In appreciation and celebration: Q&A with Lynn Casey

As our Chair Lynn Casey heads toward a year-end retirement, we asked her a few questions in appreciation and celebration of her contributions to our industry, community and agency.

Q: If you could go back to 1983, when you began your career with the agency (now Padilla), what has been the biggest change you’ve experienced? Has anything remained the same?

A: As far as the tools we use to help our clients build, grow and protect their brands, very little is the same. And that’s a good thing. Today’s tools are more dynamic, more targeted and capable of greater impact. The fundamentals? Largely the same. Bottom line: Great firms like ours continue to help organizations discover and live their best selves. We work brave to keep them honest. We dig deep for stories that set them apart. And we strive to build the kind of loyalty among our clients’ stakeholders that can help them bounce back from the inevitable rough patches.

Q: You embraced the “servant leadership” philosophy. How did that guide your decisions as a leader?

A: Before I accepted the leadership position at Padilla, I enrolled in the Center for Creative Leadership’s leadership development program to better understand my leadership strengths and – more importantly – my leadership weaknesses. It was an extraordinary experience, and where I learned about the concept of servant leadership. In a nutshell, servant leaders carry the team forward without drawing attention to themselves. They wouldn’t think of asking others to do something they wouldn’t do themselves. They are determined, resilient, and have healthy egos – trying not to let them get in the way. That really spoke to me, and I try to live that philosophy every day. For the full story, see Robert K. Greenleaf’s essay; it’s a quick read. A more modern take on servant leadership would probably be Jim Collins’ Level 5 Leadership article, which is also a quick read.  

Q: As a mentor to many, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and why?

A: “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Those were words from my supervisor when I first joined the agency world. We moved faster than corporate, and I got stuck early on because there was never enough time to be perfect at everything. His comment helped me put my desire – and that of many women my age who were building careers – into a healthier perspective. More important than finding that one “right way” is the art of discerning when to spend the time to get an A+ when an A- will do just fine. David Kistle helped me do that.

Q: What’s next for Lynn Casey? What are you looking forward to the most in your retirement?

A: Fewer early morning breakfast meetings for sure. (I come from a long line of night people!) More seriously, digging into a public-company board I recently joined will feed my appetite for continuous learning, and serving on a few nonprofit and communication industry boards will exercise the Casey “give back” gene. Did I mention more Scuba diving?

Happy retirement, Lynn! Thank you for everything you’ve helped Padilla become.   

Photo by Nancy Kuehn. © Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, 2018.

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