Effective Leadership Interview Series: At Your Leisure, Vol. 1

Effective leaders encourage strategic thinking, innovation and action. They also use those qualities to inspire their team members and the work they produce together.

This summer, we’re taking a leisurely approach (via an adapted version of the Proust Questionnaire) to gain some insights about the people who inspire us every day—starting with our very own Jill Kourtis.

Jill is a whip smart visionary elevating the work of her fellow (and largely female) team. Here, she reflects on great handbags, great ideas, and what it means to own an independent agency.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I’ve tried to eliminate or at least greatly mitigate the use of the word perfect in my life. It wasn’t getting me anywhere good. These days I embrace the rare days when I’m surrounded by my family on some new adventure – whether it be food or travel.

2. What is your greatest fear?

Not living up to my potential.

3. What is the trait you most value in yourself?

Just one? My empathy.

4. What is the trait you most value in others?


5. Which living person do you most admire?

My answer will be too political!

6. What is your greatest extravagance?

Our first easy answer: Handbags! 

7. What is your current state of mind?

Anticipatory! It’s been quite a year.

8. What’s the best part of working with so many women?

The listening. We hear one another.

9. What gets you excited about work each day?

The defining characteristic of my job (and our agency) is the ability to learn something new every day. We push the boundaries. Embrace it or hide from it— and that choice will reveal whether you’re a cultural fit at HackerAgency.

10. When did you know, “this job is for me”?

Early at Hacker, I learned that if I was persistent, my ideas could become reality, and I’d be acknowledged for it. Great ideas can come from anywhere—in my experience it’s rare for this to truly be practiced. 

11. What is your greatest passion & how has that influenced your career?

People. I’m motivated by the satisfaction of great teams doing great work.  

12. Which talent would you most like to have?

So many!

13. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

In my very compartmentalized world, I’m going to claim more than one “greatest”! Obviously, marriage and family outweigh business, so they’re first. Parenting is hard. Step-parenting is hard. Marriage is hard. They’ve each given me a depth that satisfies my soul. I am one proud mama. At work, I’m most proud of the organic growth that has come from clients over the years. The kind where your great work is proven, and relationships flourish. Fireworks please.

14. What is your most treasured possession?

Memories for sure. The things I treasure most are not physical.

15. What does it mean to you to own an independent agency?

We’re building something pretty special here.  

16. What “life hack” can you share with other working moms out there?

Use the carpool lane. 

17. What is your motto?

Yes we can.