Introducing the new ThinkNW talent showcase! We’ll be highlighting dynamic talent and job-seekers within the industry here on the blog. We hope you enjoy getting to know these inspiring folks as much as we have.
Meet Miles Lang, an account manager, strategist, and musician. Learn more about Miles below.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small suburb about 20 minutes south of San Francisco called San Mateo. I lived there for nearly 19 years, then moved to Portland, and have been here for the past six.
Where did you go to school? Did you get any special, industry-specific training?
I attended Portland State University and graduated with a degree in Advertising Management and Marketing. I was also lucky enough to be a part of FIR Northwest, the student-run advertising agency at PSU.
I started as a strategist and tried on many hats ranging from copywriting to social media management, before landing in account management and working my way up to becoming the Director of Accounts.
When did you know that you wanted to work in the advertising/marketing industry?
I had the idea to pursue a career in the advertising/marketing industry when I switched to business from my music education major in 2018 after a conversation with my dad about planning for the future. Still, it didn’t really sink in as something that I wanted to be a part of until I got to work on accounts with real clients during my internship at FIR.
Even though we are a smaller, student-run agency, I love how it feels to be getting a taste of some real-world knowledge and experience of managing accounts and teams. Working at FIR really solidified my desire to join the advertising industry, and I hope that someday I can make a name for myself and a difference.
What/Who inspires you?
My inspirations range from music—such as jazz and various types of rock—to pop culture, including movies, TV, and influencers (Ryan Reynolds and Maximum Effort come to mind). Although, I would have to say that my main inspiration is music.
My late grandmother loved jazz music and was a phenomenal pianist who could play just about any piece that you showed her by ear. To this day, she inspires me to unabashedly be myself and keep the arts as a part of my life no matter where I am and how dull life may seem. Sometimes I’ll even pick up and play one of my guitars during a break in a meeting to try and bring some of her positivity and spirit back around.
I also draw a lot of inspiration from those around me, including coworkers at FIR and my friends here in Portland, who are all very driven and optimistic regarding their outlook on life. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of the great people that are and have been in my life.
Have you had any allies or mentors who have helped you on your journey?
Absolutely. The faculty advisors at FIR: Maureen O’Connor, Chuck Nobles, and Bill Hollister (formerly). Also, my fellow FIR folk at the agency, and my cousin, who works in the industry, have helped me grow and learn about advertising and what it means to work with others in the advertising world. Without their invaluable guidance and knowledge—teaching me important lessons about being an account manager or offering advice when I need help—I would not have the opportunity that I do now, nor would I be where I am today.
The numbers vary depending on the source, but our industry is roughly 75% white. At the executive level, the number is even higher. How do you think this lack of diversity hurts the work we do?
My outlook is that the lack of diversity negatively affects the industry because diversity brings people from all walks of life together and allows different perspectives and points of view to shine through the work. Because the industry is predominantly caucasian, the messages put out into the world can be a little myopic because they are only drawing from the same general pool of people and not from individuals with more varied experiences and backgrounds.
What powers you?
My desire to succeed is what drives me primarily. I really want to do great things, make an impression, and leave my mark on the world. I also think that my fear of failure helps keep me going, but it doesn’t keep me from getting mired in my mistakes because I view them as learning and self-improvement tools.
This past year-and-a-half has been a huge driving force in my life, with COVID, social justice movements, and labor movements bringing to light many things that can shift the paradigm.
Like the old adage says, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” With everything that has happened recently, I have had to learn from, adapt to, and push through everything that has come my way.