Our Strategy Wizard on Treating Your Business Like a New Puppy

The Purrrrfect First Job

The pet shop was my second home. You name it. We sold it.

On the day the Lipke’s brought newborn Kalli home from the hospital, her mom and dad didn't actually take her home. They stopped first at her dad’s pet shop. Many kids imagine growing up surrounded by animals. Kalli actually did.


The aquariums, kennels, and tanks filled her with wonder and provided her first job. “We had the largest reptile selection in Pinellas County, Florida,” she says proudly of the small family business that grew into a 3-store animal kingdom with her dad reigning over it all. Though she loved the chameleons, emperor scorpions, and long-tailed porcupines, it was the sloths that she’ll never forget.

While studying mass communications at the University of South Florida, she’d built the shop a website to feature all the exotic animals. Producers from Anderson Cooper 360 called looking specifically for a sloth to feature on the show. Kalli’s dad, with a baby sloth in tow, were flown to New York and stepped into the national spotlight.  Her website had made it happen. <<<Watch it Here>>>

From Pets to Planning

I’ve seen every area of the financial advising business, since I’ve worked in or with every department.

That website was the start of more than 5 minutes of sloth fame. Out of college now, Kalli found her way into the financial services world, ready to put her marketing skills to work. Her first stop at a firm in Dyersburg, Tennessee went just about as you’d expect a first job to go. It was a 3-person team and one day, the admin quit. “It was just me and the advisor and I started to get concerned. There were piles of forms and administrative work that needed attention, so I just picked them up and called Raymond James to find out how to do things,” she remembers.

By necessity Kalli learned a lot about client services and the inner workings of a financial planning firm. She moved on to work for more advisors in the Nashville area, doing everything from designing websites and planning events to executing social media strategy and running advertising campaigns. She found a sweet spot in analytics tracking where she could crank out spreadsheets to show measurable results to her numbers-oriented bosses. 

Taking Care of Business

A lot of people say they want marketing, but then they don’t know how to take care of that part of their business.

Back in her pet shop days, Kalli says the adorable, wiggling, wet-nosed puppies were always a big draw. People would come in, decide to hold one, and get hooked. Before they made their way to the cash register, it was Kalli’s job to deliver the rest of the news. “I had to develop a pitch to prep those new puppy owners because when you buy one, it’s not just the puppy. You need a whole package. The crate and bowls, the leash and harness, food and you better get some chew toys.”

The same goes for financial advisors. It’s easy to get excited about a new marketing strategy – whether it’s video or podcasting, pay-per-click or Pixels. Marketing options are constantly changing, which can make it hard for business owners to stay on top of it all. Just like with those puppies, it’s good to have someone with experience stop you on the way to the checkout and give you the rest of the story. Because, as Kalli likes to say, your business needs care and nurturing too.

Laura Garfield