Data Entrepreneur’s Career Path Started in Childhood
If data and marketing analyst Patti Brownsord hasn’t learned something new and exciting in any given 24 hours, she considers it an off day. It’s safe to say, though, that the co-owner of Grounded With Data in Orlando has a lot of good days, and so do the businesses she helps to strengthen with her insights.
“I like to tell stories with data,” she said. Here, in a nutshell, is why she says strategic data analysis is a crucial deep dive for every business: “Businesses and nonprofits can’t afford to put all of their eggs in one basket and fail, and they can’t put one egg in every basket and spread themselves too thin because that’s not effective either. Insights from data help them decide which baskets to use heavily and which to test lightly.”
Her lifelong desire to learn new things was stoked during her nine years as a Girl Scout in Florida, she said. She started as a Daisy in Royal Palm Beach and quickly joined the troop in Crescent City when her family moved there when she was 9.
“Girl Scouts was perfect for me because I got to learn with other girls who were interested in a wide range of things,” said Brownsord, who earned a Silver Medal for her project to entertain nursing home residents. “It wasn’t like learning in school, for the sake of taking a test and passing it. In Girl Scouts, we had some autonomy and could choose our own adventure.” She also loved windsurfing, sailing and swimming in summer camps.
Meeting new girls and participating in Girl Scout cookie sales helped her overcome shyness and learn to network, skills vital to her career today. “When you have the opportunity to interact with people outside of your usual circles, it gives you more confidence and resiliency.”
That confidence was pivotal in July, when she left her senior analytical consultant role at AAA in Heathrow after four years to turn her full attention to her growing company, which she founded as Data Wonderment in 2017.
“I enjoy the camaraderie of being in a business with someone else,” Brownsord said, “because I can handle the marketing, someone else can handle the accounting and we can work together.” So when her original business partner left for family reasons, she partnered with business expert Jack Slingluff Jr. early this year and they rebranded to Grounded With Data.
She said she is most passionate about marketing. “That’s where you can really move the needle for businesses,” she said.
She should know. She earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations with a minor in marketing from the University of Central Florida and returned for an MBA. She worked in advertising, public relations and marketing roles before her sharp turn into data analysis.
The switch occurred when a friend at AAA learned that Brownsord had been performing analysis for her advertising clients and asked her to help on some projects. She proved to be a fast learner, and AAA asked her to come aboard.
She shares her zeal for learning through a podcast called “Patti Is Still Learning,” which she and her husband, John, started in 2019. The show about “change, growth, development and fun” features small business owners and activists as guests and is available on Apple, Spotify and at PattiIsStillLearning.com.
Brownsord loves living in College Park and supports small businesses as the president of College Park Main Street. Her favorite place to work is her back yard, and she can often be found walking her goldendoodle, Eva, at Dartmouth Park. “I love College Park’s small-town feel, just outside the urban comforts of living downtown.”
Her aptitude for easily getting to know others began when she met new girls in Girl Scouts, she said. “Today, at networking events, one of the first things I do is go up to people I don’t know and introduce myself.”
She is a collector of hats and enjoys playing board and other kinds of games, especially those that help her build skills. As a child, she played piano and saxophone, and neither came easy. “I understood that I had to work hard and practice every day. I’ve always been diligent about wanting to do things well.”
After more than 100 years, the Girl Scout Cookie Program has earned an iconic place in American culture, inspiring girls to become the business, government and cultural leaders of their generation. Every girl has the opportunity to become a budding entrepreneur and leader from the moment she becomes a Girl Scout. This aspect of the program is by far the most important.
The tasty treats have always been more about the girls and what they gain from their experience than about fund raising, although those funds are critical to educational enrichments they support such as community impact projects and life skills experiences in the outdoors. As girls progress through the program year after year, skills are honed and new ones acquired to prepare them to face the challenges ahead, no matter what path they choose in life.
This year, your local Girl Scouts experienced a difficult and disrupted cookie sales cycle. The challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic required the girls — and those of us who support their cookie businesses — to innovate, create new customer connection models and flex different entrepreneurial muscles.
While silver linings in the pandemic may be hard to find, the grit the girls have shown in meeting these challenges and the educational opportunities they have found have kept us true to our mission of building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.
Before the pandemic, a cookie program had never extended into the summer, leaving a warehouse of surplus, unsold cookies. Contactless delivery models had never been necessary.
I am proud of the girls, and the volunteers who support them, as they persist in innovative efforts to #EmptyTheWarehouse and learn how to successfully manage a customer-facing business during a public health crisis. The girls will never forget what they learned from this experience.
I am grateful beyond words to our community, which has shown unwavering support for our girls and our council. We still have nearly 200,000 boxes to go, but with girl-led innovation and the support of our community, together we can empty that warehouse.