Millie Lapidario’s LinkedIn lists her as a “Brand Strategist & Senior Copywriter on a mission to tell human stories in tech”. As it turned out, telling the human story behind their technical product was what made our time together so fun and rewarding! Databricks approached us to do a 10-year anniversary documentary for their annual conference. We were immediately impressed by her team’s passion for their product and their ability to explain complex technology in a way that we not only understood, but quickly saw the value of. We hope you enjoy getting to know the intrepid, thoughtful and warm Millie as much as we did.
Millie Lapidario on AI, Curiosity & Goodness
Teak Partners: get to know the people behind the brands that inspire us
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
The most probing question of all! I’ll start with my personal mission statement: Explore all the goodness. A couple of years ago, I worked on defining my company’s brand purpose, and the process inspired me to define my own life purpose.
Curiosity drives everything I do: as a creative copywriter and brand strategist, as a swimmer and yogi, as a traveler and boater. I started my career as a journalist, which turned out to be the best bootcamp for marketing. I’ve written for companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Qualcomm and Akamai. I even wrote T-shirt slogans for Nike in my early days. And I’ve trained dozens of marketers to be better storytellers.
As a kid, I was fascinated with artificial intelligence after watching Terminator 2. So I guess I’ve come full circle because I ended up as a copywriter and strategist at Databricks, a data and AI company.
What is some of your go-to content at the moment- what are you reading/listening to/watching now?
• Strategy Is Your Words: A Strategist’s Fight for Meaning – Mark Pollard (he’s a genius!)
• Anything Malcolm Gladwell creates is always mindblowing — all his books, his Masterclass, his podcast, Revisionist History
• Just finished Take Back Your Power by Deborah Liu – so good!
• My other favorite podcasts: Tagline, Plain English with Derek Thompson, In Machines We Trust, How Brands Are Built, The Ezra Klein Show
What’s the best advice you’ve received that you actually use?
I’ll give a profound one and a funny one because they’ve both shaped me.
Maya Angelou said, “If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
My dad, who taught me to never to feel intimidated by anyone. No matter how important some people make themselves out to be, he said, “they poop the same way we all do!”
Tell us about a brand you admire and why.
Ahhh too many! Nike, Netflix, Ikea, Patagonia, Minicooper. If I have to pick one, a company whose mission statement moves me in a deeply personal way. Airbnb: to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere.
Brands with purpose — real purpose that drives important decisions — will always win me over. BTW, I highly recommend a couple books about purpose: Good Is The New Cool: Market Like You Give a Damn and Good Is The New Cool: The Principles of Purpose. I had the honor of working on a project with the authors, and they’re the real deal.
What’s your favorite non-famous app on your phone?
Call Recorder records every phone call you make. Highly recommend when you’re dealing with health insurance companies trying to weasel out of paying for healthcare. Record every call to document everything. It’s a sad commentary on healthcare in the U.S.
What is the current topic/hobby/subject that you are obsessed with?
Mastering yoga poses that look like ninja moves! I’m a member of Yogi Flight School, which focuses on arm balances and inversions. There’s something empowering — even addicting — about training your body to balance in the air. Being upside down forces you to face your fears.
What’s an ad that stands out in your mind or your favorite campaign ad?
This commercial by Globant is my all-time favorite B2B tech ad. Telling an emotional story in enterprise technology can really challenging. This ad reminds me to keep thinking BIG and keep fighting against mediocrity. When an idea feels uncomfortable or even a little crazy, it’s worth going down the rabbit hole to explore. The music makes it soooo good!
What’s something that’s brought you joy recently at your work?
Working with Teak and my incredible team on a documentary about our company. It brought me back to my journalism days, and reminded me that everyone has a story to tell.
What’s something that’s brought you joy recently outside of work?
Looking at old photos from my childhood always makes me happy. That’s why I keep a few in my workspace. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the daily grind, the crazy deadlines, and the stress of being an adult. I believe that staying in touch with your inner child is good for the soul. Let your imagination run wild, play outside, ask questions. Be the real you.