Evaluating your business ideas (even the dumb ones), with data nerd Christie Osborne

Early in Christie Osborne’s career, she realized that literally, everybody has ideas, even the people you wouldn’t expect to. But the challenge is evaluating those ideas based on if they’re truly worth your time, energy, and resources. How do you do that?  You never debate what you can test.

Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media which specializes in data driven marketing, advertising and research.


Christie Osborne: I like how beautiful this industry is. I like going to conferences and having my colleagues put on the best party and seeing all the beautiful outfits. Like you go to a history convention and it really is all tweed and elbow patches and they don’t know how to party.

Dana Kadwell: Welcome to ‘Hustle and Gather,’ a podcast about inspiring the everyday entrepreneur to take the leap. I’m Dana. 

Courtney Hopper: And I’m Courtney. 

Dana Kadwell: And we are two sisters who have started multiple businesses together. And yes, it is as messy as you think. Because we know that starting a business isn’t easy.

Courtney Hopper: I mean, we’ve done it four times. And on this show, we talked about the ups and downs and the hustle and the reward at the end of the journey. 

Dana Kadwell: And we love helping small businesses succeed. So that is through our venue consulting speaking or team training. We love to motivate others to take that really big leap. 

Courtney Hopper: Or you could just use our misadventures to normalize the crazy that is being an entrepreneur, because every entrepreneur makes mistakes,

Dana Kadwell: But we like to call those unsuccessful attempts around here.

Courtney Hopper: And we know it’s just part of the process. And today we’re learning from Christie Osborne. Christie Osborne is a proud data nerd. Her agency Mountainside Media specializes in data driven marketing, advertising and research. But she’s more than just an analytic scowl. Her passion is turning all that data into dollars for her clients. As a top event industry educator Christie frequents a national speaker circuit is a regular contributor to top industry publications, including NACE with this special event. And of course cater source. She is also a highly sought after podcast guest. And we are so excited to have her here, Christie, welcome to Hustle and Gather.

Christie Osborne: Thanks for having me. I’m so excited to be here. 

Courtney Hopper: Before we get started into our questions, tell us a little bit about yourself. Like, what did you do before starting Mountainside Media and how you got to where you’re at today?

Christie Osborne: I was a marketer after graduating with a degree in history, a master’s degree in history in 2008, when everything was just going sideways. And I was grateful that I had skills other than his historical research to fall back on because I discovered very quickly that nobody needs a personal historian. But everybody needs a web developer, developed websites, nobody came to them got into marketing trying to get traffic and the rest is history. But the way I got into data in particular, is that I was working for the tourism bureau for my hometown in Mammoth Lakes, California. And we were spending taxpayer dollars a lot of millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars to market this town. And what was going on was people had a lot of opinions about what I should be doing to market the destination online. And I was very irritated at being accosted in the grocery store, and in the post office with people saying, you know, you should do on Facebook. And I would just be like, first of all, get away from me, I’m not working. And secondly, you’re not a Facebook ad, like Get away from me. And so I ended up realizing that everybody has ideas, like ideas are never the problem generating ideas is never the problem, even for the dumbest person in the world. Like, everybody can generate ideas. The trick is to generate good ideas, which could be a matter of opinion. But I needed to figure out like, how do I take everybody’s personal opinion out of this? How do I validate whether or not an idea is good. And I started getting into measurement, and I did it very holistically. And naturally at first, I tend to be numbers driven anyway. But somebody would say, you know, you should post more events on Facebook, and I didn’t think events, postings would work as well as just being social on social media. I don’t know what I was thinking. But I would gamify it with the community members. And I’d say, well, let’s set up a test. I’m going to do this for a week and do that for a week and whoever gets the most engagement wins. And if I win, get away from like, I sound like so mean, I’m actually I’m actually not that mean, but I was getting a little salty after some years dealing with that. And the rest is history.

I got addicted to the game. And one of the things I like about Hustle and Gather in your whole philosophy about, you know, the messiness of running a business and the messiness of trying new things and the messiness of, you know not really knowing everything you need to know in order to do something, but doing it anyway, that is at the heart of data and I started to be delighted, even if I didn’t “win the contest”. Like, I used to be delighted, and I still am when I’m wrong because I think, well, it takes the burden off of me for having a good idea. Like, everybody can generate ideas, we collect all the ideas, we figure out what we’re going to test. And then the best idea wins. And when the best idea wins, everybody wins. And I don’t have to worry about or be fearful about being smart or being dumb, because we’re just collecting ideas and testing them. So being a data nerd has been fundamentally liberating in that way, it allows me to fail fast.

Courtney Hopper: So how long did you do that, the working for the tourism bureau?

Christie Osborne: I did that for Scotia under five years. And it’s really hard when you live in a town of, you know, less than 10,000 permanent residents. Everybody knows everybody. And everybody’s in everybody’s business. And I need a good break away from my business. When I shut down my laptop for the evening, I need to be me in a different way, I need to read my book and have my tea and take my dog for a walk. And I just got burnt out constantly running into people who wanted to talk shop with me. So I left that position and went out on my own as a marketer and a data or data person, because I loved the work. I just didn’t love being on 24 hours a day. I just can’t do that.

Dana Kadwell: Now, I totally understand that when I was a teacher that was the worst thing in the world because I lived close to school I taught at, so I was at the same grocery store as the parents and the students. And it was terrifying. When you saw the parent coming at you to ask your kid through about some grade they got back or whatever you’re like, dude, like, I just want to get my bottle of wine and go home. Like I’m not a teacher right now. 

Courtney Hopper: Bottles of wine.

Dana Kadwell: Bottles, yeah. But it was very disarming.

Christie Osborne: And invasive. 

Dana Kadwell: Yes, invasive, that’s so true.

Courtney Hopper: So you stepped a bit into the event industry with your mountain side, bride blog. Tell us a little bit about that, like that kind of media and journalism?

Full Episode Transcript

Hustle and Gather is hosted by Courtney Hopper and Dana Kadwell, and is produced by Earfluence.  Courtney and Dana’s hustles include C&D Events, Hustle and Gather, and The Bradford Wedding Venue.

Amplify Your Expertise
About the Author
At Earfluence, we are proud to produce this podcast. We believe in sharing amazing stories, providing knowledge to the world, and celebrating diverse voices. Through podcasting, our clients are amplifying their expertise, expanding their networks, building a content engine, and growing their influence. If you're interested in podcasting, we'd love to hear from you! Schedule your free 15 minute podcast consult today.