30 April 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
Emma Barry is Co-founder and Chief Creative Soul at Good Soul Hunting – an executive search brand that places go-getters in purpose-led health and fitness scaleups.
Born in London, Emma is a kiwi, living in LA, commuting to Europe, and often with a Mojito in hand.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I’ve been advising and advancing the innovative edge of health and fitness for the past 25 years. As a founding member of live and on-demand fitness giant, Les Mills International, and former Director for luxury lifestyle brand, Equinox, I delight in lighting fires under purpose-driven people and companies. My new venture is Good Soul Hunting – a disruptive executive search company specialising in the fit-tech, well-tech and personalised health sectors. Good Soul Hunting exists to accelerate the efforts of companies to do good in the world by matching them with good souls who share their passion and who have the skillset to explosively grow their impact. We are located in London, NY and LA. And, needless to say, we adore a good movie.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
My co-founders, Matt and Lucy Adey, had already launched an executive search company in the UK and were building nicely pre-Covid. When I was in London, we had one of those back-of-the-napkin conversations in a cafe that you can’t unhear. We quickly realised we were at a point in our careers that we could combine our unique talent sets and have some fun building a brand enabling us to contribute real impact to our beloved world of health and fitness globally.
We did a half-day strategy day on my next trip to London and sealed the deal on a rooftop bar the following evening. A good game is a fast game. Because we had worked together in previous work lives, the trust and understanding of complementary skill sets was already there.
We all came from business backgrounds; Lucy’s was legal, Matt’s was growth sales and marketing, and I hailed from fitness. We have all worked for Les Mills and spent significant time in the US, which is part of what makes us special. In fact I hired Lucy over 10 years ago during my time as People and Culture Director. Because we are not from this country, we had to learn our way in by making all the mistakes and playing out all the scenarios, but having spent enough time here working with stellar brands to understand the pitfalls and know how to navigate them in the business of talent placement.
Most people see America as the land of opportunity and the chance to land on the shores and start printing money. It is simply not the case. For a start, rookies think the United States is united whereas every state is like its own country – as the management of Covid-19 has showcased in spectacular fashion. There are some sacred cows you just don’t f*** with – the military, the Super Bowl, and Tom Brady.
People assume that because they speak English, it’s culturally congruent. Wrong again. There is a particular set of unique legal, cultural and financial nuances, it is fiercely competitive, and you compete with big players and deep pockets.
There is a particular lens we see the United States through. Because we are not Americans, we have a strong perspective on what you need to know as a company coming to the US and we use this to help our clients unearth the talent that will take them to the promised land.
How did you achieve awareness?
Help first, hunt second.
We are first and foremost driven by the desire to help people and purpose-led businesses in the health and fitness realm do good in the world. Our passion for people means we can contribute to that conversation by matching top-shelf talent to accelerate their careers in support of high-growth companies wanting to scale their solutions to the world.
We launched our brand by pouring love on others through a #goodsoulstories campaign. We showcased different winners in the circles we serve: investors, clients, and candidates, startups with worthy purposes of our business. We were amidst #BLM at the time, so some of our activity turned to addressing racial injustice, also shining a spotlight on the folks who went miles beyond the extra miles, performed selfless acts, and took progressive strides in their sectors and communities. It was a campaign about people by a company that puts people at the heart of talent placement; something we call the good soul formula that matches cipher and soul to purpose and goal.
Events, Podcasts, Webinars
Like most proactive businesses during the pandemic, we were prolific on all the public forums, launching the Soul Bites podcast, hosting webinars, and delivering keynote speeches at the industry’s most high-profile digital events. Our ‘soul aim’ was to share helpful information to guide and empower people through this incredibly tough time. We invited people to tell their stories through our platforms and became part of their communities. In essence, we achieved awareness by pouring love on others and adding value wherever we went.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
For now, we have opted to grow consciously, deliberately, and organically. Because of the nature of our business – a boutique search brand hyper-focused on newly funded, health and fitness scale-ups we know who to talk to and are growing at the pace and in the way we want. We lean into technology and best practice as accelerants that enables us to work smarter rather than just add endless heads. Our digital branding partner Rising Tyde helps shape our path with their next-level thinking. Our blueprint for success is simple:
- We are good souls who unite good brands with good people to do good things
- We are ever-evolving and accelerate the business by leaning into tech and adopting best practice
- We are top-shelf service offering next-level solutions that ensure businesses make the right hires to fulfil their dreams.
What are the key successes?
We prefer to have our clients tell that story…
“The introduction I got to Emma, Matt, and Lucy at Good Soul Hunting is one of the greatest gifts of 2020 because it takes a lot of time to recruit and hire the right people. Good Soul Hunting has bought us a COO who is a rockstar and a VP of Learning and Development who is a gem of a unicorn. Finding Good Soul Hunting as a partner to help us build our team has been highly beneficial.” ~ Felicia Alexander, Co-Founder/Co-Owner of Box Union and Chief Revenue Officer for Title Boxing Club.
We’re very proud that we are considered ‘cool’ in the relatively antiquated recruitment sector. We love feedback that affirms we put ‘good souls’ first – we will always honour the person or business before us above all and take a long-term career perspective rather than taking a used car salesmen approach which has been a long-held analogy and behaviour. We’ve managed to put our brand on the map in a relatively short period of time, gaining the right eyeballs, in the right circles. We’ve gone bold, proven out the business, and grown it, quarter on quarter, without having to borrow money. We set out to break the mould of traditional recruitment and have shown the world that our concept works – delivering enhanced outcomes for clients and candidates. This is just the beginning, and our biggest successes lie ahead of us.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
One of the biggest challenges we face is being able to visualise our success in the form of metrics. Normal engagement data don’t exist in the game of people placement. The response we get doesn’t always show up in likes, shares, and comments on our social feeds, but we achieve extremely high open rates with our communications. We know from other feedback that people are engaged by our content, but often would prefer to watch us from a distance, not always wanting to go on record as a ‘fan’ or ‘follower’ of our brand. We’ve overcome this by counting up some of the other metrics that you’d usually overlook, such as the number of new connections, responses, and conversations we’ve had on LinkedIn. In our business, it’s all about the hidden metrics; allowing these to paint the picture of how effective your marketing, content strategy, and communications are.
Despite all hailing from bricks-and-mortar fitness businesses, amidst the pandemic and in a digital revolution, we quickly realised that our past would not be our sweet spot for the future. Search and C-suite placement is not commonplace in fitness which is still professionalising and while we do partner with some traditional physical businesses we predominantly lean into fit tech, health-tech, well-tech, and personalised health, focusing on start-ups and scale-ups – well funded, ambitious folks in a hurry to do good in the world. In short, just because you start somewhere doesn’t mean you need to stay there. Of course, you take the base of your skills and contacts with you, but it’s imperative you shift with the times to serve the high-growth, high-return opportunities that will take your business to the next level.
We understand that for a business to get from A to where it wants to B, it helps to employ people that have been there before. This can mean accelerating your business by bringing in accelerants from other industries. A tech start-up looking for a world-class growth hacker could well turn to online retail to find that missing piece to the puzzle. We are in blended times and we will see a rise in talent being brought in from outside sectors, as businesses search for the people with the power to magnify their efforts and results. So we spend a lot of time looking sideways.
What are your plans now/for the future?
As a global company, our aim is to become an enabler for health-tech, well-tech, and personalised health brands the world over to accelerate their efforts and create an even greater impact in the world. That said, most of our business is in the US; either founded there or brands wanting to break into the country. Everyone wants to know the secret formula for making waves in the States. We’ve all worked for big, multinational companies based there. We’ve made the mistakes, jumped the hurdles, and know what it takes to succeed. This is a unique toolset we bring to the table, and something we’re becoming known for – a key component of our future growth plans.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
My Rule #1 is to double down on your passions. I’ve spent many years wondering where my career trajectory would lead me. Opportunities come along and sometimes they make sense and sometimes they don’t, but everything’s accumulative. Throughout my career, my constants have been fitness, innovation, and people. What am I now? The Co-Founder and Chief Creative Soul for a fitness innovation people business! One thing I know is that I have a deep and unwavering passion for breaking rules and for bringing together concepts that once stood apart. It’s like oxygen for me. So, my Rule #2 is to find your oxygen, match in your skills, and create something that lights your soul, giving you purpose and a platform to create magic.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
- Follow your soul and what lights you up
- Be a good soul and do what’s right
- Get clear on purpose and values – why you exist and how you behave
- Then hire and fire on them (staff and clients)
- Cultivate a culture of feedback – be ever-evolving
- Develop your ideas in market and fail fast (failure = feedback)
- Be prepared to work hard and know what success looks like
- Say yes until you can say no
- Partner the gaps and work with people better than you!
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most?
Joe Mullings @joemullings – King of talent meets media.
Fitt Insider @fittinsider most astute US fitness and wellness insights through the investment lens.
Oprah @oprah Queen of all.
John Oliver @johnoliverforpresident (British-American comedian)
Trever Noah @trevornoah (South African-American Comedian) and SNL (Saturday Night Live) @nbcsnl because you can’t survive in the US without humour.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
I’ll try anything twice.
A ship in the harbour is safe but that’s not what ships are built for.
Do it because it’s right. Do it because it serves. And do it because it sets your soul on fire.
What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?
Good Soul Hunting website: www.goodsoulhunting.com