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Brooke Budke Wiltse: Making a Difference with Strategic Words

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A word is built from a selection of vowels and consonants grouped into syllables. Sometimes its pattern, based on hundreds of years of usage and built on many different cultures, is confusing. “I before e except after c…” and then neighbor and weigh have us rolling our eyes. But one word can make an incredible difference, opening a floodgate of emotions and abilities, and for one Olathe, Kansas, woman, it takes on a role of strategic business and life guidance.

Brooke Budke Wiltse has experienced the positivity of selecting a special word, a guidepost, for every year since childhood to move her actions and align her goals. At the age of 12, she and the rest of the country were mesmerized by Kerri Strug, a member of the victorious U.S. women’s gymnastics team at the 1996 Summer Olympics. Brooke remembers Kerri’s incredible performance on the vault, despite a horrifically damaged ankle, that snatched gold for her team. The moment was not lost on the youngster. Several months later, Brooke’s mother discussed with her goals for the next year, and she urged her to pick one word to guide her life for that timeframe. Brooke chose “cartwheel.”

“I saw what happened when you have the drive and discipline of an Olympian and what can happen to the entire country based off one person’s decision, discipline, focus, integrity, drive and grit. I would do so many cartwheels over and over again that I actually double broke my arm in the backyard, in a cast from my shoulder to my wrist,” she recalled. “I realized that I wasn’t a good gymnast but I applied that same mentality to softball, school and how I engaged with friends. Clearly, I was an achiever and identified as that. From 12 until today, I have a word of the year to live by. What I’ve learned is that people perish without a vision. Without a vision, a clear Point A and Point B of where you want to go for every single year, you flounder.”

Making Cartwheels Happen
Throughout her life, Brooke has flipped amazing summersaults, especially in her career, which culminated in snagging the role of marketing director for Title Boxing Club, a fitness franchise company. Her working career had been focused on brand marketing, and she had set the goal of becoming the marketing director of a major fitness brand by the time she was 30. She put it on her vision board, included it in her daily affirmations, and vividly pictured it to be real. She set her mind to constantly affirm that her dream would happen because she is a huge believer in manifesting miracles. In the summer of 2013, she connected with the president of Title Boxing Club, who was recruiting for a head of marketing. On her 30th birthday, September 4, 2013, she signed as the marketing director of one of the biggest fitness brands in the U.S. In 2013, Title Boxing Club had several dozen locations. Then by 2014, it experienced more than 1,400 percent growth and was named number one fastest-growing franchise in the country by Inc. Magazine. By 2020, pre-COVID, the company was just shy of 200 locations in the U.S., Mexico and Dominican Republic. Then, after a company acquisition at the end of 2020, the new ownership group named Brooke president of the brand in January 2021. 

“With a strong vision of what I want to achieve in my day, week, month, quarter and my year, I have shifted to life happening for me versus to me. Ever since, I have had a word-of-the-year to live by, I can tell you exactly what I achieved each year,” she shared. “I’ve lived this way all my life, and now as an entrepreneur, I apply the same principle to helping brands achieve their goals and vision.”

She left Title Boxing Club to concentrate on her family: husband, Tray; bonus girls, Mya, 18; Makenna 16; and especially her new son, Axel, 10 months. But her passion to help others could not be overlooked. Last year, she established her own company, Brooke Budke Consulting, allowing her to consult and advise multiple brands versus just one.

“I work with franchisors in helping them establish their brand, mission, vision, values, DNA, alignment and customer acquisition. Personally, I believe in and align with wellness brands, fitness, beauty and health, along with brands that have female customers in their 20s and 30s who are health- and wellness-minded. I work with leaders to discover, align and infuse their core values into their brand, their people and their customers,” she remarked. “I’m a happy little badass, to be perfectly honest. I’m fiercely strong and independent, motivated and driven to be happier than all get out. It’s not an act and I work on it every day, always striving to help other people work on it too, whether it’s my family, friends or the brands I counsel.”

A Life-Changing Event
Brooke claims a critical life awakening came at a very dark time in her life when she was diagnosed with melanoma. A junior at the University of Kansas, she found an odd-looking mole on her stomach, and eventually surgery was needed to remove the cancer. She recalls in that moment of her life’s journey, she felt the greatest wakeup call and a second chance. While others may see it negatively, she chose to look at it as a blessing in her passage. Since that day she has been committed to being the happiest and healthiest version of herself. On June 2, 2022, she marked 17 years cancer free with no recurrence. She attributes much of that success to focusing on the outside and inside.

“You must be both physically strong and mentally strong. Physically, it’s what you eat, the water you drink, your environment, your sleep, athletic abilities. That has to be written into your day before the day begins. For mental strength, the quality of our life is determined by quality of our thoughts. I believe in making your mind listen to you versus listening to all of the directions your mind can take you,” she noted. “If you master your mind and control your thoughts, your life will be on the course you want versus reacting to the chaos that occurs every day. Start every single day with gratitude and affirmation, with a workout and good nutrition. If you have your armor on—discipline, intelligence, peace, sleep, rest and good thinking—you’re prepared for whatever happens that day.”

Developing Raving Fans
Not only does Brooke infuse this strategy into her personal life, she also integrates it into her consultation with franchisors. She calls upon a strong fitness mentality to help her clients create a vision that achieves business goals. “With the fitness mentality of achieving a goal, you build the strategy of how to get from Point A to B. The path to get there is the easy part, but what you need is to understand where you are, where you want to go and then establish the key behaviors and disciplines in the middle to achieve it,” she advised. “For example, take a boxer’s mentality and apply it to business. First, you identify your opponent, train like no one else and have a winning mentality. You can win because you believe without fail that you will beat
the odds.”

But she also goes deeper into her consulting with franchisors, helping them build a foundation of success by starting with the end result in mind. “For brands to succeed today, they not only need fans, but raving fans for their business. Raving fans write online reviews, send referrals, post on social media, and they tell everyone and anyone about your brand. To create raving fans externally, it’s best to work backwards and build raving fans with your employees. You can teach anyone the basics of your business, but you can’t teach fire and passion. You must hire passionate people and then teach them the pillars of your business. Create a company culture that everyone can ascribe to,” she remarked. “There is an unmistakable energy inside of the business when employees are happy because they know the leadership team respects, values and invests in them. They absolutely will become raving fans of the business, hence developing marketing, operations and training to connect with the customers at a deeper level.”

Miracles Can Happen, but Planning is the Key
Believing that something can be achieved is a solid foundation for success. However, just wishing for something is not enough; dedication, hard work and a strategic plan can positively move you on your life’s journey. According to Brooke, the secret is delving into problem solving to create a target condition of success.

“Many of the miracles I have received in my life came after a major challenge or setback. When anything happens to you, I’ve learned to ask the question, ‘Who’s to say that this is good or bad?’ I got cancer at 21, and who’s to say that it is good or bad. For me, it turned out to be great. Remember, the language we use to describe our circumstances will dictate how it impacts us,” she said. “If we learn to ask ourselves better questions, such as ‘What else could be true’ or ‘What else could be truer,’ your brain will unlock an infinite amount of resources that will open up all of these other possibilities, which can turn out to be really great things.”

The year 2022 is blossoming into a dynamic one for Brooke. Her business is booming, she’s a sought-after motivational speaker, she’s writing her first book and her personal life is solid. It is logical that she has chosen “golden” as her word of the year. “I don’t want to look back ten years from now and say that these were the good old days. I know that I am living in those good old days every day of my life, and they are a golden opportunity for me to embrace with my husband, my girls, my son and my business. Most of the time our lives ebb and flow between planting years and harvest years. There are years where we are digging in and doing the work to form new habits, then there are years we are reaping the rewards and celebrating,” she advised. “My mental health, fortitude, drive and discipline are the through lane on everything for my life, family and my business. It’s not easy work, but it’s our life’s work, so why not pour our work into ourselves, our family and then into your own business. Truly, that’s the crux of a well-lived life.”