• Kathleen Gratehouse

    Principal

  • Tell us about yourself.
    I am one of the principals at Highwire working on both enterprise and consumer clients from large brands like IBM, AOL and Alibaba to young challenger brands like Twilio, Veracode and Zolt. I like to work with ambitious companies that are building new markets and driving innovation.

    What are you focus areas?
    Creative campaigns, executive thought leadership and developing narratives and storylines that align and drive business goals. I also do a lot of media coaching. I like to ask hard questions.

    What got you into this business in the first place?
    I was a producer at CNN and wanted to try something that was complementary to journalism, where I had the opportunity to learn every day and work in a fast paced environment. This checked all the boxes and more.

    Who was a big influence in your career?
    One of the best mentors I had in my career was Bob Novak. I was an intern on one of the public affairs shows on CNN and every Saturday I worked with him on Capital Gang where he was also producer. What I admired was his passion for his career (40 plus years in), his perfectionism, sense of humor and high standards. I never shared any of his political beliefs, but he made me a better producer every single week. Judy Woodruff was also a notable boss and mentor—she taught me that preparation is everything, take nothing for granted and never stop striving for new successes. Also, from a productivity standpoint, she could give any Lifehacker out there a lot of pointers.

    Things I love in no particular order: coffee, dogs, design, color, wine, travel, reading, news, magazines (good paper please), ideas, cooking, food, a good argument, banter

    What was your finest moment, the thing you’re most proud of?
    Building great teams and seeing people grow at Highwire.

    What was your most embarrassing moment in this business?
    Calling a client the wrong name (more than once) during a pitch… still painful.

    What prompted you to start Highwire?
    Highwire offered the opportunity to build something from the ground up, work with great clients and partners, grow and mentor careers and teams and challenge myself everyday.

    Do you have a method for coming up with ideas and solutions for clients?
    Read, read, read and then sleep on it. By the time I hit the shower something has usually hit me.

    What makes a great brand?
    Passion and trust.

    What driving career goals do you still have?
    Our firm is young and has so many new places to go. I look forward to fostering a culture where there is constant learning and new challenges for every person at any level.

    Is there any food that helps you think more creatively?
    Does wine count?

    Tell us about your pets.
    They are awesome rescues; two poodle mixes named Willie and Henry. My friends compare them to those other princes, William and Harry.

    What was growing up like for you?
    I had a family of lawyers and debaters, never a dull moment.

    What do you do for a good time when you’re not working?
    Travel, hang out in Sonoma county where I renovated a hundred-year-old farmhouse and work on design projects and renovations. I’m also trying to grow a vegetable garden. So far, it’s not happening.

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