Liz Paradise talks about her first time - McKinney

Liz Paradise talks about her first time

November 8, 2013

As part of its Creative Women’s Leadership Series, The One Club recently hosted a panel conversation based on Phil Growick’s book “My First Time: Top World Creatives Talk about Their First Commercial (Ad or Site) and What They Learned from It.” Featured both on the panel, titled “My First Time—W,” and in the book were McKinney Group Creative Director Liz Paradise, GlobalHue Chief Creative Officer Vida Cornelius, JWT Executive Creative Director Sarah Barclay, and Ogilvy & Mather Executive Creative Director Susan Westre.

We asked Liz to talk about her first time — whether it be a commercial, ad or site — and her experience as a female leader in advertising.

So Liz, what was your first creative assignment?

I was a junior writer at The Martin Agency. My first assignment was not a spot, not a print ad. I got to name the new roller coaster at Kings Dominion.

As a female creative director, how have you managed in such a predominantly male part of the business?

By choosing very carefully where I’ve worked my entire career. I’ve worked at agencies that have just treated me like a creative and not a “female” creative. I also have never felt anything but supported and appreciated. My advice to young female creatives? If your workplace isn’t supporting you, find one that will.

No interview would be complete without the “B” question. Why are women leaders still sometimes called “bitches”?

Look, here’s the issue. The only people who care about being called that are women. Men don’t care if they’re called the equivalent. I think we need to STOP caring about what we’re called as long as we know we are leading with fairness and respect for other people. It’s about getting the best work, and you just can’t be a wallflower if you want to get there.

That seems to be what you care about the most.

I try to. I’ve been blessed to be at McKinney where for years it’s been about the work first…it’s been about big ideas regardless of where and who they come from.

Talk about your mentors in the business.

McKinney creative was led by an amazing copywriter, Jan Karon, and I learned so much from her. I also worked with Mike Hughes, Andy Ellis, Pat Burnham and David Baldwin, who all treated me like a creative director years before I would become one. It was always about moving forward. Now, I get to work with Jonathan Cude and every day I hope that I am setting a good example and motivating younger creatives (yeah, the guys, too).

McKinney has been recognized for years for having strong female creative leaders.

Yep, of the 10 creative directors, five of them are women. There is some great female mojo here. But I have to say, and I say this a lot, I never wanted to be a female creative. I just wanted to be the best creative I could be. The female CDs you see at McKinney are here because they are super talented. And when you have the numbers like we do here, it really encourages respect from men both agency and client side. It’s McKinney’s DNA.