Discover more from Strands of Genius
Strands of Genius : Anita Schillhorn van Veen + 2023 Digital Asset Outlook Report
featuring: an interview with our guest editor and a research report
Welcome to the Bonus edition of Strands of Genius! On Fridays, we’ll be publishing interviews from our guest editors, and sharing a research report. Thanks for being along for the ride. Oh and by the way, you look great today :)
:: STEAL THIS THINKING | RESEARCH REPORT ::
:: DIVE IN | THE INTERVIEW ::
ANITA SCHILLHORN VAN VEEN, DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY MCKINNEY
>> Anita Schillhorn van Veen guest curated Strands on May 25th. Read it here.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what keeps you busy. How did you end up doing what you’re doing today?
I started my career in documentary film and have ended up in strategy. The through line has been finding the story, the narrative edge that spotlights something untold in culture, and landing how to bring that edge to life.
What keeps me busy today is running strategy in McKinney Los Angeles, learning about all things business in UCLA's executive MBA program, writing when I can, and catching some beach time near my house.
What excites you most about what you do?
Continual learning. The ability to read or see just about anything and connect it to the work I do. That exciting mind meld moment when you share a vision with another strategist or creative, or client.
What beliefs define your approach to work? How would you define your leadership style?
I love watching people grow, pushing work to be stronger and better, and partnering. No matter what level you are in your career, you're here because you have a unique perspective and way of thinking. And there's nothing better than discovering that uniqueness in others and creating space for it to shine.
What has been the most rewarding project you’ve worked on and why?
The most rewarding projects are the ones that introduce me to new ways of seeing the world.
I worked on Pantene global for a while. Our tagline was Strong is Beautiful and the focus was on defining the strength of women beyond traditional aspects of beauty; looking at this globally was so fascinating. The desire for women to feel strong was universal, but it manifested differently in the US, Asia, the Middle East - in some cases professional strength was important, and in others family relationships or education were the arenas of power where we could make the most difference.
We are big believers in diversity -- Not only because we believe in equality, but because we also think it’s better for business. The Black Lives Matter movement has shaped industry conversations around both global injustice, and also lack of representation in our industry. How do you frame these kinds of conversations, both internally and with clients? Is there an emphasis on action, or are the conversations really more about communication?
It's an imperative. My city, Los Angeles, is Hispanic dominant. Everywhere I go there are people of all backgrounds, and often their stories are hidden and forgotten. Being able to air those stories is one of the most important things we can do. And as advertisers, we have the opportunity to shine a light, normalize, and make people feel seen.
Switching gears a bit, how do you find time to balance personal interests with your career? Do you believe work/life balance is possible? Anything you’ve implemented that you recommend that others try?
Trying to attain daily work life balance is an impossible sport. Life ebbs and flows; to try to be at 100 at all times in all things is a recipe for burnout. Over time, I recognize sometimes I want to go hard on work, and sometimes I want to go hard on other parts of life. And sometimes life makes that decision for you.
I recognize that some routines help me stay grounded, and love the app Routinery as a way to remind me of even the basic routines of life. Also self-reflection is key; knowing when to pump the brakes on activity and just reflect is a continual learning process for me.
What’s your media diet? Where do you find inspiration?
My media diet is mostly driven by some wonderful communities that I'm in. The curation by smart people in Why Is This Interesting, Ladies Who Strategize, and Sunday Dinner, as well as in my work and UCLA community, are the most useful resources I have to keep me thinking.
I also love Libby, the library app, and often use it to discover new books, especially audio books. I enjoy books on nature as they make me think differently about the world around me.
What’s the best piece of advice/knowledge you’ve stolen, and who/where’d you steal it from?
Work smarter not harder. My coding professor in college focused on this mantra as we learned how to code and build in shortcuts so we could become faster and more efficient. It also means stepping back, taking stock, and seeing what lessons you can apply to make life just a little easier.
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Co-Founders Faris & Rosie are award-winning strategists and creative directors, writers, consultants and public speakers who have been living on the road/runway since March 2013, working with companies all over the world. Our Director of Operations is nomadic like us, our accounting team is based in Tennessee where our company is registered, our admin extraordinaire is based in Playa del Carmen, and our collaborators are all over the world. Being nomadic allows us to go wherever clients need us to be, and to be inspired by the world in between.
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