Bethel alumna strives to run an honorable, profitable company
Culture | Lexi Beasley for The Clarion
Kristi Piehl, Bethel alumna and CEO of Media Minefield, uses her gifts to help nonprofits gain recognition through the media. | Photo for The Clarion courtesy of Media Minefield
Many people have a driving question that they strive to answer throughout their life. Kristi Piehl, founder and CEO of Media Minefield, sought to answer the question: “Is it possible to run a company by the Golden Rule, on biblical principles, and be profitable?”
Piehl graduated from Bethel as an English literature major with an emphasis in professional writing and a minor in communication studies.
She was a semester ahead of her class, finishing in December of 1996. She remembers feeling anxious to get into her field and couldn't wait to find a job. She had been the editor-in-chief of The Clarion and had completed three internships at the Hutchinson Leader, UPN 9 (now Fox 9) and KEYC Mankato, the last of which provided her with her first job.
After college, she married her high school sweetheart and worked at KEYC. She was there less than a year as an anchor and continued her career path at various other television stations. After moving throughout the Midwest, Piehl and her husband eventually came back to Minneapolis where she began working for KSTP.
“When I started out in TV, it was such a difficult career path,” said Piehl. “I don’t think I could’ve done it without my faith.”
Piehl said that her faith developed and deepened during her three and a half years at Bethel. “For me, it was so wonderful to spend that time really talking about and thinking about my own personal faith,” said Piehl. She described her time at Bethel as a seed that has taken root in many areas of her life.
After covering so many terrible stories as a news anchor and reporter, Piehl’s faith carried her through all of the ups and downs. Two of these career highs and lows came within a few short months of each other. On October 25, 2008, Piehl was announced as an Emmy award winner for her investigative reporting story “Smiley Face Killers,” reaching a goal Piehl had strived for for years. However, in December of that same year, Piehl was laid off from KSTP, along with close to 20 other employees.
After a 12-year television career, Piehl had to decide where to go from there. She knew that a career in television was not good for her husband and two sons and that she couldn’t keep it up. Because of this, she viewed the layoff as a blessing when she didn’t have the courage to leave television on her own. So, she decided to let God regain control of her life and lead her where He wanted her to be. “If I wasn’t driving, if I was in the passenger seat, what would God have me do?” Piehl asked herself. This was a question that, looking back, produced results Piehl couldn’t have imagined at the time.
The pastor and staff at Wayzata Evangelical Free Church, the church she was attending, heard about her layoff and offered her a part-time position writing newsletters and bulletins. It was only 10 hours a week, but Piehl knew it was the right thing for her since she would be able to spend more time at home with her family and really find out what she was supposed to do with her future. She began taking a class through the church, and it was there that she imagined Media Minefield. “During that class, a business came to me – the name, the concept, everything,” Piehl said.
Piehl had never even dreamed of having her own company, but her husband fully supported her. “I never saw it coming or, I would even go as far as to say, wanted it to happen,” said Piehl. Her vision for this company was to help nonprofits and small companies navigate the media and get their stories on television. And she did just that, working solo at the outset. A year after starting the company, she hired her first employee.
Today, three years after she began this company, there are 11 employees, many of whom have television backgrounds. The goal of Media Minefield is to collaborate as a team and most effectively tell the stories of each of their clients. And Piehl has certainly found her passion here. “I love helping people get their stories out and I love helping them use the media to help them grow their ministry, grow their business, etc.,” Piehl said. “The whole thing has been an act of faith.”
So, is it possible to run a company by the Golden Rule, on biblical principles, and be profitable? Piehl sure thinks so.