‘It can come from here’: Exceptional Women of the World featuring Karen King, CEO, Spawn Ideas


By Doug Zanger | Americas Editor

April 21, 2017 | 3 min read

If you think that, tucked away in Alaska, there isn’t much in the way of creativity or outstanding work, Karen King, president and CEO of Spawn Ideas will certainly prove you wrong many times over.

The full-service, independent shop, with offices in Denver and Seattle, embraces its Alaska — and it is an enticing environment steeped in the abundance of the state, especially the outdoors. In fact, the agency has been named one of Outside magazine’s best places to work for five years running.

But what happens at the agency indoors (and, in fairness, outdoors as well) is testament to King’s leadership. A native Minnesotan, King is a mindful leader who embodies a form of leadership that is profound and caring — filled with passion and drive, much like the agency’s staff and the place they all call home — yet leavened with accountability, industry and hard work.

King’s intellect and curiosity are perfect foils, bouncing off each other to form a world and work view that puts curiosity, generosity and cultural understanding at the fore. Make no mistake, though, King and, by extension, the agency think as big as Alaska — and their evolved approach and desire allows them to, as King puts it, constantly “punch above our weight.”

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Though Alaska courses through her veins, Minnesota still peeks its way out at just the right times. To wit, the element of surprise and humility in winning an Athena Leadership Award, an important leadership award for women, makes way for gratitude. Additionally, the notion of “Minnesota Nice” is never too far afield and still part of who she is, but firmly founded in her biggest love, Alaska.

Though it could be easy to have a chip on one's shoulder, being in the country’s most northernmost frontier, King chooses another path — one that attacks the constant of change, keeps her always game to lead with courage and further shows, that when it comes to great work, “it can come from here.”

Exceptional Women of the World is a podcast that highlights and celebrates the great achievements, lives and POV of amazing women throughout the world of advertising, marketing, digital, tech and creativity. Started as Exceptional Women Out West, you can listen to previous episodes here. If you would like to nominate exceptional women to be part of the show, please complete this form: http://bit.ly/EWOWPitch.


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