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Janine MacLachlan

Janine MacLachlan

Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.

I am focused on creativity and innovation, and I was gratified to see that LinkedIn lists creativity as the #1 skill for jobs of the future. Earlier in my career I became intrigued with the creative process and how ideas drive innovation, and I set out to learn how to create stronger, actionable ideas and how we get in our own way. I served as a creativity coach for a number of agencies, and am a volunteer coach for 1871, Chicago’s incubator for digital start-ups. My goal is to help individuals and teams cultivate the strategic agility that’s needed in today’s rapidly-changing world, and to foster that future-state vision that will help them achieve their goals.

Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?

One of my favorite Ellevate memories is also my first. I was looking to refresh my volunteer commitments and was attracted to the idea of advocating for women. As a career-long marketing and communications professional, I was also interested in connecting with people outside the marketing realm. At my first Ellevate event, I met women of different professions and career stages, all dynamic and engaging. The fact that it was hosted at a champagne bar on a snowy evening was a complete bonus. I felt that I had met my people and joined that week.

How would you define your professional mission?

My professional mission is to help people shape solutions to the professional challenges they face. This may be identifying smarter ways to deliver results, experimenting with how to strengthen work relationships and testing how to get ideas heard and appreciated.

What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?

My most memorable career accomplishment came together as a result of a savvy client, talented team and memorable campaign. That golden triangle is rare. The initiative was not easy, which made victory all the sweeter. The concept my team development formed the core of the brand’s marketing mix for a full decade. The client was Quaker oatmeal, and if you know that oatmeal lowers blood cholesterol, which contributes to heart health, that’s because of 20 years of scientific research and the good work of my team.

Who are your role models?

Julia Child is a role model, but not because she brought Americans into the kitchen and I was privileged to work with her on her PBS baking series. She had a tenacity in the sense of working and reworking until something, well, worked. This was the approach she brought to recipes, to getting her work published, to getting her show produced. I had the privilege of working with her on a project and she also brought such joy. She embraced life and work with exuberant flair.

What is your morning ritual?

I arrived at my morning ritual through a lot of experimentation. When the alarm rings I fire up the espresso machine and make a double. I brush my cat Ben for a few minutes, which he loves and helps control the cat hair for my allergic husband. In my research about creativity, I learned that repetitive motion opens up the part of your brain that creates ideas. This includes brushing the cat, walking and kneading bread dough. Next I do a series of sun salutations on my yoga mat and then get ready for work.

I start my morning ritual the night before my holding a question in my mind to sleep on. I started this when I realized that reading the news at night made me worked up and took away from a restful sleep. Now I think about what solution I’d like to manifest and let my dreams come up with ideas.

What is your favorite social media site? Why?

Instagram! I’ve curated a feed of uplifting visuals, special needs animals, sassy women artisans and historic houses. No crabby-pants posts are allowed in my feed. It’s my favorite escape.

What would you say your personal superpower is?

My superpower is strategy. When I say strategy, it’s the ability to identify the right problem to solve, brainstorm the questions to ask and then chart a course to deliver success. I’m motivated to create simple solutions to solve complex problems. The simple solution is where the creativity and innovation comes in.

What advice would you offer future leading ladies wishing to break into your industry?

To thrive in the area of marketing and communications, embrace lifelong learning. And I don't mean only formal education at a university. I mean keeping a finger on the pulse of what your audiences are interested in, and broadening your experiences of things that make you uncomfortable. In the book The Artist's Way, author Julia Cameron advocates for a weekly "artist date." To me this means regular field trips and organizing my books by color rather than the Dewey Decimal System.

What is the best career advice you ever received?

Don’t freak out. This came to me from a speaker on a panel about career advancement. It made me remember when a client complimented my grace under pressure and it reminded me about this valuable skill. My grandmother used to say “stay calm and cheerful” and I’ve been known to quote her at the office.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.

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