Amanda Slavin, CatalystCreativ (New York City, NY)

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Amanda’s company started as a community design firm and morphed over time to what they are today, a combination experiential agency/brand consulting firm. The company activating customers into brand loyalists, into ambassadors, into advocates, so that they can grow their business, helping brands transition passive customers to active participants in shaping their brand’s story.

Amanda’s Dad, a big sports fan, forced her to watch every sport when she was growing up. Her background is in the sports bar industry, Between the two, she knows the value of sports in community-building.

When the LA Raiders transitioned to Las Vegas, CatalytCreativ designed the opening ceremonies to feature local residents. Las Vegas is unique in that it has only 2 million permanent residents and hosts 40 million visitors a year, and the transition came after the tragic October 1, 2017 concert massacre. The message of the program was that the Raiders were not asking anything from the community, but were there to support it. The Raiders gave LA something to rally around. This experience illustrates what Amanda calls the highest level of audience engagement, “when your personal values and beliefs align with the brand’s message.”

She believes the Golden Knights hockey team and the raiders have had a unifying effect on Las Vegas, helping “to build internal community, and also external community with the rest of the country,” because now Las Vegas is “part of a larger story.”

Amanda presented “The Most Important Way to Engage Your Audience and How It Impacts Your Bottom Line: The 7th Level” at HubSpot’s 2018Inbound Conference. The 7 levels is a framework for goal-setting, , business, and customer connection.

That strategy was from the foundation of these 7 levels. The highest level is called literate thinking. It’s when your personal values and beliefs align with the brand’s message

1) Disengagement is when you’re avoiding or idle from a task

2) Unsystematic Engagement. It’s when you’re confused by the messaging

3) Frustrated engagement is when the customer wants to engage, but is distracted by

These first three levels are about finding your customers and building trust. The next three are about amplification, which involves asking things of these people.

4) Structure-Dependent Engagement, such as “comment below,” “give me your email,” “like my post.” And social media marketing campaigns

5) Influencer marketing—piquing someone’s interest to get them to engage with your brand.

6) Critical Engagement—transforming someone to set goals and transform their own lives.

7) Literate Thinking—your personal values and beliefs align with a brand’s message delight. How do you delight customers?

 

Details on Seventh Level strategy ( field guide, worksheet, and blog) are available on the-seventhlevel.com.

 

. CatalystCreativ on LinkedIn. (No “e” at the end; we creatively spell it.) Amanda Slavin on LinkedIn, and then I’m @ajslavin on every other social platform. The company website is catalystcreativ.com.

ROB: Welcome to the Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast. I am your host, Rob Kischuk. I am live at HubSpot’s Inbound Conference, and I’m pleased to be joined right now by Amanda Slavin. She is the CEO and Founder of CatalystCreativ. She is based in New York City. She’s got people all around the country, and we will talk about that. Welcome to the podcast, Amanda.

AMANDA: Thank you so much. I’m excited to be sitting across from you and seeing all the amazing energy going on around us.

ROB: It’s humming. It’s fantastic to have you on the podcast. Why don’t you start off by telling us a little bit about CatalystCreativ and about what makes Catalyst great?

AMANDA: Sure. We’ve actually changed our name and what we are over and over again. We started as a community design firm, but then people thought we built neighborhoods, so we had to transition. And then I didn’t want to be called an agency, so we called ourselves an experience studio, and then everyone thought we were producing videos.

Then we went to an experiential marketing firm – which is kind of where we are today. But I would say we’re a combination of a brand consulting firm and an experiential agency. I think what makes us great is our whole entire focus is activating customers into brand loyalists, into ambassadors, into advocates, so that they can grow their business.

A lot of people in this current ecosystem – a lot of people, a lot of companies, a lot of brands – don’t know how to actually engage with their customers in a meaningful way and transition those customers from being passive consumers to active participants in shaping their brand’s story. So that’s our role, whether that be a physical event, a digital experience, a branded site, a consultative approach to what people actually have to do. That is what we are.

ROB: Break that down for us. Give us an example or two of a tangible – what does this look like in practice, something that you’ve done?

AMANDA: The Raiders are an NFL team. They were transitioning to Las Vegas. We helped them with their transition plan and then created experiences for them to introduce them to the community in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas is a very unique community. There’s 2 million people that live there and 40 million people that visit, so it’s a huge transient community. And the people that do live there, it’s fairly small. It’s kind of a small-town mentality. So, with the Raiders, we created an experience for them – it was actually after the tragedy that had hit Las Vegas last October, and we were doing their groundbreaking ceremony.

The experience that we developed was an experience where we would actually have the community of people – it was after the shooting in October. It was the EMTs, it was high school students, it was people at the actual concert, it was firefighters, and they were all dressed in their uniforms, in their garb. They really led the groundbreaking event. They all came out even before the owner of the Raiders, even before the NFL commissioner, and they were really the stars of the experience.

That strategy was from the foundation of these 7 levels. The highest level is called literate thinking. It’s when your personal values and beliefs align with the brand’s message. With the Raiders, we wanted that message to be first and foremost, “We are here for you. We’re not asking anything from you. We’re here to give back and here to support you.” That was the intention behind an experience such as that.

ROB: Planning something like that, how do you separate out – because there’s the national, what people are saying in Oakland when they’re mad about their team moving, but then I think it’s hard for somebody outside of that world to even think about what the actual local Vegas mindset is. How do you tease those things apart?

AMANDA: We did smaller experiences leading up to the groundbreaking event. The first event we did was Draft Day 3 experience where we shut down the Las Vegas sign and actually had a space for local fans to come and support. So, we had an interaction with local fans first and foremost.

Then we did a free game watch at UNLV to support the local community of Las Vegas, and that was also a way of setting that groundwork for this large, glamor-filled event with the “who’s who” of Las Vegas for the groundbreaking event.

I think, with the Raiders, they’ve had to figure out how to stay loyal to their foundation in Oakland, but build a new narrative with the community in Las Vegas. The strategy for us was to focus on the community in Las Vegas and not necessarily focus on a huge story of, “This is the most glamorous event of the year, we’re taking a team from another city.” That’s not what it was about.

It was about, “Let’s put the spotlight on the community in Las Vegas and let the Raiders be second to that, actually.” It’s almost like the iPhone versus the apps. Let the Raiders be the platform and let the people of Las Vegas be the spotlight that the Raiders can shine on.

ROB: I don’t remember the timeline. Was the hockey team already there, or coming? Yeah, because you said last year, right?

AMANDA: Yes.

ROB: Were there any lessons you were able to take away from the Knights landing in Vegas that you could see?

AMANDA: My background, I was in the sports bar industry, so I opened sports bars. There’s quite a few now around the country called The Ainsworth. My dad’s a huge sports fan, so even though I don’t know much about sports, I grew up having to watch sports, being forced to watch every sport under the sun.

So, I learned the value of what sports can do for community building. Sports, music, food – there’s a few anchor experiences that bring people together – and sometimes split people apart when your team loses. But at the end of the day, it’s bringing people from all walks of life together in this united front.

What the Golden Knights did for Vegas was exactly that. We were in Vegas when the Golden Knights were winning this year, and it was at the tail end of us transitioning to go to New York. It was one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen. The loyalty and the commitment and the dedication, and everyone’s wearing the merch everywhere – it became this emblem of the community. Little kids were wearing the merch.

The whole point of that is that Vegas hasn’t had one unifying factor to bring them together to create legacy within their own families. Now you have something to be able to build internal community, and also external community with the rest of the country, because now they’re a part of a larger story.

The Raiders – again, it’s a few years away and it was controversial within the NFL, but it was a really big win for Las Vegas because it showed that that old slogan, “What happens here stays here,” is not necessarily relevant anymore. People live in Las Vegas, and they deserve to be seen, they deserve to be heard. People can’t just come in and stomp all over that city and then leave. There are things happening there that need to be acknowledged.

ROB: And how timely, with the Knights. It seems like something the city maybe just needed in this past year.

Take us back a little bit. Tell us how CatalystCreativ came into existence. You mentioned some of the shifts and changes and names, but what’s the origin story? What possessed you to start a business and build it as you have?

AMANDA: I have a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. I was a first grade teacher, and as I mentioned, I wrote my thesis on something called the 7 Levels of Engagement. Shortly after, I went into hospitality and nightlife and applied my understanding of engagement to hospitality.

Everyone always thinks, how do those two things relate? I usually say a room full of drunk bankers is not that different from a room of 6-year-olds. [laughs]

It’s all community-building. A classroom is a community and a restaurant is a community, and at the end of the day, I really started to appreciate my understanding of engagement when creating a marketing brand. But I felt like there was something missing, because after years in marketing, I missed the part of me that was doing the impactful work and the inspirational work and the educational work.

While I was at my full-time job, I started to do some random things on the side for free to create more impact within my life. I helped organize a TEDx. I helped produce this festival called the Global Citizen Festival. I also worked at Summit Series, a conference, for a week; I was brought on as a contractor. This is all while I had a full-time job.

ROB: That’s a lot of side hustle.

AMANDA: It was a lot of side hustle. At the second Summit Series that I was producing, I met my current business partner, Tony Hsieh. He was building this $350 million investment initiative in downtown Vegas. His intention was to buy the City Hall, move Zappos to the City Hall, and build a city – or revitalize a city that was already being built.

When I met him, the intention was really to just go see Vegas and explore, but then he asked me to start a company. So, I didn’t really plan all along to start a company. My vision was ,I wanted to take my understanding of experiential, take my understanding of marketing, of branding, take my understanding of engagement and of education and of inspiration, and combine the two to be able to tell stories in an impactful way.

It just so happened that I ended up connecting with Tony. It was very serendipitous, meeting him and going to Vegas, but it wasn’t a plan. I didn’t say, “I’m going to start a company and I’m going to find Tony.” It just happened.

ROB: Right. When Tony Hsieh asks you to start a company, you say yes, right?

AMANDA: Actually, I said no. I said no because I’m like, “I don’t want to move to Las Vegas.” I live in New York. Then he kept coming to New York and went, “Do you want to go out to lunch?” or “You should come to this talk.” After 6 months, I finally was like, maybe I should try this. Maybe I’d be crazy to say no to this very unique opportunity.

ROB: It seems like in some ways, Vegas was actually a very interesting fit for how you’re wired. It seems like you have a wiring about a sense of place, about people, about things happening, and there’s an awful lot of things happening there. How did being in Vegas change you or augment where you already were, amplify your brain?

AMANDA: Oh yes, it definitely changed me a lot. I think for me, again, everyone talked about impact a lot, and I started to go to these very impactful conferences that cost a lot of money, and I was working them. I was the 99% working my way into the room.

I started to think about, it’s not really fair that we’re not democratizing inspiration. We need to create experiences for the 99% so that people that are really in need of inspiration, are really in need of being catalyzed, have accessibility to these experiences. Literally democratizing entrepreneurship.

So, when I went to Vegas, my whole intention was to create these experiences for the public. Vegas was, when I was there, the 50th worst education system in the country, so you can do the math. The experiences that we were developing – and this was in partnership with Tony – was creating monthly events, first called Catalyst Week and then Creative Week, twice a month.

We’d bring 50 thought leaders from all over the country. They would come to downtown Vegas, visit downtown Vegas, explore downtown Vegas, and then they would give talks and workshops for free to the public. We did that for 2-½ years and brought 2,000 speakers in, and the audience members were coming for free. They were completely from Las Vegas.

The way that that shaped me was I saw in real time – in the same way when I was a teacher – I saw in real time the impact that I could have on a person’s life just by putting the right person in the room and creating a space for them to learn about themselves and about each other.

Because it’s such a small town – I saw it in New York. There’s so much going on. As you said, in Vegas, on the Strip there’s so much going on, but in downtown it really was an opportunity to start really from scratch in a lot of ways, for me, and really establish myself as, “I’m here to give back to this community.”

It taught me what it looked like to really put all of my energy and effort into building something every single day, and watching slow results instead of, “I just created a viral app that I’m going to sell for a batrillion dollars.” I just changed one person’s life in real time. That was the real foundation of the organization and what we stand for.

ROB: That’s really neat. I think it’s interesting – New York intrinsically, with your history there, is so robust in experiences. New York just happens to you whether you like it or not, right? There are so many things enjoyable.

What I think you’re saying with democratizing experience is really interesting. I think people don’t think about that too much when they’re thinking about how their own brand or company is experienced, in terms of how many people can experience it.

Disney is pretty good at having a price point for everyone. You can go to Target and you can get a t-shirt for 10 bucks; you can spend ten grand a person at Disney world for the VIP experience. You can probably spend more. You might know. I don’t know how much you can spend on Disney.

AMANDA: No, that’s exactly right. Those are the 7 levels. With the 7 levels, you can split how different people can interact and engage with your brand. There has to be accessible points for people to be able to connect with you, because not everyone is going to be able to afford a $10,000 Disney ticket – but also, $10,000 conference ticket. It’s that same mentality.

ROB: Yeah. The Summit Series, you’re going to spend some money on that.

AMANDA: Yes, and me working that experience – again, I worked my way into that room – really shed light on the fact that I am a teacher and I also understand marketing, so I want to create experiences that impact, inspire, and educate, but at a huge level.

ROB: Let’s get all the way into the 7 levels. You gave a talk yesterday, “The Most Important Way to Engage Your Audience and How It Impacts Your Bottom Line: The 7th Level.” Tell us about these 7 levels in particular detail, so we can break it down and understand it.

AMANDA: These are nuanced, so I will jump right into it. We have created a website, by the way: the-seventhlevel.com.

ROB: We’ll get that in the show notes.

AMANDA: Cool. There’s free worksheets, a free field guide, so even as I’m talking about this people can go and see it visually. Because it’s a lot of information.

ROB: Awesome. Not if you’re driving.

AMANDA: Yes, not if you’re driving, exactly.

The way that the 7 levels work is a lot of brands are constantly comparing themselves to the Nikes, the Apples, the Googles – brands that stand for something. Usually when we think about engagement, we think someone’s not engaged with my brand or someone is. That’s not how it works.

Just as you said with Disney, how many different ways [there are] of connecting with Disney, there are so many different ways of connecting with each and every product. But we don’t actually realize how detailed it is to personally and emotionally connect with a human being.

Marketing is a meaningful transaction between two human beings. We have forgotten that our likes and our comments and our followers are humans. Each and every one of those comments is a human being. We need to go back and build a foundation of how to connect with humans.

The 7 levels is a framework for anyone to be able to set goals for themselves, to be able to grow their business, in terms of how they connect with their customers.

The first level is called Disengagement. Disengagement is when you’re avoiding or idle from a task. An example is you get served an Instagram ad and you scroll right past it. You are disengaged. The questions that would come from that for me would be, is my customer even on Instagram? What time of day am I targeting my customer?

You could do this with your marriage, even. You could literally do this across the board. With disengagement with my marriage, I ask my husband every single day to shut the shower curtain and he never does – he’s disengaged. He’s literally avoiding the task at hand. [laughs] That’s disengagement.

The next level is called Unsystematic Engagement. It’s when you’re confused by the messaging. Think about in marketing, how many terms we use like “scope of work” and “content strategy” and “deck.” Everything that we create, most of our clients have no idea what we’re talking about. They’re just nodding along because they don’t want to seem stupid.

It’s so important when you’re thinking about messaging to be able to clearly and concisely communicate to who your customer is.

The bottom three levels – I’m going to go to the third level in a minute – is all about earning trust. We bucket it out. One, two, and three is about earned trust. Before you ask me to marry you, know who I am, know what I’m interested in. Before you ask me to get a $10,000 ticket, learn about me first.

The third level is Frustrated Engagement. Frustrated engagement is based on distractions. You want to engage with my brand, but you’re distracted – which is pretty much the entire ecosystem of marketing as well, because all social media platforms, the mechanisms are for you to be distracted at all times.

Again, bottom three: attract customers by earning their trust. Do you want me to keep going?

ROB: Yes please.

AMANDA: Great. Then we have the next bucket, which is this idea of amplification. Once you’ve earned trust, once you know why your customer is, where they are, and how to talk to them, you can start to ask things from them.

Level 4 is Structure-Dependent Engagement. Structure-dependent engagement is when it’s an instruction, so “comment below,” “give me your email,” “like my post.” The questions that would come from that is why are you even asking people to comment? What is the intention behind your social media?

Again, in marketing it’s like “we need more followers!” Why? “We need more engagement!” What do you mean by that? What is your end goal? Again, this is almost like a blueprint. Use it as a way to ask questions to yourself of “why am I doing this and how am I segmenting my audience?” So Level 4, in my thoughts, is marketing campaigns, and usually on social media. Again, like “give me your email.”

Now we’re going to Level 5. Level 5 to me is influencer marketing. It’s called Self-Regulated Interest. It’s “what’s in it for me?” It’s all around piquing someone’s interest to get them to engage with your brand. If you partner with an influencer, a lot of times what happens with influencer marketing is – what would you say happens with influencer marketing? You work with an influencer and…

ROB: They post something.

AMANDA: And?

ROB: Well, we’ve measured influencer marketing campaigns. Sometimes not so much happens.

AMANDA: Exactly. You can see that I was a teacher. [laughs] So the influencer posts something, their fans follow you maybe for a day – if that – and then they drop off.

The problem with self-regulated interest – this is also sweepstakes – is when you have a carrot on a stick, if you don’t have a very intrinsic way of bringing a person through that experience – and it’s hard because the influencer has their own brand. You need to ensure with self-regulated interest that whatever you’re offering is directly connected to something that is going to help build your brand and your product.

A lot of the times with companies, they’re like “we want to work with influencers!” My question would be, why? Why? There’s so many buzzwords, and we’re inundated with all these different marketing tools. Companies more and more just say, “I want this, I want this, I want this.” This framework says, why, how, and where does it fit into this?

The highest levels, 6 and 7, are based on a bucket that we’ve created – and we actually were really inspired by HubSpot. The HubSpot Flywheel is Attract, Engage, Delight. For us, this top bucket is delight. How do you delight customers?

6 is called Critical Engagement. It’s when you’re transforming someone to set goals and transform their own lives.

An example would be REI’s Opt Outside campaign. REI closed their doors Black Friday, told everyone to go outside, asked people for their pictures of what they were doing. It created a humongous movement of people changing their own lives because of what a brand stood for.

This is “these are my values.” It’s delivering happiness with Zappos. It’s them putting customer service so first and foremost that other companies were inspired to do the same thing, like Warby Parker.

The highest level, as I already mentioned, is called Literate Thinking. It’s when your personal values and beliefs align with a message. This is, to me, the new Nike campaign.

ROB: I was going to go there one way or another. It was inevitable.

AMANDA: We’ll go there. I’ll just say that, and then we can go there with however you would like to talk about that.

ROB: It’s interesting, because you mentioned REI, and this is what started me thinking. It was a little bit weirdly controversial. I think some people just like to be angry about things, which is where we’ll get to Nike. Some people were like, “Why are they closing? They should be open so I can shop for things!” Like, really? Okay.

But this week in particular, Nike has dropped this new campaign with Colin Kaepernick – I think it just said “stand for something”? I haven’t paid too much attention other than people shouting about it.

AMANDA: Yeah, “do something even if it’s” – essentially the whole entire identity around it – and they just came out with their video yesterday which is airing for the NFL.

ROB: Tonight, yeah.

AMANDA: Yeah. It’s this concept, do something, and if other people tell you it’s crazy that’s a compliment, because it might be crazy for them, but do something and it’s worth the sacrifice.

ROB: Yeah. How do you think about that within the lens of your framework?

AMANDA: I actually just posted this on LinkedIn, so I love that you’re asking me.

ROB: [laughs] You might have thought about this.

AMANDA: I have thought about it. Also, going back to the REI piece – and I actually even go back one step further, and then I will talk about Nike – but Invisible Children, this nonprofit, did this huge viral video. It was on the cover of Time, about Kony. It was completely viral. It was a 7th level message.

The message with Nike, and the message with REI, is this very high-level message around identity. Not every customer is going to be able to connect with you because they might still be on the bottom levels. You might have millions of customers at Level 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

But what Nike did was they chose to stand for a 7. They said, “I would rather have loyal customers that align with my brand’s message than a lot of customers that may or may not align with my message, but may like my product or may not like my product.” They wanted the brand loyalists. It’s like Beyoncé’s Beyhive. They wanted people to be obsessed with their brand – which is what they were in the past, but they were kind of losing luster.

So they wanted to come out strong out of the gates and say “I would rather choose deep engagement than far and wide mediocrity.” And it pissed a lot of people off, but they didn’t care about that because they would rather have those brand loyalists than a bunch of people with lukewarm sentiment towards them.

ROB: Right. And they were not surprised here. Would it be fair to say that maybe some of the other sports apparel brands have caught up with them a little bit? Under Armour probably came out really strong. They might’ve been the strongest thing since Nike – more early maybe than now – but Adidas is also coming on strong. So do you think they had to elevate their game?

AMANDA: That’s a really great question. I think that they have always stood for an identity of “just do it” and “everyone’s an athlete.” I think you’re right, Adidas and Under Armour have really created an identity around their brands, and Nike probably was thinking, how do we get ahead of the curve – I saw this great article – also in terms of what athletes are looking for?

A lot of these brands, these athletic companies, they’re 5th level, self-regulated interest. They’re all about endorsements. I think Nike was really competing for these endorsement deals with these other competitors, and they thought very strategically, “How do we get back in the good graces of these endorsement deals? Let’s put someone as the face of our ad that a lot of athletes agree with and that stads for something within this athletic ecosystem.”

ROB: What would be surprising in the long term is that lots of athletes really love Nike, but everybody that watches them wearing Nike gear on TV, refuses to wear Nike. That just doesn’t add up. That doesn’t seem like a thing that would even happen.

AMANDA: Yeah, I think it’s going to be really interesting with all brands, because once you do stand for something – I call it crap cake – once you put out there from a marketing perspective that you stand for something, then you need to ensure that your organization also is abiding by the guidelines that you’ve set forth.

Within the HubSpot keynote, they gave themselves a report card, and I think that’s really the way – our tagline at Catalyst is “activate from within.” It’s this concept of, again, from passive to active.

But your first customers are your employees, so I’d be very interested in how Nike takes this identity and starts to focus on their internal optimization of their employees and what they’re doing within their workplace.

They have had some controversial news over the past year, and I think this is a step in the right direction of reclaiming their identity. But now they’ve talked the talk and they have to walk the walk on all fronts. And that’s every company.

ROB: You have been very involved with HubSpot. With as much as you do know, what have you been learning this week? What was new, interesting, and fresh for you so far?

AMANDA: HubSpot has been around – HubSpot has set the path for what marketing is today and has really created this foundation of inbound. Now everyone knows inbound marketing, but they created that word.

I think for them, this idea of “growing better” is the future. That’s their tagline, that’s their mission, that’s everything that they stand for, is “grow better.” I think that is the future of the way that we need to start looking at ourselves as companies. For so long it’s been “grow faster, grow stronger.”

I won’t go too deep into this, but every human being has masculine and feminine traits, and generally within the workspace, we’ve been primarily a masculine – of traits, what we call masculine – workplace. But we’re starting to embrace some of the traits that we consider feminine in the workplace so that we can have a balanced approach, like empathy and compassion and nurturing employees.

I think that “grow better” is a way of thinking about the future where we’re saying it’s not just about being assertive and about being competitive and about being aggressive and about “let’s kill it.” It’s also about nurturing your leads and nurturing your employees and nurturing your customers, and being also vulnerable with who you are.

That was really vulnerable to show under the hood, like “these are the problems that we’re facing.” And it resonated.

ROB: Right. You’ve clearly thought a lot about the workplace as well. If we just made 20 years of progress on this tomorrow, what would it look like? What would surprise someone about their workplace if you fast-forwarded this progress in balancing masculine and feminine in the workplace? What does that look like?

AMANDA: My business partner Tony is a futurist in so many ways, and what I think he’s been doing with the workspace – a lot of the times with Tony, he has these ideas and then in 10 years – at first he’s saying them and everyone’s like “no.” Even when he wanted to do online shoes, people were like “that’s crazy!” “Focus on the customer experience.” They’re like “that’s stupid!” But now everyone does it.

ROB: Right. “I want people to live in downtown Las Vegas.” “What? No way.”

AMANDA: Like, “What are you talking about?” Tony says the year that – no one had ever run the 4-minute mile, and then the year that someone did, more people ran the 4-minute mile that year than anyone else. So if you can do what he wants to do in downtown Vegas, you can do it anywhere.

But within the workplace, he’s really created a lot of trends that we follow to a certain extent. One of those trends is the concept of self-organization. Self-organization, rather than a hierarchy, is based on circles. It’s based on roles and accountabilities.

Tony invested in something called holacracy for Catalyst 5 years ago, and we’ve been operating from a holacratic model over the past 5 years, but I call it “holacracy lite.” Essentially it’s like within every startup people wear many hats, but for the hat you’re hired for versus the hats you’re wearing, it actually might be impacting the job that you were hired for because you’re doing so many other jobs.

This creates an opportunity for transparency around all of the roles that you’re filling, and it turns the organization into, rather than a strict, structured format, a malleable organism that can change at any given point in time based on what the individuals in the company think can move the organization forward.

ROB: Right. Holacracy, to your point, is in that “that’s crazy, that’s way out in the future” kind of thing. But in general, there’s a macro trend away from positional authority. It’s generational and it’s weird. My grandparents are not weirded out when politicians are very authoritarian, and I am.

We’re not going to go down that entire path, but I think a lot of that – I mean, there’s still people that are all over the spectrum, but generationally, I think a lot less people want to have someone who’s in charge “because I say so” and “we’re doing this because I say so.” Really, people want to be held to results and objectives and “here’s where we’re going and I’ll help us figure out how to get there.”

That’s all part of this, do you think?

AMANDA: They want to grow better. Individuals want to grow within their own jobs. With The 7th Level, I pulled from the Fortune 100’s top places to work, and each and every place – with the quotes, with Salesforce and Wegmans – was all around the identity of the organization and how people were treated. It wasn’t about how much money they were making or the benefits.

When someone passed away in my family, the entire company came together and emotionally supported me. That’s what people are looking for within the workplace now, particularly younger people.

I think the reason why younger people are looking for that is when you just say “I told you so” –when I was a teacher and I would tell my kids something, they would be able to look it up on Google. When we were kids, if a teacher told us something, if an adult told us something, it was true. But now, we can constantly question authority, and we have the information at our fingertips.

That’s the thing about, again, being a catalyst. There’s no longer this world of consumers. People aren’t consuming content, they’re creating content.

ROB: It’s such an awkward word, isn’t it?

AMANDA: I say it’s no longer a consumer, it’s a creator. From passive to active. We need to start to create frameworks and tools to listen to the people that we want to be talking to – before we talk to them.

It’s the same way a marriage works. I’ve only been married for a few months, but when you’re married, if you just keep talking at the person, nothing’s ever going to get accomplished. There needs to be an opportunity for you to feel heard before you trust. That’s how we build relationships with human beings, which is, again, marketing, sales, business.

ROB: That’s fantastic. Amanda, when someone wants to reach you and Catalyst, how should they find you?

AMANDA: I love LinkedIn. CatalystCreativ on LinkedIn. (No “e” at the end; we creatively spell it.) Amanda Slavin on LinkedIn, and then I’m @ajslavin on every other social platform. And then catalystcreativ.com.

ROB: Fantastic. Thank you for your time. Super deep, super thoughtful. Thank you for sharing.

AMANDA: Of course.

ROB: It was a pleasure to meet you and have you on.

AMANDA: I loved it. Thank you.

ROB: Thank you.

Thank you for listening. The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast is presented by Converge. Converge helps digital marketing agencies and brands automate their reporting so they can be more profitable, accurate, and responsive. To learn more about how Converge can automate your marketing reporting, email info@convergehq.com, or visit us on the web at convergehq.com

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