Lea Stendahl

What is the most exciting thing about working in this business? What is your professional passion?
I’m passionate about bringing a brand’s story to life in authentic and compelling ways to connect with target audiences. I love the process of uncovering client insights, developing a differentiated position, validating it with the audience and, of course, the creative process. Successful organizations recognize that healthy, strong brands drive meaningful value and measurable business results, and can unify and rally an entire company. But all the pieces—from strategy to packaging—need to be in place to achieve those results. Putting the pieces together on behalf of a brand drives me. On a more personal note, I’m passionate about bringing out the best in every team member, recognizing diverse backgrounds and skills, and seeing the team succeed and take pride in being great marketers. 


What do you love to do when you aren’t at work? What is your personal passion and why?
Travel. It’s provided me the opportunity to see extraordinary things, appreciate new people and cultures, and push me way outside my comfort zone. While I enjoy urban travel—Cape Town is my favorite city—I usually prefer being off the grid. My most special adventures have been photographing gorillas in Rwanda, following the migration in the Serengeti, and fly fishing in the Indian Ocean. 


What is your favorite community cause or philanthropic organization to support and why?
Paddlers for Humanity, a non-profit based in the East End of Long Island, is my favorite charity. The organization focuses on helping at-risk kids through a variety of mental health programs. It’s called Paddlers for Humanity because the flagship fundraising event is the annual “Block Challenge,” an 18-mile open-ocean standup paddleboard journey from Montauk to Block Island. Whether an expert paddler or weekend warrior, everyone makes the crossing together—it’s an exhausting, exciting challenge with a wonderful group of people, all in support of a great cause. 


What is your favorite quote?
“The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life; it’s so easy to make it complex.” - Yvon Chouinard


Who was your mentor / biggest influence and what did they teach you?
I worked for legendary CMO Nick Utton for almost a decade, at the most important learning phase of my career. He has the most incredible creative instincts and a talent for developing work that captivates consumers and resonates culturally—including iconic work for MasterCard and E*TRADE. Nick taught me how to balance the art and science of marketing, use consumer research as a guide for decision-making, and make bold moves on behalf of a brand. I’ll always be grateful for his mentorship. 


If you could have lunch with someone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Jane Goodall. Brilliant, bold, intellectually curious, fearless, unconventional, and compassionate.