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We had a chance to sit down with our Director of Advertising Operations, Lori Lutz. We wanted to know how she ended up in her role and what she believes makes a person successful in the digital world.

Q: Thanks for taking a few minutes with us, Lori! Where did this whole career journey start?

A: I graduated from Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University thinking I’d score an amazing career, something in Marketing… making around $50K to start; a professor of mine relayed that expectation. As I stepped into the real world, I was shocked at how inaccurate that belief had been. I put feelers out to sports-affiliated businesses, corporate retail, as well as media. Among a handful of interviews I went through, I had the opportunity to start my career with The Columbus Dispatch. The timing was right, and the #1 media group in Central Ohio was a great place to get my foot in the door. I began in traditional advertising in a support role for account executives. Learning the processes, what supported and retained a sale – that was intriguing.

Q: When did digital start to appeal to you?

A: There was an opportunity for an Interactive Coordinator role at The Columbus Dispatch supporting the backend of Real Estate, Automotive and Jobs vertical websites – managing customer and vendor relations. This is where digital started to spark for me.

I would hear my cube mate (a seller) say, ‘I don’t know how you do it – your patience, your never-ending positivity; I need to learn from you.’ Granted, this seller had about eight years’ experience on me, but she was referencing my attitude when taking phone calls. I was walking users that weren’t accustomed to the online space through websites to find what they needed. Through this experience, I learned a lot about myself and really began to enjoy finding solutions for people.

Q: How have you seen the digital landscape change?

A: I don’t want to terribly date myself by this question! However, I remember a lot of how we used to think; the tools that existed to support workflow efficiency and products, ad campaigns sold to garner 100% share of voice for a client. Today in digital there is so much opportunity for efficiency and removing waste – advancements where we can truly help businesses succeed in achieving their next – it’s been an exciting thing to be a part of! Digital marketing will always evolve, and this industry gives us the opportunity to learn something new almost every day. We are very much both present and future thinking.

Q: Did you know you wanted to work at a director level within an agency?

A: My initial exposure to an ‘ad agency’ was when I started that work at Dispatch Digital. My first instinct of anyone who worked for an ad agency was crazy. {Laughing} I wanted some of that crazy – it was FUN, it was passionate, it was inspiring, and it felt like a space open to everyone! I wanted to be a part of it. I didn’t yet know how … but I had a lot of confidence I would make it happen. I continued to work extremely hard to make sure that environment was part of my professional future, and I’m fortunate now to live in that space each day!

Q: How are women playing an important role in digital?

A: I try not to get into that headspace of women in digital versus men. Sure, throughout my career I may not have been taken as seriously as a male colleague – but that only fueled me to become who I am today.

Strive to be your best – that’s what you have control over. If you’re passed by because of gender, race, sexuality – that position, that company, is not the right fit for you. There is something better out there for you.

Q: How would you suggest females break into the digital world for their career?

A: Be you. Be smart. Be professional. Grow thick skin. Know your value.

Looking back, I realize I have had a lot of strong female leadership along my career path – that both challenged me and lifted me up. It’s unique for it to have been predominately women, but I also had powerful men, from my father to a General Manager and C-Level executives that also inspired me to grow in this industry.

My favorite non-profit is Besa, and their tagline is: ‘Be the good’. Live that (good) within yourself and allow it to radiate. Attitude is key. Fight for your position, for your path, and do so with never-ending optimism.

Professionally and personally – find the ‘why’ you do what you do. Your ‘why’ will lead you down an exciting and fulfilled path that will forever be unique to who you are, who you become, and who you yearn to be. Find happiness, find your confidence and always remember to be kind (and optimistic) – no matter what enters your path – absorb, learn, grow and move forward.

(We love working with Lori! If you want to know more about what she & Smart 1 could do for your business, send her an email: lori@smart1marketing.com)