Dec 7, 2023

Danielle Patterson: Mastering the Canvas of Business and Investment Strategy

Transforming challenges into opportunities: a conversation with Danielle Patterson

Danielle Patterson: Mastering the Canvas of Business and Investment Strategy

Interview multiple candidates

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Search for the right experience

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Ask for past work examples & results

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Vet candidates & ask for past references before hiring

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Once you hire them, give them access for all tools & resources for success

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Danielle Patterson's story begins in sunny California, where, as one of four children, she was molded by a household echoing with the ethos of hard work. Her father, an engineer, ventured into entrepreneurial network marketing following a job loss. Her mother, a teacher, mirrored this resilience, navigating the family's financial transitions with creative solutions.

After graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Arts in painting and photography, Danielle's path took an exciting turn. "Graduating college was a turning point," she recalls. Her next chapter began alongside National Geographic's Frans Lanting, a job that many would consider a dream come true.

However, life, as it often does, presented its trials. The 2008 economic downturn forced Danielle and her husband, an entrepreneur in landscape design, to close their business and rethink their strategy. Demonstrating remarkable adaptability, they rented out their home and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, in pursuit of new opportunities.

In Charlotte, Danielle pivoted from her artistic roots, embracing a seven-year journey in sales, business development, and marketing. "I always give my all to every endeavor," she explained. Eventually, this path led her to entrepreneurship.

Danielle's business acumen blossomed with the purchase of Family Office List, a platform she has nurtured over seven years. And she has honed her craft: “I now consider building a business to be my chosen art form,” she says, applying continuous learning and a growth mindset. Under her leadership, the once rudimentary Excel product has transformed into a dynamic platform, innovating the Family Office intelligence sector.

As CEO of Family Office List, Danielle takes pride in aligning clients with Family Office Investors. She revolutionized the firm's approach, moving away from outdated "spray-and-pray" methodologies to more effective solutions. Her efforts have not only modernized the platform but also expanded its client services, providing up-to-date information and marketing guidance.

Danielle's journey is a vibrant tapestry woven from diverse experiences—from art gallery management to financial strategizing. "Each step carved the path to where I stand today," she reflects.

Throughout her professional journey, Danielle's story is one of gratitude and continuous growth. It's a narrative that speaks to the power of resilience, the importance of adaptability, and the endless potential of an entrepreneurial spirit.

Can you share more about your early experiences orchestrating yard sales and convincing neighbors to buy odds and ends? How did this shape your understanding of money and financial management?

During my childhood, the concept of earning and saving money fascinated me deeply. My great grandmother, who had immigrated from Italy without knowing English, built a life through hard work, resourcefulness, and a growth mindset. These qualities have been a constant thread through generations, embodied by both of my parents.

Even though we were not in financial hardship, my parents instilled in us the value of making our own money and being financially responsible. We delighted in organizing yard sales, where we sold our handmade Fimo clay creations, lemonade, and home-baked treats.

As I grew older, I ventured into various money-making endeavors. I babysat neighborhood children, walked pets, provided transportation for neighbors in exchange for gas money, and even took on a summer job managing meet records at the local swim club I attended. Earning money was rewarding, but what I learned about saving and watching it grow was an invaluable lesson my parents imparted to me and something I hold dear to this day.

Managing the gallery of a world-renowned National Geographic Photographer, Frans Lanting, must have been an exciting experience. How did this role impact your career and financial perspective?

Managing the Frans Lanting gallery was a lifelong dream and an incredible experience that stretched my abilities. While I lacked prior administration experience, my determination to learn and willingness to put in extra hours allowed me to conquer the necessary tasks.

Surprisingly, I managed to significantly boost online bookings for fine art print sales and established an internship program to support the growing sales demands. I had the privilege of contributing to the orchestration of presentations and exhibits on a global scale. With Frans hailing from the Netherlands, we had a vast international network, which we continually engaged with through our marketing communications.

The dynamic role allowed me to don multiple hats as Frans embarked on lengthy National Geographic assignments, often accompanied by his wife, Christine Ekstrom, a renowned videographer and writer. Together, they embarked on impactful projects that served as an inspiration for conservation efforts. Witnessing their dedication to giving back and preserving our planet was a profound experience, highlighting that success and charitable endeavors could go hand in hand.

Tell us about the seismic tremors of the 2008 financial crisis and how it affected your plans. How did you and your husband adapt to these challenges?

For many years, my husband dedicated his efforts to establishing a highly successful landscape and design company, which provided employment to many. Therefore, the choice to close the business in 2008 was a challenging one. In addition we had poured our hearts into renovating our cherished bungalow, situated just blocks away from the beautiful West Side shores of Santa Cruz which made the decision to leave California very difficult.

Left with few alternatives, we made the tough decision to sell most of our possessions, rent our home and embark on a journey eastward to find solid ground, taking refuge with his parents in Charlotte, North Carolina. While leaving behind our beloved home, lifestyle, friends, and family in California was heart-wrenching, we couldn’t help but feel a spark of excitement for the adventure that awaited us.

My husband, Warren, and I share a profoundly supportive relationship that allowed us to find happiness even in the face of life’s ups and downs, as long as we were together.

Your 7-year career as a Business Development Manager with a 300% revenue increase is impressive. What were the key strategies you implemented to achieve such significant growth?

I meticulously orchestrated a comprehensive marketing plan that encompassed extensive community engagement, online exposure, and active social media presence. We actively took part in various school events, community fundraisers, dental health month activities, holiday campaigns, contests, and patient award programs, among others. This multi-faceted approach resulted in the establishment of a highly distinguished and sought-after brand.

My commitment to success was evident in my consistent tracking of the outcomes of these endeavors and my dedication to analyzing them for opportunities to enhance and expand year after year.

You mentioned a yearning to build something personal despite your financial success. Can you describe the motivation behind this desire and how it led to the creation of Family Office List?

As mentioned earlier, I’ve always been the kind of person who goes all in, dedicating 110% to every commitment I undertake. After seven years of dedicated work, not only in developing an existing practice but also in opening a new one, I realized that, with a third child on the way, there wasn’t much room for further growth. The prospect of building something of my own that would provide more flexibility in my schedule was a strong motivator.

Both my husband and I firmly believed that we could create the life we desired. Through a business relationship of his, he connected with Douglas Fathers, the founder of Family Office List, who needed assistance in managing and marketing the day-to-day operations. Although I had limited knowledge of the family office sector at the time, I was able to significantly boost sales with my marketing skills, what my husband fondly refers to as my “magic fairy dust.”

Recognizing that simply providing a list wasn’t enough to genuinely assist our clients from a marketing perspective, I understood the importance of a deeper understanding of the unique family offices within that list. My passion to help and transform the company led me to purchase it, becoming the new owner. This allowed me to develop better solutions to serve our clients effectively.

Tell us more about Family Office List and your role in transforming it from a rudimentary Excel product into a dynamic platform. How did you bring about this revolution in Family Office intelligence?

The evolution of Family Office List was a journey driven by a passion for the family office sector. I immersed myself in the world of family offices, devouring podcasts, articles, and webinars to gain knowledge. However, I soon discovered that the most valuable insights came from listening to our clients and understanding their desire to connect.

Recognizing the need to enhance the quality and scope of our data, I established a dedicated research team. Their mission was to not only maintain the existing data’s quality but also to seek out new family offices to enrich our database. With the ever-changing nature of this sector, I saw the importance of a more efficient delivery mechanism and assembled a development team that we could afford at the time to build a user-friendly platform.

Clients welcomed the transparency and the platform’s ability to provide lifetime access to data. We didn’t stop there; we went a step further by delving into each family office’s investment preferences. This allowed us to guide our clients towards alignment and create bridges between family offices seeking well-matched deal flow and clients in search of the right investment partners.

Can you share an example of a specific challenge or obstacle you've encountered in your entrepreneurial journey and how you overcame it?

Throughout the journey of Family Office List, I’ve remained committed to self-funding and maintaining a careful work-life balance. As the business expanded, my dedication extended to investing more of my time and resources into the development of a platform. However, I soon realized that I had outgrown the initial development team I had brought on board.

Recognizing that change is often essential for growth, I took the proactive step of interviewing several different development teams. Ultimately, I decided to collaborate with the team we are currently working with to create Version 2.0 of our platform. This experience has reinforced the importance of identifying and addressing the factors that might be holding back progress, even if it means acknowledging one’s own limitations. This self-awareness is a crucial element in an entrepreneur’s journey towards growth and success.

What qualities or skills do you believe have been most crucial to your success in various roles, and how have they contributed to your growth mindset?

I possess an unwavering drive and abundant energy, which I channel into maintaining a healthy lifestyle to nurture my positive outlook. My journey has been shaped by dyslexia, which has compelled me to work diligently and think creatively.

As a founder, funder, mother, and wife, how do you balance your personal and professional life? What are some strategies you've found effective in maintaining this balance?

I’m truly grateful for my husband, who is not only an incredible partner but equally entrepreneurial and supportive of my personal growth. We share responsibilities, and as long as we’re united as a family, our three children thrive and are exceptional helpers.

I firmly believe in the power of starting my day with meditation, prayer, and journaling, setting my mood and intentions on the right path. I carefully manage my calendar, dedicating my work hours while the children are at school. In the afternoon, when I pick them up, my focus shifts to homework, dinner, and after-school sports, during which I make a conscious effort to put my phone away.

Once the kids are settled for the night, I often resume work. While this leaves limited time for socializing, the sense of fulfillment derived from building my career, the camaraderie with my colleagues, and the love of my family are incredibly rewarding.

What advice would you give to individuals who are facing financial setbacks or are looking to start their own businesses based on your unique experiences?

Be ready to dedicate yourself to hard work and understand that success is not an overnight achievement. It results from the ongoing effort and the investment you make in yourself.

In your journey, how have meaningful connections and unconventional thinking played a role in your success, and how can others apply these principles in their own careers?

The relationships I’ve forged on my journey have been invaluable. I approach each client as a partner and actively solicit ongoing feedback, including constructive criticism. While positive feedback is certainly appreciated, it’s the negative feedback that provides us with insights to learn and evolve. Consistently delivering value encourages clients to return and recommend our services to others. Remaining humble and genuine, without pretending to be something you’re not, is of paramount importance.

Images courtesy of: Danielle Patterson

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