When you understand what made them the people they are then you can better understand why people behave and make the decisions that they do. Psychology allows you to step out of yourself and relate better to other people.”
When it comes to advertising and marketing, no one does it quite like Renee White Fraser. As the CEO of Fraser Communications, she has built a client list filled with household names like Lexus and Toyota. Due to her business experience and education, she has been able to successfully co-host a radio show for over a decade.
Part of Fraser’s success is due to her education at the University of Southern California. She earned an undergraduate degree in marketing, then a PhD in social psychology. These two degrees have helped her build a business that is dedicated to helping companies build their brands. In fact, she has developed a methodology to understand the perceptions of customers at the subconscious level. For business working on building a brand, this methodology is indispensable.
Fraser not only sits at the helm of her $40-million marketing company, but she also hosts a radio show called “Unfinished Business” which airs on Sunday from 4-5 PM PST in the Los Angeles area. She shares the microphone with another female business owner, Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire. The two women are highly respected for their businesses and for their work helping women grow their own businesses.
Where did the idea for Fraser Communications come from?
I ran a large division of a multi-national advertising agency and I saw that I saw that the ‘big guns,’ the smartest, most talented people with the best ideas were not involved directly with clients. So, I envisioned a boutique firm where our top people get involved with clients and stay involved with them throughout the engagement.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day is jammed full of meetings and calls. I start very early in the AM and read email. Then, mid-morning I take an hour to an hour and a half break to just to sit and think about things. I have had a lot of good ideas come from those sessions. I found that if I tried to make time to do it at the end of work then I didn’t get to it consistently or I was too mentally tired to be creative. I know if I focus I can see things through and take distractions out of my mind. Yoga has been a big help there.
I also am intentional about making time to walk around my office and say ‘hi’ to everyone. I do it three times every day; once in the morning, around lunch and then late afternoon.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Our business is very creative, and it takes a strong team to be deliver creative solutions consistently. A lot of what we do is story-telling and you learn quickly that people recall feelings more than details.
People expect you to share a lot as a leader today. Social media has helped shape those expectations because people are used to sharing their feelings with others so much. So, our creative process involves letting great people be creative and leaders like me modeling open, sharing behaviors.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I see the opportunity to work with millennials and their new ways of thinking as positive. They give me a lot of hope. I am amazed how quickly we can bring new ideas to market today. I love how we can apply the ‘influencer model’ from social media to change behaviors to solve problems and influence behaviors.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Yoga allows me to focus my mind. It allows me to exhibit grace under pressure. I benefit from it directly but I also like how yoga allows me to model behaviors to my employees that help them to handle pressure better.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would advise myself to be bolder. When I started in business “entrepreneur” wasn’t as widely understood a role. I should have gone out on my own and started my business earlier.
I also would have been more willing to ask people for money to get me started. I got a small loan from my parents and financed early growth on my credit cards. I could have scaled the business faster and earlier with outside capital.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I think that people are good at heart. As a psychologist, I often see the reasons that people behave a certain way. I believe people act not just from self-interest but from an innate desire to do good. People are shaped by their childhood and their experiences. When you understand what made them the people they are then you can better understand why people behave and make the decisions that they do. Psychology allows you to step out of yourself and relate better to other people.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I make lists of the things I have to get done. That helps me not to worry about it and to commit to it. I take notes in every meeting. I don’t always use the notes but the act of writing them down shows people you care about what is being discussed and helps you to retain it better.
I send and receive and give a lot of personal notes. I will hand write a ‘thank you’ to people and they remember and appreciate it.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I have become active in my community. I actively engage with trade associations and have sought positions of leadership when I thought I could really contribute.
National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) has given me visibility with large corporations and public figures. It has helped me to increase our impact and has helped us to build our reputation. That has led to a lot of work. I really believe in the organization and it gives me a chance to mentor other women. The strategy is to know your brand and to live and breathe it with other people in other spheres.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I am a big-idea person not a detail-oriented person. For a bit, it caused my company growing pains. So, when I grew the company I had to hire people who had those complimentary skills and could bring new ideas and new approaches, so we could execute effectively.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Here is LA we spend a lot of times in cars. I think an Uber for business people has promise. The company would provide the benefits of Uber but with a great environment to allow people to be very productive in the car. Cars would have WIFI, maybe a table and the driver would focus on creating a quiet, space conducive to work.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I was sick for a couple of weeks, so I just paid for a new series of yoga classes. I am really looking forward to restarting my yoga routine. It feels like you are clearing the slate in your mind and remove the toxic elements and return you to a positive space.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
We just started using Microsoft Teams in my office. It allows me to get to the most important materials more quickly. It has allowed me to be more focused and productive.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I like Jim Collins’ books especially “Good to Great.” Another one is “The 1% Solution for Work and Life.” That talks about the power of compounding small incremental improvements. Look at your budget and save 1% off each of your line items you can aggregate a lot of small, incremental changes into large savings for the firm. People focus a lot on large budget items and big cuts, but smaller incremental improvements can really bring out the best in people. I applied that to my company and asked people to share examples of how to add just 1% a week. In one case we asked a vendor to aggregate invoices and it saved accounting half a day.
What is your favorite quote?
As a CEO, I like the African proverb “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”