Tools of the Trade: Ben Bator of Lafayette American

By Kyle O'Brien 

Tools of the Trade is a new 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 Ben Bator, chief innovation officer at Lafayette American in Detroit.

Ben Bator in his Bell K1 Sport Auto Racing helmet.


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

Go with me here, it’s my Bell K1 Sport Auto Racing helmet.

Why is it your favorite?

Motor racing’s been an interest of mine since childhood. As I entered professional life, the more I came to respect the nuances of racing: precision, creativity and the importance of a high-performance culture.

I keep it within eyesight of my desk to remind myself of the culture we’re building at Lafayette American and what our clients have come to expect from us. Some even share in the racing reverence: BorgWarner is the Trophy Sponsor of the Indy 500 and we provide marketing support for American racing rising star Max Esterson in his rise through the European open-wheel series.

It’s also a new business tool. I’m not a golf guy, so I join a group of friends and make new ones at tracks around the Midwest throughout the summer. It’s gotten us meetings. It’s gotten us clients.

Finally, it’s bright orange, because it’s fun. I drive a 155 horsepower Mazda Miata. It’s a reminder that you can do serious things and not take things too seriously.

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

The best way to hear about anything safety-related: you didn’t have a choice.

How does it help you be successful?

The quickest way to go slow is to focus on where you don’t want to go. On track, the helmet acts as a very safe set of blinders.

When it’s on the shelf, it’s a reminder to take what makes Lafayette American special—deep experience in the craft deployed in innovative ways—put the blinders on and go fast.

Do you think your tool could go TikTok viral? Why or why not?

Maybe if I was wearing it during a virtual pitch meeting, while in the car, down the back straight.

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.