When it came time to build her business, CatalystCreativ, Amanda Slavin took her masters degree in education and five years of hospitality experience, put them together and developed a whole new kind of creative agency. CatalystCreativ builds brands by focusing on engagement. “When people are authentically engaged with your brand, they speak for it,” she tells us. Her agency helps brands tell their stories by creating experiences, like conferences and events, that help them interact with individual consumers as well as with the community.
As it turns out, the same concepts that Amanda uses to help brands engage with their customers are also essential to building better personal and professional relationships. She shed some light on the subject.
Build a happy, creative workplace
WORK HOW AND WHERE YOU WANT
The CatalystCreativ team is all remote—people feel more engaged with their work if they can live and work where they want—but we’re constantly in contact and we share a calendar. We’re part of each others’ lives.
As the CEO, I convey to my team that I’m vulnerable. This is something we train speakers to do when we’re planning conferences, because vulnerability is a key element to building authentic connections. It allows people to share and express themselves in a space where they’re not afraid. You should feel comfortable telling your CEO about personal circumstances because they impact your work.
ALWAYS LOOK FOR LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
We offer our employees free mentorship for three months, in addition to enrolling them in leadership courses and funding their trips to attend conferences. At CatalystCreativ we’re all about being the best versions of ourselves, and part of doing so is constantly educating ourselves. The stronger we are as individuals, the stronger our work will be as a team.
Raise engaged children
DO YOUR OWN THING, THEN TALK ABOUT IT
Read with your child for thirty minutes a day, but not the way you usually do—you read your book while she reads hers, then talk about it. The idea is that while you’re doing something that’s important to you, she’s doing something that’s important to her and when you’re both done you’ll share it with each other. She’ll be fully engaged in the activity, because she’ll be doing it all on her own, and when she’s done she’ll have the chance to tell you her thoughts, feelings and ideas. You can also try thirty minutes of writing in your respective journals. I did this with my students when I was a teacher, and it was a great exercise in creativity, independence, writing and self-expression.
LET FIRST-GRADERS BE FIRST-GRADERS
Children absorb a lot from us and know a lot more than we think they do. When I was teaching, every morning I’d ask my first-grade class to talk for one minute each about something in their lives other than school. You can do the same thing with your kids. Ask them questions like an adult: What are you feeling? What are you thinking about? What did you learn and what do you want to learn?
Be a better girlfriend/wife/sister/friend/daughter/co-worker/neighbor, etc.
TEACH EACH OTHER
My boyfriend and I are constantly educating each other on things we’re both passionate about. I make sure to never shove anything down his throat, a rule that applies to everything from relationships to marketing and branding. Don’t say you need to read this or you have to do this. Give your partner the space to find what what he or she is passionate about.
NEVER THINK YOU KNOW IT ALL
Put away your preconceived ideas about a person or a group of people. Ask people to share their stories, rather than superimposing yours on them. Ask, “How are you?” and really listen. Always listen with your full attention and never, ever assume you know more than someone else.
PUT YOURSELF FIRST
Work on yourself so that you’re not working on each other. In an argument, as soon as you feel yourself saying “You did this,” turn to yourself and ask, “Why does this bother me?” Use it as an opportunity to improve yourself, because that’s what will ultimately improve your relationship—and all your other relationships. When you’re your best self, you’re also the best mother, friend, sister, daughter, co-worker, etc. you can be.