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Leo Q+A: Alma Klein

We talk beer, teamwork and creativity with Arc Worldwide’s VP, creative director

Alma Klein is a VP, creative director at Arc Worldwide, where she is the creative lead on the MillerCoors Customer and Channel Marketing Account. From meditative yoga to early-morning runs, Alma finds ways to stay creative in both her personal and professional life.

She gave us the details in this quick Q&A.

In one sentence, describe what you do.
I help MillerCoors sell more beer by building custom beer-selling solutions for grocery stores, convenience stores, bars, restaurants and concessionaires—basically for any place where beer is sold.

What excites you about showing up to work every day?
I get to solve problems with a group of smart, creative people who genuinely appreciate each other and consider their colleagues their friends. Creative, account, strategy and production—we see each other as allies and value one another’s expertise. Within our MillerCoors Customer and Channel Marketing team, there are cross-functional folks coming together to work out at Revisions, share their Whole 30 lunches, grab drinks after work—we’ve even made a habit of doing planks and wall sits together mid-afternoon!

How do you know when you/the team have hit the “right” idea?
If I can’t wait to talk about the idea with anyone and everyone, that’s a good sign. If the idea is simple enough that it can be explained in a sentence or two and summarized with a catchy handle, then we’re really onto something. If the idea sticks with the folks I’ve told and they start talking about it, then we’ve hit gold.

What are you working on right now that excites you most?
That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child! This month, I’m excited to see the continued roll-out of Pints and Plates. With over 40 participating beers, Pints and Plates is a new way to go to market for retailers—an always-on selling solution that inspires shoppers to pair food with beer in-store, out of store and especially on social media, through the use of influencers.

We’re helping MillerCoors provide compelling happy hour activations to Buffalo Wild Wings, one of their key accounts. We’re installing interactive taps in bars that let patrons make a donation to a cause every time they order a Coors Light draft. We’re cross-selling pizza and beer at QuikTrip, anchoring a storewide college football program at Meijer, and figuring out creative ways to sell beer through e-commerce and mobile across channels.

Outside my immediate team, I’m leading a collaboration between ParentKind and the Retail Design Group to concept and build a fantastic Mothers Lounge that will not only meet the space needs of the 40-odd new mothers who return to work each year, it will knock their socks off! It’s full of thoughtful touches like lockers, sinks, comfortable chairs and a lending library of parenting and children’s books.

Do you have any personal routines that help you foster creativity?
I need both intense physical exercise and quiet, meditative moments in my week. I get the former through morning runs and the latter through mindful yoga practice. I love quieting my mind with a slow, gentle Hatha or candlelight yoga class. But that’s just physical maintenance. To keep my creative juices flowing, I need to be out in the world—whether it’s kayaking on a lake, checking out a new bar or restaurant, or going to a show. Something my team does is take turns sharing five minutes of inspiration before our weekly status meeting. We’ve seen travel photos, case study videos, art and comedy bits.

What’s on your to-do list for the rest of 2017?
In December, my firstborn will become a bat mitzvah. She’s doing the hard work, studying Torah and preparing to lead our congregation in all the Hebrew prayers, but there’s a lot of organization and planning that needs to go into the luncheon/party and hosting extended family and out of town guests for a weekend.

Who or what inspires you and why?
I’d have to go with two women with deep Chicago connections. Michelle Obama for her intelligence, grace and poise. I feel like she has it all—smarts, a fantastic marriage, successful children. She used her position as FLOTUS to make the world a better place. I also want her upper arms.

My other choice is Oprah Winfrey. She built one of the world’s largest audiences by just being 100 percent herself, and she transformed a trashy daytime talk show into a platform for what she believed in. Only Oprah could recommend a challenging Toni Morrison book and get tens of millions of women to read it!

Incidentally, I was in the Oprah audience when Al Gore was a guest, talking about “An Inconvenient Truth.” Cameras on or off, Oprah didn’t change. She loved her audience and they loved her right back.