Spring has sprung across our virtual offices and I could not think of a more appropriate JSAer to feature in our April edition. Sarah Branner is the kind of woman who stops to smell the flowers, an unusual quality in today’s digital-everything world. Through a series of coincidences, she started at JSA several years ago and quickly rose up from intern to coordinator, and is now rightly considered an integral team member and leader of our Analyst & Research Departments.
Known for her love of the outdoors, cat-walking, banging yoga skills and, well, frank personality, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Sarah in this month’s Get to Know Your JSAer.
Sarah, what brought you to JSA?
When I first met Jaymie I was at a crossroads in my life. I had just left a job because my heart wasn’t really in it and I was looking to get into public relations and event planning. I didn’t know anyone in the telecom or tech industries (or even PR for that matter!), but I was casually looking for a position that I’d one day become passionate about. Ironically enough, my brother and sister-in-law know Jaymie and her husband Rory from their Virginia days and after hearing about my interests and goals, Jaymie invited me to come over to her house and talk. Well, Jaymie and I are both big talkers, and what started as a casual conversation about JSA turned into hours of discussion that led us straight through dinner. From there it was really history. Jaymie offered me an internship and through the years I’ve grown from that role to now managing the company’s Analyst and Research teams and spearheading some exciting new initiatives. I guess you could say it was a ‘right place at the right time’ kind of moment.
What do you love most about your job?
There are a few things that come to mind. First, I love the pace. PR in general is an exciting field to be in because everything moves so quickly, but tech and telecom PR adds another layer to that excitement. Since the industry is constantly changing, adapting and innovating, as marketers we have to do the same. And frankly, it’s deeply rewarding to know the ins and outs of the industry and understand, for example, not only what 5G is, but the infrastructure behind it and the massive potential it offers. Most people don’t know much about the inner workings of the devices they use daily. Finally, being the lead analyst at JSA, it goes without saying that I have a passion for data and find it exciting to dig into the analysis aspect of our work. “What had the most impact? How did people best respond to XYZ messaging?” These are the questions I love to answer, and oftentimes help drive the overall strategy for our clients.
What is your morning routine?
I am a true believer in decluttering my mind. And probably unlike most people reading this, I avoid looking at my phone for first 45 minutes that I’m awake. Instead, when I first wake up I like to open the shades and get right back into bed to write my morning pages, which is essentially a stream-of-consciousness journal. I then do my facial routine, meditate for 15 minutes, and right before I sit down to work, I jot down the things that I’m grateful for that day.
Can you share with readers what’s on your gratitude list today?
- Friends, new and old.
- Denver, the city that I have lived in for a little over a year now and have quickly fallen in love with.
- My intuition. It has never failed me.
What do you love about Denver?
Probably too many things to name, but if I had to boil it down it would be the people and the collective creativity they possess. People come to Denver from all over the country, so you meet folks from everywhere, with all different backgrounds and upbringings. It’s also weirdly always sunny here. It could be snowing or raining and somehow the sun is still out and people are running or hiking, staying active. Really, they’re just on another level and it’s inspiring. In Denver, everyone is in it together. You want to see the people around you grow – that’s the feeling you get from the city and the people who live here. It’s unlike other cities where you might have that inclination to push other people down to rise up, instead you collectively share, succeed, and grow.
What was your first introduction to yoga?
Growing up I had a connection to yoga. It was a bit unexplainable because I had a yoga mat but never practiced; it was just a fascination. It wasn’t until years later during a particularly challenging time in my life, that I actually went to a yoga class in Virginia. It was a hot yoga class and honestly, it was just a game-changer. Something clicked for me. It felt good, like right where I should be. I think one of the things that attracted me to the practice is that it’s hard. You have to be strong and push through it mentally and physically — not everyone realizes that.
What made you take the steps to become a certified yoga instructor?
I thought about becoming a certified instructor for quite some time, so after years of knowing it’s what I wanted, I finally acted on it. I found one of the best courses in Denver and immediately started my journey. It was a three month-long process, two days during the week for four hours, and then every Saturday and Sundays for eight hours. On top of that, I also had to actively participate in classes. So to say it was a busy three months is an understatement. Sure there were times when I wanted to give up, but in life if you want something badly enough, you have to put your nose to the grindstone and just do it. And I’m not one for backing out.
What’s a fear you are trying to overcome?
Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
What’s your favorite food?
Mexican. No contest.
Reading. What’s your favorite genre?
I love anything suspenseful, but I do have a soft spot for nonfiction, particularly anything related to the body or brain.
Skiing or hiking?
Tea or coffee?
Coffee, but only on the weekends.
What show are you binge watching?
Mad Men, and I’m actually really disappointed it’s coming to an end (for me).
If you could describe JSA in three words what would they be?
- Over-achievers, all of us
Finally, if you could move your virtual office to anywhere in the world for a month where would it be?
Thailand. Also maybe Bali, but only if I could stay in one of those cabins on the water. Seriously, how cool would that be?