The Next Blank Canvas

by Gay Gaddis

“Everything is sweetened by risk.”

It is an inscription on a little blue and white enamel box that sat in the living room of Lee’s mother, Isabel Maltsburger Gaddis. I was drawn to that box and Isabel gave it to me as a gift. It has been on my desk ever since.

That was in 1989, the year I founded T3. 

I might have sensed it then, but know now, that embracing the sweetness of risk is something that has shaped my life, family and career.

Thirty years ago feels like yesterday. But that’s when I took the biggest risk in my life, cashed in my $16,000 retirement savings, and started my own company—massive recession be damned. We called ourselves “Marketing Revolutionaries.” We flew a banner of “T3 GLOBAL HEADQUARTERS” audaciously across the balcony of the historic home that was our office.

Flash forward to today and the T3 I started with one big idea and three people has become one of the most innovative agencies in the world. 

Our son, Ben, is leading a talented management team and steering T3 to help build brands in more modern and useful ways. The Think Tank approach of my founding plan has evolved and grown in forms that did not exist, and I could not have imagined, in 1989. That ongoing transformation has attracted amazing people and enduring client partnerships.

Over all those years, I always trusted my gut and sensed when it was right to blaze the next trail. Like now. With LRW Group, we will be working with people with the same ground-up entrepreneurial backgrounds as ours. They are doing amazing things in areas independent from what we are doing. They love our smarts, innovation and creativity and we love the consumer insights and intelligence they provide to their clients. 

With Ben moving into T3’s CEO role, I know we are poised for bigger things. This next bold step makes sense for our people, for our clients, our future, our family, and for me.

I’m not one to sit still. People energize me. Ideas energize me. It feels like I’ve spent the past five years on the road speaking with business leaders, entrepreneurs, and students hell-bent on changing the world. A lot of that inspired me to write my book, Cowgirl Power, and now expand advisory roles with the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, College of Fine Arts, and the Moody College of Communication to blur the lines between business and creativity. I also dusted off my paintbrushes for the first time since college, drawing new creativity from the bold colors of big Texas skies.

I will continue connecting with people and offering my expertise through speaking roles with major corporations and business groups, and board service with publicly traded companies and nonprofits. 

All this has lit a different kind of fire in me. It’s shown me new ways to give back through mentorship, coaching, and applying creativity in so many different forms. 

It inspired Lee and I to create new space for creative collaboration at the Fossil Ridge Creative Center on our ranch. It’s part gallery and part event space. It’s a place for crazy ideas and problem-solving. It’s also my ellipse-shaped studio with its curves, tall glass and amazing light; with blank canvases waiting for the first stroke of bold acrylic; and with a little blue and white enamel box—a gift in all ways possible. “Everything is sweetened by risk.”

A new blank canvas awaits. Nothing is more exciting.

To learn more, please read the LRW Group press release.

Gay Gaddis