Sometimes the stars align and the world tells you that you need to know someone, and for me that person was Amy Laski, founder and CEO of Felicity Public Relations. When I met with her over coffee recently, I was impressed with her life-changing decision to leave corporate communications to be an entrepreneur, her drive to create a new model of public relations and the business savvy that has made Felicity a success. She talks below about change and how she made it happen:
1) Was there a specific moment that prompted you to leave corporate communications and start your own agency? Did you know it was time to make the leap?
It was the confluence of two moments that were the genesis of Felicity — one when I was the lone Coca-Cola employee at the Dietitians of Canada national conference, and the other when I got a flat-out rejection for a flexible work schedule after my middle daughter was born. These moments made me realize that I could launch a business that would ensure clients’ business goals could be best served by working with media, bloggers/creators and subject matter experts, side-by-side to create brand narratives. We could work together to develop a communications strategy, instead of involving these parties at the tail end, as “targets”. And that the way to enable this would be to harness the talent of seasoned communicators like me who would thrive in a flexible work environment, doing the work they love in a way that promotes work-life integration.
2) Once you made the choice to become an entrepreneur, how did you feel? Were you comfortable with making such a big change?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so it wasn’t a matter of choosing to become an entrepreneur, but rather, when that would happen. When I identified the business opportunity in the marketplace, I became fueled with passion about realizing my vision, my mind racing with possibilities. For me, it was more of a stride than a “leap” or “plunge” into entrepreneurship, and I was completely comfortable making the change because I had the support of my husband and family in doing so. That being said, I knew that if it didn’t work out, I’d be better off for having run my own business, and it would make one helluva good learning experience to share in a job interview! Nearly six years later, I haven’t had to use it!
3) Did you know what the first step was or to clarify, did you already know what your goalposts needed to be?
To take the “first step” towards these goalposts, I’ve learned that you have to just put one foot in front of the other, and course-correct along the way if need be! I had a few goalposts in mind, including whether leading Felicity would enable a more integrated lifestyle for me, and whether it would be fruitful financially. But the most critical goalpost was that I wanted to provide a service model that would contribute positively to our clients’ businesses and based on their feedback I’ve succeeded in reaching that goalpost. There is a stark and positive difference in the quality of perspective, work, and results my team and I are able to generate by being different in the marketplace.
4) If you could give one piece of advice to other women who are mid-life and mid-career, maybe thinking about going out on their own, what would it be?
Do it! You can always pivot and apply what you’ve learned to your future pursuits. There’s only one way to find out if running your own business is for you…and that’s to do it for yourself. Don’t see it as an end point but as a journey.
5) Was there one thing you did that was a home run and was there one thing you did that you regret, in this journey?
One home run about which I’m very proud is the creation of our Felicity Content Collective. It was a project our team took on to build a new approach to the way brands/clients, media, stakeholders and creators such as bloggers and vloggers work together. Our co-creative Content Collective approach brings together a brand’s top stakeholders, influencers and creators in the development of the brand narrative and content. We call this “in-reach” instead “outreach” and it’s been really successful to the Felicity core value we bring to clients.
The one regret I have is when I trusted a former associate to work on a client project, when my gut was shouting otherwise. She had great experience on paper, and should have been a fit. But in reality, she didn’t see communications in the context of the client’s overall business, which is a core tenet of Felicity’s value proposition. We ended up losing the client. Now, I always trust my instincts and have put in place checks and balances to make sure every one of our team members add significant value to our clients’ businesses.
6) How are you continuing to make change happen today?
I call myself a “recovering perfectionist.” That’s because I’ve come to terms with the fact that, as an entrepreneur, there is always something you can do to improve your business, and seldom, if ever, will there be a feeling of “I’ve gotten it just right!” This is particularly true in the media and communications industry. So, we are constantly working to improve our business. We do this by asking our team, our clients, influencers, media, bloggers and stakeholders how they work optimally and then ensuring we’re doing it in order to be the best partners.
7) Are you happy with where you’ve landed? OR What’s next for Amy Laski?
I’m really happy with, and proud of, all that I’ve accomplished in the past six years since founding Felicity. We’ve won competitive new business pitches against long-established traditional PR agencies, then gone on to grow our work with those clients. I’ve built a STELLAR team and have had the opportunity to partner with amazing clients such as KIND Healthy Snacks, Lindt & Sprüngli Canada, and CAA. What comes next is partnering with even more dynamic brands, and doing more precedent-setting work together.
The original LinkedIn post by Sarah Kiriliuk can be found here.