Leaning into Leadership: A Conversation with Kate Price
Kate is a partner at Prophet, based in New York, specializing in marketing transformation. She’s all about change, from improving clients’ marketing and branding skills to nurturing a digital mindset. As a former client-side marketing leader, I really enjoyed this conversation as well as the many others we’ve had with the mentorship she’s providing me in my role as CMO at Prophet. She also has a deeply personal take on change, shaped by three teenage sons, a battle with cancer and the realization that she is truly a morning person.
Amanda Nizzere: What do you do at Prophet?
Kate Price: I’m a partner leading the marketing and sales platform. I’ve worked in many disciplines, with a lot of experience in consumer products, from Lysol to Tanqueray. Marketing transformations, strategy and planning are my specialty.
AN: What led you to consulting?
KP: Even at a young age, I knew that I was a generalist and that I like to connect the dots between art and science. I come from a family of heavy-duty scientists, especially physicists. So, when I added literature to my studies, they were like, “What the heck is wrong with you?”! But coming out of college with a balance of science, English and math, I went into marketing straight away. I started as a 21-year-old trainee marketer and learned that this kind of career is all about joining the dots, all while working with great people. I did that for about 17 years on the client side and then wanted to move to a more advisory capacity. Now I can apply my skills in planning, marketing transformation and marketing excellence across many industries. I’m good at it. And this industry is always full of interesting people and ideas. They’re my people.
AN: What energizes you?
KP: Working with teams. There are always new teams coming in and growing and learning, and you get to watch this bench of smart, motivated people develop in front of you. I love that. And then I love when they get to the three-year mark, and they can become your right hand. It’s both the day-to-day interactions and watching the long-term growth, all while building relationships with clients.
AN: Along the way, is there anyone who’s influenced how you work or your career?
KP: I’ve taken a little bit from all sorts of people. Our generation of female leaders is much more likely to be women with children than the generation that came before us. So, when I was growing up as a junior mid-level marketer, many of the women ahead of me had broken through the ceiling. But at the same time, they weren’t necessarily people with children. I’ve got three sons. One of the things I’ve learned is how to operate as a woman in the workplace to ’figure out the things that will push you forward and balance it with- the things that give you energy. They may not be the same. But I lean into them just the same as they will likely balance out and enable you to be your most authentic self at work. I’ve found that to be true for me. My commercial efforts are the ones that push me forward and my mentorship opportunities give me energy. In both, I have found ways to let the real me come through – it enables me to really enjoy the ride.
AN: What’s your go-to productivity hack?
KP: I work in the morning, not at night. I’m not very good at anything after 9:00 p.m., including important conversations with my husband. I can focus and get things done early in the morning. And I mean regular-person early. I don’t buy into starting my day at 4:00 a.m.
AN: That’s great self-awareness right there.
KP: I’m also working on figuring out where I can get a B+. I can’t believe I’ve gotten to this age without knowing what I must get an A in and when a B+ is OK. I wish I’d learned that in high school!
AN: If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something and get that A+, what would you want to be an expert in?
KP: I don’t want to be a deep expert in anything. I would much rather be the expert in pulling all the pieces together and making sense of it – adding up all the different parts. Like I said, connecting the dots excites me. I like figuring out how to bring the best experts together.
AN: OK, you’re a connector. If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would you choose?
KP: It’d be fun to trade places with one of my kids. I love to learn. My oldest just started college, and he is taking classes in things like the anthropology of science and technology, the Big Bang and world-building. I’d even like to go back and take AP physics again. On that note, I’m not sure I could do soccer practice every day…
AN: If you had to pick one age to be permanently, which would you choose?
KP: I’m sticking with 50. I thought it was going to be hard to turn 50. But actually, I’m like, “I earned these wrinkles. I have wisdom, perspective and acceptance. I’m good with it.”
AN: If you were to write a book or a blog about your life, what would you call it?
KP: Ironically enough, I have been slowly working on a memoir. It’s slow going, but hopefully, someday it will become a book. It’s called “Taming Kate” – after the heroine in “Taming of the Shrew”. It’s the story of how life has tamed me (a bit!). By the time that we’ve hit this age, we all have lots of life experience that sort of smooths off the hard edges. But in the last decade, I’ve had some adventures that have really worked hard to tame me. I’ve almost died. Twice. I fell off my Vespa onto train tracks and broke every bone in my body — neck, back, legs, everything. That was in 2016, and it took almost two years to fully recover. Then, in October of 2020, I was diagnosed with cancer. So, I spent most of the second half of the pandemic in chemo, fighting breast cancer. I’ve been through that for about 18 months, and these life lessons have also given me plenty of leadership lessons: How do we pick ourselves up and put ourselves back together? But also, I feel tamed. It’s kind of funny. This cultural narrative is supposed to be, “I gave up everything, but these experiences changed me. I now live by the beach and meditate every morning.” Not me. My life is the same. It’s how I know how to be myself.
I feel very ordinary. The big lesson for me is that everybody has their stuff, everybody. When working with colleagues and clients, everything can seem fine on the surface. Yet almost everyone has something that they need support with. We’re all just doing the best we can.
With my three kids, I think they’ve learned that life is not easy, but it’s OK. They’ve learned you pick yourself back up.
Rapid Fire Questions
- How are you uncommon? I’m quirky and sometimes a bit much for the workplace.
- Do you have a hidden talent or claim to fame? I once met Prince Philip. He used to be a gymnast and came to see one of my competitions and said hello to me. I also went to preschool with Robert Plant’s son (of Led Zeppelin fame!). I was very small, and it was the era of platform shoes. I remember seeing these tall platform shoes at the bottom of his shaggy coat.
- Favorite day of the year? My oldest child’s birthday, which is June 9. To me, it signals the beginning of summer.
- Favorite place? Two places. Africa, because I went to Ghana to do development work when I was 20 and fell in love with the continent. It has a soul that I love. And then any place where I’ve got my nuclear family around me, just the five of us together.
- What is one thing in business that no one talks about but should? That business is one of the things that keeps the world together. An Edelman study says that people trust companies more than they trust governments. I have worked a lot with global corporations, colleagues in China and Russia and many parts of the world. In that day-to-day business context, this is a contributor to world peace. It keeps everybody on the same page. These people are my friends. Brands live across borders. So when my kids complain about Corporate America, I say, `Businesses employ or affect billions of people. They create jobs and put food on the table. They connect people.’ So yes, big business is contributing to world peace.
- What charitable initiatives are you most passionate about? Children and education in general. It is about helping underserved children, whether inner-city children who need help with reading or immigrant children separated from their parents. Anything that supports their future.
- What’s a wish you have for the future? Can I have a wish for my future? I wish for my future to be boring.
ABOUT THE SERIES
“Throughout my career, I have been fascinated with the building blocks of leadership, from motivation, coaching and communication to mentorship, empathy, inspiration and more. Unraveling and understanding what makes a strong and impactful leader tick can help us implement new strategies to grow as individuals and leaders. Over the years, I’ve listened to podcasts, read books, attended conferences and listened to TED Talks about various leadership topics, but some of the most impactful lessons and pieces of advice I’ve learned have been from those around me—my mentors, colleagues and industry peers—which led me to create this interview series. I invite you to join me as I interview various leaders in my network to share new tools and wise advice from them that you may want to add to your leadership toolbox.” – Amanda Nizzere, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer