As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Laurel Mintz.
Laurel Mintz J.D., M.B.A. is the CEO and Founder of award-winning, Los Angeles-based marketing agency Elevate My Brand. Laurel’s gift is connecting with people and their stories. After all, companies are made up of people, and stories are just narratives that are the foundation of great marketing.Laurel’s energy has been the driving force behind the agency’s growth since it launched in 2009. Her awards include: 2017 Patrick Soon-Shiong Innovation Award; 2016 Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Company; Los Angeles Business Journal 2016 Women In Business Award; and more.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Let’s just say — running my own marketing agency was never what I imagined myself doing. I was in my twenties and I had just earned my J.D. and M.B.A., and I was getting my start in the legal world with a myopic focus on partner track.
I fell into entrepreneurship when I had to run our family business right out of school. My father had become ill and I had to make sure that our family could survive. I was 26 and had a team of 60 and ran two 20,000-square-foot custom retail shops. It was definitely a trial by fire, but I learned about buying, merchandising, marketing, sales, advertising … you name it. I even baked cookies in store for big events.
When my dad recovered and I was able to step away, I was asked to consult for other retailers I had developed relationships with in the time I ran the showrooms. In 2007, I partnered up with a friend in San Francisco who ran a venture fund and we worked to put together projects for our clients and get them off the ground. It was really exciting.
A few years later, I was asked to be a founding member of the Los Angeles Consulting Group (LACG). That was a great partnership, but the firm was focused on financial services, so I exited and started Elevate My Brand. At that point, I realized what I was good at and, more importantly, what I wanted to do and for what kind of clientele. And I never looked back.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
A few years ago, we built a plush toy brand called Squish mallows that we are extremely proud of. When we first started executing social from them, we were using the hashtag #squish or #squishsquad. Thanks to the Jersey Shore show, we came to find out that this hashtag was definitely not family friendly at least at that time. Of course, our whole demographic was kids and families. We had to pivot pretty quickly and clean up the channels. The lesson we learned was that even if you think you have a totally unique product, that doesn’t mean the social avenues haven’t been explored by others who are not necessarily aligned with your brand. Luckily it was in the early days and didn’t damage the brand. That was a funny, somewhat inappropriate and definitely comical lesson.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I think that Simon Sinek has had the biggest impact on me. His concept of starting with the why is so critical not only for our business narrative, but for how we translate our client’s stories both on and offline.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
Our vision is to be the top diverse digital and experiential agency bringing new and emerging brands to life. Our purpose in doing so is to create more visibility and profitability for those brands so that they can do more good in the world, just like the for profit work we do allows us to do the non-profit work that we love.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
My number 1 principle is to be a good, kind human. If your intentions are to learn and grow and do what’s right, you can’t lose even in challenging interpersonal or business situations.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Yes, this has and continues to be the most impact global moment in all of our lives. For me, the biggest concern is my parents who are older and compromised. It has been crazy to me as I’m sure a lot of other readers have experienced with their elderly parents, but mine have not been taking it seriously enough. I had to treat them like children to make them understand the gravity of the situation. Finally they’ve given in and now allow us to run all of their errands and deliver food to them, but talk about role reversal!
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
We’ve suffered like so many others out there. We had to put our team on the work share program and limit their hours, but I’m committed to keeping my team intact. We have been doing a lot more group zoom cocktail hours and lunches to make sure we’re staying connected. I’ve also just sent gag gifts to all of their houses to keep the mood elevated. It’s hard out there, so I’m doing everything I can to keep spirits high. We’ve also been doing a TON of media takeovers, lives, etc on platforms like Female Founder Collective, Women Founders Network, Create & Cultivate and Planoly to share how brands can pivot to digital which is now the ONLY channel for them. We’ve been offering free consulting support to brands in need as our way to give back and I think the team has really been enjoying the fast pace of connecting with those businesses and each other.
We have also recently penned 2 articles that have been getting great traction around this topic so check them out. The first is The 5 Ways to Stay Profitable During a Global Pandemic and the second is called Covid Now What? Which is a more future looking positive outlook on what’s currently happening.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the corona virus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Martinis, martinis, martinis. But in all seriousness. I try to only watch the news for an hour each day because it is incredibly jarring. The other ways I’ve kept it together is maintaining a steady routine. I get up in the morning chug water, write in my gratitude journal, have coffee and workout or meditate. There’s something calming about consistency and patterns, especially ones that put your health and head first. All of the rest of it is noise. And, it’s also ok to lose it every now and then, hell, I cried yesterday which is ok and helped today be better. Be kind and graceful with yourself and others, that’s the best advice I can offer.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
I think there’s going to be a continued efficiency that will sustain past Covid. I thought as the extreme extrovert that I am that I would be climbing the walls to not be able to go out to cocktail parties and events, but I’m actually not. I feel more connected to a lot of my community than I was prior to Covid and I think that’s a sentiment felt by a lot of people. I hope we carry that quality over quantity mentality past this and realize that “busy” isn’t sexy or healthy.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
100% how can we not be affected long-term by this experience? As I said above, I hope that we maintain the grace and kindness for ourselves and others after this experience and don’t go back to things like road rage a tall order for LA. I think this is a global reset and if we don’t take things with us into the future, that the lessons won’t have been learned.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
Like many businesses, we are pivoting to offer our offline services in a digital capacity. I truly believe those are the businesses that will survive this experience and we hope to be one of them. Other than that, of course being of service to as many other companies trying to navigate the new digital landscape and of course networking my you know what off to make sure we are filling our pipeline to maintain our revenue and, as a result, our team.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
I would tell others to do exactly the same. Pivot your offering, put digital first and new networking to drive revenue.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
The best advice I have received and also that I give on a daily basis is that everyone and I mean everyone is faking it! I don’t care how successful someone projects themselves to be, everyone is working as hard as they can every day to survive and thrive, so don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do and don’t let anyone intimidate you.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Elevate My Brand Instagram — @elevatemybrandla
Laurel Mintz’s Instagram — @laurelmintz
Website — www.elevatemybrand.com
Facebook — @ElevateMyBrand