Sibling Thrivalry, with Creative Allies CEO Amie Thompson

Creative Allies CEO Amie Thompson is a natural introvert who has developed into a leader. She’s a natural workaholic who has learned how to delegate while allowing others to fail. And in 2020, she has led Creative Allies through the pandemic to offer a more well-rounded small business solution package to their clients.  Oh, and she’s Donald’s sister (which means you’ll want to stick around to the end for some hilarious sibling stories!).

Amie Thompson Creative Allies Donald Thompson Podcast

Transcript

Donald Thompson: Welcome to the Donald Thompson Podcast. I’m very encouraged, excited today to have the CEO of Creative Allies here with us, Ms. Amie Thompson. Amie, welcome.

Amie Thompson: Thank you.

Donald Thompson: One of the things that we’re going to get into today is we are going to talk about entrepreneurship, we’re going to talk about your role as CEO of Creative Allies; an African-American female that is succeeding in the marketing space.

Which is both accolades to you, but equally as important, what are some of the things that you’ve had to push through and learn, right, to become a CEO? And so let’s go ahead and dive in.

Amie Thompson: Okay.

Donald Thompson: As we get into the conversation, I want our audience to get to know you. So tell them a little bit about Amie Thompson.

Amie Thompson: Sure. Well, I am the CEO of Creative Allies. Like, like you mentioned, I would say I’m a bonafide workaholic. So I always start when people say, “Tell me about you,” it’s always work first. And so I have been CEO for about two years now and  my entire career has been, kind of sales and marketing operations. So whether that’s leading other teams or being an individual contributor, it’s always been around sales and marketing operations, but this is my first time running a company.

And it certainly is hard and, uh, challenging, but rewarding at the same time. You know, as I think about, you know, my future, I don’t want to work for someone else again, you know, that, that is one thing that I certainly have learned. I just have to figure out how to keep doing it and do it better. On a personal note, I would say the thing that people don’t know about me is I’m definitely an introvert.

And that has been a challenge, of course, you know, running a company, something I’m not necessarily shy about for lack of a better word, but I have learned how to make adjustments to my personality for work. So I always knew that I wanted to be successful and knew that that could be a limitation, and figured out how to work around it.

But at my core, I’m not necessarily the most people-person, I’m not necessarily the most social-person at my core. I love my, you know, me-time and alone-time and stuff like that. And I’ve just had to figure out how to adjust.

Donald Thompson: Oh man, that’s a powerful opening and a great way for us to get to know you better on a personal level. Let’s dig into a little bit about some of the things that have been hard transitioning into a CEO. Because a lot of people are all about the title, right? They think CEO equals tons of money all at once.

Amie Thompson: Yeah.

Donald Thompson: Uh, and it’s pretty easy to go to Kinko’s and put CEO on a business card. So what are some of the things, lessons, that you’ve learned as you’ve persevered in this new role?

Amie Thompson: I think one of the biggest challenges has been, uh, delegation. So because I was mostly an individual contributor, it was really just about me; what I was capable of doing, what I was good at. And then transitioning that into still doing that, but also having to find other people that could be equally as good or better at the things that need to be done.

And that’s a challenge with letting go sometimes, you know, it’s a challenge with trust sometimes. Like it’s all of these different things that you learn about yourself and probably one of the biggest things is letting people fail. You know, I hate failing, like, you know, anyone else. So I don’t want to see someone else fail and I don’t want my business to fail.

So there’s this trust that you have to have with, give people a little bit of room to, to make some mistakes and things like that and not overreact to it. Um, so I would say delegation has been one thing that I’ve learned that has been really challenging. I think the other part is balancing “right now” versus growing the company.

I’m very focused naturally on what’s right in front of me. And the thing that I’ve had to work on and then continue to work on is growing the business and thinking six, twelve months down the road; three to five years on the road. I had an investor call about a month ago, and that was one of the questions they asked, “Where are you going to be in three to five years?”

And I answered it, you know, because I can, you know, answer and make stuff up or whatever, but I hadn’t truly thought about it. And I don’t really have a strategic plan or a plan for that far out because I’m so focused on the next 6 to 12 months. And so that’s been a huge learning.

Those are all powerful learnings that I think that CEO’s, we as individuals, when you’re thinking about your own personal value plan, need to deal with. And one of the things that’s really important is who do you listen to, to help you overcome some of your limitations? What are some of the values that you place on getting outside feedback, right? To help you continue to grow your firm?

Yeah. I think it’s hugely important to get other opinions because, but, you know, number one, I’m a very confident person, so I know what I’m good at, and I know what I’m not good at. And that is truly, truly important to make sure you’re not trying to disguise the things that you’re not good at. You don’t have time for that when you’re running a business.

So it’s really important to understand what you’re good at. And then of the things that you’re not good at, then go find other people that can help you. Whether it’s people on your team or advisors or whomever, but you find people that can help you in those areas where you’re not strong. And so the value of having those advisors or just people in your network is, it’s just hugely important.

Donald Thompson: One of the things that people tend to do when they have a business is they try to do too many different things.

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: What is Creative Allies known for?

Amie Thompson:  Well, we are known for our contests. You know, that’s how the company started. We’ve been around for about 10 years. And we started in the music industry doing design contests. And so that’s really what we’re known for, and it’s been a journey to try to grow the business beyond that. So we have a graphic design community, and then a few years ago, we realized that, well, within that community, there’s probably people who do video and people who do photography and other creative things.

And so then it became about how can we tap into that? How can we move out of just entertainment and move into some other areas as well? Lately, which is really good, we’ve ventured into small business marketing. And so we’re starting to get a good reputation locally for that. But I would say, you know, the biggest thing that we’re known for is probably on the entertainment side with the design contests.

Donald Thompson: When you think about designers, and one of the things that I have some familiarity with Creative Allies. We’ll talk about that in a minute. But you’re being humble. You have a community of a hundred thousand plus designers.

Amie Thompson: Correct.

Donald Thompson: So tell our audience a little bit about your community and then now how you’re translating that into small and medium-sized business marketing.

Amie Thompson: Yeah. So the community is global and, um, it’s, it’s, it is pretty exciting. So there’s about a hundred thousand folks and, and they’ve ranged from people who just design for fun, people who that’s their full-time job, and they’re just doing things on the side. And what we try to do is give them opportunities to interact with really cool brands; opportunities that they wouldn’t be able to get on their own.

And so that has always been a lot of fun, but it’s really been about opportunity. Lately, what we decided to do was try to tap into that community for some of our small business work. So now it’s not just the opportunity to work with like a cool band, it’s make some money. You know, because a contest, you’re only going to have one winner.

So you’ll have hundreds of people who submit something, but you have one winner. With our current way of doing things as we move into the small business marketing and sports marketing, is tapping into that community and pulling people who do video or pulling people who can do logo design specifically for that client.

So it’s giving them a way to earn extra money, taking away the barrier of them having to find business, which is, which is usually a challenge for creatives. So it’s been really good to be able to keep that community focus, but still be able to grow the business.

Donald Thompson: So if I were to summarize it, you have a platform of creatives that you can pull the right talent at the right time to serve a marketing need for a client.

Amie Thompson: That’s right. And so we say curation, right? So in our design contest, we’re curating art. In what we do now, we curate project teams. So we try to identify what’s the best mix of people that would be the right fit for the client. And the nice thing there, because we do have a good number of people, obviously nothing ever goes a hundred percent perfect all the time. So when something isn’t working out or going well, we can pull somebody out, put somebody else back in. So that’s the benefit of relying on the community of freelancers, is that you have a lot of talent to choose from.

Donald Thompson: That sounds phenomenal. So basically, if I contract Creative Allies, I get you and your core team. And then the backend navigation through those hundred thousand people, you pick the right people for my project at the right time.

Amie Thompson: That’s right. Yep. Absolutely.

Donald Thompson: That’s awesome. What are some of the things that people may not understand about marketing that you would advise them to think about growing their business, right, going into 2021?

Amie Thompson: The easiest thing to overlook and it’s a little bit counterintuitive is that whatever you’re doing for marketing, you can’t focus on yourself. You really need to focus on the client, or on the user, or whoever it is you’re marketing to. And we do a lot of website development and when we’re thinking about websites, I have this conversation all the time.

It’s always about, “Well, I want this. I think it should be this.” And it’s like, reinforcing, but you’re not going to your website. So it’s like, it’s not for you. And so helping people understand that when you’re creating something, it’s like, yes, it’s about you, but it’s kind of not about you. And you’ve got to think about, who are you trying to target? Who are you trying to sell to? And you have to think about what they need and what they want. So it’s social media, it’s video, it’s anything. It’s about you, but it’s not about you.

Donald Thompson: No, that’s phenomenal. A lot of times clients think that a marketing, for example, a website is a vanity project.

Amie Thompson: Right.

Donald Thompson: Right? When really you’re trying to serve a particular audience.

Amie Thompson: That’s right.

Donald Thompson: And I think what you’re doing a great job of, and as I look at the growth of the business, is really separating the two and creating content for your clients that the audience needs to hear.

Amie Thompson: That’s right.

Donald Thompson: Now, how do you know what an audience needs to hear for a client? What kind of research do you do? How do you–

Amie Thompson: Yeah.

Donald Thompson:  Prepare for that?

Amie Thompson: Ask them. I mean, that’s really the easiest answer. So, one of the things that we do and have been doing more recently is market research. Just ask them. Right? You can’t know what your client wants specifically, unless you ask them. I would say small businesses, we don’t do this enough. Just go back to the clients who’ve already paid you money; who’ve already enjoyed working with you and ask them two or three things. You know, when you were looking for a vendor, what was most important to you? Why did you select us? You know, asking them those things. What was missing as to why you decided to outsource something?

And so getting in the habit of just asking questions of your clients or potential clients can really help define what people need and what people are looking for.

Donald Thompson: No. That’s powerful. You all at Creative Allies have worked with the NFL, you’ve worked with a lot of huge brands.

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: And then you’ve also worked with local businesses right next door.

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: So you have a good perspective on what’s working and not working in the marketing space. Let’s talk about logos. For example, when you think about logos, there are cities, there’s governments, there’s companies that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars redesigning a new logo.

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: And their audience hates it.

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: It takes their brand backwards. How does Creative Allies reduce that risk, lower that cost, but still give great logos? Let’s use a specific example of how your community can really create power.

Amie Thompson: Yeah, it’s, it’s a little bit like what I was just saying, getting that feedback from people. And so part of what we do with our design contests, part of it is about creating great art, but part of it is about feedback. So there’s the component that you can generate, you know, a hundred different logo options and then have your community vote on them. And then they’ll tell you what they like, what they don’t like. And it doesn’t actually mean that you have to go with what they say, but it’s the idea that people feel like they’re contributing.

They’re giving their feedback that may make them feel better. So even if they don’t like what you end up with, they at least feel like you allow them to share their opinion. And a lot of times that’s, you know, as meaningful as choosing what they would want.

Donald Thompson: No, that’s really, really powerful. When you think about growing your career and now becoming a CEO, evaluating talent is really important.

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: What are some of the characteristics you look for in team members you want to bring on to the Creative Allies team?

Amie Thompson: Well, because we’re a smaller company, so we usually only have a handful of direct employees at any given time. The number one thing that I love to find are people who have kind of an entrepreneur mindset. Because they think about things a little bit differently than someone who thinks more like an employee.

If you think like an employee, you’re just trying to get your hours in. You, you know, you’re just focused on doing enough to make sure you get paid versus if you have more of an entrepreneur mindset, you’re thinking a little bit bigger and it’s almost like this opportunity is a steppingstone to something else.

And I’m actually okay with that. I was okay with that even when I worked for corporate America. As long as you’re on my team and you’re helping grow the business, it doesn’t matter to me if two years later you go find another job. That’s fine. But if you see this as a steppingstone in your personal growth or your professional growth, that’s great.

As a small business owner, it’s just important for people to want to understand the business and want to help grow the business versus just someone who wants to just get a check.

Donald Thompson: No, that’s pretty powerful. Now, let’s switch gears a little bit. Um, we talked about Creative Allies, we talked about being a CEO. Your name is Amie Thompson.

Amie Thompson: It is.

Donald Thompson: My name is Donald Thompson.

Amie Thompson: It is.

Donald Thompson:  And you are my younger sister.

Amie Thompson: That is correct.

Donald Thompson: And, and what many people in our local market or nationally aren’t aware of that when we work together and collaborate on different projects, we don’t really make it a thing. Right? We’re there to just do our work. What are some of the things that, uh, and this is a loaded question, I don’t even know the answer to this one. What are some of the things that you saw growing up that helped you develop into the winner that you’ve become?

Amie Thompson: Well, we certainly grew up around sports. Right? So that competitive nature was always there. No matter, it could be UNO, it could be Scrabble, it could be literally whatever. That was just always a part of life. You know? So, winning was kind of just ingrained in us.

Donald Thompson: Winning, as a part of life.

Amie Thompson: And, so yeah. I mean, that, that part is not something that, you know, there was like one or two examples. It was just the environment. You know, I played sports when I was younger. So just that kind of competitive nature has always been a part of, a part of me. I tend to be pretty hard on myself.

So a lot of times it’s even just competition with myself. You know, and just trying to outdo things that I’ve done before. So that kind of competitive nature is something that, it’s probably a really big part of growing up.

Donald Thompson: Academically. Um, obviously being your brother. So I got to watch you grow and mature and succeed, and the different things within your journey, but you were really strong academically. You went to the School of Math and Science in high school, then went onto the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Uh, you have your master’s degree. I think it’s like organizational– what is your master’s degree in?

Amie Thompson: Organization and uh, management.

Donald Thompson: So when you think about your academic success and now your business success, what are some of the things academically that now prepared you to transition into your role corporately?

Amie Thompson: I think honestly back to that competition for me and I was talking about this recently, but going to, it’s the School of Science and Math, I have to correct you.

Donald Thompson: Thank you.

Amie Thompson: It’s the science first, but um, you know, going to the School of Science and Math–

Donald Thompson: That’s my life.

Amie Thompson: Um, I

have always been a huge nerd. Like just always. I loved school, I loved learning, but I didn’t, it’s kind of hard to explain, but I always wanted to be in a group of people who were good or great. Right? So going to Science and Math was huge for me because I felt like, “Oh my God, I’m going to be surrounded by other super nerdy people.”

And I was so excited about it because most places, you know, I don’t want to sound rude, but you’re surrounded by average. And even if you’re the best, it’s like, “Okay, great. So I’m the best of average.” I like to be, you know, surrounded by people who are really talented or really intelligent. And then that makes me feel like I’ve got to work harder and do better.

But then at the end of that, even if I’m not at the top, I’m still amongst the best. And so that’s how I always viewed schoolwork and academics and everything. It was just, I didn’t want to just be the best of a bunch of regular people. I wanted to just be in the realm of, you know, great.

Donald Thompson: Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s like, how do you know what you can become if you’re in a crowd of average?

Amie Thompson: Yeah.

Donald Thompson: You know, obviously we grew up with the same parents and same household. And I got the same thing.

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: Right? There was a standard of excellence and there was also this mindset of no excuses.

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: And so I’m going to transition to a different piece and I’ve not walked this, but you’re a female leader.

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson:  Right? You’re an African-American female leader. What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome, some of the biases, in order for you to be a CEO of a company and grow, but just as a professional as well?

Amie Thompson: Yeah, I would say my, most of my career, I actually never truly paid a lot of attention to color or gender. I always focused on excelling. And I focused on my talents and I just ignored everything. You know, so if there was, uh, you know, discrimination or bias, I didn’t pay a significant amount of attention to it. And I was lucky enough to be in positions where that didn’t stop me from doing things. I think that I’ve only started to notice things more since I have been a CEO.

Um, it, it’s really kind of weird partially because people recognize those things about me. Like, like you just said, you know, “You’re a black female.” Like that just wasn’t something that anybody would have necessarily said if I was just a manager or if I was just whatever. But being in the position I’m in, it’s, it’s called out a little bit more.

On the positive side, I’ll start there first. What I have found is an incredible amount of support from other female leaders. Like how much people want you to be successful. And they’re just willing to give you some time, give, give you advice and things like that in this community. And so, I was really positively overwhelmed by that. Partially for, you know, black women, but, but just women in general.

So I was very, very happy about that. I would say the one thing that I’ve noticed. From a just, irritation standpoint is, you know, if I’m on a call or something and it’s all men or something like that, being talked over. You know, just the things you hear about feeling like you’re not being listened to, feeling like people like, you know they wouldn’t say that if I were a man. You know, those type of things.

And I think over the past two years, I’ve noticed it more, which then makes me go back to my history of not being a CEO. It’s like how much of this happened and I just didn’t pay attention? Because a lot of times you just get used to it and you just deal with it. But for some reason, now I’m a little bit more observant of it. And you know, it’s, it’s tough because then you have to weigh, do I call it out? Do I say something? Or do I just move on and do my job? So that’s been something that I’ve been thinking a lot about in the past two years, because I’m noticing it more.

Donald Thompson: No, that’s powerful. I mean, one of the things I’ll say to you directly, but to our audience is I’m proud of you. And it’s not easy to push through situations that aren’t right, that aren’t fair, but are part of our realities .

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: And you have become, you’ve always been very successful, but you are now a much stronger example because you’re more visible.

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: Right? Like you’re still doing great things, you always have, but you’re more visible. And taking on that mantle of leadership and responsibility that comes with that is, is pretty awesome. So I wanted to make sure that I said that out loud and uh, Mom, if you’re listening, Amie’s–

Amie Thompson: Which she will be.

Donald Thompson: The bomb.

Amie Thompson: I appreciate that.

Donald Thompson: Yeah yeah, no, it is really good. So another question is, you think about the future, right? Uh, and I’m going to transition a little bit more to our country.

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: Because there’s uh, obviously a pandemic going on now, there’s racial unrest. How do you keep focused as a CEO business leader? How do you keep your team focused with all of these outside factors–?

Amie Thompson: Yeah.

Donald Thompson: That are pulling you down?

Amie Thompson: Yeah, I struggled. I mean, like most people this year, um, because we are dealing with the normal craziness, but then with the pandemic, it’s been a little crazy. So one of the things I did a couple of months ago when I canceled my cable, because I was obsessed with the news and watching it. And it was pretty amazing how much that made a difference just in my focus.

Because it’s like, if it’s there and on. Like now, I don’t have any channels. So I haven’t, you know, I just have to watch Netflix or whatever, but before, if it’s there, you’re going to have it on. And you’re just hearing all this negative over and over again. And it can really, you know, it can mess with your mind, but it can also lead you to pay more attention to that and not what’s in front of you.

And so that was a huge thing that was a positive thing for me, just mentally. And then focus-wise was just not, it’s not that I don’t pay attention to what’s happening, but the reality is what happened yesterday is going to happen again tomorrow. And it’s like, you can’t, I can’t at least, be consumed with every little negative thing that’s going on because it’s a lot of it.

And so that for me was just something individually I needed to change so that I can be focused. The second thing is I run a business. So I have bills. I cannot focus on everything that’s going on that is beyond my control. So I’ve got to focus on what I can control. And what I do is I have employees. I need to make sure I pay them.

I need to make sure that my bills are being paid. So there’s only so much time in the day that I’m going to allow myself to focus on things that I can’t actually control. From a business standpoint, the pandemic has really made us think about, “What other things can we be offering? What other things can we be doing so that we can survive?”

Because early on, uh, March, April, things slowed down so much. Um, on the music side, things slowed down. Just in general, people just were scared. They weren’t spending money. So it’s like, well, “What can we do differently to make sure that we can still keep going?” So it’s been, uh, an interesting creative business time for us as well.

And we’ve seen more success this year than we have actually in the history of the company because it’s like taking stock of, “Okay, what are we able to do through this?” And I think once we finally do get through this pandemic, we’ll be better off because of that. Just because of that kind of creativity and just trying to think outside of the box a little bit.

Donald Thompson: No, that’s a great answer. I want to dive into a very specific example of that.

Amie Thompson: Yeah.

Donald Thompson: Talk a little bit about the virtual communities you’re developing; the virtual meetings that you’re able to host for people.

Amie Thompson: Yeah.

Donald Thompson: Talk about, brag on yourself a little bit, because that’s awesome.

Amie Thompson: Yeah, this, um, started a few months ago, and we had an opportunity to work with a local nonprofit here. And they had an annual event. It’s like most people do, and they were considering postponing it until next year. And they kind of just reached out to see, “Well, do you have any ideas of what we might be able to do instead of completely postponing it?” And so this was not something that we’d done before, and Hassan and I uh, Hassan on my team, we just brainstormed, like, “What could we offer them?”

Like what, “What do we do well that we can just do and combine it and offer them something different?” And so we came up with this idea of hosting a virtual event. We did website development for the event. So that’s something that we had traditionally done. We did some social media work for them. That’s something traditional.

And then we found a really great, um, technology solution to use for the live-streaming. And so, we were able to put on an event for them that their attendees enjoyed. They raised money. And now we have a second one that we’re working on right now for a January event, but we also have like four different opportunities for other ones.

And so that was an example of just trying to help the client be able to solve the problem, but also just being thoughtful and, and creative. And what do we already do well? And how can we just change that a little bit to offer something different? And, you know.

Donald Thompson: I think it’s powerful. One of the things, as we’re talking with our listeners, and you and I are both believers in this. Right? Innovation is a survival characteristic.

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: Right? As much as it is about being smart and creative. Right? You’ve got to figure out how to meet that payroll.

Amie Thompson: Yeah.

Donald Thompson:  Pay those bills.

Amie Thompson: Yes.

Donald Thompson:  Right? What can you control? And being smart and innovative about what you can do with the cards you’re dealt, I think is a, is a very important leadership characteristic.

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: So one of the things that, and that’s a great segue. One of the things that, and again, I have some inside knowledge. So I’ll just call that out. But, there is a pastor in Eastern, North Carolina, Kesha. And you help them with their marketing presence.

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: You gave them a pretty good deal on their pricing. Right? Uh, so that they can afford. Helped them maybe with a payment plan instead of all upfront. Why do you do work for non-profits? Why do you do work for different organizations–

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: Where money’s not the only thing you consider?

Amie Thompson: Yeah, I think there’s two reasons. One, all my life, I’ve always had this feeling that I’m supposed to be helping people. Like, that’s just what I’m supposed to be doing. And so if I ever have that opportunity, it’s like, why wouldn’t I do that? You know, this makes, makes sense. I think a lot of times, some of the help that people need, it doesn’t really cost money. Like sometimes they just need advice, they need some direction, so why am I going to charge them for that?

Now that, could be to my detriment, certainly as a business owner, but I also believe that things will come back around. And if you, if you treat people that way, at some point it’ll come back to you. And it’ll come back in different ways. Maybe you get advice from somebody that you didn’t think would even pay attention to you or something like that.

You just never know, but, just constantly, if I can help somebody, I will try to do that. With that particular project, I feel like what their non-profit is doing, it’s just so needed and so amazing. And so I don’t have time necessarily to volunteer like I used to. I don’t have the money to write checks like I used to, so I can help you with marketing.

You know, I, I told her that the other day it’s like, “I don’t, I can’t fundraise,” you know, “I can’t do that for you, but what I can do is tell you how to deal with social media or help with the website,” or whatever. And so it’s finding things that I can offer that maybe I couldn’t previously. I, I can’t do what I previously did, but now I can offer something else.

Donald Thompson: No, that’s powerful. The last thing I’d like to ask you about Creative Allies, well actually two things, but they’re pretty straightforward. One, how can people get in touch with Creative Allies? And then the second part of that question is why should someone trust Creative Allies with their marketing needs?

Amie Thompson: Mhm. Well, I’ll start with the second one first. Small companies, and I believe you were the person who kind of helped me understand this, when you’re a small business, the business is kind of you. And so when you’re thinking about, “Well, what does my business stand for? What is the brand? It’s really you. Because you’re so small, you may not have a huge reputation, so people are going to look to the leader and say, “Okay, what kind of person is that? What kind of reputation do they have?” And I always pride myself in being honest, I pride myself in being a hard worker. And so one of the reasons that people should trust us is that we’re going to help you with what you need.

And we may not be perfect all the time, and, you know, I will never, I will never try to be perfect all the time. But we are going to help you with what you need. Not necessarily what you want, because I am a big believer in trying to dig into what you really need. I don’t like to “rip people off” for lack of a better word.

Like I’m not in business only to make money. So I really enjoy helping people and seeing, seeing people grow. And so you’re going to have kind of my personality in the company, which is I’m very trustworthy, I’m going to work hard, and we’re going to help you reach your needs.

As far as how can people contact us? You can go to creativeallies.com. Catch us on social media. It’s, @CreativeAllies. And, um, info@creativeallies.com is the email address.

Donald Thompson: Amie Thompson, I have enjoyed speaking with you. Uh, listening to your, your words of wisdom, your experience that you have, uh, gel together into leading a phenomenal company. And the best is yet to come for you all. Thanks for spending time with us.

Amie Thompson: Thank you. I appreciate it.

Donald Thompson:  It was good stuff. So from a brother-sister standpoint, like, what’s the funniest story that you feel comfortable telling? Uh–

Amie Thompson: That you feel comfortable?

Donald Thompson: No. you can, you can. And I’ve got one in mind too.

Amie Thompson: Yeah. You, you will have discretion over whether to use this or not, but I vaguely remember assisting a young lady out the window. That’s all I say.

Donald Thompson: No, you were involved in that?

Amie Thompson: I was.

Donald Thompson: Wait a second. Just so we, were clear on what’s, what state were we in?

Amie Thompson: I don’t know. Maybe Kentucky?

Donald Thompson: It was Kentucky.

Amie Thompson: And I vaguely remember telling our mother, “There’s a spider in my room! Can you come in my room and kill the spider?” So that the young lady had a window to go out the window. Yeah, I think I must’ve been in like, the fifth grade or, I mean, I was pretty young.

Donald Thompson: Oh my God.

Amie Thompson: And so as an adult, I’m like, “How was that an accomplice?” Yeah, I feel as though there are lots of stories of you coercing me into doing something.

Donald Thompson: Um, if I was white, I’d be red in the face. Sometimes complexion is great. Okay. Okay. All right, I’ve got to regroup. All right. So my funny story is, uh, Amie, you used, would never take responsibility for anything.

Amie Thompson: Not sure what he’s talking about.

Donald Thompson: So I would get whooping’s for shit she did. And I, you put this out. Like, cause I’m still working through this 30 years later. So we were living in Connecticut. Now, Amie was real, you were really little, and you had knocked over a flowerpot. And there was dirt everywhere and uh, my parents were like, “Who did this?” And Amie was like, “It must have did it all by itself.” Like that was her line. Right? Like she said, “I don’t know. It must have done it all by itself.”

Then count to ten; one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Pow! I’m getting a whooping. Pow pow! Right? Because my parents thought she was protecting me, not wanting to rat on me, and I get a whooping every time.

Amie Thompson: Yeah, I recall that.

Donald Thompson: And I’ll, I’ll never forget that. So yeah, they’re probably funny, a lot, a lot of funny stories. So that’s, that is, that is one for, for sure. What’s the biggest thing that you admire about me?

Amie Thompson: I would say that you are always, well, you seemed always super confident. You didn’t really seem like you needed to be part of any group or like any crowd. But you just kind of knew what you wanted to do, what you wanted to be, and it wasn’t like, you allowed other things or other people to influence that. And I think that’s a good, that’s a good trait.

Donald Thompson: Yeah. The one I would say about, about Amie, that I still to this day, is if Amie gives you her commitment to do something, it just gets done. Like, I, I literally, like, I can’t, I have to think, like we all make mistakes and different things. Like, but if she says I will be here a certain time, you, you don’t have to look at your watch, you don’t have to know at that time she’s there. If she’s going to deliver on something, and to have that kind of integrity level over a period of decades, is a pretty strong thing that I recognized, that I admire that obviously uh, we’ve worked  together in business that I’ve leveraged uh, to, to grow. But that’s something that I would, that I would share with you that I think is, is pretty powerful. And, um, give me something that you admire about Mom, and give me something you admire about Dad.

Amie Thompson: Well, I think I’ll start with Dad. Well, there are probably two things. One is, he’s funny. I don’t know if that’s admiration, or just, he’s just funny. I mean, he just, the things that he notices and the things that he says are just, it’s just ridiculous.

I think the other part that I would say I admire is, well, similar to what I said about you in the sense of kind of knowing something about himself and not letting other people sway. I know the one thing he would always say to us, “I never drank, you know, I never did drugs.” Like he would say that since we were kids and to this day, I don’t think he’s ever had a drop of alcohol.

And it was just like something., whether it was his dad had told him, I don’t know. But something in him that he just knows how to have a certain commitment and then just stay strong, stay to it. And he was an athlete, but he, you know, that never, I don’t know, he never got swayed or peer pressured or whatever by, by other people. Um, certainly about both of them together is the fact that they had ambition beyond, you know, they grew up in a small town, so they had ambition beyond that. And then provided a life to give us a, a lot of opportunity. Opportunity that they didn’t have. You know? And so that’s something for both of them that whatever it was, maybe one of them inspired the other, I don’t know, but both of them made that choice to go to school somewhere else and then really start a life.

I think it’s important. And then for Mom, she’s funny too. I think humor is just a part of our family, I guess. But I would say the thing that I, probably later in life, when she retired and when she started writing. And when she kind of found her passion, and she found something that she literally would, would do for free just because she loves it so much. And so having that, like finding that, and then having the courage to do it is something really cool. You know, I think that most of us might have something that we would want to do all day, but we wouldn’t necessarily have the courage to actually try it. You know, she actually tried it, she put out books, she did all of that and she just– it’s her passion.

And I think she had that all her life. But at a certain point, when she got a little bit older and retired, she just decided to take that chance. And that’s really cool.

Donald Thompson: Yeah. That’s powerful. I think for me, and I’ll, I’ll do it similar to the way that you did. For both of them, for me, it is that sacrifice–

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: Of growing up in a paper mill town. Bogalusa, Louisiana could have been statistics.

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: And decided to move to Connecticut. Go to school at the University of Connecticut, both of them. And really change our family for generations by that single powerful decision um, that allowed us to be educated different. How, have us different exposures. And so, leaving their family, like they lived in the deep South, this was many, many years ago. And going to a lily-white part of the country —

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: And starting over. That commitment to that journey, I’ll just never forget. I just don’t take it for granted. And it’s one of the reasons that I’ll speak for both of us. I think it’s one of the reasons, innately, we work so hard. Because we just feel like there’s a debt to pay. If somebody put that much into us, the least we can do, right, is figure out how to be successful at some level.

Uh, for my dad, and then I’ll go to my mom, I think it was just no excuses, and win anyway. Um, you know, I remember one of the things that, I was complaining about something, and he said, “Well, the world is not fair because you hope it to be. You got to figure out how to win anyway. So we can either talk about how we’re going to figure out how we get what you want, or stop talking to me about it.”

Now. He said he would help me, but he wasn’t going to help me whine about it. He was going to help me figure it out. And that’s become really a part of me and really any situation is, what things do I have to figure it out? To get what I want? That’s helped me with a lot of things in life and personally, in business. And my mom, and certainly a lot of things uh, for sure.

But one of the things I always remember is she was, always asked the question, “Why?” Anytime I would make a statement, something as simple as, “I like the Dallas Cowboys. They’re my favorite team.” They’re not anymore. Once they fired Tom Landry and just threw him out on the street, I hope they lose forever. Right?

But anyway, “Why do you like the Dallas Cowboys? Is it because you admire Roger Staubach? Is it because you like Tony Dorsett? Is it because–”  So she developed in me, not just something of a blanket statement, but to think. All around the things that you believe. And why do you believe that? And so it taught me that in an environment of business and life, things aren’t always as they seem. So you should really search for that “Why?” and she’s always been, just real thoughtful and inquisitive and that, that hyper-learner. And I always remember her reading a book.

Amie Thompson: Mhm.

Donald Thompson: So those are some of the things that, uh, that I’m super, super thankful. And, you know, Amie and I will be the first to admit, like, we are privileged. We have our challenges, just like anything else. But, we had two parents, have two parents that were in the fight for us and grandparents that were in the fight for us. And our job is to take it to the next level. And, and we’re working to do that. And that’s one of the reasons why we may not be the best at any one thing, and then that’s likely true, but you won’t outwork us.

You can try, but you just won’t outwork us. And we’re, we’re committed to, uh, to not only our personal success, but for those that come behind us because a lot of people did some great stuff for us. So, Amie, thanks for hanging out.

Amie Thompson: Yep.

Donald Thompson: That was good. That was good. That was pretty, that, that’s funny.

Full Episode Transcript

The Donald Thompson Podcast is hosted by Walk West CEO, mentor, investor, and Diversity and Inclusion Consultant Donald Thompson.

Music for this episode provided by Jensen Reed from his song, “You Can’t Stop Me”.

The Donald Thompson Podcast is edited and produced by Earfluence. For more on how to engage your community or build your personal brand through podcasting, visit Earfluence.com.

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