EPISODE #38 || Nika Rastakhiz, Strategy Director at Anomaly

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Nika Rastakhiz, Strategy Director at Anomaly, shares especially insightful advice and her love of planning in a conversation about all thing strategy. Hear about her hypothesis on why strategy is especially hard to break into, why you don't necessarily need a strategy portfolio, qualities of stand-out interns she's worked with (who got hired!), the stigma surrounding LA and why she’s never worked harder in her career.

Topics Discussed

  • How she went from studying law, to publishing and start-up, before finding strategy and working at huge agencies like Publicis, Droga5, and now Anomaly.
  • Her hypothesis on why strategy is so hard to break into, and her tips on how to get your start as a jr. strategist. 
  • Her take on strategy portfolios (and why you don't necessarily need one!).
  • Research tools that strategists use for social listening, and finding creative ways to execute and use qualitative research.
  • The qualities of stand-out interns that she’s worked with (who got hired), and the power of looking ahead.
  • How to build strong relationships with clients and what it means to truly be their partners. 
  • The Los Angeles ad scene today, how it might evolve in the future, the stigma surrounding it, and why she’s never worked harder in her career.

Mic Drops

“Of course, everyone has their own lanes and job description, but we’re in a field where we are meant to dazzle quite a bit. And it’s not just the work you’re doing, but how you work. And it’s not just what you’re presenting, but it’s how you’re presenting. It’s those smaller things that may not feel like they’re incredibly important, but actually are.”

“Some of my best strategy has potentially not resulted in creative work, has not made it out into the world. So I think it’s really tough, because so much of what I’m the most  proud of—I think that would come from what clients think of me, that would come from what my peers think of me. So I guess my answer is, I don’t think everyone should have a portfolio in strategy. I think you’d be really surprised just how much of an impact it would mean to have a client say, ‘I’ve worked with her and she’s fantastic, you should hire her.’”

“[The intern] came prepared to every single meeting. She always had a point of view. […] And afterwards she would pull me aside and say, ‘This is what I thought about this.’ And what that said to me is that she’s looking ahead, she’s understanding what these meetings are about, she’s doing her homework beforehand and doing her homework afterwards. That is such a powerful thing. And you sometimes expect for interns to just show up and do what it is they’re asked of, not necessarily plan ahead.”

Resources Mentioned

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About Nika

Nika joins Anomaly LA after seven years in New York, where she worked at both Publicis New York and most recently, Droga5. 

She's been identified as a ‘planning nerd’ by nearly everyone she's worked with, though sometimes the 'planning' portion of this archetype is purposefully omitted. This is likely due to her obsession with focus groups, frameworks, and incessant verbatim references to episodes of 'The Hidden Brain'. 

She also brings a wide array of category experience (including Citibank, P&G, COVERGIRL, Moet Hennessy and Clearasil), believing that the onus is on strategy to find what’s compelling and insightful about every brand and its consumer... especially for the really really non-sexy/"boring CPG" brands (which happen to be Nika's favorite type of brands to work on.)