Caroline Dettman, Hall of Femme 2019

Chief creative officer, Golin

What would you do if you weren’t in PR?
Interior design, to modernize historic homes. The idea of using my creativity to turn houses with a lot of history into people’s dream homes is just so exciting. I was able to create my dream home out of a 100-year-old house that just needed some love. I was on a creative high for months, and even though we finished our rehabbed home five years ago, there is still no other place I’d rather be. I also do this for my friends because I can’t help myself.

Last time you experienced a fist-pumping victory moment?
I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2017. For anyone who knows me well, the notion of this is ridiculous because I’m the world’s biggest klutz, and I had never camped a day in my life prior to this climb. It was a five-day climb up and a two-day climb down. It tested my will in a way it’s never been tested. The no-frills camping and the not showering tested my privilege. When we summitted the mountain, we all cried. But when we got down the mountain? That’s when the fist-pumping was everything. And my fists were the only body parts that weren’t in pain.

When was the last time you endured a real "agony of defeat" moment? What did you learn from it?
I’ve had some actual wipeouts, but in the less literal sense, I have wipeouts every day because I’m a creative – and all my ideas don’t land every time. In fact, some fail spectacularly. I learned early on you have to have a very thick skin in this business – and that failures ultimately make you better.

How long ago was the last time you took the time to recharge your batteries? What did you do?
Not that long ago. I can’t do what I do to inspire others with creative thinking without regularly being inspired myself. The way I recharge is to explore new places with my family, such as our Iceland trip last summer or Kenya two summers ago. But I also try to recharge my batteries at least once per day by looking away and up from my phone – going for walks, going for a hike with my boys, or spending a night out with my husband or friends.

What is it about this industry that frustrates the hell out of you sometimes?
The lack of self-confidence and pride in PR. That’s why at Golin we proudly call what we do progressive PR.

When have you seen this industry or your organization really shine?
I’ll never forget when #HaveHerBack was barely an idea that I had worked up on a plane. After #MeToo, I was so worked up by what was happening – and even more frustrated by what wasn’t happening in our industry. I presented the idea to my Golin co-executive board members. It was a risky idea. We could have easily said other priorities needed to trump this. But instead, the only question I got that day was, "How fast can we do this?" That’s Golin. 

Words to live by?
The best views come from the toughest climbs.

Favorite drink?
Tito’s, soda, two lemons. 

What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
All those movies and TV shows you love aren’t reality. However, here’s what is true: "You’re gonna make it after all," "Snap out of it," and, of course, "Show me the money."

Finish the sentence: To ensure career advancement and pay parity for women, I will…
Not stop pressuring our industry to #HaveHerBack.

Who are the three people, living or dead, you would like to host at a dinner party and why?  
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, because she rules. Tina Fey, because she’s the funniest. And Michelle Obama, because she’s everything. But I would invite a fourth: Bill Murray. But Bill doesn’t really count because we wouldn’t know if he’d really show up. But if he did, dream come true.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say to you as you enter?
Rushmore, Winger, Bear, and Topper – the beloved dogs of my life – are just this way.

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