Lisa Zakroff | Crain's Seattle

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Lisa Zakroff


Lisa Zakroff worked in Los Angeles in marketing for 17 years before being recruited to Mekanism in Seattle earlier this year. She serves as Managing Director of the award-winning full service creative agency.

The Mistake:

[At a previous job] I think I walked into a bit of a turf war. There were some people that were working together and other people working together, and there were conflicts between those two groups. Without knowing that, I was trying to help out some individuals. And by doing that I sort of looked like I was siding with one group.

But the truth of the matter is I was coming in as a director of the team, so it shouldn’t have been about that. I should have been Switzerland in the situation. But because I acted too quickly I didn’t know that. I think those other folks felt like maybe they couldn’t trust me, because they didn’t trust the other people I was trying to help out.

I was taking all of the inputs in really quickly, I was listening to what people were telling me, I was making quick judgments and trying to make changes before I really knew everything that was going on.

If I had just kind of taken a step back, gotten the lay of the land on a few things, then I maybe wouldn’t have made those same missteps.

Sometimes you really need to let things marinate.

The Lesson:

I think people who are in account management and advertising, we have this drive to solve the problem. We’re sort of known as the problem-solvers. So that’s something that’s very innate to the culture. I think coming into a new job, you’ve been hired to do something specific. Maybe you’re running a team or a project.

And the minute you get there, you want to make an impact; you want to see the effect of what you’re doing. Sometimes you get really anxious to just dive right in and start solving all the problems.

What I’ve found is that you only know as much as you know. You come into a new job, you think you have a pretty good lay of the land based on the interviews and such, but sometimes you really need to let things marinate. You need to understand the people that you’re working with, the goals that the agency has or the clients have. And then you can start to make a true impact.

Follow the Mekanism on Twitter at: @mekanism.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Zakroff.

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