Anna Curtis

Bring Your Parents To Work Day

During the frequent phone calls with my mom, she inevitably asks the million-dollar question: “What are you up to at work these days?”

Working in social media at an advertising agency makes this question exceptionally tough to answer. I could show her my timesheets and she could sift through the job numbers. She could listen to me go on about Facebook insights, promoted posts and captivating content. But I usually give her my shortened version of the answer, “Oh you know, just writing Tweets and stuff.”

My mom has no idea what I do for a living.

And with today’s ever-evolving career choices, 35% of parents surveyed also don’t know what their child does for a living. So I am thrilled that Laughlin Constable is participating in its first-ever ‘Bring Your Parents To Work Day’ on Thursday, November 7. It’s an opportunity for parents of LC employees to see firsthand what their child does on a day-to-day basis.

Laughlin Constable prides itself on being a great place to work, winning numerous awards for workplace excellence and flexibility, a positive reflection on our employees’ work/life balance. Inviting parents into the office allows LC to open its doors and connect with families, while also showing appreciation and gratitude for parents who have raised children to be hardworking members of the LC family.

And as anyone working in the industry knows, advertising is all about teamwork. Nothing would get accomplished without a team of employees working together to develop and create a successful campaign. A family is no different. It too is a team that works together to accomplish goals and create positive outcomes. This similarity between an agency and family life fosters an environment of support, success and balance in the office and at home.

I am grateful that my mom will have the opportunity to not only see what I do at work, but also see the talented professionals I am lucky enough to work with every day.

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Ilana R. Borzak

Strategy. Discuss.

I was assigned to a project with people I had never worked with before. We met around a conference table, made some introductions, and began assigning responsibilities. Nothing was out of the ordinary except I started noticing that nearly everyone’s role, no matter the person’s official title, included “strategy.” And it meant something different for each person.  By the end of the meeting, I had heard so many uses of “strategy” that I no longer understood its meaning.

I’ve since had time and space to recognize the thread that everyone’s “strategy” shared. It was the process of taking disparate information and condensing it into a goal. Within this definition, “strategy” adds depth and intelligence to a project, no matter its industry.  A strategic HR Professional uses “strategy”  to understand an existing team’s personalities and recruit employees with skills that will bring the team’s capabilities to the next level. A strategic mother understands the values she wants to instill in her child and plans a life around them to ensure it.

“Strategy,” according to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is “a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time.” It is a necessary preparation for success and thus tempting to overuse it. Unfortunately the word loses meaning when overextended, and its value diminishes.

A solution is to strive to define one’s “strategy.”  I challenge myself and others to take a break from the term. Next time I catch myself using the word, I’m going to define it and help others and myself understand the work I do.

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Casey Flanagan

The Final Word

It’s the last thing said. The ultimate decision. The period on the proverbial sentence.

The final word was once perceived to be of great value. It was not just a signal of power, but often the result of hard fought victory.

But in a world of increasing complexity and continuous improvement, that’s no longer the case. And while everything is changing, it’s all archived and searchable. So comments can be made and perspective can be added days, months, even years later. Nothing is really ever “done.” Ideas evolve. Contexts change. Conversations rekindle.

There is no final word. Finality is just a foundation for what’s next. A transition to the next stage, the next conversation, the next idea.

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Casey Flanagan

Fast, Cheap and Good

The old axiom used to be “fast, cheap or good – pick two.” But expectations change. And in this age of rapid prototyping, agile start-ups and minimal viable products, the “or” has turned – more and more – to an “and.”

Fast and cheap on their own are often – at best – a race to the middle. But fast AND a commitment to continuous improvement? That’s how new opportunities are discovered. Being cheap AND then seeing if further investment is warranted? That’s an investment in innovation.

The AND is incremental, iterative… and often overlooked. And the AND is what the Good is dependent on.

On not settling. On committing to better. On understanding that the definition of good today is not the same as good tomorrow. And so the deliverable is either good enough for now – and only now. Or good enough to continue to invest time and / or money in.

Bursts of fast and bursts of cheap can even lead past good, to great. As long as everyone is clear that “Fast, Cheap and Good” is not the destination, it’s the journey. And the most important word is AND.

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

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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.

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Casey Flanagan

Where To Start With What To Say

Our available attention is being stretched. And yet we all seem to have more to say. As a result, lines can be crossed. Meanings can be missed. And it’s not likely to get better any time soon.

Tom Peters has an important rule for communications at a time when success can seem harder than ever: If there is a miscommunication, it’s your fault.

Think about that for a moment. Please, because I don’t want any potential misunderstanding of it to be my fault.

How would this change what you say? How would it change how you say it? As a person? As a professional? As a brand?

One simple change that most communicators could stand to make immediately is where they start.

My favorite definition of communication is: It isn’t what you say. It’s what your audience hears. The illustration below isn’t complicated. But it is often forgotten. And it is a big cause of many miscommunications.

Where to start with what to say? Not with what should be said. But with what should be heard.

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

Where to Start Communicating

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Casey Flanagan

What To Learn From: Pixar

Pixar is a creative powerhouse. Its fourteen feature films have earned 27 Academy Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, and 11 Grammy Awards.

But for all of its innovation – and its related refusal to accept the status quo – Pixar has an important relationship with reality. Its approach depends on its ability to create a world that is recognizable, but different. Expectedly unexpected.

And two quotes from Pixar directors – taken together – paint a smart, productive approach that any company could learn from:

“I believe in research. You can’t do enough research, believability comes out of what’s real.”
– John Lasseter (Cars)

“We don’t want to reproduce reality; we want to make the unbelievable believable.”
– Brad Bird (Incredibles)

Most companies do research in order to understand. And that’s a good thing. Understanding allows marketers to make things relevant. But relevance has a dark side. Make something too relevant and it becomes expected. Or worse, invisible.

Pixar’s approach is successful, in part, because it doesn’t settle on reality. Understanding the world is a first step to diverging from it.

You have to know the rules in order to break them.

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

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Casey Flanagan

Q and A

A recent tweet from @COVRTER – “Having good answers is much easier than having good questions” – got me thinking.

We’re surrounded by data. Connected to an endless stream of resources. And swimming in a sea of answers. What does this mean for the relationship between As and Qs? And what’s the true value of each?

The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he’s one who asks the right questions.
Claude Levi-Strauss, the father of modern anthropology

My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.
Peter Drucker, business thinker, consultant and author

We suffer no shortage of quantity of answers. But the quality – at least the consistent quality – is in decline.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Better questions lead to better answers. As such, the importance of questions has never been greater.

So if the answer is eluding you, it may be worth stepping all the way back to the original question. Questions are not one-dimensional calls-for-response. Instead, they should both frame the situation and focus it appropriately.

Bottom line: If you happen to be in a situation where the answer isn’t apparent, maybe you just haven’t asked the right question yet.

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

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Casey Flanagan

The Longer Distance Between Point A and Point B

The Busy Trap” – an oft-shared op-ed piece from the New York Times – was making its way around Facebook again the other day. It’s a topic du jour in these increasingly cluttered times. Even the venerable Economist is touting the benefits of getting away from the grind with its recent piece, “In Praise Of Laziness.”

But it really isn’t about being lazy. From Archimedes and Isaac Newton to Bill Gates and Jack Welch, important ideas are borne from actively playing, consciously resting and purposefully wandering.

Said another way, we can’t be busy being busy. We must be busy being better. And that can mean being efficiently inefficient – trying new ideas, processes and paths. A recent trip to a children’s museum (see pics above), for instance, reminded me that the occasional trip to places like a children’s museum are valuable to the creative process.

Now, the value of getting away is not new news. But when was the last time you ventured away from the shortest distance between points A and B? Will Rogers was right about limbs. They are where the fruit is.

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

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Casey Flanagan

Benjamin Franklin, Project Manager

Charles Darwin, business consultant. Albert Einstein, account planner. Pablo Picasso, creative director. Benjamin Franklin… project manager.

ON MINDSET
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

ON SCHEDULES
“You may delay, but time will not.”

ON 99% BEING PERSPIRATION
“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

ON THE DELIVERABLE
“Well done is better than well said.”

ON THE END OF THE DAY
“Lost time is never found again.”

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

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