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Guest Blog: The Element of Strength

11 Apr 2012 9:30 AM | Lisa Hickey

Editors Note: Lisa Hickey is publisher of The Good Men Project and CEO of Good Men Media, Inc. Find her on Twitter@lisahickey.

When I was growing up, I was fascinated by the commercials that seemed to spring up all over the place for Wonder Bread. “Helps build strong bodies 12 ways!” My sisters and I would sit at the kitchen table and ask my mom, “Please can’t you buy us some Wonder Bread, mom? All our friend’s mom’s buy it for them!”

The key element in Wonder Bread – calcium -- would build strong bones and create hordes of strong Wonder-bread chomping men and women. We knew this must be magic. We too, wanted to be strong.

My mom didn’t cave, she was forever suspect that Wonder Bread wasn’t what it claimed to be. So I never ate much Wonder Bread, but I did go into advertising. There must have been some part of me, even back then, that said, “I can do better than that!” when it comes making TV commercials. Wonder Bread made me stronger, but not nearly in the way they anticipated. It helped me create a clarity of vision, a desire to advertise products I believed in passionately, to creatively find the truth in the story of the product. And then – only then – to be true to my personal mission statement -- “I like to create things that capture the imagination of the general public and become a part of the popular culture for years to come.”

Just like Wonder Bread.

And now, the female who continually shows me how to lead with strength is my own daughter, Caitlin. Her strength is a light of its own, a light that’s a thousand times stronger than my own. The road to where she is now was more difficult a road than anything I would wish for anyone, never mind my own daughter. And yet here she is, calling me from MIT where she goes to grad school. A group of MIT engineers and her are forming a start-up, a shirt company. At the awesomely-named Ministry of Supply, Caitlin is a founder, and as the wearer of many hats she must also head up marketing. She calls me from campus, breathless with excitement, asking can I help her with the business? Can I help her with copywriting?” “Of course,” I reply. “What are mothers for? 

And so, we sit at her kitchen table, teaching each other all we know, as mother and daughter, as fellow business owners, as advertisers and marketers, as would-be comrades plotting an entrepreneurial revolution, sharing our own unique strengths with each other.

Editors Note: This year, The Ad Club is putting together a Periodic Table of Leadership for our Women's Leadership Forum, themed "The Element of Leadership." We want to know, in your opinion, the key "Element of Leadership" is ___? Comment with your word (and your initials or Twitter handle so we can credit you) or tweet it with #AdClubWLF!

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