Mandy Hall
Founder of Chiefs and Indians

Tell us about you?

Mother of Mason. Partner of Ty. New small business owner. Reformed big business marketer. Career highlight: growing and evolving two talking Russian meerkats (Compare the Market brand) to become as loved as the M&M characters. Avid (former) GoT fan. Soul destroying perfectionist.  

Tell us about your small business?

Our (Chiefs and Indians’) vision is to create brands that make the world better. We do so by advising, educating and co-creating brand strategy and executions that rally people from the inside of an organisation, out.  

(Intrigued by our name? That story will have to be for another time as it won’t fit the word limit!).

Are there any areas you’re particularly seeking progress in for your business right now?

  • Confidence is my biggest challenge at the moment. New playing field. No assurance. Many hats. Lonely at times. Learning to enjoy the process (eeeeep!) and embrace uncertainty. I am on the hunt for a good mentor! Suggestions welcome …
  • Taking my own advice … (no one likes to be told how to suck eggs)

How could you or your business help others?

  • Advisor: Developing and evolving brands (new or existing), advising on strategy creation and positioning, and assisting with creating concise and actionable brand plans. I support owners, CEOs and MDs right through to Chief Marketing Officers and marketing teams.
  • Educator: I host dedicated and group workshops and am in the process of creating an online course that teaches the basics to developing a concise, differentiated and actionable brand strategy. This is suitable for smaller businesses.
  • Consultancy/agency: Facilitating the entire brand strategy development process and associated executions. New brands, re-brands, brand evolutions, revolutions and everything in between. This is suitable for medium to large sized businesses.

What has been one of your best business decisions to date?

To set up my business. It’s been a lifelong quest for me and while it hasn’t been easy, it’s definitely been the most rewarding decision I have ever made.  

What are your three favourite business tools and why?

These change regularly, but at the minute my favourite tools are:

  • Google (Analytics, Trends and the Keyword Planner tool in Ads): This is more from a client point-of-view as I’m not actively marketing my business at the moment but knowledge is power! Everything I do is underpinned by some form of data. The data you can get from Google is a great start and it’s free. Learn everything from search demand and trends (indexes) right through to customers, traffic and behaviours. Learn it. Know it. Use it to make decisions or create hypotheses. Test, learn, fail, repeat.
  • Noun project: This is a cheap-ish subscription for downloading icons. I do a lot of presentations so having access to a comprehensive set of icons makes it easy to visualise information to keep my audiences engaged (and impressed).
  • Trello: When I’m working on large iterative projects (with multiple stakeholders) Trello is a great way to track individual project milestones and progress.

Could you share a time when you succeeded and what you learned?

Incentivising a ‘retainer’ (with a set monthly hours) versus a short, intensive project has been very successful for me. Being a part-time mum and business owner it benefits me in three ways: it enables me to better manage my time around the days that I have, take on more clients at any one time (knowing exactly how many hours I’ve committed and how many I and the team have left), provides a more affordable option for big projects (spread out over a longer period of time) and most of all creates a different (client) mindset – you are treated more as a permanent employee than a transit consultant.

Could you share a time when you failed and what you learned?

Agreeing to do work that digressed from my core offering has been my most recent blip and learning. I wanted the client to be right, more than they were on paper. It turned out to waste a lot of time, created confusion and upset and, while it resolved in the end, it wasn’t a good experience. A reminder that long term success comes with short-term sacrifice. Stick to your niche. Own the space. You don’t need to surrender to every opportunity because it’s money through the door (easier said than done, I get that).

What’s your approach to dealing with the pressures of running your business?

  • I go for a run. It very quickly snaps me out of any brain funk I’m in.
  • I am attempting to meditate. This is a new one for me, but is forcing me to take some time out for myself to calm the mind and slow things down a little.  
  • I play with my two year old. I find that getting down on the floor with my two year old and being 100 per cent present takes away some of the all-consuming business related thoughts, and reminds me that being a mum is my biggest achievement.

Any productivity hacks you swear by?

Google docs is a good one when you have a document that requires editing by multiple people.

Has there been a significant mentor in your career or life?

I have had some great bosses over time who have given some really good advice, but no one long standing. But, I’d like to change that and am on the hunt.

People you admire or quotes or mantras that you live by?

I really admire Brene Brown. Her teachings and research really resonate with me, particularly the link between vulnerability and innovation in the workforce. Her studies reveal that if you don’t create a workplace where it's safe to be vulnerable, you suffocate any chance of innovation. Being a brand strategist I’m all about transforming and disrupting brands (when relevant) which can take bold change and an openness to doing things differently.

What’s the last read book / visited bookmark / podcast that you’d recommend to a friend?

Currently reading: Not Just Lucky by Jamila Rizvi. A book about how society and cultural expectations have disadvantaged women at home and in the workplace (often unconsciously).

Podcast: Marketing School by Neil Patel and Eric Siu. This is a great one for anyone new or experienced at marketing (and only goes for about 7 mins – daily). I listen to it simply because I like their creative way of thinking. They are very focused on testing different marketing tactics to get more sales, customers or desired metric.  

Finish this sentence: “Business mums ...

... really do get the best of both worlds.”

Connect with Mandy

Via her website, on LinkedIn, and on Facebook.

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