Kate Canada Obregon | Crain's Denver

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Kate Canada Obregon


Oishii Creative is a marketing and branding strategy agency. Obregon heads strategy and research for Oishii Creative, with clients including NFL Network, E! Entertainment, and Discovery. 

The Mistake:

I have a Ph. D in political economics and I had a career in academia [before I worked at my first agency], so I was used to doing a lot of research. In academia our gain was basically to solve a problem, research it well and be very forceful in our argument and have lots of data.

So, we held one of our first brainstorming sessions for this client [without the client present]. I came to this meeting with my academic, introverted self and basically had an 89 -page research document. I had laid out the problem, solved the problem and basically overwhelmed my team with all of my optimization.

My team was feeling very left out of the process and were very unhappy. Luckily, they were smart and savvy enough to speak up and say, "Hey, well, how can we fit into this strategy? How can we brainstorm with you?"

I remember one person in particular, he was an intern, and his job was to support me and learn how this process works and he jumped up and said,  "Well, wait a minute, you're just making me look bad!"

When he said that I just looked at him and thought, "Oh my god, you're right!" In hindsight, I unintentionally made him look bad because he wasn't able to be part of the process.

It was very interesting because I had to learn that the creative process is very much a give and take. I did it too quickly, too forcefully and I didn't give everyone enough room to play.

I always thought that being smart and being quiet was enough and I really had to learn how to engage with extroverts and help everyone lead together.

Solving a problem for a client happens because many people contribute.


The Lesson:

The big lesson [was learning to ] lead with a sense of balance.

I try to get a good team of people that are extroverts. I like to bring in my research and my data and I look for extrovert types to actually help tell that story and present it to clients in a way that feels seamless.

Creative brainstorming and solving a problem for a client happens because many people contribute. Now, I'm usually one of the last people to speak. I'm still very much invested in solving a problem, but now I enjoy hearing other people's perspectives.

You don't have to solve it all in the first five minutes. Enjoy the process, hear what everyone has to say. 


Follow Kate Canada Obregon on Twitter @kateobregon.

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