Becca Abellera and Ythan Pratt, two of Colle McVoy’s finest, are among this year’s 32 Under 32 nominees. Becca, a copywriter, and Ythan, director of commerce strategy, share their thoughts on leadership, career advice, the future of the industry and the age-old question: bagels or donuts?
32 Under 32 nominees are known for shaking things up and breaking a few rules along the way. How has rule-breaking helped you overcome barriers to get to a better solution?
Becca Abellera (BA): This is hard because in general I’m usually a pretty big rule follower. One set of rules I have a hard time with is social rules. Although sometimes I get weird looks, I think my lack of boundaries helps other people feel more at ease and open, which helps everyone get to some really interesting, authentic solutions.
Ythan Pratt (YP): I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a rule breaker. Rules give us a framework for working together, and nine times out of 10 they drive progress, but rules are made by imperfect humans to address existing problems; when the problems of those humans change, the rules need to change.
How do you think leadership is changing in our industry, and what do you think the next generation values most in their leaders?
BA: It feels like it’s becoming less formal — at least it’s less formal than I expected coming into the industry. I love that I feel comfortable reaching out to people across departments and titles to come up with solutions and ideas.
YP: I believe the transformation is less about generational divides and more about macro shifts in global society. Now more than ever, we expect our leaders to be trustworthy, transparent and capable.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given when you were starting off in this industry?
BA: One of my bosses whom I really admire recently told me, “People remember how you make them feel.” It’s become my mantra.
YP: Early in my career, I asked a mentor about his approach to specialization in the new world of digital marketing. Without hesitation, he grabbed my notebook, drew a chart with six points and suggested I choose six areas of digital marketing where I would like to be dangerous. This advice has helped me think strategically about how channels work together while guiding my curiosity.
What is the best advice you can offer to someone in this industry who is just starting out?
BA: Stay hungry and stay humble.
YP: Experiment with new things. Surround yourself with wise mentors. Be nice and serve others. Become a lifelong learner.
What are you most optimistic about in this industry?
BA: Job titles and responsibilities are more fluid and interchangeable than ever, and it’s showing in the breadth of ideas that get created.
YP: The democratization of location. The internet is the most populous city in the world, and with it we don’t have to physically live on the coasts! In Minneapolis we’re fortunate to have a strong ratio of heritage to innovation brands in our backyard — the landscape is a marketer’s dream.
What songs or artists are on the soundtrack of your life right now?
BA: “Biking” — Frank Ocean and Jay Z.
YP: Spoon, Moby, Willie Nelson, Tame Impala, Kanye, Neil Young and Vampire Weekend.
And now for a controversial question: bagels or donuts?
BA: BAGEL. WITH. LOX.
YP: The question should be, which kind of donut?