Anita Brightman

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, I reflect on my own journey. I feel our paths reveal themselves to us if we are open to any possibility. In 1996, I took a leap of faith and left my job with a large defense contractor, a comfortable position, to start A. Bright Idea. I took this risk because I wanted more control over my schedule and to advance my career at a quicker pace.

A new mother, I was scared to step out of my comfort zone, but knew I needed to do it.

Starting from scratch, I built ABI motivated by the voice in my head, saying, “I will not fail.”

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First, I made a plan and followed it. I needed to build a clientele. When things clicked, I worked to replicate and improve processes. When I encountered challenges, I looked for ways to improve, such as building checklists and refining processes to avoid future obstacles. The lessons I learned outside the confines of my comfort zone created the foundation of the A. Bright Idea way and guides how I work to this day. I continue to stay the course, keep my head down and keep marching. Working day by day, I forge ahead and persevere, striving to maximize my potential and create opportunity for others.

I did not set out on this journey with the intent of growing A. Bright Idea into a coast-to-coast, multi-office agency. But by building up my team with brilliant, capable people, something enduring was created. In all endeavors, especially creative ones, collaboration is key. Every day with our combined talents, the ABI team pushes through challenges and identifies opportunities to create innovative ways to support our clients, engage audiences and change conversations.

Directors of A. Bright Idea
Women of A. Bright Idea

The past and present power of the women in our industry, combined with collaboration and creativity, make a positive impact on our families, communities and workplaces. I look forward to all we can achieve and remain steadfast in my commitment to moving the industry forward, investing in the next generation as they create their paths and find their voices.

Anita A. Brightman, APR, Fellow PRSA

by Katie MacNichol

2020 also marks the 100th anniversary of the American Advertising Federation of Baltimore (AAFB). Established as the auxiliary to the men’s-only Advertising Club, the organization flourished thanks to a group of women who wanted their own voices heard amidst the growing advertising scene in burgeoning Baltimore. Just like A. Bright Idea, its creation came out of a desire to make an impact.

Over the last century, AAFB facilitated and connected communications and advertising experts spread out across the Baltimore market, creating and helping generations of professionals grow into the best in the industry.

Our industry relies on empowered team members who feel confident enough to share their ideas and mentors who are readily and enthusiastically willing to provide support.

Every day I see the amazing creative contributions of women in the field and think about the progress since AAFB’s founding. Just like those women who founded AAFB, Anita created a space for all of us to use our voices. Because of her experience starting ABI and the lessons she learned, we can truly make a difference.

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I’ve been reminded about the power of creativity this week. Creativity is not just about the ability to write or draw with style but it is about innovation too. I just returned from an economic development conference where I kept hearing that innovation and entrepreneurship are the backbone of our economy. OK, as a small business owner and a creative type, they grabbed my attention.

I started A. Bright Idea in 1996. I did it to allow more flexibility in my schedule and to create more of a work life balance. What I did not realize at the time was that my entrepreneurship journey was just beginning. Since starting this journey, my company employed more than 20 people, purchased real estate, developed real estate, paid into a new tax base created by our development and growth, not to mention purchasing equipment, services and materials from a variety of vendors both locally and globally. Our continued success meant growth, increased revenue and spending. I learned at this economic development conference that this is often called an ecosystem. Get it—eco like economy and ecosystem like the traditional definition of an environment or area.

With such bleak economic news, it would be easy to think that our business ecosystems are struggling. True in many cases. However, A. Bright Idea was delighted to celebrate with 99 other small business owners at the Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise Awards on October 21. More than 5,000 nominations came from the Maryland; Washington, D.C.; Virginia; Delaware and Pennsylvania area. The University of Maryland, University College auditorium was filled with friends and family celebrating our success. Sharon Pinder, former Special Secretary of the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs, remarked at the event that small business was where America would see job creation and where economic recovery would begin.

She’s right, and for me, and entrepreneurs all over this county, it started with an idea. Tending and nurturing that idea spurs growth that can truly make a difference for all of us. Now, that is an ecosystem–and now it is more apparent to me than ever that small business growth will lead to our economic recovery in this county. Let’s share our new ideas with each other and watch things grow.