Top 10 Insights & Advice For Women Just Starting Out

About the show:

The Agency Spark Podcast, hosted by Sara Nay, is a collection of short-form interviews from thought leaders in the marketing consultancy and agency space. Each episode focuses on a single topic with actionable insights you can apply today.

About this episode:

In this episode of the Agency Spark Podcast, Sara talks with Corina Ludwig on top 10 insights & advice for women just starting out.

Corina Ludwig is an accomplished Senior Executive, Advisor, and Board Member with more than 20 years of success in SaaS, marketing, and advertising industries. Her broad areas of expertise include graphic design, corporate branding, brand development, HR, and leadership.

Corina holds a leadership position as the President of FunctionFox Systems where she is responsible for the corporate vision and strategy. Prior to her roles at FunctionFox Systems, Corina additionally led Human Resources for Suburbia Studios and the Traffic Manager for Ogilvy & Mather.

Corina obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design from Emily Carr University of Art & Design. She is Vice Chair of the board of Directors for Island Women in Science and Technology and Board Director for VIATEC – Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Center.

In her free time she spends time with her husband and three great danes and runs a successful culinary business.

Key topics:

  • How the agency space has changed over the past 10-15 years
  • 10 key insights for women just starting out in the marketing space
  • How to be a good mentor to others

More from Corina Ludwig:


Sara Nay (00:00): Welcome to the agency spark podcast.

Sara Nay (00:28): This is Your host, Sarah nay. And today I have Karina Ludwig, an accomplished senior executive advisor and board member with more, more than 20 years of success and SAS marketing and advertising industries. Karina holds a leadership position as the president of function Fox systems, where she is responsible for the corporate vision and strategy in her free time. She spends time with her husband and three great Danes and runs a successful culinary business. So welcome to this show, Karina,

Corina Ludwig (00:57): Thanks for having me really great to be here.

Sara Nay (00:59): I am so excited that you're here and I'm really, I think we're gonna have some great stuff to talk about today. The topic I wanna focus on with you is I know you've been in the agency world for about 22 successful years. And so I wanna hear some, I believe you have a top 10 list of some key insights that you've learned over these years, essentially. What do you wish you would've known when you were just starting out and some feedback that you could give or advice you could give to women getting started in this space today? So the floor is yours. Let's hear it.

Corina Ludwig (01:29): Yeah. So definitely the agency world has changed a tremendous amount in the last 10, 15 years. I think women, especially in just diversity in general, I wanna start with a couple of stats, cuz I think it's a good framing for where we're at Susan. Who's a PhD. She runs the Institute for women's leadership. She put out some stats, let's say that globally women hold just 24% of senior leadership positions compared to like China, where they hold 51% of senior leadership slots. And I think even just locally in your own area or your own industry, you'll probably see that in some of the more senior roles, at least I see it in our industry. And they also did a study of over 22,000 publicly traded organizations worldwide and 60% of those have no female board members, which is something that I've looked at locally and said, okay, how can I make a difference?

Corina Ludwig (02:18): And how can I be different in that way? And so joining boards that are first, I started with an all female board. That's where my comfort level was, but moved to a board that was predominantly all male. And it was the first year that when I joined the board that it was 50% female dominated, which you know, was a good change. It's moved back to being more male dominated, but looking at sort of the boards that you attend or events that you attend and go, okay, can I be here? Do you feel comfortable being in those spaces? And then finally in terms of stats, just growth in women own businesses has outpaced the overall increase in new businesses by one and a half times. So simply put women. If you have women in senior leadership positions, the organizations are typically run more efficiently and more financially.

Corina Ludwig (03:07): I guess that's still debatable, but I think there's a different risk tolerance. So women have general speaking, the lower risk tolerance. So they're gonna make more sound concrete decisions before they move forward. And I think that's why some of those stats are the way that they are from a top 10 perspective and really thought about this. I was 25 when I started with function Fox. So that's, I'm in my late forties. What all those things, all those events that I went to that were male dominated or things that I put myself forward to, what would I have changed? And so here's my top 10 list. Number one, don't be afraid to ask for help. There's I always thought I had to do it all on my own, but it's a team effort and really it's a team sport. So just ask for help. Number two,

Sara Nay (03:49): I gotta interrupt real quick. Yeah, because I actually was thinking when I was getting ready for this conversation, because I've been in the industry for 12 years, I was like, what's the number one thing I would've told myself. And it was, don't be afraid to ask for help. So I couldn't second that even stronger. I think that's a great first point to start with.

Corina Ludwig (04:06): Yeah. I think people think you have to do it all on your own and no, one's gonna say how many people did you ask for help, right? It's just, did you do it or did you not just put yourself out there? Number two, put yourself in uncomfortable situations and own it. I've been in events where I'm the only female in the room of a room about 50 people and it's really uncomfortable. But if you just are confident in it and you own it, you eventually start to feel more confident in those scenarios. Remember that being female sometimes has its advantages, especially in businesses and getting grants. So there's lots of grants and funding that are spec specifically for women owned and look for those because you can have an advantage in terms of getting funding. Number four, don't be afraid to make mistakes, learn from them, move on, I've done lots of them and you just roll with it and hope that nobody notices.

Corina Ludwig (04:57): You're always gonna beat yourself up more than somebody else. Number five, challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone. So there was a time where I said, you know what, I'm gonna really put myself out there. I'm an introvert at heart, but in my role, I have to be more of an extrovert. So I said, I'm gonna go to events and I'm gonna get a minimum of X amount of business cards and then I can leave. And so it was my way of playing with my comfort level. And then recently just before the pandemic, I challenged myself to go to a hundred events in a year. And that is way beyond my comfort zone. And it was really hard to find a hundred local events that I could go to. Cuz a couple, every week I ended up going to a whiskey tasting with a local MP one I don't drink to, I'm not into politics.

Corina Ludwig (05:44): So something like that was way out of my comfort zone, but I did it. And when you go to that many, it just becomes second nature. I can't say I'm still comfortable with it, but it's definitely a lot easier than it used to be. Where was I? Number six, have good mentors have good allies. I'm a mentor for women in tech. So I run a mentorship group through women's enterprise center and that's been really rewarding, just hearing from other women, seeing what other women are doing. And then that can lend itself to broader audiences. Number seven, say, yes, I know Sarah, you're a big one. I'm saying yes to everything. And you do have to have your boundaries and say, no, that still is very important, but say yes to things you won't normally say yes to, or that you don't know the answer to yet. So Hey, can function fives do that? Yes, no problem. And then figure it out.

Sara Nay (06:31): Yeah.

Corina Ludwig (06:32): Yeah. Number eight when you're out of your element and you're out of it, your element I've been there for before, for sure. Just listen and absorb and try to gather as much as you can just be really observant and then speak. When you know that you have an impact, don't feel that you always have to have the floor and then number nine, just be yourself, be authentic and you know, you can't be someone else. So just be true to yourself. And then the last one, which I think is really important, just celebrate your wins, go, okay. Like I'm no longer nervous when I have to do this. Or I just got published in this article or this person just commented on LinkedIn that this had this many followings, whatever the success means to you, but that you are on a path of yourself. Don't try and compare yourself to everyone else and have fun at the end of the day. Yeah, that's my top 10.

Sara Nay (07:18): I think they're absolutely wonderful. In terms of the last point you were just talking about in terms of celebrating, we had a conversation recently with our team and as entrepreneurs, as people that are learning and growing in the marketing space, sometimes it is easy to look at what other people have accomplished and almost have a sense of like, why haven't we done that? Or why haven't we accomplished this yet at our stage in life. And someone made a really good point. She actually heard it on one of my team members heard it on a podcast recently where it's, when people are doing really interesting or exciting things in your space, look at them as like they're paving the way they're innovating, they're creating. And so how can we pave our own ways in different areas? And so I think that's a great thing to keep in mind.

Sara Nay (07:54): So I absolutely love that one and everything you shared, the comfort zone. One also stands out to me. Another little story is I started podcasting the last January, so about a year and a half now. And that was a big comfort zone thing for me where my very first podcast, like I remember like introducing my guests and being so nervous just to ask questions, even though I wasn't like gonna be talking most of the time I was literally, I just had to get a question across and it made me so nervous and now I've done it so often once a while I have published once a week for a year and a half. And now it's just like a, it's exciting, it's fun. I have zero nerves around podcasting. And so I think it's just, it's such great points in terms of putting yourself in spaces that you're not comfortable with today because that's how you're gonna continue to grow, learn and evolve. So all wonderful points. One thing I would love to, to hear you expand on a little bit more is cuz you mentioned you do a lot of mentoring in tech and so a lot of the things that you mentioned on your list, which I couldn't agree more are how you can grow, which I think make a lot of sense in how you can learn and evolve. But what about, do you have any insights on what it takes to be a good mentor to others?

Corina Ludwig (09:00): Yeah. So when I first I was asked to be a mentor. I'm like me be a mentor. Like what can they learn from me? They're like, it's really just facilitating. And so I'm like I can facilitate, I can run a meaning. And really it was about just bringing out the, the problems or the solutions from the rest of the group. So my first sort of mentorship was a group of eight women and it was really just about facilitating the meeting and I was so nervous going into it. And really at the end of the day, it was just a bunch of ladies chatting about the work that they do and inspiring each other. And so I actually got a lot out of it. Of course there's questions that come up and you're like, oh, I have an example of something I've gone through that and I can help you with that.

Corina Ludwig (09:42): Or this is what we did in that scenario. And there's lots of different advice around the table. So I think we all learn from each other. So it's just, it's more about reflecting back to them, you know, what you've heard. So helping them see maybe a different perspective. Yeah. And then offering advice where you can, if you've gone through something similar where you've had a similar experience and you've had an outcome that's been successful, I've done a few of those and have always found them to be in, in inspiring and inviting and empowering and just feeling more whole at the end of it and the women included. So I think if you're looking either to be a mentor or a mentee, find someone that you know, that you align with, that you really understand and value and that you can see that there they were on a similar path, they've been in a similar path to what you want and then they can pave the way for where you're going. There's always gonna be someone that's farther ahead in your mind and someone who's just starting out, but know that even regardless of where you are on your path, that you're also inspiring other people. And so just be cognizant of that.

Sara Nay (10:47): Yeah. Such great points. I agree. I've been lucky to mentor or coach or guide others as well. And I think it is, it's a very rewarding position to be in, but I've often learned a ton from the people that I'm mentoring as well, just because it's a new perspective, new way of thinking collaboration opportunity. So really great top 10 list stats, everything you shared today, I loved hearing it, but people wanna learn from you or connect with you online, where can they find you?

Corina Ludwig (11:12): Yeah, really easy function, They can find me on LinkedIn. So forward slash Karina Ludwig and always hear, I'd love to hear if you heard this podcast and got something from it so that we know that the, these are working, but always just like to help out. We offer time tracking and project management for creative professionals. So normally we're talking with agency owners or people that wanna improve their agency in terms of financials and love chatting with other women and men allies as well. So look forward to hearing from you guys and thanks Sarah for today.

Sara Nay (11:43): Of course. Thanks being here and thank you all for listening to agency spark podcast. This is your host, Sarah.



This episode of the Agency Spark Podcast is brought to you by Termageddon, a Privacy Policy Generator. Any website collecting as little as an email address on a contact form should not only have a Privacy Policy but also have a strategy to keep it up to date when the laws change. Click here to learn more about how Termageddon can help protect your business and get 30% off your first year payment by using code DUCTTAPE at checkout.

You may also like