It’s a crazy time to be an entertainer looking for work in LA right now: Rates are high. Studios are booked. There’s first, second holds all the time. But before you give up on your dream television pilot, Marianne Guenther, CEO of BIG YAM, The Parsons Agency, and SNEAKY BIG Studios, wants to put a great second option on the table. Her agency can produce the content in just one room, start post production with five editing suites, run through a color correction suite, and then your production can already take it back to your distribution partners. And speaking of blockbuster business, Marianne is as a former Executive VP at GoDaddy, president at the Arizona Advertising Guild, and serves on multiple boards. She is also a fixture in the philanthropic community.
Families with cancer are in a bad place. They’re quickly losing hope by the minute, but Paul Isenberg wants to help them. As Co-Founder and CEO of Bringing Hope Home, Paul makes sure that families with cancer receive an active treatment – even without a proof of income or tax returns. Bringing Hope Home focuses predominantly on paying rent, mortgage, utilities, car payment, and food. You might ask yourself: How is this possible? What about the running costs of manpower? Bringing Hope Home has a stable of service providers, plumbers, electricians, roofers, accountants who will come in and do work for the benefit of our families for either nothing or next to nothing. These families can be in a better place to take care of their loved ones, and Paul’s company can remove worry. Bringing Hope Home doesn’t help patients. They’re not patients to us. They are our family.
We have Marianne Guenther and Paul Eisenberg here. Marianne is the CEO of BIG YAM, The Parsons Agency and SNEAKY BIG Studios, as well as the former VP at GoDaddy. Paul Isenberg is the Co-Founder and CEO of Bringing Hope Home. They both have very unique stories. I’m really interested in talking to both of them.
Listen to the podcast here:
Arizona Advertising Guild With Marianne Guenther
I am here with Marianne Guenther. She is the CEO of BIG YAM, The Parsons Agency and SNEAKY BIG Studios, which are sister companies under Bob Parsons’ YAM Worldwide. She’s a former Executive VP at GoDaddy. She is the President of the Arizona Advertising Guild and serves on multiple boards, and is a fixture in the philanthropic community here in Arizona. We are here at SNEAKY BIG Studios, and this is an impressive place. I want to talk to you about all these things you do.
I’m excited to do so.
First of all, I was interested in going back to your background before you even started with GoDaddy. You had a medical background, did I read that?
I do. After I received my BS in Biology from the University of Iowa, I came down here and attended Midwestern University. I received a Masters of Medical Sciences from the campus here in Glendale. From there, I also became certified as a physician assistant.
I was a pharmaceutical rep for AstraZeneca. Were you here in town as a PA?
Yeah, I was. I worked downtown at Pulmonary Associates.
Where is that in town because that probably was my territory?
They have lots of offices now, they had three back then. It is directly across from what was called Good Samaritan.
That was my territory.
We could have met. I worked there from about ’02 to ‘05.
You probably started right after I left. I had left by then. PA, that’s a tough job. You’ve got to have training on top of all this training. That helps you probably in a lot of other aspects. Did they ever call you like you’re their doctor and they want to have a free advice?
I used to. I shut that down.
I get some of that. It’s such an interesting field to get see how medicine has changed, but you decided not to go in that direction. You were with, with GoDaddy for awhile. When did GoDaddy actually start?
GoDaddy was founded in 1997. I joined GoDaddy part time in 2002. As I was working full time as a physician assistant downtown, I would go there in the evening sometimes and I would help with various things. In the beginning, I worked primarily in two different departments, which may not sound like a lot of fun, but to me they were a blast. At one point, I worked in domain services. I would help with transferring of domain names into GoDaddy, and sometimes transferring domain names out of GoDaddy. Then the other department where I worked was the fraud department. We would look for triggers of what would look like fraudulent activity and we would either dig into that or clear the order and process it through.
That’s an interesting combination of things. What kind of things were fraudulent activity that you’re looking for?
If the originating country maybe was a little suspicious or things didn’t match up for where their IP was, the order and where the credit card was the billing address, super fun things.
That could be a really strong technology background in which you need to run this place. How was the transition? You go from that to coming over here. This used to be Carrie Martz’ agency, right?
BIG YAM, The Parsons Agency, it was. Carrie ran a successful agency here in town for about three decades, strong roots in public relations. In October 2013, that is when Bob Parsons and Carrie Martz decided to partner together and the acquisition occurred. Then she continued to run the agency for a couple more years, and then in 2015 she decided to retire. That’s when I came over to the agency. That’s in the spring of 2015.
Everybody talks about this place. What I want to talk to you about what’s happening in Arizona in terms of trying to bring video and television and production in general to Arizona. We’re so close to California and everything goes over there. We’re starting to see people interested in doing business here. There’s a lot more interest than I’ve ever seen in the past.
We are seeing more jobs that are either coming here or have interest in coming here, whether they be episodic in nature like game shows. We are seeing more interest because they realize we are good second choice. We are their closest neighbor. We have a deep pool of talent here in the city that can help whether it be on the directing side, the producing side, grips and gaffers and all the different crew you need to pull off of production on a large scale, we have that here. If you’re on the accounting side, it tends to be less expensive too, which is great. We have the flexibility because we are a right to work state. We can work union, we can work non-union and it’s nice when you are able to partner with somebody who has that flexibility.
I’ve been in talks with people who wanted to do TV shows and so I’ve had a lot of questions that come up in my mind. This is a great opportunity to ask you about how this all works. There’s no studio that compares to this in Arizona. There’s other studios, but this one is unique in what you offer. I can imagine that you do a lot of the advertising videos of creation and that type of thing. What about television shows? Are people coming to you to start talking about doing maybe pilots or talking to you about doing a reality series or anything like that? Is it more just television ads? I’m just curious in what realm are you doing it.
We have primarily partnered on the television ads, so the commercial side and then lots of other types of content around that. Whether it be product videos or CEO road shows or podcast development show or a radio spot development. We are starting to see some folks come to us for pilot creation. We have had some fairly deep discussions. There’s one that’s looming on the horizon and might happen in early June. It would be neat to see that take off.
Do you have executive producers who live in Arizona? Where do you get the people for that kind of stuff and production and the rest of it? When you want to sell it to the different markets, who does all that?
It depends on the type of content. If it is like the discussion we are talking through for this pilot to take place in early June, they will bring their executive producer with them. The running joke has been, especially for someone who’s in LA and has to deal with that crazy traffic, that depending on where they are going from and to and the time of the day, they’re like, “We could easily go over to any of our local airports, hop a flight even over to Sky Harbor and we can be there at your studio faster than if we were to do the haul and the traffic.” It’s very easy to bring over some of those key players when it comes to a project of that magnitude.
On the flip side, we have produced commercials and other projects here where their talent, they live here. Some of them live here and work here full time. Some of those folks live here and unfortunately they have been having to go outside of Arizona to work. They go on a per project basis or a Monday through Wednesday or Monday through Friday, and then they come back here for the weekend. They want to work here because they live here and they want to do everything here.
You’re getting a lot of people moving here, especially with the tax changes and everything. It gets expensive to live in California. Do you see this becoming more of a hub for production Arizona as compared to other areas?
That’s what we hope we hope to see. There are lots of other great studios in town for sure. This is the only studio of this magnitude here now. We do hope that there are other competitors that come on board in future years so that we can make this a hub of production. It is quite busy over in LA, rates are high. Studios are booked, there’s first, second holds all the time. We want to be a very good second option for them.
You have a huge facility. You could probably have an audience here, right?
We can. We can easily build an audience. There are 4,000 square feet around us. We have a 70 x 40 foot cyc wall. This beautiful black drape that can go all the way around the studio. We can easily bring in bleachers or other type of formats to accommodate a live audience.
You film the show here. How are you getting these shows out to the networks? How do they get it from there?
Depending on the type of project, they’re all so different. We’re so flexible how we work with our customers. We can produce the content here in this room and then that can be the end of our relationship, or we can then help further in the process. We have post production which includes the five editing suites, we have a color correction suite. We can continue to work with our customers on that end until they have a finished product. Then in that case, they’re going to take it back to their distribution partners or whoever they’re partnering with to produce the content.
It’s a very interesting setup to see everything. I got to see the green room. You really have everything.
Did you get to see the broadcast facility, our production control room?
I saw that with all the TVs. That was really impressive. I don’t know what he was doing in there, but it was really something to see.
You probably saw our studio engineer, Tom. He’s crazy smart.
You were also dealing with advertising. That was television and you’re dealing with other aspects of production. Tell me about this Arizona Advertising Guild.
Arizona Advertising Guild, we call it AZAG for short. In October of 2016, there were a number of ad agency CEOs that were invited to a happy hour here, including folks like OH Partners, Santy Integrated, Six Degrees. We were talking through from an ad agency perspective what’s working really well in Arizona and where are we having struggles. As we did a round table, we were discussing our challenges and we were all having some of the same challenges. They were around primarily two factors. One, that we are growing and it’s difficult to find good talent. How do we maybe pool our resources together and our platform, create this common platform of communication to attract talent into Arizona? Because as somebody in the industry, when they are potentially looking for a move, they may look for a move from Madison Avenue to maybe LA or Chicago or different market in Portland or Austin, one of the up and coming areas. They don’t generally consider Phoenix and that can be for a number of reasons.
It’s stereotype. They don’t consider this a huge market for that. That was one of the challenges. The second challenge we had was around how do we let some of these larger brands know that we are a serious ad agency environment here, a community. If you pull up the covers and look in within each of these groups, like OH Partners or Santy, we’re working with some well-known companies, but unfortunately we hadn’t had the platform where we could tell the collective story. Not one individual story was getting that national attention. We’ve decided to band together. Something that from our research have found that has never been done before, anywhere that we can find in our country. We are competitors and usually it’s very competitive in nature. We decided we’re going to create this non-for-profit entity called Arizona Advertising Guild. It is a mission based organization to tell our story.
Do you have get-togethers on a regular basis? How does this work?
We have quarterly board meetings. There are five board members. We have biweekly calls, we talk about what’s going on. It was neat interagency working group on a couple of different fronts that we’ve created. We haven’t ever heard of this being done before. Our creative director from BIG YAM is on it. Then we have an account director from a different agency. We have a copywriter from a different agency, from Anderson Advertising. These guys have been working together collectively to create our brand, our website, our collateral, anything else that we need. To see groups come together from different agencies and work, it has been mind-blowing.
If they all work together and they compete, they’re not going to get anything.
We officially launched in November of 2017. We have a couple of things that we’re doing. We’ve collectively pooled funds together. Something that hasn’t happened between competitors. We’re going out there pretty hard and heavy trying to get our name in front of the key teammates in the ad industry so that when they’re considering a move, consider Arizona, come to us. We will soon be announcing that our first transplant and I believe she’s coming from Salt Lake City, will be moving to Arizona to one of the ad agencies who found us through our efforts. It’s coming to fruition.
You’ve got all this going on. We have Ralph, which is the sneaky big guy. He’s a raccoon. SNEAKY BIG and BIG YAM, where are these names from? I’m just curious because I’m sure you get that a lot.
Let’s talk about YAM. Our parent company is YAM Worldwide. As Bob Parsons was leading the day–to-day activities at GoDaddy and was starting some other endeavors, he needed to have a parent company over them. He was born and raised in Baltimore. While he lived there, him and his friends had this expression with each other that they would use. It was meant as something fun and something you would only say to a good friend. It’s, “You’re a mess.” It’s never meant to be an insult. He likes to have fun with names. That is our parent company name, YAM. As we were rebranding that ad agency, when Carrie Martz retired, we went through the process that we would typically do. We had a few names that we narrowed it down to, and we decided that we would attach back to our parent company, and we are BIG YAM. It works out well because as we are initiating discussions with potential customers, they wouldn’t need to work with us if there wasn’t some type of mess within the organization. They need help solving it. It allows for the conversation to start. SNEAKY BIG comes from a golf term.
I think Bob Parsons owned some kind of a golf course or something in town, right?
Yes, Parsons XtremeGolf.
SNEAKY Big comes from a golf term, it’s sneaky long. Let’s just say Amber, who’s over here were to go up on the tee box and get her driver out and she were to crank a drive down the middle of the fairway, 250 yards. She’s petite. You wouldn’t expect that from her, so you would say, “That was sneaky long. Totally impressed.” We are sneaky big here in the studio because you wouldn’t expect a studio of this magnitude and the technology we have housed within it to be in Arizona. We’re sneaky big, and it’s a pleasant surprise.
What else was a pleasant surprise is a female CEO, and one with blue hair. I love the back of your hair. She’s got a little blue going, which you’re very hip for a CEO. What’s it like to be a head of a major company being CEO, female in a technology where we’re hearing we don’t have enough females? You probably get noticed quite a bit. Does that come with pressure or do you feel like you need to set the standard? What is that like?
In some ways, I don’t notice it because it’s just who I am. We talked about Arizona Advertising Guild, AZAG, and the folks that are members. There’s Michelle Olsen and Amy, Sheila, there are a lot of women that are running companies and ad agencies, which to your point isn’t typical. Maybe Phoenix is going to be the one that turns that around. If you look upstairs, within the teammate roster of BIG YAM, the majority are females which is unusual for an ad agency. We have females in key positions, leading departments. Back at GoDaddy, many of the executive vice presidents and the executive staff were females; Christine, Nima and Barb.
They need to come to Arizona and get all of these bright women for these positions apparently because they’ve got a lot of them here. Now that you have all this success and I think a lot of people would use these studios. I know so many people that have radio shows like I have. They can do production here or they do podcasts or different things that you do here. I think a lot of people are trying to monetize what they do and that can be a challenge for that industry. Do you have any ability to help with sponsorship with those type of situations? What advice would you give somebody that has a show that they were trying to get sponsors? I know how hard that is.
It is difficult because there are lots of players in the market. My two pieces of advice would be you have to look for a natural fit. Unfortunately, many folks look for an easy fit, maybe not what’s natural and take a little bit of a longer curation for that to happen. My other piece of advice would be think differently. Think about what isn’t occurring right now and what could be. Everyone does what they think they should do. There’s too many players in that particular lanes. You got to be like, “What are the other lanes out here that maybe people haven’t thought of?
I’m working on a book on curiosity, so I’m always interested in thinking outside the norm. You are obviously a curious person because you go right to that. Have you always been naturally curious if you’ve gone from all these different industries?
When I was growing up, my girlfriend and I, Nicole, we were the entrepreneurs of the neighborhood. We would be out selling whatever we could think of. We’d go door to door and sell our trades of the week. We shoveled driveways. In some ways, yes and in some ways, I don’t know.
You’re very successful and this has been very interesting to find out about all the things that you’re working on here. A lot of people would probably love to know more about how can they find out more about this studio and more about your advertising agency, everything that you’re working on. Is there some major connection, website or several websites you can share?
There are multiple websites. If anyone is interested in learning more about the studio here, I would suggest that you go to SneakyBig.com. On the website, we have lots of information around the services that we offer, how we can partner, our rates. We have prior client works that we’ve done, so you can see a sample of whom we’ve worked with in the past. Through the website, there’s our phone number, there’s a contact field. If somebody wants to come in and meet us face to face and get a tour of the facility, we do that all the time. That’s the fun thing when we bring folks in. We’re going into the editing suites and we’re going into the production control room on and into Mike’s room. Almost always whether you guys like it or not, we’ll stop and say, “Here’s who we’re bringing through the studio. This is Mike and this is Tyler.”
We’ll chat with folks along the way so they can get a feel for who will they be working with if they do come here. Then on the agency side we do have a great website, BigYAM.com. It’s going to have the different services that we offer. It’s going to have some of our client work, case studies, contact information. We’re happy to speak with whoever is interested in talking with us, whether that be face to face or a quick phone call. One thing that in some ways sets us apart and in other ways, not because other studios and ad agencies out are doing the same thing, but we’re super responsive. If somebody reaches out to us, we’re on the phone with them within an hour.
This has been fun and thank you for letting me use your studio for this. This is wonderful. It’s much more glamorous than in my normal Zoom exchange.
We’re happy to help. This is fun.
This has been a great chance to see what you are doing. We got to bring more business to Arizona. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with all this. This was a great opportunity. We will hopefully just check in and see how it goes in the future. Thank you, Marianne Guenther.
Bringing Hope Home With Paul Isenberg
I am here with Paul Isenberg who is the Co-Founder and CEO of Bringing Hope Home. Bringing Hope Home has grown to 1.8 million organization as that has helped approximately 4,300 plus local families with cancer. Paul oversees the day-to-day operations of Bringing Hope Home while simultaneously achieving the goals established by the board of directors. With more than 30 years of experience in sales and organizational leadership with Fortune 100 as well as small middle market companies, he successfully transitioned into the non-profit sector. It’s nice to have you here, Paul.
Diane, it’s so great to be with you. Thank you for having us to be part of your day.
I am very interested in what you’re doing. I sometimes wait until closer to when guests are on the show to read about them so I don’t forget what I read. I was reviewing again your information, the story is interesting and touching, what you’ve done with this group. I am interested in having you share how you started with The Great Guys Group that led to the Bringing Hope Home group, and the story about Nicole. Can you tell that story?
I went to a local college in Southeastern Pennsylvania called West Chester University. I went there to go to school and played football. I embodied the life experiences of a football player down to my behavior and my clothing during the early ‘80s. I was walking to class one day and this beautiful young woman gets off the shuttle bus. She was talking to a dorm friend of mine and I went over thinking that there’s no way this one will not be impressed by this great young man. I tried to get our mutual friend to introduce us. My mutual friend, her name was Janet, knew me pretty well and she said, “No, I’m not going to introduce you.”
I was very persistent and I got the opportunity to be introduced to Nicole and was instantly taken by her. She had a boyfriend. She always was a nice girl and had a pretty serious boyfriend. In a non-creepy way I kept tabs on, was she dating anybody and when I could finally find my opportunity? I ended up, again in a non-creepy way, I graduated on a Saturday in 1987. My mom and dad and my sister and I went to a family graduation lunch at this restaurant where a buddy of mine was working. It always pays to be nice to people because it’s the right thing to do, but it also impacts your life in such a great way.
This young guy, Mike had tried to walk on to the football team. It didn’t work out, but he was a nice guy and we hung out a little bit. He was working there and I saw Nicole there and I said, “Mike, does Nicole work here all summer?” He goes, “Yeah, my dad is the restaurant owner. She’s here all summer.” I said, “You got to get me a job tending bar so I can get to know her.” He got me a job. I was tending bar two days a week and through some additional work, I got her to go out with me. We went to Denny’s on a Sunday night because I’m a classy guy.
I got her to marry me in 1991. We had our first child, Christopher was born in 1995. She became a stay-at-home mom. She had a career in the pharmaceutical industry but really wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Then she became pregnant with our second child, Gabrielle, who was born in 1997. I was working in a sales capacity for some big companies. She was home and we had a great life. When she’s pregnant with Gabby, she’s really tired. We would explain that away that she was home with the two-year-old and she was pregnant. Then she had itchy skin, and we explained that away that it was a tough winter that year and we have oil heat and that’s why your skin is itchy and dry. She had this cough and we kept explaining everything away. Then one morning she woke up not being able to catch her breath. She’s about eight and half, nine months pregnant. She’s like, “I can’t catch my breath.” She wasn’t really gaining weight. She gained 25 or 30 pounds with Christopher, but she gained about 16 with Gabrielle. She goes, “I’m going to go to the hospital because something’s not right.” I said, “Do you want me to go?” She goes, “No, you stay home with Christopher.”
She goes to the hospital early in the morning, a couple of hours later, I was checking in with her. This was before cell phones were so prevalent. I was playing with Christopher in the morning and she called me. She goes, “I just got out of X-ray and they found something.” I could hear it in her voice. I said, “What do you mean? What is something? What did they find?” She goes, “I don’t know. I can’t find anybody.” Then she goes, “Somebody in scrubs is coming, I’m going to talk to him.” It turned out that they found a large mass in her medial spinal area of her chest, which is right behind the sternum between the lungs. There was a large mass. We went for another test and it turned out that she’s nine months pregnant and she had Stage IV Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Right then, our world, stopped, shifted, changed and chaos descended on our little world. I’m a Type A, a little bit of a control freak. I started making calls and we’re very lucky, the University of Pennsylvania health system is great. We got her in there through some friends and we induced Gabrielle. Gabrielle was born fine, thank God.
Nicole went right into six and a half years of treatment. She was treated for four plus years at the University of Pennsylvania where she had so much chemo and so much radiation. She had a bone marrow transplant that didn’t work. Then she had two plus years of treatment at National Institute of Health, NIH, in Bethesda, Maryland where she had more chemo and more radiation and another bone marrow transplant. None of it worked, and sadly, she passed August 2nd of 2003. It was crushing, but she was so sick, she was ready to go. We were happily married for twelve years, and even though she was sick and struggling, we enjoyed our life trying to do whatever we could do. We’ve dedicated ourselves to putting our faith in our family first and taking care of her, and we were able to do that. I was very blessed because as a sales professional, and some of your audience probably come from the sales world, as long as you make your number and your value adding to your company, you can do whatever you need to do. I was able to be with her most of her treatments.
In 2001, she was halfway through the six years, I was coming home saying, “I just saw Diane today. She’s a great guy. I’ve seen Jimmy, and Mary and Bobby. They’re all great guys.” I don’t see anybody because I’m working, I’m coming home or taking care of what we need to do. She got tired of me complaining and she was five foot nothing and like a buck twelve. She said to me, “You need to shut up and go do something.” I said like any typical husband, “What should I do?” She goes, “Why don’t you do an event that raises money for a charity? That way you can see all the people that you want to see.” It was absolutely brilliant simplicity. My co-founder and I, Tim Sherry, we started inviting people. We had a relationship with the American Cancer Society and Coaches vs. Cancer, which is the NCAA Men’s Basketball coaches. Their group here in Philadelphia led by Fran Dunphy from Temple and a Phil Martelli from Saint Joseph are very active and worked together to raise a lot of money.
We asked them to come to a dinner and let us use them as a marquee. We called it the Great Guys Dinner because we only invited people we liked. We did the dinner for eight years for the benefit of the American Cancer Society and raised about $500,000. In essence, we learned how to raise money through the dinner, corporate sponsorships and using our network. Then between year seven and eight, one of the people that have been coming to the dinner, a really wonderful man passed away and we heard his wife was struggling with the two younger daughters. We went to one of our sponsors and said, “Every year, you write us a $5,000 check for the Great Guy Dinner, the American Cancer Society. This year, I want you to write down a $3,000 check and give us the to cash to give to this family because they’re going through tough time.” We did it very privately, and it was such an epiphany type experience for us. $2,000 is a lot of money but it’s not a million bucks. I was taken aback by the gratitude and the impact on this family. This was 2000 and going into 2008.
We formed the Great Guys Group from the Great Guy Dinner as a non-profit to take care of families going through cancer by paying their bills. We then made a branding change to make it Bringing Hope Home. That was our tagline and we own the domain that’s why we made the change. We started paying bills for families with cancer. We did some research and we discovered that if you get diagnosed with cancer, even if you have healthcare coverage, your out of pocket just to get your loved one taken care of medically can add an additional $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 or more a year. I had lived that. To go to NIH, it is about a two-hour drive. You got to get a hotel. You had to pay for parking. We had to eat. When she was going through a bone marrow transplant and she got out, we had to go down every three days. It was a significant cost plus taking time off from work. We would hear these stories in these waiting rooms and in these treatment areas that you get to know people immediately. People are picking between, “I’m either going to pay for my heating bill or food, or my electric bill or my rent.”
Nicole, one of the things I loved about her was she was so directly passionate and compassionate for other people. She said, “This isn’t right.” When you have people in your life that you know really well, a lot of times it’s not what they say, it’s how they say it. When she said, “This isn’t right,” it was my cue being happily married man to say, “What do you want me to do?” That’s where the dinner came from and that’s where the organization came from. Fast forward now, we were founded in 2008. We raised $125,000 and helped ten families probably from the dinner. In our tenth anniversary, we are going to help 720 families and raise $2 million. I am the luckiest, most blessed guy you will ever talk to. We have events, we have fundraising, we have individual donors and large corporate donors. We connect them to the families we help. We help all types of people with all types of cancer. They just have to live in our geographical area and be in active treatment. They don’t have to give us a proof of income or tax returns. They’re in a bad place, we want to help them.
We focus predominantly on paying rent, mortgage, utilities, car payment and food. We have a stable of service providers, plumbers, electricians, roofers, accountants who will come in and do work for the benefit of our families for either nothing or next to nothing so these families can be in a better place to take care of their loved ones and we can remove worry. We don’t help patients. They’re not patients to us, they are our family. You are not allowed to use the ‘patient’ word in our office, a dollar fine. They are our families. One of the words to us is our families. They love us, we love them. We’re all just crazy enough to be family together and it’s the greatest, most rewarding thing. One of the greatest and most rewarding things I’ve ever been a part of.
I went to your site and when you first go to the site which is BringingHopeHome.org, if you go to ‘About’, there is a picture of Nicole holding your daughter. She’s this stunningly beautiful woman, almost like Sharon Tate look from what I remember. That type of blond, beautiful thing. She just looked so alive with her baby. It’s the most heart wrenching story when I was listening to it. Your positive spin that you’ve been able to do with this to help other people and in her memory, it was such a great story.
She was such a beautiful person, woman but the thing that propelled me into full devotion and love to her was she was more beautiful inside.
She has look to her that you can see such life in her eyes. It’s so moving to see what you’ve done. I know you just do it in that area, but I’m wondering how this can grow so you don’t have to just be in Philadelphia.
We call it the Greater Philadelphia area. We are in Philadelphia surrounding counties, which if you look on the map is the Southeast corner of Pennsylvania. We go right next door across the river to Southern New Jersey, which is the middle of the state to the shore, and then the state of Delaware. Last year, we expanded to Baltimore. We helped ten families in Baltimore last year. We’re going to help more this year. We have a school program at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, which has led us to help families in Pittsburgh. Through a relationship with a big supermarket chain who has 179 stores throughout the Northeast, we have now gone to, we call it New York Metro, which is Southern Connecticut, Westchester County, New York and North Jersey.
We’ve expanded quite a bit and one of the things that has helped us is if you have a donor where you are and they say, “We want to give you $100,000 to help families in this area,” we will keep the money in that area to help those families. We can expand, but we only expand to where we get the money. We think that’s really important because our number one priority is to help as many families with as much impact as possible. Our number two priority is to make sure that our donors are engaged and connected to the families as best they can be so they know what they’re getting. Those are our two biggest priorities that drive us every day. If any of your listeners or you or anybody who wants to donate, you can earmark that money for a specific area if we’re able to pull it together.
How do you pick which families? Do you have to turn families away ever?
There’s two questions. The first question is how do we get our families. Our families are nominated to us by the social workers at the hospital where they are treated. They have to be in our area and they have to be in some type of active treatment. We get the families nominated to us on the first of the month. We have an electronic process and then we have two people in our family office, Amy and Judy and you can see them on our website under the ‘About’ section, there’s a place for our team. They deal with our families and it’s not just, “What do you want? How can we help?” It’s, “How are you? What do you need? What’s a challenge today?” If we can uncover any other needs we know we can help with, we definitely want to do that. The social worker is the one that nominates a family based on the need that the social worker thinks that family has.
Do we ever have to turn families away? Yes, we’re a non-profit but we still run ourselves as a business. We have a budget that is dictated by the amount of funding that we’re able to raise, translates it to families we can help. We help between 20 and 40 families or more a month depending on how much money we have coming in. We do have to turn families when we get a lot of calls from families that find us on Google searches and they’re calling from Oregon or Arkansas and we’re not able to help. We do have some resources that we know that are national that we try to turn them onto. It’s a process and like any other business, you have to have the ability to say no every now and then, so you can say yes more often.
It’s got to be tough. I know your area pretty well. I used to work for AstraZeneca. I was a pharmaceutical rep too.
They’re a big supporter of ours.
When you mentioned Delaware, I used to fly into Philly to go to Wilmington, Delaware quite a bit. Your wife was a pharmaceutical rep did you say?
Yeah, she worked for Procter & Gamble. I think she was there for five or six years.
I worked for us for AstraZeneca nearly twenty years. I know that neck of the woods. I followed up on your story to see what happened and I’m sure people are interested, now this has been a while since Nicole died. You’ve remarried at this point?
Yes. I’m very blessed and very fortunate, I was able to find love again. A wonderful woman who’s a widow who lost her husband in an accident. We each had two children and a dog. Now we have four kids and two dogs. We were each married twelve happily happy years to our late spouses, and we just celebrated our thirteenth anniversary together. We all went to college together. I knew her late husband because we played football together. He was a little bit older. I never knew my wife now or does she know me even though it was one of those crazy stories where her roommate and one of my housemates dated for a year and they were at our house all the time and I never met her.
Her best friend from college was one of my friends, but we never met. I always joke, but it’s also true. Had either one of my wives knew me in college, they would never have married me. It’s true. She works for a medical products company. She’s a life coach. She’s spectacular. It’s so much fun to be married to a life coach. You can’t just come home and say, “I had a tough day.” “How come you had a tough day? Tell me about it? What does that mean? What’s tough mean to you?” I’m like, “Just be my wife and tell me it’s okay and we’ll move on.”
We’re very blessed because our children are really close. Sometimes they’re as close or closer than natural blood related to siblings. Specifically, our boys are not blood related but they’re three days apart. We got married, I think the boys were ten. We ended up moving into her house because she had just done some work and we were planning another renovation. We literally measured each room so they were all the same size. Within two weeks of being married and living under the same roof together, the boys both came to us said, “We want to knock the wall down between our two rooms,” and this is great. We’re lucky, really fortunate and blessed.
No kids together? Another movie reference, no, yours, mine and ours?
No, we’re Roman Catholic and we went for our discussion with the priest. We were 40 when we got married and that is not at all old but the priest who we know a little bit, he said, “I know your story. I see you at church. I know the kids. Are you going to have more children?” I think my face and a chuckle betrayed me. He looked at me and he’s like, “Paul, you’re a young man. You could still have more children.” I said, “Father, with all due respect, I can father more children. I don’t know that I can handle more children.” We had to blend the family from two distinct different family setups. Figure it all out and the tragedy. We’ve all been through counseling at some level and we wanted to make sure that we were focused. I said to my wife, “We get married, we have to burn the boats. This is where we are. This is who we are and this is our family. We’re going to do whatever we have to do to be together and be happy.” Thank God it’s really worked out. We’re very blessed.
This is really an inspirational story. I’m very impressed by what you’ve been able to do with Bringing Hope Home. I was hoping that everybody can listen to this and maybe expand a help, make this be for so many more people. If they could learn more about it, I thought, that’s the first step. If you could share how people can find out more, would you mind sharing your information?
We’re BringingHopeHome.org. They can find us on Facebook, Bringing Hope Home. We are on Instagram and Twitter with either Hope Nation or BHHPhilly. We’re very active on social media. I’m not necessarily active but my team is really active. We do a lot of events. We are always open to helping more families. If anybody wants to shoot us a note or reach out to me, they can connect with me on our website under the team document. There’s videos of the families that we’ve helped out on our website and there are events galore coming up.
Paul, this is such an inspiration. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Thank you, Diane. It’s been a pleasure. You’re a great follow on LinkedIn. I’ll give you a plug. I really like listening to your podcast on iTunes. Some of the guests you have, me excluded, are spectacular. Congratulations to you.
Thank you so much. I hope everybody follows there.
I want to thank Marianne and Paul. They were such great guests, such interesting stories. I learned a lot from Marianne about production and what they can do at their facility. It was fun to visit there. Paul’s story is so inspirational and I was so glad that he got out and shared that. We get so many fascinating guests on this show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can go to DrDianeHamiltonRadio.com to listen to the show. You can also go to DrDianeHamilton.com/Blog if you want to read the episodes to get a little bit more. If you want to tweet some of the little tweets that they come up with on the blog area, it’s cool to see what they do with that and there’s so much information. Everything we talked about on the show, there’s links to everything, so I hope you check out the site. I hope you come back for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
About Marianne Guenther
Marianne Guenther is the CEO of BIG YAM, The Parsons Agency and SNEAKY BIG Studios – sister companies under Bob Parson’s YAM Worldwide. She a former Executive VP at GoDaddy. She is the president at the Arizona Advertising Guild. She serves on multiple boards and is a fixture in the philanthropic community.
About Paul Isenberg
Paul Isenberg is the Co-Founder and CEO of Bringing Hope Home. Bringing Hope Home has grown to a $1.8mm organization that has helped approximately 4300+ local Families with cancer. Paul oversees the day-to-day operations of BHH while simultaneously achieving the goals established by the Board of Directors. With over 30 years of experience in sales and organizational leadership within Fortune 100 as well as small/middle market companies, he has successfully transitioned into the nonprofit sector., Marianne Guenther is the CEO of BIG YAM, The Parsons Agency and SNEAKY BIG Studios – sister companies under Bob Parson’s YAM Worldwide. She a former Executive VP at GoDaddy. She is the president at the Arizona Advertising Guild. She serves on multiple boards and is a fixture in the philanthropic community.
Paul Isenberg is the Co-Founder and CEO of Bringing Hope Home. Bringing Hope Home has grown to a $1.8mm organization that has helped approximately 4300+ local Families with cancer. Paul oversees the day-to-day operations of BHH while simultaneously achieving the goals established by the Board of Directors. With over 30 years of experience in sales and organizational leadership within Fortune 100 as well as small/middle market companies, he has successfully transitioned into the nonprofit sector.
- BIG YAM, The Parsons Agency
- SNEAKY BIG Studios
- Bringing Hope Home
- YAM Worldwide
- Arizona Advertising Guild
- OH Partners
- Santy Integrated
- Six Degrees
- Parsons XtremeGolf
- Coaches vs. Cancer
- Great Guys Dinner
- Bringing Hope Home – Facebook
- Bringing Hope Home’s Instagram
- Bringing Hope Home’s Twitter
- Dr. Diane Hamilton’s LinkedIn