We had the good fortune of connecting with Terry Pappy and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Terry, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
A year-and-a-half after my husband passed away from a long illness, I was riffed (Reduction in Force) from a 6-year career at Marriott, leading into the recession of 2008. When I couldn’t replace the J-O-B, I hung out my shingle and opened a creative services firm. I basically kept doing what I’d always done in my career and what I was degreed in: creative design and communications. I called my company, “Terry Pappy Creative Services.” Nothing super special, but it conveyed the right idea because of what I did for clients. Once I stabilized with a few clients and referrals from my days at Marriott, I decided that I was going to make being a solopreneur work. I loved the freedom, the ability to finally do work the way I wanted to do it, and take care of clients the way I wanted to take care of them. However, as I grew in confidence delivering websites, copy, branding and marketing collateral for clients, I started noticing a common problem: they had no clue what their customers really wanted or were dealing with in their world. I’d ask questions related to their customers preferences, thinking, etc., and my clients would say, “I’m not sure, that’s a good question,” or, “I think they want x or y.” Bottom line, my clients didn’t understand their customers well enough for me to provide good sales and marketing strategies let along the deliverables to communicate who they were. Hailing from the hospitality industry before I started my business, I was very keen on customer experience. I have a natural propensity for empathy and nurturing and intuitive understanding of people and relationships, and parlay that into the branding and messaging I create. This was a big problem my clients were unaware they had—not fully understanding their customers’ needs well enough to communicate their value. So I decided to rebrand my business to solve that problem. I rebranded my company “Better3,” on this model: When you understand your customers better, you’re able to communicate more professionally and effectively. This understanding also helps you deliver more value, which increases loyalty and advocacy of your company, because it’s a lot less costly to gain more wallet share from existing clients than it is to recruit and onboard new clients. When people inquire what the “3” stands for in Better3, I say, “Better Understanding, Better Communications, Better Relationships.” (a more detailed venn diagram is on this page: https://better3.com/about#how-we-work) To this day I have continued to refine this model and now offer personal branding strategies for solopreneurs that draws forth deeper relationship building communications that make their business more fulfilling and distinct. The idea for my business came as a result of being put in a difficult position at a very difficult time in my life. It was all about surviving at the time, and I chose what I knew worked in the corporate world so I stuck with it because I was really good at it. But having the freedom to evolve my business into a higher quality value was an incredible gift that I took advantage of because I saw a need in the marketplace. That evolution and rebranding has served me well for more than fifteen years.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In 1982, I graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with a degree in Visual Communications. I had always been artistic, creative and whimsical. I also loved to write. When I was in my wrap-up years of high school, as every high school junior/senior faces, I faced choosing where to get my undergrad and in what area. It was troubling for me because I’d had equal success and strength in writing and art and struggled deciding between art school and journalism school. In the end I chose art school because I knew it would yield a career in marketing and advertising with a sustainable income—at least that’s what I sold my dad on at the time. He had visions of me sitting on a street corner with a tin cup trying to sell paintings, and wanted me to get an education that would support me. Gotta love him for that. Although I remained focused on the implementation side of graphics and communications, I always had a natural ability to write great copy, making what I designed even stronger. However, I felt that my inner artist was not being nurtured, so after working at a small typography firm after college for three years, I had saved up a good lump sum, quit and started my first business, Pappycards. I combined my design skills with my love of writing and created a line of greeting cards that I sold in gift shops and greeting card stores all over Pittsburgh. So I went from employee sitting behind a Compugraphic typesetting machine to business owner, creative designer, copywriter, production person, sales person, customer service rep and bookkeeper. And I had little experience in most of those areas. After another three years trying to make a living selling a card for fifty cents that retailed for a dollar, I had to quit because I couldn’t support myself. I returned to the workforce where I remained for many years until the cold Pittsburgh winters chased me to Florida. It was then that I started painting aquatic and tropical motifs in oil on canvas and showing my art at outdoor art festivals all over Florida on the weekends, while working at a printing company during the week. I loved it. It was a hard life, sitting outside in a ten-by-ten metal and plastic booth smiling while people walked by and made all variety of comments about my work—not all flattering either, mind you. I did the art show festival circuit for about four years, won a few awards and sold a few paintings. I got to do what I loved, paint, create and express my interests two-dimensionally. And then I met my husband, Chuck, and eventually stopped exhibiting my artwork as again, it was not financially balanced in what I gave up in time and effort. I donated my easel and art supplies and focused on my career and marriage to Chuck. Three years into our marriage, he was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. He passed away 6 years later after suffering many surgeries, cancer treatments and hospitalizations. A few weeks after things got quiet, the funeral was over and family returned home, I found his journal. In my grief, I longed for the soothing of a love story—not a story about how to deal with the grief and loss, I was a pro at that after losing my mother at 6, father and sister two and three years prior to Chuck’s passing. No, I wanted to read a love story because that’s what I felt that I had truly experienced. When I read Chuck’s journal, it hit me: I wasn’t finding that love story I so desperately needed so I decided to write it myself, with the gift of Chuck’s journal entries. Over the next year and a half, I wrote and published my first book, a memoir dedicated to my love story with Chuck, and titled it, “14 Days: Loving Life with the Love of My Life.” I titled the memoir 14 Days because Chuck’s journal only had 14 entries, which are included in the memoir with love. Since that gift of writing to complement a wonderful, diverse career in visual communications that has ranged from typesetting to working in a web offset printing company to a newspaper, ad agency, client-side marketing department and ultimately the web team at Marriott and now my own marketing firm, I have written and published five additional books focused on helping readers be more creative and inspired. I’m grateful for the myriad opportunities I’ve had to express all of my creative abilities throughout my career and always finding new ways to use my creativity to help others. I will continue to write, design, paint and inspire through my creations anyone in need of the natural gifts I’ve been blessed with.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Palm Beach: Out on our boat cruising the Intracoastal, stopping at our favorite waterside restaurants or hitting the sand bar for some fun in the water, playing golf (if they golf) and relaxing at the house by the pool or the beach. It’s all about enjoying the beautiful weather and amazing restaurants here in Palm Beach.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Throughout my career I have been blessed by so many wonderful, encouraging—and sometimes challenging—people to help me grow and evolve my preferences in how I show up, what I do and what I’m up to creating for myself and others. First and foremost, I need to acknowledge my dad, who was a self-made business owner. His modeling of building a business to support our family and provide a lifestyle he’d always dreamed of was the backdrop for my success. He inspired my desire for independence, freedom and to be of compassionate service of others. It embedded the basis for my endless pursuit of improvement, growth, humility and integrity in all that I do. Resources and people that supported those desires continue to appear on my path and I’m forever grateful. My credo has always been freedom, the ability to create and the ability to inspire others to their own creative ability to create a life they love. 🍀

Website: https://pappyclub.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tpappy/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/terrypappy/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tpappy

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/terrypappy

Youtube: http://youtubeterry.com/

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.