With stints at MarketingSherpa, HubSpot, and Lola.com, Jeanne Hopkins is one of the most celebrated marketing executives in the SaaS industry. Interestingly, though, one of the most impactful achievements of her career has nothing to do with building brands or generating demand for a product.
In 2019, Hopkins launched Table Fries, a personal podcast that she started at Lola.com. First and foremost, her goal was to help their female employees hone their public speaking skills and, second, to empower women from around the world.
“In 2019, Hopkins launchedTable Fries, a show designed to empower women from around the world.”
Table Fries teaches marketers that binge-worthy content doesn’t have to just build and entertain an audience (though it can certainly accomplish both). Beyond that, a show can also empower marginalized groups and provide a voice for people that might not otherwise have a platform. Read on to learn how Hopkins lifted up the women of Lola through her podcast.
The story behind Table Fries is almost too clever to be true. After getting a basket of “Table Fries” at a restaurant, Hopkins began to contemplate the value of a straightforward, snackable marketing brand — similar to the snackable treat she had just indulged in. Professional marketers and marketing enthusiasts alike could tune in for quick tips and bite-size learnings. This is an idea she’d been contemplating for a while, and this innocent appetizer inspired Hopkins to take the leap!
So, she immediately bought the domain and snapped up the social media handles. However, Table Fries didn’t initially take off like she thought it would. It ended up hibernating in the creative cave for a few years while she contemplated her vision for the brand.
During her tenure at Lola.com, though, Hopkins stumbled upon an opportunity of a lifetime, and it cleared up the brand’s waters: Empowering women through public speaking.
“At Lola, the culture is very inclusive. Half of the executive team and half the workforce was female. They had every generation, shape, color, and size under the sun,” says Hopkins. “But one thing I noticed, though, was that most of the women on the team didn’t have any public speaking experience. Most of them hadn’t even done a webinar before. They were never asked. Because typically, the guys were asked to lead those kinds of projects.”
“At Lola, the culture is very inclusive. One thing I noticed, though, was that most of the women on the team didn’t have any public speaking experience. Most of them hadn’t even done a webinar before. They were never asked.”
Armed with years of experience running Toastmasters groups throughout her career, Hopkins decided to turn Table Fries into a podcast that explored the women of Lola’s current roles and career paths. This way, she could help them share their stories and perfect their public speaking skills.
“Every single one of my guests, regardless if they were executives or entry-level employees, were all very nervous about going on the show,” says Hopkins. “But once they looked over the questions, did the interview, and listened to their episode, they realized that they sounded really great."
Hopkins’ ultimate goal for her guests was to speak on behalf of the company. If they could speak to their careers and current roles, they could speak to Lola’s brand, culture, and identity. At the end of the day, her guests’ time on the podcast gave them the courage to get over the hump.
Table Fries was also a way to show the world that there are shared human experiences, regardless of your personal or professional background.
“I would hope that people listening to Table Fries would recognize that we all come from broad backgrounds and, yet, we’re all similar. It doesn’t matter what your skin color is, what your sexual orientation is, or what kind of job you have. People bond over similar experiences,” Hopkins says. “I think that’s what I would like to get across — that you can’t necessarily judge a book by its cover. Table Fries was a way to prove that concept.”
“I would hope that people listening to Table Fries would recognize that we all come from broad backgrounds and, yet, we’re all similar.”
Interviewing a diverse range of guests, Hopkins focused on gender inclusivity and professional diversity. She ran the gamut and picked guests from as many different teams as possible to hear stories about their backgrounds. By leaning into storytelling, she wanted her audience to delve deep into people’s unique experiences and come out feeling like they’re part of an inclusive group of people.
“A member of our international team — Alyssa — her first job was feeding crickets to the snakes at a pet shop she worked at. One time, she was undoing a bag of crickets, and then all the crickets just came flying out,” says Hopkins. “You know, you just can’t stop laughing about some of these things. Everybody has a sense of humor. That’s basically the premise of Table Fries. We’re all the same. We may look different, but we’re all looking for a good laugh.”
“That’s basically the premise of Table Fries. We’re all the same. We may look different, but we’re all looking for a good laugh.”
In early 2020, Hopkins left Lola to join SquadLocker, an athletic apparel management platform, which put Table Fries on pause. However, she plans to start her podcast back up again. This time, to highlight the women of SquadLocker.
With Table Fries, Hopkins found a way to use binge-worthy content for more than building and entertaining an audience. She used it to empower guests and serve as a platform to help them raise their voice and tell their stories. Consider this approach for your next podcast, and think about how you can help lift others in the process of supporting your brand.