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7 Questions on Leadership with Larry Meador


Name: Larry Meador


Title: Founder - Chief Strategy Officer


Organisation: evok advertising


Aside from holding the title of Founder and Chief Experience Officer, Larry Meador is known agency-wide as the Big Idea guy. With an unmatched drive to challenge the status quo with revolutionary new approaches to providing innovative, needle-moving work for our clients, Larry’s character and passion for the industry are a true embodiment of the evōk brand’s essence.


Often found researching, planning and bringing his latest vision to life, Larry redefines the traditional role of an agency principal. Always keyed in to every detail of each project taken on by the agency, Larry shines as a boundless resource for industry knowledge, guidance, and support, both for the evōk team and its clients. His extensive experience both on the client and agency side of advertising has contributed to his current position as a thought leader within our community and constant reminder to approach each day as an opportunity to build on our skills and create inspired pieces.


From nurturing an engaging and stimulating work environment to crafting an exacting approach to client success, Larry’s mission is to cultivate the agency ecosystem while delivering an end-product that is both strategically authentic and produces significant returns on investments.


A Gator Nation graduate and former American Advertising Federation President, Larry constantly seeks to grow his knowledge and experience by remaining constantly connected to industry happenings, while still enjoying as much time as possible in the company of his family and friends.


Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!


I hope Larry's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Cheers,

Jonno White



1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?


One of the most challenging things I have faced in my 20+ years of leadership has been adapting my management approach to motivate an increasingly diverse team and set of personalities, while also keeping pace with a rapidly evolving industry. When I first started leading this agency, we were a small, tight-knit group with similar work styles and perspectives. But as we have grown over the years into a global organization, I now lead team members from different generations - from boomers to millennials to Gen Z - many with vastly different expectations and work habits. I have had to learn how to connect cross-generationally, while also updating how I manage distributed, remote and hybrid workers compared to the past. On top of that, the marketing and agency landscape has changed tremendously - from the rise of digital to demands for data security to calls for more sustainable and ethical business practices. Staying on top of, and then translating, these industry shifts into updated vision, strategy and organizational capabilities to make sure our people continue to thrive has been demanding but rewarding work as a long-time leader.


2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?


I became a business leader when I launched evok advertising agency back in November 2002 - starting completely from scratch - no clients, money or even a business plan. I made the risky decision to launch evok after losing my previous job when the consumer electronics brand I had worked for was mismanaged. Several of my colleagues at that company believed in me enough to come on board in those early days of evok. So in addition to the stresses of entrepreneurship, I felt an enormous responsibility to lead this team that had placed their trust in me.


Now over 20 years later, many of those same colleagues are still part of the evok team. Having their careers and livelihoods directly tied to my leadership abilities motivated me to make careful decisions - especially early on when the agency's survival was uncertain. Together we sacrificed and took risks to build evok, and I aimed to honor their loyalty by creating an agency we could all be proud of with a positive culture rooted in community, passion and grit.


3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?


My days begin early, starting with exercise - usually a brisk walk, jog or Peloton ride by 6:30 am while listening to inspiring podcasts from thought leaders. This focus on self-care energizes me before diving into work. After enjoying coffee outside and reviewing my calendar, my wife prepares us a healthy breakfast that I eat while connecting with my team on agency performance and individual needs.


No two days look the same given the dynamic nature of agency leadership. But over my career, I’ve learned to structure a framework optimizing for efficiency, productivity and capacity to pivot. Mornings are focused time for getting smarter on industry trends, assessing new business opportunities and reviewing statuses of current client work. After a quick lunch, my afternoons rotate between client calls, one-on-ones with my leadership team, and rolling up my sleeves to create compelling content.


While still devoted to evok’s growth, I’m careful to not let work consume my life today as it did earlier on. I cherish family dinners disconnected from work and place a priority on my health via regular workouts. That said, many evenings are still spent checking on our side entrepreneurial projects or networking with prospective partners and new business leads.


The glue holding it all together is an emphasis on People First - trusting my incredible team to execute our shared vision while I provide the air cover to remove roadblocks. After 20+ years leading this agency, the greatest lesson has been that success stems from unleashing talent, not controlling it. I structure my days to embody that.


4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?


A leadership lesson I was reminded of recently is that my role is to set the vision and strategy, but then step back and empower my team leaders to determine the best paths to get there. I planned an intensive offsite focused on addressing the agency problems and roadblocks I saw as most pressing. But throughout the productive day, we often went ‘off agenda’ as my team introduced issues they were facing that I hadn’t considered. I discovered my job was not to prescribe every solution, but to synthesize our collective thinking into focused goals and then enable the leaders closest to the work to unpack how we achieve them. This not only builds trust and psychological safety, but arrives at more creative solutions faster through distributed authority. It was a tough lesson for a founder/CEO accustomed to driving all key decisions over 20+ years. But I’m determined to lead through curiosity rather than assumptions going forward.


5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?


One book that profoundly shaped my leadership thinking and evok's trajectory is Gino Wickman's 'Traction'. I read it when we were still a young agency of just 20 employees, but struggling to scale responsibly. While we had no shortage of passion or creativity, we lacked the necessary operational rigor as our responsibilities grew more complex.


Traction provided a practical framework emphasizing accountability, execution, and organizational clarity that deeply resonated. Core concepts like the importance of developing visionary and process-oriented leadership skills in equal measure stuck with me. The book’s guidance on governance through aligned scorecards and regular cadences made our priorities clearer and improved transparency. Within a year of putting some of those Traction principles into practice around structure and discipline, evok’s efficiency improved markedly.


Over a decade later, traces of the Traction methodology still run through evok's DNA. As founders it would have been easier to stick with the loose, chaotic creative energy of those early glove-string days. But leaning into Traction’s lessons on blending vision with discipline when we did helped evok find its footing and gave our clients confidence in our maturation and scalability. My evolution from purely entrepreneurial leadership to driving accountability across a now 200+ person org started with that book.


6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?


The single most important piece of advice I would give a young, emerging leader is: never stop learning. As you chart your leadership journey, you may be tempted to believe you should have the answers as a newly minted manager. Resist that urge. Leadership is a never-ending journey of growth. Make time for self-reflection, seek out mentors who constructively challenge your assumptions, and actively listen to all levels of the organization with an open and curious mindset. Approach every new project, every interaction with your team, and every day on the job as an opportunity to expand your thinking. If you embrace leadership as lifetime learning rather than mastery, you will build trust, model humility, and unlock the ingenuity that exists all around you. Stay hungry and curious, but also be secure enough to accept you will never have all the answers. The leader who knows this will rise faster in impact.


7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?


One thing that has stood out from my many years of leadership is the tremendous impact my own mood and attitude has on the team. There have been high-pressure times when client demands piled up and plans went awry that left me feeling frustrated and on-edge. And in those moments when stress got the better of me, the overall mood and creativity of the agency would sink too. Uncertainty bred more tension while people walked on eggshells worried I'd snap over a mistake.


However, there have also been periods filled with their fair share of challenges that I intentionally faced with resilience, empathy and humor. In those times when I radiated calm and stayed solutions-focused, the agency responded in kind with increased camaraderie, big thinking and passion. It became clear my mindset alone could make or break morale, collaboration, innovation and ultimately our performance.


I've come to accept that unexpected obstacles and bad news go hand-in-hand with the fluid nature of agency work. But as a leader, how I carry myself in adversity has an outsized impact. While I can't flip a switch to squash stress, I must set a tone grounded in transparency, compassion and warmth especially when tensions run high. If people trust I can steer us through choppy waters, we continue to row together. My mood informs our collective resilience.

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