Words of Wisdom: Ellyn Davidson, Brogan & Partners
Welcome to Pass the Mic’s series: Words of Wisdom, a unique opportunity to hear from the industry’s leading women on their personal inspirations and discover their advice on advancing as a woman in the audio and advertising field.
We are honored to have Ellyn Davidson, the CEO of Brogan & Partners. Throughout her 27 year career at Brogan & Partners, where she started as an intern, Ellyn has helped create and market multi-million dollar brands. As a mentor to many young professionals, she has inspired hundreds of women to stay resilient both in their personal and professional lives. With years of knowledge and expertise, Ellyn has the advice and support many women in the marketing industry need to hear.
Read more for Ellyn's insight and guidance on creating a joyful work atmosphere, the importance of making mistakes, and the book that restructured her company:
What’s the best advice you were ever given: professional or otherwise?
The best advice I was ever given professionally was to make myself indispensable. I started at Brogan & Partners as an intern 27 years ago. I knew I wanted to stay with this company, and I did everything I could to make them think they could not live without me. I guess I did a good job because I'm still here 27 years later.
What does being a leader for other women mean to you?
To me, being a leader for other women means watching, teaching, and letting other people soar. Throughout my entire career, as well as in other areas and opportunities in my life, I’ve always loved to watch people grow and let them spread their wings. I think being a leader is giving people a lot of good direction and advice. But it’s also letting them figure it out for themselves and not being afraid of having people make mistakes. At Brogan & Partners, we openly share our mistakes at our agency meetings so others can learn from them. This helps our team feel confident that we will have their back and help them work through mistakes, so they don’t happen again.
How do you use your “seat at the table” to elevate the other women around you?
When Marcie Brogan founded Brogan & Partners 37 years ago, she wanted to give women and minorities an opportunity to grow and succeed in the advertising world. I've had the opportunity to continue that legacy and to be able to watch people grow, hire people when they're young, nurture them, mentor them, and see them soar. And nothing is more rewarding than seeing people that you brought into an organization just setting the world on fire.
Who was your mentor? If you didn’t have one, who inspired you the most in your career?
My mentor was definitely Marcie Brogan. She founded Brogan & Partners, and when I started with the agency in 1994, fresh out of college, she was so inspiring and approachable and someone I really looked up to. So, at 22 years old, I wasn't afraid to go ask her a question or sit down in her office. She was this big powerful woman, but she was never too big to talk to the people that worked for her and to answer questions. She also taught me that we take our clients very seriously, but we don't take ourselves too seriously, so there's always time to laugh, there's always time to smile and there's always time to have fun. Part of creating a great company is creating an atmosphere that is joyful and with people that are fun to be around and happy. We spend a lot of time working and it makes work so much more fun and easier.
What song, podcast, or audiobook would you recommend to your mentee?
11 years ago, I met this really inspiring, great leader named Gino Wickman. Gino is the founder of EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System). We went down the path of learning from Gino, restructuring the way Brogan & Partners operated, and the way we did our business. This all started, because I read the book “Traction,” which is one of the first books that he wrote. I would highly suggest that anyone and everyone listen to the audio book “Traction” or any of the other books that Gino Wickman has written, including “Entrepreneurial Leap” and a whole host of others.