Around here we’ve been known to say it’s all about the people. Ours are pretty great, if we do say so ourselves. From ballet dancers to hot yoga enthusiasts, dog fanatics to guitar strummers, we’ve got a little bit of everything radiating within the walls of The Firesphere. In addition to all the unique things we bring to the table as individuals, the one thing we all have in common is a deeply-rooted passion for our clients and that thing we do.
A firecracker from the start, Brandy graduated from North Greenville University in just two-and-a-half years. Why? Because she could. Well, that and she wanted to get hitched. After graduation, Brandy began her career in corporate banking and taxation, but had her sights set on something that allowed for a bit more personal connection and long-term relationship building. Eventually, Brandy left the corporate world and embraced her entrepreneurial side, starting her own gig working with small businesses as an outsourced CFO. As a financial gun-for-hire, Brandy reaps tons of love from her clients for making their financial lives way less stressful.
Combine one part HR, one part tax, one part planner, one part problem solver and sprinkle it with a generous dose of awesome — that’s our Brandy. As BOF’s HR sensei and manager of all things money, she’s kinda one of our faves. (And we’d say that even if she wasn’t the person who makes sure we all get paid.)
In 2005, Brains on Fire hired Megan to be our Sherpa of Traffic, with the hopes she could bring order to our wonderful world of creative chaos. We counted on Megan to keep our entire team on track by overseeing timelines and resources for every project that came through our doors. Let us be the first to say: that’s no small task. (Some might even compare it to herding cats.) Armed with her signature smile and sense of determination, Megan met the challenge head on, eventually earning herself the title of Whipcracker.
After years of ruling our roost (and our timelines and schedules) with a mix of sweetness, strategic vision and leadership, Megan fell in love with a client close to home. When she stepped up to serve as the lead Account Manager for VisitGreenvilleSC in 2014, we knew it was a match meant to be.
These days you’ll find Megan rocking and rolling all things #yeahTHATgreenville, winner of a Gold Engagement WOMMY! When she’s not busy keeping multiple plates spinning in the office, you’ll find Megan starring in the role of wife to Mitch and mom to her spirited little guy, Patrick.
Meet the man behind the hair. Yeah, THAT hair. (Confession: we’ve considered starting a hashtag.)
Geno is the Word of Mouth Inspiration Officer at Brains on Fire, but considers himself more of an explorer and pathfinder for the agency’s clients. From archetypes to gamestorming, G constantly challenges the Brains on Fire crew to think bolder, bigger and better – while having fun along the way.
Geno shines at uncovering the DNA of sustainable word of mouth movements, and has walked the path with brands and organizations including Fiskars Brands, the National Center for Families Learning, Anytime Fitness, Love146 and The Environmental Defense Fund. From fashionable to functional, Geno has a particular interest in unearthing new and passionate brands, and digging into the motivation and minds of the passion pirates inspired to start them.
Geno is a highly sought-after speaker. He has traveled the world sharing this thoughts and insights at events hosted by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), Blackbaud BBCON (Australia), WOM Japan, Influence Session Sydney, Cult Gathering, and the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, to name a few. He is widely quoted in blogs and co-author of two books, “Brains On Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable Word of Mouth Movements,” and “The Passion Conversation: Understanding, Sparking and Sustaining Word of Mouth Marketing.”
When he’s not busy strategizing or speaking ‘round the world, you’ll find Geno cheering on the field at Furman Games, cruising in the Mini Cooper and spending time with his wife Jenn and shaggy sweetie, Kingston.
A girl in high school once asked Cordell, “Cordell, what’s your last name?” “Cordell,” he said. She laughed out loud and exclaimed, “ Your momma named you Cordell Cordell? That’s crazy!” Cordell (who has been going by his last name longer than he’s been going by his first) was born and raised in South Carolina and stuck with that theme by attending USC. (That’s The University of South Carolina out here on the east coast.) He got involved in the ad biz soon thereafter and the rest, as they say, was happy history.
Concepter, writer, art director, screenwriter – Cordell is our resident renaissance man of marketing and has pretty much done it all. He’s not only Principal of Brains on Fire, he’s also our conduit for inspirational energy. (We don’t call him our Chief Inspiration Officer for nothing.) A modern-day “man behind the curtain,” Cordell is at his best when he’s shining a light on potential – be it potential opportunities to do better work or the untapped potential of the people at BOF. He has a gift for getting employees and clients excited about what could be, then inspiring them to find ways to make it happen.
Cordell has led the development of creative solutions for national brands including: Yakima, BMW, Don Pablo’s Mexican Restaurants, Applebee’s, Confluence Watersports and Best Buy, and his work has even been used as the backdrop for an American President’s War on Drugs. In his not-so-spare time, he also managed to squeeze in co-authoring two books, “Brains On Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable Word of Mouth Movements,” and “The Passion Conversation: Understanding, Sparking and Sustaining Word of Mouth Marketing.” When he’s not busy mustering up marketing magic in the office, you’ll find Cordell starring in the role of dad, husband, tinkerer and backyard host with the most.
A native of the Upstate, Mary Susan grew up in the micropolis of Laurens, South Carolina. She eventually ventured to the “big city” to attend Furman University, where she discovered a love of art that inspired her to make it her degree.
Post-graduation, Mary Susan traded in the rolling hills of the upstate for coastline, but the charms of her native stomping grounds ultimately brought her back home. (And that’s when Brains on Fire scooped her up!)
Even though Mary Susan doesn’t use her art degree on a daily basis, she utilizes her other talent — organization — every minute of the workweek. These days, Mary Susan can be found keeping The Firesphere in check and Brains on Fire running like a well-oiled machine. And we’re so thankful for that.
A native of Lexington, South Carolina, Laura came to Brains on Fire as an intern by way of Clemson University. Over the course of her internship, our Laura love grew and grew. By the time she was ready to don the cap and gown, we knew what we had to do. (Spoiler alert: we snatched her up immediately and kept her as one of our full-time own.)
These days you’ll find our little ray of social sunshine rocking our clients’ worlds and online communities. A lover of all things local, Laura is the Community Nurturer of #yeahTHATgreenville and has a special gift for sparking conversation, engaging with visitors and making everyone who comes in contact with her (online or off) feel pretty dang special.
There aren’t many people around here who can remember Brains on Fire without Cathy, but she kept plenty busy before she graced our halls. A Florida native, Cathy graduated from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She married a swell guy, and spent some time working as a Media Director and Account Director, getting some serious experience under her belt, before hopping on board at Brains on Fire.
When Cathy arrived at BOF, she was looking for a more collaborative atmosphere than she found in her previous work lives. Cathy’s years at Brains on Fire have now surpassed a baker’s dozen, so it’s probably fair to say she found more than a collaborative atmosphere…she also found a home. These days you’ll find Cathy leading the account team as Account Shepherd at Brains on Fire, as well as managing clients including Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, Environmental Defense Fund and Shorelight. If that weren’t enough to keep her busy, she also manages to star in the role of Super Mom to Kate and Sam, two of the busiest kids on the planet.
Benjamin Hart is a strategic, multidisciplinary designer and creative director with a passion for innovation, human-centered design and beautiful kerning. A firm believer in the notion that social movements are the world’s greatest catalyst for positive change, Benjamin focuses on creating and designing better ways to foster meaningful human connection through brand identity, user experience and narrative design.
With a proven history of managing creative projects, large-scale organizational development, web-development projects and strategic non-profit and for-profit communication plans, Benjamin leads the Brains on Fire Los Angeles team as Principal of Brains on Fire LA.
He has worked with a wide range of creative clients and believes that a shared truth can be found among his varied successes over the years: good things happen when brands and organizations make a positive contribution to the human experience.
Benjamin lives in Los Angeles with his wife, two young children and a French bulldog named Zissou. When he’s not at the office, you’ll probably find him doing some cliche dad stuff and working hard to be a better husband and father today than he was yesterday.
With an extensive production and story-telling background, Jonah has written and produced music videos, music documentaries and other video content for every major music label working with chart-topping artists and up-and-comers alike. Jonah has also written and produced over a dozen commercials and has been a powerful movement-creating ‘ideas man’ for Brains on Fire LA for the past four years.
They say that people with degrees in the humanities are notoriously unemployable. Andrew Huang set out to prove that saying 100% accurate by being aggressively jobless after graduating from Furman University with a degree in English. Instead, he chose to travel and live in Taiwan for six months. While abroad, he neglected to “find himself,” but did realize his love for all things edible. (Pig brains and chicken feet? Bring ’em on.)
Andrew returned to Greenville no less unemployable, but luckily found his way into publishing and spent nearly four years as an editor for TOWN, a local culture, lifestyle, and arts magazine. There, he honed his craft as a writer, editor, photographer, and indiscriminate scavenger of food. Now, Andrew brings an editorial mindset to finding and showcasing stories of the people who make up our clients’ communities. In his spare time, Andrew can be found stalking the streets of Greenville with a camera in hand, or looking for another diamond-in-the-rough for his local food column, Huangry.
As one of Brains on Fire’s Account Executives, Emily helps hold down the fort while navigating details, keeping clients happy and extinguishing or fanning fires as needed. Originally hired as a Community Manager, Emily had the privilege of working with many of Brains on Fire’s communities (including Heroes in Recovery and The DriVen Class) before fully jumping into the AE pond. Since then, she has enjoyed working with the likes of Intuit TurboTax, Jive Software, Options for Youth Charter School and the National Center for Families Learning.
Emily’s blood runneth orange, as a Tigers’ fan and Clemson University grad. She picked up two degrees during her time at Clemson: a BA in Communications and another BA in Modern Languages (Spanish)…just for fun. Emily came to Brains with a background in PR, public education and event planning, having primarily worked with nonprofits and government agencies in the Upstate. She channels that eclectic experience in her ever-evolving role at Brains, and loves pinch hitting on any project – especially the crafty ones.
Emily is an Upstate native that enjoyed a minor detour through Europe as kid where she spent time living in England and Holland. She is now happily settled in #yeahTHATgreenville with her black lab, Beau, who loves accompanying Em to the office in order to charm us all for cuddles and snuggles. (#ohbeaubie).
Conceived from the ashes of Greenville’s historic mill villages, Sean has been sketching since the womb. After graduating from New York’s School of Visual Arts with a degree in illustration and a love for American impressionism, he flew home to make things happen. One problem: illustration in a small, southern town rarely just “happens.” Thankfully, that little patch of adversity wouldn’t last. Add two elective design classes and Sean’s signature chameleon-like adaptability and you get one stellar human with an arsenal of skills…and a somewhat undeniable likeness to Ron Swanson. (Hey, it won him the title of 2014 Brains on Fire Costume Challenge Champion.)
Over the years, Sean’s artistic direction has impacted a range of brands and campaigns for clients like AT&T, Gerber, BMW, Viceroy Hotels, EMI Music and Duke University. Never one to name drop, if you ask, Sean will always put big brands aside and explain how his best work grows from authentic relationships, and that sometimes a smile is the best form of payment.
Sean claims to be mediocre at most frat boy hobbies. Nowadays he puts effort into curating a seriously diverse music collection and binging at local meat-and-threes. (See? Ron Swanson. We told you.) At last check his iTunes will play for three months straight without repeating, and his southern drawl gets stronger depending on the lunch dive. No good design is possible without the pics of his wife and daughter adorning his desk, with an autographed 8×10 of Roscoe P. Coltrane finishing a close second.
(We like to think Roscoe balances out the blaring gangsta rap.)
Josh Maynard is a designer and native west-coaster / Colorado transplant made of half blood / half salt water.
Josh once had the pleasure of sharing stories and a cup of tea with refugees in rural Afghanistan homes – moonlighting as a NGO photographer in some of the darkest parts of the earth. “The first day you meet, you are friends. The next day you meet, you are brothers.” – Afghan Proverb and source of Josh’s aspirations to meet the needs of others and love them well.
A diehard Charger (NOT Bronco) fan, Josh lives in Denver with his wife Tess and schnoodle Maggie. With a wife who works as a doula (google it), Josh knows more about birth than any man could ever possibly want to know.
John Moore takes his job seriously, himself lightly. His business side was shaped as a long-time marketing manager with Starbucks, and later as Director of National Marketing at Whole Foods. For many years, John operated his own consultancy, the Brand Autopsy Marketing Practice.
These days, John is the Chief of Wahoo for the Brains on Fire tribe. In this role, he is responsible for helping clients achieve their desired growth and developing learners and leaders within the tribe.
Along the way of work life, John has authored three business books: “Tribal Knowledge,” “Tough Love,” and “The Passion Conversation: Understanding, Sparking and Sustaining Word of Mouth Marketing.”
John’s Brand Autopsy blog has been sharing hot marketing opinions since long before social media became the cool thing to do. He continues sharing his insights and traveling the world to speak to marketers on a range of topics including word of mouth marketing strategies and building captivating brands.
John’s lighthearted side shows he is a sucker for beer and music. He treats beer like others treat wine. He is also deep into funky jazz and jazzy funk.
An indigenous South Carolinian, Abby recently returned south to settle in her home state after surviving a decade in the snowy grasp of the Midwest.
A graduate of Miami University (Miami in Oxford, Ohio. Yes, it’s a place. And they were a university when Florida still belonged to Spain.), Abby holds degrees in both German Language and Strategic Communications. Before joining Brains on Fire, Abby spent two years in Indianapolis as an Analyst in a family investment office, working on strategic projects with operating companies. She was also an Orr Entrepreneurial Fellow and served as Director of Marketing for the Orr Fellowship.
These days, you’ll find Abby wielding her signature sunshiny attitude and a mix of experience in project management, event coordination, brand strategy, and market research as an Account Coordinator at Brains on Fire. Her goal? To channel type-A tendencies into keeping both our creatives and our clients happy, while putting her research chops to good use.
(As for the rest of the team, we’re pretty sure Type-A stands for Type-Awesome.)
Robbin Phillips gets out of bed each morning inspired by a single minded focus: to make a positive, meaningful change in the world.
As one of the founders and Courageous President of Brains on Fire, Robbin has recruited a highly talented team of kindred spirits committed to the belief that marketing has the power to truly touch lives. Having begun her career as a graphic designer, Robbin remains involved in the creative development of client identities, while tapping into her keen business sense to facilitate strategy.
Inspired by the power of purpose, passion and people, Robbin and her team rally daily to deliver innovative, impactful solutions that elevate and celebrate a diverse range of clients including:
Love146, Foundations Recovery Network, Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, BMW, GreenDot Public Schools, Fiskars Brands, Perception Kayaks, Ryobi Tools, Colonial Williamsburg, the National Center for Families Learning and Best Buy.
During Robbin’s tenure, Brains on Fire has received numerous national awards including a Gold Effie and three Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s Wommie Awards. She is co-author of the books “Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, World of Mouth Movements”, and “The Passion Conversation: Understanding, Sparking and Sustaining Word of Mouth Marketing.” As a highly sought-after presenter, Robbin frequently hits the road to speak at conferences and private events around the country. She has shared insights on word of mouth marketing with groups big and small, including the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, Brand Manage Camp and the Association of National Advertisers.
Have a problem? Alison can fix it. Seriously. AQ grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, receiving a degree in Art Education from the University of Georgia and a degree in Graphic design from Ringling School of Art. Pretty impressive, eh?
Alison’s roster of happy clients includes BMW Manufacturing, AFGA Healthcare and Bon Secours St. Francis Health System (among many, many others). Her production skills are unparalleled around these parts, and everything the woman touches turns to graphic gold. If you have the good fortune to meet Alison in person, be sure to ask her about her adventures overseas – you won’t be disappointed.
Greg Ramsey, “Ramsey” to friends (which includes pretty much everyone), is one of a kind. We consider Ram to be a true master craftsman of art and design. (But if you ask him, he’ll say he’s more of a jack of all trades and a master of none.) Ramsey has an innate ability to weave compelling, inspirational visual stories out of everything he touches. As a principal at Brains on Fire, Ramsey is intimately involved in all aspects of client brand identities and movements. His ability to bring the concepts and philosophies behind client movements and identities to life is one of the things that sets us apart from other word of mouth and identity companies who fall short.
Ramsey has designed identities for countless (seriously, we’ve lost count at this point) national brands and organizations, as well as some names closer to home. You’ll find his handiwork popping up everywhere from The Lazy Goat to Papi’s Tacos to Southern Pressed Juicery. Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover Ram’s was the man and the hand behind the brand identifies for communities like Heroes in Recovery and VisitGreenvilleSC (Yeah, THAT Greenville). Ramsey also illustrated the children’s book “The Red Ribbon: A Story of Hope, for the National Family Partnership,” which received national acclaim and was used as a point of inspiration for President Clinton’s War on Drugs.
As much as we admire Ramsey’s design chops (and they’re pretty dang impressive), we love him most of all for the quiet leadership and humble dose of Ramsey-ness he brings to the team. “It used to be about being some design rock star. Now it’s about being a part of this unbelievably talented team of folks called Brains on Fire, and using our gifts to do nothing less than change the world – one little moment at a time.” ‘Nuff said.
Moe grew up in a land far, far away that some refer to as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a Social Media Strategist & Community Manager at Brains on Fire, Moe spends her days team building, cultivating content and stoking conversation on a quest to foster thriving, happy brand communities. Driven by a desire bring people together around shared passions, Moe takes a uniquely visual approach to marketing. A firm believer in the storytelling power of photography, she invests her time, talent and energy in capturing the beauty of everyday life in order to give people new perspective on the world around them.
Moe likes to learn. She loves gardening, podcasts, and Joni Mitchell. She’s always game to try the weirdest thing on the menu. In her free time, she can be found crouching amongst her plants, bustling around the house, watching all the shows and hanging out with her husband and their three furrkids (a red lab, Lu, and two Siamese cats, Ashkii and Rhaego.
Meet BOF’s resident Community Cultivator, Alison. (That’s Alison-with-one-L for those of you who aren’t paying attention!) After graduating with an English degree from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, Alison went on to live several different lives – all over the span of a few years.
Alison began her career working for an anti-trafficking organization in Asheville, before relocating to Waco, Texas where she claims to have been doing “extensive research on the best Tex-Mex around.” (Torchy’s Tacos. Order the Dirty Sanchez.)
If you’re thinking, “Waco, Texas? Isn’t that the town that HGTV couple put on the map?” …you’d be right. As fate would have it, while living in Waco, Alison would cross paths with a sweet duo named Chip and Joanna Gaines. She would go on to nanny for their children while they focused on filming the pilot episode of a little show called “Fixer Upper.” (Ask her about the goats. No, seriously. Ask.)
A few years later, Alison would head even further south – this time, across international lines to Belize where she helped expand an anti-trafficking organization. Once she’d had her fill of sunshine, Alison jetted off to the French Alps to work as a tutor and travel Europe before heading a little closer to home, finally coming to rest in Greenville.
It was here she met Mary Susan, Brains on Fire’s resident Office Mom (and, as it turns out, a really good employee matchmaker.) A believer in the power of social media to bring people together, Alison was a natural fit for our team. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Amy spent her formative years in the bluebonnet fields of Abilene, Texas spinning ABBA and ELO on the family record player, skipping around in jelly shoes trying to uncover the secret to dancing on the ceiling. A few slap bracelets and Lisa Frank Trapper Keepers later, our little lone star found herself whisked away from the land of Longhorns to snowier pastures in Buckeye country.
A card-carrying member of the public library and ruthless Scrabble player, Amy’s wordological tendencies emerged at a young age. As time went on, spiral notebooks filled with unicorn-and-rainbow stories gave way to essay-filled Blue Books, and Blue Books gave way to a “what-are-you-going-to-do-with-that” English degree. Though Amy didn’t have the answer just yet, she “wrote off” into the sunset (and working world) full speed ahead.
In her previous life, Amy was a more literal breed of community manager, working in Community Affairs for municipal government. Whether calming citizen concerns that a barbecue restaurant smelled “too much like barbecue,” addressing “vicious geese” complaints or doing disaster control in the wake of a peanut oil spill (yes, it really happened), each day was an adventure fit for a superhero.
Over the past decade, Amy has contributed to the visioning, development and implementation of online and offline marketing, content and social strategies, as well as ambassador programs for several award-winning and nationally-recognized brand movements and communities. (Which is really just a fancy way of saying that she has had the pleasure of helping some amazing brands and organizations become even more awesome at doing that thing they do.)
Amy has written for a wide breadth of industries in both the public and private sectors. Her work can be found everywhere from websites to billboards, brochures to bumper stickers…and still proudly displayed on her parents’ refrigerator door.
These days you’ll find Amy heading up the “Ohio branch” of Brains on Fire. In her spare time, Amy enjoys the company of family, friends and her rescue dog, Rocky.
Steven Tingle grew up in a tiny little community in western North Carolina called Cruso. His advice? If you have only one year left to live move there because every day feels like an eternity. Steven spent many years in the golf, restaurant and hospitality industries before turning his attention to writing. Now, in addition to serving as Senior Editor and Creative Manager for Tempus, a luxury lifestyle publication for private jet owners, Steven contributes to a variety of national and regional publications. Some say Steven’s words flow like a raging river, except that is, when asked to write his own bio.
Deb was born and raised in Southwest Missouri, where she attended Missouri Southern State University and received her BFA in Graphic Design. After graduation, Deb moved to Iowa to attend grad school at Iowa State University where she received an MA in Graphic Design.
Knowing that she and her husband wanted to explore life beyond the Midwest, they did what any red-blooded Americans would do: they hit the road. As fate would have it, that road trip took them through the southern United States and a city called Greenville. The rest, as they say, is geographical history. (With a dash of serendipity and a sprinkling of Brains on Fire.)
Deb designs for the greater good. She is passionate about using her knowledge and skills to do work that changes the world for the better. Deb values working with others and using critical thinking to solve problems through design. She’s constantly exposing herself to new ideas and people while picking up scraps of inspiration from her travels, with the goal of putting it all together to create something new.
When Deb’s not busy rocking our clients’ worlds (and eyeballs), she keeps busy exploring the outdoors, doing crossfit, watching baseball games with her husband, picking flowers, traveling, and hanging out with her pup, Rusty, and cat, Zoe.
Jack’s experience spans a few decades in this business. He is also is a self-proclaimed “homeboy,” meaning he grew up just down the road in Spartanburg, SC. Keeping with the theme, Jack earned a degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Broadcast Production from the University of South Carolina. Who knows what he did after that, but what we do know is that we’re glad he joined what would one day become Brains on Fire in July of 1988.
Jack is the man. No, really. In addition to his workload as Media Boss and lending a helping hand on accounts from American Federal to Bon Secours St. Francis Health System to VisitGreenvilleSC, Jack holds the key to all the logistics at Brains on Fire. When he’s not in the office, you’ll probably find Jack practicing with his bluegrass band or serving on the Greenville Family Partnership board.
And then there is Brains on Fire’s founder, Mike Goot, no longer with us in body, but always with us in spirit. (Don’t worry, he just moved to Colorado.) Known for his sharp tongue and sweet heart, Mike caught the tail end of the Mad Men era, beginning his advertising career in New York City in the early 1970s.
Mike later migrated to South Carolina, where he founded what would become Brains on Fire, under the name The Eison Goot Group.
So what eventually turned Mike off about conventional advertising? Perhaps it was enduring a four-hour boardroom screaming match between eight execs over which word should be used in an ad: “clean” or “spotless.” This trivial mêlée with one of Mike’s first employers might just be what began the smoldering that kindled the concept he would hone years later into Brains on Fire: inspiration, honesty, and focusing on what truly matters. Brains On Fire burst into flames in the late 90s from the kismet of ideal collaboration, the evolution of marketing theory, and the birth of inspired genius.
Mike’s outrageous, often obscene, yet infinitely kind and generous spirit is part of who we are. Even in his absence, it pushes us to be relentless in our daily pursuit of truth and strong in our conviction that our efforts could make the lives of those we touch a little more meaningful…and a helluva lot more fun.