Katie Martell on Staying True to Your Authentic Self

How important is authenticity to a person, to a business leader, to a brand? According to Katie Martell, it’s absolutely crucial. In this episode of The Cheat Code Podcast, co-hosts Josh Wagner and Justin Gray welcome Katie – an “unapologetic marketing truth teller” – to discuss her cheat: unabashed authenticity.

Staying true to oneself goes beyond branding and leadership, particularly in the context of social issues and movements. Katie, Josh and Justin discuss how companies are grappling with the need to be authentic in their messaging and actions. They also discuss challenges leaders face when trying to balance authenticity with the traditional expectations of professionalism and the evolving expectations of employees, especially in younger generations, who are increasingly seeking workplaces that align with their values and allow them to bring their authentic selves to work.

The interview also explores how companies can navigate shifts toward greater authenticity and the potential for brands to turn negative feedback or call-outs into opportunities for growth and transparency.

Additional highlights include:

Listening and Trust: It’s important to actively listen to employees and colleagues. Not only does this build trust, it helps people gain confidence their leaders can handle sensitive situations appropriately.

Social Justice Movements and Brands: Brands can authentically engage with social justice movements, not by co-opting or appropriating the narrative, but by genuinely listening and acknowledging the experiences of different groups.

Reinvention and Change: Continual reinvention is not flip-flopping, it’s evolving. Remember: it’s liberating to be open to change and not be stuck in one way of doing things.

Balancing Expectations: There needs to be a balance between employees’ expectations for open communication and a company’s need for productivity. Finding this balance can be tricky, but it’s an important aspect of a healthy work environment.

Opportunities for Founders: Founders of smaller companies have a unique opportunity to set a new standard for how businesses operate. They can be more agile and responsive to the evolving needs and expectations of employees.