Tools of the Trade: Anne-Marie Rosser of VSA Partners

By Kyle O'Brien 

Tools of the Trade is an AgencySpy feature to help highlight the many tools that help make advertising and marketing folks successful. The tools can be anything that helps people perform at their top form, from a favorite drafting table to the best software program to a lucky pen, a vintage typewriter or a pair of headphones.

Next up is Anne-Marie Rosser, CEO at strategy and design agency VSA Partners.

Anne-Marie Rosser, CEO at VSA Partners, poses with her 3×5 notecards.


What is one tool you use all the time at work, and how does it inspire your work?

A 3×5 notecard (an unsung hero).

Why is it your favorite?

The humble 3×5 notecard is a workhorse. I use these to both distill and then focus my thinking on what is most important in any given meeting or presentation. Having been at a design-led firm for so long, I can tell you that designers like constraints. Although I am not a designer, the 3×5 card creates a constraint of space and serves as a forcing mechanism to choose only what you can fit on the card.

How did you acquire your tool or hear about it for the first time?

I started using notecards as a requirement when I did extemporaneous speech in high school (Yes, I was a speech squad nerd). The speaker would be given a topic on current events and then have 30 minutes to write a five-minute speech using only—you guessed it—a 3×5 notecard. The speaker could do research from periodicals (pre-internet, people), but could only transfer a certain amount of information to the card. So it forced me to learn how to organize important information quickly and succinctly.

How does it help you be successful?

It reminds me to focus on the main point and keep things simple. It plays to my strength of wanting to speak more off the cuff, but still ensure that I touch on the topics or messages that are most important in a given meeting.

Does it have sentimental value?

No. It’s disposable. Ephemeral.

Do you think your tool could go TikTok viral?

Sure. It was honestly the best thing to come out of my education. It could certainly turn comedic very quickly, too.

We want to know what tools you use to make you successful. If you’d like to contribute or know someone who would want to be featured in Tools of the Trade, contact and fill out our survey.