Crisis is often a catalyst for change, forcing us to adapt the way we think, work, and live. The results are often positive and enduring, allowing us to chart a new path forward.
However, Megan Lally, who recently moved to Hinsdale from Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood with husband, Ken Schroeder, and son, Charlie, believes we can do better. She believes we need to do less reacting and more innovating—looking at not just what is in front of us today but what we can and should do now to create a more positive, productive tomorrow.
As a co-owner and one of four managing partners at Highdive, an independent, Emmy-nominated, creative agency in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, she brings this visionary mindset to her clients and partners.
“Our mission is to create the healthiest client and agency relationships in the world. Not simply because doing so creates better lives for our clients and employees, but because of the scientific link between healthy relationships and creativity,” explains Lally, an Ad Age 2020 40 under 40 winner and one of four founding agency partners. “Simply put, when negativity reigns, creativity shuts down. When positivity wins, creativity can flourish, and great results follow.”
A native of the northwest Chicago suburbs, Lally is a former cheerleader who was active in student council. She was the leader of the pack from a very young age, channeling her passion for creativity into everything from high school event planning to making eye-catching posters and flyers that guaranteed a good turnout.
From there, she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison before dipping her feet into the agency world.
“Prior to Highdive, I worked at large advertising agencies, including Leo Burnett and DDB. I was always entrepreneurial within these big companies, but in 2017 I became an entrepreneur,” says Lally. “After more than ten years at agencies managed by large holding firms, my partners and I set out to create a better way for ourselves, our clients, and our employees. One where we get to do the work we love, while reducing the work we don’t.”
In other words, Lally and her partners are disrupting the status quo—with impressive results.
“Millennials have always been successful in asking ‘why do things have to be done this way?’ and ‘what if we did this instead?’,” she says. “After carefully studying the good and bad in the agency model, my partners and I determined that we could build an advertising agency from scratch to address the problems facing the industry more effectively than trying to course-correct an old, inflexible, traditional agency model.”
Highdive was founded in late 2016, with Lally coming on board in early 2017 as a managing partner and co-owner. Five years later, she and her partners have created two #1 Super Bowl spots on the USA Today Ad Meter for Jeep (starring Bill Murray) and Rocket Mortgage (starring Tracy Morgan) and have built the company to more than 65 employees.
“We set the bar high for ourselves: Make great work. Deliver outstanding outcomes. Create better lives for our clients, our employees, and our partners. And disrupt the industry with a new model while doing it,” Lally explains. “With this model, we’ve been named Advertising Age’s Small Agency of the Year three years in a row, Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in 2021, and Adweek’s Breakthrough Agency of the Year in 2020. We are also #117 on Inc’s 5000 fastest growing private companies list.”
She credits this success not only to her teammates but also her family, especially husband, Ken.
“I was so honored to be named to Ad Age’s 40 Under 40. It had been a career goal to make that list. And while it sounds like an individual achievement, the main reason I was named to this list is because of the team that is by my side every day contributing to Highdive’s award-winning work,” says Lally. “What does it mean for my career? Success is inevitable if you believe in yourself, the work you’re doing, and surround yourself with the right people.”
At home in Hinsdale, she injects her family life with that same positive energy.
“We love it here,” she says, explaining that they moved to Hinsdale about two years ago. “We quickly outgrew a third story walk-up in Lakeview with a 1-year-old and had heard Hinsdale referred to as ‘Lakeview West.’ We can now confirm that is true! It’s also conveniently located between both sets of grandparents and a relatively easy commute to the city.”
Like most other young families, she and her husband spend a lot of time walking around town, at the park, or out in the downtown area.
“We also love Fuller House, Uniquely Thursdays, and the Hinsdale community pool,” she adds.
Lally approaches motherhood and family life with the same mantra she and her partners used to build an award-winning agency—”Work hard. Have fun. And be kind.”