A Conversation with Amende Okojie on Overcoming Life’s Hurdles By Staying Motivated & Passionate

Media depictions of advertising agencies, like the one in Mad Men, might have you believing that working as a marketer is about deception, but for this entrepreneur, marketing is about helping clients bring their dreams to life. Professional marketer Amende Okojie is driven by her desire to help clients translate their visions into meaningful content […]

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Media depictions of advertising agencies, like the one in Mad Men, might have you believing that working as a marketer is about deception, but for this entrepreneur, marketing is about helping clients bring their dreams to life. Professional marketer Amende Okojie is driven by her desire to help clients translate their visions into meaningful content that resonates with the right audience.

Amende Okojie is an expert in digital, social, and print marketing, and has a wide range of experience in the PR field. She began her career with an internship at a tech start-up and quickly worked her way up to the top. Based in Waterloo, a tech city in the Ontario region, Amende received her Bachelor’s degree in marketing and communications from the University of Waterloo in 2007. Since then, she has worked for several media companies specializing in digital as well as print.

Through her work as a marketer, Amende Okojie has found a love for community and has become heavily invested in giving back in any way that she can. She volunteers for many local organizations and even offers her expertise as a marketing expert free of charge by helping develop marketing plans and social media content. She also enjoys mentoring new marketing graduates to lend her expertise as they navigate their careers.

Amende Violet Okojie currently lives in Toronto, Ontario with her family. In her free time, she enjoys attending workshops and conferences to expand her skill set and network with other marketing professionals. She also believes that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind, so she stays active by jogging and practicing yoga.

What do you love most about the industry you are in?
I love being able to help entrepreneurs bring their vision to life through the production of a marketing campaign. I think that marketing gets a bad reputation for producing misleading content, but what a few select marketers like myself do is share an important message about a product that an entrepreneur believes in. The entrepreneurs I work with are working to solve a problem with their service or product and are only missing a method to bring it meaningfully to market. I am deeply invested in giving back to my community and find that being a digital marketer is one of many ways to do that.

What keeps you motivated?

I stay motivated because I love my work. On the one hand, I love the creativity that comes with being a digital marketer, on the other hand, I love being able to work with and collaborate with others. I believe that you need to be chasing the thing you love in order to stay motivated—money isn’t enough. When the days get tough, and they will, you need to have a desire that extends beyond paying the bills to stay motivated. Outside of being a marketer, I volunteer and donate my time to the less fortunate, which has given me a great sense of motivation to get up in the morning and do my best work.

How do you motivate others?

As a leader, I believe that it is my job to inspire others to perform at their highest level and reach their personal potential. Everyone that we hire is able to produce inspiring work, sometimes it is just a matter of convincing them that their feedback, opinions, and ideas matter as much as my own. When we have important meetings, I try my best to invite everyone on my team, to ensure that they understand that their feedback is invaluable. When your employees feel confident in their abilities, are unafraid to make mistakes, and feel comfortable asking questions, they will excel every single time. 

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I am inspired by everything I encounter. Living in a busy city like Toronto, inspiration lies in every groove, pattern, and interaction. Even as a digital marketer, I find it more meaningful to become inspired by things that are completely unrelated to what I am doing. If I am looking for inspiration for a marketing campaign, I don’t look at other marketing campaigns, I go for a walk, visit an art gallery, or spend time with inspirational people. In many cases, looking at other people’s creativity can actually hinder our own, so it is important to not just copy what others are doing, but become inspired by the world around you. Sometimes the idea for how to position a product comes from a visit to a botanical garden or an interaction with a stranger. You never know where it will come from; all you need to do is be open to it.

How do you maintain a solid work-life balance?

You have to schedule time with family and friends, for personal hobbies, for volunteering, and for self-care into your calendar, or you will never have a work-life balance. The problem is that we have become too accustomed to putting meetings and obligations into our schedule at work, but have not enacted this same practice within our personal lives. If you schedule a date night with your partner, but don’t follow through with it in the way you would a work meeting, you are unlikely to ever find a real work-life balance. Be reasonable and set expectations for both your work and your home life. Taking time to meditate in the morning is equally as important as your board meeting. This change in mindset is how you achieve a work-life balance.

What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?

The same traits that make a successful leader also make a successful parent or teacher. Being able to inspire others in real, meaningful, and personal ways is how you become a great leader. Always put yourself in the shoes of others and never consider yourself as being more or less than them. Everyone knows something that you do not know and you need to open to the ideas of others. A leader has to be willing to do everything they expect others to do: take initiative, work longer hours, and never stop learning.

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

As Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” This piece of advice has always stuck with me. In every situation, we have a choice. We are not slaves to circumstance, but have agency to change whatever it is we are dealing with. Life will throw its fair share of difficulties your way, many of which you have no other option other than to face. Those are the moments that define you.

What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?

The biggest life lesson that I have learned is that very little of how people treat you has anything to do with you at all. When I was younger, I used to feel like any anger or frustration directed towards me had to do with me; if I was being yelled at, it was because I deserved that level of frustration. Now that I am older, I have realized that someone who acts out of anger or frustration are themselves experiencing inner turmoil and unrest. When someone treats you with kindness and dignity, it is because they feel at peace with who they are. The only thing you can control is how you treat others and how you react to how others treat you. 

What trends in your industry excite you?

I am excited by new and interesting applications, like TikTok. We have become very comfortable with the platforms that currently dominate social media, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and yet something like TikTok completely changes the way we share and create content. Snap Chat, for example, was all the rage three years ago, and now that Instagram has created stories, that has become almost irrelevant. The rapid pace at which apps are changing is extremely exciting to me, because it challenges digital marketers like myself to constantly be thinking outside of the box, changing the way we approach every platform with the content that we produce.

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