ITHACA, NY -- A world traveler and fearless adventurer, Laurie Linn considers herself lucky to live in Tompkins County.
“I wouldn’t have nearly as much fun if I wasn’t in Tompkins County,” she said.
And that’s saying something coming from a woman who spent six months traveling solo through Europe, lived in the Virgin Islands crewing sailboats and biked the California coastline.
“I look out the window and see the lake every single day, I take lunch breaks and go on the running path,” she said. “It’s a great quality of life. I consider all of us very lucky to be here.”
Eventually, Linn’s adventures changed the course of her life when she met a higher-up of Tom Yagel & Associates on an airplane. The two got talking, and the woman told Linn she thought she could be a great asset to the team there. This led to Linn, whose master’s degree is in special education, joining the team in their research division, before working her way up to be the vice president of marketing.
“We were pioneers for really innovative integrated marketing communications,” she said. “Imagine being in the ‘80s […] nobody was thinking about all the different ways to reach audiences. I got a plethora of really cutting edge opportunities.”
However, despite her passion for the work, the heavy amounts of travel began to weigh on her.
“I wanted to settle down and have a house and a dog,” Linn said.
She was able to transfer from Philadelphia to Ithaca, where she could be closer to the vice president based in Corning. However, after settling in, Linn decided she wanted to do her own thing, opening Communiqué Design & Marketing which is now celebrating its 30th year. The name came from a song by Dire Straits that Linn liked.
“When I looked up the definition it means the total communication,” she said. “When you’re communicating, there are a lot of different channels and methods to get there. I thought it was a brilliant name.”
Her first account was Omni Turbo Blades based out of Newfield. They made turbo blades for airplanes and helped get the company off the ground.
“One thing that sticks out is the first client we ever got, it came through a fax machine,” Linn laughed.
Omni was a national company, and throughout the ‘90s, Communiqué began to grow quickly and started bringing in more national accounts.
“But I didn’t want to keep traveling all over the world,” Linn said. “It was important to me to keep the company more regional.”
She instituted the policy that their clients would remain within a 150-mile driving radius, and said it’s worked well for her throughout the years.
“Being a business owner and a mother, and balancing work and life, I wanted to make sure I had more time to be with my family,” she said.
Reflecting back on 30 years, Linn said she was never afraid to take the plunge of opening her own business.
“The biggest thing is I’m not afraid to take risks,” she said. “When you put yourself out there and travel to Europe alone, or when you go to the Virgin Islands and start crewing boats by yourself…I have a zest for learning new things and experiencing new things. When you run a business you have to do a lot of that […] You have to take risks. You can’t live in fear. I knew that whatever life threw my way I could take that curveball and make it into an opportunity.”
It’s that relentless optimism that breeds such loyalty and dedication from her team. Tim
Youngs has been with Linn for about 20 of the 30 years Communiqué has existed.
“She’s a ball of fire,” Youngs said. “She’s very ambitious and very generous and very person oriented. Her superpower is at a conference table. She really moves things along. She’s an agent of change and a really dynamic person.”
He added that Communiqué’s small office felt more like a family than a work environment.
“We over communicate here, we all know what everyone’s working on,” he said. “Every family is a little bit dysfunctional in some ways, but we all care about each other and have each others’ backs.”
For all of Linn’s energy, passion and fearlessness, her motivation these days is simple — to make her community a better place.
“I’ve done a lot of not-for-profit work which is very passionate for me,” she said. “Each generation should leave the world a better place. I think about my daughter a lot. What’s Ithaca going to be like if she decides to live here? I feel a lot of responsibility to be involved.”
And that desire she has for her community comes from an earnest place of appreciation for the region that has allowed her business to flourish.
“Doing business in Tompkins County has been one of the most fantastic honors I ever could have imagined,” she said. “People here are so welcoming. I pinch myself sometimes about the great group of people I get to work with.”
As for what’s next for Linn, her insatiable zest for life will undoubtedly bring her new clients and new adventures — though there is one thing she likely won’t be doing.
“I’ve always wanted to go skydiving. I had an appointment set up when I turned 30 and the weather didn’t cooperate, and now I’m not so sure I’d still do it” she laughed.