Change is an inevitable part of life and we all handle it differently. Some of us avoid change at all costs. Others embrace change with open arms, seeing it as an opportunity for growth and new experiences.
Tristan Shutt undeniably represents the latter. As principal of the Gooden Group, Tristan has experienced significant changes since joining the Gooden Group in 2005 and has learned how to navigate through them with grace, determination, and gusto.
Tristan is an accredited strategic communications and public relations professional based in Oklahoma City. In 2017, the firm added Tristan and Katy Gustafson as principals. In 2022, Gooden Group completed a multi-year ownership transition from founders Brent and Valerie Gooden. Shutt and Gustafson bring more than 30 years combined experience serving the firm's clients. Together, they lead a team of seasoned communications professionals who support clients in periods of growth and transition, in times of crisis, and through small victories and major milestones. With eyes on the industry's future, the firm remains rooted in its focus on client success.
With experience working with clients from a wide array of industries including a global tech company and an international NBA player, Tristan’s passion has always been setting up his clients for success while inspiring and empowering the Gooden Group team to thrive. The Journal Record named Tristan as one of the Achievers Under 40 in 2015. Before joining the Gooden Group, he graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University with degrees in public relations and creative writing and toured the U.S. as a writer for a Grammy Award-nominated musician.
Q: How did you get started in entrepreneurship?
A: To be honest, I never sought out to be an entrepreneur or business owner. I have always loved my job at the Gooden Group and working for the founding principals and the amazing team and clients we have. When the founders approached me about the possibility of ownership, it was a no brainer. I was so thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to help lead Gooden Group into its next chapter. This is my 18th year at the Gooden Group and if you would have told me when I started I would be in this position, I would not have believed you. It has been an extremely gratifying, fun and amazing journey. I have been blessed to work with so many truly amazing humans along the way and look forward to many more years leading the Gooden Group as we serve our clients, each other and our community.
Q: Who was the first person to encourage you to pursue entrepreneurship?
A: The founders of the Gooden Group definitely encouraged me in this pursuit as they presented me with this opportunity. Another person who was quick to encourage me was my business partner, Katy Gustafson. We were both presented with the opportunity and, having worked together for eight years together already, we knew the opportunity was truly special and something we wholeheartedly wanted to do. We both championed each other throughout the process. Also, my family and close friends were super encouraging. I'm incredibly grateful to be surrounded by such a strong support system.
Q: What did you want to be as a kid?
A: I have always loved sports so I envisioned being in sports in some form. I quickly decided a career in PR was what I was looking for and thankfully I have opportunities to work in the sports industry which has been extremely rewarding. I had the opportunity to work closely with Chris Paul while he was in OKC during his first two seasons in the NBA. In fact, we both started our careers basically the same week in OKC. I supported the OKC Thunder before the team was established as a franchise in our city. I’ve collaborated closely with Enes Kanter on his personal philanthropic efforts while he played with the Thunder. I also work with other professional sports organizations including WNBA’s Dallas Wings. I have been fortunate to be involved with sports throughout my career. PR, particularly agency life, has been a perfect fit for me. I say it often - I'm truly blessed to do what I do.
Q: What do you wish people knew about Gooden Group?
A: How many amazing people we have on our team. It's hard to believe I get to work with such bright, gifted, caring, strategic, thoughtful and kind humans as we serve our absolutely incredible clients every day. I feel truly blessed to help lead our team that cares so deeply for each other, for our clients, and at the same time, wants to make a positive impact in Oklahoma City and in Oklahoma. It truly is an honor to serve alongside them.
Q: What's the best way you've been described during an introduction?
A: During a recent meeting with a new client, the founding principal introduced me as "Tristan, he’s been with the company for 17 years and is our resident Bob Dylan expert who has a Bob museum in his office and has seen him perform live at least 20 times." I was honored! The office Bob museum is true! Though I have mostly lost count, I have seen Bob closer to 10 to 13 times. I appreciated the shout out!
Q: How do you wish you were introduced?
A: See above - world's biggest Bob Dylan fan ha. The ideal intro? This is Tristan, he's been at the Gooden Group almost two decades and is now a principal at the agency. He has a passion for leading the extraordinarily talented team the firm has assembled and serving Gooden Group’s diverse roster of amazing clients with excellence. His door is always open and he cares deeply for the Gooden Group team. He is intentional about cultivating each team member’s professional and personal growth and empowering them to live their best lives at work and beyond. Oh, and he has a Bob Dylan museum in his office and has seen him perform live across the country about 10 to 13ish times!
Q: What is inspiring you lately?
A: The Gooden Group team, every day. Bob Dylan (always). Live music. Los Angeles. Miles Davis. MLB Baseball. This OKC Thunder team. Delicious food and coffee locally and beyond. Personal health and wellness. Traveling. Cooking. Frontline Church. The Book of Psalms. Rekindling my love for baseball cards with my nephews. Going to concerts with my niece.
Q: What do you most want to be remembered for?
A: Someone who loved others well, had a lot of fun along the way, had a passion for kindness and generosity, tried his best to be a reflection of Jesus to others, was a loving and proud uncle, son, brother and friend, he cared deeply for everyone at the Gooden Group and firm's clients, and he saw a lot of great live music!