Catalytic Leadership

Peering into the Future of Social Media: Insights and Leadership From Digital Marketing Maven Mandy Hoskinson

October 16, 2023 Dr. William Attaway Season 2 Episode 13
Catalytic Leadership
Peering into the Future of Social Media: Insights and Leadership From Digital Marketing Maven Mandy Hoskinson
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What if you could peer into the future of social media and tap into the resources of a seasoned digital marketing maven? Today, we're in for a treat as we have the opportunity to do just that with our esteemed guest, Mandy Hoskinson. Based in Los Angeles, Mandy wears multiple hats as a visual artist, a digital marketer, and the proud founder of her own boutique marketing agency. Mandy invites us into her world, shedding light on her journey from leading projects at UCLA to carving her niche in the digital marketing industry. Her unique approach to leadership, which involves actively removing obstacles and focusing on team welfare, is truly inspiring.

Mandy shares her perspective on the future of social media, emphasizing the importance of embracing new technologies as an early adopter. She believes in the power of tech stack sharing and the potential of AI tools in marketing. From her experience, Mandy gives us a glimpse into the benefits of CEO social accounts and how they can be optimized for positivity and vulnerability, particularly on platforms like LinkedIn. We round off this discussion of digital trends with Mandy’s insights on how creative practices can be used in tools like Google Sheets for personal growth.

In the final stretch of our conversation, Mandy opens up about her personal journey and the transformative power of honesty. She underscores the significance of learning from mentors, defending your team, and the importance of reading and personal creative practice. Mandy's story is a testament to the potential for success in both digital marketing and creative pursuits and serves as a valuable guide for all aspiring leaders in the digital world. Tune in for an episode filled with wisdom, insights, and a generous dose of inspiration from Mandy Hoskinson.

Connect with Mandy on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/amandahoskinson/

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Meet Dr. William Attaway, your guide to peak performance. As a seasoned Executive Mindset and Leadership Coach with nearly 30 years of experience, William empowers high-performance entrepreneurs and agency owners to conquer challenges and maximize their potential. Join him on the Catalytic Leadership podcast as he shares insights on achieving Clear-Minded Focus, Calm Control, & Confidence, helping you thrive in business and life.

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to Catalytic Leadership, the podcast designed to help leaders intentionally grow and thrive. Here is your host author and leadership and executive coach, dr William Attaway.

Speaker 2:

Hey, it's William and welcome to today's episode of the Catalytic Leadership podcast. Each week, we tackle a topic related to the field of leadership. My goal is to ensure that you have actionable steps you can take from each episode to grow in your own leadership. Growth doesn't just happen. My goal is to help you become intentional about it. Each week, we spotlight leaders from a variety of fields, organizations and locations. My goal is for you to see that leaders can be catalytic, no matter where they are or what they lead. I draw inspiration from the stories and journeys of these leaders and I hear from many of you that you do too. Let's jump in to today's interview. I'm so excited today to have Mandy Hoskinson on the podcast. Mandy, also known as Media Mandy, is a talented digital marketer and visual artist based in Los Angeles, california. She has a passion for digital marketing and community management, which began during her time at UCLA, where she co-launched the university social media platforms. After her successful experience at UCLA, mandy took on various roles in the digital marketing industry, including work for LA 2028, apple, fox TV and CBS. As she gained more experience and recognition in the field, mandy started to work as a freelance digital marketer, taking on small projects on weekends and evenings. Over time, her client base grew and they began to request additional services like photography, videography, analytics, print, marketing, design and more. This led to the establishment of Mandy's own boutique marketing agency, media Mandy Agency, which has since rebranded as Zolle studio. Mandy, I'm so glad you're here. Thanks for being on the show.

Speaker 3:

I'm stoked that bio sounds so cool.

Speaker 2:

Well, it's you so I hope? No, really, but really we're glad you're here. I'd love for you to share a little bit of your story. I kind of hit some of the hot points, but I'd love to hear more about your journey and your development, particularly as a leader. How did you get started?

Speaker 3:

Oh, I love that. I've been reflecting a lot on how millennials were raised to be leaders. This is a huge part of our education. Frankly, I don't know where that came from, but I was raised by a military commander who went to West Point, so it was always sort of in my blood. I was also just like the bossy kid growing up and so, like anyone who didn't want to lead the group project or you know all the like kids games, I always wanted to lead and that, of course, when you're a kid and when you're a young girl is considered bossy. But I've found as an adult that a lot of people have talents as leaders and a lot of people have talents as followers and actually have preferences, and so you know that gives me the most joy. And so, you know, throughout my career I found myself leading lots of things and in my industry which didn't exist when I started my career, that was incredibly important because you had to be willing to take risks, you had to be willing to sort of pretend like you know what you were doing and you had to be willing to take people in a completely new direction that you weren't sure would end up helpful.

Speaker 2:

That's good. So at this point in your journey, how would you define leadership?

Speaker 3:

I have with a company that septupled. In a year, I went very quickly from a coworker to a manager. I think a lot of people go through that journey where they are suddenly thrust into managing a lot of people, be it in a volunteer capacity or in a work capacity, and so now I just see myself as an obstacle remover and a general health supporter. The number one value at my company is to take care of our team. I don't think you get good work and good results without, first and foremost, your team being taken care of, and so I center that, and that has led to decisions that aren't good for business but are good for people, and I think I've gained commitment from the right type of people who really, really valued that over people who value hustle and high achievement.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, that's really good. I love that obstacle remover.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

That's so fantastic. I think that's something every leader can do and should aspire to, because if we're removing obstacles from our team, how does that not help everybody be successful?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah. And at the end of the day, now my job, my responsibility and inevitably what I will fall for is people's success, and I have found that workplaces that seem like they care about me first are places that I'll stay up late for. They're places that I'll go the extra mile for, but it's always at the right time and I always know that when things are hard I can also ask for that, and I think in our culture that's a luxury. It shouldn't be, but it is a luxury and I want to be a place where that's what's available.

Speaker 2:

Love that. So stepping from working for other people now to leading your own agency, that's a very different world. Have you discovered some ways to lead an agency effectively?

Speaker 3:

So I started really young. I started in my mid-20s this company and I started working really young and so that led to going into entrepreneurship young and I've spoken to some people who say you're so lucky. You're so lucky that you got this head start in this thing and in other ways. I'll talk to other business owners who did the same thing and we always tell each other I wish I could go have a job, I wish I could go be managed or go have an internship, like I'm hungry for these learning opportunities because I don't have as much inspiration from going through that. I worked at agencies, I worked in house, I worked at nonprofits, I worked for corporations, and so I did get a taste of how each of those are run. I think my kindness comes from working at kind nonprofits. I early on got to see. I worked for David Geer, richard Geer's brother's nonprofit, the Art and Global Health Center. Super cool, basically working on the thesis that art can change the world. And that team is the kindest team I've ever worked with. They moved slow and that was. Another lesson is that if you're going to be kind to people, you're not going to have the speed that other companies that aren't kind to people have, and that is something that, to the point of the agency is something that I communicate with people from the very beginning is that we're a people-led agency and in social media, which is essentially a tabloid, that can be frustrating, like clients want immediate results and they want to feel like you're in-house. But we're not in-house, we're an agency. You get the benefit of eight people for the cost of one when you work with an agency, so we have so much talent. But also I'm the poop shield. We'll say and my job is to say hey, it's 5 am, which means it's 2 am for my Hawaii team member. She's going to get to it and I promise your results are going to be similar and that means that I'm not calling my team member at 2 am for something that I've decided as your senior strategist, can take a hit for something else for us to go the extra mile next time. So communicating early. It's actually in their handbook what our turnaround times are. It's in their initial training and it's in their contract that they understand that this is how we work and, interestingly, I have led clients to be better to their team. This is really cool. This just happened this year, so I went to San Francisco with a client and we are actually subcontracted through another agency, so it's an agency working for an agency working for a client, and they knew that we take two weeks off at the holidays radical in America, right?

Speaker 1:

Just absolutely unheard of.

Speaker 3:

And they said how do you do it? And I said A we tell people all year, it's in their handbook, it's in their contract, and we start planning in August. B we have a skeleton crew. There's always somebody who's home, there's always someone who has hours now so that they can take three weeks in the summer. And when your team that cares about each other and your team first, the team understands that I get to have a full Christmas because this other team member is filling in for me, and so in that summer I'm going to take maybe a heavier load in the summertime because I get that. And that's the team caring about each other. It's not the company telling you what to do. And yeah, and so those are the two things that have led to balance. And so this year that client is implementing two weeks off for the first time with a business owner who's got 30 years on me, and so that's really inspiring. It shows me that not only does that method work, it also inspires people.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. As you said earlier, when you take care of your people, that creates a whole different environment, and I think we're seeing that in the broader culture, slowly but surely moving that direction. Getting humans first what a novel idea.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, and I think post-pandemic and bossy millennials and bossy Gen Z, all of that these are values that people want to be hired for, and I was just this morning reading about caretaking and how it's one of the least visible jobs in America, where people have a full-time job and they're caretaking, and how most people are about to enter. Because of boomers, aging, most people are about to enter potentially caretaking for one person, if not also their families, and this kind of thing is just going to have to be a part of the culture. Otherwise, entire swaths of the work, like work culture and also really great minds, really hardworking minds, are going to be lost, and so I want to be ready for that and so I'm practicing for that. Before the performance Smart.

Speaker 2:

That's what great leaders do we think ahead and plan for what's ahead of us.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I hope so.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you seem like a pretty systematic thinker and here in how you're saying we started in August planning knowing we're going to have these two weeks off. It's in the manual, Like everybody knows. It's in the contract. Everybody knows this is coming. We communicate it often, frequently. Are there other processes or tech maybe that you use as you are running an agency?

Speaker 3:

Oh man, I was told by a recent oncomer that Zolei clearly chooses the exact best tool for the job and that means that there's a lot of software learning, which is really good feedback, because as we grow up and as we work with more complex industries, we're hiring people that have been in the workplace longer and that means that they don't necessarily have the native experience of these softwares and within a day you're probably working within seven softwares at Zolei, maybe. I know, I know I'm bad. It's bad. I really do love this optimization tech. So we live on Slack. I really like this, because so many things can be a Slack message over an email. It does get overwhelming, and so we have a lot of rules around Slack. We teach people how to mute Slack. We teach people when to tag. We teach people how to have conversations there so that everything's hyper organized. That means and especially in social media, like there's like design revisions and copy revisions we put our calendars and air table. We used to be in Google Sheets. Air table is utterly fantastic and so much more robust, and client feedback has been fantastic there. I started using toggle, which measures people's time by client. I tried really hard to not measure by client for a really long time. In social media, you can work on five clients in an hour. It's quick, and so I hate micro management. I think it's inefficient. But really what we were finding is that people were spending too many hours on clients and so this was actually out of care for the person. Is that, hey, you have this many hours allotted per client and your time is being sucked by this, and we had a feeling of that. We had one client that was using double their hours, which was like wild, and this was a choice. Everybody has seasons. That's why we have retainers, so that we can hustle for you in your hustle season and we can rest with you in your rest season, and so we were hustling for them. We knew that that was going to be required, but we needed to reduce and we needed that data, so that really helped. Gusto for hours reporting, goodness Sprout social for scheduling, canva for design. So there's a lot in a day and I actually am considering reducing our tech stack, but in the meantime, my tech nerdiness really comes through there, yeah.

Speaker 2:

I think that's great, and I think finding the right tool that does what you wanted to do makes a big difference. I spoke at a conference for marketing agency owners this last weekend down in Tampa, and I always like to walk around and talk to some of the sponsors and the vendors to learn what's the latest and greatest. What are you working on, what's new? And I learned a great deal, but unless you're constantly keeping apprised on what's going on, it's hard to know. Hey, something else just happened, this is something new. This might be more helpful than these three things you've been doing. So I love that and I think if it takes six or seven, then it takes six or seven.

Speaker 3:

And, first of all, great social media posts for all business owners out there. I always ask people what their tech stack is and they always end up making it a social media post because we all want to hear what you're up to. Also, you can just search tech stack on LinkedIn and Twitter. X users love to share that and startup rows as much as we love them and love to not love them. They are cutting edge software users. They're maybe beta testing stuff, and that is where I learned about AI tools super early. And the last thing I'll say this is a hack within social media managers is coupon codes on Twitter. So all these people are trying out these early. They're early adopters and so everybody gets these really great codes. I won't say what AI tool I got 50% off of, but it was $700 discount because of a hidden Twitter code from a really early adopter that was nine months old, and so this hack has been like a. Yeah, it's been a game changer because I've been willing to take risks on tools because it's so much cheaper.

Speaker 2:

So good, so good. I love that. Yeah, let's talk AI, since you brought it. So, how are you seeing this being used right now in marketing and social media, even in art?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I'll plug that I consult with CEOs on AI, just because I love to talk about it so much that people hear about it. And then I've hosted two lunch and learns with the social media club of LA, which is completely recorded on our Facebook page, which was fantastic. One was with Adobe someone who worked on the Adobe AI, and the other was with three people where we looked over their shoulders so they shared their screen on how they use one AI tool in a day, and that was fantastic and I should probably bring it back. Wow, I'm a super AI nerd. My entire company shares a chat GPT pro account, just like Netflix. Don't get mad at me.

Speaker 1:

I'm a small business owner.

Speaker 3:

And then the super cool part of this is that we can see what each other is doing. Here's the big hack ChatGPT can write your prompts for you. So one of the things that I do is I've actually written a page of teaching ChatGPT about the client brand rules, good posts, what to do, what not to do, how to use emoji, how to use hashtags, common links, common line breaks this is really deep in the AI community is how to teach it first. Then what you say is what else do you need to know? This is the AI hack. Then it will ask you more. Then you answer all of that and then you compile this all into a document and you say, hey, okay, we're going to write posts for this brand. Here's what you need to know. It goes okay. Then it can go read articles, it can read PDFs, it can read transcripts from interviews and AI is your co-pilot right, that's the name of one of them, but we never, ever, ever hand the client something completely AI created but, especially something like a transcript. That is saving the client money. What we're finding is that we are giving people more options. That has been a huge luxury is that if we used to give them two copy options, we might give them three, because it gave us another great idea that helps everybody. I absolutely love ChatGPT, mid Journey, the AI image creator. I'm officially able to read Mid Journey. It has such a specific visual voice and I use it enough. It's $20 a month, it's Discord, and so it's like kind of complex to figure out. I love it and just for the sake of understanding how to talk to AI, something really cool about Mid Journey is you can tell it to describe an image and how that image would be prompted, and so if you're not sure, yeah, and also on Reddit and YouTube, you'll find Google Docs teaching ChatGPT how to prompt Mid Journey, and so, yeah, it's amazing. It's amazing and so, like you can use anything, especially if you're paying for Pro ChatGPT, because it can go learn about the tool on its own. You can use any AI tool and then have ChatGPT do it for you, and that is phenomenal. That administration and learning is completely skipped. So that has been a game changer for me and AI In terms of art. I'm really intrigued by it. It really matters where you're taking the art from, and a lot of these data sources aren't disclosed. Adobe uses its own image library and it is not great, and so you know the cost of it. I understand why somebody would say that AI art is an art, but we used to say that on Photoshop and we did. We used to say that that's absolutely not art and that is, like now, accepted as absolutely an art tool and so most really good AI art takes about 100 iterations, it takes so many refinements and you can add your own images to it, and so I think we're going to have to understand the tool and people who don't understand the tool, the people that are just like it's not art, it's bad, it's whatever. They don't use the tool, and I think you know we're going to need to start understanding that prompt engineering is a job and is an art form and, yes, data sources matter, but collages are, photoshop is collage and most people are taking things from the internet and we have copyright law. I'm not a lawyer. We have copyright law about proper modification and AI art is probably the most intense version of modification. So I'm not. I don't have hard opinions, but I think these people, before you have an opinion and before you let people tell you to have an opinion, go use the tool yourself, because I think you're going to have a more in-depth understanding of it and be able to actually have a real conversation about it.

Speaker 2:

That is so thoughtful and so good. I like that.

Speaker 3:

I haven't thought through this stuff, so thanks for asking. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

You know so much in the digital space right now is talking about social media, and this is. This is just a hot topic of conversation. Where's it going? What's next? Where do we think it's going to go from here? I would love to hear your thoughts around that.

Speaker 3:

It's always fun when people care about your job. Yeah, I don't know Podcasting. I don't know if it's really hit the news There'll be trends or like earnings from podcasts or maybe a big one will get sold to Spotify. But it's always funny when people just like suddenly start caring. Of course, like this podcast would care, but you know my friends and family will be like oh, you have a real job Somebody recently at a party said oh, you just finished a Goldman Sachs business program. Does that mean you're going to get a job? And I was like I have 20 employees, You're right what? It's also pretty wild that that's the case, right, it's I? You know we had a one person team. I've worked for the IT department. I've worked for the photography department, where social media was born in a company Highly impacts what you're allowed to do, the resources you have and how you approach it, and that has been fascinating. And I always ask clients like where does your social media team sit? Because it tells me what approach you're going to take, whether or not you want to. That's good. In terms of social, the most interesting social right now is LinkedIn and has been for about two years. It is absolutely blowing up. Users are increasing exponentially and one of my metrics for it was when will somebody post a gym picture? And that has officially happened on my feed, which means we're hitting it as social media. It's not just a place for job seekers yeah, especially for people here on this podcast. I'm sure they've heard it a million times. Being there is really important. It's a really important place to establish your voice and I'm officially recommending that people Disinvest from company pages and start investing in CEO social because we're tired of brands. We know it, we understand it. I really believe that we're leaving the snark phase of social and moving into the kindness and vulnerability phase of social.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I hope so. Oh, my goodness, I hope, that's true.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and like you build your own feed, and so if you complain about a social media channel to me, I just understand that your algorithm is optimized for anger, which that is how social media will automatically treat you if you either don't optimize it for yourself or if you are sort of neutral. But if you optimize for positivity and inspiration, that's what you're going to get, and there's a lot of people doing that. There's a lot of people getting really vulnerable. Sarah Blakely has been really good at this for a really long time of Spanx. I highly recommend checking her out her podcast with how I built this and you'll see you're just seeing it everywhere. In some ways, it's leading to PR crises. Some CEOs go a little too vulnerable, right, like they don't know how to do this or they don't have the right support, and so it's risky, but it's really, really important. I don't know if X is going to die, but I've never seen a social media platform ever in the news more Maybe Facebook during its court case, but it's staying in the news, which is fascinating to me. I love threads. Threads is a social media favorite right now, social media manager favorite, and that's important, like it's important that your social media manager is there. It's also important that Facebook and Instagram are dumping money into it. I won't say where, but when I worked creating Facebook live videos, we were paid 10,000 a minute to go live by Facebook, not to Facebook. We were paid as a brand to go live and my job was to go live for 300 minutes a month and if I missed a single minute I lost my company $10,000. And that was a lot of pressure and you should know that. Everything gaming, dating, groups they invest a lot of money into it and they don't want it to die. They're really quickly innovating it and they really pushed it fast, so I'm intrigued by that. This really isn't an answer, but I think LinkedIn and threads are the most interesting thing and I think vulnerability is something to lean into.

Speaker 2:

That's so fascinating. I spend more of my time on LinkedIn than any of the others and I find the conversations there once you get through some of the spammy stuff, but so many of the conversations there are so different and richer in so many ways. So I just I would agree completely on that one. I have not spent a lot of time on threads.

Speaker 3:

It's fun, but after this conversation.

Speaker 2:

I feel like I should.

Speaker 3:

It's quirky, but if you want that coveted interaction, techcrunch has interacted with me. The LA Times meme account which is amazing followed me. If you remember the Early Club House Days, which is better for individuals, I'm sure you were there. That was a place where you rapidly networked and so if you just want to see where brands are being edgy, it's a great place. I gave my writer she writes for television I gave my writer 100% freedom on our threads because it's just a fun place to experiment and it's been going great. She's super funny and I always believe that everybody should have a creative outlet at work and I'm hoping that that is what that's doing for her. I'll say on LinkedIn, they're algorithmically weak, so newsletters are huge there and I don't know about you, but I'm getting like three 10 newsletter invites a day. Two years ago, newsletters was my hack. Nowadays there's too many and where do you find them? It's impossible to find them. They push to your email, but if you go find them, you're just going to see a list of them, so then you have to go click to each one individually. It's not delivering to your feed. Articles are also pretty bad, but the hack I'll say right now is go write the AI articles. You can search topics and I'm getting emails from LinkedIn employees just because of my interactions there. That's an interesting place to build expertise and it's honestly just a really fun exercise to write about your expertise. And anytime a social media profile or social media platform pushes your interaction with something, that's something to work on, and so it now pushes so and so contributed to this article into the feed and, once again, if a social media platform pushes out an update, they're going to invest money and give you a lot of free impressions for this because they want it to succeed.

Speaker 2:

So good, so good. You have some experience there in LA as the president of the social media club. What are some initiatives, what are some projects and key projects that you have worked on there to foster community and professional development in this digital marketing field?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, one of the things that the club didn't have was documentation and templates, which is so boring but so important. So I was given the club to keep on life support during the pandemic. A lot of people, their lives are changing. They were moving, their job got a lot harder. There was a generational change. There's a huge generational change in a lot of organizations I'm part of right now, where I think these are organizations that people join when they're trying to grow their career and once you hit a career moment, you don't feel a need to have it. You have the network you want, you have the position you want, and so I used that year, which was slow. We were an in-person events specialty organization and we had a small board and I just used that year for admin, created the first handbook, created a bunch of processes, worked with someone to create canva templates. So all that boring administration, because my end goal is to hand this to the next president very strong, I just want a really strong org. The next year, I wanted to create regular events. So we created regular digital events and we update our email and this year we're relaunching an award show called the Hashis, which I am really excited about it. This award show has actually existed around the country because Social Media Club is international and it has a great name it's called the Hashis. However, in LA that word has a different connotation, but I'm kind of writing the fame of that connotation because of other industries that are massive here.

Speaker 2:

Different industry. That's right yeah.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, but you know, I think an award show is a great business investment. We're a nonprofit, but I want to hand our next president cash a strong board, strong processes, so that they can really just take an existing system and grow it rather than starting from scratch. And I won't say that I started from scratch with my board, but I just want there to be no questions and no institutional knowledge held within a person. I want it to be held within documentation, because I'm a nerd, like you said processes and so yeah. So for this award show sponsors way easier to come by than yet another networking lunch. Visibility into businesses Everybody wants to be an award winner and this is LA-specific. So we have an excuse to talk to businesses about who we are and it's not asking something of them, it's giving something to them and being able to give is so much stronger than being able to take Right. So getting visibility, getting cash so there's a low but existing application amount, so that's an easy way to get cash. It's an easy way to get in-kind sponsorships. There could be goodie bags, there could be locations Easy way to get visibility because then you ask everybody to post about it and we're also incorporating some public voting. So there's excuse me, judge voting and then there's also public voting. So even more ways to ride people's coattails and just a generally exciting thing to do and a generally awesome way to establish brand in a way that isn't just yet another networking event. So I have kind of canceled other initiatives to just lean into this. My co-president, my vice president, she has done an award show before. I have worked like really big award shows, which isn't useful, but I can at least attest to the magic of them and with that experience. I hope that this can sort of create that momentum and excitement so that even future volunteers are like I want to be a part of that. So I'm hoping that this big investment and the past years of focuses will lead to somebody wanting to be president so that I can be a follower somewhere, and also somebody feeling really good as a president and really equipped.

Speaker 2:

You know, I think the intentionality with which you have approached that entire role is a model, and I say that because one of the things that I mean I've been saying this for 20 years One day, somebody else is going to sit in the chair. I sit in. When that happens, it doesn't matter what you do, if you're a founder, if you're a leader, a middle manager, it doesn't matter where you're leading, somebody else is going to sit in that chair. Do you want them to walk into the same problems you walked into, yeah, or do you want to leave it better? And you've been so intentional about creating better and thinking about what would you have liked to have walked into. I'm going to create that that's so inspirational and such a model for every leader who is listening.

Speaker 1:

I love that.

Speaker 3:

Thank you. Yeah, you know practice. We talked about leadership at the beginning and I have reflected on that and I have practiced since I was a kid. I have led so many things internships, volunteer groups, student projects, marching bands, nonprofits, my own initiatives, other people's initiatives led by following. And I think to your point, if you just observe and try to do even better than what you've been a part of and try to model what you respect, you create this result of all of your inspirations and I'm excited to keep getting practice and hopefully keep getting better.

Speaker 2:

That's so good. So let me ask you, andy, how do you stay sharp, how do you stay on top of your game and level up with the new skills you need to lead, Because the leader that your company needs a year from now, you're not there yet. How are you going to keep developing? What are some things that?

Speaker 1:

you do to do that.

Speaker 3:

There's a lot of chatter and social media about how we always have to stay on the cutting edge and I used to really buy into that. But I really think if you're trying at your industry, you're keeping on the cutting edge. I don't think that's special. Maybe software, but at the end of the day, marketing is getting people to do something, and always has been. It's just getting a conversion and the tools by which you do that change, but really not that much. It only makes things easier. I'm just obsessed with reading biographies and listening to things like this and through that, everybody says to read and my mentor loves audiobooks and helped me get past the bias against audiobooks. I have friends who say but I don't absorb everything, and I was like do you absorb everything from a real book? No, and so I have read over 500 books from the LA Public Library for free using audiobooks. If you don't have the app Libby, you're missing out on so much. And it's all the classics. I have a lot of the business classics and I just bought the HBR series. I love those Harvard Business Reviews, like the roundups, because they I'm listening to the 100 top HBR articles on Libby. But I also bought the books because they're so good that I want to highlight them. It's not cheap. It's like a $70 book, like five books set, but I wanted that pack. That was really important to me Practicing elsewhere, including like creative practice. So I have creative practice outside of this work and I get to be silly in the tools that I use every day. I made a website for some friends and it has like a really sassy button and it leads to a Rick Roll and that's only something that I could do in like a super silly context and that even the award show. Actually this is a volunteer position, but I'm. You know, google Sheets has a timeline function. Please go check it out. It's brand new and I got to implement this timeline function, which is so nerdy, but you know I got to do that. I got to do design again. I got to think about reaching out to sponsorships. And doing something outside of your daily expertise will cross-pollinate into your day to day and means that I'm a competent social media manager. Something that I absolutely despised was when I worked with people who really didn't know anything about the platforms anymore. I'm getting that way because when your job becomes management and the tools move quick, that's rough but I can still get in front of someone and on average, I design on Canva three times faster than one of my team members. Still, part of it's from practicing elsewhere, part of it's because the tool is really old and I've been using it for a really long time, and so I think that builds respect through natural skill, and I do that by having a context outside of work where I'm not saving people by doing the work. So, books, being the president of the social media club, I've been attending events for 11 years and I've been managing them for three. You naturally get in front of people through that network and just trying to stay fresh through creative practice outside of my day to day work.

Speaker 2:

It's so easy to look at your story and what we've heard today from you and think, wow some people maybe listen to this or watching this and saying, oh wow, her journey has just been up into the right, it's just all good. Every year is better than the one before and everything's great. There's no struggles, there's no challenges and that's entrepreneurial life right, yeah.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, there's no struggles, no challenges, oh no, so no, absolutely not. Yeah, of course not. I think in the end, hopefully it is I, so I stepping back. My dad died when I was 22 suddenly and it meant that I had to drop everything and go manage funerals and estate issues and pets when I was super young in South Carolina, just across the country, which is expensive and funerals are expensive. Death in general is expensive and I'm still dealing with admin from that frickin' estate and that was pivotal. It's a really big wake up call really early in life and you know something that you deal with for a long time, and so that was part of my early career journey and helped me realize that I didn't want to work in unkind places. I life's too short and that can really impact you long term. And so I started my company, leaving CBS during Me Too, and with a focus on being kind to people and knowing that that was going to be expensive and slow, and what I started with was photography. I find social media completely exhausting. It's a tabloid, it's daily work and it is unrelenting. There is no stop. It's a marriage Like it's a, and it's a marriage with daily work, and I loved photography because there was a beginning and an end and rest, and I needed that, and so I leaned into that and we got huge In 2020, we were lined up mostly me, but like me, occasionally working with people to shoot an eclipse in Patagonia, chile, a music festival in Canada, tour with a metal band, work with snowboarders in Oregon and in the Caribbean, and multiple of events and so I realized like, oh, I can create sort of side projects through headshots, food photography and product photography and I was doing a lot of shoots in my one bedroom apartment in LA and kicking my husband out in order to do it, and it just wasn't sustainable. And so I was like I need a place to work and so I signed at least February 1st 2020 for my thriving photography career, which was the worst day to sign a lease of all time. Oh my goodness and I took my gig in the Caribbean. I had a little bit of a hint that I'd be okay and I ended up flying home from that gig the day before the country shut down and all airports shut down People in hazmat suits like Amish people and missionaries fleeing their country of where they were living just bananas like experience, and my company completely went under. I drained my retirement just a lot of things and then, in December of 2020, I signed USC. But of course, that was an awful year. It was really awful for everybody. But talk about feeling like failure and talk about feeling like it was time to get another job, and I think everybody but I'd heard this, I'd listened to so many biographies and so many stories and luckily had an awesome partner and awesome friends and an awesome mentor and decided to stick with it and that was what led to absolutely thriving and we went from zero to three to five, to 15, to 20. And I don't have fantasies of being massive, I just have fantasies of taking care of people, and so I don't know what the future will bring, but I am just really happy that I gave it the time of investment and I sort of stuck with the sunk cost fallacy of I'm going to keep trying and I'd heard so many people say that and I'd heard so much success from that and I was also ready just to tell people I had failed and embraced all of that and I'm really happy I did and it's a great story to tell now, but it was really horrible to go through.

Speaker 2:

I think there's a whole lot of people listening who can resonate with that. And one of the challenges and I think social media plays right into this is you're comparing your every day to somebody else's highlight reel, you're comparing your chapter three to somebody else's chapter 15. We have to be so careful doing that, particularly as leaders, as the teams we lead. The people who we influence follow our lead, and if we lose hope, if we get discouraged, they're going to follow. So, true, thank you for sharing that. That was such a powerful story, and I know it's so much more comfortable on this side of it. But you know, one thing I often say is that there's no such thing as a wasted experience.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And everything that you and I have been through has made us who we are today. We would not be who we are today without those experiences Good, bad and ugly.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely, absolutely Of course.

Speaker 2:

Is there all the books that you've read and I love that you're such a voracious reader Is there a book that has made a big difference in your journey, something that you would recommend that everybody listening put on their TREAD list if they haven't read it?

Speaker 3:

Gosh, yeah, it's always a hard question for me because I'm obsessed, but the one that comes to mind today is Give and Take by Adam Grant, that's a great book. It's so good. You know it's getting up there. It might be eight years old, maybe more. Adam Grant will be one of your best social media follows of all time. He's a behavioral psychologist at Wharton and just is doing research in kindness and what. There's a couple of things that happens in there, but one of the things is he dichotomizes givers, takers, and then actually matches. So it's not a dichotomy and understanding if you're someone who gives to the point of pain, if you're someone who takes, who's maybe causing pain to others, and if you're someone who sees something and you exactly match and understanding yourself and then understanding the people that you're working with and utilizing that. If someone's a taker and you're a giver, making sure that you create boundaries there If you give too much, which is something I have tackled. I have a church background and I have a Mexican background and I'm a woman and there's lots of reasons why I have been culturally encouraged to give everything to the point of, you know, losing your health, losing your sanity, losing your money, and so tackling that part of me while also keeping the fact that I like that part of me has been a huge part. And the last thing I'll say is negotiation. This changed my life and so many of my friends' lives. Negotiate as if you're defending one of your friends. If you're a giver, think about the Mandy that is your friend, because givers will defend to the end for the people that they care about and they will not defend for themselves. And so let's say nowadays I use this in business, but before I used it in salary negotiation my friend, Mandy A, is a leader in the workplace. She has done so much more than her job description. Here's the reasons and abilities why Her industry is far better paid and so she deserves just to be to match that industry and see like she has a lifestyle that she needs support, and that lifestyle is barely affording rent in as very expensive city and being able to, you know, save money for the non-retirement that her generation is going to have. And she deserves it, she's worked hard for it and she needs it. And so walk into that negotiation with the confidence of defending that person that isn't you. It's so good. It's so good. And you know now that I have an entity that isn't me anymore. I can defend that. But defending that being taking your given tendency and actually using it for what you might perceive as aggression, which is really just taking care of yourself with people that have assets that they can reallocate. Like this is not. You're not taking, you're not hurting anybody, You're just getting what you need. And in this case, now I'm defending people again and so I'm creating salaries and income for people and they deserve the best, and I will defend on their behalf that. I got a 50% raise after I read that book and five zero and that, yeah, just a game changer, and I'm still not great at it, Like I'm still actually quite terrible at it, but I'm much better than I used to be and I'm much better at identifying that tendency within myself and sort of tackling it earlier than I used to.

Speaker 2:

You know, one thing I've heard throughout this conversation is how much you value the people who are on your team. I think one of the greatest privileges of a leader is to equip and empower their team to succeed, and something you said just to mend ago made me think of the other side of that, which is to stand in front of them and to protect them, and that I sense that in you and that's just a, that's just a part of who you are, and I think that's such a wonderful thing.

Speaker 3:

Thank you, anxiety medication helps, but you know, and it's really hard. It's so hard. But chat, you can script conversations everybody.

Speaker 2:

Just don't take them and use them just like they are.

Speaker 3:

Hello, I hope you're having a great day today. It's so helpful. Yeah, negotiations are really hard, but it's it's important, it's it's the job I have now. It's I have to rise to that occasion. I have not always a rise to that occasion and my team brought that up because I have a company where people are allowed to bring something like that up and I took that seriously and that's actually been a focus of mine this year is to defend people and to get in the way, to give people the independence to take care of themselves, but then, at the end of the day, to be the business owner and stand by the values that I preach.

Speaker 2:

I love that you give your team that freedom. I talked to my clients often about what I call the last 10% of honesty. You know, the first 90% is really easy for us to give to one another, but we typically hold back the last 10% because we don't want to break or damage a relationship, we don't want to offend somebody, so we hold that back. The problem is, the last 10% of honesty is where the transformation lives. That's where the magic is, and I don't get better without that last 10%, and neither do you, and so I've tried to create a culture with my on my team as well, where it's not just that I want the last 10%, I need it, I expect it, and there is that openness, there is that freedom, and that's what it sounds like you've created as well.

Speaker 3:

Do you give it, and so something I've reflected a lot on is what percentage of transparency helps and what percentage of transparency hurts. I used to go with the approach of absolute, but I found that that actually led to kind of asking for emotional support from my team instead of being a leader, and so you know, absolutely I want my team to be radically candid. I'm curious what you think about that. Do you think you give 100% of the information or do you curate the information?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's a different question, and when I talk about the last 10% of honesty, I'm talking about a project on performance or things like that, and it comes to things that you carry, that I carry as the point leader and I don't have the context and oftentimes they don't have the ability to carry that. They didn't sign up to carry that. So if we try to place that on them, we're actually doing them a disservice. That's not honoring to them to ask them to carry something that they they aren't, they didn't sign up for, they didn't sign up to carry that. This is what I what I talked to my clients about when I'm coaching them. So often we run into trouble as leaders when we take things home and we we dump things on our spouse. Well, they're supportive of us, they're cheering us on, they're cheering us on, but they didn't sign up to lead what we lead. You're asking them to carry something they're not equipped or that they signed up to handle, and our team is the same way. We have to learn as leaders what we can share and what we need to share somewhere else, in a different context. I love that.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I love the concept that your spouse can't be everything. They just can't they can't and you have to find support systems and figure out support, but also things like journaling, things like therapy, like finding that support elsewhere. I something I've thought about creating that boundary with work was something I had to learn early and something I have been reflecting on this year is energy theft. So I was ending at five, is ending at six, like whenever my partner is getting home, and I was exhausted. I went straight to bed. I didn't make dinner, it was minimal. We spent like completely zoned out time together I and so I had finished on time, but I had actually given all my energy to that day because I was. It was possible, but it was possible because I took everything else from the other eight hours in my day and that, and then it was leaking into Saturdays. I was spending time with friends falling asleep on their couch and, yes, there's hustle periods and there's rest periods, but the thing I'm reflecting on now and because I have a really great team that's incredibly supportive and that's a whole other aspect is not only protecting the people from that stress and holding it, not creating more of it and not welcoming more of it, but then also asking for so much balance that I go home with energy, and that's a whole new frontier that I'm working on.

Speaker 2:

I think that's fantastic. You know it's like anything else, it's intentionality. You know it's being purposeful and saying I'm going to make sure that I'm not going to expend everything in my wallet before the end of the month. I'm going to make sure I don't expend every bit of energy that I have before the relationships that matter most, Right? Yeah, that's so, so good. This has been such a great, great conversation, Mandy. I want to thank you for the insights and the wisdom that you've shared. People typically walk away from an episode like this with one big idea. If you were to define that big idea the one thing you want everybody listening to walk away with what would you want that to be?

Speaker 3:

You can't take care of others until you take care of yourself. It's so cliche but it's so true. And taking care of yourself might mean a lot more than what it means to other people. You know there's some people taking care of themselves as waking up at six and doing yoga and whatever all their things. It's such an LA thing to say, doing yoga, meditating, burning your stage but sometimes it might mean, you know, whole weekends where you do nothing. It might mean, you know, getting support with chores. It might mean complete silence. It might mean more time off than you perceive other people as having. But getting past that perception and really, really actually having a full cup that can actually pour into other cups takes a lot of boundaries and you won't take care of them until you take care of you. And I think it's a lesson that we all keep learning and keep having to recenter, but in a post COVID world where we're doing other things again, remembering what that balance is and recalibrating if you have to.

Speaker 2:

What a great way to top on this conversation. I know people are going to want to stay connected with you and continue learning from you, Mandy. What is the best way for them to do that?

Speaker 3:

I'm trying to do better on LinkedIn. You can. You'll probably find my name in the show notes and I'm media Mandy everywhere Zole. We're always experimenting with our social channels. So if you want to see how we're doing that, we're Zole studio, where the name comes from mixed heritage because we're a multicultural agency. So Zole is for, zole, it's a Mexican soup, and so Le and French is son, and so sort of combining those two elements ZOL, a Y studio.

Speaker 2:

We'll have those links in the show.

Speaker 3:

Thank, you so much. This was awesome.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for joining me for this episode today. As we wrap up, I'd love for you to do two things. First, subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss an episode, and if you find value here, I'd love it if you would rate it and review it. That really does make a difference in helping other people to discover this podcast. Second, if you don't have a copy of my newest book, Catalytic Leadership, I'd love to put a copy in your hands. If you go to catalyticleadershipbookcom, you can get a copy for free. Just pay the shipping so I can get it to you and we'll get one right out. My goal is to put this into the hands of as many leaders as possible. This book captures principles that I've learned in 20 plus years of coaching leaders in the entrepreneurial space, in business, government, nonprofits, education and the local church. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn to keep up with what I'm currently learning and thinking about. If you're ready to take a next step with a coach to help you intentionally grow and thrive as a leader, I'd be honored to help you. Just go to catalyticleadershipnet to book a call with me. Stay tuned for our next episode next week. Until then, as always, leaders choose to be catalytic.

Speaker 1:

Thanks for listening to Catalytic Leadership with Dr William Attaway. Be sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts so you don't miss the next episode. Want more? Go to catalyticleadershipnet.

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