Leaning into Leadership: A Candid Conversation with Lindsey Conner Mosby
Lindsey is a partner in Prophet’s Austin office. She’s the daughter of two ’60s hippies that pushed her to explore and try new things, a foundation that propelled her into a career in strategic design and innovation. She loves being presented with complex problems and finding solutions that – to put it simply – help make people’s lives better. She is driven by the adage “healthy, wealthy and wise” and is drawn to meaningful work that helps humans have access to better health, financial security and education. Like her parents, Lindsey is a powerhouse in whatever she touches, and there is so much we can all learn from her. We are incredibly lucky that she chose Prophet for the next phase of her career.
Amanda Nizzere: What do you do at Prophet and in what circumstances would I come to you for something?
Lindsey Conner Mosby: I’m a bit of a new hybrid for Prophet. I sit at the intersection of our healthcare vertical and our experience and innovation platform. My charge here is to help build and expand what is already a strong healthcare portfolio of work by bringing more product and service innovation consulting to it. We have such deep roots in the brand and marketing side of the house, but there is a lot of necessary and interesting work that can be done in the broader healthcare space that’s about creating new products, services and experiences for patients, caregivers, doctors, nurses and the ancillary businesses coming up that are important for the future of healthcare. I’m here to bring a human-centered, experience and innovation lens to the healthcare work that we do.
AN: Have you always been in healthcare?
LCM: I’ve always been in experience and innovation. My undergraduate degree is in English. It was a great liberal arts-based education, but when I went back to graduate school, I got my master’s in science and information design and technology. That’s when I discovered I liked the blend of behavior, technology and communication, and it led me into what were the early days of strategic design. I picked healthcare several years later because I feel bound to do work that has deep meaning and purpose behind it, and I enjoy complex problem-solving, of which healthcare has a never-ending supply!
AN: What’s one professional skill you’re currently working on?
LCM: Not doing everything. I have good intentions that can turn into a bad habit of taking on too much. I want to help, and I usually say yes, but that can lead to me doing more than I should and spreading myself too thin. I also tend to hold on to stuff, so I’m trying to learn how to let go of things, including control, projects and opportunities that can be given to other incredibly competent, gifted, fantastic human beings that I work with. Sometimes my most important job is to clear the runway for others.
AN: I’ve seen a common theme in how females answer that question.
LCM: Honestly, I’m not surprised. Women are socialized to be the helpers, which in and of itself is not a bad thing at all! But we also learn early on: we’re going to have to work harder, do more and pay more dues because this is the way the system is right now, so we are told to expect it. Still, at the end of the day, even when we want to, we can’t do it all. So, you pick your battles. I feel a responsibility to claim space for those who may not feel comfortable doing so and to hold the line against systemic dysfunction, even though it can be exhausting. Because if I don’t, then I’m letting down all the other young women behind me who will be affected by the lack of change. It’s important to me that I walk my walk and talk openly about the things we know we need to change. Even if it’s uncomfortable.
AN: Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?
LCM: I’ve had a lot of wonderful professional mentors over the years, but there’s one person in particular: Todd Holcomb. He hired me out of graduate school at Georgia Tech when he was recruiting for Studio Archetype, a very high-quality, niche brand strategy firm. I’ve carried several important things from him from those early days. One is a deep commitment to quality. Todd had really high expectations, and they were not always easy to live up to, but he was right – that extra effort mattered, that extra hour, extra review, an extra push. We owe it to those we hope to serve. I knew I had done a good job if it met Todd’s approval! I have really high expectations, too. That may not make me everyone’s favorite, but it’s not about me, or about us. It’s about whether what we do matters, that what we deliver serves to make things better for people who need it at the end of the day. Last but not least, Todd taught me early on that presentation is everything. Consequently, I have a “go big or go home” mentality. I’m committed to creating things – experiences, products, services and brands – that are memorable and stand out.
AN: What was your first job?
LCM: My first job was retail, and I absolutely loathed it. But if I think about the first job that helped get my feet under me in terms of how to work under pressure, how to team with people and how to “be of service,” it was waitressing. I waitressed for years and even met my husband in the restaurant business. There is nothing like working in a high-intensity service job to help you figure out how to multitask, be nice under pressure, learn to ask for help and deal with difficult people. I really loved it. I feel like everyone should have to wait tables at least once. It’s such a pressure cooker, and yet so much is under your own control. The outcome is up to you.
AN: What led you to this career?
LCM: I happened upon a Master’s program at Georgia Tech at a fortuitous time in the late ‘90s. That’s when the internet was really taking off. There was something exciting about having to figure out how we were going to use this new medium as a communication tool, to connect people through it, and do business with it. The internet was changing the very nature of the way humans communicated and I was fascinated by that. When I came out of graduate school, I had a degree that was unique and attractive at that time, leading to my first job at Studio Archetype, which was bought by Sapient Corp. six months into my tenure. Sapient was challenging, and I got thrown into the deep end, but I was totally hooked on the innovative and ever-changing nature of all this stuff that hadn’t been done before. It has continued to give me opportunities to keep doing the next great thing.
AN: What energizes you at work?
LCM: Great work, wonderful, smart people, deeply empathetic research. I love being in a team, whether virtual or in-person, and talking about what we’ve been challenged to do, what we can invent, thinking about what that means, figuring out how the business plan is going to support a customer need, and watching people contribute what they know. That sense of comradery and collective intent is special. Because I’m in healthcare, I work on projects that are about helping people with cancer have an easier time getting through treatment, or helping parents who have a child with a debilitating disease sleep through the night because of a new product or service. It’s truly meaningful work. When I wasn’t doing healthcare full-time, I worked with a lot of major consumer brands and that was great, too. Finding purpose or meaning in whatever work you’re doing is also about recognizing that being “of service” comes in a lot of different forms. You have to celebrate your wins in multiple ways.
AN: If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be?
LCM: I want my superpower to be the ability to speak any language at any time. The access that language affords you and the ability to get in and quickly be of the environment that you’re in would be so great.
AN: If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would you choose?
LCM: My son says I would choose Michelle Obama, which makes me feel really good. I think he would say that because I’ve been socially and politically active for a long time. We talk a lot about politics, social justice, equality and cultural impact in our family. But maybe for fun’s sake, I would say Stevie Nicks. I used to sing in bands and originally, I was a vocal performance major in college. Singing is a big part of my family. A day in Stevie’s shoes during the Rumors era would be all kinds of fun. I love her solo stuff, but the early witchy days of Fleetwood Mac would be so fun.
AN: If you had to pick one age to be permanently, which age would you choose?
LCM: I surprise myself with my thinking on this, but I really think it would be my early 40s. I’m in my early 50s now, and I don’t want to be back in my 20s (no thank you). I really loved my 30s, but if I had to be an age forever, my early 40s was when I was still perceived as “young” but seasoned enough to not feel insecure about how to show up, especially professionally. It’s a nice powerful age for women.
About the Series
Throughout my career, I have been fascinated with the building blocks of leadership, from motivation, coaching and communication to mentorship, empathy, inspiration and more. Unraveling and understanding what makes a strong and impactful leader tick can help each of us implement new strategies to grow as individuals and leaders ourselves. Over the years, I’ve listened to podcasts, read books, attended conferences, and listened to TED Talks about various leadership topics, but some of the most impactful lessons and pieces of advice I’ve learned have been from those around me—my mentors, colleagues, and industry peers—which led me to create this interview series. I invite you to join me as I interview various leaders in my network to share new tools and wise advice from them that you may just want to add to your own leadership toolbox.
As a partner at Prophet, Lindsey specializes in healthcare transformation and innovation. For more than 20 years, she has helped healthcare organizations, including providers, payers, pharmaceuticals, and consumer health organizations, create and enhance programs across innovation and growth strategy, qualitative research, product and service design, organizational design and change management. Lindsey has worked with many organizations transforming the healthcare industry including Philips Design, frog Design, Pfizer Consumer Health, The Mayo Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Cigna and more. Have a question for Lindsey or want to connect with her to share your mutual love for Fleetwood Mac? Reach out directly here.