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Disrupt Yourself Podcast with Whitney Johnson

Dec 3, 2019

When a photo of a new “boy band” crossed PR Agent Heather Hawkins’ desk in 2001, she was surprised at how glamorously they were presented. The era of Backstreet Boys was over; kids were listening to “real music” (like highly produced punk), and what was more, the look of the band didn’t match the sound. As Heather and her coworkers listened to the music and got to know the band members, they quickly realized that something needed to change.

“[W]e realized that in order for them to survive in the ecosystem we needed to absolutely double down on the music and who they really were as people. We understood that that was going to mean making some really tough decisions.”

Heather and her crew took on the philosophy of “Radical Authenticity” and proudly began shipping the band to Jeep Jamboree campouts, Sam Adams beer festivals, and locations, where bands respected for their musical proficiency, would be expected to play. Their long game paid off: the band, Maroon 5, became a globally recognized tour de force, and are still producing hits today.

Now the CEO and founder of Elevation Strategy, a visibility consultancy, Heather loves working with companies to crystallize their brand DNA and find their “guiding North Star.”

Listen in to our conversation and learn more in the show notes at