Carolyn Hadlock is a principal and executive creative director of Young & Laramore. Hadlock has pushed, prodded and inspired teams to do original, effective work for major brands such as Brizo Faucets, Stanley Steemer, Schlage Locks, Goodwill, P&G and Scotts LawnService. Deciding early on between nursing and advertising, she chose the X-Acto blade over the hypodermic syringe.
Her work has garnered recognition and awards, including the Art Directors Club, Advertising Age, Adweek, Communication Arts, Cannes Lions, Effies, Graphis and The One Show, and has been featured on NBC's Today Show and in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and USA Today.
Solve the Right Problem
If you have a degree in what field is it? A Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communications and a minor in Chemistry from Indiana University's Herron School of Art.
If you could choose one person to work with (outside your own agency), who would it be? Warren Buffet. He's a business maverick. Seeing how he works on a daily basis and combining that with the power of creative thinking would be amazing.
Who was the client for your first advertising project? Simon Malls.
If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? Honestly, I've never thought of what else I would do. When you work in advertising, you have multiple professions because you have to deeply learn about everything you work on. I've been everything from a faucet engineer to a nun through my work.
What do you consider to be the greatest headline of all time? We're not a headline culture any more. We're an idea culture, so that's a tough one. But I can tell you my favorite bit of recent writing is the script for Puma "After Hours." They invented an entirely new category of athletes and the writing is poetic.
From where do your best ideas originate? In my experience the best ideas are never assignments. If I worked only off the brief, I would never have worked with Jason Wu. I try to observe life's day-to-day idiosyncrasies, habits and patterns and find the best application that advertising can appeal to.
How do you overcome a creative block? I try not to anticipate it. I know that there's always a better idea around the corner. Experience has taught me that it always comes.
If you could choose any product to create an ad for, what would it be? I'd like to invent my own product, so I could build the advertising into its DNA.
Do you have creative outlets other than advertising? My job is my creative outlet and one that I get tremendous satisfaction from. Who wouldn't love to be a student of culture? I also do a lot of girly stuff—cooking meals from scratch, digging in my garden, and of course, my weekly staple of People magazine.
What's your approach to balancing work and life? Balancing is hard—there's no easy way to balance it. If you don't have a good partner, forget it. Staying inspired is important to me. I try to get a little of each into the other.
What product/gadget can you not live without? My sunrise alarm clock. I stopped waking to noise years ago.
What's your favorite quote? It's the old adage: Necessity is the mother of invention.
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? It's more than mobile and social.
What's one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? When you get your start, make sure you're surrounding yourself with great people. In this profession it's really important to surround yourself with good mentors. They're the ones that can teach you the fundamentals. David Young was instrumental in my early days at Y&L. The fundamental lesson he taught me was the importance of having the right problem to solve. If you couldn't come up with a good solution, then maybe you were solving the wrong problem. That has saved me so many times throughout my career.