QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: Valerie Pressley, principal of Carlson & Co

She reckons she gets the best bits out of PR without having to do

the worst, and if it's your head she's hunting, better make sure she

doesn't turn it orange. Meet Valerie Pressley, principal of Carlson &


Describe the company you work for. Carlson & Co. is a boutique executive

search firm with offices in San Francisco and Seattle. Our clients range

from tech companies to PR agencies. We place mid- to senior-level

professionals in PR, marketing, and sales positions.

What do you do? My role, particularly in the current market, is to lead

by example, roll-up my sleeves and help our clients recruit the best

talent available. It is also important for me to inspire, motivate and

reward success for my team.

Tell us something amusing about your company? Our SF office space used

to be set-up as a beautician's compound of sorts - it is comprised of

three cottages nestled in a little garden setting.

They did hair in one cottage, waxing in the second, and massage in the

third. Needless to say, we found some interesting things when we moved


How did you get into PR? I did two PR internships when I was in college

- one at Ketchum in Washington, DC, and one for a small PR firm in Santa

Barbara, CA. I knew I wanted to be part of the PR world. Now, as a

recruiter, I get to interact with exciting PR people and keep my hand on

the pulse of the industry without that darn media pitching every


What was your biggest screw-up? About three years ago, I was involved in

a business partnership that lasted only about 10 months. I didn't listen

to advice about not doing business with "friends," putting things in

writing, etc. That oversight cost me a bunch of money and many

headaches, but it made me a much smarter and happier businesswoman with

my own company.

What are you working on this week? Pursuing new clients, doing employee

reviews, lining up new client meetings, interviewing potential

recruiters, and planting flowers in front of our Seattle office.

What time do you get up? Well, I haven't gotten around to hanging

curtains in the bedroom, so I pretty much wake up with the sun.

What invention would make your job easier? An honesty meter. I'd be able

to more accurately assess the intentions, goals, feedback and decisions

of our candidates and client partners.

What's the biggest item you've ever put on expenses? The cost of

starting and running a company 100% out of pocket.

What's the most daring thing you've ever done? I dyed my hair orange. It

was actually supposed to be a chestnut brown color, but things didn't

quite work out as planned.

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