Our CEO, Jim Weiss, likes to ask each of us “what’s your why?” Recently a college student sent me a great note in response to a year old post I’d written about my trajectory into PR nearly two decades ago and it made me think about my current “why.” Because while some reasons may stay the same – the people I work with, truly caring about the work and the impact it can have on patients and society, and the compensation – for me there must always be growth and learning or I naturally lose interest.

As president of BrewLife, an integrated branding and communications agency under the W2O Group umbrella (along with WCG and tWist Marketing), I’m now setting goals for myself and my team that have required a change in the way I think about and approach my work. These are the big things – the personal things – that require an individual journey and are hard to teach. It’s pushed me to work on the parts of myself that hold me back, namely fear, impatience, and self-doubt. And it’s pushed me to liberate the things I do best, like taking calculated risks, and deliberate and compassionate coaching of my team and colleagues. Then there’s my tendency to grow impassioned on subjects I care greatly about and to fight for what I believe is right – and practicing how I channel that action most productively as a leader in the workplace.

It can be really uncomfortable at times, and it requires incredible mindfulness to avoid inadvertently wandering into anxiety. But observing as things fall into place by removing some of the personal obstacles and sabotages, and sharing in the success of my teams makes it a gratifying effort. This tension and the intrinsic reward that results sit at that place where true personal change can occur, and are driving an evolution within me that I can only embrace.

And now for a long post script – in honor of #TBT, here’s that post from last year excerpted from Cosmopolitan magazine, November 12, 2014:

5 Fascinating Jobs You Can Get With a Biology Degree

Just because you study the subject doesn’t mean you have plans to be a doctor.

I interned at a veterinary hospital after my junior year in college. While I loved interacting with animals, I couldn’t stomach the regular procedures that made up the day-to-day work, namely declawing kittens and cropping dogs’ ears. I also volunteered in a hospital for a few years as a candy striper, and I loved it. I had an epiphany in college when I took a couple of classes on Eastern philosophy that Western medicine is incredibly disconnected from the overall well-being of a person. I graduated unsure of what I was going to do.

My first job was as a marketing coordinator for a friend’s digital agency [that] focused on the big three auto companies. My parents lived in Michigan and I was trying to figure out my next move, so I moved in with them for about nine months. My job was a glorified office manager, but I also learned how to optimize websites and began helping with sales efforts. It got my feet wet with the art of the cold call – something that helped me tremendously when I started out in PR.

A year later, I decided to move to San Francisco. I signed on with a temp agency and got a job as a quality assurance coordinator at Elan Pharmaceuticals. It was a pretty mind-numbing job, which consisted mostly of tracking inventory and filling out incredibly detailed reports. It brainwashed me a bit in terms of attention to detail. I also learned that I did not want to work in a lab.

I came across an internship at a tech-focused PR agency, Alexander Communications (which was acquired by Ogilvy & Mather). This was at the height of the tech bubble in 1999, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. My prior experience at the digital agency had left a good impression so I went for it.

The internship was pretty competitive, apparently, and the team that hired me said they did so because I had a unique degree that implied an analytical mindset and didn’t carry the typical communications or journalism major. I really enjoyed the people I was working with. Great communicators tend to think fast on their feet and have a good sense of humor, and at agencies you tend to have a younger crew too. My hourly pay meant I was eating ramen during the week, but the tech parties fed considerably better and there were a lot of those.

After five years, I was pretty burnt out on the big agency environment and wanted to move into health care. One of my prior colleagues at Ogilvy put me in touch with the CEO of a six-person agency focused on biotech corporate communications. Here, both my big agency experience and my degree were clear assets.

I’ve been at WCG for nearly 11 years and serve as lead for the 40-person health care practice. WCG is a global communications company that serves the health care industry. I think going to a liberal arts college allowed me to explore a lot of different subjects and follow my natural curiosity from both a left- and right-brain perspective. Ultimately, that’s what my job is about: synthesizing scientific or technical data, and turning it into a compelling and digestible storyline.

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Yesterday we had our Annual BrewLife Offsite; a yearly planning and social event that brings our whole team together from across the country to brainstorm and discuss the plan for the year(s) ahead. Held in San Francisco, this year’s offsite was one many were particularly excited about as we have undergone some pretty significant changes here at BrewLife in the last few months.

Our new President, Carolyn Wang, took the reigns back in April and several new team members joined the BrewLife agency (most from within our existing W2O network). This offsite was really the first time we were all coming together as the new BrewLife – and trust us, the day did not disappoint!

The event began with our out-of-town team members slowly trickling into the SF office on Wednesday. We all gathered over cocktails after work – a chance to meet and mingle before Thursday’s full-day working session.

Bright and early on Thursday morning we reconvened in Napa (our SF conference room, not wine country #NotSoNapa) and settled in for a whole day of presentations and brainstorming sessions.

Agenda items included a State of the State from our fearless leader, an overview of the three-year plan for BrewLife, a presentation on BrewLife’s brand and position in the marketplace, and some really interesting exercises involving many, many colorful markers and poster board.

Some highlights from the day include a brilliant book idea, a duck boat, umpteen ideas for thought leadership initiatives, and our president’s face on the cover of every industry magazine. We also took a pledge to commit to a few important things this year. Did I mention we are an overly ambitious group?

After a very productive day in the office, we ventured out as a group for dinner  at a local restaurant perfectly situated right on the waterfront in San Francisco.

Some of us really got into the spirit and opted to get the full SF experience by taking a slightly faster mode of transporation (i.e. a pedicab) to the restaurant (selfishly flying by the rest of our team who opted to walk instead).

Once we arrived (some more refreshed than others) we settled in for one amazing meal and even better conversation. Looking through all of the photos the next day, it’s amazing to see so many smiling faces engaged in conversation.

Take a peek for yourself …

All in all, it was a very productive offsite for so many reasons. We all left feeling united as a team with clear goals set in place for the next few years. We have a stronger sense of camaraderie and some really big plans for the next phase of BrewLife.

So be sure to stay tuned 🙂


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(Featured image was sourced from Flickr Creative Commons, user Caruba)

We all know how difficult is it to return to the office after a long weekend. Returning after the July Fourth weekend, however, always seems a little bit more difficult. Summer has arrived (albeit most of the time you wouldn’t know it here in San Francisco), and many of us are still dreaming of the beach, BBQs, and lazy days spent in the sunshine.

So, in order to liven things up on this Monday morning, we wanted to share some of our favorite ways we celebrated the Fourth of July long weekend in hopes you may spend some time today daydreaming of next year’s celebration.

Happy Fourth (and happy daydreaming)!


Fourth of July

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SF Bike to Work Day. It’s right up there next to Birthday on my personal celebration scale. I commute to work by bicycle every day, but there’s something about seeing cyclists out in force that brings me immense joy.

BrewLife rolls in to work
BrewLife rolls in to work

Last Thursday was San Francisco’s 21st Bike To Work Day, and W2O Group’s third observance. BrewLife’s Lesley Martin, W2O colleague Andrew Newbold and myself organized festivities that included commuter convoys, breakfast at the office and a Fitbit raffle (won by our BrewLife intern, Felice Tsui).

But back to what I love about Bike To Work Day—coincidentally the same things I appreciate most about BrewLife.

The sense of community: There’s something wonderful about cyclists from different backgrounds and points of view sharing their experiences, enthusiasm and expertise. And equally cool that my BrewLife colleagues show up every day ready to contribute, collaborate and learn for our own sakes, our colleagues and our clients.

Making it happen: It’s inspiring to see people taking action to make a statement, identify a need, participate in change, lead by example. BrewLife colleagues are encouraged to act and think like owners, to produce optimal outcomes for our clients. There’s power in knowing that individual actions have a real impact.

Poster design by Trevor Dawson
Poster design by Trevor Dawson

It’s for the greater good: Whether taking human-powered transportation for personal health or to reduce environmental footprints, it all helps make the world a better place. BrewLife is fortunate to have clients that are making a very real and positive difference in the world. It’s a pleasure to be a part of that too.









Top photo credit: San Francisco Bicycle Coalition




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“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.”

—Maya Angelou


Wishing all of the Moms out there a very Happy Mother’s Day!

And a special thank you to all of our Moms who have undoubtedly been a source of inspiration and motivation in everything we do here at BrewLife. We couldn’t do it without you!

Happy Mother’s Day Everyone!


The BrewLife Team



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Happy Holidays

Wishing you a successful 2015 with much growth and continued innovation.

In the spirit of the holiday season, we have donated to the Cancer Research Institute and the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation. For more information and to join us in supporting their mission, please visit: and

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Okizu Gala Save The Date

 For the past twenty years Okizu, a local nonprofit organization, has held an annual “Art Inspiring Hope” gala. This will be the 21st annual event and the third consecutive year that BrewLife will have had the honor of providing a helping hand. (See last year’s work here.) The black tie event is a party with a purpose. Each year proceeds are donated to programs that help families affected in some way by childhood cancer. This year’s theme, ladies and gentlemen: Moulin Rouge.

We were able to volunteer creative and marketing services pro-bono in order to bring the can-can to the bay. The identity developed for the event captures the history of 19th century Paris while transporting you to the birth of cabaret. The Moulin Rouge is best remembered for its elegance and extravagance, two themes that inspired all promotional materials. The save-the-date cards have been mailed, so mark your calendars for March 28th. Soon to follow will be invitations, the program and event signage, all of which will feature the iconic windmill and famous dancers.

This event helps make it possible for over 700 children to attend the Okizu programs each year. We hope that you will join us in supporting a cause so close to our hearts.



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BrewLife Holiday Party 2014

BrewLife got up to mischief with revelers from our sister companies at the W2O Group’s holiday party last week. The Gold Minin’ and Dinin’ tomfoolery all went down at the historic Merchant’s Exchange Club in San Francisco’s Financial District.

Holiday Party Pics

Back Row: Trevor Dawson, Ben Neill, Julia Dondero
Middle row: Susan Parker, Tom Haan, Matt Dong
Front row: Dana Hooper, Nicole Foderaro, Margot Apothaker, Laura D’Angelo


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Every day is thanks giving day

Thanksgiving is a welcome reminder to reflect on the positives, the abundances in our lives. At BrewLife, we’re giving thanks for bountiful clients, an epic harvest of good work and a most productive year.

We asked our work family across W2O Group what we’re thankful for this year. Check out the sincere and inspiring responses here.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Image: Hvoin Min

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