6 questions with: Brian Bell of Strava

 Brian Bell shares how he draws inspiration from his own experiences and overcoming obstacles to support and guide others who have faced similar challenges.

Brian Bell, vice president of global communications and social impact at Strava, leads the communications and social impact strategy for the exercise-tracking platform.

The PR Week 40 Under 40 honoree is shaping Strava’s lasting impact to achieve company goals while having a meaningful, measurable global impact through initiatives like Strava Metro

What book, podcast or other media do you recommend to other comms pros?

Book: A book that I’ve read and oftentimes find myself referring back to is the book  by Jonah Berger “Contagious: Why Things Catch On.”  Podcast: How I Built This w/ Guy Raz is inspiring and thoughtful. As someone who is forever a student, listening to some of the most successful entrepreneurs tell their stories on how they built some of the most ubiquitous brands in the world is fascinating. I’ve walked away on many occasions learning something that applies to my work. Media: TikTok. While I’m definitely not someone who posts, it’s a place where I can find anything about anything.  

What’s your favorite tool you use regularly for work?  

MuckRack, Slack and Cision are three of the most used right now, but my favorite, and you might say I’m analog, has to be my Strava orange journal. I literally write everything down, capturing everything from meeting notes to my to-do lists and the various ideas that come to mind. 

What excites you most about the future of communications? 

The integration of AI into comms seems a bit scary, but it’s also fairly exciting. I  know the conversation is about how we regulate or put more controls in place, but the more we understand how to use the tools available to us, I think it could be very useful.

What communications challenge keeps you up at night?

There are honestly quite a few things that could fall into this bucket depending on the day, but navigating the current geo-political landscape or anticipating the next crisis are definitely in the top three. At the number one spot though, it has to be thinking about how we continue to galvanize and inform our team members (employees)  through communications. Being a globally dispersed team, across a multitude of time zones, we are constantly working on ways to keep everyone in the loop of what’s happening when and why.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your career?

The feeling of imposter syndrome was real for me when I stepped into my first “leadership” role. Even though I knew I deserved THAT seat at the table and my standards for my work quality never wavered, I couldn’t help shake this ominous feeling of am I enough. There weren’t many people of color in these types of roles that I could look to for guidance or support and that was a little challenging at the time. Having overcome that, I’ve always said I want to support and help those who might be feeling or have felt the same way I once did. 

What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

Being a former runner, since childhood my parents have both always told me “Brian, run your race.” That simple phrase has been uttered in so many situations and it still rings true today.

Isis Simpson-Mersha is a conference producer/ reporter for Ragan. Follow her on LinkedIn.



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