Meet Lynn Power, advertising guru with 30 years of experience. Founder & CEO of MASAMI, a premium haircare brand, vegan, cruelty-free, and botanically hydrated hair products company, infused with a Japanese ocean botanical called Mekabu that is unique. Former CEO of J. Walter Thompson NY, the oldest and one of the largest ad agencies in the world.
Who is Lynn Power? Define yourself
I like to say I’m a learned extrovert. People don’t believe me, but I’m an introvert at heart. I love making things – I’m motivated by being productive. So, it was a natural evolution for me to go from making things for other people to making things for myself by launching my own brand, MASAMI, with my co-founder, James.
How were you as a kid?
I was painfully shy. I was a good student. I was also a middle child which means I’ve spent most of my life negotiating and keeping the peace.
You hold a Bachelor of Arts and Science at Indiana University Bloomington, why did you choose those courses of study?
I had a double major in Criminal Justice and English. I thought I might want to go to law school but decided it wasn’t very inspiring. The good thing about a liberal arts degree is that it can translate to lots of things and I kind of fell into advertising which stuck.
You have 30 years of experience in advertising in agencies as Ogilvy & Mather, Grey Group, BBDO, you were president of Arnold Worldwide and CEO of J. Walter Thompson NY, the oldest and one of the largest ad agencies in the world. What’s the biggest lesson you learned from working in those top agencies?
I loved most of my time in advertising because it’s really about using creativity to solve business problems. A good blend of right and left brain thinking. Plus, you get to work on all kinds of businesses so it’s never boring. But, the more senior you get, the further removed you are from advertising and creativity. I realized as I worked at bigger agencies that they are really run like corporations by the holding companies, who really care about the financials first and foremost (this was certainly the case at WPP). It made me rethink what motivated me.
You left J. Walter Thompson NY, and started the HMS Beagle, which is a boutique consulting firm and also, you founded MASAMI, a premium haircare brand, vegan, cruelty-free, and botanically hydrated hair products company. What do both companies make unique in the market?
When I left JWT, I started The HMS Beagle with Joseph Jaffe with the goal of helping brands strategically navigate survival. It has been really fulfilling and we’ve worked almost exclusively with startups who really need and appreciate the help. Then I met my co-founder and partner on MASAMI, James. He had spent 10 years formulating our MASAMI products and I loved his dedication to clean beauty that works – really hard to do well. Plus MASAMI is infused with a Japanese ocean botanical called Mekabu that is really unique, which is all about hydration.
“Be a humble and generous leader. Think about your clients, your team and their needs first”
Lynn you have had a very successful career, you have worked with brands like Hershey, Clinique, Campari, Kohler, American Express, J&J, T. Rowe Price. What´s the recipe for your success?
Be a humble and generous leader. Think about your clients, your team and their needs first. Then everything else will fall in place.
What does a normal workday look like for you?
What I love about my job now is that every day is different. Some days I’m focused on building out our retail and salon partners. Other days it’s much more about content creation or product development. But pretty much every day is fun. It helps that I work with friends.
What do you love most about your job? & what is the most difficult part?
I love being able to make our vision a reality – and seeing it come to life. I also love when other people love our products, that’s amazing. The most difficult part is prioritizing my life and where to spend my time. I want to do everything and there aren’t enough hours in the day.
What is one strategy that helped you to grow in your professional ladder?
Don’t settle. If you’re not happy in the situation you’re in, you have choices. You can leave and find something else, hopefully something better. Many people I know are content to stay in jobs they don’t love but that will not serve you well in the long run.
Now, as an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else does?
I’m all about networking and building a support system. It’s so critical. I’ve been so lucky to find other amazing female founders. I also tell people to find time to meet other people – even if there is no obvious overlap or next step, you never know where it might lead.
I see you are very into the topics: diversity and gender. In your opinion, what is the role of advertising today in the current context?
Advertising has always reflected our society – and in many ways, shaped it. I’d love to see brands and advertising take a stronger stance around diversity. When I was at JWT, we partnered with The Geena Davis Institute to study gender roles in advertising and not surprising, they are super imbalanced. So, just starting with giving women and people of color more screen time, more intelligent words, more interesting roles would be good (not just multi-tasking mom!)
Everybody has had dark moments in their lives, what have you done to get out of that phase?
I lean on my family and friends for sure. I am lucky to have a strong support system of people I care about and like to spend time with.
“Don’t settle. If you’re not happy in the situation you’re in, you have choices. You can leave and find something else, hopefully something better”
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I've been doing daily yoga on YouTube (Yoga with Adriene), it's a great way to start the day focused. I also love snuggling with my rescue mutt, Dino.
Many authors say women can and must strive to have everything – a shining career, a blossoming family life and a perfectly balanced lifestyle all at once, others point out that– then women are placing unrealistic expectations on themselves if they believe they can have it all, you are married and have kids, so according to your experience, what do you think about these statements?
I don’t believe in work life balance. I believe it’s more like work life imbalance. Meaning, there are times when your life and family takes the front seat. And there are times when work does. But it’s always shifting. These days, I’m more about blending it all together. My kids are involved in my businesses. My son interned for The HMS Beagle. My daughter went to a beauty trade show with me. I work with my friends. For me, that’s a much easier way to make things work.
What are your plans for the future?
We are focused on growing MASAMI and as long as we’re having fun, I’ll be doing that. We have several new products in the innovation pipeline we’re working on. Plus international expansion.
There is still the glass ceiling for women in the world: Fewer opportunities, jobs underpaid just for that fact of being a woman, etc. Have you experimented with the glass ceiling? If yes, what are the biggest challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?
I hit the glass ceiling multiple times in my career. I was at one agency where I realized as much as I liked it, I would never advance – there were men over me who weren’t going anywhere. So, I left. I think you have to make your own opportunities sometimes, even if it feels risky. It’s actually riskier staying in a situation where you will be undermined and not promoted.
“ I think you have to make your own opportunities sometimes, even if it feels risky. It’s actually riskier staying in a situation where you will be undermined and not promoted”
What tips, can you give to young girls who want to become an entrepreneur like you in the advertising world?
Go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something. But also make sure you are clear about what you want – share your ambitions with your boss. I always thought I would just get promoted because I worked hard and was good at my job, but it’s more complicated than that. You have to be direct and clear about what you want.
I think in your position, many people may have the wrong idea of who you are, and what do you (professionally), with this idea in mind, what is being Lynn, and what´s not?
Sometimes people think of a CEO as unapproachable or arrogant. I can say confidently I don’t think I’m either of those things. I often had people say to me upon meeting me at JWT, “you’re the CEO??” At first, I was insulted by that but I came to appreciate it. You can be yourself!
Who is the woman you admire the most and why?
Right now, I’m obsessed with Kamala Harris. So smart, so impressive. We need leadership like that.
Something else do you want to add or share with us?
I’m on LinkedIn and always happy to connect or grab a coffee!
Name: Lynn Power
Designation: Founder & CEO
@lynnpowered (IG, FB, Twitter),
@lovemasamihair (IG, FB, Twitter, YT, Pinterest)