10 Minutes With LaFleur Content Marketing Director Steven Thomas Kent
Written by Rebecca Barth
Steven Kent joined LaFleur in 2015 as a content strategist and was promoted to content marketing director in 2019. He works with a passion for illuminating issues through exceptional content. Steven oversees content creation and strategy for a wide range of clients, and he also hosts and produces the LaFleur podcast, Legal Marketing Radio.
As one of the original five employees at LaFleur, Steven’s employment predates the 10 Minutes series, and he never had his own new employee interview. We’re here to remedy that today.
LaFleur: Steven, you’re usually the one conducting these interviews.
Steven Kent: That’s correct, yeah.
LF: How does it feel? Does it feel weird to be on the other side?
SK: A little bit. I feel like now I don’t have control, so, you know, it could go any direction. But I usually try to make the interview a conversation more so than me just firing questions. That’s kind of my interview philosophy anyway.
LF: How did the “10 minutes with” blogs come about? Was it your idea?
SK: I don’t think so. I honestly don’t remember. It came about when we were a pretty small team, and I feel like we just wanted to have a way for people to get to know members of the team. Maybe a potential client talked to someone from the team and Googled them, now what are they going to find? This way, they can find something right from LaFleur and get to know us. At first, it was like, I don’t know, is anyone going to look at these? But the social engagement we got on them was awesome, so we felt like it was definitely something worth continuing.
LF: You’ve been at LaFleur for over four years. How have you seen our organization change since then?
SK: Well, almost everything is different. I remember when I started, I was never an early riser, and when we first started, there were only about five of us, and we had no office. We were all working remotely. But then we got the old office, the bunker, and I remember there were days when I would get there at like 10 a.m. and I would be the first one there. And I was like alright, this is an office I can get down with. So I’d just turn on Iron Maiden or something and turn it up super loud. It’s definitely a lot different now, less loose and more organized, but it’s still a lot of fun. And it’s just cool to see some of the clients we’ve taken on and the work we’ve done.
LF: How has your role changed since you first started at LaFleur?
SK: It’s way different. I didn’t have any marketing background before I started here, and I just got hired basically on the fact that people liked my writing. I was working for a magazine, and one of the writers who worked with me there also worked for LaFleur. She suggested that I write for LaFleur. I was still trying to mostly work as a journalist. I was like, “yuck, marketing.” I don’t know, I think I thought I was too cool for that.
SK: But she was like, “Hold on, I really think that you would like this company and these people. I think you should give it a shot.” So I said okay, and I did a couple freelance pieces and got a pretty good vibe. But it was really when [President] Chip [LaFleur] followed up with me to say they were looking for writers, and I met with Chip in person and from there started meeting everybody. And it was just a lot different than I expected. I thought marketing would be like, I don’t know, maybe not stuffy but — I’ve always hated business jargon and sales speak, and I thought it would be real phony. It wasn’t like that at all. And I was like, “Maybe I was wrong about this.” Also, I was poor and needed money.
LF: Ha! Makes sense.
SK: So I just tried it. It was kind of overwhelming at first. I didn’t know anything about digital marketing. In my first remote team meeting, I was having to Google what leads are, like stupidly basic stuff. So, in some ways I feel a lot more comfortable now, and in some ways I feel like I have more to learn than ever. But it’s definitely different. I feel like I’m actually a marketer now, like a professional rather than someone who’s just been thrown into the fire and is trying to fake it.
LF: Another thing that’s on your plate is the LaFleur podcast. How did that come about?
SK: I think it was just one of those Chip ideas where he was like, “this would be cool.” And I listen to a lot of podcasts and had a little audio recording experience, not anything professional, but I was like, “That’s something that I could take a crack at. Let me run with that.” Also, because I was a journalist before this, I was used to interviewing people, so I guess the team felt like I was the natural person to host it. And it was a way for me to use that journalistic skillset and get back into that audio stuff too. But again, it started where I had no idea what I was doing, just trying to do research on the fly and figure it out as I went. I’ve learned a lot.
LF: Do you have a favorite guest or a favorite podcast episode?
SK: The one we did with Nicole Black, who’s a pretty well-established author and speaker in the area of legal technology — I think that’s just kind of an episode of us taking it up a notch with the podcast. We got more engagement with it, and with her expertise and her level of preparation as a guest, recording it just felt like, “Hey, this is like a real podcast, we’re making a real show!” So that was really cool. Honestly, I would say all of our more recent episodes are my favorites. I feel like I’ve got my game down, and it feels like a real show now. The early episodes are a little rough if you go back and listen to them.
LF: You’ve had quite a few different positions over your career. Becca wanted me to bring up being a Starbucks barista.
SK: Yeah, for a long time. Like 10 years.
LF: She wanted to know why we aren’t getting daily caramel macchiatos.
SK: Uh, that I make?
LF: That you make.
SK: Well, we don’t have an espresso machine. You get me one, and I’ll make drinks for everyone. It has to be a real espresso machine, though. I’m not hunching over some little Nespresso thing five times a day.
LF: So, living in Chicago, you were at Starbucks. What was your path from there to LaFleur?
SK: Working at Starbucks, I was a freelance reporter also at the time, working a couple gigs. But that’s hard to make ends meet — here, anywhere really, but especially in a city that costs as much as Chicago. So, I moved home and then got a reporting gig here. That led to the magazine, and the magazine led to LaFleur like I mentioned. And that’s pretty much how the dots connected.
LF: Any non-touristy recommendations for Chicago? Places we have to go to when we’re there?
SK: Even if it’s touristy, just go to the Art Institute of Chicago. You get to see world-famous paintings and stuff there, just incredible artwork. Also, everyone should have a drink at the Green Mill up on the North side. It’s an old jazz joint, like Chicago gangsters used to hang out there. It’s in quite a few movies. It’s the kind of cocktail bar they don’t make anymore.
LF: So, you lived in Chicago for so long, are you a deep-dish pizza fan?
SK: I am a Chicago deep-dish fan, in a way. It’s almost not like pizza. You know the term “pizza pie”? I never understood that term until I had deep-dish, but then it was like, okay, that’s a pie, you know? It’s a savory pie that’s like filled with salty flavor, but it’s definitely a pie. So, if you’re in the mood for that, then Chicago deep-dish is awesome, but I almost don’t think of it as pizza. It’s just an awesome food on its own. Lou Malnati’s is the best deep-dish, undisputed in my opinion.
LF: So, on the pizza topic — pineapple on pizza.
SK: Oh gosh, I knew this was going to come up in the interview.
LF: It’s always a hot topic around here.
SK: It is. People just know it pushes my buttons. Everyone in the office knows I hate pineapple on pizza. First off, pineapple on pizza is kind of up against it with me because I don’t love things that combine savory and sweet, especially when the two flavors are sort of split 50-50. At that point, it’s just like the worst of both worlds. Also, pineapple is pretty juicy, and I never like toppings that add a lot of water to my pizza. Like, I don’t understand people who put fresh tomatoes on pizza either. Anyway, it’s not so much the ham and pineapple as the melted mozzarella and pineapple that I just don’t understand why people think they go together. But, for the record, number one, I love pineapple — I just don’t like it on pizza. And number two, I live with my girlfriend and she’s a pineapple pizza lover, so you can make peace with almost anything for love.
LF: Ha. Well, that’s all the questions I have. Any other tidbits you want to provide our faithful blog readers?
SK: I feel like all my answers were long. I swear I’m not longwinded. I feel like they have enough. It was fun. Thank you.
LF: Thank you!