Get Smart 2017 – Visually Speaking

Join WCA at our annual half-day professional development conference in Austin on Friday, October 27 from 12:30 – 5:30pm. This year at Get Smart, industry leaders and some of the top visual communicators in Austin will together to learn and share success stories. As we maneuver through a digital ecosystem, visual storytelling has become an essential part of both personal and organizational branding. You will leave both inspired and with tools to utilize effective imagery in every aspect of your communications.
Our keynote speaker this year is Yvonne Tocquigny, a nationally respected branding specialist. She and other speakers will discuss how to succeed in an industry transformed by digital technology, multiple platforms/channels and increasingly media-savvy consumers.

Click here for a full program description!

Register by clicking here

Program At-A-Glance:

12:30 – 1:15 p.m. Registration and Informational Tables
1:15 – 2:30 p.m. Welcome and Keynote Address
2:30 – 5:30 p.m. Interactive State-of-the-Art Sessions by Industry Leaders
5:30 – 8:00 p.m. After-Event Happy Hour

Register today to learn just how easy it is to grab your audience’s attention with a few tips and tricks to get you speaking visually.

POSTED BY Alix Morrow AT 12:48 pm

Need new headshots? Call Anthony!

I worked with Anthony Johnson of Anthony Johnson Photography this week and LOVE my new headshots. I wanted to post a shout-out in case you are looking.

Here’s a link to his site with his portfolio and background. Highly recommend!

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POSTED BY Alix Morrow AT 10:24 am

WCA Member Spotlight

Women Communicators of Austin featured me this month within ‘Member Spotlight’. Such an honor to be a part of such a supportive group of professional women in Austin.

Entrepreneurial Freedom: Q&A with Alix Morrow

When we think of freedom, we may envision American patriotism, endless vacation, or even the absence of obligation.

But for some, freedom means working day in day out.

It means late hours and early mornings. It means tirelessly striving to create, innovate and differentiate.

Because for these men and women, freedom is entrepreneurship. The Bureau of Labor Statistics last year reported that in 2015, 15 million people, or 10.1 percent of total U.S. employment, were self-employed.

We spoke with Alix Morrow, a WCA member and the founder of AlixCompany, LLC, an Austin-based strategic planning consultancy, about her journey as an entrepreneur, the freedom it brings to her life, and advice she has for others in the biz who want to gain their independence.

WCA: For our readers, would you briefly discuss your background and journey to entrepreneurship? 

Morrow: I think there must be an entrepreneurial gene, plus environment also plays an equally important role. I grew up going to tradeshows, and even today we go to tradeshows as the center of (some) family trips. Growing up, my two sisters and I didn’t play house, we played office! Weekends were often spent in my parents’ warehouse doing things like playing with shipping boxes or rolling coins from the soda machine.

I found my career path very quickly with my first Advertising class with Dr. Murphy at The University of Texas at Austin (UT). Advertising and market research sparked both sides of my brain – it still does today.

After UT I was accepted into a post graduate degree program specifically for Account Planning, and after that I moved to New York City – not knowing anyone, without a job, and during a not-so-good economic time. I figured I would use my life savings to have some fun exploring NYC that summer and look for a job. After about two weeks of having a fun time, I decided it was time to find a job. I worked as a receptionist off Fashion Avenue and as a door girl, in charge of collecting the cover charge, at a bar for bands in Alphabet City on weekends. Lots of stories attached to both of those first NYC jobs that I’ve started to blog about at In December after several months, I’d interview for the job of my life and in January I started that job at Young & Rubicam Brands off Madison Avenue.

From there I worked at a couple of well-known research firms in New York City to really hone my market research skills.

“People I admired started describing themselves as a “strategist that specializes in…” and I thought that was smart. It’s called the “T-Model” where the x axis is your area of general professional knowledge and the y axis is your specialization.”

I’m an account planner that specializes in market research.

I started my business about 10 years ago. I made business cards, a website, and started doing more networking than I’d ever done in my life. I started cold calling and had a direct mail campaign with catchy postcards. Within two weeks I had my first gig – working with MTV on a digital initiative. It was awesome and conversations with the client turned from completing the contract to taking on more of a permanent role. I was beyond flattered. However at that point, one of my written goals was to provide strategic planning, short-video, and market research services for two years – I opted to stay on that track.

Today, my primary business pillars with qualitative, quantitative, and creative communication strategic planning services haven’t changed. We continue to offer ‘just right customized’ strategic planning solutions for truly connecting with consumer’s in today’s marketplace.

What has changed is the depth of focus and the specificity on which we can deliver. Our tools, and the knowledge we have from the start has exploded- especially in the past 12 months, with social media and the amount of existing data we have access to. It’s an exciting time!

WCA: On your blog, you discuss your mantra — if you can’t outrun, learn to fly or swim as appropriate — and applying that to your business. How does having a mantra open up possibilities, and what advice do you have for communicators on finding theirs? 

Morrow: You read my blog!

Mantras are great. The greatest value of having a mantra is the focus it brings in context.

“’If you can’t outrun, learn to fly or swim as appropriate’ is fitting on the surface for business because it’s about competition and then it gets kind of deep when you start to pull it apart.”

The thing I like the most about it is that depth and the inclusion of a dual perspective. First, the lens is from the inside out and connected to self (reflective), and then it talks to understanding your surroundings from the outside in (perspective). It also suggests movement and the ability to get things done.

There are likely a zillion different ways to find a mantra. I think you have to like it on the surface almost immediately and then you have to like it even more with time. I’d suggest start saving different potential mantras and then revisit those over the course of a few months. The one that is still sticky after a little bit of time is likely your mantra.

WCA: Many argue that entrepreneurship is now more about freedom and independence than capital gain. What’s your take on that statement? What advice can you offer communicators on finding their independence?

Morrow: I think, at the highest level, there are two sides to business in terms of attributes or qualities – hard and soft. The hard attributes are things like profits and margins and the softer attributes are things like freedom and independence.

The very essence of entrepreneurship is about of setting up a business and taking on financial risks in the hope of profit. In my opinion, if you are “more about” freedom and independence than profit, I’m not sure you are an entrepreneur by definition.

That said, I think it’s fair to say when you’re moving between start-up to scale-up phases, the consideration of freedom and independence is likely a common mind space. It goes back to reminding yourself of your professional (and personal) goals. And then, it also gets into where the stuff like mission, vision, and values become bigger or more important.

Independence seems so personal – like a feeling.

“I think if you want to feel like your life is in your own hands, then plow forward with discovering those things that you can truly own.”

This could be as simple and personal as a morning walk ritual, or more involved like initiating professional growth conversations with your superior. The phrase “huge baby steps” fits here; start by being independently actionable!

POSTED BY Alix Morrow AT 10:11 am

The Movement Business

This post was sparked by an article a LinkedIn connection liked from 2014 on

What if the ability to hop-along is a good thing? What if the ability to gain experience and knowledge from various shops and colleagues were positive and especially positive during the start of your career?

I mean, isn’t it good to date around before rooting down? And what if you don’t want to root down? What if that’s just your way?

People move around because they’re not learning, not getting promoted or salary raises, not doing what they were hired to do, and because previous creative colleagues that have moved-on want them at their new shop on their new team. It’s symbiotic. When there’s no reason to stay, why stay?

Our industry is in the movement business and movement is accepted. Why isn’t that a good thing?

This isn’t a new trend thing to attach to millennials. It’s been going on since the start of planning. Ask anyone. ‘Because it’s always been that way’ is like the worst thing to say, but there is a good amount of value in the situational context here. Seems to me like job movement and hands-on learning is a part of the planning culture, I mean planning as an advertising discipline, in the US, came literally from a hop-along to the US from the UK…

I’m not a millennial, but I think in general if we want more training we have to seek it. We have to ask for it; regardless of level. If you’re in leadership, and teaching is a passion point, what and how are you teaching? If you are junior or mid-level staff, what are you doing to learn if you’re interested in more practical or theoretical knowledge?

Do that. And, keep moving.

POSTED BY Alix Morrow AT 10:06 am

“If you can’t outrun, learn to fly or swim as appropriate.”

A LinkedIn connection posted, “What’s your mantra?” about a day ago. I love mantras. They’re a stake in the ground, an instrument of thought.

The etymology of the word is most helpful:

The Sanskrit word mantra- (m.; also n. mantram) consists of the root man- “to think” (also in manas “mind”) and the suffix -tra, designating tools or instruments, hence a literal translation would be “instrument of thought”. (

My mantra, “If you can’t outrun, learn to fly or swim as appropriate” is grounded in context – both looking from the inside of the glass out and looking from the outside in.

From the inside out:

I went to high school in a small town. My graduating class was 123 students. I was involved in just about EVERYTHING including a very intense varsity volleyball program. That program, during my time as a high school student, won three [out of four] state championships. Not because we were better skilled than our competitors, but because we would outrun them – every single time. Sure, we trained and learned ironclad volleyball skills. But, at the end of the day we were better conditioned for the long-haul. We did really well at long volleys. We also practiced in pre-season against the big teams – huge 5A and 4A schools where the players specialized in one sport, year round. We were simply the best because we were conditioned to outrun our competition. And, it worked. “If you can’t outrun…” speaks to being the best you can be in your sport – training, ‘paining’, and finding that edge – from the inside out.

From the outside in:

I’m a planner and we tend to look at things in context. With this mindset, my mantra is about taking surroundings into consideration. In business like competitive sport training, there are other ways to reach a goal. Look around! What’s everyone else doing? Are they running at all? Are they only running? What other opportunities exist to reach that team end goal? That’s where it gets creatively strategic and fun! If we understand (1) that there are other ways to reach a team goal, then (2) we open up our bucket of possibilities to reach that goal. “… learn to fly or swim as appropriate” speaks to being the best you can be in context, and having a wide perspective on reaching the goal in mind.

POSTED BY Alix Morrow AT 4:16 pm

Ad agencies are about…


Ideas that spark creative. Ideas that inspire action. Ideas that motivate sales.

I’ve been a part of advertising for over 15 years now and have a unique perspective. Mostly unique because I get to pop around various agencies- as a researcher and as a planner. I also get to sit client side for qual and quant work when marketers reach out to me directly. And, I studied Advertising- as an undergrad and in postgrad.

At the end of the day, we’re all circling around finding ideas, insights, and/or knowledge.

I’ve been hearing:

As long as agencies keep ‘client service’ as the biggest deal… As long as agencies connect the big idea to business goals… As long as agencies have a digital offering…

I think it’s more like… As long as agencies keep a firm grip on owning ideas that spark action and incite sales.

We’ve always been about ‘ideas = sales’ in advertising. At the end of the day “ideas that sell” is the big one thing for branding/ad/communication agencies.

POSTED BY Alix Morrow AT 4:47 pm