Hire Slow, Fire Fast– There are so many talents out there, but not are a good fit. You have to know your company culture and what you and your company stand for. Then look for those folks.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda Ma.
Amanda Ma is the Founder and Chief Experience Officer of Innovate Marketing Group (IMG) an award-winning event and experiential marketing agency based in Los Angeles. Innovate Marketing Group is known for producing remarkable corporate events by providing fresh ideas, infrastructure and logistics. Clients include TikTok, East West Bank and more.
Born in Taiwan and raised in Arcadia, CA, Amanda studied business at Boston University in Boston, MA and studied abroad in London, UK. Her entrepreneurial journey began in 2006 as the Co-Founder of Fresh Events Company, Inc. and Co-Founder of Pamper Me Fabulous in 2008. She then founded Innovate Marketing Group in 2014, which through her leadership has flourished into one of the most distinguished event management and design agencies both locally and nationally, with a team of dedicated event professionals that are ready to help bring client events to the next level.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Early on in my professional path, I encounter event management and realized I have a talent for it.
Something that I was passionate about and good at.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
With no customer based established, I started from scratch. No funding, no clients just a sense of confidence and that I want to refresh how events are being experienced.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I had an opportunity to change paths after my first business but then realize this is what I love so started another agency focusing on corporate events. Where the first events agency was corporate & lifestyle.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Pre-pandemic we were doing all live events. From Office Grand Openings to Big Conferences to Influencer event. We had just finished a high-profile event in Washington DC working with the White House as well as TikTok Office Grand Opening. After the pandemic, we pivoted so now we also offer Virtual Events and Events To Go Kits in order to continue to offer value to our clients.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
- Have a strong network/tribe- Other business owners who can provide ideas, be a source of support. You also know you are not the only one going through it.
- Exercise- After the pandemic I started a morning walk routine. Just 30 minutes a day. I used this time to embrace nature while moving my body. I often will be listening to an audio book/podcast which inspire a lot of new ideas.
- Take a break- Event can be quite stressful. Remember to take breaks to recharge. Its important for your mental health and overall health. This way, you can be a better boss, leader and resource to your clients.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
There are so many people that inspired and helped me along the way. My Entrepreneur Organization forum, my network, my family, my tribe, my team at Innovate Marketing Group, and so many others who continue to be my champion through the pivot and this journey. Through this experience, I felt extremely grateful for the network that I have because they give me the power to push forward.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I sit on the board of Entrepreneur Organization (EO) as the Diversity & Inclusion Chair. I was a former Co-Chair of the Asian Business Association Los Angeles’ Board of Directors and former Emeritus Board of the Asian Pacific Community Fund.
During COVID, I implemented the following to support the community:
- I joined the board of Entrepreneur Organization (EO-LA) as the Diversity & Inclusion Chair.
- I joined the California Events Coalition as advisory board to help advocate, support, educate, and provide resources for the events industry community in California.
- Virtual speaking engagement to educate the 100+ non-profits who to navigate their events/live experience during this time and what resources are available. E.g. Virtual events, virtual team building, etc.
- Promoting local restaurants
- We put together an ‘Overcoming Crisis’ webinar panel to be a resource to the business community leveraging our network.
- We collaborated with various other groups to put together virtual events covering topics such as mental health, diversity & inclusion, etc that benefits the community.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Hire Slow, Fire Fast– There are so many talents out there, but not are a good fit. You have to know your company culture and what you and your company stand for. Then look for those folks.
- Company Values– Having company values are very important. Now we use our values to hire, review and embody in our company culture.
- Positive Attitude– I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this now. When I hire people, I look for folks with positive attitude. People who have a more positive outlook, when things get hard, they see glass half full and try to think of a solution. It always drives the energy level up at work. Event management can sometimes be quite stressful, so we need more positive attitude to balance that out. During my interview, I love asking the candidate to tell me a joke, the joke does not have to be good, more just if they can have some fun and more take things so seriously.
- SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) — Have a system in place and document them is what helped my agency grow. The SOP needs to be established and updated every year to ensure its still relevant.
- Join Entrepreneurs Organization (https://www.eonetwork.org/)- a community of business owners. When I first started, I had to figure out everything myself one by one. With this network, you get access to some brilliant businesspeople that can help propel your business forward.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
For everyone to do one thing for others once a week. Create more kindness and joy in this world.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Thank you for this opportunity to share my journey.