Written by Melissa Stanz
Linda Brandt’s life wisdom enhances her role as Board Chair of the Asheville Chamber.
How does a woman solopreneur transition from not knowing one business person in Asheville to becoming Board Chair of the Asheville Chamber? It’s been a long journey, sometimes difficult, sometimes easy, but always full of opportunities for growth. There’s one driving force in Linda Brandt’s life: continuous growth and improvement. “I’m a very focused person and I don’t give up easily,” she said. “I am always learning regardless of the circumstances.”
Linda had a dazzling career on both the client and agency side of big-time advertising in New York City. She worked with and for such clients as Nestle Foods, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Ogilvy and Mather.
She moved to Asheville with her former husband in 1992, enjoying six years as a stay-at-home mom raising two boys. As her youngest son prepared to start kindergarten in 1998, she started to re-enter the work force. She began by opening the Yellow Pages and cold calling advertising agencies for media projects—a daunting task.
She persevered, learning to not take things personally, and discovering that it took enormous effort to build a business that way! The first day her son started kindergarten, she went to an interview and got her first advertising project. “I wanted to help financially contribute to the family again and I missed working. I was very determined and I had a plan,” she said.
Having a plan is another driving force in Linda’s life and her plan called for creating her own successful business. Nearly 15 years later she’s considered one of the top strategic and marketing professionals in the area. “I have always been a strong advocate for planning; if you don’t, how do you know where to focus your energy, time, and resources?” she asked.
Part of her plan was to develop strategic partners; people who shared similar values and work ethics and could support each other. Networking was crucial; her first step was to join the Asheville Chamber of Commerce and engage herself. She attended countless events, volunteered on many committees, and conducted seminars through the organization. “The Chamber wrapped me and my business in such welcoming arms that I wanted to further contribute to a community I deeply cherish,” she explained.
When she and her husband divorced three years ago she needed a new plan. Being single, supporting one son in college and another about to go to college required some innovative planning. It also caused a seismic shift in her lifestyle. In the space of two years, she became single, sent her youngest off to college, sold her house, and found a place to live in a weekend! “There were highs and lows along this journey, but I knew time and persistence would get me through. I had to figure out who I was now, without many of the roles I had shouldered most of my life,” she explains.