Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this profile we feature Bill Hickman. Photography for the series is by award-winning Cade Martin.
Bill, please us provide a short bio.
I grew up and went to college in Virginia. After graduation, I took my first job with J. Walter Thompson as an account coordinator on the Ford Dealer account in Detroit, Michigan. It was a great start to my career because I learned from true entrepreneurs. Over the next decade or so with JWT, I worked in Detroit, Denver, Richmond, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and then Dallas on a wide array of brands and businesses. While in Dallas, I moved to an agency called D’Arcy and was soon asked to move back to Thailand and help build business across Southeast Asia. Not long after that move, D’Arcy was merged into Leo Burnett, and I spent a few years helping lead that transformation. My next assignment was a move to Leo Burnett’s global headquarters in Chicago where I was ultimately appointed Chief Growth Officer for Leo Burnett Worldwide which was quite a ride. After a bunch of years doing that, I decided it was time to move back home to Virginia. Now I’m the Chief Growth Officer at Tilt, a complete content company based in Richmond. And I love it. I can finally find my kind of peanuts anywhere I look for them.
Are you involved in any other organizations – professional or non-profit?
I’m involved in all the industry organizations that make sense to me and Tilt. They all don’t but some do. As for non-profit, I don’t believe anything is not-for-profit. I choose to spend my time and money in ways that profit our kids, communities and the wilderness.
What are the things you are most proud of?
I’m most proud of what I’ve helped create – or tried my best to. That would be my two sons – Chase and Hayden. They both possess unique potential to add something great to our world. I pray they will have the will to do so.
Who are your role models?
Every person in my life has impacted me. It may seem a selfish statement, but everyone teaches me something. If I had to mention a few it would be these amazing people. My dad taught me what it means to be loyal and how to never shy away from hard work. My mother gave me the gift of perception and curiosity. My sister has been my source of infinite hope. And my wife’s tenacity and focus have kept me going all these years even when I felt defeated.
Did your role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?
The best advice I ever received came from a colleague and confidant many years ago. They imprinted on me the idea that true success demands that you don’t just look down but also up. Too often we find ourselves buried in the day-to-day of our careers. But true opportunity to grow can only be seen when you chose to look up and around yourself. Learn to see more and you’ll grow more.
What professional advice do you have for others?
Work to learn early in your career. When you have something of real value to offer, work to earn. Build equity in yourself and your value will be undeniable.
What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?
Donny Hathaway. Kurt Elling. Charlie Wilson. Bill Evans. Silk Sonic. Stevie Wonder. Aaron Copeland. And, most importantly, Earth Wind and Fire just to name a few.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
My parent’s dinner table.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
My favorite song is Pure Imagination by Gene Wilder. I probably listen to it, read the lyrics, or watch that scene in Willy Wonka once a month. It reminds of why I do what I do.