Exceptional Women of the World: Kate Hironaka

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For Kate Hironaka, chief strategy officer of B-Reel in Los Angeles, hearing about the impact of iconic work while at the University of Oregon School of Journalism excited her about the industry. While the world went gaga over the creative commercial exploits of Apple’s “Here’s to the Crazy Ones,” created by Chiat Day, Hironaka learned about the mother of a socially awkward 10-year old who wrote Lee Clow a letter thanking him for creating something that allowed her child to see the world differently, embrace his differences and say, “I think I’m going to be OK.” In Hironaka’s eyes, this was what advertising really could be, beyond just selling a brand — and in her career, she has embraced what she learned in Eugene at Wired, Goodby Silberstein & Partners, 72andSunny and now B-Reel. Level-headed and a pointing to listening as a great strength, Hironaka believes that getting to the point of staying on an even keel takes time, repetition and that, ultimately, it can get one to realize that the pace of the business doesn’t necessarily carry the “crisis” moniker and can allow the fun of the industry to shine through. Honest support is another hallmark of success, in Hironaka’s eyes. This emotional security allows people to be their very best, can create teams that far exceed expectations and let people say ‘the stupid thing’ without fear. Additionally, having that supper and being constantly ‘in beta’ affords people a journey to try things — some that work, some that don’t — and find unique ways to help improve the work. Another key factor in success, according to Hironaka, is getting out and really seeing and understanding how people really live and interact with the world. Additionally, she feels its important to not take the things that most consider mundane, for granted. Even in focus groups, a long-time part of the industry landscape, Hironaka finds new things that can make a real difference for clients and brands. Curiosity is also another skill that is important. By taking a genuine interest in people and their stories, empathy is built and new perspectives created. It can improve the way the industry sees its own stewardship in creating value for brands beyond just sales — and also inform the way the evolve inclusion and support the relationship that are built within the industry. Support of each other is a big part of Hironaka’s personal point of view and narrative. By consistency being champions for each other, even in the face of challenge and competition, positivity can emerge and engender a welcoming environment that allows for longevity and the best work possible.

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