Gay Gaddis sets conference tone with ‘kick ass’ advice

BillAUSTIN, Texas — Trust your gut, surround yourself with smart people and focus on your strengths. Those were just three pieces of advice offered to attendees of Progressive Business Media’s NEXT Conference by Gay Gaddis, founder of T3 advertising agency and author of Cowgirl Power: How to Kick Ass in Business and in Life.

Gaddis noted that the book’s title is a metaphor for the power we all need to succeed in today’s business environment. “It’s about building your strengths and unlocking your power,” Gaddis told the audience.

While the advice to build on your strengths might at first seem obvious, Gaddis noted that too often in business and in life, people focus on their weaknesses, spending time and effort to shore them up. “I learned a while back there were things I was never going to do well. A lot of the time we kick ourselves and say, ‘If only I could do that better’,” she said. “I don’t care if you fail at something. Let it go. Focus on things you do really well and get better and better at those.”

To help explain the importance of identifying and maximizing your own strengths and uniqueness, Gaddis shared the story of her early plans to start T3, founded at the height of recession in 1989. She reflected on a dinner with her husband where he challenged her to describe what would make her business unique and meaningful at a time when, in his words, “the last thing Austin needs is another advertising agency.”

After two unsuccessful tries that, in her telling, sounded much like the mission statements of scores of companies, Gaddis decided on this business mantra; “We’re going to do kickass work for clients who want to kick ass.”

“I talk about kicking ass a lot,” Gaddis said, citing three key attributes that underpin that philosophy. The first, she noted, is about bringing others along with you as you’re “kicking ass.” The second is about creating lots of great options. “You want to have a lot of options,” she said.

The third is about what she called “building buckets of good will.” She explained that this most often involves giving selflessly to help others in their own quest for success without expecting anything in return. “You do it, and you don’t expect anything back, but I guarantee you the buckets of goodwill get filled and you get it back,” she said.

Gaddis also strongly advised attendees to surround themselves with smart, strong people, noting that remaining open to such help can often fill a void at a key time in the life of a business. On a more operational note, Gaddis advised attendees to “timeline your life,” noting that committing to specific goals and writing them down can be a critical step in achieving them.

“If you don’t do this you’ll never do the things that get you to your dreams,” she said. “Get it down on paper, and you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish.”

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