Interview with Lisa Williams, President

By October 6, 2020Evolve

What inspired you to start Evolve & Co? 

Having worked in the advertising industry for the better part of a decade, I was often on the ad sales side of things, essentially pushing shareholders’ agendas on clients that served only a portion of their needs. When I left ad sales and moved over to agency work, I fell in love with ideation and creation. I worked with multimillion dollar firms on Fortune 500’s and also with boutique agencies, directly with the ownership of a brand. It was there, seeing how impactful my work could be, I found my true passion and formed Evolve & Co.

What is a typical day like for you?

The excitement of PR & Advertising is that no two days are the same. There is always a new project or concept we’re working on, and it keeps things interesting. But most days consist of strategy, editing, and collaborating with the creative and copywriting teams.

What is the best part of your job?

There are many aspects to love. For me, it’s the ideation that keeps me up at night with excitement. Whether it’s my concept on a billboard, or my words printed in a Pulitzer prize winning publication, it’s exhilarating. I also truly enjoy the culture we’ve cultivated within the agency, and creative meetings are a highlight of the week. But I think a lot of folks in my position agree — the best part of agency work is impacting change or shaping human behavior. I especially love this in the charity sector, where one well-written headline or creative ad campaign can profoundly and positively affect lives.

What is the worst part of your job? 

Much of what we do is conceptual. It’s open to various interpretations, so getting everyone involved (clients, designers, copywriters, vendors, videographers, etc.) on the same page can have its challenges. It’s also disappointing when the team has dedicated a lot of resources to campaign that flops. Without risk, there is no reward, so there will always be flops.

What kind of leader are you?

That’s definitely a question best answered by the team. I *think* they’ll say: passionate, open minded, and logical.

Here’s what they actually said:  

Knowledgeable. Helpful. Inspirational. Encouraging. Passionate.

What’s the story with the office dog?

Oh, that handsome hug-dealing nugget? He’s our CDO (Chief Dog Officer) and his job is to keep the smiles flowing.

What’s in the future for Evolve & Co?

Our industry changes as developments in technology evolve. We’re steadfast in being on top of – if not ahead of – market trends. We’ll stay small to mid-size as our business model is built on personal relationships and extensive communication and understanding of our clients’ brands and objectives. We’ll continue building in the lifestyle / luxury sector and working with clientele that align with our own brand standards.

What’s your favorite campaign you’ve worked on? 

This is an almost impossible question to answer because I’ve worked on literally thousands over the years. One campaign that stands out (and this was pre-Evolve & Co) is the Pass the Buck campaign, an initiative by the American Cancer Society to fund Tobacco Free Florida. In 2009, The state of Florida had the second lowest cigarette tax in the country and record numbers of youth smoking cigarettes, so we charged the state government to raise the cigarette tax a buck which funded some of the most powerful anti-smoking campaigns ever created, netting in a massive decline of youth consumption in the state.

What is the company motto?

Never stop creating.

Describe your company culture. 

We’re a very collaborative group & we operate with very little “corporate” structure. We live by some basic principals: No idea is a bad idea. Everyone has a voice. And be yourself.

What do you do when you’re not working? 

I love to explore, cook, read, and experience new things. My perfect weekend would include some gourmet food, exploring the city by bike, and boating into the sunset. I love playing with my two little pups, interior design / home projects, kickboxing, tennis, festivals, concerts, Tampa Bay Lightning hockey, tech/ art museums, and of course spending time with family & friends.

3 Fun Facts About You?

I have been to 48 United States & can call almost any accent.

I graduated with 13 kids in my high school senior class.

Before advertising, I wanted to be a criminal profiler.

Describe your perfect client. 

Clients are all uniquely different, so to pigeonhole into “perfect” would be remiss. But I will say the best clients to work with are those that are truly passionate about their brands and initiatives. Also important are clients that are your partners — providing you with the resources (files, feedback, briefs, milestones) to best do your work.

Describe your nightmare client. 

Make it bolder and more subtle. Move it to the left and to the right. Make it a little bigger and a little smaller.

What causes are you passionate about and why? 

The company was founded on the premise that when we can give, we do. We donate a significant amount of resources each year to various local and national charities, but the cause closest to my heart is cancer research.

What’s a quirk about you? 

It makes me rather unpopular at times, but I don’t enjoy small talk, especially via text message. In today’s tech-age of accessibility, we’re flooded with communication, so it should be quality.

What advice would you give to other business owners? 

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned along this journey is the power of time. If you can learn to optimize your time, you’ll have an advantage. For me, it’s little things like prioritizing my most intensive projects during the most productive time of my day (in the morning, after a workout), skipping out-of-office lunches and opting to eat at my desk, taking meetings at my office instead of commuting, and having designated uninterrupted work-flows with distractions removed.

What’s a quality or trait you look for when hiring?

Attitude is everything. Our work is so customized that there is a learning curve regardless of experience, but there are virtues that cannot be taught. I’ve discovered that the best storytellers (graphic designers, videographers, copywriters, marketers) are great listeners with an innate ability to understand, identify, and communicate.

If you weren’t the president of Evolve & Co, who would you be?

It’s difficult to imagine being anyone other than who I am in the now. It’s hard to tell what path I could’ve traveled down, or even what the future holds. Dare I say the Leader of the Free World? I’m joking – I definitely don’t want that job.

Lizzie Desrosiers

Author Lizzie Desrosiers

More posts by Lizzie Desrosiers

Leave a Reply