7 Questions with Elise Krentzel

Name: Elise Krentzel

Current title: CEO

Current organisation: Kumi Consulting & Co.

Elise Krentzel has initiated many firsts over the course of her career. As a music journalist she toured with KISS; introduced punk rock genre to Japan; launched Kirin Beer and Shiseido Cosmetics in America; started a music video series for teens to combat AIDS in South Africa; created an interactive (with GPS) publishing company offering travel guides on CD-ROM; launched the digital division of the world's largest ad agency's European HQ and more. She's currently advising entrepreneurs and CEOs on how to think like a generalist to innovate their startup venture, division, products and services.

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?

Finding just the right vendors who deliver what they say they can plus understanding our needs which translates to having a similar experience in our industry.

2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I've always worked for myself starting as a freelancer, then organically developing ideas into projects or companies. I've raised VC for one venture, sold it and then continued on the path of the inner business warrior that I am.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

The only "structure" is delivery of client projects and meetings on Zoom with clients and potentials. Those meetings are scheduled way in advance. Besides that x number of hours per week are given to connecting and making new connections, admin, and some downtime to stretch.

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

The importance of waiting for right timing.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The Alchemy of Happiness by Al-Ghazzali. This book was translated from Hindustani, based on Islamic teachings of over one thousand years ago. It's an all-encompassing sincere approach towards life, humankind, and thus society and microscopically business is ageless, enduring and remarkably profound. That said, it impacted my leadership by reminding me of my core values and to remember to act upon them daily.

6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?

The single most important step is to become one with your vision. After the daydreaming, planning, and analysis phases one needs to take concrete action. Building leadership whether in an SME, a great corporation or in a solopreneurship asks that you show respect to those around you, and a dignified approach towards your colleagues, vendors, suppliers and customers. It means being fair and just.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?

An international chain of schools unknown in the USA, hired us to create a multi-city communications program to reach new customers in specific markets. This encompassed marketing, marketing communications, social media, publicity and content development.
As we worked through various aspects of the program it became clear to us what the client thought was a best practice (spend $$ on social media advertising) would not be in their best interests.
We wrote a brief explaining why, backed it up with examples, stats, etc., and returned the unused portion of the fee to the client, even though that was not in our contract.
This is how we roll, with integrity and true to our word.