With 2017 coming to a close, I took a few moments to reflect on not only this year, but on the past 15 years, since the beginning of leaving my agency job to take a risk and go work for myself. Truly, I didn’t set out to start an agency; I just wanted to give it a try being my own boss.
What prompted this decision to go out on my own? It was the start of 2002, four months following the tragic events of 9/11. My once jet-setting job that took me from Pittsburgh to New York to Chicago and to other cities across the nation had me grounded. Flying was a real challenge and the country was in a state of uncertainty about many things, including the economy. Spending money on big PR campaigns didn’t seem likely to be part of the near future. It was time to take a leap. And indeed, I did!
Starting as Lowers Communications, a nod to my maiden name (and my parents, really) it was just myself until 2009. I had a wide array of work thrown to me by former colleagues with referrals to new clients that were too small for their agencies. This work allowed me to continue to grow professionally and establish my own reputation, not one attached to a big agency.
Spreading my wings even further led me to the classroom. While teaching as an adjunct professor in the School of Communications at Point Park University, I met an amazing student, Annie Lewis. Drawn to her personality and talent, she was my first hire.
Mindful Kreative has grown steadily from the dreams of a one-person traditional advertising agency to a full-service marketing communications agency with a dedicated team of real pros who share my passion for creating experiences that reshape the connection between brands and their customers.
All these years later, I am still excited to work every day and strive to make MK better and better. I really want our team of “fierce females” to feel responsible for something bigger than themselves and for them to enjoy that responsibility. I want them to like what they are doing and to recognize that they are contributing to a greater good.
It’s exciting for a company like Mindful Kreative to reach this significant anniversary. Because we’ve managed millions in marketing budgets, it’s enabled us to grow strategically and technically, constantly being creative and thinking outside the box with our approach. This, above all else, has served as a key differentiator and competitive advantage for us.
Leadership Lessons I’ve Learned
Leading a company isn’t necessarily a one-person job. Our team is full of leaders who take our clients to new heights. When asked what is the best leadership advice I’ve received, the “Big Six” come to mind:
- Face reality as it is, not as it was or you wish it were.
- Be candid with everyone.
- Don’t manage, lead.
- Change before you have to.
- If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.
- Control your own destiny, or someone else will.
But at a vision level – it probably centers on servant leadership and creating something that gives more than it receives. If you can do both, success will usually follow.
This year marks the 15th year anniversary of my company, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about how far this company has come and the exciting future that lies ahead.
– Melinda Kaiser, President and Founder of Mindful Kreative