Local Cincinnatian and entrepreneur, Sarah Brown, owner of ProjectConnect, has been assisting organizations with learning, culture and talent development for over 10 years. Before Brown started her own consulting practice, she used her M.Ed in counseling to work with suicidal and mentally ill youth. From there, she ran the training department for correctional officers at the Hamilton County Juvenile Court, and eventually moved to the Health Alliance (now UC Health) where she created and facilitated the leadership programs that coached individuals and teams. In addition to her panoply of career achievements, she is currently the president of Artworks and has been the recipient of Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s, “Women WE Watch” and Cincinnati Business Courier’s, “40 Under 40.”

In 2014, Brown opened Cincinnati’s first Blow Dry Studio, Blown. After closing in 2017, she took her learned experiences and harnessed them into creating her upcoming transparent podcast, Failing Forward, which is set to release in December. “[Closing my second business] was devastating, but led to more growth than any of my previous successes,” says Brown. Today she’s choosing to focus on the “Big F” and how it can fuel future adventures and new possibilities.

What is the inspiration behind your upcoming podcast, Failing Forward?

In 2014, with a partner, I opened Blown Blow Dry Studio in Kenwood. Three years later, we closed. It was devastating, financially draining and embarrassing. My whole identity was tied to Blown. I still had my consulting practice but much of my self-worth was tied to this business. My coach suggested I write a book as a way to harness the negative energy into something positive, but writing was not my thing. I started a podcast 10 years ago that I never did anything with. I absolutely love podcasts, so, while chatting with a friend, we revisited the idea and came up with Failing Forward.

What can listeners expect from the podcast?

They can expect vulnerable, real life stories from local leaders. People they may know but never knew a vulnerable story about. We make up stories about others and believe their life is perfect, never realizing hardships and challenges they had to overcome. Some of the stories include David Falk, CEO of Boca Restaurant Group, sharing how he thought he was an imposter when he made it big; Tony Miller, founder/president of JANCOA, sharing his three gifts: alcoholism, three marriages and diabetes; and Lynn Meyers, artistic director of Ensemble Theatre, talking about how she had to pay the drug dealer to sell drugs around the corner versus the front door on opening night. These stories will inspire you!

What is a crucial step forward after experiencing failure?

Write it down. Analyze it. If there is something to learn from it, then incorporate it; if not, move on. Don’t let it define your mood or who you are. But if it does define your mood, observe it, accept it and move forward. Success isn’t possible without failure. Failure is the greatest gift we are given as human beings. It unlocks us; it makes us smarter, stronger and better as people. But only if we are failing forward (learning)!


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