Ashleigh Axios, Former White House Creative Director

Former White House Creative Director Visited Charlotte and Dropped these 8 Tips for Achieving a Growth Mindset

Former White House Creative Director and Digital Strategist, Ashleigh Axios was recently in town to talk with creatives and marketers courtesy of the Charlotte Chapter of AIGA (the Professional Association for Design). Axios is currently the Design Exponent at Automattic (which you may know if you have ever used WordPress, Jetpack, Akisment, Simplenote, etc.) but I was intrigued by her former role in the Obama administration and eager to hear about her experiences.

Axios did share some first-hand experience stories on how nice former President Obama smelled and some fun projects she was able to execute with former First Lady, Michelle Obama, but what was truly insightful from her talk were the following 8 tips to having a growth mindset and excelling in today’s digital world:

Tip 1. When working on projects, it is important to narrow in on an audience.  Identify who you are trying to talk to and focus on those personas.

Tip 2. Set goals that stretch you. There’s no problem being a doer and completing all of the tasks given, but one thing that will help you grow is to push for goals that take you to the next level.

In 2010, President Obama gave his first State of the Union Speech. The Office of Digital Strategy (OODS) was tasked with streaming the #SOTU live on the website.  In the following years, the OODS continued to push the envelope and began to add enhanced features, more content and additional sharing options to engage with viewers.  The improved and enhanced user experience culminated with Obama’s last State of The Union address.

Tip 3. Failure is a way to learn and grow – view it as an opportunity to test your boundaries. See failure as good data.

Tip 4. View (social media) platforms as distinct. The message can be the same, but understand that each platform has its own unique “feel” and opportunity.

In 2015, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the U.S. The administration communicated the ruling across multiple platforms. They leveraged the same message throughout social media, but used each platform distinctively. Much of the content went viral, receiving millions of views within the first twenty-four hours, resulting in the most-retweeted White House animated GIF, most shared White House Facebook avatar, and most shared White House video.

*Source: Ashleigh Axios Portfolio White House #LoveWins


Tip 5. Roadmap through the moment. Plan ahead, plan through and plan after.

Tip 6. Testing your assumptions is important.  Remember, knowledge is powerful. Don’t just assume.

Tip 7. Take no shame in latching on. Try to engage people where they already are in the world.


In 2016, President Obama traveled to South by Southwest in Austin to engage the community to help tackle some of the governmental challenges the country was facing. Later that year, the White House celebrated the first South by South Lawn, which was inspired by the SXSW event and was a great success.

Tip 8. Have a sense of humor.

These tips resonated with me as a young executive in the marketing field, but more importantly as a professional that is always eager to learn and grow. After all, isn’t that what we all should strive for?

(AIGA Charlotte Event: Pepe Ortiz, Michael Duran, Ashleigh Axios, Natalia Fonseca Schiappacasse and Manolo Guajardo)



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Natalia Schiappacasse