Updated: Oct 18
Emily Ptak has lived her life according to the idea that “service is our rent for our time here on Earth.”
The founder and owner of Ptak + Co., a marketing company that specializes in deep exploration and meaningful storytelling, says she “never intended to be a marketer – marketing kind of found me.”
Born and raised in Ontario, Emily attended the University of Ottawa and graduated with honours and an Honours Bachelor of Arts in English and English Literature, with plans of going into academia – until a professor told her she didn’t think Emily could pursue a master’s degree.
With her confidence shaken, Emily moved back to Toronto and got a job with a video production firm, which proved to be her stepping-stone into marketing. At one point, Emily worked for a company called Official Community, which supports recording artists and online brands by developing and maintaining websites for their merchandise and fan clubs.
“I was writing copy for Elton John, Billy Talent, George Michael…yeah, I peaked early,” laughs Emily.
Although she loved that job, there were few, if any, opportunities for advancement and career growth, so she began working at a Toronto ad agency.
“That showed me the dark underbelly of marketing,” says Emily. “It was what you think of when you think of an ad agency – everybody’s working a gajillion hours, everything needed to be done yesterday, people’s egos are huge, everyone is an alcoholic. It wasn’t a healthy environment.”
Feeling that her morals and ethics were being “squeezed” out of her by this work environment, Emily made the decision to move to Calgary. After working for another ad agency and in real estate, Emily, craving autonomy, decided to go her own way and found a start-up.
“I bootstrapped a business, and that’s Ptak + Co.," she says. The company is now four and a half years old and has expanded beyond Emily herself, but she has also found that Focus Bubbles have proved helpful in her work.
“It has literally changed my life, and I don’t say that to be dramatic. I really did not have a clear understanding of how long it takes me to do a task, so it has really honed my ability to understand not only task length, but task priority.”
It’s no revelation that the pandemic has been challenging for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Emily says that Ptak + Co. lost 65 per cent of their total revenue in the first week of March 2020. With a staff to support, she made the decision to stop paying herself and to live on her savings, a choice she admits was scary, but says it was the right thing to do.
“I didn’t have to fire or lay off anybody. It was important to me to try to keep the business going and keep everybody on the team, because they’re all so valuable,” she says. Emily was even able to give one of her employees a raise during the pandemic because of her decision.
“I want this company to ultimately be a legacy that I leave behind of good things that I’ve done here on Earth.”
I’m a full-time university student, part-time Focus Bubbles host, and part-time D&D dungeon master. When I’m not doing interviews, I love meeting new people, hearing their stories, and getting new perspectives on life. I love Focus Bubbles because they help me protect my time and do deep work. I can’t wait to see you in a Bubble!