JCJC Honors College students learn about the drive of a "Tiger"

ELLISVILLE, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from Jones County Junior College

She stepped out as a college graduate with a dream of starting her own advertising agency with her tax refund money of just $78 in 1984. As Liza Looser deposited the money in her company's new bank account, she shared her dream with the bank teller, and the teller responded, "Go get 'em tiger!"   With that charge, Looser entered the male-dominated field in Jackson, Miss., with a goal to succeed.

"I never looked back!" said Looser speaking to students in the Charles Pickering Honors Institute at Jones County Junior College. "The tiger is incorporated into all of my work as a reminder of how I started the company."

The CEO and founder of the Cirlot Agency in Jackson can now boast working with Fortune 500 companies globally and locally, like Sanderson Farms, Mississippi Power and Bell Helicopter. She explained to Jones students two Bible stories kept her focused as she climbed the corporate ladder.

"The scripture, Matthew 6:33, 'But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well' helps me focus. The story about David and Goliath in 1Samuel 17, inspires me because I realized David was the aggressor in the story, with the faith of God, he was developing a skill."

Those scriptures also reassured her she could be successful, she explained as she plowed her way to the top.  Her personal innovation and competitive strategy included important decisions like not working with alcohol or gambling companies. Because of her beliefs, Looser testified, that decision has not affected her company negatively.

"I think about my responsibility to the market and how the choices I make influence the market.  My first client was the Mississippi Special Olympics summer games.  It was a positive choice with an interesting dynamic," said Looser.

Utilizing Steven Covey's seven habits of successful people, especially one: Keep the main thing, the main thing, is a good marketing strategy too.  As the company grew with more than twenty-years in the business, Looser said she felt like she could use her skills to help change some Mississippi stereotypes. The desire changed the way the world looks at the state with the development of the "Mississippi Believe it!" campaign.  Looser wanted to show the world, Mississippians have a lot to be proud of and we can be successful overcoming difficulties. The poster campaign highlighted famous and accomplished Mississippians. They were distributed to every classroom in the state.

"In 2005, we wanted to dispel the stereotype, Mississippians are uneducated, racist and don't wear shoes.  I wanted everyone, especially Mississippians to be proud of their roots," said Looser.

Clever phrases like, "Yes, we wear shoes. Some of us wear cleats." and "Yes, we can read. Some of us can write too." refer to great Mississippi athletes like Bret Favre and Walter Payton, and the numerous Pulitzer Prize winning authors.  The campaign caught the attention of national media and landed her an appearance on NBC's Today Show.

"That appearance put Mississippi in the spotlight with an estimated 120 million people viewing. That's the equivalent of $20 million in advertising.  The media still call us as the official spokespeople for the state's image," Looser quipped.

With the spotlight focused on her and the agency, Looser stressed she didn't stray from the original goals upon which she founded the company.  In fact, she said it opened new doors.  In 2008 the Cirlot agency handled the international and national media for the Presidential debate in Oxford, Miss., with Senator McCain and now President, Obama.  Her most memorable and proud moment was realized with a comment from NBC news anchor, Tom Brokaw.

"As he was wrapping up the debate comments about who won, he noted, 'The University of Mississippi is the winner tonight. I covered James Meredith and his attempts to enroll at the university and to see Mississippi now; they're the winners with the racial reconciliation."

From that experience, Looser was asked by NATO to assist with the Bosnian land-mine crisis and recently, she landed a $60 billion government contract laying the roadmap for branding the DD(X) Gold Team, made up of Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing.  JCJC freshman from Oak Grove, Kaitlyn Caulfield said she's impressed with Looser's willingness to give all the glory to God and she did not take credit for any of those accomplishments.

"As a Christian, I strongly believe I was put on this earth for a purpose: to serve God and influence others.  There are so many people these days that are more interested in what's going wrong in their own lives and how successful they can be instead of how they can influence others' lives for the better or worse.  It has been one of my personal goals this year to try to make my own worth go up by positively influencing others through my character and beliefs because, in the words of both Dr. Mark Taylor (Dean of the Honors College) and Mrs. Looser, I want to be the best me that I can be."

Looser challenged JCJC students to discover their passions, create value in their lives by continually learning and create value wherever they are led.

"Life is too important to go to a job you hate. Be the best you because the world is waiting for you.  God doesn't use the most beautiful or the most willing, but be willing to be used."

Looser shared her experiences as a guest speaker for JCJC's Charles Pickering Honors Institutes "Innovation and Competition" Series.  Students are introduced to several noteworthy business, industry and community leaders in an attempt to expose students to successful role models and to inspire an entrepreneurial spirit.