Kai Lawson


Kai Lawson

In June of this year, I will officially be 5 years into a full career in advertising. 

I start every story about my career with the most honest fact about me-- I never had any interest in Advertising. I didn’t like Advertising, I just thought it was LAME! 

But here I am… Years later and I must thank Advertising for supporting my bad habits and fancy trips. 

The fact that I’m 5 years into a career is amazing in itself. Over the years, whilebeing seriously involved in this worklationship with Advertising I’ve uncovered several truths about my own personal journey, as an advertising (sometimes) professional in New York City.

  • When I’m feeling down, I look up— at my nearest billboard. 
    • Once agency I worked for, had a view in a conference room of a New York City self storage billboard and it said “ If you can make it here you can make it anywhere.” Quite the unoriginal play on words from an old blue eyes classic, but inspirational none the less. It’s true, too. Thick skin is is a necessity in advertising. Working in an environment which rarely shows respect to their Junior level employees, and is not necessarily a playground for their diversity pool, can be soul sucking. Once you’re soul is sucked you’re forced to either quit or win. I chose to keep pushing forward in hopes of several future wins.


  • Humans work here too…
    • I used to live under the impression that the lines between personal and profession were never supposed to intersect. That was false. It happens sometimes, and sometimes its your best asset. People hire people they want to work with, and promote people they want to make decisions with. Think about it like choosing a Godparent for your children. You choose Godparents based on personal experience and trust you have in them. This means theres a level of vulnerability one must expose to their peers if they want to win. Who do you trust to carry out your plans for the future? Does anyone trust you to do that for them? 


  • Everyone is watching…And sometimes they look out
    • I worked at an agency, I affectionately refer to as hell. I hated it there and it’s safe to say A LOT of people hated me, too :-) But I did manage to make some friends, impress some people and I’ve been riding the benefits of my authenticity since. For example— I worked with a CD while I was there on a project briefly. Maybe less than 2 months. I was certain I didn’t impress this CD with any of my charm, and I don’t think I did anything special. However 2 years later, this CD blindly reached out and hooked me up with my next job! High Fives for everyone! 


  • Learn the lesson, pass the test, become the master
    • I’ve made mistakes, bad decisions, and some foes along the way, and as negative as all that sounds, there’s a useful lesson in all of it. None of these things should scare you from from moving closer to your goals. We can’t all, always be perfect on our first try. Whether it was creating a schedule, managing resources, confronting problems head on it was important that I trip, fall and piss a few people off in the first few years of my career. Because NOW, I can make my moves with confidence. Now when I say things, I don’t guess I know, and When I Don’t Know, Im confident enough to go learn it. Mastering my craft doesn’t mean I’m perfect. It means I’ve failed enough times to find my sweet spot. 


  • Speak Up and Stand up
    • In the last 2 years I’ve become quite comfortable with speaking my peace. At first it was more of a tactic for lowering my blood pressure and covering my ass when I knew shit was going to hit the fan. But what it has turned into, is my way of advocating for things that are important to me. Specifically on resources (because I’m a project manager by birth) and for diversity (because duh). Often times it’s easy to let conditions deteriorate in an effort to not “rock any boats”. My issue with that is, when you don’t offer help, you’re encouraging the problem. I like when things are fair and I like when things make sense. So for my peace of mind, my integrity and my sanity, I plan to continue waiving the “see something, say something” flag for my industry.