Matt Lindley: Finding your unique creative contribution as an artist and a parent

Left: My hero, Matt Lindley. Right: Matt meeting his hero Bernie Parent. Matt Lindley is the Director of Innovation for SapientNitro. We became friends instantly when he first started working there in 2009. Matt had such a positive impact on my life. If you ask me to list three people who have helped shape me into who I am today, Matt would be one of them.

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Matt's list of accomplishments in the advertising and marketing world goes way way back. He's been a storyteller for over 25 years. He sold OneZero Media, where he created and produced CBS’s first broadcast TV show about the Internet, and personally hosted the show for three seasons. He was an ECD/EVP at Arnold Worldwide leading the team for the Progressive Insurance account. More recently, he co-created a business visioning tool called ThirtySix at SapientNitro.

He's a board member for Friends of the Boston's Homeless, a non-profit organization that helps over 400 homeless individuals move beyond shelter to lead independent lives. He is also a board member for Stop Handgun Violence. Those of you who have driven the Mass Turnpike around 2008-09 probably noticed the 250-foot billboard that says "We Sell Guns! No ID Required. No Background Checks."

In this two-part episode, I interviewed Matt Lindley at his home office.

In Part 1, you will hear about Matt's path from growing up on a farm in Pennsylvania to his appointment as a senior advertising executive. Matt shares his strategy for making sure your creative input is valuable and valued. We also touch on parenthood and what it means to do the best you can as a father and colleague.

In Part 2, we explore "A Day in the Life of Matt Lindley, Director of Innovation". Beyond growing a business, Matt is especially interested in growing and empowering the people around him. We talk about the overlying theme and the collective wisdom that help us move forward. Matt started a Breakfast Club, where he brings likeminded people, friends to sparkle ideas and have a great time. Last but not least, I couldn't possibly leave the question out:"How much of Mad Men (the TV show) is true in advertising agencies TODAY?" :)

A TV show host in a previous life, Matt once again turned the mic around and asked me: 1) Why the feisworld podcast, 2) What triggered me to care about what and how other people think, and 3) How in the world was I obsessed with ice hockey and thought it was my life's calling? I guess you will learn about me in this episode as well (totally unplanned and unscripted).

Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave your comment below and share the podcast with your family and friends. Your support will keep me on track and bring many other unsung heroes to this podcast.

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Select Links from the 2-Part Episodes:

Part 1 Show Notes (Times Are Approximate):

  • The beginning of wanting to make TV.  [6:05]
  •  Matt's father's artworks [8:45]
  • Wednesday night drawing class hosted by Matt's father [9:30]
  • The notion of having both parents who are artists [11:40]
  • "There's no more straight lines in my life, just curves"[14:05]
  • Matt turned into an interviewer for a sec and asked about my mom (Xiang Li's) upbringing and art as a form of meditation [15.40]
  • What shaped Matt into who he is today, recognized as "one of the greatest minds", who has the "ability to quickly understand a situation and come up with several solves that both tug at the heart as well as move someone to act, is unparalleled" [18:30]
  • Why be in advertising + A child's mind [20:23]
  • Why Matt thinks feisworld podcast is a really good idea [21:20]
  • Why Not You? [24.15]
  • Put yourself out there! [25:50]
  • The 3 most memorable moments of Matt (for me, at least) [30:15]
  • Do not abandon your opinion [33:35]
  • Why be gentle to yourself? [38:15]
  • Podcast becomes a journey that lubricates the rest of your life and put things in perspective [41:30]

Part 2 Show Notes (Times Are Approximate):

  • A Day in the Life of Matt Lindley as a Director of Innovation [3:15]

  • What's the overlying theme that helps us move forward in every direction? [7:15]

  • How do you create a group of likeminded individuals? [10:15]

  • Quickly introducing Peter Borden and his comments about Matt Lindley as a colleague [17:30]

  • Matt's Breakfast club [19:30]

  • How much of Madmen (TV show) is true in advertising agencies TODAY? [21:30]

  • How Matt turned a multi-million dollar business around after the client said no? [22:45]

  • On a magic moment in advertising: when Don Draper said: "It's not a wheel, it's a carousel" [25:00]

  • Podcast changes my "being" [28:00]

  • What's really important to Matt as a parent? [29:15]

  • The ability to listen + a welcoming nature [29:00]

  • Why was playing ice hockey a dream for me? Matt asks. [31:00]

  • Story of the NPR D.C. Artist, now 97 [39:00]

  • The process of a meaningful life: Matt's influences on me and how he enables me to be myself. (Reference: Bruce Springsteen makes you want to be like him, and Bob Dylan makes you want to be yourself)