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7 Questions on Leadership with Lisa Cutter

Name: Lisa Cutter

Title: President

Organisation: Vertical Insight Marketing

Lisa Cutter, President of Vertical Insight Marketing, is committed to providing clients with real insights and real results. As a 25-year marketing expert, former Digital Marketing Instructor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and current Digital Marketing Instructor at UNC Chapel Hill, Lisa has honed her expertise to accelerate business growth for her clients. Through her teaching, she also empowers the new generation of digital marketers to be critical thinkers who thoroughly understand marketing strategy and its corresponding execution. Her company, Vertical Insight Marketing, specializes in supporting entrepreneurs' dreams by improving their online presence with search-engine optimized, user-friendly websites, organic social media marketing, digital advertising, and much more.

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

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


Jonno White

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

Currently, the most challenging aspect of being a leader is finding the right team members. There are serious issues in society that unfortunately pour over into the workplace. Lack of work ethic is one of them.

The other severe concern is attention span. Due to the changes in the world around us over the years, attention spans have decreased significantly. This behavior carries over into the workplace causing an almost incapability to focus. Without being able to focus necessary skills like attention to detail, effective and concise communication, and even critical thinking fall by the wayside.

And you simply can't pinpoint these issues with each candidate during hiring despite how detailed and diligent you may be throughout the process. This has been a pain point, at least for me, since last year.

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

Becoming a leader may have stemmed from being the first born. LOL As the oldest sibling of much younger half-siblings, taking care of them by way of babysitting, cleaning, and cooking was probably the start of a having a leadership mindset.

As for my years in the workforce, my very first marketing project was freelance. After that, I continued on in my career with entry-level positions (including agency and in-house marketing team experience) until I earned a position as the Marketing Director of a mall. That was just shy of 10 years after the freelance marketing project I mentioned previously.

Since then I've never looked back and have moved forward in leadership positions. In 2022 my personal life circumstances changed, giving me the opportunity to run my own marketing agency full-time and I must share that I absolutely love it!

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

I plan my workday at the end of the previous workday. That doesn't mean that the day is inflexible though, as meetings may arise that can't wait to be had later in the week or the following week. But for the most part, I at least know what meetings I have on the calendar and what projects I'm working on in between meetings.

By planning ahead, I have peace of mind that when I'm off work in the evenings I can enjoy my personal and/or family time and sleep well even if I have a hectic day ahead.

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

The best leadership lesson I've ever learned is to clone yourself. By doing so, you give someone the opportunity to learn and blossom as you grow the business together. Having a clone, or mini-me if you will, also helps you reduce burning out.

Because you have someone trusted that you can rely on to act as you, in turn, you can afford to do things like take vacations completely unplugging while away, go on long weekends to spend time with the family, and even do things you don't plan for, like attend the celebration of life events of dear family and friends that are no longer with us, etc.

I can't even tell you how many funerals I've missed over the years because I had to provide for my family and my career was a top priority so I didn't lose my job. I just couldn't take off work to attend, and sometimes couldn't afford to attend even if I was able to take time away from work. That's not a positive quality of life because work shouldn't be your everything.

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?

It may sound silly, but the biggest impact I've had on leadership from the written word comes from two sources. The first is the Bible. The second is from a Master's Management Course I took.

The biggest takeaway I have from the Bible is how Jesus lead people in peace and grace. Rarely was he shaken.

And continuing that thought, from the Business Management Master's course I attended, my biggest takeaway was that we can't control what happens but we can control how we react to it.

Both have had a positive impact on who I am as a leader, and I'm truly grateful for both.

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

I'm going to back to one of the first lessons I ever learned even before I became a leader...make sure you clone yourself.

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

Believe it or not, one time when I was in a management position, I was forced to work with a member of my team that I did not hire, and as it turns out, after some time he tried to get me fired. Another team member and a colleague both came to me separately and filled me in on the situation.

They knew he was trouble and I was an excellent manager. However, due to the turmoil he was causing, the team member who filled me in left her position. I don't blame her. Who wants that kind of workplace drama?

She knew I would be leaving soon as well (I had secured a role elsewhere with a larger team and earning more for my education, expertise, and experience). On my last day, she called to say goodbye and wish me her best.

I'll never forget the time she took out of her day to send me well wishes when she could have simply left weeks prior and never looked back. I love cultivating team relationships like this.

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