This weeks Q & A is with Kat Gordon, Founder of The 3% Conference, a platform to spotlight the he lack of female creative leadership in advertising. In September 2014 the 3% Conference released research that shows female CDs now comprise 11% of the field. That’s more than a three-fold increase from the 3% figure that inspired the first conference! This year’s 3% Conference will take place in San Francisco on November 3 & 4th.
1. What was a pivotal moment of reinvention for you?
When I launched my own agency in 2008 it was a loud signal to the world that I was more than “just a Creative Director.” I had a deep knowledge about an important consumer segment (women/moms) plus I had the ability to lead teams on large projects.
2. Who has been a valuable mentor or sponsor?
Cindy Gallop has been a supporter of my idea for The 3% Conference since its very first announcement. Her belief in me and the importance of the business issue I was tackling were both powerful booster shots for my confidence.
3. What is your biggest goal right now?
To put myself out of a job. With the traction The 3% movement is having, I believe we will reach a gender-equal creative workforce within the next 10 years.
4. How did you get your first job? How did you jump to your second job?
I had been a temp in New York City every summer during college, working everywhere from Avon to a Japanese bank on Wall Street to USA TODAY. I was able to get an entry-level job at USA TODAY and started within a month of my graduation from college. My second job was a big win because it represented a new type of role, different from the one I was doing at USA TODAY. I landed that job (at Cosmopolitan magazine) by building a creative portfolio through night classes at School of Visual Arts. Cosmopolitan liked my work and hired me to handle all copywriting responsibilities there during their heavily publicized 25th anniversary year. It was an amazing opportunity, working alongside Helen Gurley Brown.
5. What time do you typically wake up? What do you do every morning?
I wake at 7 am almost every day. 3 mornings a week I head out to exercise, either at outdoor Boot Camp at Stanford University or to play singles tennis. I used to make breakfast and lunch for my kids but now they’re old enough to do it for themselves.
6. How did you feel on your 30th birthday? What were you doing at that time?
I was a newlywed and working at Andersen Lembke, an ad agency in San Francisco. That was my favorite job of all time, so life was uncomplicated and very sweet.
7. How do you unplug? How often do you unplug?
I am an avid reader and still love the feeling of a real book in my hands. So I rarely check devices in the evening and almost never turn the TV on anymore (my name must be mud in the ad world at this point).
8. What’s the best networking contact you’ve made? How did you make it?
Too many to pick just one. The very best networking contacts are made in person. We live in a world of so much lightweight communication (Facebook friends, LinkedIn contacts) yet nothing will ever take the place of in-person conversation. The best networking contacts are made by showing up at conferences, Meetups, and other events that interest you and talking to others there. Also, never underestimate the value of a real piece of fan mail — whether to an author, celebrity or business leader — where you express your sincere and specific thanks for their contributions.
9. What challenge / achievement are you most proud of?
I just celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary and that means more to me than any of the creative awards I’ve won. Having a solid partnership is the most important fuel of my life and, truthfully, the hardest to maintain. It’s so much work, but so worth it.
10. What was the last business book you read?
“Darling, You Can’t Do Both” by Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk. They’re the creative duo behind the original Dove Real Beauty work and this new book is a list of business rules that women need to break.
11. What cause do you most want to advance?
Early childhood literacy. Nothing gives a child a head start in life like being read to from an early age and many households are not realizing that. I wrote an ad campaign about this — urging parents to read to their toddlers. I still love the headline I wrote: “Learning to read comes later. Loving to read starts now.”
12. What song can’t you get out of your head?
Peter Gabriel’s “Shaking the Tree.” The best feminist song ever.
13. What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
“If you are making everyone around you happy, then you are most definitely not doing great work.” This tidbit came to me via Michael Bungay Stanier and I have it posted in my office. It reminds me that winning a popularity contest in life will mean sacrificing reaching my potential.
14. What is your keep me going quote?
I posted a quote to the 3% Conference page this year that got 87 shares. Not 87 likes, but 87 shares. It read: “The woman who does not require validation from anyone is the most feared individual on the planet.” The more that women tune into their own validation, the more they can change the world.
15. What is your secret indulgence?
Baths. I take one every single day. This is a true confession because California is in a drought right now and I have to watch consumption elsewhere to continue this indulgence.
16) Who on the list of 2013 Honorees would you like to meet?
Kathleen Warner of Startup America. I live in Silicon Valley and see first-hand how entrepreneurial spirit can — and does — solve many of the world’s ills. And I’m excited by how many women are starting small businesses today.