I can’t remember exactly when or how I met Lisa Grimm. But one thing’s for certain: She left quite an impression. And I’m sure the hundreds of other industry folks she’s met over the years here in the Twin Cities–and across the country–would say the same thing. Whether it’s her “unique vocabulary” (I’m constantly jabbing her about this) or her passion for technology and communications, it’s kinda tough to overlook Ms. Grimm. And apparently, at least one local agency (space150) agrees, as they snapped up the rising star last year. I caught up with the whirlwind that is Lisa Grimm and asked her a few questions about the (relatively) new gig, her meteoric rise, her blog and yes, her vocab (see Grimm, I can do it, too!).
You’re about 10 months in to your new role at space150 as director of PR and emerging media. Since you’re new to the interactive agency arena what’s been the one thing that’s surprised you so far?
My relationship with space150 started as mere fanfare after seeing its Forever21 Times Square Digital Billboard in 2010, which quickly turned to client-side relationship when I was at Mall of America so I knew a few folks and the agency model well upon starting. What has been most surprising, in the best way possible, is the level of passion and talent under one roof. I’ve never seen this level of dedication and alignment to one mission by the collective anywhere. It attracts superior talent and a quality of work I haven’t experienced. Overall, the most surprising thing to me about interactive agencies in general is their inability to understand the value of building relationships and earned media, and how that folds into the rest of the marketing communication ecosystem. I feel very grateful to work somewhere that gets it and has placed such high emphasis on building this aspect of its business.
Up until recently, you’ve spent most of your time on the PR/communications side of the house. What’s it like working with developers instead of communicators (primarily)?
I’ve always surrounded myself with folks who create digital products that help us communicate better, but having access to so many of them in one place – and the best I’ve worked with – is a treat. Discipline lines continue to blur and I think it’s imperative that whatever your subject matter expertise, you learn about others and how they complement yours or offer you a fresh perspective. Unlike previous environments I’ve worked in where developers and technology resources are segregated, space150 integrates disciplines – from brand strategy and creative to media, PR and engineering − which makes solving client challenges much easier and more effective. Our developers are amazing and I love nerding – or trying to – nerd out with them. It’s amazing to be in constant dialogue and collaboration about leveraging technology to create optimal communication solutions that connect people.
You had a short stint with Imagination a couple years ago where you were “embedded” at General Mills. For those who have worked in this role (I have in a previous life as well), we know it can be very difficult. What were the challenges of working for an agency while embedded with the client? Do you think that’s a good model for agencies to pursue?
Being embedded in a big brand by way of an agency was great experience and I’m so grateful to both Imagination and General Mills for the opportunity. I’m a dot connector and executor. I see cracks and know what to execute on in order to give me proof of concept to make a bigger case for change. The more people involved, the harder it is to be agile. This is the biggest reason this arrangement didn’t work for me. I think it has the potential to be extremely advantageous for the client and agency, especially with the level of disruption every brand and agency is experiencing today. Like most successful business practices, this requires good infrastructure to support the embedded model and a very clear understanding of what both parties want to achieve. Sadly, most brands and agencies haven’t forged this infrastructure.
You’ve been blogging at Communications Passionista off-and-on for almost four years now. What keeps you blogging and where on earth do you find the time?
If you visit my blog, you’ll find I don’t find the time. I write here and there, but do much better curating what I read and find valuable on Twitter. That takes time too, but far less and with the volume of work I have to do it’s what I do. What originally inspired my blog was my passion around how technology has the ability to impact communications. That passion fuels my work, but there’s only so much time in the day and my family matters to me so the blog continues to get de-prioritized. I hope to sort that out this year though. Keep it, get rid of it, move to more of a curation of my social channels model. We’ll see…
I’ve joked with you a few times (not really joking though) that someday I’m sure I’ll be reporting to you (or, you’ll be a client :). What do you see in your future 5-10 years from now? Do you think you’ll stay working in the social/digital space?
You crack me up. You know, the last five years have been so fast and furious that I’m taking some time to slow down, say no to speaking and other opportunities, to focus on service work and myself so I can better answer that. My future involves connecting humans through the intersection of technology and communication, but I’m not sure what that will look like just yet. I live in today, strive to be my best self and welcome anything tomorrow throws my way. That’s how I live and I find the right thing tends to show up if I take good care of myself. Stay tuned…
I recently published a list of professionals that have made incredible leaps and bounds in their careers in the last five years. You were right at the top of that list–especially locally here in Minneapolis/St. Paul. How have you built such a great reputation for yourself in just a few short years and translated that into some pretty killer roles?
I always say, it’s all about what you know, who you know and how well you articulate what you know to who you know. I can distill that to:
- Love what you do.
- Ask A LOT of questions; walk humbly
- Do good work; build case studies
People quickly learn that I wear my enthusiasm, passion and perspective on my sleeve. I seek experiences that feed my soul (h/t David Denham) in all dimensions, and am slightly obsessed with being in a perpetual state of learning. I work diligently to find solutions to problems wherever I go because talk is cheap, but moving the needle typically doesn’t go unnoticed.
Thanks again for the inclusion on your list. As I mentioned in comments on that post, it was a really great reminder for me to slow down and reflect on my accomplishments and journey.
You’re extremely well networked–and have been for quite a while. Why do you spend so much time networking and meeting new people and do you have any advice for those who would like to do more networking but may be a bit reticent?
I love people. Every interaction I have with someone is an opportunity to learn something. I’m also in the relationship business so networking is essential. You never know where a conversation or connection will lead. I’m constantly awed by the power of my network. Per my answer above, it’s all about what and who you know. Once you’ve nailed the what (or feel pretty good), get busy knowing the who. Advice:
- Seek out people whose path and work you admire. People are busy, but can typically work an informational or coffee into their schedules. Email, call or tweet them. Be fearless. If you’re scared to ask someone to coffee, ask them. The more you do what scares you, the more courageous you become J.
- Get involved in a professional organization like MIMA. Go beyond membership and serve on a committee.
- Get on Twitter. Follow like-minded people and thought-leaders in your space. Engage with them. If you know they’re going to be at an event, reach out on Twitter prior so when you go to shake hands there’s already context.
I’ve given you a lot of grief over the years for your creative “vocabulary.” What are your new fave adds to the Lisa Grimm lexicon?
Love that this made its way into your line of questioning;-) Yes, my lingo is in a constant state of evolution. It’s so hard for me to answer questions like this because you probably have a better idea than me what my current “words” are. I don’t pay that much attention. In general, I love to shorten and/or create new words. It’s usually very spontaneous. My staples are “dude,” “sitch,” and your favorite, “peeps.”