Disruptors. They are the few and the fierce. In our series, Leading between the Lines, we have the opportunity, and the pleasure, of meeting with some of South Florida’s most dynamic female business leaders, ones who are disrupting their industry, approaching things in a new way, solving new problems, and effectively pushing the status quo into a new frontier. We want to learn about their journey, what it really takes, what they’re actually up against, and how it feels each step along the way. Meet Kim Sarni, Managing Director of Staffing for South Florida Business & Wealth and Lifestyle Media Group.
Lifestyle Media Group is the largest magazine publication in South Florida, comprising 10 monthly magazines, 8 signature events and a full service digital platform to serve its clients and more than 400,000 readers per month.
There’s no doubt that the media industry has undergone massive, unprecedented changes over the last decade that left publishers and staffers alike navigating an ever evolving communication world. As new platforms emerged, some outlets failed to keep up, while others thrived in embracing the trends and seeking creative ways to meet the demands of the modern audience.
South Florida Business & Wealth and Lifestyle Media Group continues to thrive and has seen exponential growth over the last two years. Kim, a graduate of Brooklyn College and 25 year veteran in the media industry, believes the key to success lies in their tag line: “Connections done right.”
Read my full interview with Kim Sarni to learn why print isn’t dead, the secrets to success in sales, and the importance of honoring your word.
Romi: What motivated you to get into the publishing industry? Did you always know this would be your path?
Kim: I fell into publishing by happenstance- it’s actually a funny story. I was working at AOL as an Executive Admin. I had an incredible boss, who is still my mentor today. One day he came to me and said, “Kim, you are the worst admin I have ever had.” I looked at him and said, “I couldn’t agree more!” He laughed and continued, “But you’ve convinced me to do so many things. I’m moving you to sales.” It’s been 25 years in publishing/ sales and I’ve never looked back!
Romi: So many of our readers are in a sales role and as you well know, it certainly comes with its fair share of challenges. What do you think makes you so good at sales and “convincing people to do things”?
Kim: I really want to be the best I can be, and in turn, help others to do the same. I love seeing other people’s success. When people win, I want to understand why, who they are, and what they are doing to be successful. That motivates me- I try to create synergy and positive energy for everyone around me so more of those wins can happen. Each win makes me want to work that much harder and makes me happy knowing I could have had something to do with it (no matter how big or small).
Romi: You clearly have the right attitude for sales- no wonder you’ve been at it for 25 years! What about the role or the industry challenges you? Is there anything you are currently struggling with? Anything that scares you? And how do you handle it?
Kim: Tomatoes. I have a phobia of tomatoes- all kinds. They terrify me.
On a more serious note, I’m challenged with the various personalities in my company, and how to get everyone aligned and on the same page so we can work together more efficiently and successfully. To that end, I am my own worst enemy. I constantly ask myself “Am I being the best I can be? Could I be doing anything better? Could I have done something differently? How can I change or improve?” I haven’t always been the best colleague, or wife, or friend, or mom, but I try every day to be a better person. My goal is always to be a better person today than I was yesterday.
Romi: There’s no doubt that the media industry has undergone massive, unprecedented changes over the last decade. As new platforms emerged, some outlets failed to keep up, while others like South Florida Business & Wealth and Lifestyle Media Group thrive. What do you attribute your staying power and success to? And what do you think the future of this industry will look like?
Kim: People love to say, “Print is dead”, but for us, it’s not. We love print, and our readers love print. But like anything else, it too has evolved to maintain its place in media. As the premier business and lifestyle magazine in South Florida, we publish 10 monthly magazines with 400,000 readers per month.
Our event platform also has a stellar reputation all its own. Our top notch events are known to be an exciting place to meet and mingle with South Florida’s best of the best and that’s a reputation we have built over time and with consistency in quality. Our tagline is “Connections done right” and our event platform is an important part of that.
Growing and scaling the business always presents its challenges- we are in publishing afterall! But we are consistently expanding. In fact, we’ve grown exponentially over the past 2 years alone, and we just keep getting better! We are now doing podcasts and webcasts. We are dedicated to growing digitally and meeting our audience where they are, while still evolving our in-person event experiences and publications. I believe the future of success in this industry is in evolving and investing in all of these modes of connection, and not letting any fall behind.
Romi: I couldn’t agree more, and we see this first hand with The Daily Drip! Our media platform, while only less than 2 years old, has seen tremendous and continuous growth, which is a testament to the importance of integration between digital and print media, as well as enrichment programming and experiences. That said, what are some of your goals for 2023 as you prepare to win in this new media landscape?
Kim: My goal for this coming year is to set the stage to expand our business. We’ve talked about expanding into the Orlando market- Could we do it? We don’t know, but we’d like to explore it! I also have a personal goal to start giving myself a break! Personally, to spend more time giving myself a break. For a person who wakes up every day at 4am and sometimes doesn’t get to bed until midnight, I realize now that I need to slow down and take a bit of time for myself. I am failing miserably at that.
Romi: I think we can all relate to that. Failures aside, what has been your proudest achievement so far?
Kim: My family. My son is a Junior at the University at Albany and my husband just retired from the NYPD (Detective) after 27 years. My family inspires me. I want to set a good example and make them proud.
Romi: What surprised you most on this journey?
Kim: How many people I have met in a very short period of time and how much I love the charities I am involved in. Most people don’t realize that Lifestyle Media Group supports 75 charities and I personally support 10. I sit on 3 boards and volunteer a ton of time to various organizations. It allows me to meet so many people and in doing so, I can bring these people into our world.
Romi: It’s interesting the role philanthropy has played in your success in sales and publishing. What other steps or advice would you give to professionals who want to be successful in this industry or are embarking on a similar professional journey?
Kim: Honor your word. I don’t say things I don’t mean and I always honor my word- with my family, friends, colleagues, and especially my clients. I always strive to do right by my clients and follow through on everything I say.
Take the time to listen- to yourself, to your instincts and to others around you. You do not know everything. When you’re all ears, you have the opportunity to learn. Try to learn something new every week. I just learned something this morning! I learned I need to block off 15 minutes of time every 3 hours in order to gather my thoughts and move forward. So now I’m sharing it with you! Literally block the time off on your calendar and HOLD to it.
Don’t be afraid to fail. My favorite quote from Abraham Lincoln is, “Never regret the things you’ve done, only the things you’ve failed to try”. I’m not afraid of trying- or failing. If I am not failing, I am not living.