10 questions with... Kat Gordon, 3% Movement founder

Kat Gordon

The media and marketing sector is ultimately about people. In this weekly series, The Drum speaks to professionals across the sector who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what little insights they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are posed to 3% Movement founder Kat Gordon.

What was your first ever job?

Pulling weeds in my front yard as a kid. My dad offered to pay me a penny a weed and didn’t count on my industriousness, nor the yard’s state of disrepair. He had to pay up big.

Why did you get into advertising?

I absolutely loved the idea that you can use words – just words and images – to change people’s minds about something. Persuasiveness with a little humor thrown in. I found it exhilarating that you could make a living doing that. I still do.

What’s the most surprising thing you have learned about the creative sector since working within it?

How narrow most people are in their definition of creativity. We deem people creatives who make artsy things and discount everyone else. But if you pay close attention, creativity is at work in almost everything around us. I marvel at the self-expression in my neighbors’ gardens, in graffiti, in the way a pastry chef plates a dessert. We are all, at our center, creative beings. Just some of us are given a larger stage on which to showcase our gifts.

What is your favorite piece of creative work ever from the industry?

The Nike “I Feel Pretty” commercial starring Maria Sharapova. Maybe it’s because I’m a tennis player and a New Yorker by birth. I love every single detail about that spot and still get a jolt of delight when I watch it, dozens of years later.

What have you learned from any mistakes you’ve made in your career?

That mistakes are proof that I tried and bring me one step closer to success. There is no success without failure. Ever. So I learned what not to do the next time. In fact, I’m so convinced that mistakes are evidence of growth that if I go too long without a failure, I take it as a sign I’m playing it too safe. We had a session at last year’s 3% Conference called “My Failure Resume” where some senior leaders recounted their biggest fuck-ups. With pride.

Best book you have ever read?

I am a voracious reader so this is the toughest question you asked. In fact, when I hear about people who have just learned they have a terminal illness, I literally wonder what books they will read with whatever time they have left. That’s how important books are to me.

For sheer beauty of the writing and memorability of the story, I would have to say Wallace Stegner’s “Crossing to Safety.”

What is your “happy place?”

Playing tennis on winter mornings. Having grown up in New York where this was impossible, I still get a little lift every time I hit the courts here in California in January or February. I feel like I’m playing hooky from school.

Who is your favorite person to work with and why?

Lisen Stromberg. We have a partner desk at 3%’s offices in Palo Alto and we have so much fun, even as we’re tackling a long to-do list and suffering through back-to-back conference calls. She believes in good snacks which is both a blessing and a curse. She once left Trader Joe’s salted caramel chocolate balls in the office and I ate the entire bag. Sometimes she brings her dog, Sophie, to the office and that’s a mascot-bonus day.

If you could ban one buzzword or piece of jargon what would it be?

“Women’s accounts.” Agencies often use this term and assign “girl teams” to work on them. Yet consumer buying stats bear out that women are the superset in virtually every single category. Even cars. Even electronics.

What's the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

“You will never own the future if you care what other people think.” This truth bomb comes from Cindy Gallop and I think about it daily – even hourly. I’m a reformed people-pleaser, so these words are like a biblical verse for me.

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