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Podcast Interview with Marie Gettel-Gilmartin

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

This episode of the IAMCEO Podcast features Marie Gettel-Gilmartin, the founder of Fertile Ground Communications. Marie is an experienced writer and marketing communications coach who enjoys connecting people and resources and solves seemingly impossible problems.

Her company offers a wide range of services, including guiding clients in discovering their unique qualities and helping them communicate these to the world, creating compelling websites that showcase company culture, implementing world-class sustainability and community engagement strategies, helping clients to position themselves as experts in their fields via ghostwriting, crafting communications aimed at boosting employee engagement, and coaching leaders and executives on strengthening their communications and leadership.

Marie also has two podcasts: “Finding Fertile Ground,” which features resilience stories from historically excluded populations, and “Companies that Care,” which highlights business leaders working to create a better world.

In her CEO story, Marie shares her journey of self-discovery and how, after 28 years in the corporate sector, she reinvented herself and started her company. She shares as her CEO hack, using Trello for making lists and Canva for creating social media images, brochures, and flyers. Her CEO nugget emphasizes the importance of valuing expertise and resisting hard selling in a B2B approach.

Finally, as per Marie, a CEO is someone who is able to start a company centered on their own values of compassion and respect and who inspires others to pursue their own dreams.

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Marie Gettel-Gilmartin 00:00

That's my number one goal is to actually make communications really interesting and that the reader actually wants to read. I think that sets me apart. I'm highly creative and a great problem solver. I also have a high level of positive energy.

Intro 00:15

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values use your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless :00:42

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, or what I like to call the CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month, we are focusing on leadership, management and coaching. When we think of leadership management and coaching, we often think of doing all of the things, but often it's the person that's able to build up their team, that's able to cultivate a creative and innovative culture so that people can excel and actually be their own leaders. So that's why this month we're focusing on those three big topics because they make a huge impact on the organizations that we're part of.

Now, you'll hear some of those topics this month, of course, some really great perspectives on how people are even defining leadership, which I think is extremely exciting. So sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Marie Gettel-Gilmartin of Fertile Ground Communications. Marie, it's great to have you on the show.

Marie Gettel-Gilmartin 02:03

Great to be here, Gresh. It's so great to actually put a voice to your name. I did a little bit of research on you and I see that you are a fellow English major and communicator with a background in the environmental industry like me. So that's very cool.

Gresham Harkless 02:18

Yes, absolutely. That's what I love most about, having fellow podcasters on the show is you get that opportunity to realize that we're a lot more alike than we are different and get that opportunity to hear those stories, hear what passions people have, is phenomenal. So I appreciate you so much and taking some time out and being on the show. Before we jumped into the interview, I want to read a little bit more about Marie so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing.

Marie is the founder of Fertile Ground Communications, and she is a writer and marketing communications coach who loves to connect people and resources or solve seemingly impossible problems. She guides clients in discovering what makes them special and helps them share what that is with the world. She has two podcasts. Finding Fertile Ground features grit and resilient stories from historically excluded populations and companies that care highlight business leaders who are working to create a better world for all.

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Marie helps clients communicate about pressing issues, creates compelling websites that showcase company culture, implements world-class sustainability and community engagement strategies, those rights for her clients to position them as experts in their field communications that boosts employee engagement and coaches, leaders and executives on how to strengthen communications and leadership. Then she helps win work by writing compelling, unbeatable proposals and award applications. Finally, she coordinates authors and reviewers to produce documents in one voice.

Marie, super excited to have you on the show, hear about all the awesome things you're doing. Are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Marie Gettel-Gilmartin 03:43

I am.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:44

Awesome. Let's make it happen then. So to kick everything off, I wanted to hear a little bit more on how you got started, what I call your CEO story.

Marie Gettel-Gilmartin 03:50

Yes, so I worked my way up the career ladder for 29 years in the corporate world. As I mentioned before, I was in the environmental consulting industry. I worked for a really big global firm called CH2M HILL and so throughout that time, my 28 years there, I found myself in major leadership roles and reinventing myself over and over again. My favorite part of that time was for 13 years, I managed 70 publications professionals around the Northwest, which really felt like running my own company.

When I look back on it, I had this high degree of autonomy and freedom and I was able to cultivate an outstanding team. I also had a boss for much of that time who really gave me that freedom and he was an awesome mentor for me. So I got my job eliminated after I moved into sustainability communications when my company was acquired and I found what I thought was my ideal job within one month. And it was working as a very small company's first communications manager, but my first day of the job was horrible and I stuck it out for a year and then my job got eliminated like a year after I started. So.

Gresham Harkless 05:06

Oh No.

Marie Gettel-Gilmartin 05:07

Yeah, so it took all that to finally start my own business and realize that's what I meant to be doing. I also have reflected on the fact that all my experience with the corporate world reinventing myself, as I mentioned, that completely prepared me to start and run my own business.

The reason that I call myself Fertile Ground Communications is I had an epiphany one morning when I thought this is what I need. This is what I need to do is, find my own fertile ground in my career. So it's a very powerful meeting for me. The name of my company.

Gresham Harkless 05:40

Awesome. So I wanted to drill down a little bit more, hear a little bit more on how you work with your clients. I know I touched on it a little bit, but could you take us through like how you serve the clients you work with?

Marie Gettel-Gilmartin 05:48

Yeah. So I specialize in translating lackluster jargon field or technical pros into clear dynamic narrative and I help them do that by, for example, I can be a communications manager on retainer with my clients. I also have done a lot of website copy in the first couple of years.

That's an easy way to get communication clients. But really, what I love to do is really work in partnership with the clients in communicating whatever they need communicating. So, in the last 6 months, one of my fun gigs has been working for one of our local counties here in Oregon with their coded communications.

Gresham Harkless 06:26


Marie Gettel-Gilmartin 06:26

So I know it doesn't sound fun, but it's it's very important. And what is really tapped into is my love of research. So I do like a weekly newsletter every week with three important things to know about COVID and they give me topics, but I do the research and write it and that's been really interesting for me. I just took on a new client a few weeks ago, a nonprofit here in Oregon that is advocating for arts and culture and humanities. So, those are some fun ones.

But also what I'd really like to do more of is working in partnership with corporate clients to be their adjunct communications person. People like companies that don't actually have communications or marketing teams and staff. So that's my sweet spot so I can provide internal and external communications marketing. Social media leadership coaching, and I work with companies, government organizations and nonprofits.

Gresham Harkless 07:29

Nice. I almost feel like, I don't know if you would echo the same thing that we sometimes don't understand like how valuable communication is until it's not there. When it's not there, that's when things just become chaotic. So I appreciate you so much in helping people to be able to articulate those things, because I think it's easier said than done. So many times you need somebody that has that experience to be able to I guess translate for lack of a better term, what we're thinking into how it manifests itself.

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I would ask you now for what I call your secret sauce. So you might have already touched on this, but this is for yourself or your business or a combination of both. But what do you feel sets you apart and makes you unique?

Marie Gettel-Gilmartin 08:05

Yeah, you know, I say that I make business communications painless for my clients because a lot of people are really struggle to actually put words to the page or actually, they struggle to actually sound professional or effective or get their points across. A lot of business communications is frankly boring. Really so boring. So that's my number one goal is to actually make communications really interesting and that the reader actually wants to read. I think that starts to be a part. I'm highly creative and a great problem solver. And I also have a high level of positive energy.

So clients benefit from that as well as I think that I'm a great bridge between corporate and the smaller business side. I bring corporate business savvy combined with outstanding writing and strategic skills. Then the other thing that's different about my company is that even though I'm a solopreneur right now, that's not going to always be the case. I have lots of goals. But I have a corporate social responsibility commitment, which is really unique for small businesses.

Gresham Harkless 09:09

I truly appreciate you for sharing that. Of course. In doing that as well. I think it makes so much sense and making sure that you are staying true to what those things are. But I think one of the things that we often forget or can forget is that we can make an impact in wherever we are and whatever we're hoping to do.

We have certain tools and a lot of times it's that creativity that you talked about to think how can I creatively maybe sometimes use my gifts or my talents to support certain causes or things that I value? Or even, use my dollars or my resources or whatever that might be in a creative way. So I appreciate you and sharing that because it also, I think, creates that opportunity for us to think creatively about how we can make the same impact and things that we value just as much.

Marie Gettel-Gilmartin 09:48

Absolutely. Yeah. Everybody has different gifts and how can you use your gifts to how can you use your gifts to support a cause? Definitely.

Gresham Harkless 09:56

Absolutely. Love that. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Marie Gettel-Gilmartin 10:08

That's so hard to choose one. I'm going to cheat and give you two. It's a tie between Trello, which is list maker and Canva, which is a graphic design tool for non-graphic designers. So, making lists has always been part of my life, but I feel like it's absolutely critical. Now, as a business owner, I have to make a list. I have to make a schedule for my day. So that helps me do that.

Canva. I worked, for years for most of my career, I worked with graphic designers. I had a graphic design department. So, as a business owner, I don't have that. So, it's a great tool for me to produce social media images and images of all sorts and brochures and flyers, et cetera, et cetera. I can do that easily with a great resource of photos, non-royalty photos that I can use for my business. So I love both of those.

Gresham Harkless 11:03

Nice. I absolutely love that. Those hacks as well too. I think Trello, a lot of times we we're holding on and juggling so many different things as business owners or business leaders or professionals. To have it in a place where you're able to make those lists and organize those things is huge because it allows you to be more present and to the things that hand and being, in whatever it is that we need to do and a lot of times that's serving clients.

I love, Canva just because it allows that opportunity, like you said, be a graphic designer without having to do all the things that a graphic designer have to do. Which probably is go get a degree and do all those things that allows you to be able to use those templates and all of those stock images that they have within Canva as well too, so that you can again, communicate graphically, what it is that you're doing.

Marie Gettel-Gilmartin 11:44


Gresham Harkless 11:45

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. So this is a little bit more of a word of wisdom or piece of advice and might be something you would tell a client, or if you hopped into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Marie Gettel-Gilmartin 11:57

Yeah. So when I first set put out my shingle, I was connected to a lot of entrepreneurs who were business to consumer, partly because I enrolled in Marie Forleo's B School. And so I got connected to all these B2C people. I felt like I was a square peg in a round hole because I do B2B almost entirely. And so this is something that I really, really noticed is that as a B2B tip email funnels can really tick people off. I would say, right now, incessant emails are the go to for B2C right now, but coming out of the corporate environment, if I get more than one or possibly two emails a week from a company, I immediately unsubscribe, which is like annoying emails, right?

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It drives me crazy. And so when I gave that feedback to some of my B2C People in my like, Facebook groups, they were all like, Oh, we love to get lots of emails. Oh, my gosh, from a corporate environment. That's just not the way you communicate. So, and then to add to that hard sales also really turns me off. I want to see somebody's value by when they share freely of their expertise. You do that so well, you really put it all out there and, and then and I feel like once I know that they really know what they're talking about, and they have something, whether it's a value to me, then I might be interested in hiring you.

Somebody who does that so well is a woman named Liz J Simpson, who I actually just hired as a business coach last month, because she provides these incredible webinars about how to get corporate clients, to small businesses. It's definitely B2B. She shares her expertise so freely and doesn't actually even tell you how much her services costs until the very, very end and she just does it incredibly well. So she started my mentoring and build relationships, share your expertise freely. And then if somebody asks you about, how are you then share what's your process? I think that's a really good approach for a lot of us.

Gresham Harkless 13:58

Yeah I appreciate you so much in sharing that. I think, understanding who you're targeting, who you're interacting with, who you're communicating with at the end of the day is so important.

So I want to ask you now, my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're going to have different quote and quote CEOs on the show. So Marie, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Marie Gettel-Gilmartin 14:17

Yeah, for me, it means being able to create a company that's founded on my own values of compassion, inclusion and respect for all. It means being able to chase my own dreams instead of someone else's. It means not having to work for anyone I don't respect. It means leading the way for others to follow their own dreams.

Gresham Harkless 14:37

Absolutely. Marie truly appreciate that. Appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is just pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you want to let our readers and listeners know.

And of course, how best they can get ahold of you, subscribe to your podcast and find out about all the awesome things that you're working on.

Marie Gettel-Gilmartin 14:52

Yeah, I think that my final word I would say to all business owners is, as I said before, the best way to establish credibility in the world is to share your expertise freely. So, writing blog posts, sharing tips on social media, going on podcasts, becoming a public speaker and if you're not updating your website regularly by writing blog posts, you're losing out on a huge share of SEO value. So that's one area that I can help people with if they're not comfortable writing or they just need help, getting the word out there and enhancing their website with blog posts and things like that.

Yeah, I'm available to assist with that kind of thing. It's a huge opportunity and people can reach me on my website, which is I have two podcast tabs on my site for my different podcasts, and I'm also looking for business leaders who are making a difference in the world through social impact or sustainability or some other way to showcase on companies that care.

Yeah, definitely. So I would love to hear from anybody who wants to chat about communications or yeah, has any questions.

Gresham Harkless 16:01

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. Thank you so much again, Marie, and for all the work that you do, we will definitely have the links and information in the show notes so that everybody can follow up with you.

Marie Gettel-Gilmartin 16:09

Thank you so much, Gresh.

Outro 16:13

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play and everywhere you listen to podcasts.

Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating. Grab CEO gear at This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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