A FIRM HANDSHAKE
It is funny how a series of events unfold and you find yourself in a place that makes sense. You also know you would have never known that this was the place that made sense without the journey that got you there.
My sophomore year of college I called my parents to tell them I wanted to double major in Business and Art. Being a practical man, my dad said, “Mary Ann, we all wish we could grow-up and do arts and crafts for a living. What are you going to do with that?” The truth is I was 19. I had no idea.
The “real world” has taught me what I didn’t fully understand then: business and creativity do indeed co-exist and my “sweet spot” is bridging the two worlds — helping others generate ideas and connect the dots to, in turn, build thoughtful strategies, stories, and experiences.
I've spent the last eight years at Red Hat where I not only fell in love with the design process but I really started to understand its business value. While I had several jobs during my time at Red Hat, the last three years I had the opportunity to build a new function: Creative Strategy. In this consulting-like role I was responsible for connecting the design process and creative thinking to business priorities and messaging objectives.
Today, I am on a new mission — helping brands, big and small, advance their purpose and bridge the gap between strategy and design.
In this digital world we are tempted to constantly spew noise. It is so easy and feels necessary as we no longer have the world's undivided attention. But I believe if you build a brand centered around the people who value what you do, then you view activities like branding, design, innovation, and marketing as opportunities to converse and exchange ideas — not as a series of one way activities that requires you to trick people to click on your beautiful thing and then force them to consume predetermined content you think they need. Our "malarkey meters" are too evolved for that approach. Be authentic. Be human. Create valuable "things." And your brand will become a vibrant community that people naturally opt into.