Lynne Robertson is a natural leader with a long resumé. On top of being the owner and CEO of Minneapolis-based Fame Retail, she is a member of The Hub Braintrust, an honorary AdFed Board member and vice president of the Twin Cities Retail Design Institute.
In addition to considering her a friend, I have enlisted Lynne’s expertise on “Small Business Revolution – Main Street” and had the pleasure of working with her for multiple seasons. I cannot overstate the value of her insights as a marketer anda business owner. Below, she shares her thoughts on marketing, owning a business, and work-life balance.
Q: You bought Fame and operated it independently during a time of consolidation. What motivated you in that direction?
A: For a long time, the holding company model worked well for us. But as Fame’s business evolved, it constrained our ability to grow. By becoming independent we are now unfettered by conflicts, free to choose best-in-class affiliated partners and are able to invest in the resources and technology that fuel our distinctive creativity.
Q: You’ve worked with some of the largest brands in the world. What do successful marketers have in common?
A: Bravery and an aversion to status quo. Our motto is, “Let’s be done with what’s been done.” Exponential growth only happens by defying category conventions. But that kind of change can be scary. The best marketers embody both curiosity and courage.
Q: You’ve talked about the paradigm of work-life balance is outmoded as long as you have the right infrastructure and value system in place. What does balance mean in your life?
A: I’ve always rejected that “work-life balance” continuum. It implies there’s no life in work, which is the opposite of my experience. Life is a series of levers – one day it’s full-on thrust for work, the next day it’s throttling high on the home front. It’s an orchestration of priority underpinned by your values.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you ever received from a female mentor?
A: Don’t cry at work.
Q: How important do you think it is that companies move beyond basic philanthropy and actually get involved in advocating for and making the lives of their customers better?
A: You’d be better at answering this question given what you’re doing with Small Business Revolution! I think making anything better starts with empathy. The better companies understand their customers, the more able they will be to enhance their lives – at every level – from communication to customer service and at the highest order, philanthropy. Consumers demand authenticity from brands. If you’re saying you’re helping people, you’d better be able to demonstrate it with real impact in real time.
Q: I think you are a rockstar in the business world. If you were a regular rockstar, what would be your stage (or band) name?
A: That is such an excellent question – here’s my stream of consciousness: Bad Hair Day, High Heel Nation, Swedish Fish Bowl, The Fierce and Feminines…