You know how when you meet someone for the first time and you just know they’re going to go big places in life?
That’s how I felt when I met Laura Fitzpatrick the first time.
In fact, I’m guessing that’s how many people feel when they meet the brand sociologist from Carmichael Lynch.
At the ripe old age of 24 (I’m guessing), Laura has already spent time at some of the biggest agencies in town, played a lead role in AdFed2, won numerous awards (including being listed as one of the #32Under32 recently) emceed one of the best events in town (Ignite), and plays comedian at Bryant-Lake Bowl every so often.
Most people in their mid 30s don’t have that diverse a resume.
And it’s exactly why, when you meet Laura, you get that feeling. This woman is going places.
Let’s hear the rest from her…
In just two years, you’ve managed to climb the ranks at two of the larger creative agencies in town (OLSON and CL)–what’s your secret?
I‘d say the secret is that you have to find the secret for you. There is no one path to getting where you want to go. I used to think if I followed what “so and so” did I would get to where “so and so” is, but I am a different person than “so and so”. The best way to move in any direction at an agency is to forge your own way. “Making it” looks different to everyone (great article–get over that the source is Glamour Magazine–here directed at women), but advice applicable to both genders, figure out what it is for you. In the end if you find the areas where your passion and skills intersect and you’ll head in the right direction.
You have an interesting title–and I’m guessing role– at CL as “brand sociologist.” Can you tell me more about what that means, exactly?
We search for insights and ideas across culture, category, audience, brand, and media to find the creative opportunity for any given project and/or brand. We help to make sure campaigns are created with messages and across platforms that will resonate with the intended target audience. Sometimes we do this by social listening, sometimes we do this by focus groups and surveys, and sometimes we get to go out and observe/talk to the consumers (my favorite).
You’re also a highly motivated person–and that shows in your extra-cirricular activities. You’re active with AdFed, and I see you at MIMA events regularly (and we really met via you volunteering for last year’s #mnblogcon). How did you become a hand-raiser and what has it done for your career so far?
Volunteering, freelancing, etc. gives you the opportunity to try things you don’t get to do at work or to build on skills you already have or want to have. It helps you become a more well-rounded worker with an understanding of areas beyond just yours. You have more experiences to pull from and you get to meet some incredible people (cough cough Arik Hanson) who can teach you new things.
You also recently took up improv–and I know you had a show at Bryant Lake Bowl fairly recently. How does improv help you with your day job as a creative strategist?
I could write a book on this. Improv has not only contributed to my creativity at work, but has also enhanced so many aspects of my personal life. Improv isn’t about comedy— at its core it’s about reacting, listening, being focused and present. It has helped me think on my feet, jump in to conversations and know when to do so, adapt to things I wasn’t expecting, let go of control, and so much more. I highly recommend that if you’re a human, you try improv. (Recommending Brave New Workshop & HUGE Theatre classes— anyone is welcome to ask me how to get started). Learning to be comfortable with vulnerability helps you become a less fearful, more confident and creative human being.
Some may not know this, but you were the University of Minnesota Homecoming Queen in 2011/2012. Any lessons that you learned during that experience that carry over to your professional life?
Be nice to everybody— people are incredible as is their support.
Love what you do— you can’t fake passion & sincerity so find a place where you wholeheartedly enjoy yourself day in, day out.
One of my favorite local events each year is Ignite. And you seem to have taken Ignite by storm–now having served as emcee of the most recent event. What drew you to Ignite and why do you love it so much?
As someone who has always loved public speaking I love that Ignite gives anyone the chance to face their fear of public speaking (a fear of an unreasonably large amount of people). I get to see other people discover the fulfillment and incomparable adrenaline that comes from jumping in. Unlike other more formal events, Ignite puts no creative barriers on what you can talk about. Your purpose can be to inform, enlighten, entertain, or all three. Ignite is the chance for anyone to talk about anything from Bollywood to Beards of the Presidents to Types of Profile Pictures. I enjoy seeing others conquer a fear, get on a stage, and out of their comfort zone— nothing cooler than that.
Like I said at the outset, you’ve spent time at some of the biggest agencies in town in your short career so far. What advice would you give to those considering a big agency gig? What are the challenges? What are the upsides?
I feel very fortunate to have worked for some really rad places. From my perspective the big agencies have offered me the chance to work with big clients willing to do big things. I’ve had the chance to meet a comedian I admire, brainstorm campaign ideas with a professional snowboarder, fly out to Google for Project Glass, do some undercover research and have lunch with one of my favorite authors (and brain crush), Simon Sinek. And none of those things even compares to the talent I’ve had the chance to work with every day. I’ve never worked at any agency smaller than 200 so I really have nothing to compare it to. As far as advice I would say never let size intimidate you— still try and get to know everyone. When I started at my first agency gig I started taking people in different departments out to lunch to learn about them, their role, and how I could best help them.
From where I sit (which, to be clear, is usually at home, CoCo or in a coffee shop :), I believe it’s pretty easy to spot the real up-and-comers in our industry. You’re clearly one of them. What advice would you give to those kids now in school that are looking to become the next Laura Fitzpatrick?
Ha. I think that is still being determined. As I said in my first answer, advice is overrated and you have to find what works for you.
Here are a few things I look to:
- The Holstee Manifesto- it hangs in my room and I read through it daily upon waking up.
- Asking what would Beyonce do?
- Find things that scare you and then do said things.
- Actively seek out things you’ve never experienced before and practice being comfortable with the uncomfortable.
- Don’t aspire to make a list or win an award, aspire to be purposeful.
Book suggestions: The Power of Habit, Start With Why, Bossypants, Damn Good Advice, ALL Malcolm Gladwell books, and The Alchemist.