Kat Gordon, The 3% Conference & Advertising Creative Director
One of our mentors whilst creating Make Nice is Kat Gordon. This incredible woman is the creator of The 3% Conference and runs her own female-led and focused creative agency. She is EVERYTHING and we couldn't be more honoured to share her wisdom on our blog.
What do you do?
I make advertising suck less by running The 3% Conference. Our mission is to increase diversity in advertising, which (invariably) increases creativity.
Do you have a maxim that you live and work by?
I live by many maxims. Some of my favourites:
- "If you are making everyone around you happy, then you are definitely not doing GREAT work."
- "Don't chase people. Work hard and be you. The right people who belong in your life will come find you and stay."
- "Be curious. Not judgmental."
What are the three milestones that have led you to where you stand?
1). Having my first boss, at age 22, pay to send me to a Dale Carnegie Public Speaking Class. I was painfully shy and afraid of public speaking but I had BIG IDEAS to share. This one class got me over a sizeable hurdle and I now love speaking in front of big audiences and encourage all women to get more comfortable presenting their ideas out loud.
2). Following my husband (then, boyfriend) to California from my native New York. It forced my hand in many ways. I had to reinvent my copywriting career from a promotional copywriter (I was working in the magazine business) to an advertising copywriter (I went back to night classes to reinvigorate my portfolio). It also dropped me right into the centre of Silicon Valley at a time when creative minds were in need for countless start-ups. Marinating in this environment, and witnessing many lukewarm ideas be bankrolled because they came from the minds of over-confident men, gave me the courage to see the huge opportunity of building The 3% Movement.
3). Lastly, (although it happened firstly) is losing my mother when I was four years old. I wrote about this on Lean In: how knowing your mortality isn't guaranteed, is a powerful motivator.
What is your dream project?
Finding a way to ensure that every child in the world is read to – out loud – from the point of infancy to when he/she can read his/herself. There is a direct correlation for listening to language early and your brain development. Not enough parents and caretakers know that a child who might not "seem" old enough for story-hour is benefiting more than they know.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
So many. Just launching the 3% Certification program which is auditing ad agencies around gender friendliness. Also assembling a 3% video series for educators (with discussion guides) to get our content into universities. I also have a children's book I wrote (many years ago) that I'm just resurrecting with an aim towards publication.
What is one facet of your field that you want to see change?
Wage gap is the big item on the table now. How can we claim to value women and their contributions if we don't pay them equally?
If you could choose to hear any female contemporary present at Make Nice, who would it be and why?
Cindy Gallop. Because she has the most galvanising force-field of any woman I've ever met. And she's fun to drink with after the event!
What is the best advice you’ve been given, or wish you had been told sooner?
Really and truly: EVERYTHING IS MADE UP. Every single thing that we accept as gospel as the way the world works and how we need to behave was someone else's interpretation or belief. Reassess everything. If something feels restrictive or wrong or one-dimensional, question it. Rethink it. The world is desperate for people to aid in its ongoing creation.
Do you have a supportive female network in your field? Was it always this way?
I do. But I used to be kind of an island, doing things on my own. Launching 3% was so tiring and taxing that I had to ask for help and so many amazing women stepped forward to assist. Now I realise that only by leaning on others can I deliver all I have to offer.
What are you listening to, reading, watching of late, that is inspiring or entertaining you?
Book: Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant. Listening to: Dear Sugar Podcast (listening to other people's problems being discussed gets you out of your own head and shows how solvable even the most vexing problems are in the hands of compassionate, thoughtful thinkers: Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond).