talent that they have.
Kathie: And it’s come full circle, right, ladies? You know, people who supported us now, we’re able to support that within our own company. That’s pretty special for all of all three of us.
Jessie: Why would you encourage people to support small businesses?
Lisa: The biggest reason I would encourage people to support small businesses is because it adds a level of innovation, integrity, creativity and joy to a business environment; those things would be devoid if everything went 100 percent corporate. I’m not bashing corporations; they have a place – I understand the importance of them – but it becomes so monolithic without small businesses. The innovation and the creativity that comes from small businesses is unmatched. They’re scrappy, you have to be, you have to figure something out. You are not confined by a corporate structure that says, “No, you can’t.” Small businesses say, “Why not? Let’s try it. Let’s go for it.” It also allows people to find joy, again, in that creativity and in that adventure.
I also think that there’s a huge shift within society and within demographics as they go into urban situations and more people live in these big cities: we’re losing our sense of family and community. I’ve seen this in my family and my adult children. They love that sense of family and community, but they don’t get it in a city of 5 million people, so they’re finding it in these smaller structures. They’re supporting small businesses because they want to be able to go into a health club or any small business and know the proprietor. And they like that. I think those small businesses will continue to have a larger place, because they provide a sense of community, a sense of belonging, a sense of humanity, that is not found as easily in a corporate structure.
Kathie: And this is a country that’s based on innovation, entrepreneurship and doing it on your own, so why wouldn’t you want to support that?
Jessie: The name of the podcast is Trailblazing in Agriculture. It’s a fun project that BluePrint has launched this year, and I’m excited to continue telling stories of trailblazers in the agriculture industry. As we hear BluePrint’s story, it’s clear to me that the three of you are trailblazers in your own respects. It’s remarkable to hear how you launched the company and how it’s grown and evolved over the years. As we wrap up our time together, would you each be willing to share about a trailblazer in your own life?
Leslie: I’m going to qualify my answer with this: I live in a fairly remote area in Wisconsin, and I don’t have a lot of contact with people in the industry that we’re in, so I tend to feel a little bit isolated. I don’t have an actual trailblazer beyond what we’ve discussed today. But I am thankful to say that Lisa, because of you being the trailblazer you are, we have the company that we do. I understand it’s a group effort. I understand all that has been contributed by so many talented people, but I just have to say that the only trailblazer I have in my life right now probably is Lisa because she has the vision for this company; she continues to push forward and drive it. So for me, Lisa is the trailblazer.
Kathie: That’s not fair because Leslie stole mine. Lisa has been a trailblazer for this company and has drug the rest of us kicking and screaming at times, but with great vision. It’s taken the dedication of everyone that works at BluePrint to bring here, but it was her vision that made it possible.
Lisa: I have been very fortunate throughout my life to be surrounded by some amazing women that I think initially I took for granted. My aunt Phoebe was somebody that I admired and looked up to, and she did some things that I just took for granted and I never understood. She was standing shoulder to shoulder with my great uncle who developed a breed of cattle. I always admired her because she was strong and she was gracious and she was intelligent and she was fearless. Then there was Karen Helford, who ran the association, and I watched her juggle three kids and run an association. She’s the one who I learned to work at 4 a.m. from because she did that for years and years and years. My mother who is fearless and did things without even thinking about it. Mary String, who I watched raise a family and work harder than any man I’d ever seen on a cattle operation. My mother-in-law, who started a retail store at the age of 50. She had no retail experience and she just decided she wanted to start a store, and it was amazingly successful. She just did it because she could. The people I went to college with and these women that were tough as nails and smart as could be, and never even questioned why or how, they just did it. My list of trailblazers is so long that I am just in awe of these women. Mainly in all of it, because you never really thought about it, you just did what you had to do or did what you wanted to do. It was cool being around these people.
Jessie: I think it’s neat, because I feel like as we think about agriculture and the people who we consider trailblazers, in most instances, they likely don’t consider themselves a trailblazer, right? They’re just going about their lives doing everyday things and doing normal things and not realizing that they’re setting such a powerful example for the people who are around them. I think that’s a good reminder for all of us that you never know who’s watching and the impact that you’re making on someone else’s life, so I appreciate you all sharing.
Is there anything else that we would like to talk about, whether it’s sharing about BluePrint, sharing about your story and your journey to get to where we are today, or the future of the company. Anything else that we haven’t touched on?
Lisa: The big thing is all these people that are starting and learning and trying to figure out what their life is going to look like – it’s about have faith in yourself; don’t be afraid to reach out, don’t be afraid to try new things. But don’t feel like you have to go it alone, either. There are always people out there that would love to collaborate and help and support. And there are so many resources out there; take advantage of them.
Jessie: I’ve been blessed to be a member of the BluePrint team since 2016, and I’ll admit that I learned things about the business I never knew while interviewing Lisa, Kathie and Leslie for this episode. I had so much fun listening to these three ladies share about how BluePrint Media has evolved over the years and share about their vision for the future. Lisa, Kathie and Leslie are truly remarkable examples of the powerful things that can happen when we take some risks and follow our dreams.
Thanks again for joining me as we chronicle the stories of the trailblazers in the agriculture industry. If you get a chance today or in the near future, I hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunity to support a small business; it truly does make a difference!