'Make room for creativity': Beyond the Brief featuring Alix Montes, Wunderman

Wunderman senior account executive Alix Montes

Working on the account side is a major balancing act, but Wunderman senior account executive Alix Montes keeps an endless sense of chill from years of yoga and swimming.

Before joining their DC office to work on Pfizer, Montes worked at Ketchum’s DC office and Virginia-based LMO Advertising on the Air National Guard. The George Washington University grad credits his acumen for handling multimillion-dollar accounts to his high school years selling snacks, stints with his college NSAC (National Student Advertising Competition) and years studying Forbes and Black Enterprise magazines. This entrepreneurial mindset keeps Montes ahead of his peers, always thinking about more holistic business objectives, not just the client’s bottom line.

It’s outside of the office that shows exemplary talent . For over three years, he’s taken up instructing yoga to help others live their power. The AAF added him to their Mosaic-Next Generation Leadership Council, allowing him to mentor high school and collegiate students. Along with his own blog, where he discusses the future of business and culture, Montes has also been featured on Black Enterprise as part of their BE Modern Man series, and on the Levo League blog.

A young, restless high achiever who goes out of his way to make sure everyone around him is a little more balanced and prosperous, Montes is positioning himself for added greatness by living beyond the brief.

If you started an agency from scratch today, what would it look like?

If I started an agency from scratch, the staff would be diverse in every way possible—ethnicity, perspective, skillset, etc. We would make a conscious effort to hire a diverse staff. Next, at least 1% of our time and profits would be spent advancing causes we believe in. Hierarchy would exist, but titles wouldn’t dictate magnitude of our people’s contributions. We would employ a test and learn approach to our work. Finally, we would experiment with business models that are not reliant on billable hours.

Who or what influenced you to get into advertising?

When I was in high school, I sold candy to make money because I didn't have time for a part-time job. Through this, I discovered my knack for business. After a recommendation from a friend’s dad, I started reading books about business and reading business publications like Forbes and Black Enterprise. In learning about the different aspects of business, I felt as though marketing was the best fit for my skillset. Agencies provide some of the best opportunities for young marketers to learn and gain experience.

What keeps you sane in this industry? What keeps you driven to do great work?

Learning: the rate of change and innovation is faster than it’s ever been. Being ready to learn and learn quickly enables me to be as agile as the times we live in. Making time to think about the bigger picture amidst daily client deliverables. Finally, a life outside of advertising. The day-to-day speed of the ad business makes it easy to forget that it's a creative industry. We have to remember to make room for creativity in and out of the office.

What non-advertising things do you draw inspiration from?

History: I’ve always loved history. The people who came before us left us amazing stories and I think we have so much to learn from them. History is full of creative and innovative people who’ve achieved greatness through constraint.

Startups: Stories of successful companies who defied the odds and dared to be different inspire me, especially when those companies choose to use their platform to fearlessly stand up for their values.

Music: I love music. It’s a language that everyone understands. Every culture has its form of music. People naturally connect with music.

When you take a break from work (i.e. - vacation), what do you like to do most? Why?

Outside of work, I practice and teach yoga. It's a great way to stay active, connect with people, and escape from the daily hustle. Teaching yoga is also another outlet for my creativity. I was a competitive swimmer, so the pool is a safe space I can go to when I need to clear my head. I also love to travel. I enjoy learning about different cultures and seeing the world. I like to read and I like to write. I don’t want to be a professional writer, but writing over the past few years has helped me find and defend my opinions and positions on many topics.

What life advice do you give others?

Whatever you think you're missing to accomplish your goals is already within you. You just have to find it. We discover those things by challenging ourselves and stepping out of the confines of our comfort zones.

To celebrate its 100th Anniversary, the 4A’s has partnered with us at The Drum to pull back the curtain and look at an industry full of problem solvers, creative types and analytical minds. But what keeps them going once the briefs are written, the campaigns executed, and the pitches won (or lost)? We’re interviewing 100 people at 4A’s member agencies — across all disciplines, levels, regions, and agency types — to get a glimpse into what drives them at work and what fuels them in life.

To pitch someone from a 4A's member agency for Beyond the Brief, please complete this linked form.

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Bennett Bennett

Bennett D. Bennett is a staff writer at The Drum covering agencies, the media landscape, creativity and innovation. An NYC native, MAIP alum and City College of New York grad, Bennett previously was an award-winning copywriter at BBDO New York and lends his unique perspective and voice to The Drum's editorial staff. Previously a member of the Adcolor Advisory Board, he currently sits on the AAF's Mosaic Next-Generation Leadership Council and the 4As Steering Committee.

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