Ceara Milligan

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.

Lydia Eichner

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 >> http://bit.ly/180JjbW

For a complete festival lineup, click here >> http://bit.ly/18rJWNP

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.

Casey Flanagan

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.

Casey Flanagan

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.

Kelly Christiansen

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.

Casey Flanagan

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.

Casey Flanagan

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.

Sammi Dittloff

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 Laughlin.com has received twice the amount of visits. Best of all, we’ve seen people say “Wow” in reaction to the data and the infographic.

Casey Flanagan

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.

Kate Silver

Google’s 20% Time and Creative Freedom

In the new book The 20% Doctrine: How Tinkering, Goofing Off, and Breaking the Rules at Work Drive Success in Business, tech reporter Ryan Tate investigates Google’s practice of “20-percent time“ for engineers. According to the behemoth, giving employees one day a week to explore ideas and develop personal projects keeps them passionate and motivated, their creative muscles limber. It puts a silicon gloss on the old “what’s good for the goose” adage.

While flexible time policies at Google and Hewlett-Packard are well publicized, it was 3M that pioneered the practice. In 1948 the Minnesota manufacturer implemented the “15 percent rule” — which, years later, birthed the Post-it Note. While daydreaming about a bookmark that would stay in place in his church hymnal, scientist Art Fry recalled a light adhesive developed by his colleague, Dr. Spencer Silver. We can thank Dr. Fry’s creative epiphany every time we write a to-do list.

As author Martin Lindstrom recently suggested in Fast Company: embrace boredom; let your mind wander. Maybe you do your best thinking at the gym, or in line at Starbucks, or at happy hour. (Pre-Siri, cocktail napkins did more than protect the bar.) While it’s easy to think that Steve Jobs worked nonstop, he made the most of Zen moments, and engaged in a little goofing off like everyone else.

So how does this translate to the agency environment? While caricatured as a place where employees sit on yoga balls and play with their dogs (see the Portlandia sketch below, filmed in Wieden+Kennedy’s mazelike Portland office), the freeform workspace encourages employees to congregate and collaborate.


Creative breaks make us more efficient, whether they’re spent in a cubicle, or lying in bed. Heck, increased leisure time might decrease energy consumption and solve the credit crisis, according to an English think tank. Who knows? If a daydream gave us the Post-it, the door is open.