Find Your Purpose.

We were not designed to live a life of monotony. We have always been told that we should spend each day on earth to the fullest, but with the way most of our days seem to blend together with the same chores, meetings, errands, and responsibilities, this concept may seem easier said than done.

The best thing about our industry, workplace, and culture is that every day, we are encouraged to recreate ourselves, share our ideas, showcase our work, and be inventive. We all hold different roles within the agency — planners, strategists, creatives, writers, accountants, analysts, developers, administrators, managers, leaders (The list goes on…) — and have the notion that we’re all here for the same purpose: Work hard, make money, build our reputation, and please our customers. However, I think this might not be entirely true. We all have our own talents, skills, dreams, hopes, aspirations, and individual traits that allow us to stand apart from our colleagues. Each of us has a solitary value that contributes to one common goal as a business.

Now, you may be scratching your head and asking yourself, “What is my purpose?”

Well, here is the simple formula:

What you love to do + What the world needs = Your mission
What the world needs + What you are paid for = Your vocation
What you are paid for + What you are good at = Your profession
What you are good at + What you love to do = Your passion
Your mission + Your vocation + Your profession + Your passion = Your purpose

Your purpose should not be defined by the title on your business card. Your purpose is to foster positive change, no matter the part you play within the agency. If you have an idea, write it down, email it to your manager, collaborate with coworkers. An idea is just an idea until it becomes an action with results. There is an Irish proverb by which I try my best to abide each day: You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind. Seek inspiration from everything and everyone around you, but most importantly, learn to spark your own fire.

Do the math.

240 Films from 44 Countries in 15 Days: Milwaukee Film Festival 2013

Here at Laughlin Constable, our passion for innovative ideas and outstanding creative extends far beyond our doors. As sponsors and champions of the Milwaukee Film Festival, we are proud to support one of the most important cultural events in Milwaukee – no other occasion celebrates creativity, imagination, and art with such enthusiasm. Alongside other Milwaukee advertising agencies like Bader Rutter and BVK, specifically Sara Meaney, Development Co-Chair for the Milwaukee Film Festival, we’ll be jumping in with both feet and exploring the diverse range of experiences this year’s festivities have to offer.

Opening Night Party + Red Carpet Experience: The festival kicks off on Thursday, September 26th with Break Up Man (Schlussmacher), a comedy blockbuster named best German film of the year. Catch the film at the Oriental Theatre, and then head to Discovery World to get down with the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and local DJs. Also enjoy drinks, food, and lots of prizes. Not swanky enough for your taste? LC is also sponsoring the exclusive Red Carpet Experience, featuring star treatment, VIP access to a private area of the museum, an open bar, and silent auction benefitting Milwaukee Film.

Cream City Cinema: This showcase of local filmmakers’ work culminates in a yearlong Filmmaker-In-Residence prize awarded to the jury winner. Say you saw them before they blew up – our city’s concentration of filmmaking talent is going places.

Milwaukee Music + Music Documentaries: To contribute to an even lusher multi-sensory experience, musical documentaries are now their own film category – Sound Vision. Plus, the festival’s official live music series, Soundtrack at The Hotel Foster, features live local music every night of the festival – free with a festival pass or ticket stub from the night’s screenings.

For a full list of program categories, click here >>

For a complete festival lineup, click here >>

We’ll be tweeting throughout the festival and live-tweeting the Opening Night events. Join the conversation by tweeting #MFF2013 and share your thoughts on what you see (but wait until the show is over to break out your cell phone).

Why film? Like advertising, cinema is an art form that has the unique ability to impact audiences in almost unlimited ways. Both mediums employ boundless creativity in order to provide entertainment, spark conversations, inspire ideas, and communicate emotions.

The experience of film is at once collective and personal, communal and introspective, social and private. Before the invention of Netflix and before Blu-ray players were even a twinkle in the home entertainment industry’s eye, going to the movies was a necessarily shared experience. Today, we’re seeing cinema come full-circle – it’s never been easier to enjoy, share, experience and discuss films with communities near and far than it is right now. You can see this happening with your own eyes at the Milwaukee Film Festival – a community of film-lovers coming together to experience something great.

Join us for over two weeks of film – we’ll be sure to save you a good seat.

Have A Nice Day

No, literally.

Rudeness at work is rampant, and it’s on the rise. As a result, the global economy could benefit from turning Have A Nice Day from a bumper sticker aphorism to a mission statement.

According to a recent Harvard Business Review article titled The Price of Incivility, “over the past 14 years we’ve polled thousands of workers about how they’re treated on the job, and 98% have reported experiencing uncivil behavior. In 2011, half said they were treated rudely at least once a week – up from a quarter in 1998.”

The result? Creativity suffers. Performance deteriorates. And resources are wasted – managers at Fortune 1,000 firms spend the equivalent of seven weeks a year dealing with the aftermath of incivility.

Being nice doesn’t mean being a pushover. It does mean – at least from time to time – being selfless. Think about good collaboration practices. Share the credit. Show respect. Earn attention. Don’t forget to surprise. And / or delight. Spread the love.

If we work together, we can continue to create places in which people want to work together. From there, productivity and creativity flow.

It’s a nice thought.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

Smart Words From Smart People. The @leeclowsbeard Edition.

In honor of the 1,000th tweet from @leeclowsbeard, let’s dust off the old “Smart Words From Smart People” approach.

Lee Clow’s Beard is not written by Lee Clow’s Beard. Or, even, Lee Clow. But it is genuinely insightful and enjoyable nonetheless. It’s no wonder Mr. Clow approves.

Enjoy an assortment of twenty-one of my favorite tweets from the last three years. If you want more – and why wouldn’t you? – check out @leeclowsbeard. If you want more in analog edition, support the Beard here.

  1. If you don’t think your brand should be brash, don’t be brash. If you don’t think your brand should be bold, you’re wrong. (09/18/12)
  2. A brand should always do everything it says, but rarely say everything it does. (08/02/12)
  3. Be patient. Changing people’s perceptions rarely happens overnight. At least not in a good way. (07/27/12)
  4. Make sure the strategy has legs before worrying if the creative will. (01/06/12)
  5. Great brands have interesting on-hold music that people rarely hear. (12/22/11)
  6. The facts of the matter are rarely the heart of the matter. (11/07/11)
  7. No one needs a link to opt out of your brand. (07/25/11)
  8. Critique first. Criticize fiftieth. (04/29/11)
  9. Please don’t complain about ROI if you are unwilling to actually I. (03/16/11)
  10. “Why not?” is not a rhetorical question. (03/01/11)
  11. Turns out there really is a formula for great advertising. Of course, it contains nothing but variables. (01/28/11)
  12. Simplicity is usually the result of much complex thinking. (01/07/11)
  13. Make your brand the strong call to action. (12/15/10)
  14. You can’t cut clutter with clutter. (11/08/10)
  15. Big thinkers don’t mistake simple ideas for small ones. (06/04/10)
  16. On collaboration: Just because all opinions are welcome doesn’t mean all opinions are valid. Now stop pouting. (05/20/10)
  17. It’s the little compromises that add up to a giant bucket of suck. (05/13/10)
  18. The best insights usually make you feel like you should’ve known them all along. (04/01/10)
  19. A brand doesn’t need a unique position in the market as much as a unique position in consumers’ minds. (12/17/09)
  20. If you want a stronger call to action, create a better ad. (07/22/09)
  21. Consumers never complain about ads being too smart. (08/17/09)

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

Overcoming the overwhelming

The first TED talk I ever watched was Amy Cuddy’s “Power Pose”, which I highly recommend if you speak or are visible to other people. After watching Amy’s talk, I was hooked on TED, intrigued to learn about other ideas. Plus, now I start each morning facing the mirror in a superwoman pose before leaving home.  I’m half kidding.

When I heard about the chance to watch TED talks live through TEDxWindyCity, an independently organized TED event, I jumped at the chance and excitedly marked my calendar.

The theme for the program was contrast. The first presentation explored contrast in a visual way.  In Brandy Agerbeck’s “Shape Your Thinking” talk, she described two types of people: auditory/sequential and visual/spatial or as I like to think of them: linear mathematician vs. scattered artist. When faced with an overwhelming to-do list or massive amounts of information to digest, Brandy offered the following steps to overcome the overwhelming:

  • Chunk: Write each idea on an index card or post-it
  • Sort/Group: Put each similar idea together
  • Connect: Find a thread to connect the groups to each other
  • Scale: Switch up the size of the material you are using to solve your issue. Do you need a giant white board to map it out?  Can you fit the idea for your paper on something the size of a postage stamp?
  • Grasp: What new conclusions can you make?

In our world, collaboration is a big deal.  If linear mathematicians and scattered artists can learn from each other, they take a resourceful, adaptable approach to seek results. Celebrating contrast isn’t always intuitive. But it can be productive. If we can learn from – and collaborate with – each other, we can overcome the overwhelming.

A Better Way To Think About A Better Way

Evolving. Improving. Learning. Who isn’t looking for a better way?

But the dark side of “a better way” is that… there is always a better way. When there is a better way, there is no end. No finish line.

So as we examine things like how we complete a task or how we collaborate with one another, we must accept that there is always a better way.

This shouldn’t be depressing. Instead, it’s an opportunity.

Because we understand that we can succeed without perfection. Best practices can still exist. A perfect end can – and often does – come from imperfect means. That’s a liberating discovery.

Because we know we have the opportunity to learn from more than our failures. We can also learn from our successes.

And because when we’ve found a better way, we’re not done. We’re just on to finding the next one.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

What Collaboration Isn’t

Collaboration is neither inherently good nor inherently bad.

Collaboration doesn’t mean more meetings. It shouldn’t default to constantly working with others. And because there is always a better way to do it, collaboration isn’t about waiting until the time is right.

Collaboration isn’t – obviously – one-way. As such, it isn’t predictable. Its results should not be expected. And it is not something to blindly put faith in. At least without a few sleepless nights.

Collaboration isn’t the end. It’s not the goal. And it is never the deliverable.

Most importantly, effective collaboration is not easy. Just like most things worth doing.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

Creating an Infographic (and Making it Say “Wow!”)

A few weeks ago, some of us at LC were tasked with an exciting assignment – look at Lady Gaga’s social influence and make it into a shareable infographic.

Now, it’s not like you need an infographic to tell you Lady Gaga has influence – as I write this post, she has over 26 million Twitter followers and more than 52 million Facebook fans. However, what we had to figure out was how to take those numbers and make them tell a story. We wanted people to look at her reach and say, “Wow.”

After reviewing the initial data, we started exploring Twitter more, where her influence is the greatest, and realized that 1 in 6 Twitter users follows her (25 million out of 140 million uses at the time of our infographic’s creation). From there we started thinking, what does 25 million look like? As it turns out, it looks like the population of Texas.

So, if all of those people in “Texas” retweeted one Lady Gaga tweet to their average amount of followers (300 according to Hubspot), it could reach 7.5 billion people, which means if every person in the world were on Twitter, it could reach all of them…and then some. Or, in other words, the Twitter community is covered 53 times over. Keep in mind; this is just from each follower retweeting once.

Once we put this metric together, we sat back and said, “Wow.” That’s how we knew we had a story to share. So far, we’ve posted the infographic on eight different social communities, submitted to 11 infographics aggregators, and have been reposted and blogged about over seven times in the past week. Did it go viral? Not yet. Did it garner attention for our capabilities and our agency? Most definitely.

Since its posting, traffic to the blog has been six times greater than during the week previous, and has received twice the amount of visits. Best of all, we’ve seen people say “Wow” in reaction to the data and the infographic.

You Can Lead A Horse To Water, But You Can’t Make It Collaborate.

We talk about collaboration a lot here at LC. It forms the basis of our process. It’s central to how we design office space. It’s at the core of our business philosophy. We believe collaboration is the key to the future.

So we think a lot about how to cultivate it. Because you can’t just expect it to happen. Three tips on how to get the horse to drink:

1. Create a shared ownership. For collaboration to succeed, all parties have to know they need the other players. Mutual respect is a key ingredient. Find ways to empower all the team members. Make sure knowledge, responsibilities and interests are shared.

2. Define the roles, not the process. In order to get people to work together, make sure they understand who is doing what – but not necessarily how to get it done. Letting the team determine the path increases the level of cooperation.

3. Force collisions. Don’t wait for the right time or right project or right team. Start today. Collaboration needs to be experienced. Practice beats theory. And practice makes perfect.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

Life at an Award-Winning Agency

Agency life is fun. Everyone in our industry knows that. And at LC, we certainly have our fair share of parties, happy hours, pingpong tournaments, golf outings and Wii breaks. But what makes LC such a great place to work goes well beyond that. I started my life at Laughlin as an intern in October 2009, and I continue to be impressed by the agency’s culture and flexibility. There’s a good reason we keep winning all these workplace awards.


Laughlin Constable has the perfect culture for doing great work. We keep it casual while still working diligently. We’re serious when we need to be, but we’re never stuffy. We’re professionals – we know what we’re doing, and we don’t need suits or ties to prove it. We let our work speak for itself.

For me, it’s about being comfortable. So every once in a while I’ll kick off my shoes or rest my feet on my desk, and it’s amazing how much I can get done – with a smile. The casual atmosphere practically induces happiness. Britt, one of my LC roommates, said it best: “With everyone having a positive attitude it’s easy to come to work in the morning. Coming to work here is fun, nothing that you have to dread.”

There’s also a great camaraderie among us; our relationships are built on honesty and trust. As Rachel, an account manager, said, “I like that I don’t have to be fake around my supervisor.” That trust extends to the very work we do. Angela, another one of my roomies here, said, “My manager trusts me and encourages me to make business decisions. I’m not always having someone watch over my shoulder and that just enhances my productivity!”

Honesty, trust and open communications are pretty universal values. And because our values are universal, we can readily adopt others into our culture with open arms. Angela started last summer and remarked, “I’ve never worked at a place where I’ve felt so quickly accepted.” Rick, an integrated account manager, also mentioned that he felt “instantly welcome” when he started a few years ago. I think it’s the reason we have such high employee retention and have continued to grow despite the recession of the past few years.


Another great aspect of working at Laughlin Constable is the flexibility. We’ve been recognized as a family friendly workplace numerous times by MetroParent, something that our working mothers can attest to. “LC is great with being flexible with my schedule. I have the option to work from home or come in late if I have issues with my kids,” said Rachel. And mothers-to-be, too: “Having announced my pregnancy, I’ve heard multiple times that my family comes first and that I should enjoy this time; LC comes second,” said Angela.

Our culture is the kind of thing that can’t be manufactured. “A truly fun, positive, energetic and collaborative culture needs to be organic. LC does an amazing job of cultivating that,” said Rick. I think everyone at LC feels blessed to work in such a great place.

And then there are the perks. “Wellness Wednesday breakfasts, yoga during lunch, work-from-home flexibility… LC pays close attention to the details that ensure employee happiness,” said Crystal, a social media community manager.

“I think it is clear,” said Rick, “that when you are on a team with people that you respect and love to be around, the end product that you deliver is that much better. It’s a win–win for LC and our clients.”

Laughlin Constable has been winning workplace awards for more years than we keep track of. These include multiple wins of the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility, MetroParent‘s Family Friendly Workplace Award, The Business Journal Top Milwaukee Workplaces and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Top Workplaces Award. We are proud to add Advertising Age Best Places to Work recognition to this list.