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20 Under 40 Q&A: Briana von Elbe

Get to know Briana von Elbe

Age: 37

Occupation: Advertising account executive and business owner of Pearson & Von Elbe and Footprint Promotional Advertising.

What do you actually do? Assist several clients in building, maintaining and executing their marketing campaigns. Own and oversee the operations of four businesses.

Years in your job: 14

Education: Attended the University of Wisconsin-Superior and the College of St. Scholastica; ongoing education through classes offered by industry affiliations.

Community involvement: PAVSA board member; Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank board member; Duluth and Hermantown chamber member; member of the Arrowhead Builders Association. Most importantly, I serve on several committees for nonprofit organizations and assist them with their marketing, special events and fundraising efforts (that's all volunteer).

What brought you to the Twin Ports?

I'm a lifelong resident. There is no place I would rather live.

What do you like to do during your free time?

Volunteer, spend time with my dogs, ride my horse and enjoy what our area has to offer -- I go to plays, concerts, charity functions, play volleyball and golf occasionally.

What do you like most about the Northland?

The people in our community. Our area businesses and residents truly come together to help one another. It's heartwarming to work with clients that I'm also happy to call friends, and see the generosity that goes on without the desire for acknowledgement.

How can the Northland retain younger people?

I think our community already has a lot to offer in terms of the quality of living in which to raise a family, so I believe they want to stay. The community needs to encourage our younger population to become leaders and entrepreneurs. Employers, managers and co-workers should be approachable and inspirational, make them feel welcome here and give them a sense of investment. Tell them to get involved in the community. Give college students, no matter where they are from, the feeling that they have roots here.

Who or what has made the biggest impact on your life?

My dad has the biggest influence on my life, and even though he's no longer with us, he continues to do so. For as long as I can remember he told me I could be anything I wanted to be, I had no limitations. He led by example with his love for his family, the community, his work ethic and his thirst for knowledge.

What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about the impact I have on other people's lives. I want to put out the highest-quality work for our clients so it produces the biggest results for their business and their customers. I want to take care of my employees so they, in turn, can care for their families. I volunteer so I can hopefully help others get what they need to be happier, more successful people.

How have social and business networking sites changed your life?

It's allowed us the ability to grow brand awareness of both Pearson & von Elbe and Footprint and increase dialogue with our customers, not only locally, but on a national scale as well. It works even better than our websites, it's much more personal and interactive. We become "real" people, not just another product filled web page.

On another point, it's changed the way I actually do my job as well. Being in marketing, we now offer assistance to our clients with managing their social media relations.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I would have to say starting Pearson & von Elbe. I was 23 years old and driven to have a job I love going to every day. I didn't really think of myself as an entrepreneur. No one I knew had ever started a business before, I just knew that I sincerely cared about the success of our area's businesses, our community and that I could make a difference.

What goals have you set for the next 5-10 years?

The obvious goal is growth. I'd like to hire more employees, give current employees more compensation and invest in the most current equipment and latest technology so we can offer more local services and allow for greater profit margins in the process.

What advice would you give other young people?

Get involved. Find an organization that needs your skill and volunteer or do an internship. It's a great way to meet like-minded community members that will see first-hand what you can do. Ask them to be a reference. I have interns every semester that have been hired at wonderful organizations because I referred them.