Ep 13 Start with Passion and Why with Brand Strategist Sarah Dobson
Ep 13

Ep 13 Start with Passion and Why with Brand Strategist Sarah Dobson

Start with Passion and Why with Brand Strategist Sarah Dobson

Episode Summary: 

I'm joined by Sarah Dobson, a Brand Designer, Strategist, and founder of Design of Brand. Her passion for making a brand come to life began as a student doodling in her school agenda and decorating lockers for special occasions.

Sarah Dobson is the Founding Partner of Design of Brand (affectionately known as DOB), a specialized brand consultancy for Entrepreneurs. After studying History, Art History and Graphic Design she worked closely under the legendary Paula Scher at Pentagram in New York. Sarah is both strategist and designer. Her magnetic creative solutions blend clear concepts and emotional designs to align young brands with their business objectives. She is a visionary for the appearance of a brand and how its visual identity can transform. In our conversation, we touch on what having a brand means, finding your ‘why’.

Show Notes:

I'm joined by Sarah Dobson, a Brand Designer, Strategist, and founder of Design of Brand. Her passion for making a brand come to life began as a student doodling in her school agenda and decorating lockers for special occasions. She is a visionary for the appearance of a brand and how its visual identity can transform. In our conversation, we touch on what having a brand means, finding your ‘why,’ and the importance of your logo evolving over time. 

What is the impact you want to have on the world? What are you most passionate about? Are you solving a problem for the ages? These questions separate a good ‘why’ from a great one, and it is the core of your brand. Sarah and her team at Design of Brand walk their clients  through these fundamental questions to help establish their brand identity and, in turn, give them a barometer for all core decision-making.

Sarah is best at connecting the dots and articulating a brand’s vision. We also discuss the "symbology" of logos and the differences between personal and professional brands. Listen in to hear more of Sarah's visual language and explore her process for building a brand.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

Topics Covered:

  • Translating your passion in business into your ‘why’
  • The importance of articulating a vision and bringing that into the branding
  • The difference between a personal and professional brand
  • How to incorporate your annual goals into your ‘why’  
  • The benefits that come with questioning a certain way of doing things

Guest Info:

Resources Mentioned:

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Show Transcript

Tonya Papanikolov  00:04

Hi, welcome to the rainbo podcast. I'm your host, Tonya Papanikolov. Rainbo and I are on a mission to upgrade humanity with fungi and expand the collective conscious. This podcast builds a virtual mycelial network of bold, open minded thinkers and seekers. I chat with experts, thought leaders, healers, scientists, entrepreneurs, spiritual teachers, activists, and dreamers. These are stories of healing, human potential and expansion, tune in route and expand and journey with us.


Tonya Papanikolov  00:47

Hi, Friends, welcome back to the first episode of season two, and I decided to introduce Season Two to have there be a little bit of a framework around our episodes and to place the episodes and their topics within broader themes of holistic health. So I have a prelude to this first episode of season two, with a guest anyways, in the previous recording, so if you're interested in listening to that, go for it. It's just a solo episode, speaking to holistic health and the paradigm of wholeness within spiritual health, mental health, emotional health, physical health, financial, social, all these kinds of frameworks, and, you know, paradigms that we exist in. And so season two is, I think of it more of a roadmap where we can look to these episodes as being really educational and being able to fit within these broader topics. So that yeah, when somebody is approaching learning about health, they have lots of different tools and can really see the way that those fit into different aspects of their well being. So today's episode is really where I want to start, which is around the central topic of why, and it's with one of my best friends, Sarah Dobson. 


Tonya Papanikolov  02:11

So the conversation is really intimate and conversational. And of course, we're both really relaxed and love to chat with one another. And Sarah is the founding partner of an agency design of brand affectionately known as DOB. DOB is a specialized brand consultancy for entrepreneurs. And after studying art, history, and graphic design, Sarah worked closely under the legendary polisher at pentagram in New York. Sarah is both a strategist and a designer, she's truly brilliant, I'm so lucky to call her a friend and a dear friend at that, and just has such a brilliant mind a beautiful way of looking at things. And she has magnetic creative solutions that blend concepts with emotional design. And her and partners process really helped to align young brands with their business objectives. And the process is really foundational. And so we borrow on this concept that Simon Sinek developed, which is the start with why and amazing TED Talk. If you haven't watched it, I highly suggest you do pretty popularized at this point, his work has really kind of gone mainstream, but really great, if you haven't heard of it to check that out as a starting point, especially if you're starting a business, if you're creating a product or offering a service, it is imperative to know why you're doing what you're doing, and what your effort aims to solve. 


Tonya Papanikolov  03:37

And so I really love the topic of purpose. And we'll do another episode on Dharma karma and destiny. And these are kind of more Eastern philosophies which originated, you know, in India and China, India, mainly to my knowledge, which is just around the idea of one's dharmic calling their purpose, a soul's purpose in life, and went through a big journey in my 20s to really connect to my purpose. And it was, I think one of the best things I did, because it in turn gave me a lot of clarity and a strong sense of purpose. And I carry that sense with me every day when I wake up and in what I get to do. And it's very clear to me and it helps me make clear decisions. And it helps to inform my ethos and my ethics and my values. And it helps me lead from the heart. 


Tonya Papanikolov  04:27

So we'll chat about Dharma karma and destiny at some point in the future. And you know, these concepts are kind of similar to that in a way. So we speak to why and why it's so important to start with why why it's so important to ask why. And to really firm up this vision, as a creative as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, whatever that may be. And to make sure that if you are running something a business, a group of humans, a community of humans working towards a common goal that everybody is rowing in this same direction, because that why that picture has really clearly been painted. And what Sarah, and DOB and her partner Danny do so beautifully is helped to create that framework for entrepreneurs and paint the picture visually of what that brand identity is and how it relates back to the founder or founders why and why they're doing what they're doing. So I think you'll love this episode, Sara is really incredible. We touch on so many amazing nuggets of wisdom in this. And I am really looking forward to the start of this season. Thank you for being here. I always appreciate if you leave us a review, give us five stars. If you love the episode, send it to a friend, as always really appreciated. So let's get into this episode. So this is Sarah Dobson that I have the pure pleasure of speaking with today. Certified bestie and


Sarah Dobson  06:04

besties title


Tonya Papanikolov  06:07

one of my dearest, my nearest and dearest, how would I describe you? You're a dream catcher. You are a extremely talented strategist, Brand Builder, idea maker and collector. And so many things, so many things you are you're a difficult person to describe. You are just such a creative force that I'm I'm so lucky and happy to have had come into my life and sphere. Well,


Sarah Dobson  06:43

thank you I'm holding back here.


Tonya Papanikolov  06:47

How do you typically describe yourself when you know if you're telling our audience about who you are what you do your work with the OB, your path? And actually, before we go there, do you like to start our podcast with just something we're grateful for in this moment? So let's back up a bit and maybe start there and have a little share?


Sarah Dobson  07:07

Well, you know, I'm in my apartment, and I just came to me, you know how special of a space this is that we used to live building together. And yeah, I'm feeling just incredibly, so cheesy. But maybe this is going to be a theme today. I know in owning your cringe and cheesy. I'm just so grateful to be alive and everything that that encompasses truly like all the little good and bad and all the little like I was reading on the bike this morning and the sun popped out and I've had a leftover half a hamburger for breakfast and just honest.


Tonya Papanikolov  07:49

I love that. It's so funny that you say that because last night I was like washing my face. And I was like, It's so annoying that this is just it's so good. It's like so good to be here. So good to feel alive and and is that like annoying for people to hear? I don't think so. I think it just depends on where you're at. And all of like so many things. But it's I think we all need that reminder that like holy shit. We're alive.


Sarah Dobson  08:17

I think that in reflecting on, you know, our friendship kind of going into this conversation that was like one of the things I love most about you just like that, like unbridled enthusiasm for things which I think people are often kind of tempered to, or tempted to, you know, hold back or be kind of cool or whenever, and I just love the big fan. And


Tonya Papanikolov  08:42

like, big fan energies,


Sarah Dobson  08:45

big fan energy, like, yeah, I've always felt that. And it's what an amazing relationship to have where you can just kind of fats feed each other and pump each other up with with all that good stuff.


Tonya Papanikolov  08:57

Oh, yeah. I love that so much. Okay, so that's what you're grateful for I had I would have to like really echo that I am. What am I grateful for today? I am grateful for it's so cliche. And I think everybody can relate to it when they go through a feeling of having their health compromised. But so I pinched a nerve in my neck yesterday and was in so much pain. And it's those moments where you're just like on the floor. Like really just your health has been removed from what it usually is. And you have to like rest and really notice that yeah, truly our biggest form of wealth or whatever you want to call it in our lives is just like a strong physical body that can move us through the world. And it's so just so easy to take for granted little things like moving your neck, just like literally turning right or left and having mobility and agility. And so having that taken away and being in pain, and there are people that are in chronic pain all the time is like Whoa, my heart Like you have days where you feel that and it's a big thing to move through, whether it's for a short period of time, and definitely for longer periods of time. So just feeling grateful for my body and how it heals. That just


Sarah Dobson  10:13

made me think of how you know, you're such a health is such a tremendous sort of value and focal point in your life. And for you also, to have had many of those kind of moments and sort of troubles, I guess, with, with your health and things you've had to face like in a way to be grateful for the juxtapositions of those things. And really, yeah, doing that and focuses?


Tonya Papanikolov  10:35

Yeah, so interesting. So interesting. It's really so interesting. It's like, most people that are in health, God here, because something happened to make them real like to really make them realize the gravity of like, what we can lose. And to want to treasure that so deeply. And for me, that was like when I was 14 that started. So like, I've been on that on this for so long.


Sarah Dobson  11:02

It's so cool. Yeah, just to connect those dots, when again, we're gonna talk about, you know, all the little dots that connect to bring you into what you're doing.


Tonya Papanikolov  11:11

Yeah. So let's go back to you. And what you do your path, your journey, how you got to building what you're building?


Sarah Dobson  11:21

Absolutely, yeah, it is so fun to right, connect all those little dots. And I was looking back at, you know, everything that brought me to doing what I'm doing, which, you know, in the simplest terms is branding for entrepreneurs. But yeah, sort of looking at that phase of life where I didn't even know what graphic design was, right. And like, looking at those little seeds of things that I used to love to do, like decorating the cover of my agenda throughout high school, and the inside of my agenda, and you know, all my friends would like love looking through it. And that was something I look forward to tremendously every year it was getting that fresh agenda, you know, decorating people's lockers, you know, like picking out all the stuff. Yeah, bring them joy on their birthday on their lockers and cars and, and then even sort of that era. Like before, I really understood what branding was choosing to study history and art history and being drawn to, I guess, just sort of understanding the context of how things happen in and through art history, obviously, style, trends in style over time, and artistic expression. And,


Tonya Papanikolov  12:40

I mean, there was like, there's like a really big life event that was traumatic and catastrophic in ways that guided you to a new place. And I think like your study at Parsons, and life in New York, and like all that came from that was like, a really big part. Probably, I don't know what you were studying, like, you were you had just finished university or you were in high school.


Sarah Dobson  13:06

Yeah, I finished university and I was interning at, at a magazine, which was when I kind of realized what graphic design was right was when I, you know, my mom set me up for a coffee with her friend, who is the beauty editor at which magazine in New York. Now this was in Toronto. I was peppering her with questions about her career, and she said, you know, if I could do it all over again, I would want to be in the art department. I just love the people. And you know, it's just a fun place to be in. So I was like, Alright, oh, well, look, I'll try that. And that was when I applied to both OCAD and Parsons, and through Yeah, the those sort of uncontrollable events decided to go to New York. And that was just a time of exposure to things I never could have dreamt of really like yeah, worked on a book at Vogue and interned at Teen Vogue and founder of Bumble and Bumble and I was so lucky yeah to work at dean of sort of the holy grail of graphic design or design consultancies called pentagram for the first female partner there and just learned so much from her and had so many incredible experiences there and and then yeah, and then you are obviously such a huge played such a huge role, honestly, and in me figuring out how to weave all my experiences together, I guess. Yeah. When we met and became friends. At a certain point you sort of pointed you


Tonya Papanikolov  14:36

mean when I followed you around the party I was like, yeah, that's my friend right there. I'm just gonna literally attach myself to her. Was really like I am I think annoying. Like I'm literally following the scroll around.


Sarah Dobson  14:57

We both showed up so Okay, so we were invited to Our friend Kate's baby shower. Yeah. And we both showed up, embarrassingly late as we are often known to do. Yeah, yeah. And I loved Kate, when I remember saying to her, you know, I met Tanya, I really love her. She was like, I knew I knew this.


Sarah Dobson  15:21

Of course, but yeah, at a certain point, I guess of us in our blossoming friendship, you pointed me toward this program that really helped me analyze all of the ideas I had, I knew I wanted to start a business. And then and yeah, really analyze, you know, how I love to spend my time, things people would actually pay you for who you want to work with, like, what impact you want to make, and all these various factors. And that helped me land on doing what I'm doing now and DOP. And then just like designing and kind of codifying a process around. Yeah, around that.


Tonya Papanikolov  15:59

So crazy. And then rainbo was your first literally.


Sarah Dobson  16:04

Yeah, I mean, these are we did greenhouse at United greenhouse, like over 10 years ago while we were still in New York, and then, yeah, when I moved back to Toronto, I went in house for them for a little while. And Rainbo. Yeah, we did that. I guess before dob, too.


Tonya Papanikolov  16:22

Yeah, technically. And it's so cool to because both of us fostered something really huge for each other in that process. Like we were both really much in that ideation. And you really


Sarah Dobson  16:35

saw the early days of our process, too, because you've now seen, it's evolved so much, even since.


Tonya Papanikolov  16:42

Yeah, it was just I love and I always say this, like, I love the early stages of building anything where it's just pure creation mode, pure creativity, brainstorming, Mind Mapping,


Sarah Dobson  16:55

the way we like, organically kind of came together. Yeah, ceremony


Tonya Papanikolov  16:58

on the bedroom floor, like reading books, like just, it can be so fun. And, and


Sarah Dobson  17:05

meditating, right? Like we had we meditated. We, when we were together, doing the naming, we had like a really fun night of brainstorming. And then in the morning, I remember you were like, do you want to meditate with me, and we sat beside the window meditating, sort of freestyling for a while, and then I remember coming out of that, it was like, it's rainbo. It's right.


Tonya Papanikolov  17:29

And like, that was the last word on that page, like, I will frame that I should already have that frame, I still have it, of course. But like that was it was like glaring, glaringly obvious, and yet hadn't really grounded itself until after that morning, and that meditation and but I


Sarah Dobson  17:46

think that's an incredible lesson and a really nice take away, I've been thinking a lot about, you know, creative processes, and this rhythm and honing of, you know, brainstorming and letting things kind of flow and creating and then switching into that kind of analytical mode, but also that the role that not analyzing can have and helping the, with the analysis and intuition, and yeah, and honing in on all of that.


Tonya Papanikolov  18:16

I think it allows for people to make something that's maybe a bit more true to them to, like, I think there's just a lot of No, we're gonna Yeah, like, go into this big discussion about our why, and, you know, some some things around purpose, I think it's just really like, you have to bring a lot of awareness into what you want to create and make sure it's really truly yours. To an extent, like it's, you feel so connected to it. And I always say this, when people ask me to about like, what do you think people need to like, pursue their passions? And I think it has, it has to be authentically your why and your vision and something that is in your blood, so that it doesn't, I saw this quote the other day, that's like, when you can't buy into like, the why and the vision, it's, it's called stress. But when you're like, when you're in that process, and when that why is something that you feel so connected to, it's just, it's passion,


Sarah Dobson  19:15

and truth, right, like, that's what my approach has always been in trying to help people when when they're trying to articulate their, you know, their vision is like how do you bring what is absolutely true through emotionally through the name and the experience and the visual identity and all those good things? Because that really helps people intuitively trust the company right when it's true when it's actually a true thing and and that's so, so important, so valuable to not have people feel any sense of confusion or you know, everyone and rightly so is so sensitive to and I think more aware arrows, the ways that they can be kind of misled through, you know, marketing efforts in some cases. Yeah. And so it's just incredibly valuable for that.


Tonya Papanikolov  20:09

I would like to segue us into Yeah, a discussion around that. There's like lots of maybe ways that some people use different words and language to describe this, like this concept of why, and our big why and something that Simon Sinek developed, which I think that yeah, there's a lot of terms there's like, be hag I've heard thrown around big, hairy, audacious, yeah,


Sarah Dobson  20:32

Northstar purpose, all that stuff. And it's all semantics, right? I think the way that we like to do it is, you know, as you know, your vision for the world being a better place, right, the impact that you want to have, and, and I think that everyone can design and phrase their thing in the way that is useful to them, right, it's just meant to be this sort of practical and felt thing. That is emotional, emotional, and yeah, both that motivating kind of energizing force, but also like a practical tool you can use to really assess decisions and help guide you toward that kind of big impact. And I think a lot about why it's so important now, and again, just sort of history changing, we used to live in New sort of much more like communal, local things where it's very clear, you know, I do this, and I impact this person, and this is the value and the service and the interconnectivity of, of everything we kind of do as a community. And now that it's global, and we're, you know, comparing, there's like a million people that do this, and, and just that kind of search for meaning, I guess, in this like, hyper connected kind of world, it's cool, because it can, you can set these really sort of big, important visions for the impact that you want to make on the world and understand that you're not going to solve it on its own. But hopefully, you can kind of guide people toward that and contribute to that shift in that change. And then new problems will arise as problems get solved.


Tonya Papanikolov  22:06

Yeah, it's really interesting reminds me just because it's kind of timely, you know, I'm in my master's. And there is like, I've been diving back into research and like, the central reason that people do research is to build on a field of knowledge and to continue just asking questions been asked before, and drawing on all of the work of everybody who's built up a field or an industry, or like a product. And it's really like, on both sides of it. I mean, in in in tons of industries, like we're really just we are building on top of what's there so that there's progress and progression. So yeah, so I know, within the DOB process, one of the first things you do is you start there, you start with that, that big, why do you find that a lot of your founders or entrepreneurs that are coming to you are really clear on that? Or is it hard for you to define if a founder or entrepreneur is also unclear? Or do you feel like for the most part, lots of the people you're working with are like, they know,


Sarah Dobson  23:09

it's interesting, because we've been trying to synthesize our own and I haven't even really landed on it. And for me, right now, it's the collection of all of our what big why's for all the companies we've worked on, and I'm really dancing around that. So the way I think about it with, with the projects we do is all the dots are there. And I spend, I think the bulk of my time and strategy, really just thinking about how to best articulate that right in a way that connects truthfully with what the business is actually doing. Right? Like in your case, you're gonna talk about your big why just like having a reverence for the interconnectivity of all things. And that's the general essence of it, right? But because the products that you provide, and what they actually do, and how that connects to painting this picture of a world where people really have this understanding and appreciation of how everything is connected, and to really live with a respect for that,


Tonya Papanikolov  24:11

our place in that interconnectivity to, instead of the separation, but yeah,


Sarah Dobson  24:16

yeah, exactly. And you know, from there, you can extrapolate the impact that that could have, from the smallest to the biggest things, right. And, yeah, I don't think people are often very clear on it. In terms of, with that sense of gravitas and the bigness of it, they're very clear about what they want to do in their story. And so I just love that kind of service. And in terms of what we get paid to do, people don't often you know, understand, I think the value of of those and I think we're working still on how to help people like really use those big wise as, you know, sort of decision making barometers as well. Yeah, but it is really important for us, I think to just understand Yeah, big important part of the essence of what we're trying to bring through with things like a brand name or the visual identity or the identity in general. Yeah,


Tonya Papanikolov  25:09

I do like what you said too, about like, it does act as this barometer for decision making, when there is that clarity. Where


Sarah Dobson  25:19

does this serve? They had that vision. Does this anything from a business decision to hiring to a


Tonya Papanikolov  25:26

partner? Yeah. Right. Right. Yeah.


Sarah Dobson  25:30

Is this in service of that? Yeah. And I mean, I think for me, it's just such a, it's such a joy, because I think that the big why's are so deeply connected to the founders, and their stories of why they started the business and just really get at like, the heart of what makes that unique, that it's, yeah, very sort of emotional special process,


Tonya Papanikolov  25:54

I was chatting with an advisor, a woman I was just connected to recently, who acts as an advisor for a lot of companies. She was me, we were having this, you know, big conversation about supporting founders, because it is, it's a really insane, amazing journey, to say the least. But she said it really nicely. And she was like, I see founders as like the spirit of the business. And they hold this soul, like the true soul of of a business. And it's so important to, like, find people that really get that. And that can support that, because it's hard to replicate. It's hard for anybody to like, really grasp that soul, like a founder can especially be like, you know, they created it, it's theirs, it's part of them. I think there's a lot of us, too, who are just like, so connected to these businesses. And I find, you know, my, at times struggle with that, which is just like, it's such a part of me. And that can be hard to scale. To an extent like you have to be really mindful.


Sarah Dobson  26:55

Yeah. And that the boundaries that you create like that, and bashment. With what parts are you and what parts of the business and I think that's a really low way to put it, though, that the founders spirit is sort of woven throughout and, and the journey, right, that's, I think, where I kind of take a bit of issue with like, the B hag and the like the North Star or whatever, like, it's, like, some goal that you're trying to reach instead of a more expansive kind of guiding spiritual kinds of thing. Yeah.


Tonya Papanikolov  27:27

Also so basic, like, like a competition. Yeah, exactly, like basic in the way that like, if you meet a kid, like, they're literally going to ask you why until they turned blue. And I wrote when I was like, maybe 12, or, you know, hadn't really had a lot of experience with anybody, any younger kids in a long time. And our neighbors had, like, you know, a three year old who just would we would cut, he would come outside and play with us. And I would walk around with him, if he would literally just look around, like pointing literally making sounds like this. Oh, like, in amazement of like a flower and then at a tree, and then I'm flying. And he would literally, like why, why? Why? Why? And I was like, I


Sarah Dobson  28:09

really think that's you and I went so cool. And like, you made a big into Phaedo. And just like, Oh my God, oh, yeah, every little thing. It's good. Well, it's funny, because, you know, I think that's an interesting process in terms of trying to find your why that Simon kind of helped me. I don't know, if you're talking about that, but yeah, helped me like, on earth as well. So Simon, you know, I, I watched his start with Y talk, when I was sort of trying to codify my own process and around branding, and then I was fortunate enough to meet him in 2018 and become friends. 


Sarah Dobson  28:51

And I remember when I first met him, you know, I told him what an impact is his work had had on me and, and he was like, Okay, so what's what's your why? You know, and it was kind of like, Oh, my God, like, but then he really described, you know, how he was like, Well, what would your friends say? Basically? Like, why are we friends? Right? And to your point about just kind of drilling down on the whys, and that kind of existential stuff, you keep going and going, it's like, why are we friends? And you know, you'll say a bunch of stuff, and then, you know, what is it about me? And then like, how do you know that? Yeah, you'd be there for me at 3am. And like, yeah, keep to keep drilling down, and then it becomes this sort of self reflective exercise where I'm, I've thought about that with you. And it's like, well, we're friends because we like this and that and you know, all the same things. And, you know, when you drill down on it, I feel like you make me such a better person in so many different ways. And that ends up being a bit of a reflection of my own. 


Sarah Dobson  29:55

Why in terms of like, mine actually started for criticism as well, like I remember, an ex boyfriend who's still a treasured friend said to me at some point, you always assume the best of people and you know, kind of that like, big fan energy. before and I was like, Yeah, okay, I think you're kind of calling me, you know, naive in some ways. And that didn't really hit right, because I sort of like I think that's like a good thing and not really a bad thing. I know, it could maybe get you into trouble sometimes. But I think that me assuming or seeing the best and kind of cultivating this way of trying to bring that out and help people communicate that through their identities through branding is like kind of my one of my special skills. And that connects to all those those little dots in my past. And yeah, so I guess that's sort of a mangled wave. Yeah, guiding people toward thinking about their own big wise.


Tonya Papanikolov  30:53

I love that, that that just made me start thinking about to like, what, as we get older, and some people say that, when you get, it's harder to make friends as you get older, which I think maybe because I'm also like, extroverted to an extent, and really, like, enjoy meeting people. It's not that hard for me personally, but I know that it is. But you know, one thing I just think like, one thing that I love about our friendship is that we are, and we always have been, like, talking about ideas. And I think that you're so good at that. And it's such a central part of who you are, is that you're thinking about things in such an interesting way. And you have a lot of ideas. And that is quality conversation, when you can have friendships that you're like, I've never resonated with, like girls that talks about other like, just gossip has never been a thing for me. So I've circled in and out of different friendships where that's a central theme, because I just have nothing to say, I don't care. And so meeting other people where you're genuinely talking about ideas, and big picture things, is so exciting. And it can be hard to find. And also when you find it, hold on to those friendships and people and be around them as much as possible because it really does transform your mind and you start to realize that there's just growth and interesting perspective and ways to open your mind when you're just constantly ideating are asking why are asking, How can this be improved?


Sarah Dobson  32:25

And yeah, appreciating the interconnectivity of all those things in you know, I feel like that's such a, you have this like, ease and patience with things like you never force things, you know, you've been so graceful, I think in terms of like, helping guide me toward being like a healthier person, it feels like I don't know. So like deep on this, but you know, I always joke about how you are so knowledgeable about health stuff and supplements, you never force anything on people or judge, you know, people and I've, like, come full circle around really understanding a lot of those things now, and it's just this like, yeah, this beautiful letting and ease and like gentle guidance and kind of mentorship that you just kind of have like, intrinsically, which is, like, beautiful.


Tonya Papanikolov  33:17

I'm grateful that you're receptive. I feel like I've definitely probably learned my lessons and how hard to force whether it was like with ex boyfriends or family and it's like, you know, I'm just gonna do me and I hope that that rubs off example. Yeah, the people that want to go there. Okay, so what do you think about us in our existence on social media and in our virtual worlds where there's like me, yes, yeah, kind of moving back to the brand piece for a second. It's like, it feels like everybody has a personal brand now because of whatever you niche yourself into on social media, Twitter, Tik Tok, whatever, is that unnecessary? What do you think about that terminology being used so frequently in that space?


Sarah Dobson  34:01

What the highest level I like to think about branding is understanding right? So I think you're a great example of having like a really strong personal brand that isn't really rigid, right? You can have all these like, different interests and it can evolve your opinions can change and I think that people understand that about you, anyone who like follows you. And that, you know, I think really rigid personal branding can be very dangerous, right? I'm the blank person. And it can be very limiting. Of course, someone in my class I've been taking recently told me that like Marie Kondo is now like, I have a bunch of kids and my house is a mess and like, you know, like just basically just completely, you know, go and I'm just like that, you know, mind blown and like, that's just just this like incredibly powerful moment, right and in personal branding, or you've developed this whole identity around a very specific thing and that you just choose. Yeah, yeah, exactly. And so I think having a sense of your brain, you know, I've kind of struggled with this too, like, I think it's tremendously valuable to know that you're clearly understood and to have a clear identity that helps you express your truth, communicate that, but for it not to be taken with that traditional understanding of branding, like a corporate logo and what we stand for, and to have it be a lot more fluid.


Tonya Papanikolov  35:38

A friend who I interviewed a little while ago, Natasha, she said something that I loved so much, she was just like, You know what, I'm gonna say this today. But this is today. And a year from now, I'm probably going to say something else on the exact same topic, just because it's not meant to be static. It's meant to be evolving and growing. And


Sarah Dobson  35:59

completely, I had a conversation with my cousin who I hadn't seen, you know, in many years since pre COVID. Last night, where I apologize for a conversation, we'd had kind of mid COVID on pipeline issue or something crazy, where I'd had some really strong opinions that it evolved. And it was really, it was kind of a beautiful moment, because it was yeah, the conversation was so situational to what was going on at that time. And, yeah, it's yeah, those are special moments where he can reflect and evolve.


Tonya Papanikolov  36:31

Yeah, when you were chatting before you said something about that I really liked just in relation to like art history. And when you think about I've never really thought about branding in this way. But when you just think of an artist like Picasso, or Monet, like, that's just a style of like a signature that these artists would have inherent to them that I think that personal brand piece can come back to, in a way like we're not artists


Sarah Dobson  36:59

have different chapters in their careers and different Yeah, sort of explorations of styles of expressions around different things that they're interested in. And, yeah, that's why obviously, brands change sometimes, depending on depending on the context that they're living in. And, yeah, I think that it's such an interesting thing with branding, too, right? To not really have to try not to have a particular style, but to prescribe various aesthetic elements, or weave them together to try to create something new out of sort of existing things, but having a reverence and you know, we talked about this going through the process like what this typeface evokes what this color palette evokes with a symbol and what that sort of collective impression is emotionally and content wise to like, how does it yeah, really weave together that kind of unique understanding of that thing? And that's, I think, just like a language, visual language that is fun


Tonya Papanikolov  38:06

to speak. Yeah, I love symbols a lot. And they're the first form of language like so. Right in our psyches, recognizable, whether or not they've been kind of like CO opted for religion, like we just, there's a lot that like, symbology has come so far. And it is, it's fascinating to me actually, like love. When you're doing a naming project, I always find it so cool to see your process because you have like, just books out of the woodworks on, on symbols on mythology on all sorts of really fascinating topics.


Sarah Dobson  38:44

One of my most treasured things is my archetypes deck to which I've now started kind of weaving into that process. It's so rich in references. So you know, often now we'll go through and pull out as many cards as they think are relevant and use that as a bit of a jumping off point. So it's,


Tonya Papanikolov  39:04

are we thinking about a branding archetypes deck?


Sarah Dobson  39:07

I mean, what has crossed my mind? Because values too, right? We haven't we've never really worked values into our process. But, you know, we're talking about making new friends earlier, too. I think that idea of it's hard to make new friends. I think when you have more clarity about your values and are more self aware, it makes it easier in a sense to like immediately connect kind of like we did right? To inherently know you know, this is someone who I have so much in common with on a deep, deep, yeah, level. So yeah, those decks are so fun.


Tonya Papanikolov  39:44

Awesome. Like, I knew nothing about you at the same time, like I just felt drawn to you. And I also think that we should follow that because I, you know, had no no anticipation that like, you know, this person will be my friend and we'll do we'll build a brand like I just I was Just like Oh, nice energy, let's explore. I guess that's a good kind of segue I wanted to touch on like back to the why piece. And if you feel it's important for people to have a strong, personal why as part of like, I was just thinking like, that could be a great way to, you know whether if you're doing like some beginning of year or at a birthday, or like, just like those major kind of like moments where you're evaluating the year past the year ahead, you could do it at any time of year. But that's also a nice time to start to, like weave in the process of like, why, what are my values this year? What am I? What are the things? What are the feelings I'm exploring? What am I moving towards? And why?


Sarah Dobson  40:42

Yeah, you, again, have been so inspiring with me and taking, like investing that time in that self reflection, and sort of developing your own process around understanding what is most important to you at this time in your life. And I think those values, you know, that values deck that we played with, that I love so much has been such an incredible tool to to keep going back to and to trace, like, I remember when I first did it, you know, try to whittle it down to your top most important kind of values, the ones that are absolutely necessary, and, you know, just critical for you. And health didn't make it into my top thing. But that sort of, you know, I struggled with that a bit. And then, you know, the next time I did it, and over the course of the last year, it's become like my number one. And so I think it's so fascinating to primarily on a personal level, but of course, in the context of business as well to look at how you intentionally want to shift certain values, depending on the context of your life. Yeah, I mean, I think as business leaders, of course, your personal sort of y is going to be connected to your business on a level. But I do think it's important to, to understand that distinction as well, to say there's this connection, but there's got to be room for other people's values to fit in under a more of a business centered why? Yeah,


Tonya Papanikolov  42:13

that was a big process for me, and 2022 is like, I think for just for the first time in many years, realizing that it's like, oh, yeah, we are, Rambo will grow and keep growing. And I will grow and keep growing. And we're not one. And I know that that sounds crazy, like duh, obviously, you and your business are not one. But I think for the first little while, like it really felt that way. For me,


Sarah Dobson  42:40

I think you can make the A analogy of kind of having a kid on either house have kids, it's like, you know, when your business is young, it has certain needs, it needs that like intense care from the founder to grow and thrive. And then as it gets older, it has different, different requirements in order for it. And it kind of needs, you know, different expertise or different partners or different different things. And, you know, I think to be a good parent of a brand or a kid, you have to be really tuned into that. And that's kind of what you're going through, right? Totally a teenage years or whatever.


Tonya Papanikolov  43:18

I mean, honestly, we might even still be like, in that toddler stage where that differentiation is becoming so much clearer, where it's like, oh, like, who is needed on this team to bring this forward and really grow? It is a new skill set. And


Sarah Dobson  43:35

where as a founder, are you Yeah, where are your skills most, most valuable, and knowing that you've started off doing everything, but you can't continue to do everything, or you will write out and drive it into the ground. Totally. And it's not, it's not what the business needs, but then again, that self awareness and the reflection to take the time to understand that and establish that operational foundation and keep that evolving is such a tremendous challenge. Whereas initially, you kind of just do it intuitively right? And you don't need to answer to anyone else. And


Tonya Papanikolov  44:15

yeah, well, and a process that I started to dive into, like in August of last year, which probably just deserves a whole other episode, but was was, you know, in my like, really big moment of like, okay, just thinking about the needs of the business truly, and then starting to evaluate my zone of genius and what makes me sing, what does my like what, you know, what, what can I do that nobody else can do? And how can I do more of that thing? And it's a really challenging thing to do just as a as a small business and with a small, small and mighty team to get everybody like that. really clear in what those things are so that everybody has that sense of clarity in what they're doing. And yeah, that's been a really, really cool and insightful process to is just like spending months with that zone of genius and committing to it, committing to it, because there are things on that list for me personally, that in order to get the business going required me to sacrifice doing some of that, because daily operations and you know, just all of that stuff,


Sarah Dobson  45:29

but just continuing to shift, if you can, intentionally more toward that. Yeah.


Tonya Papanikolov  45:35

Do you remember this website that you think it was you Maybe Danny, pretty sure you sent it to me? It's that like, why website? Where? Okay, we


Sarah Dobson  45:43

should go? That's?


Tonya Papanikolov  45:46

Yeah, and it's such a good one. I remember, like, when it got to the final one, I was like, it's so


Sarah Dobson  45:50

helpful. I'd forgotten about that. That's amazing reminder. Yeah, it's, it's a really quick, effective tool.


Tonya Papanikolov  45:57

So I want to ask you a few more questions to about entrepreneurs, what do you love about being one about working with them every day?


Sarah Dobson  46:07

Entrepreneurship? Yeah, I think it's just that awareness and kind of passion for growth and improvement, you know, not in this like toxic kind of four word like progress kind of thing. But with, I think, that caveat of like real service and solving problems that, you know, pain points that people have, right, like from those moments of discomfort, you know, not just like, oh my that I could have a better chair, but like emotional ones, and social ones, that businesses of various types can actually help solve, I think, like, entrepreneurs, on the whole are really positive people, because of that kind of orientation toward problem solving is like not looking at, you know, kind of all the reasons why not to do something. But the reason to do something, that's something I've become kind of acutely aware of in the past couple years of quality that I really value when people resourcefulness, like, in solving those problems and comfort in getting outside your comfort zone. I mean, I think a lot of people have that maybe not just entrepreneurs, but are they're certainly well practice at getting out of their comfort zone in order to help their business survive. And yeah, I don't know exactly, at what point I kind of realized that entrepreneurs are just, you know, a certain personality type that I'm drawn to, but I'm mighty glad that I did. Because, yeah, they have just your perfect example of that, too. I just love that what I do, you know, in working with entrepreneurs, has created some of my most treasured friendships. And that, you know, continues to happen year by year, and it's very touching.


Tonya Papanikolov  48:02

Yeah, I think one thing that I noticed in so many of us is like this ability to go against the grain. And it's not always in like, a super rebellious, it doesn't have to be in a rebellious way, necessarily, but just in a way where everybody sees a new way to do things. And you stay true to that. And you're like, well, this part of the way we're doing things doesn't really make sense. And what if we did it this way?


Sarah Dobson  48:31

Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And that quality of just questioning. I mean, that's, yeah, I think about Chris. And that's something I love about him in a way that you wouldn't imagine. Or you wouldn't kind of clock certain people as being rebellious in their own little spheres, in terms of just having creative minds that allow them Yeah, to question things. And to not just, you know, it's funny thinking about Valentine's Day coming up, like, you know, and just like corporate kind of commercialized like holidays and things like that, like how fun is it to, to really define or create your own relationship to holidays or traditions or whatnot. I just love that. And that's something I'm actually really trying to design more into my life isn't my own relationship to yet just things that are kind of set out societally for


Tonya Papanikolov  49:28

  1. That also just made me think back to the scientific process, but really any writing process like any creative process, because, again, I'm learning a lot of right now about how when you are writing, and this comes from like Aristotle, who taught some of these like fundamentals, but when you're writing, or arguably doing anything that requires you to take a stance on like, where you stand, so an argument in an in anything, it's like there's this Three areas of ethos, pathos, and logos, which is like ethos this, like, that's what you believe this is my argument. This is my stance, this is my thesis. This is my why of the business, whatever it is, this is like, what I'm studying in science, these are my values and my beliefs. And this is why I'm doing it. And then you have logos, which is like the data and the numbers, and, you know, like societal metrics of like informations. Yeah, like, this is where we are. And here's why these are the facts, to back up my reasoning or my why. And then you have pathos, which is the heart, which is like the experience, and like what makes a human and your relationship to that. And like to make any argument to make any business to make any piece of writing, like most people, whether you know it or not, are operating within that realm of, you know, these are my values. This is what my stance on the issue. This is why because of these datasets, and this is what happened to me, this is my experience with it. And we are all kind of interacting in that way with one another, and to some extent, through our creations in this world, as scientists as like, just as humans really like. Yeah, using language and yeah,


Sarah Dobson  51:15

just having creative minds and everything that we do. And I just love that because it really reminded me of Simon's like golden circle in the way. And again, these are just you had changes in it illustrates the point right changes in context and language and discoveries and meanings of words and how these like operating systems that we have evolved and seemingly improve through use and understanding and chewing on them and digesting them and re expressing them with our own perspectives.


Tonya Papanikolov  51:46

Yeah, it's fun thing an entrepreneur is stripped. Yeah. Okay, a couple more questions for you. Rapid Fire couple of your favorite books right now,


Sarah Dobson  51:59

I have like a reading list for this course that I'm taking, which is fantastic. And so nice to have sort of a quality media stream being kind of fed to you instead of now like, oh, I can't listen to that podcast. It's not in my you know, on my on my path. It's kind of great. But yeah, I mean, over the course of the past year, you know, really enjoyed lifespan by David Sinclair was amazing. And I was digging into a lot of those like, we're biohacking books like boundless and that sort of stuff. But this year, I'm kind of switching a little bit more toward classic business foundational stuff, the E Myth and really excited to dig into some more sort of financial stuff because that's something I'm trying to work on getting good financial base. So soul of money, financial intelligence for entrepreneurs is on that list, making a manager and just so by Alan Watts, who I'm excited about. And then yeah, like braiding sweetgrass story driven, there's a


Tonya Papanikolov  53:03

lot. Okay. Wow. Yeah, we will link those. Two more questions. Will you tell us about your relationship with fungi and mushrooms, because it's so


Sarah Dobson  53:14

obviously it kind of started with, you know, our friendship, and you're teaching me about it. And I think one of the things that stands out, most was when we were you gave me sort of some samples of 1111. And, you know, I was still sort of, like, lightly dipping toes around the understanding of mushrooms and kind of tromping on it all with you. And I remember taking them for for two or three weeks and the beginning of it being like, you know, maybe I won't feel anything and maybe that's something that we just have to communicate to people right. Like, you know, scientifically, these are doing great things for your brain health and whatever, and you're not going to feel a different way. But then after two or three weeks, I was like, ya know, why? My mood just feels really subtly more balanced. And my energy felt really good and and then it's just sort of continue to evolve to actually feeling like I can really utilize them functionally to cycle through them and just, you know, deepen my understanding. And I mean, yeah, we've just had so many incredible experiences along the way, obviously, Burning Man, kind of deposing people, and then our yearly forage and Georgian Bay, and so they've just become this. This connective tissue that I'm now just so grateful to be aware of, and


Tonya Papanikolov  54:41

that seems so accurate. You've been? Yeah, you've been taking them for like four years almost. Just about since since the pilot. Did you get 1111? Yeah, okay. I remember there was a few there was like three different groups that I did. I think that that is one are the coolest and most unexpected things that mushrooms like just even integrating them into a morning routine is that they might start to just get you more curious about nature and like aware, and that it's just, it can be so small, but just the simple awareness of like, the grandiosity of what these small things do outdoors and in nature, and reflecting that back to us is huge. It's like a really big shift, I think, in our awareness of collectively like with, you know, all of the information and excitement that's come out about mushrooms. Yeah, okay. Well, my last question that I ask all guests is, Can you leave us with an intention, a wish or a prayer? For the audience? What would it be?


Sarah Dobson  55:50

I hope that, that idea of having that awareness and reverence for you know, your big, why, and the way that everything, you know, is connected, you know, to say it comes true is too much of that, like, Oh, yes, it will have become established. But I just, I hope that yeah, people are able to engage with that idea, on a deeper level, through you, and your work and rainbo and this conversation, and it's just so be, you know, incredible to think about the ripple effect, that all those things can have in the world. So yeah, that that is that is deeply felt.


Tonya Papanikolov  56:36

Love that. I also wish that I wish that people engaged with the idea as well, because it can be, it can add so much meaning and I think on a really big fundamental level, we are in our western culture and society, we don't have like, those tools for describing purpose aren't as readily available to us and in our language in our conversations the way that they are. And I was thinking about that, this concept of purpose. And before our chat, of course, and in brought me to like dharmic teachings, which is like, probably where Aris Aristotle like set like Simon, a lot of these people likely draw from some of the oldest texts of this, but it's like in Hinduism, it is like an innate part of life is dharma, which is like the eternal and inherent nature of reality. So it is a cosmic law that underlies all behavior and social order. And in a human, it's also thought of like, a soul's purpose in this lifetime, and achieving that reason of why we're here. And just on a personal level, like, and so it's like, I just think that if we can engage with that more in our culture, on a personal, deeply personal level about like, what is how can I create meaning today and for my life? And what are those little beads and stories that I can watch and make a story with through my life, to help me feel meaning? And I think that as we reach this perpetual thing, that we're moving towards ie death, it's like in that moment, it's in that moment, we want to know that I made the most of it. I don't have regrets. I learned something.


Sarah Dobson  58:27

And in the simplest terms, that is life, right. It's the base of existence before death, and it's like to grow and to change as we shift toward death is the thing to be aware of. Right? It really is. That's it.


Tonya Papanikolov  58:45

Yeah. How do I want to spend some time before I go back to Yeah, what


Sarah Dobson  58:50

do you want to do with it?


Tonya Papanikolov  58:52

The oneness. That's still here that yeah, that we're like here to experience here. Well, thank you so much for this conversation. Where can people find you?


Sarah Dobson  59:05

Thank you. DOB is design of brand on Instagram. And my handle is Sarah C. Dobson. We'll, link that all that stuff. Yeah.


Tonya Papanikolov  59:19

Let me start with deep gratitude. Thanks for tuning into this episode. If you liked it, hit subscribe and leave us a review that is always very appreciated. Mushrooms transformed my mind and body and if you're interested in bringing medicinal mushrooms into your life and health journey, check out rainbo.com for our meticulously sourced Canadian fruiting body mushroom tinctures. Until next time, peace in and peace out friends.