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A series of POWERFUL PODCASTS by WOMEN, about WOMEN. Women’s strength has shaped the world in which we live in all possible aspects, the likes of government, education, health, science, business, spirituality, arts, culture and MORE. NPR-WGVU Public Media’s POWERFUL WOMEN: LET’S TALK podcast is a series of interviews with diverse women who are trailblazers who have helped shape our community and transform who we are and how we live. Hear them tell their stories in their own words.This podcast will be released in the summer of 2020 which corresponds to the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote in the United States. This release will also parallel PBS national programming celebrating this historic event.POWERFUL WOMEN: LET’S TALK is hosted and produced by NPR-WGVU Public Media’s own team of powerful women, Shelley Irwin and Jennifer Moss.

Powerful Women Let's Talk - 042: Kim Bode

Kim Bode

8Thirtyfour Integrated Communications' Kim Bode loves small businesses and she's proved it with her success so far. Supporting women is one of Bode's passions as is advocating for animals. Welcome Kim Bode to this edition of Powerful Women: Let's Talk!

Powerful Women: Let’s Talk is created by WGVU NPR and made possible by WGVU NPR sustaining monthly donors. Become a sustaining monthly donor now at wgvu.org/donate to support WGVU NPR’s local programs, including Powerful Women: Let’s Talk.

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Produced by women about women. Powerful Women, Let's Talk is a series of interviews with women who are trailblazers and have helped shape our world transforming who we are and how we live. Powerful Women, Let's Talk is made possible in part by Family Fare, keeping it real.

Shelley Irwin: 8thirtyfour Integrated Communications, Kim Bode loves small businesses and she's proved it with her success thus far. Supporting women is one of her passions as is advocating for the animal. So welcome Kim Bode to this edition of Powerful Women, Let's Talk. Where's the animal Kim?

Kim Bode: I wish I was.There is always three or four in  the office with me but, I thought that would be frowned upon. They’re pretty loud.

Shelley Irwin: But, they could probably be therapy.

Kim Bode: Yeah, they're good background noise for when we do our podcast there is somebody always barking in the background.

Shelley Irwin: We’ll get into that.

Kim Bode: You bet.

Shelley Irwin: Because you've saved at least 6 lives in your life. So thank you. Here we go. According to your bio, once upon a time, there was a girl who grew up in a little town of Allendale, Michigan. You want to finish that sentence? Did she live happily ever after?

Kim Bode: She went through lots of ups and downs but, I would say she's got it pretty dang good. Yeah, so definitely grew up a corn field across from Grand Valley which ironically then I went to Grand Valley. So here we are and now we're back at Grand Valley and then worked at Grand Valley. So all roads kind of led back to Grand Valley and then, you know, I never dreamed of doing what I do now. I did not think I could be a  small business owner.

Shelley Irwin: What did you want to be originally?

Kim Bode: I wanted to be a Marine. Yeah. I was going to be a Marine. I was going to go into either the Marine Corps or the Air Force and then after that, I had dreams of being a cop or becoming a detective.

Shelley Irwin: So you like to follow the rules and make sure others do as well?

Kim Bode: I don't know if it's a rule following, but then the enforcing seemed like it would be fun to do so.

Shelley Irwin: Let's stay with the present day because I don’t know, you're still young in my book. Your bio also full of business owner accolades, community service and more. So let's go back to how you became a business owner?

Kim Bode: It's kind of, you know, people ask me this all the time. It happened in my 20's, which I think when you're in your 20's, you don't know any better. So it's a lot. Maybe it seemed less risky because you think you're always right when you're in your 20's like, you know you don’t question yourself. You're like I obviously know everything. I think I had been working with the job I was at for about 6 to 7 years as a marketing director and I had some really great connections in the community, I was really involved with the American marketing Association. I was president at the time, I was on so many different committees and part of, you know, boards and stuff like that. So I think that really kind of laid the foundation because I think that, you know community connections are really are going to be what is going to foster your career over the years and also like continuing to maintain those relationships is for me is key to success. So when I was probably like 27 or 28, I was like, I'm just going to start my own business, I have a better way of doing agency. So 8thirtyfour was born out of that. It was actually named after my home at the time, which is in the Northeast side of Grand Rapids.

Shelley Irwin: And here you are now being introduced as 8thirtyfour Integrated Communications. What's happened since day one?

Kim Bode: Oh, gosh. Well, you know, I say, you know, if you go on your website, you can read. I hate talking about myself. I don't know if that's a that's a female thing or if that's a leader thing but, I do. It always makes me very awkward.

Shelley Irwin: That is why I like to do the interview.

Kim Bode: I am a very awkward person to begin with so it just gets weirder as we keep going. So enjoy everyone. I would say I started the business and then a bunch of personal things happened as they do and I ended up long story short, there was a divorce, there was a foreclosure on the house, there was a bankruptcy there were all these things and it's interesting because I had to pause the business. I went to go work internally for a few different organizations and then probably about 11 months later, these very strong females that I surrounded myself with smacked me upside the head and said what are you doing? You're still maintaining a lot of the clients that you had, start it again, you need to start over but, once you experience failure and such like debilitating things and you’re scared, you lose faith in yourself and that's what happened long story short. Obviously I listened to those very smart women in my life and you know, I relaunched 8thirtyfour and I kept the name because, you know that home signified really the life cycle of a business from like, you know, from the founding the beginnings to like all the messy stuff in the middle to, you know, failure to rebirth to all of those things and the House really did represent that for me and I think that really just failure is a part of like our life and failure is part of business. It's how you deal with that failure that ultimately is going to define you as I think a business owner and a leader.

Shelley Irwin: I'm sure. You also have had a journey with mental health?

Kim Bode: Yes. Yeah. I'm very open about that. That is something I've struggled with my entire life. Probably I mean, I always say if you'd asked my brother, my sister and I'm the middle child, which there is a whole psychology we can go into but, we'll just leave that alone but, I would say yeah, my siblings would probably describe me as very volatile growing up. I had a temper and a massive mood swings and I was 16 I think when I went on medication, which I still am and will be a lifetime thing and there is no shame in that. You use the tools that are at  your disposal to, you know, get you to cope or be a better person. I’ve done therapy on and off my entire life. So yeah, I mean, mental health is very much a part of my journey and I and I say to people it's not a bad thing for me. Sometimes I have to try even harder because I do have that stumbling block like there is that, you know I deal with massive anxiety and depression and like, you know, you always had these feelings. I called it imposter syndrome and everybody calls it that but, you don't feel like you're good enough, you feel like you're fooling everybody, it's part of like when I said in the beginning, I hate talking about myself or the accomplishments that have happened to me or my business. It's very hard to take those compliments because you always feel like I think as a business owner and me as a female that you should be better. You could do better or you don't deserve that because, you know, this might have happened along the way so.

Shelley Irwin: Well, I am glad that I see on your resume being on the Forbes Top 200 PR Firms of 2021.

Kim Bode: Yeah, that was pretty crazy but, that's a that's a solid example. When I found out about that, we had one of our media reps tell us and I spent probably the next 30 minutes googling Forbes Top 200 PR Firm scam. I was like, this couldn't happen. You know, instead of saying, like, wow, this is a great thing and I'm really proud of my team them really proud of, you know, 8thirtyfour for accomplishing this. It's like no, this can't you know, it's just very interesting because you see it's something I will struggle with and will continue to struggle with during my journey.

Shelley Irwin: What do you tell all those who look up to you? However, that, you know, perhaps they want to follow in your footsteps.

Kim Bode: Surround yourself with very strong females. Surround yourself with other people that will tell you like it is that will never blow smoke, those are the females, those are the women that have showed up when I'm sick, those are the women that have pulled me out of my house that have smacked me upside my head that have said “you get it together,” “what are you doing?” and were brutally honest with each other and I think you need that you absolutely need that in your life. There are no excuses when it comes to them and those relationships, that has really helped me have pride in what I do and myself because I think there's times they step in and they're like it's OK for you to be proud of this, it's okay for you to feel like you've accomplished something. That's a good thing, like you can celebrate that which is so funny because I think it is very much a gender thing, I don't think you see men struggle with accolades as much as  I think you see women, you know, it's hard for us to like say “yeah, I did do a great job,” or “you know what I deserve this recognition,” we just very much feel like well I can always do better. It was I wasn't at 100%.

Shelley Irwin: Do you talk this over with your dogs?

Kim Bode: Of course. Yeah, they're the best listeners.

Shelley Irwin: Why an advocate for animals?

Kim Bode: You know, it just happened. I'm a sucker when it comes to that. I'm the person like if I see a Go-Fund-Me on Facebook, I immediately donate. It doesn't matter what it is. So I feel like I have been blessed with a lot and it's just my responsibility as a human to give back but, dogs are oh, they're just the best. You know, you've got your 3 plus your cat I mean, I will always rescue. You know, I think about Jimmy our Black Lab chief happiness officer and he passed away several years ago and he will always hold a very, very special place in my heart and they all will. I think they just kind of complete me and I think also like one of the things and this might be part of my mental health or mental illness. I don't know but I feel things very broad and I feel like I have so much like to give that being surrounded by like you know, my 6 dogs at a time, it was 7, you know, like I just feel like I have a lot of love to give and it’s a great emotional outlet for me. I just feel like they're like therapy and they’re therapy animals. I mean, they are so smart.

Shelley Irwin: And you broke down to get a little dog?

Kim Bode: Yeah. Well, in all fairness they showed up in my front yard and so like that was never my intent. I like big dogs and then he showed up and he's 6 pounds of just spit fire and he runs that house like He showed up. He showed up in our front yard and then he just never left.

Shelley Irwin: So saving lives and representing others that can. OK, we're going to just move on to some fun facts. Just react to this: red wine with ice?

Kim Bode: Yeah. Love it. Love it.

Shelley Irwin: The cabin adventures?

Kim Bode: Oh, yeah, the cabin 20 acres, you know, having a space to go where you feel like you can disconnect even if it's only an hour north of Grand Rapids. I mean, that's therapy to me. Very much so.

Shelley Irwin: Primitive camping versus camp Hilton?

Kim Bode: Yeah, primitive camping 100%. Yup, that's what I do. I like being in the woods who you know, why not?

Shelley Irwin: Now you’re wearing a hat? Do you have a brand?

Kim Bode: A brand?

Shelley Irwin: You know.

Kim Bode: I think I’m wearing a hat because it’s raining today and also I really need to get my hair colored but, I would say I say my style is pretty pretty loud but, like I love color. I love like expressing myself in different ways and I think that probably does come across in my style. People would say like I wear and not today, but I wear very like colorful shoes or you’ll always see, you know,  Bode in a pair heels that are like bright red or something. So, I think that is part of my brand.

Shelley Irwin: Nice. What’s your next chapter?

Kim Bode: Continuing to grow 8thirtyfour, we really are looking at like the national stage. I really want us to get more recognition there. we obviously have Forbes, we were just named 50 companies to watch. So that's pretty exciting and I think, you know, our goal is to do and continue to do really big things and I think every client that we take on we know that in some way they're also giving back and they're also changing the world. So we're very intentional about who we work with and what they do. That’s why we work with a lot of nonprofits that’s why we work with a lot of female business owners. I think that's just why we have to feel like we're making a bigger impact than just ourselves or just our company.

Shelley Irwin: Recommend a book or resource for us, which you have?

Kim Bode: you know, we run on EOS. Entrepreneurial operating system. It is the best thing I ever did for my business. It's called traction. It's written by Gina Whitman. I would say I also love history. I'm a huge history person, I just finished the book called No Ordinary Year or No Ordinary Time. It was about America ramping up for World War II and very much like about FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt and Eleanor, I have a massive amount of respect for her. I think she was fantastic. She was an advocate before we even knew what to call them. So I heard her story is absolutely amazing and I think we always need to look at history because we have to learn from the mistakes we made in the past and you have to learn from those who have gone before you as somebody has always done something better than you and always will.

Shelley Irwin: Yes. So if you had to bring one dog in here, which one would it have been?

Kim Bode: Probably Sarge well, or Joey. Joey is our Black Doberman and she is my shadow so she follows me everywhere and she's yes, she's great but, Sarge is easy to sneak in, he’s only 6 pounds and I can stuff him in my coat although he’s very loud so.

Shelley Irwin: Don't tell the Marines you’ve snuck in Sarge.  Kim Bode thank you for joining us.

Kim Bode: Thank you for having me.

Shelley Irwin: And thank you for listening to this edition of Powerful Women, Let's Talk. I’m Shelley Irwin.


Produced by women about women. These powerful podcasts focus on powerful women and how their strength transforms who we are and how we live. want to hear more Powerful Women, Let's Talk? Get additional interviews at WGVU.org or wherever you get your podcasts. Please rate and subscribe. Powerful Women, Let's Talk is made possible in part by Family Fare, keeping it real. It is produced by WGVU at the Meijer Public Broadcast Center at Grand Valley State University. The views and opinions expressed in this program do not necessarily reflect those of WGVU, its underwriters or Grand Valley State University.


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