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Amy Balliett made a name for herself as the CEO and Founder of the creative content agency, Killer Visual Strategies (formerly Killer Infographics). A seasoned entrepreneur, she owned her first company—a candy store and ice cream parlor—at the age of 17 before heading off for college. She subsequently built a successful career in film and marketing before launching Killer in 2010.
Within a few years, Killer Visual Strategies grew to become the industry leader in visual communication, driving visual strategy and creative content campaigns for global brands including Microsoft, Boeing, Adobe, Nikon, Starbucks, the National Endowment for the Arts, the United Nations, and more. By 2018, Balliett and her executive team sold Killer to an agency collaborative and subsequently joined fellow agency leaders in building Material.
Named the Number One Global Strategic Consulting Firm by GRIT in 2021, Material combines the talent of 12 leading agencies, consisting of 1200+ global employees across the practices of research, strategy, design, and brand building.
Today, Balliett is the Senior Fellow of Visual Strategy for Material, serves as the Chief Visual Strategist on several boards, and is an award winning author. Considered an expert in her field, Balliett speaks at dozens of conferences each year including SXSW, Adobe MAX, Content Marketing World, and more. She is also a regular teacher at The School of Visual Concepts, a guest lecturer at several colleges and universities, and a LinkedIn Learning instructor.
We talked about the following and other items
Starting a business at 17
Wanting to be a Director in the Film Industry
Writing her book
Amy’s Social Media
Amy’s Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amyballiett/
I have two pieces of advice. First, the word entrepreneur is used so loosely, that very few people actually understand what it takes to be a founder. I would almost rather use the word founder over entrepreneur.
The thing is you're not an entrepreneur, when you just have ideas, but you have no way to execute those ideas. I can't stand those types of entrepreneurs, where they think that their idea is so brilliant that people will come work for free and build their idea for them.
But then they'll reap all the benefits. That's BS to me. If you have an idea, and you learn how to execute that idea yourself, that's a lot more entrepreneurial. So I guess my first piece of advice is know what an entrepreneur really is, an entrepreneur, in my opinion, is a founder, a person who is the last person to take money out of the company, only after everybody else gets paid, and you've secured everybody else's job and livelihood.
An entrepreneur is somebody who risks everything for potential reward in the distant future, not the near future. An entrepreneur is somebody who empowers other people to grow and build their families. and move up in their careers.
So if you want to be an entrepreneur, you need to understand that that's an 80 hour a week job. It's not a 40 hour a week job, it's definitely not less than 40 hours a week. You're not gonna get rich quick. If you want to be an entrepreneur, the best entrepreneurs, in my opinion, are the ones who know how to perform every single role in their business, and have spent at least a month at minimum performing that role before hiring for that role.
My preference would be you're spending six months performing that role before you hire for that role. That's what you need to do if you want to bootstrap and create a successful company where your employees respect you and want to work for you.
Killer Visual Strategies: Engage Any Audience, Improve Comprehension, and Get Amazing Results Using Visual Communication with forward by Guy Kawasaki