The Leadercast Podcast
The Leadercast Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

49. Amy Jo Martin on Becoming a Renegade


She grew up in a Wyoming trailer park. 

Now, she has more Twitter followers than people in her home state.

How’d she do it? By becoming a renegade.

We interviewed Amy Jo Martin, NYT bestselling author and podcast host, about how to be a renegade.

What we talked about:

  • What it means to be a renegade
  • Embracing uncertainty, fear, and change
  • The “Why Not Now?” philosophy of making decisions
  • Amy Jo’s advice for self-leadership: time is finite


Check out this resource we mentioned during the podcast:


Check out the full podcast with Amy Jo Martin by clicking here.

If you don’t use Apple Podcasts as your audio player, you can also find every episode at this link.

This is the leader cast podcast, helping you be a leader worth following. Hey, leader cast community. This month we've partnered with Colorado Christian University to bring you content related to innovation. Take the next steps in your leadership journey by advancing in your education at Colorado Christian University. CCEU online offers flexible online degree program designed for working adults. To see how cc you can help you reach your academic and professional goals, visit CCU dot edu for slash leader cast to learn more. Well, hello everyone, and welcome to this episode of the leader cast podcast. I am Bar Keeler again joining you and I'm really personally excited to have this guest on our podcast today. She is someone who speaks to me on a marketing level, but someone who speaks to everyone on the level of taking advantage of the opportunity is presented to you. She is one of twitter's most influential people. According to form, she has more than a million followers on her twitter profile and has spoken to thousands of entrepreneurs, brands and individuals at events around the world. She calls herself a renegade and she got that nickname when she first started working in the digital media stratosphere and we'll talk about that and this podcast, why she got that name and why she loves being called that. But I'm talking about Amy Joe Martin, who is Wonderful Entrepreneur, author, speaker and a podcaster who speaks all about how people can do challenging things, do the difficult things in their life and, as she describes it, guide them down the black diamond slopes of light. So, Amy, I'm super excited you're here with us on this episode of the leader CAS podcast. How are you? I'm wonderful art thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here today and to join the event coming up. It's it's an honor. Yes, so amy will be with us at leader cast positive disruption. We will be hosting it may seven, two thow s. There are post site locations across the world. You can find one close to you. We have plenty that will broadcast the day of and many who will rebroadcast after the events. So you can find a date that works best for you and our location that works best for you. But Amy is going to talk to us today about her story and how she kind of progressed to where she is now, which is helping other people do difficult things, and I'd say it's because, amy, you have done difficult things. You describe, as I said, you're trying to help people down the black diamond slopes. One are you a skier or sob border? And to what exactly do you mean by that? I'm so glad you ask that question. Absolutely, Yes, I I started out skiing and now I snowboard, but that's really it's. My why is to help people down those black diamond slopes, and I figured this out one day while speaking with Simon Senek,... know, the King of why, and realized, you know, it's we learn what we need to teach, and I'm one who tends to skip that bunny slope. In fact, the very first time I ever skithed, my dad's an expert scare and he took me to the top and he said, you know, you make the pie when you want to slow down, you make the fries when you want to speed up. I'll pick you up if we get into any kind of trouble. And he was my guide down this mountain and long story short, I realized in a really difficult time, that I was navigating in my own life, probably almost ten years ago, about eight years ago, that we need these guides. Not only do we need to guide other people, but we need them to guide us as well. And so I have a tattoo on my wrist of a black, black diamond. That's how serious I am about this. I didn't run out and get it right away after having this conversation. I tried this on for several years. So, but yes, it's it all stems from being on the slopes. so you describe yourself as an innovation advocate. What does that mean to you? How do you help people in that role? Really, when we look at the term positive disruption, to me that's innovation. And when I look at the Times that you know where I've navigated things that really didn't they were not known yet, they didn't exist quite yet. So how to harness social communication, for example, in two thousand and seven, two thousand and eight, when it was so new on the scene and it was the wild wild west, that's innovation, because you're going into a place that hasn't really been discovered yet, and so you have to create it and and explore and discover. And so innovation and renegade are our cousin terms. In my experience, and it's all around about the positive disruption, not destruction, meaning anytime we innovate, adversity will follow. And this is firsthand. I've been there. there. When there are no rules, it becomes uncomfortable for people because we don't like change, we don't like as a human nature, most people resist what hasn't been done before, what's new and and change. So getting comfortable with that adversity is a key to positive disruption, to innovation and and just a renegade mentality. All Right, so you've used that word a lot lately. Are In this at the top of this podcast. You have that word, or renegade, all over your website, from your renegade mentality to renegade brant boot camp. That word is just on the present. What, what exactly is the significance of that word team? Oh, well, it goes back to when I was working in the NBA for the Phoenix Suns and really experimenting with Digital Media and new media social communication before we really...

...knew what it was. We literally called it new media at the time, remember, because we did know right mobile marketing, social and there weren't any rules yet, and so I saw this opportunity to explore and experiment and kind of went for it. There was a situation where I got a call one day as I'm sitting at my desk in the front office and it was from basketball operations, which was pretty odd because why would they be calling me right I'm I'm in marketing and and they said come down to the locker room right now. Check wants to learn how to tweet, and no one in this building knows what that means except for you. So get down here. And really, when you work in the Front Office you're not supposed to interface with players. There's as a line there. I believe it or not, a little d people maybe know behind the scenes. But I asked, you know, forgiveness instead of permission and W and met Shaquille O'Neal, and it was the start of a huge shift in my career, in my life, and it was the springboard. I wouldn't be talking with you today if I hadn't gone and take an action versus waiting for a green light and and really, you know, fast forward and my boss ended up calling me a renegade one day because I was experimenting and Helping Shaquille and I really wasn't supposed to be, and we were creating some amazing case studies and navigating this new space together with his influence. My influence was growing. And just side note, I'm a small town girl from Wyoming who grew up in a trailer park. Like I had never met a celebrity before, let alone had a following, which eventually grew to be a million people. There aren't even a million people in the state of Wyoming, and so this was also new and there weren't rules. Yet the League office was calling saying, hold up, what's going on in Phoenix? We're literally writing policy and rules. You need to stop with this twitter stuff, because it was making the headlines on ESPN at night and we were doing these stunts to bridge the virtual world in the physical world. So, yeah, my boss called me a renegade one day and and I really thought about that term and how, you know, it did give me this adrenaline and this realization of that's innovation. You know, we're doing something that hasn't been done before and we get to write the roles. How exciting is that? And it's scary and it's uncomfortable. You know, I was on the verge of likely getting fired almost every other day and it came down to the team plane. One day we're sitting on the plane getting ready to go take off and play the Lakers, and Shaquille was texting me saying can you come up to the Front? I have a question for you, and I knew if I went, everyone would. I was breaking the rules once again, and I kind of had to climb over my boss and walk up and everybody. You know, nothing, as seven foot tall man does, goes unnoticed. So I was watching and I get back and I thought I'm...

...taking us up with their lives. Flight Back Hole. There's no way the team. And sure enough, my boss called me a renegade as soon as I came back in my butt to see and I named my first book after that and I really embrace the term because anything we're doing in our life, innovating our personal world, our career, our professional world, which, in my opinion, are really blended and they're the same. We live in a time of work limigration, not separation. There will be adversity and we have to be brave and it's all about asking why not now? Why not me? And being willing to get uncomfortable. I think about all the people I've had the chance to work with and observe and have, you know these clients up close and personal, some of the biggest renegades in the world, and they are all about taking action and getting uncomfortable and they thrive really in that area, because that's what differentiates those that do and those that do not. So yeah, that's my my kind of Spiel on being a renegade. Well, you mentioned a lot of negative terms and and that story I mean uncomfortability, break rules, being scared that you might lose your job or just being scared that you might receive repercussions from your job. Those are all kind of, you know, what we would imagine to be negatives and a normal day. But clearly for our renegade like yourself and for other renegades and disruptors out there, those are positive. So why are you fueled by this fear, by the uncomfortability, by this unknown? What? What about those draws you to those quote, negative qualities? Yeah, and you know, I think there's so much just connotation around, but you know, being uncomfortable is not a bad thing necessarily, in my experience, and that's when growth happens. That's when evolution happens and, like I said, you know, innovation to and adversity is something that, you know, we tend to shy away from, and that's also not a bad thing in my book. I think it's extremely healthy. We can have healthy tension as long as it's rooted in respect and a level of empathy to and so, especially in the world right now, I find it seems like it's very difficult for people to hold too potential conflicting thoughts or ideas in their mind at the same time. Yet that's when we're able to to actually grow and make progress, because we don't live in a black or white, right or wrong situationan whether you're facing adversity, you know, in your job right now or in your personal world, we have to be willing to look at all sides and understand that being uncomfortable can, over time, become more comfortable at we if we practice it. And so...

...yeah, it's you know, I think about I moved a lot when I was a child. We moved our trailer home to a lot of different towns with my father's job and he worked in construction, and I think maybe I'm just wired a bit in a bit sometimes addicted to change, and so I think you know, when you work in the digital social world it's constantly changing and so as soon as you get too comfortable, you're probably at more risk and it's a more more of a liability than when you're out actually trying new things and experimenting. We can't fail when we experiment. It's interesting concept, but it's true. Right. You know, that's funny because, I mean I've been working in digital media, social media marketing, digital marketing my entire professional life and at I still any time I have to go right add copy for social ad, for paid search ad, I have to Google. All right, what are the standards? Because it can change from, you know, Daytoday, like how does this fit? Because what are the trends and standards? Say, they change so frequently and as indicative of our world, you know, we we get news and information so frequently and so up to the minute. I mean it's really we talked about the twenty four hour news cycle. It's in hyperdrive now, but when you talk about it from the days of you know, two thousand and seven, being one of the first people to really start using twitter in a fun atmosphere rather than just a news information atmosphere. What was kind of the things that you found then and the way back and two thousand and seven, when twitters first out there and Shaq is saying, Hey, I want to tweet to how is it change from then until now, and what has stayed the same? Yeah, it's a great, great question, because there are fundamentals and that's what you know. I'll be sharing a later test, but there there's so much change. Is the consistent thing if you look at what works even right now? What works with Social Communication? I refer to as communication because it's not really media and it shouldn't be treated as marketing the media. But if if we look at this space as an experiment, still here we are a decade later, and that's when we will be able to stay relevant and figure out what works today. Because in your experience too, Bar and I'm sure everyone listening is dealing with this as well, what worked last week on, let's just say Instagram, may not work this week because the algorithms are changing, the space is alive or changing our behavior as consumers as well as publishers, and so there are so many dynamics that it's still an experimentation and I look back to working with, you know, some of these icons even a decade ago, and... was all on experiment and in some ways that takes the pressure off because when you have a peatree dish, let's just call it a peatree dish here, and we write the Word Beta on the side of it, and especially in the corporate world, if you have a new project and new initiative and you put Beta in front of it, all of a sudden everybody just relax as a little bit, takes a step back, gives you a little space, because when you're trying something new, you don't know what's going to happen, but you have to be willing and you can iterate, make adjustments and go back to the peatrie dish or you can throw that project down say Nope, we're trying something different. But so much of I look at even the women I work with, leaders and entrepreneurs and and as they're launching something new, we want it to be perfect and we think we need to plan, plan, plan, playing plan to the extent where sometimes it keeps us from even getting started. And Ninety nine percent of the time it's going to change anyway. Right in my experience. So everything I'm launch right now with my companies, with projects, I consider it an experience, experiment, and it allows for it to breathe and kind of have a life of its own, versus trying to control it or let the fear of what I thought it should be overcome what could be even bigger. So experiment, experiment, is just kind of that's what renegades do. You don't know what's going to happen if if you haven't done it before. So you have to be willing to do what you haven't done before in order to get what you haven't had before and go where you haven't gone before. Well, speaking of experimenting and going places you had never gotten before, obviously your first big experiment on social communication, social media was, you know, helping shack figure this all out and get him and and the Phoenix Suns as a as a brand talking on twitter. But shortly after that you decided that you were going to launch your own digital agency. And what were the scary things about starting digital royalty? What were the confidence what was it going in like? What was that just juxtaposition of like, oh my gosh, it's a scary but like, oh yeah, I got. This a great question. And any time you leave something that is perceived to be comfortable and stable secure, like a job of stalary, of help insurance, and go and do something that doesn't have that perceived comfort and in stability, it's it is scary. I mean it's it's I look back at that time of taking that weep. I'm a twenty something, First Time Entrepreneur. Becoming an entrepreneur was not on my road map. It was not something that I even imagined. But the momentum that was building with these experiments started giving me some confidence. And I wouldn't say that I was you...

...know, I didn't. I had never started the company before. I was just trying to figure it out stuff by stuff, just like most of us, and we don't have it all figured out. But there was a knowledge edge there, and so I feel that it's so important for people to really leverage the knowledge edge. I mean, for people to say I was an expert in that area is kind of a bit counterintuitive because the stace was so new. Yet I technically was because I had done more than others. So so you just you have to build that confidence somewhere and and it was, you know, a time and adversity because people in the front office, my good friends, there was a lot of friction. I was stepping on PRS toes and marketing and communication and community relations, because this was new turf. It was a land grab in a way. People wanted to own it and you start generating revenue from something new and new initiative, department opportunity and for sure it becomes competitive. And so there were no rules and it created a lot of tension. So there was adversity just in leaving. But one of the biggest hurdles was educating, because people get scared when they think they need to share more of themselves or that if you're encouraging them to it. When I, you know, look at some of the leaders of these big brands and going to them and saying we really need to humanize your company and share the personality behind the person and it, or the person behind the personality, not just the logo, and and explain that humans connect with humans, not logos. That's scary because classic marketing told us you got everything into that brand and that logo and that equity and it's polished and it's con it's very formulated. Right, humans are messy, we're not polished and we don't brand ourselves. We are ourselves. That creates the brand. So here is a complete curveball to everything we've been taught and it makes people uncomfortable to think about stepping forward and being the face behind the brand, and so there was a lot of healthy tension around that too. It was just a ball of newness that people like to resist. Well, I'm gonna drop the opportunity to geek out with you for a minute about the different ways we can humanize ourselves on social media and and all that to shift to this idea. You, amy host. You're on podcast called the why not now podcast, and you talk about the why not now moments. What was your first why not now moment? And then how do we see our own and when we have them? Oh Gosh, the the very first. I the first one that pops into mine. I can share and I'm excited to talk about how everyone listening can start to really tackle their's. Yeah, I I wouldn't have been poised or position... even get the call from the locker room that day basketball operations if I hadn't lobbied and kind of created a position that didn't exist yet. So I was the director of New Media and Research, whatever that means right. It didn't exist before. It was literally this bucket of anything new. Let's just throw it that way and we don't know what to do with it. So it was it was a way to, like I said, differentiate and and that was a why not now? I remember going into one of the the you know, basketball teams, they have ownership. Teams are ownership individuals and one of the owners, I had to go into his office and explain what this role was and what we're going to do, and I was making it up hundred percent. I had the confidence that and believed in myself enough to do it, but there was a lot of unknown and it was a total why not. Now. It was like why not? What's what is the worst thing that can happen? And so for people listening, that's one of the things, and I'll talk more about this at leader cast, but what are the tactical, tangible things that we can do to step forward and green light these ideas and put fear in the backseat? So one of the first things you can do is ask what's the worst thing that can happen and get logic into play. Here and you arrive at that worst case scenario by first saying what if it doesn't work? Then what? And answer that question? Then what and keep going down. But then what? And follow that through all the way to the worst case scenario. And we don't do this to be negative by any means, but what happens when we go through this process is a logic comes to playing. That big scary worst case fear and and scenario starts to become less scary because you realize you've got more time than you think. Then then that's going to happen. Like I don't think the owner was going to fire me on the spot for coming to him with an idea. What's the worst case? They say no, right, big deal. So it's it's, you know, a you're putting logic in the drive receiat versus the big scary thing, fear and be you realize you have more time to make adjustments, iterate you. Usually it's safe enough to try so just getting started with the very first baby step is okay. It's safe enough. Fear lives in the future and in the past, but if we stay present right now, then that's one strategy for really overcoming fear. Because a scary things. They're in the future usually, or something to happen in the past. So yeah, that's one of the things that I'll talk about in there's so many tactics. After interviewing and working with renegades now for twenty years, I've interviewed more than two hundred and fifty, I think now, from Mark...

Cuban to Tony Robbins, Jessica Alba, you know, Simon Synek, you name it. There are things that they all do to go from idea to action, to go from the known into the unknown, from dreaming to doing, and so I share those tactics. And what's funny is we look at these individuals, like many are billionaires and it may look fancy of where they are now and so impressive, but how they started isn't ever impressive or fancy. Right, we have to just get started across that that starting line green lighter ideas, and so we get into that of how can you make this safe enough to try, and it's it lights me up. I enjoy going through this process with people because you know, that's that's a way you can literally innovate your life and your experience. You know, it's interesting you talk about Mark Cuban and specifically basketball as a whole, because as a sports fan, someone who watches both what goes on on the corridor, on the field and then a little bit behind the scenes, what goes on in the front offices and what goes on with ownership, it's interesting to me that you have a lot of owners who clearly have made millions, if not billions, most of the time billions, on innovative business ideas, but yet when it comes to leading a team owning a team, they sometimes balk at the chance to be different or innovative. I don't think Mark Cuban is one of those. I think he's actually probably frustrated by the people who are loath to pick up new ideas and strategies both on and off the court. But you've obviously seen people like mark and obviously working with the Phoenix Suns and other NBA owners, people who are full of great business ideas, and I think all of us are full of great business ideas but we're just scared to take that lead. So hearing that kind of yeah, it's going to be scary as reassuring. It's nice to be like yeah, no, it's not comfortable. It's not. It's not supposed to be assured. You know, it's not supposed to be a safe bet. As supposed to be risky. So it's nice to hear that. It's it's okay to be there. You know, it's okay to be in that zone of fear or zone of uncomfortability, as long as you're aware that, like you said, it's about what happens right now, what happens today, not what happened yes today, what it could happen tomorrow. Exactly exactly, and I mean when in speaking with mark and he's he definitely is a unique of mind and individual. His start was because he got fired from his first job. That's what pushed him into entrepreneurship. I mean he went from bartender to billionaire and it was not overnight by any means. But sometimes I think we romanticize the the endpoint and and forget to realize where these people started and with ownership. And you look at teams. I mean I think mark was fine five hundred thousand dollars last week alone for arguing with a ref and so the NBA had to find him and we actually talked about...

...that when I interviewed him, but he's very strategic and he knows what he's about to do when he does those things and he calculates its it prior but he's unique in that he's an entrepreneur and and he has has had a different path. I know. You know in my case with the Phoenix Suns, one of the the primary owner was a banker. And so sometimes ownership teams, you know, this is their playground, this is fun, but they aren't necessarily. That's not their wheelhouse sports. So you do see a big difference and how teams are run and managed and led based on the you know, the experience that the ownership team at the time has and then, of course, the culture and spirit of the history of the team. But if to member, like we had a banker that owned, yeah, sports, seeing so those are two different mentalities. Usually, yeah, it is interesting. I mean it's there. They make their billions doing business things, but sports and business are very different, they really are. Before we get to more leadership stuff, I guess I do want to ask you, amy, what is a brand boot camp? What is Brandwood camp? Okay, great question. So the renegade brand root camp, of course right, and the renegade collective. These are programs that I launched a few years ago to guide women leaders and entrepreneurs down these black diamond mountains of business and innovation and so that. You know, it's funny. It's started as an experiment again, art right, like I've got, you know, after exiting my agency and working with these big iconic brands, I I was really seeking more purpose, to be completely honest, and you know, this hasn't been all rainbows and and sunshine for me. I had a place of complete burnout at one point and we're just seen grinding toward anything that I thought that would make me feel better inside right, more recognition, more money, more, you know, following, and I would always wind up empty. It was never enough and it took me a while and some really tough white owls down the mountain to realize that's an inside job. You have to find those things inside and the external carrots are actually potentially really dangerous if you don't have that inside job covered first. So so the renegade grand boot camp is is really a lot of different things, one of which I share. Everything I've learned tactically about business, about branding, about social media, building a company and as well as the mindset side, the renegade mentality and and knowing that you know the there can be a slippery slope and we romanticize that chase and hustling grasp sometimes,...

...but alignment is so important, and so we get into a lot of the tactics that I've used to find that, because you can, you can have both. You know, you can have the inside and outside success. Well, you've obviously covered renegade for a very long time. You wrote your book renegades, bread the rules. You have interviewed tons of people who write their own rules on the why not now? PODCAST. But I want to ask you what still one piece of leadership advice you would give to someone who is about to take that leap of faith and step out to something that is scary, that is uncomfortable, that is unsure? What's that piece of self leadership advice you would give them? And then also, as they're going to have to lead other people, how would you tell them about leading other people into times uncertainty? Great question and just to note, you do have to learn to lead yourself first, right before you can lead others. One of the things that that I talk a lot about is that where purpose, passion and skill collide. Impact resides, bliss resides, and it might sound a little, you know, cheesy, but I've been in that intersection without the purpose and in my experience that's not sustainable. If you really want to go far and as you build a team and you're looking at, you know, your own growth, keeping your eye on that ball, on that intersection, is key because that's your differentiating factor. Purpose, passion, skill. A lot of people talk about passion of purpose, but the skill is so important too. And what's interesting is you know it changes. To me it's a bit of a moving target, but because your passions might change and it's worth the life work of keeping your eye on that intersection. We spend so many hours of our life and years of our life working per se. I'm using air quotes here. You might as well be living in your zone of genius and making your contribution to the world and impact to yourself and the world that you're uniquely qualified to be doing. So that's that's something I talked about all the time and it always comes back to that intersection when I hear people say, you know, I'll work on that once I've made my millions. Are Work on that once I become the VP here and then I'm willing to leave. I don't love what I do, but I'm just going to put the time in. Over here I just kind of cringe because the time is the one resource we can't get more of, and so that mentality of I'll do it when can be really deceiving, like you're going to have more security or you know it's to be doing something that you don't love, is a liability in... experience. Well, a mean thank you so much for all this wonderful conversation, these great insights. I obviously enjoyed it as someone who shares a background somewhere to you, but someone who is looking at a uncertain future as we deal with new media, as we used to call it, and occasion as we call it now. I thinks they're changing. So it's great to be reassured that change is great at experimenting is fun. So thank you so much for all of your tips and advice here on this podcast, but thank you the great questions and I appreciate the opportunity and I really look forward to the event coming up and and sharing more and connecting and seeing how I can help. Yeah, obviously people can come see you at leader cast, two thousand and twenty positive disruption, but they can see you just about any day they want. How can people get in contact with you or check out your information? Yes, I would love for that. Well, social media. Social Communication is kind of my thing. So Amy Joe Martin is where I can be found on all the different platforms, instagram, twitter, Linkedin, facebook, you name it. And Amy Joe Martincom is my website. From there you can find out about the why not now podcast, which is everywhere we like to consume our podcast Itunes, spotify, you name it. And then the renegade brand boot camp has its own website to that's the program for female leaders and entrepreneurs, renegade brand boot campcom, and it's international. We have women in the collective, which is all the graduates. That's from five different countries. I was just in Dubai and met with some women who are excited to to join and it's just, you know, it's it's a pretty unique opportunity to connect with like minded, like hearted women who are all elevating each other. So check that out too, if that's of interest. And Yeah, Amy Joe Martin. Well, amy thank you so much again for inspiring us all to be a little bit more of a renegade in our own lives. Thank you for the opportunity of our so again, you can check out Amy Joe's content at amy too Martincom and please check out her podcast and her social media pages. They're really fun to listen to and fun to interact with side tutes. Definitely suggest that and again, thank you for listening to this episode of the leader cast podcast and, as always, don't forget to subscribe to this podcast. You can subscribe on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, spotify, all the places you find a podcast, you can listen to us and, if you would be so kind, to leave us a rating to help boost the notoriety of the podcast and give us some great feedback on how we can improve it. Again, I'm bar thank you for being on this episode with us, Amy, and thank you for listening. Now go be a leader with following. Hi Everyone, this is Bart and I wanted to take a minute to tell you about our friends at sweet phish media. According to research from Edelman and Linkedin, almost sixty percent of decisionmakers said that thought...

...leadership led them to aboarding business to an organization. Sweet Phish Media, helps marketing teams turn their executives into industry thought leaders. Learn more by visiting sweet phish mediacoma. Leader cast. Thanks for tuning in to the leader cast podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player.

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