Northwestern Alumna Sparks New Ideas and Innovation for Companies of All Sizes
Lisa Kent is the founder and President of The Luminations Group, an innovation and strategy consulting firm named one of the 50 Most Admired Companies of 2017 by the Silicon Review. The company offers four major types of marketing support to companies that can’t afford in-house support: new product development and positioning; temporary marketing staff; custom marketing training programs; and assistance with transitions, acquisitions, and divestitures.
Kent is a graduate of Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, as well as an author, adjunct professor, and busy mom of three. In this Q&A, we spoke to her about motivation, her reasons for founding The Luminations Group, and lessons learned on her entrepreneurial journey.
What’s the founding vision for your company? In other words, why does your company exist and what is its driving mission?
I founded The Luminations Group because I saw a need in our local community. Small businesses and retailers were failing at a fast rate. They needed marketing ideas, creativity, strategy and plans, but could not afford the support. The Luminations Group was founded to provide big company-level support for small, local businesses. Today, we serve as many big, multi-million dollar businesses as small ones and working across iconic brands and start-ups has made us even better strategists for our clients.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned while growing your company?
One of the biggest challenges Luminations constantly faces is how to say “no” and stay focused in our service offerings. We want to be able to say “yes” to any client who wants to work with us for any type of marketing or marketing-related work. That said, we know that a jack-of-all-trades is typically a master of none. While it has been very difficult to turn away potential business, I have worked hard to hone in on four key service offerings. I have had to say “no” to lucrative business opportunities that might dilute our focus or cloud our clients’ clear understanding of The Luminations Group.
What’s the best piece of advice you have received?
The best advice I ever received was from my mom — she’s always been one of the women I most admire — she said, “You don’t have to know what you want to be when you grow up, just what you want to do next!” This has guided me as I navigated my way through my career, taking calculated risks and, not being a grown up yet…looking forward to the next opportunity but never feeling as if it was my last.
What leadership skill have you worked the hardest to master?
Delegation. As a self-diagnosed perfectionist, I always want things done amazingly well and love to oversee them. Running a company though, I had to learn to hand off responsibilities, especially for those things someone else can do better than I can. Developing a strong team, and trust in that team, got me there.
In a word, describe your leadership/mentoring style.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
People might be surprised to learn that I am a volunteer EMT for our local ambulance squad and that I am often not the Crew Chief in charge. I can take orders as well as I can dish them out! They also might be surprised to know that I am a lover of languages. I speak four and understand another two. I majored in French Literature at Yale and have loved languages since the age of ten.