How Allison Paige turns soft skills into superpowers
Take a cursory glance around any communications office and you’ll see them – superpowers. From the hyper-organized project manager to the extroverted client pitch specialist to the reclusive creative genius, they are as ubiquitous as they are easily identifiable.
Less obvious but just as impactful are the ones who have mastered the more subtle soft skills. They use their highly developed ability to genuinely connect with people as their superpower. They have a natural capacity to make colleagues and clients feel seen and heard.
This is Allison Paige.
Less than a year into her role as a Chicago-based Account Director for Livewire, Allison is taking the skills and expertise she honed working in external marketing and communications and applying them to the world of internal communications. Perhaps the most important of these skills is her ability to make clients feel like they have a best friend watching their back.
Allison cites a famous quote by Dr. Maya Angelou as a guiding light in her day-to-day work life.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
“My experience is that people will start to work with you because you’re smart,” Allison explained. “But they will continue to work with you because you make them feel seen, taken care of, and like you’re a true partner.”
As a friend and colleague in the Chicago office, Bianca Lackings has seen first-hand how Allison’s commitment to making people feel seen fostered deeper connections within her own office.
“Allison is very good at seeking to understand your perspective and what your wants and needs around a particular subject might be,” Bianca explains. “Then she can very quickly add in her perspective and suggest what might work in a way that supports your vision and makes you feel heard.”
Demi Yaou works closely with Allison as a Project manager on the Client Services team and was immediately impressed with her willingness to do whatever is needed to support the team.
“It was such a refreshing dynamic where she has 18 years of experience in external marketing, and yet she came in with no ego whatsoever,” Yaou said. “She really is looking for ways to support us, and I think that makes for a really good dynamic between the AD and a PM.”
“If you’re on this journey long enough, you’ll find yourself doing a role or task that you thought you left behind long ago,” Allison explains. “So, there’s no point in getting caught up in whether you’re higher or lower than someone else because, ultimately, we’re all on the same team.”
The path to internal comms
Allison’s journey began in Detroit, Michigan, where she grew up. Her parents’ families are both from North Carolina which is why she considers herself a ‘Midwestern Belle’. She attended Michigan State University, where she studied television and film production. However, it was her minor in advertising and communications that created the initial spark of professional passion.
“I found that I loved taking things from concept to creation. It’s seeing the potential of something and then asking myself, ‘How do I bring this to life?’” Allison said.
An internship in London eventually led to a marketing job in North Carolina, where she was part of the agency’s initial multicultural marketing efforts. Allison worked on multicultural marketing campaigns in six markets in the Southeastern United States and, right away, she felt a connection to the work.
“It was super cool because we were doing a lot of research and strategy,” she said. “We would ask how would the African American consumer react to this? Or how would the millennial consumer feel about it? I loved it because, ultimately, I really loved learning about people.”
Allison believes that a natural curiosity about people is essential for any long-term success in communications.
“I always say if you don’t like to study people, you’re probably not going to love communications or marketing because you have to understand what challenges people are facing. What I love about working in communications is that you create solutions to people’s problems,” she said.
From the earliest days of her career, Allison learned from her older sister Marcia that solving clients’ problems should extend to outside the conference room. Marcia preceded Allison in the marketing/communications field by over a decade, and she always tried to instill in her little sister the importance of building and maintaining client relationships.
Marcia tragically lost her battle with cancer in 2013, and it was at this time that Allison experienced the full impact of what Marcia meant to the clients she worked with.
“Marcia worked in several different states with various companies, and when we had her services, I saw clients from six states fly to North Carolina for her service,” she said.
One of her clients from Detroit told the family how when she was pregnant and in the hospital for a week, Marcia came and gave her a pedicure on the hospital bed. She kept trying to tell Marcia to go home, but Marcia just said, ‘Someone has to do these toes.’
“Hearing those stories brought us joy because we knew her personality but didn’t know the full impact she had on those around her until then. Seeing that even more solidified to me why that’s so key.”
Allison has carried the lesson with her to this day.
“Just recently, I had a client I worked with five years ago who had something at their restaurant, and I went and helped out. I’ve been to some of their kids’ games, and one of them just turned 20 and is going into communications,” she said.
A calling to connect
The drive to connect with and learn about people is not confined to the workplace. For Allison, it is at the core of who she is. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in her off-hours passion for podcasting and blogging.
Her podcast, A Paige From My Book, was created in 2019, not long after she first moved to Chicago. Previously, Allison had written a series of blog posts, but at this time, she wanted to give voice to people who were easily overlooked in the podcast universe.
“My number one rule is I don’t want to interview celebrities or anyone that has 10 million followers because, I’m thinking, “You already have a platform,” Allison said. “I’ve talked to several people so far, and they all have different social and economic backgrounds, different traumas and different celebrations, and yet they often don’t have a platform to share their story or voice.”
The podcast process felt slightly different at first, but Allison didn’t take long to feel right at home behind the microphone.
“I feel like it’s a perfect purpose project for me,” Allison said. “I just felt a kind of call to do it.”
“You have to have a certain amount of confidence and comfort in your own skin to do that,” Bianca explains. “Allison has this natural ability to put people at ease and help them share their story.”
Now, more than four years and four seasons into the podcast, Allison can see how her passion for podcasting goes hand in hand with her professional life.
“When I think about telling the stories and building the relationships, that is the essence of what we do,” she said. “There are a lot of people who can do the work, but are they asking the client how their daughter is doing or how they are doing since they lost their cat? That may seem very small, but that’s going be precisely the thing that makes them want to fight for you.”
“And I’ve seen that so profoundly throughout my career and family life, no one can convince me that is not the most important thing in what we do. How ever you define success, if you want to reach it, it’s going to boil down to that.”