Design Dialogue: Justin Foster
I sat down with Brand-Strategist and Co-Founder/CMO of Klowd.com, Justin Foster, to chat about his continuing search for ‘human bacon’ and his ever-growing circle of innovators and idea-starters.
Justin defines human bacon as people who are successful, respected and well connected, attributing these factors to five major elements: Talent, Audience, Message, Presence and Promotion.
After hearing about Justin from a mutual friend, I browsed through his website and was intrigued by not only his mission, but also his video interviews on Bacon Coterie, an interview style video session featured on his blog. I was curious about Justin’s vast network of ‘human bacon’ and his career as a speaker and brand-strategist, so we sat down for dinner and picked each other’s brains.
Justin works and as a contract CMO and brand strategist and bases his work on three main values.
1. How to manifest the values of the organization in the brand.
2. How to position the brand in the marketplace as something that’s unique and different .
3. How to align marketing activities to produce the results necessary for the business strategy.
He analyzes brands on a very strategic level, focuses on tactics, maps out campaigns and initiates templates, all in a way to teach his clients how to market. As Justin explains his philosophy of applying the Laws of Attraction, Engagement and Transaction, he points out that most brands are unsuccessful because they struggle with at least one of these ideas.
His book ‘Oatmeal vs. Bacon, How to Differentiate in a Generic World,’ focuses on how to make your brand stand out from the competition, as he poses the question ‘Are You Bacon?’
“Branding is the application of what makes you awesome. If you’re not awesome, there is nothing to brand.”
Accompanied by bumper-sticker-worthy jokes and an engaging personality, Justin offers workshops and speaking events touching on a variety of topics you can see here.
Justin contributes his motivated work ethic to growing up on a cattle-ranch, just like our other interviewee Dirk Robinson. Coming from a dysfunctional family and a history of bullying at school, Justin had to teach his ‘skinny-and-mouthy’ self, to read people closely. This has become a very important skill in his career, which focuses on understanding people, brands, behaviors and motivators. His ability to distill ideas into something simple also came as an adjustment during his transition into the business world sans college degree.
‘I wouldn’t’ have learned the way I learned had I gotten a college degree.’
Justin mentions being very thankful for the mentors he had along the way. One of his most-impactful was Ron Price of Price Associates, who taught him self-worth and how to monezite his skills to make himself valuable. Justin is now the Sr. Strategist for Price Associates and even a mentor himself, as he speaks at colleges, talks to youth groups and has coached a social venture team.
With a humble and passionate honesty to him, it was great to hear about all of Justin’s obstacles and how he has used them to his advantage.
“I have great confidence in what I do, and I’m still intensely insecure…and I’m thankful for that.
While very active on his blog and twitter, traveling has also connected Justin with many new faces. He met his latest Bacon Coterie interviewee, Chip Scholz, at a conference in 2011. Using AirBnB and Lift as resources to meet people during his speaking events, he also has a ritual he applies in every new city that involves getting a haircut at a local barber shop and working out at a local gym.
Business wise, Justin uses almost exclusively freelancers ranging from web developers, PR people and designers all around the country. He lines them up based on the individual brands he is working with, matching them up culture-wise.
Having met Justin only once, he has introduced me to several bacon-worthy humans, and provided me with some other great resources and interesting things to think about.
Favorite Current Brands
Ron Paul’s son Rand Paul - one of the few elected officials that understands all the trends facing America. A very self-aware and situationally-aware brand.
Lululemon – for what they represent and their worldview and experience.
Axiom – well done local brand, ’Truth in Fitness’
A big regret was not treating his wife of 25 years, like a business partner, keeping stuff from her to protect her. Justin also mentioned lots of failures, including losing everything 5 years ago. Once again he mentions how these obstacles taught him a lot.
‘Success without pain is just good luck.’
Mission and Goal
Justin’s mission is to give innovators hope, to help traditionalists become innovators and expose frauds. He sees today’s audience as frustrated visionaries pushing us all to be different.
His ultimate goal is to have the majority of his income come from speaking engagements, focusing on becoming a six-figure speaking within the next ten years.
“I’m like a really good coffee shop band, I want to do for speaking what Mumford did for music.”
Are You Bacon?
As we wrap up our interview Justin leaves with a bit of advice.
Experience will come. It all boils down to the three I’s.
1. Are you Interesting?
2. Do you have Integrity?
3. Are you Innovative?
Check all three of these I’s and consider yourself a tasty piece of human bacon…and who doesn’t love that?!
For more on Justin check out www.fosterthinking.com.