Josy Amann, Co-Founder, Media Matters Worldwide
Josy Amann, Co-Founder, Media Matters Worldwide
What's your industry?
Advertising - Media Buying & Planning
For people who don't know you, can you tell us how you ended up sitting where you are today?
I fell into advertising! I went to school for Psychology and Sociology, which aren’t unrelated - but I did not have a formal education in Marketing or Advertising. My first job out of college was an Assistant Media Planner and I worked up the ranks at various large holding company agencies. I also freelanced for a couple of years and that is where I learned that work could be flexible, which was very eye-opening. My last position before starting Media Matters Worldwide was at an independent, start-up full-service agency. This is where I had the opportunity to be part of a growing agency. This experience gave my business partner and I (we worked there together) the confidence and experience to start our own agency.
What does your daily routine look like?
My day is spent juggling my family and my company. The morning is my time to exercise and clear my head before I get ready for the day and make sure that my teenagers are out the door and in school on time. With no commute (our company has always been fully remote, long before 2020), I can quickly get to work after the house is quiet. Once “at work,” my days are typically filled with meetings of all varieties to make sure our business is running smoothly. My internal meetings are generally with my executive and leadership teams overseeing projects related to our agency goals, new business opportunities, finance/hr/operations, and client teams that I am the executive sponsor of. Three years after COVID, I’m seeing that meetings and lunches are slowly coming back, which I love - client visits help break up the Zoom office time and give us all a change of scenery.
What excites you most about what you do?
I love people. I love watching them navigate the crazy waters of their lives and our industry. I love inspiring those to succeed and to be their best selves. I also enjoy partnering with clients to change their business and their careers. We’ve had clients take us to four different companies along their own career journeys and it’s pretty gratifying to be a trusted resource and be there for each other over the years.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you on your journey in business?
The best advice I have ever received was to never look backwards at where your competitors are sitting. Keep your eyes focused on the future and keep true to your agency and what you want to achieve. This has helped us make decisions that were right for us, like being remote in 2005. It was pretty unpopular until COVID and it gave us benefits way beyond no commute - namely a more experienced and happy staff. Going against the grain for choices you believe in is never easy but making choices that are authentic to who you are and what you believe, will never fail you.
What's been the hardest part about the path you've taken and how would you advise someone facing a similar situation to overcome it?
There have been many ups and downs during the last 18 years that we’ve been in business. We have survived (both co-founders) being pregnant at the same time with our first children, having newborns at the same time and, unfortunately, the loss of close family during similar time periods. We managed our business through a couple of financial crises and a pandemic. We have had to reinvent ourselves every five years to stay cutting edge and we consistently have to re-invigorate each other not to give up because we know things get better and that there’s a reason for everything. We are also very thankful for the opportunity to run a business, to be our own boss and to be there for our families at the same time.
My advice for getting through difficult times is to be flexible, be kind, and stay focused.
Be flexible: You can be rigid in your goals but be flexible in your process and how you get over hurdles.
Be kind: Going through hard times really highlights how even the smallest act of kindness to or from a peer can make a huge difference in staying resilient.
Stay focused: Make a habit of zooming out and remember that there will always be enormous unforeseen challenges along your path so stay focused on all of the positives.
Are there any well-known Books, Podcasts, or Courses that you credit your current success to?
So many that I credit! Namely Hard Fork and The Daily from NYTimes, Consider This and Fresh Air from NPR and The Future is Everything from WSJ. I also love listening to Ted Talks Daily, How I Built This with Guy Raz Freakonomics Radio, The McKinsey Podcast and agency specific ones from trade publications. Reading and listening keeps me on my toes and allows me to think in different ways, so I always make time for both.
Have you ever used a business or executive coach?
Yes, we have had the chance to work with two different executive coaches, which has made such an impact in my leadership style and my way of thinking when it comes to running a company.
It seems like there are a lot of people offering business coaching these days. In your opinion, is that a good thing?
I think it’s a wonderful thing. Similar to therapy, working with a business coach is a valuable process- it’s not often you can have someone to help guide you and view your path from the outside, but when you can, it truly is remarkable.
There are so many lessons and skills that took time for me to learn on my own that I could have adopted much earlier in my career had I worked with an executive coach!
People can sometimes confuse a coach with a mentor. Can you help us clarify the difference?
I see a Mentor as someone that is there for people to listen and offer advice based on their own knowledge of having lived or worked in the same area you are gaining mentorship. A coach, however, is someone that is trained in teaching leadership skills and self-awareness. They have very specific skills to help people thrive in any work environment and help you discover what is needed to succeed in your own field. A coach doesn’t need to have expertise in only your area of work, but a mentor may better serve you if they are in the same field.
For any entrepreneurs or executives looking to work with a coach, where are the best places to find a great one?
I would ask around and get referrals if possible. Try to understand what your peers did when it comes to coaching - did they use just one? Did they like that person? Would they continue to invest in coaching? Pick their brains and then try it out for yourself. Coaches are like friendships - what’s right for someone else, may not be right for you, so don’t give up if you don’t jive with every coach you interview.
What 3 qualities would you say separate a great business coach from a bad one?
1. Clear communication 2. Empathy 3. Positivity
Do you think someone can be a great business coach without having many years of experience?
We have worked with executive coaches that are in training and ones with many years of experience.
Yes, someone can be a great coach, even without having years of experience – IF they have a good education and good mentors along the way. I think as a society, we put a lot of emphasis on experience, especially how many years someone has been working. We really need to step away from this mentality and give people a chance - having the knowledge, or someone who can impart that knowledge on them, is all a person really needs to succeed.
What do you think the world of business coaching will look like in 20 years' time?
Artificial Intelligence will be coaching us….joking, not joking. There are already prompts that exist that can give a framework to help employees get along with people in their workplace and to become better employees. Like with most professions, the mix between the human element and AI will be the best of all worlds. The profession will also need to evolve with hybrid work environments and a more global workforce, adding to the complexity of relationship building.