#Untapped Recapped: Four Lessons From AdFed’s 2019 Women’s Leadership Panel

Untapped 2019 

Section by: Megan Upperman

I recently had the privilege of attending AdFed’s Women’s Leadership Panel with a mixed-gender group of Augurs. For lack of better phrasing: it was awesome! My expectations for events like this are often relatively low. I consider myself a bit of a radical (thank you, Roxanne Gay) compared to some others in the marketing/advertising space. I’ve been let down by events like this before, but I realized while attending this event that the community changes with the times. I am now in good company both at Augurian and the greater marketing/advertising community. 

In an era of corporate-sponsored events that think of diversity as a box to check, AdFed’s Women’s Leadership Panel managed to successfully center the perspectives of a diverse group of women. They kicked off the event with a panel-style discussion moderated by Julie Hagemann, Partner at ICF Next. There were no moments wasted in this rapid-fire round up of leadership wisdom. 

The theme of the evening, Untapped, explored “empowerment through authentic leadership” and focused on tapping the potential of individuals to create a more inclusive advertising community here in the Twin Cities. As I collected everyone’s favorite insights from the night to write this, we discovered we had quotes from nearly every speaker that would have made the event worthwhile all on their own. The speaker list was as diverse as the advice we were given, so the best way for us to recap it, we think, is to have some of our untapped Augurs give their own perspective on the lessons of the night.

Untapped Vision 

Section by: Jasmine Hippe

The decisions we make define our path to success, and the vision each woman has for her life guides the decisions she makes. Erinn Farrell summed this idea up beautifully when she said: “It’s not about what you want to be, but how you want to be it.” While your goals define the What of your life, your vision defines your How and Why.

I’ve learned that in order to truly make an impact on this world, having a vision is key. When you’re focused on your vision, it’s easy to evaluate whether a task, person or job is worth your time by simply asking yourself – does this align with the vision I have for my life? Sarah Joseph brought the importance of this point to light when she declared “the #1 indicator of success for women is their ability to be strategic with time.” When you decide to stick to your vision, your main operation is to “accept your priorities and communicate them clearly,” as Sarah put it.

My vision for my life has given me the courage I needed to forge my own unique path. I did unconventional things like opt-out of my senior year of high school in favor of starting college early, pursue a study in the still-developing field of sustainability and travel the world for months volunteering on organic farms. What’s kept me grounded through it all is the vision I have for my life to be one of impact, of intentionality, and that’s true to myself. 

As Erinn Farrell said, “Just because you can be successful at something, doesn’t mean you have to do it.” Don’t be afraid to be unconventional and make a bold move. That’s how people make herstory. 

There have been and will be times when I face setbacks, feel lost and question my vision. In those moments, I’ll take a deep breath, remember how far I’ve already come, and remember what Erinn said – “At this point in my life, it’s ok to know that I’m wholly unfinished.”

Untapped Potential

Section by: Maddy Goesner

“Being uncomfortable is half of what makes you grow.” – Sarah Joseph (Global Lead of Media Operations Excellence, FRWD@Bain & Company)

Moving to a new city, going away to college, starting a new job – these are experiences many of us have done that have made us realize that there’s no growth in the comfort zone. Thinking back to my senior year of college, when you’re supposed to have your path in life decided, I felt more lost than ever. I thought I wouldn’t be able to enter the digital marketing scene with a lack of connections to the industry. However, the possibility of being a jobless post-grad was easily my biggest motivator. As Kara Buckner said, “I’ve done the most when I’ve been feeling the worst,” and I completely agree. I kept applying and finally found a company to take a chance on me, and I’m so grateful they did. 

Of course, that feeling of dread crept back into my life as I started a new job with very minimal experience and industry knowledge. Do I belong here? How long will it take before I actually understand what I’m doing? Initially, I felt hesitant to share my opinions but eventually realized that I needed to take action in order to grow my skill set. I have new, uncomfortable experiences daily, but my self-confidence grows with each one. Another quote from Kara Buckner – “Don’t let your own self-doubt be the reason you say no. Say YES!”

If you’re feeling like you’re stuck in your current job, or if you have a passion that you want to pursue, dive into the uncomfortability. “Do the thing that gives you fear,” as Heather Olson said. It might be rough for a little while, but you’ll get there. There is more strength inside you than you know. 

“When you’re pressed against the wall you kick the hardest.” – Puja Shah (Creative Director, Colle McVoy)

Untapped Network

Section by: Madi Landsburg

When we attended the Women’s Leadership Panel, one topic that resonated with me was the idea of an “untapped network.” In the age of “add me on LinkedIn” and the rising popularity of networking platforms, I was curious about what the panelists take would be on the topic. 

Sarah Joseph the Global Lead of Media Operations Excellence at FRWD@Bain & Company said something that really stood out to me. “Use mentors to extend your capability, not just support it.” My career path has definitely taken its turns throughout the years and it wasn’t until I tapped into my network and reached out to my mentor that I now have the position I’ve been wanting since graduating college. 

I started my career in Finance at a retail marketing agency, which is just as exciting as it sounds. It wasn’t until later that I realized that not everyone is willing – or wants to – see your potential. Your ideas and aspirations may not be welcomed. I put in my time and executed my responsibilities, but I was always on the lookout for another opportunity. 

I reached out to my mentor who was working at an up and coming digital marketing agency and just flat out asked for help. I asked him a bunch of questions and he gave me some great advice. Later on, I stumbled upon a job opening at Augurian that sparked my interest. Not knowing that this is where my mentor worked (I really should have known that) I checked out their website – and there was my mentor’s face right on the landing page. 

What Sarah said made me think of that exact moment. You can use your mentors and network to support you. Go for coffee. Ask for some advice. It’s not until you tap into their resources that you fully receive the benefits of having those connections. My mentor supported me in the interview process and now here I am at Augurian, working with amazing people that attend events like this. 

Untapped Leadership

Section by: Austin Voigt

One of my favorite quotes of the night came from FRWD@Bain’s Sarah Joseph when she so wisely stated: “Leadership is competence, empowerment, and guidance. Trust others to drive culture, understand when to participate and when to let go.”

In a previous life, I graduated from the Leadership Minor at the University of Minnesota, and can easily say I gleaned much more in terms of applicable life skills from that program than any of the classes I took in my actual major (journalism/strategic communications). This is largely because leadership is a fluid and timeless skill that applies to virtually every facet of life.

What Sarah had to say at the most recent WLP largely mirrored all of the things I’d learned through the Leadership Minor – most notably, the idea that successful leaders don’t force others to follow them; they actually cultivate leadership in those they lead, and enable them to be leaders themselves.

Sarah also spoke about the importance of speaking up when change is needed – and, conversely, listening when others speak up. 

All of these things require a great deal of courage, as they necessitate vulnerability and humility – but I truly believe you cannot convince others to trust you as a leader unless you are willing to trust them yourself and demonstrate that transparent vulnerability. 

As a woman in our industry (and I’m sure ours isn’t unique), I’ve often found that this sort of advice for successful leadership, management, mentoring and the like is largely given by – and for – men. Unfortunately, we as professional women have still not fully escaped that thin tightrope we find ourselves walking between being “too strong” or “too weak”. Therefore, it can often be intimidating to follow this advice we’ve been given, worrying that it may not work as well for us as it has for others.

It was wonderfully refreshing to hear an experienced female leader in my field speaking to and confirming the real-world efficacy of these leadership lessons I’d learned many years ago in the classroom, and it has given me a renewed motivation to continue pursuing this leadership style in my own career – fearlessly.

Untapped Recapped

Section by: Cassie Burke

As the evening drew to a close, breakout sessions ended and we all eventually came back together for the keynote speaker, Tygra Slarii. A performer, activist, and queen of the Minneapolis scene, Tygra recounted her experience coming out as a transgender woman of color. “You may think you know someone. But you don’t. Not until they tell you who they really are,” she warned us. As Kara Buckner said, “hard moments produce good things.”

Tygra’s message for the night was one of inclusivity – an honest reminder that “we can learn from each other the more we open up,” and that we must step forward to support each other without hesitation. 

As we take these lessons and tap into our networks, discover our vision, connect with stronger leadership we know is possible, we can begin to realize a greater potential. Tygra encouraged us to sit at the table not because we are women — but because we have something to contribute.

The speakers at the 2019 Women’s Leadership Panel, on all six floors of the Women’s Club of Minneapolis, empowered their audiences to challenge leadership and never settle – not even for equal. 

Debatably the winning quotation of the night, which garnered a round of applause and made quite a splash on social media, was spoken by Giselle Ugarte, Director of Marketing at Media Bridge Advertising:

“Don’t settle for equal if you know that you are worth more.” 

In addition to the six Augur women featured in this post, three of the founding Augurs who are men also joined us at the panel. They were equally inspired by the women that spoke that night. Follow Augurian on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram, or subscribe on YouTube to hear about their experience.