Sharon Price John: Build-A-Bear CEO, and my Spirit Animal


You know you’re a true advertising student when the only time you wear makeup anymore is for Ad Club Day at the University of Tennessee. We had been jazzed all week with excitement for our guest speaker, the one and only Sharon Price John, CEO of Build-A-Bear and Alumnus from the UT Ad program.

Sharon went on the New York City Professional Development trip through UT(the one I just got a scholarship for). She was a sponge the entire trip, learning as much as she could between the time they landed to the moment she opened her hotel window on the last day and shouted. “I’m coming back”.

She got an internship with an industry leading agency in Knoxville called Tombras, which led to other local opportunities. She was working in a different agency when she realized that New York was where she belonged in the next stage of her career. With nothing but the Redbook (a national list of ad agencies) and a list of Top 100 Agencies from a recent copy of AdAge, she crafted a truly insane plan. She decided that she wanted to work in a top 10 Global Agency in Manhattan, and she was going to pick up the phone and call these agency’s Executives and ask to send in a resume.

Believe it or not, there’s a big difference between sending a resume to an HR department and having your resume walked to the HR desk by the Vice President of the company. Write that one down, Phoebe. What’s the worst that could happen?

So here’s where Sharon loses her absolute mind. After getting a few calls back, she decided she would go to Manhattan and take down three interviews a day… I mean how big can the little island be, right? Surely that’s possible.

Well, she made it possible. And it’s a good thing she did, because here’s where my ENTIRE Ad Club gasped aloud: She HAD to made it possible. She HAD to get a job offer because… she already left her apartment in Knoxville. All her things were in storage besides the suits in her luggage and her briefcase.

So she’s clearly a kick ass woman, and DDB recognized this during her second interview. They offered her a job, but told her they would call her in a few days with details. Sharon then pulls another “what’s the worse that could happen?” She opens her mouth and her “No Lose, No Fail Attitude” spilled out.

She says, “Why not hire me right now. Today?” AND THEY DID!

If you can’t tell, Sharon is my spirit animal. 1) She’s kick ass. 2) She is highly motivated. 3) She won’t take no for an answer 4) She gets shit done. Today she is the CEO of Build-A-Bear, and every step of her journey, every creative, strategic, and corporate rung on the latter of success… she completely slayed. I’m beyond amazed by this woman who went from nowheresville in East Tennessee, to Knoxville, to the top of the world. 


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