About Vickie Sullivan
Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B firms.
Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, Vickie has helped thousands of brilliant, talented people outsmart their competition since 1987. Ms. Sullivan is a popular speaker throughout the U.S. and Canada on why buyers buy in lucrative markets and strategies that make thought leaders stand out in crowded markets. Her popular newsletter Tips, Trends and Tirades® is considered a respected global resource. (Want to know her inside story? Check out her background.)
Ms. Sullivan has served twice on the editorial board for Professional Speaker Magazine. As contributing editor for RainToday.com from 2008 to their closure in 2015, Vickie’s columns on sales and branding appeared in this prominent community of 120,000 service professionals .
Her articles have been published in other publications such as Presentations and USA Today magazines, as well as the Handbook of Business Strategy.
Ms. Sullivan also has been quoted in mainstream media such as Fortune.com, The New York Times and Investor’s Business Daily. Her work and views have appeared in books such as Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America by Barbara Ehrenreich, Secrets of Six-Figure Women by Barbara Stanney, and Getting Started in Consulting by Alan Weiss.
Ms. Sullivan’s groundbreaking work has earned her an appointment on the Women’s Leadership Board for the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, serving as Communication Chair on the Executive Committee from 2009 to 2011. As a former member of the mentoring committee, she has given three presentations to the student body there on personal branding and prominence.
A TEDster since 2013, Vickie also lent her expertise as a mentor to the SupporTED program for TED fellows in 2014-15. Based on her impact, she also was invited to participate in the 2015 Collaboratorium conference as an adviser on branding and thought leadership. In that venue her presentation on how to be a thought leader was ranked as one of the most popular.
The first in her family to graduate from college, Ms. Sullivan earned her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, Public Relations emphasis at the University of Oklahoma. She lives in Tempe, AZ with her husband Larry, her favorite geek.
Strategies are only as good as their results.
What happened after clients implement Vickie’s recommendations? Check out the rest of the story with these revealing, inspiring stories in Rave Reviews. And when you’re ready to put her strategies to work for you, contact us.
After a stint in the political field, Vickie hung her shingle out in February 1987, in search of thought leaders who make the world a better place.
With her background in positioning political issues, fundraising and creating a corporate speakers bureau for a non-profit healthcare association, Vickie found her niche in helping talented people stand out and make a bigger impact in crowded markets.
Below are commonly asked questions about Vickie and her background:
What prompted you to work with thought leaders?
In my previous life, I worked on ballot campaigns for a health association in Arizona. I started out in public relations, establishing a speakers’ bureau and a rapid response system for media coverage for my organization.
After a year or two, I moved to government affairs and spent a lot of time at the state legislature where I headed up grassroots efforts and made complicated political issues easy for people to act on.
After four years, I wanted to be an advocate for something else, a cause that would help more people. I saw an ad to be an agent and promoter for a personal growth speaker and got that job.
Within a week, I knew I had found my passion — helping cool, brilliant people be more influential and change the world.
Within three weeks, I had begun working with other thought leaders who wanted a bigger impact in their marketplace. And the rest, as they say, is history…
What has kept you working with thought leaders since 1987?
Two things: the work and the people.
First, I love the variety of my work. No two clients are alike, so I’m never bored. And our gifts can be used in so many ways.
The fun begins when I find that hole in the market that seems just perfect for my client’s gifts. When you find the right place for people, the market reaction is just magical. And I love hearing what happens next for my clients.
Second, I love the people I work with. There is no other personality out there more trusting in the human spirit as thought leaders who are willing to share their gifts in service of the greater good.
I also admire their courage. Thought leaders are willing to do what everyone else dreads — give of themselves and speak their truth. It’s a vulnerable place; to be “out there” and open with their own voice. I want to support that faith in any way I can.
Why did you expand your services to professional services firms?
I didn’t go looking for these folks — they found me. I started getting inquiries back in the mid-2000’s when the marketplace was booming. There was a lot of competition and these small biz owners needed to compete with bigger players. Many of them were putting out too many RFP’s and not getting the deal. They brought me in to give them the inside edge.
I took on the challenge when I learned that what makes thought leaders stand out also impacts B2B professional service buying decisions. My big lesson here: market strategy and a good platform can differentiate their business just as much as a solo thought leader and professional speakers. And it turns out that these folks are just as much fun to work with as well.
Why do you do what you do?
First, I believe in the power of reciprocity. When one person gives, he or she also should get. That exchange creates the tide that lifts all boats. Because many thought leaders either aren’t clear about what they want or don’t think they can get it, they tend to settle for less. I want them to get their full value so they can continue to give full value. I want them to fully experience the impact they have on others.
Second, everyone needs someone who believes in them, who is willing to show them the way. My mission is to be their advocate, to look out for them, to make sure they get the best opportunities. And the best way to do that is to make sure they stand out in a sea of smart, talented people all wanting to give the same thing — their gifts.
Personally, I just want to do great work for cool people. If I’m surrounded by brilliant people who I believe in, I’m a happy camper.
There is more to life than business. Do you have hobbies or other interests?
When I got married in 1994, I discovered a life beyond working 24/7.
My family is very involved in crafting, so I started there to find a hobby. Nothing really captured my passion until I stumbled onto scrapbooking in 2000. Now I’m addicted, and have made tribute scrapbooks for family members, annual memory books of our adventures and handmade cards. It’s a lot of fun and allows me to put my other passion – photography — to good use.
My husband Larry is now retired, so we hit the road more often now. (Thanks to his geek skills, my office is totally mobile.) Between travel, my family and friends, clients and scrapbooking, my life is fabulously full.