Reflections on Our Founder Mort Libby

16 May 2017
Reflections on Our Founder Mort Libby
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Jerry Kathman

Mort Libby
January 21, 1937–May 15, 2017

Last night we lost our founder Mort Libby. Mort organized the leveraged buyout that formed our company when we purchased it from Young & Rubicam (Y&R). The letter he sent to Y&R management on September 30, 1983, read as follows:

As representative of a small group of Cincinnati personnel, I would like to make an offer to Young & Rubicam to purchase this office at book value. We feel it is in everyone’s best interest to move as quickly as possible.

Thank you for your consideration.

Very truly yours,

Mort Libby

We exist today as a worldwide company because Mort had the courage to take this step. There was no predicting how it would go. As you might imagine, it was not well received initially. Cooler heads prevailed, and within a week we were on our own.

So, yes, Mort created the company. But what’s even more important, I believe, is that he created the culture that our company has embraced since our earliest days. Mort set the standard. He penned our Statement of Values, which he believed must serve as a compass for all of our actions. He declared what we should expect of ourselves and each other:

  • Uncompromising integrity
  • Respect for the individual
  • Leadership in our profession
  • Excellence in our product

He then noted that in doing this, each of our values would result in measurable benefits to:

  • Our company
  • Our employees
  • Our clients
  • Our communities

This is still at the heart of who we are today.

So these are the two things we all need to remember on this sad day. The company exists because of Mort Libby. More importantly, the kind of company we are today is Mort’s greatest gift to us.

For some of us, Mort is more than the founder of our great company, he is also a friend. We know that intelligence, curiosity and wit were at the heart of this charming man.

For me, he was larger than life. As a young student intern joining the company, he represented quite an aspiration. Mort was good looking, athletic, funny and full of life. He made me feel good about the profession I was entering.

He was the opposite of so many stereotypes associated with our industry. He was not an autocrat. He was not pompous. He was not overly enchanted with the sound of his own voice. Rather, he celebrated the success of others.

We use the word “extraordinary” in our LPK brand messaging today. The most extraordinary man I will ever know is Mort Libby.

Published On May 16, 2017

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