Kate Lind, Aspect Consulting, LLC
IB Wisconsin's Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet the state's professionals. This week features Kate Lind, president, Aspect Consulting, LLC
Business Address: 6808 University Ave., Middleton, WI 53562
Birthplace: Madison, Wis.
Spouse/Partner’s Name: Fred Lind
Organizations: Treasurer, Friends of Scott Walker
Education: UW Law School, J.D.; UW Eau Claire, B.A. in political science
Kate, what do you do in your role as owner of your firm?
Most of my time is spent working with political committees to keep them in compliance with campaign finance laws. I started my firm wearing many hats, including consultant, bookkeeper, secretary, custodian … over time I added “boss” to my list of responsibilities as my staff grew to three full-time and 12 part-time employees. I still wear many hats, but now I have a lot more help.
Owning your own business can be challenging, as we all know. What motivates you in that role?
The high point in my career has been moving from my home office into an office suite with a great staff. I’m proud of the work we do and enjoy the environment – I have at least one good laugh every day, which has real value. Recently, one of my employees told me that I was a “competent boss.” I’ll take it!
Do you have a long-range goal you’d like to achieve?
I’d like to continue to educate political committees on the value of professional compliance services and create a larger market for our services. Even a simple error on a campaign finance report can earn unwanted media attention, so I am constantly developing procedures and checks to create peace of mind for even the smallest organizations. I want it to become an “automatic” that my firm’s services are something a committee can’t afford NOT to have.
Who has influenced your career the most, and in what way?
My dad. He operated an independent pharmacy for most of my life and I caught his entrepreneurial spirit. He ran a successful business and seemed to earn the respect of everyone around him, both customers and employees. I learned about the personal side of business from him. I earned my first paycheck working the front register at [his] pharmacy off Raymond Road in Madison. It was around $100 and I put it in the bank where it sat until I bought my first car when I turned 16.
And were you entrepreneurial like your father?
Absolutely. When I was a kid I came up with all sorts of business ideas to separate my parents from their quarters. My best friend and I spent hours carefully planning the veterinary/brain surgery clinic we planned to open when we grew up. We haven’t done that yet, but if A&W and KFC can exist under the same roof …
Let’s revisit those early years. What were your career aspirations in high school?
I always imagined that I would work in a big office building somewhere, though what I would do there was completely unclear. Then, toward the end of high school, I saw the movie Sliding Doors. I don’t remember a thing about the movie, except that Gwyneth Paltrow’s character takes a risk and bootstraps her own little PR agency. There is a scene where she’s in a cruddy new office but she spruces it up with some blue paint and relishes her newfound freedom and autonomy over her career. For some reason, that image became my new ideal, and I guess it stuck. Nothing like a mediocre romantic comedy to set one’s career goals straight.
Have you always lived in Wisconsin?
I was born and raised in the Madison area – I am 100% Wisconsin. I’m actually made of cheese.
What does a cheesehead do “beyond the office”? What brings you happiness or relaxation?
I enjoy anything that gives me a sense of perspective, that there is so much more to this world than the worries that occupy my mind. This generally involves spending time with my family and friends, or taking the time to appreciate someplace beautiful and relaxing. A cold beer doesn’t hurt either.
I enjoy travel, generally, but at the moment I can think of nothing more perfect than a few days on a deserted beach with a good book.
What is a title of one of the last books you read, to give us the flavor of what you like to read?
I don’t have much time to read for pleasure. The last thing I read was the Twilight series. Pretty sure I’m well outside of the target age range, but I enjoyed it anyway. Go ahead and judge. (Team Jacob!) My reading is largely limited to publications and opinions put out by the Federal Election Commission and the Government Accountability Board. Woowoo!
Can you think of a character in a book, movie or television program that you’d most like to be identified with?
Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet, of course. But in reality I’m more like Squiggy from Laverne & Shirley.
Anything you’d be willing to share about your family life?
My husband, Fred, and I live in Cross Plains with our dog President Reagan, who we think is great, and a kitty named Shortpants, who disagrees. We spend most of our time close to home, but Fred and I recently had the opportunity to travel to Aspen and San Diego to attend sports clinics for disabled vets. Nothing could be more inspiring.
Kate, what special career advice do you have for someone who is looking for meaningful work in this economic climate?
I’d say that these days you might have to be creative and flexible to find your niche. It surely depends on the situation, but I generally believe that you shouldn’t be afraid of doing work that you feel might be “beneath” you to get your foot in the door. I’ve always found that working hard and taking pride in your performance will earn you respect and help to get you where you want to go, because you will gain a reputation for being the type of person that can be relied upon.
When I graduated from law school, I reluctantly turned down a job with a firm because I was afraid that I’d wind up five years down the road burned out and miserable. Instead, I took a job with a political committee working for peanuts, dropping lit, making coffee, answering phones, and whatever else needed to be done. Five years later, through a combination of hard work and good fortune, I run my own consulting firm, enjoy what I do, and count some of the largest political committees in the state as my clients.
We like to close by asking for three words that you might use to describe yourself. Are you up to the challenge?
Ambitious, dependable, easily-amused.