Our Leadership, Stylish interview series celebrates stylish women in leadership and executive roles. You’ll get personal insights about their role models and inspiration, how these amazing ladies get their teams excited, and what wardrobe and grooming choices they make to give their performance an extra boost of confidence.
Today’s stylish leader is Kristin Luck. She’s a leading voice in the market research industry, a successful businesswoman, and above all the kind of person who makes you feel instantly at ease around her. We love her dedication to promoting women in business — a dedication that actually won her an award. She founded WiRE, an organization that connects and promotes women in research. In short: She’s a gorgeous woman after our own heart. You’ll see when you read the interview below.
Tell us a little bit about who you are and where you are in your career!
Kristin Luck: I’m Kristin Luck. I’m a sales/marketing/branding pro, a research tech and trends expert. I’m currently a partner at and President and CMO of market research firm Decipher. I’ve been in the research game for a little over 15 years.
Do you have role models you draw inspiration from for your life and career?
I have a lot of respect for women who can, so gracefully, balance their work and personal obligations- particularly my friends with children like Su Midghall (a partner at Davis, Hibbits & Midghall) and Jen Barth (Executive Director of Schoolhouse Supplies), both based in Portland, Oregon, who are such amazing mothers and business leaders. Su, in particular, has taught me the importance of slowing down and taking time for myself — which can be so challenging to prioritize when you’re running a business.
What are typical situations in which you get to show off your leadership qualities?
I’m fortunate to be focused on driving our sales and marketing so when I’m not in one-on-one client meetings, I spend a lot of time at industry events serving as Decipher’s resident brand evangelist. I’m naturally a bit introverted so I’ve worked very hard to cultivate my own leadership and presentation style and I’ve figured out what’s within my comfort zone as well as what motivates both prospective clients and my internal team. This fall I’ll spend a lot of time on stage, speaking at industry events across the US, as well as in Germany, France, and the UK.
Are there any habits or rituals that make you feel at the top of your game before a public appearance, a client meeting, or a critical team meeting?
There was a fascinating Ted talk by Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, about how your body language really shapes who you are and how you feel in certain situations. I really try to pull out the “Wonder Woman” pose right before I’m “on” in business.
I also feel it’s important to embrace your own unique personal style so that you’re comfortable with your physical appearance. I personally hate traditional business suits, I find them incredibly uncomfortable, and so I’ve put great effort into curating a wardrobe that is work appropriate but not necessarily traditional. Comfort = confidence.
If you have to get a group of people excited, what works best for you?
Know your audience. Find a connection and use that to unify your audience. Use humor and personalize your subject matter. Be human. Share.
If we asked the people around you what your leadership style was, what words do you think would come up?
Inclusive, collaborative, warm, direct.
What are some of your go-to outfits, hair or makeup styles that make you feel most confident in any business situation?
My go-to outfits are dresses. I’m a total road warrior and I never check a bag so dresses are key — they take up very little space. Dresses also involve literally no thought when I’m rushed and stressed before a big meeting or presentation. I’m a big fan of light leather jackets and simple neutral colored separates that are easy to throw together (think black, white, navy and gray — easy to mix and match).
I have super curly hair so if I can’t manage to squeeze in a blow dry before a big meeting, I generally rock a pony tail – simple, professional and generally humidity proof. I never wear perfume — I feel it’s far too easy to lay it on too thick and scent is such an individual thing. What I love may be something my clients or colleagues hate. I keep makeup to a minimum.
Guys just have to throw on a suit and tie and look “business,” we have so many options. Are there any ladies out there you think get the balance between stylish and business just right?
Kelley Peters (VP of Insights at Post Foods) is pretty much my business fashion idol. She wears a lot of vintage and always looks so stylish and unique, yet totally professional. I also really admire Eileen Campbell, CMO of IMAX and Jackie Wilgar, SVP of Marketing at LiveNation – they both have amazing style and are always dressed impeccably.
If you were giving a piece of advice to a group of young women about to embark on their careers, what would it be?
Spend time figuring out what suits you. Experiment. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What sort of life do you want to live? How do you want to spend your day? And cut the negative self-talk. You’re smart, you’re driven and you’re capable of much more than you think you are.
Kristin Luck with her colleague and “business fashion idol” Kelley Peters at a gala event.
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, Kristin.
Check out the other Leadership, Stylish interviews. Enjoy!