I had the pleasure of meeting Brian Castle shortly after I had launched the Forrest Firm. Brian is the marketing director at a Chapel Hill-based firm called Thought Leader Select. The company specializes in linking life sciences companies with key opinion leaders in medicine, to promote collaborations in clinical trials, scientific advisory boards, and a host of activities that bring new medicines to the marketplace for better patient and public health.
Brian shared with me how Thought Leader Select, a boutique firm playing in a market with very large technology and business information companies, was able to consistently compete and drive demand for its services. Along with a group of seasoned veterans from the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries developing business, Brian and the executive team had crafted an online marketing strategy based on putting out relevant content on their company blog and amplifying it across multiple social media channels.
In subsequent conversations, Brian shared with me that Thought Leader Select’s entrepreneurial business model allowed him and others to seek other outlets to fuel their creative fires. In addition to working at Thought Leader Select, Brian had started a content generation service in the form of Parklife Communications, collaborating with his friend and mentor (and fellow Forrest Firm client) Ty Hagler of Trig Innovation, a Durham-based innovation management consultancy.
Since I’ve been working with Brian as a client, I’ve been pleased to see Parklife grow beyond his wildest imagination, all while maintaining his excellent work on behalf of Thought Leader Select. His work is especially strong in the business-to-business sector, as his team generates blog pieces and social media campaigns for companies in legal, human resources, consumer product design and development, insurance, sustainable homebuilding, residential cleaning, and even equipment for large farming operations.
We sat down recently, and I asked Brian what he thought the secret to his success had been over the last three years. He told me that he thought his combination of skills and experience was rather unique, due to the winding road his career path had followed after he graduated from UNC Asheville. Brian majored in creative writing and political science, and he had often dreamed of becoming a lawyer or writer of some kind. But after working two jobs—including running his college newspaper full-time—he decided to “just get a job” and enjoy newlywed life with his wife, Jeanette.
That decision took Brian straightaway to the banking industry, and he filled several roles during an 11-year run, including stints in branch management, mortgage banking, and commercial lending. While Brian freely admits that his creative spirit was an ill fit for the buttoned-up world of banking, he took away the ability to quickly size up companies, their management teams, and the different aspects of the business that make a company unique in its offerings and expertise.
While he once used that skill to position companies for the most favorable financial outcomes, Brian is putting that skill into the stories he tells on a regular basis. Instead of getting his fulfillment from crafting simple financial solutions to address multiple financial needs, Brian now finds his joy from crafting the narratives companies need in the digital space to address multiple marketing needs, from company blogs to press releases and social media presence.
What I enjoy most about working with Brian is the passion he wears on his sleeve for where his career has taken him at Thought Leader Select and Parklife. He’s told me many times that he feels like an “uncaged animal”—I know that he means that he’s found the perfect unity of the dreams he had many years ago with his business experience earned in the banking industry. And I know first-hand that his greatest joy comes from collaborating with business owners to help them achieve their potential.
If there’s one thing I can relate to, it’s the concept of fulfillment in your work, and I’m happy that Brian has found it.