The feminine side of advertising

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One of the most powerful female executives in advertising, if you can dream it, you can do it.

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Shelly Lazarus is the chairman of Ogilvy and Mather and has been in the industry for over 40 years.  This July 1st, she plans to step down as Chairman and serve as Chairman Emeritus. Her successor Miles Young will take her place on the board.

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Shelly Lazarus

Described by her peers as an “exceptional individual, an outstanding leader and an inspirational evangelist for branding.” Lazarus has made a lasting impact on the advertising industry at the helm of leading global agencies, often times paving the way in a room full of suits as the only female creative director in the room.

Having read some of her memorable experiences and quotes we selected some of our favorite quotes to share with you:

I have spent 40 years of my life at Ogilvy & Mather and I have enjoyed a glorious career. From the moment I arrived in September of 1971, I have been stimulated, pushed, challenged, made to think and to laugh almost every day. I have made extraordinary friendships and have had experiences that will never be forgotten,” she wrote. “I look forward to having more freedom and more leisure. But I plan to continue involvement with Ogilvy’s clients and with our own people for as long as I can add value.”

A slight woman, Lazarus began at Ogilvy as the only woman in an industry in which 90 percent of the consumers were female. She remarked in Across the Board, “I had this enormous power because there would inevitably come this moment in a meeting. It would be me and fourteen men, and we would be talking about something—like tampons, which was the case once—and they would all turn to me and go, ‘Well, Shelly, what do women think?’ And I would be talking on behalf of all women everywhere in the world.” (

When young professional women ask Lazarus for advice, she quickly has one emphatic response:

“Find something you love to do professionally. You have to love what you’re doing.” She said in Lessons from the Top, “If you ever want to find balance, you have to love your work, because you’re going to love your children, that’s almost a given. When things get out of balance, and where women become miserable, is when they actually don’t like what they’re doing professionally. They then resent every minute that they’re away from the things they love and, therefore, the job gets worse and worse, because more resentment fills their lives. Just keep at it until you find it.”

In Business 2.0, Lazarus offers more advice on how business should not supersede happiness.

“The truth is that balance is achieved through a host of individual dance steps, from being willing to suffer a little domestic chaos to insisting that performance be measured by results, not just time spent in the office.” She added that company employees who have found this balance are more creative and productive and build more successful business environments that tend to prevent employees from leaving.

Among her numerous business awards and women achievement awards, Shelly has been nominated at least half a dozen times to Forbes and Fortunes lists of the most powerful women in America in the past decade. She was also the first woman to receive the Distinguished Leadership in Business Award in 2003 by the Columbia University Business School and named Advertising Woman of the Year in 1994, Business Woman of the Year in 1996, and Woman of the Year in 2002 by the Direct Marketing Association.

Beyond all the accolades what strikes us most is her humility, love for what she does and her unwavering focus on people.  We salute you Shelly. If you can dream it, you can do it, thanks for building a world where women are allowed to have any ambition that they can dream of.

The following is a great series of video interview with Shelly from Makers. Check them out!

Pioneering Advertising Executive – Shelly Lazarus

Interview with Shelly Lazarus












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