Meet The Disruptors: Porsha Ellis Of Crown + Conquer On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Integrity, Curiosity & Resourcefulness are your best attributes. Use them to your benefit and for good!
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Crown + Conquer’s Managing Director, Porsha Ellis.
Porsha Ellis began her career in the marketing & events industry over 15 years ago; her first role working for the Super Bowl Committee as an Events & Community Relations Coordinator. That experience, coupled with her love for sports & entertainment, sparked her passion for client services and curating immersive, one-of-a-kind experiences. She launched her career with her move to New York City, where she produced events for brands like Victoria Secret, Samsung, HBO, and Microsoft to name a few.
Her journey continued as she transitioned over to the creative & sports marketing agency, Game Seven, where she made the move to Los Angeles, helping to open their offices on the West Coast. There she led campaigns and executed projects for brands like Nike and Beats By Dre; inclusive of spearheading a multi-year, multi-pronged Influencer Initiative, managing various digital and social talent, the first of its kind for Beats.
Five years ago, Porsha took the leap and transitioned over to newly founded creative agency, Crown + Conquer. As the Vice President of Accounts, she has overseen a wide range of brand campaigns and projects, leading influencer strategy & programs and managed a team to service clients such as Amazon, Spotify, Google, Airbnb and many more. Now in her role as Managing Director, she oversees business strategies and company operations including finance, legal, internal/client protocols, and processes to ensure growth & profitability.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I started in the industry over 15 years ago. My first exposure to the world of Experiential Marketing was around the Super Bowl, where I worked for the SB XL Host Committee while I was in college. There, I was exposed to the vastness of this industry and the different types of events that brands gravitated towards. After that role, I realized my love for creating & executing experiences that bring joy to others. Truthfully, planning & curating events has always been my specialty. In high school and college, I was always involved with organizations that put-on events, so I chose this career path because it allowed to be my most authentic self. I’m a planner at heart, anyone who knows me personally would say the same, so using my intrinsic skills to create magic turned out to be a perfect fit.
After college I moved to New York City to pursue a full-time career in Marketing; starting in Public Relations but then quickly realized that was not my calling. I double downed on producing events and landed my first full-time gig with Nike Communications (not to be confused with the “Just Do It” Nike). My work over the years has spanned across various Fortune 500 companies (Microsoft, HBO, Google, Apple) and I’ve built & executed a plethora of experiential work: Multi-City Tours, Exhibitions, Pop-Ups, you name it. I also found a lane for myself in the Influencer Marketing space over the last 8 years, creating bespoke strategies, executing campaigns & talent partnerships for Patron, Airbnb, Amazon & Beats By Dre to name a few. After a long stint in NY, Los Angeles became home where I helped build the west coast business of my last agency, Game Seven, which is also where I met & worked with my now boss, April McDaniel. I joined April in building Crown + Conquer over 5 years ago and have been developing our client relationships & growing our business to where we are today. Now, I’ve taken on the role as Managing Director, working with our Leadership team and Founder to ensure profitability and implementing business strategies as we continue to scale.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
We create “Moments of Truth” and truth for us is being our most authentic selves, unapologetically, and always striving to be our best. Who we are at our core is a diverse group of creative alchemists who bring an alternative perspective to the table. There’s nothing traditional about us — we seek out what’s different and you’ll see that in every aspect of our business; how we hire, who we hire, the brands we work with, the type of projects we work on and how we execute the work… all of it matters.
Our work is more than just a service — we challenge ourselves to think outside the box and create waves in culture & we push our clients to do the same. Unfortunately, in this industry, there are so many people who are “all talk” but we’re all about action, showing up for ourselves, our clients, our vendors, and the community any way we can. This is who we have always been & what makes our work disruptive!
I’d be remiss not to mention that we are a female-led agency; our founder and our leadership team are all women (we also have some amazing guys that work on our team as well) so just by looking at us, you’ll see that we are different. Diversity is at our core — we live and breathe it every day because we’ve purposely & intentionally set ourselves up to gain as many perspectives as possible, which is what makes our work stand out.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Oh boy! There have been a handful of moments that I wished I could take back but ultimately, they all ended up becoming learning lessons that I’ve been able to apply even to this day. I’ve always worked in fast paced environments and when I first was given the task to create and send a budget estimate to a client, I knew that I was finally growing in my role. After getting the budget approved internally, it was time to send the budget out to the client, except I sent the wrong budget out, which had about a $30K discrepancy in it. Thankfully, we were able to smooth things over but that moment taught me a few valuable lessons in this business, especially when dealing with money.
1 — Double (and sometimes even triple) check your work. Being thorough is key.
2 — Take a second to slow down and breathe. While the work that we are doing is high pressure and urgent, we aren’t saving lives so taking an extra second to ground yourself will usually help in the long run.
3 — Own your mistakes, learn from them, and keep it moving!
Thankfully, I’ve redeemed myself over the years and I’m now known as the Budget Master by my team.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a collective of colleagues (namely women) around me throughout my career journey that have encouraged me, challenged me, supported me, kept me honest and celebrated me over the years. For me, I have learned from so many people in the industry that it would be too many to name but what I think is important is to always keep a tribe of people around you that you trust. People that have your best interest at heart and are willing to help you grow however they can.
My relationship with April, our Founder of Crown + Conquer, isn’t a typical one. I’m grateful for the journey that she has been on as a Founder and what she has learned & shared with me along the way. When I really think about it, this agency was built from scratch, and I came in at the beginning, so we’ve navigated a lot of spaces as first timers together. We’ve learned some things by trial and error, and I’ve taken the wisdom that she has passed on and have been able to apply it in a way that benefits myself and the business.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
Being disruptive is all about intention. As an agency, we intentionally focus on how to be the most creative, the most inclusive, the most purposeful, strategizing on what would resonate best with the target audience; and have checks & balances to ensure we stay true to this. For us, being disruptive is all about stretching ourselves and our clients to try new things and to get out of our comfort zone. We are not a one size fits all agency and we pride ourselves on that, so our agency is naturally disruptive at its core.
What can be seen as detrimentally disruptive is when agencies/brands have no intention, no purpose and are performative in how they show up. It happens all the time! Agencies/brands just want to be a part of a certain conversation or moment, with no real idea of how to connect with a specific demographic and/or community and no real intention of talking to them past that particular moment in time. That’s an example of how things can start to become problematic.
Can you share five of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
I’ll share the top three that have been relevant to my journey within this industry:
Integrity, Curiosity & Resourcefulness are your best attributes. Use them to your benefit and for good!
I really believe these three things have helped catapult us in this industry. We have integrity when it comes to our work and the relationships we are building. We care about the people/brands we work with and that’s reflective of us working with people we like and resonate with us (one of our companies’ core values/mottos). We are curious and are always looking to learn new things, new trends, new ways of resonating with different audiences. We’re resourceful to a T — always finding a way to get things done.
Always trust your gut (unless your gut isn’t trustworthy, then ask for help!)
As a predominately female agency, it’s important that we trust our intuition and use it to benefit the business. We use our inner guide to help us navigate an ever-changing landscape, especially as we’ve found our way through the pandemic.
Walk away from things & energy that don’t align with your values.
I’m big on boundaries and finding fulfillment and purpose in the work that you’re doing (blame my Libra sun, Cancer rising, Pisces moon). Crown + Conquer has always taken a stand to stay true to our values and have prioritized working with clients who respect our voice and point of view.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
This is just the beginning! As an agency, we’ve spent the last five years building a solid foundation and have invested a lot of time and energy into growing our team. Despite spending the last two+ years navigating a pandemic, now is the time for us to double down on our efforts and go after some of our bigger goals. The sky is truly the limit for us. I guess I’ll just leave it at that for now; you’ll just have to follow along and see what’s on the horizon, but I will say that the future is bright, and I can’t wait to share more with the world.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
I’m big on books and podcasts as of late. A couple of my favorite books regarding business are Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and Todd Henry’s “Herding Tigers: Be The Leader That Creative People Need.” As a manager and leader at my agency, it’s important to continuously develop my leadership skills to support my team but also work on my own effectiveness and self-mastery to be my best self and both books helped me hone in on blind spots/areas that were important for me to stretch.
“Set Boundaries, Find Peace” by Nedra Glover Tawwab is another favorite of mine and I think it’s relevant to the current times of the Great Resignation. We’ve been forced to really look deep at our priorities and find space to reclaim who we are and what’s important to us. This book helped me establish boundaries both in my personal and professional life to create a better environment to produce my best work.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I don’t know if this is particularly my favorite but it’s very applicable to how I live and work these days. “Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” For me personally, application and action are sometimes what’s missing from the equation when we try to problem solve. While the curiosity and learning are important, what you do with that information is even more telling of who you are and what you value. This is where I have found success, in consistent & intentional application. Being solution oriented is imperative in my line of work, as things are always changing and the work requires you to be flexible and to think on your toes, so finding ways to make the work actionable is key!
You are a person of influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Hmmmm, that’s a really interesting question. This movement has already started so I don’t have a groundbreaking idea to share at the moment but in this industry specifically, I think it’s important that we continue to give opportunities and a platform to underserved communities. I’m proud that as an agency we have always done this through our client and agency focused work (i.e., our Beats HBCU Creator Program, which is in its third year currently, or our Getty Internship Program Partnership) and I am finding more ways to do this personally as well.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can follow me personally on Instagram — @ImRaisingWisdom and follow my agency Crown + Conquer — @WeAreCrownandConquer. To learn more about Crown + Conquer, feel free to check out our website, crownandconquer.com.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Meet The Disruptors: Porsha Ellis Of Crown + Conquer On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.