Fall Forward Masterclass Series: Brand Strategy Lessons Lived


Get unstuck this stick season with Six-Point’s Fall Forward Virtual Masterclasses … a series of free, high-impact webinars with case study examples on how to beat the competition, how to leverage AI for efficient brand growth, and more. Now through December!



Elevate Your Game: The 3 Winning Moves Your Brand Needs to Make Now

Thursday, October 5th at 12pm ET / 9am PT

Are competitors with weaker offerings outperforming your brand? Do you see opportunities for growth but lack the confidence to know exactly where and how to invest time and resources? Six-Point strategist, Ony Mgbeahurike, tells the story of one brand that was in that same spot, and will show you the tools and methods they used to gain a winning edge in a competitive market.


Mastering AI-Driven Brand Voice

Wednesday, October 25th at 12pm ET / 9am PT

Struggling to write consistently in your brand’s voice? Worried that using AI will make your brand bland? Join Six-Point to learn how to let AI be your brand’s megaphone! Learn how to train AI to speak in YOUR unique brand voice and ensure that your message stands out. Six-Point strategist Marnie Kittelson shares jump-start prompts and case study examples of the ways family businesses can use AI to scale their brand more efficiently than ever before. Are you ready to be an AI whisperer? Register now for this not-to-be-missed masterclass!







Summer school on the farm

Fall Forward Masterclass Series:

If you are looking for ideas and energy to supercharge your last 100 days of the year, don’t miss our series of free, high-impact webinars with case study examples on how to beat the competition, how to leverage AI for efficient brand growth, and more.

You can register now for Elevate Your Game: The 3 Winning Moves Your Brand Needs to Make Now, Thursday October 5th at 12pm ET. Six-Point strategist, Ony Mgbeahurike will share a case study packed with insights for anyone feeling like their brand has untapped potential. And stay tuned for more virtual fall learning events coming soon!

My RSVP Read…

“Sorry, I can’t attend. I am on a retreat at a pheasant hunting farm in South Dakota.” I couldn’t believe those words myself. It was the fakest-sounding excuse ever! But, whether my friend believed it or not, it was legit.

I recently had the privilege to spend time at Paul Nelson Farm facilitating a family business retreat for the Prairie Family Business Association. Five families working on various phases of succession planning gathered for several days of learning, reflection, and deep work.

Since I was one of only two East Coasters at the retreat, I arrived a night early and got to walk the grounds with the amazing Cheryl Nelson, the late Paul Nelson’s wife. She was full of stories about Paul and his vision for turning his dad’s cattle ranch into a world class pheasant hunting destination.

And while I am sure Cheryl doesn’t think of herself as a teacher or an expert, her stories were full of wisdom. Here are a few nuggets I took away:


Know what you will do… and what you won’t

When Cheryl married Paul, he was a rancher on his family’s land with 3,000 head of cattle, battling the fierce winters on the prairies. When it became clear that cattle ranching was not going to be a viable business for them, Paul got creative. He felt that as long as they kept the family’s land (in what he considered “the most beautiful spot on earth”), anything else was on the table. Paul didn’t feel pressure to use the land exactly the way his dad did. So when friends asked to hunt pheasants on his land, he got the idea that this could be the new path. It would showcase the land, and be a viable business. Instead of following the traditional (and commoditized) path, creating a luxury niche allowed for the Nelson’s business to become a sustainable and enjoyable livelihood while also enriching the surrounding community.

A lot of family businesses, or any business with a long legacy, can feel stuck. They are known a certain way for a certain thing, whether it will be viable to sustain the business into the future or not. Reinvention can feel too difficult, or too risky. A clear understanding of what is off the table can actually be freeing. In Paul’s case, anything that would involve selling his family’s land was a nonstarter, but anything that showcased the beauty and resources of the land was on the table. This allowed him to evolve the vision for legacy without putting the soul of that legacy at risk.

Your competition is not who you think they are

When Paul and Cheryl started in the pheasant hunting business, they thought they were competing against other hunting lodges, or other local attractions. As they built up their reputation, they started attracting corporate retreats and other customers who were using pheasant hunting in the middle of South Dakota as a private networking venue. That was when they realized that their competition wasn’t hunting lodges. It was golf.

This realization meant that they needed to start thinking about their strategy more thoughtfully. Why would someone choose the prairies over the luxury of a private country club? What would make them drive on miles of gravel road to bring their business associates to Paul Nelson Farm? They needed to create something super special and highly memorable.

When Cheryl walked me through the lodge, it was clear that they had risen to the challenge. Each of the private bedrooms in the King Lodge exuded the richness of South Dakota culture. The food and the service were top notch. They limited onsite TVs to common areas to ensure that guests mingled and socialized, since networking and relationship building was part of their value proposition.

Do you have hidden competition outside of your industry that you should be paying attention to and using for innovation? The Nelson’s insight into what their competition really was allowed them to leapfrog the other lodges and local attractions and create essentially their own category.

Shh! Your customers are trying to tell you something!

Tom Epperson of InnerWill, the main presenter at the retreat, shared a fun stat with us. The average person only listens for 17 seconds before they will interrupt the person talking to them. 17 seconds! We do it with our families, our colleagues, and, yes, even our customers. (The original study that found this stat was monitoring how doctors interrupt their patients.) What would it mean if we listened a little longer, or even (gasp!) asked questions and listened intently to the answers!

While Six-Point does a lot of formal “voice of the customer” research, I learned that Paul and Cheryl Nelson didn’t need a fancy research process. They simply listened deeply when their guests spoke. For example, when the lodge first opened, it was all about how to get as many people onto the property as possible, so they had bedrooms with four twin beds jammed in. It worked for the first few seasons, but eventually when Paul asked hunters what wasn’t working for them, they started bringing up snoring roommates or simply being, “too old to share a room.” Eventually, more rooms were added, and now each room in the lodge has a plush king bed.

Cheryl also played the harp for us, and told me that she picked it up 25 years ago. She likes it because she can play while the guests have dinner and it is great background music. The guests keep talking, and she can listen to their conversations while they play. She would bring back intel to Paul and let him know if anyone was complaining or if there were any problems, and he would immediately spring into action. The issue was solved before the guest even knew they had told anyone!

Where should you be listening to customer conversations? Are there venues, communities, or forums where you can get more unguarded sources of information? (Maybe you will even start taking harp lessons!)


Back to School

I hope as the school season kicks off, you will tap into your own curiosity and be a student of your own customer and business. Ask more questions. Listen more deeply. One thing that was reinforced to me during my week on the farm is that there is wisdom all around us if we are ready to receive it.







A surprising way to discover whether you have a “high potential” company

Before we start:

Summer is already teasing in fall breezes, and our next quarter of Brand Strategy Workshops are booking up fast. If your leadership team could benefit from expert support crafting a brand and marketing strategy for 2024, now is the time to enlist our experienced guides. Email catherine@sixpointcreative.com to find out more.


Do you have a hot mess on your hands… or a high-potential company in disguise?

Last week, while preparing for a brand strategy workshop with a cross-functional leadership team, Six-Point Strategist, Marnie, noticed something funky in the client’s pre-workshop assessment data. 

She had me look at the results alongside the historical data we collected from other organizations. This team was significantly underperforming in multiple areas. My first thought was that she was worried their scores were so low, we might not be able to help them within the confines of the workshop. 

“Actually,” she said, “I’ve seen results like this before, and I am thinking the opposite; we might have a very high potential business here.”

I was surprised. Why would she look at lower than average scores across so many different departments and individuals and see opportunity, not a dumpster fire?

Marnie spent a couple of years at Korn Ferry, a leading talent development consulting firm. One of the patterns that Korn Ferry would look for to identify high potential employees (affectionately referred to as HiPoes by Korn Ferry consultants) is that they would consistently rate themselves lower than their peers would rate across all performance categories.

Here’s the big aha: These individuals had high expectations of themselves, and saw opportunity for improvement no matter how seasoned they were or how successful they had been in the past. Their low scores were actually a factor that fed into their high performance. 

When Marnie saw these consistently low client scores, she was reminded of those HiPoes she had seen in the past, which got her wondering… does this company really have so many issues with their positioning and marketing strategy, or could they all just be extremely conscious of what they could do even better?

We went into the first day curious to test her hypothesis. As we heard the realistic but aggressive goals the team had set in their business plan, and then heard them provide rationale for their ratings of various pieces of their current brand, all they could talk about was how it just wasn’t good enough to get them to where they wanted to go. They were unified in their collective demand to get stronger and smarter.

At one point, the CEO asked the question… “So… how do we look in relation to other companies you work with? Not good, right?” He braced himself for what he was sure was bad news. Marnie and I exchanged a quick smile, knowing he was about to be pleasantly surprised. Then we let them in on what we were thinking. This was not just one HiPo employee… this was a high-potential team that was about to make a huge leap forward.

We were excited about these results and this team because too often, we see the opposite: one or two people who see opportunity and are pushing to get better, but others who are very content with, or even protective of, the status quo. This is a tough place to be, because when we are called in to work with family businesses, they are about to make a big jump into unknown territory. They are trying to do something that they have never done before, such as enter a new channel or market, or go through a merger or acquisition. These are companies that often have more to lose than they do to gain, so if everyone is not ready to make the leap, it can be a recipe for disaster.

Our workshops are geared toward gaining alignment around major change initiatives, as well as helping teams walk the line between honoring the past and evolving for the future, since veering too much toward either can be risky. But every once in a while, there is a team that comes in very aligned and self-aware, in which case we can move a little further and a little faster than we might otherwise. 

So, how confident is your team when you talk about how you stack up to the competition or how well your brand is prepared to scale or extend into new markets? If they are openly critical or even a bit negative, don’t get frustrated or defensive. Take a deep breath and a closer look. You are likely surrounded by the very people you need to reach new heights.






International Exchange of Entrepreneurs Fosters Women-led Business Growth

US Brand strategy agency and Salvadorean sustainable fashion CEOs align to bolster business


East Longmeadow, MA – Brand strategy agency Six-Point was honored to host Sofía Aparicio, CEO & Founder of April from El Salvador, as part of the U.S. State Department exchange program called the Professional Fellows Program on Economic Empowerment.


Meghan Lynch, Sofia Aparicio, MJ Hyndman-Benander and Margaret Ann Gomez


Sofía Aparicio is a tenacious business owner whose life experiences and spirit to serve as a role model and community leader have driven her to early career accomplishments. Despite the challenges of being a teenage mother, she was determined to set an example for her daughter. Sofía launched her first business at age 19, selling handmade pizzas at a gas station. With the revenue earned, she turned to e-commerce and sold undergarments on Facebook. In the first few days, she had over 100 orders. She soon opened a store, April, where she sells a variety of classic women’s apparel. Her business has continuously grown for the last 13 years.

“Early on, I was thinking so much smaller,” said Sofía. “The key to enjoying your life in the midst of working on your business is to have great partners who help you to lead your projects to greater places; that’s what Six-Point Creative provides for its clients.”

Parallel to Sofía’s journey at this time, Meghan Lynch, Six-Point’s CEO, has been focusing on increasing her brand strategy agency’s impact, particularly on family-owned businesses like Sofía’s that have an opportunity to reshape industries and directly impact communities. “While publicly run companies have a lot of resources, they are at the mercy of shareholders. Family businesses don’t have anyone to answer to other than their own values and vision. If they don’t like how things are done in their industry, or they see potential in the community where they grew up, they have the power to make immediate and sweeping change,” explained Meghan. “When I heard Sofía’s story, I knew we would learn a lot from each other.”

In 2016, Sofía became aware of the poor work conditions in the mills where her products were made. She swiftly launched textile production and incorporated a locally made clothing line to her stores, increasing ethical labor standards and local employment. She now runs the retail, the production, and also conducts 40% of her business through e-commerce. At the store, she employs nine young women (18-23 years old) who are financially responsible for their families. Sofía has made unconventional investments of both time and money in building a company culture that fosters growth and opportunity for her employees. For example, she brings one employee each time she takes a trip to visit a supplier, which is often the first time the young women have left El Salvador. She wants to give them opportunities to grow personally and professionally, not simply a paycheck.

Sofía’s brief time spent with Six-Point was focused on exploring strategies to continue to grow her business in order to impact and hire more women in her region, as well as increase the presence and celebration of Salvadorean culture in the clothes she produces and sells. Sofía spent time with the Six-Point team of strategists and project managers, exploring ways to scale her brand and increase the impact of technology in her systems and processes at April. Six-Point also facilitated visits to other businesses in Massachusetts, including Scout Curated Wears, BRIGADE, and Stand Out Truck, to help Sofía gain additional exposure and insight into strategies that could help her scale her operations.

“As an entrepreneur, passion and curiosity are two of the most critical traits you can have, and Sofía embodies both,” said Six-Point CEO Meghan Lynch. “Our mission at Six-Point is to blaze new trails in business, and supporting Sofía and April in this fellowship exchange is completely aligned to that mission. Sofía’s vision to bring more sustainability to the fashion industry, to create more opportunity in rural communities in El Salvador, and make the April brand a celebration of Salvadorean culture… it is a trailblazing vision, and it is energizing and rewarding to help her push it forward.”

As part of the exchange program, Meghan will visit El Salvador in November to support Sofía’s growth plan and learn more about the Salvadorean business landscape. The two entrepreneurs are confident that these visits will be the start of a lasting partnership and mutual support.



At Six-Point, we focus on marketing and growth strategy specifically for family businesses. Amplify your voice. Safeguard your legacy. Unlock a whole new level of growth. Stay connected at sixpointcreative.com.

At April Store, local fashion production, we believe in an industry more fair, circular and sustainable. Stay connected at Aprilholics.com.

The Professional Fellows Program on Economic Empowerment is a global exchange designed to promote mutual understanding, enhance leadership and professional skills, as well as build lasting, sustainable partnerships between mid-level emerging leaders from foreign countries and the United States. Learn more at https://exchanges.state.gov/






Could tension actually help your brand? Here’s 10 to lean into

One quick thing:

If your brand is feeling “stuck,” unlocking a new wave of growth may be easier than you think! Here’s a new quiz based on our Brand Accelerator System that will help you quickly identify why you are stuck, and with the results, you’ll also receive a video tip to help you start moving forward immediately. Try it out, and let me know what you think!


Some tension is good for your brand

I recently read a post by David C. Baker, a thought leader in creative entrepreneurship, about a few places where keeping a productive tension can be helpful as a principle of a firm.

Baker likens these tensions to a bridge:

“Imagine a suspension bridge, where the massive cables are buried deep in the rocks on either side of the river, and pulling against those cables is the static weight of the bridge and the traffic that crosses it. That tension must be held in balance or the bridge collapses.”


As leaders, if we are doing our jobs right, much of our time is spent trying to get to the root of and resolve various tensions. We need to dig in and find the real answers, and make sure that we are not letting unhealthy tension fester.

But are there tensions that we should not be solving? By assuming that all tension is negative, could we actually be pulling those cables out of the rocks and causing harm to the stability of our organizations?

It caused me to reflect on places where I have seen productive tension in our clients’ family brands – suspension bridge tension.


Here are 10 that immediately came to mind:

  • Honoring the past and building upon the strong foundation of what has worked for the business… while staying open to new opportunities for evolution that will keep the business growing and engaging for future generations.


  • Running a profitable business… while staying true to your values.


  • Staying humble and focused on excellence… while still clearly communicating the exceptional value your team works so hard to consistently deliver.


  • Seeing new opportunities for growth and untapped potential for the brand… while still staying focused on a single vision, with clarity and consistency.


  • A focus on results and metrics with the knowledge that “what gets measured gets done” … without assuming that the only measure of success is topline sales or profitability.


  • Appreciating long-term customer, vendor, and employee relationships… without becoming so fearful of losing those relationships that they start to hamper the brand’s potential for evolution.


  • Being “customer obsessed” and speaking to your customers regularly… while still picking your head up and looking at bigger trends and patterns that they don’t see yet.


  • Sticking to your brand’s core in order to make sure that you don’t erode its value or push into areas where you can’t compete… but also scanning for opportunities to expand into new areas that aren’t immediately obvious.


  • Engaging experts and hiring people who have already done what you want to do with your brand to push it further than you can on your own… and still having confidence that your vision and your gut feeling for the direction of your brand is right.


  • Presenting a brand image that is accurate, trustworthy, and authentic… but identifying the times when articulating a strong “next stage” vision for the brand can help to attract the customers, partners, and employees who can make that vision a reality.


Confidence, maturity, and precise steadiness are required to hold this tension effectively. It also requires a curiosity and openness to dwelling in questions that don’t have immediate answers, and being okay with that.

I am reminded of this quote from the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke:

“Be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.”

When you are next feeling like there are unsolved questions in your brand strategy, or tensions between past and future, or change and stasis, or opportunity and focus, try to enjoy the questions that come up. These “suspension bridge” tensions are making your brand stronger, and may be the very things that allow you to safely cross the chasm below.