This Veterans Day, Chris Laughlin, CEO of LMO, took time to answer questions about how his father’s service influenced him both personally and professionally. His father, Doug Laughlin, was a veteran and the founder of LMO. Doug served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1969 and founded LMO in 1995.
Doug Laughlin and CEO Chris Laughlin
Doug Laughlin and Director Scott Laughlin
How did your father’s service inform his philosophy on business and PR/advertising?
I am not sure his philosophy on business was fully shaped by his military service, but I can tell you I pretty much saw him exhibit all of the Army values: “Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage” on a daily basis.
I think the value that stood out most on the business side was “Integrity.” He never made a business decision based upon greed or self-preservation. I watched him pass on new business ideas that would benefit LMO itself greatly because they were not the right decision for our Clients. He always treated people with kindness even when they might not have deserved it. That is rare and very hard to do.
How does LMO carry on his legacy?
Not a day goes by where I don’t summon my Father on how he would react to a situation or answer a question. I’m not sure I always react or make decisions exactly how he would, but it is a work in progress. I think his legacy overall is how you treat people. There is the standard formula of respect, kindness and fairness which we try and live every day. I think what made him unique is that he had an amazing amount of empathy. Regardless of his stage of life, he had an uncanny ability to understand where a Client, Senior Director at LMO or even my 6-yr old daughter was coming from. I think that is the bedrock of what makes LMO a unique place to be, both as a boss, an employee and a Client.
What is the best piece of advice your father ever gave you for life and/or business?
There were many. The biggest was you have two ears and one mouth, use them exponentially. He instilled the importance of listening to what people are really saying. This is helpful in all aspects of life, but especially in business. When you stop and listen, oftentimes you can pick up what an employee or Client is really trying to say. These little nuances can make or break a relationship or build trust.
What values did your father instill in you that have helped you as a CEO/leader?
Reliable – I think this is an underrated value. We all have our own lives outside of work but showing up when someone needs you is vitally important. The simple act of being present can go a long way and a lot of times it’s the small things, like greeting someone at the front door or grabbing someone a Diet Coke when they are slammed.
Humility – Great things in business are very difficult to achieve alone. Entrepreneurial companies thrive on everyone making a difference. It’s okay to make mistakes. It takes humility to own up to them.
Does your father’s record/experience of service influence the type of Client LMO takes on?
After he got out of the Army he spent the majority of his Marketing and Advertising career in Military Recruiting and Retention for the Army, Air Force and the Army and Air National Guard. That was basically the foundation for LMO. At LMO, we have a huge amount of respect and gratitude for Military Service and feel that working with the Military is our little slice of serving.
Thank you to Chris Laughlin for taking the time to speak about his father and how Doug’s service helped mold the mission of LMO.