“All of this is so interconnected in terms of what we value, whether it be career, profession, family…and then having to work in these environments that weren’t necessarily built for an individual that truly wants to make sure that family does come first. The big question is: How will we see this change as we’re getting out of this situation that we were in last year?” — Argelia Martinez
We’re lucky to have inclusive marketing champion and Adweek Executive Mentee Argelia Martinez join us for a conversation about the challenges and opportunities for underrepresented emerging leaders. Argelia also shares her own stories as a Latina who continues to rise through the ranks – but still feels the pressure to perform in an environment that wasn’t necessarily built for women or BIPOC professionals. You don’t want to miss her advice for these emerging leaders, their organizations, and DEI champions who truly want to engage this critical talent pool on their own terms.
Transformational Moments in this Episode:
- How Argelia’s experience as an Adweek Executive Mentee supported her and other underrepresented marketers during a time of chaos.
- The pressures many women – and especially Latinas – face when choosing between work and family
- Why marketing and advertising agencies need to re-think their metrics
- What organizations can do to ensure that women can stay in the workfroce
Hear the Full Episode On:
About Argelia Martinez
Born and raised in Chicago, Argelia Martinez is dedicated to creating positive spaces for Latinx culture to thrive. By day, she is Managing Director at Hauswirth/Co, a strategic marketing firm. By night, she is the Frida Kahlo of mixology — Argelia founded Vida Mia Cocktails, a food-and-beverage cocktail experience company, in 2018. Vida Mia elevates Mexican American culture and celebrates its diverse culinary traditions through mixology classes about the sacred agave, customizing cocktail kits, and curated beverage pairings.
What I’ve Learned: Three Action Steps to Help BIPOC Leaders Thrive
Argelia’s career path
Oana Amaria: Thank you so much, Argelia, for joining us. We have really just enjoyed following you this week, as you did our takeovers, and all the discussions, and dialogue. I’d love for you to just take a moment to share a little bit about yourself, your path to executive leadership, just to do an introduction to our audience and our listeners.
Argelia Martinez: Thank you so much for having me. I was thrilled to do the takeover, and have the opportunity to meet you both. My name Argelia Martinez, and I do rep Chicago hard. So I am a Chicago born and raised, made in Chicago, daughter of an immigrant, and my parents arrived in the seventies. So I’m very proud of both worlds.
Argelia Martinez: My professional title is managing director at a marketing firm called Hauswirth & Co. And I say that is my day job, and I enjoy it. But my passion is talking about all things, Mexican American, and I’ve done that through my night job, I guess. But it’s more of an evening one through my company called Vida Mia Cocktails. So I founded it in 2018, with the premise of having beverages and food. Be a platform to elevate the way that we talk about our history; about our Mexican culture. And it’s very easy to do that through food.
So those are the two things that I’m really passionate about. But my path to executive leadership really, I look young, but I’ve had 15 years of experience. And I like to say that I grew up in a large agency, giving eight years of my time at a large agency at Publicis actually. And that was actually a really great opportunity because I frankly was privileged to work in a multi-cultural entity of it, the last four years.
And it was women-led at the executive level. So I was able to see… They’re at a large company…. how women ran the show. I was also happy to see a five-foot-two Black CEO at Starcom by the name of Renetta McCann, when I was a junior associate. So talk about role models.
From there, I also decided to go back to school part-time, and I think that’s an important element to share about my journey as an executive leadership. Because when I went back to school, it was in 2010, and it really just being first-generation professional college graduate, just my network; my people that I like, basically met in grad school was important.
I think it helped with just confidence and being able to take back the work to the professional setting that I was in, because of that experience in grad school. Not everyone needs to do that being 2020, but it was important for me to do in 2010. It definitely opened more doors after I graduated.
Becoming an Adweek Executive Mentee
Jason Rebello: Mentorship and social capital play such a huge role in being able to find yourself in spaces where you can really create impact. And you had an experience with Adweek. As an Adweek executive mentee, I would love for you to tell us a little bit about your experience, how that came about, and what was that like for you?
Argelia Martinez: Adweek as a publishing group, has made an investment in creating programs that mentor, honestly, just anyone that is in a level of middle management to moving up, and creating a program that also tries to recruit more people of color. What was so important about that it was that, it was during the pandemic. So I had to enroll in it, and part of the application process was picking three options of mentors that would be paired with you. And they were all either at the CMO level, or at the very C-suite.
And so I had a listing of about… God, it was like 100 CMOs or C-suite people, that I was able in my application process, talk about why the program was going to be beneficial and why I wanted to be paired with so-and-so. It couldn’t have come at a perfect time because Adweek’s initiative was in its second year.
So the first year was done was prior to the pandemic. And as you can imagine, in May of last year, there were so many of us that were just trying to deal with our day-to-day, and not knowing what was going to happen next. So the Adweek Executive Mentorship Program did a very good job at attracting about 200 mentees and pairing us with a mentor.
And in the moment, because of the pressure of just the outside world and in our professional setting, not knowing just the ambiguity, is actually a really good way to gain multiple perspectives from the mentees that were a part of it. At that moment when we were locked in, it was like everyone was so thirsty. And I say, thirsty to connect. That mentee program took a life of its own, where there were Slack channels open, there was WhatsApp’s, there was LinkedIn groups.
It really served as an outlet for us to share what was going on in our world, and also ask for help. So not only did we have the camaraderie of the mentee group, but then we had the connection of the mentor itself. And so, the experience is one that I would recommend for anyone that’s listening here, that is a marketer either at a client’s side, at an agency.
If you are looking to expand your journey to the executive leadership position, it was a very good program for exposure. Some of us also got to write articles for Adweek. So it was just a really good badge of honor, as well. To be able to see your name in an Adweek reference. So at the moment in May, it was just such a good experience to get more people to align with in a time of chaos.
Jason Rebello: I love that, I love that. More people to align with in a time of chaos.
Argelia Martinez: It sounds like a book title, doesn’t it?
Jason Rebello: Yeah, yeah. It does.
What women must do to fight for their seat at the table
Oana Amaria: That’s absolutely going to be one of our quotes for this podcast. We shared at the start of this, that you were very generous to be a part of the takeover, and you shared a ton of insights and data, which is very much how we roll as well. We talk about a lot of the experiences and a lot of the different statistics.
And what you shared was around Latinas, or Latinos, or the Latinx community, and BIPOC representation in leadership. And so, I’d love for you to share a little bit more about that. And then this is a two-part question. The second part is really, what have you found to be most challenging as a part of your work in the marketing industry? So I’d love for you to share a little bit about your experience.
Argelia Martinez: Before I talk about that, I actually wanted to pause and ask if there was any data that you had an aha moment, being in the DEI space and talking to professionals? Is there any data that I showed or a moment of reactions from people who were engaging with the content where it was like, “An aha moment,” for you?
Oana Amaria: That data was not new to me, but what I loved was, I think it was the seventh post around at all costs and this conversation around, at all costs for your career, and having to pick career over family. And that’s just not something that culturally works in many cultures, let alone the Latino community. So I thought it was very powerful, especially one of the comments talked about how it takes a lot of courage to choose family, and how we don’t actually really give the credit it deserves.
And it’s very counter-culture, especially here in the U.S. And how incredibly powerful that is. It gets at the heart, we talk about the cost of code-switching in our programming, where it’s like the cost of, I have to walk into the archetypical white male of whatever industry, which is not the case.
It’s not how we live our experiences. So I thought that was really… There’s a lot of chatter and people talking about, “How do I get a mentor?” And I’m stuck where I’m feeling like, “How do I get there?” So I thought that was really powerful discussions.
Argelia Martinez: Thanks for talking about that. Because I think at the core of my identity, and I would speak to maybe even many of my colleagues who are Latinas. Family is such at the core of being your base of just who you are and why you’re doing the things that you’re doing. So I’m glad that you brought up that point, and we actually talked about this too earlier too. About the status quo in the corporate environment or the large workforce that was not really built for people of color. Just from the origins of where the workforce comes from.
So there is a set stereotype of who is that CEO and what that person should look like. Definitely, you don’t think of a five, two woman of color. And so when I was writing the content, it was inspired around it. I basically thought of it in terms of my own shoes, and how can I make this journey relatable to other women that look like me, or at least are women of color that aspire to be there, but we don’t see enough of us in those roles.
So then what are we looking for? Who is the role model at the end of the day? And I think what I love about this community that we’re reaching is that thankfully we are seeing more of us and we are shaping our own path. I think this topic of family is extremely important to continue to talk about and normalize, because COVID has forced us to take a second look of what values are prioritized. Prior to COVID, I would say this, give it your all mentality and being all in or having to choose.
I think it was definitely something that we were forced to choose as we were all at home. I think hopefully, companies are more mindful of truly being and building policies that allow people to spend time with their family, or not having the hard option of choosing one or the other. But as we can tell with the data, and then I quoted a McKinsey report that showed how COVID did impact women of color. Where we are seeing a lot more women leave the workforce.
Because if they were to choose between their salary and that of their husbands or male figure or partners, that makes a difference and boils down to pay gap. So all of this is so interconnected, in terms of just what we value. Whether it be career, profession, and family, and then having to work in these environments that weren’t necessarily built for an individual that truly wants to make sure that family does come first.
I guess a big question is, how will we see this change as we’re getting out of this situation that we were in last year, will we see more of a hybrid workforce? How will that impact the numbers of women who are trying to move up and be able to stay?
One of the most important parts that I wanted to come across in the content that I published, was that it’s critical. It’s so critical that we combine our efforts to try and have women fight for what they want, and creating something of a hybrid option rather than completely leaving. And it’s such a complex situation to even talk about. Because on the other side of the coin, we’re also seeing the number of small businesses that grow, that are led by Latinas, because they aren’t able to find what they need in a large corporation. There’s other sides of the coin where you see one hand go up, but the other one goes down, in where people are moving towards and creating their virtual stores at home.
So there’s just this ease of numbers to help build a story. For not seeing it at the executive level and the large corporations are we seeing more women use Squarespace, and just trying to sell things from their own home while they’re watching their kids. So it’s such a fascinating complex question when we read the numbers and where are they shaping up to be, as we end the year.
Oana Amaria: Or Etsy. You think of all these other communities and platforms where people can really thrive. So, I really love that. Thank you.
Argelia Martinez: I love incorporating that into the conversation of not seeing enough executive leaders, because then we’re seeing more growth at Etsy, we’re seeing more growth platforms. That people are frankly just using Instagram, to purchase and do commerce. I love rounding out that combo, as people choose what’s going on.
Challenges in the agency world
Just the second question that you mentioned about the most challenging part working specifically in marketing, in the agency, in the industry, in the firm. Especially in an industry that’s not known for being diverse, and not known for having as many… I think there’s a drop-off in middle management when it comes to an agency, where you don’t see people elevate because there’s a drop-off at one point. So I personally think that… And I had this experience from just being in one place for eight years of the large agency, and then getting the call and being recruited at a large CPG company that was basically clients side.
So there is a cliff that happens. And I believe personally, just from my own experience for any marketers that are listening in a middle management seat, is that it comes to two things. It comes back to time and money, which is an agency’s resource, their resource are the people.
And then, how you spend your money and how you’re billing clients. And I think that cliff happens in middle management, because they’re not seeing that they’re getting the return based on the time that they’re spending. Putting together campaigns, the brain power that’s required.
And at that point, if you don’t see yourself moving quickly enough, and you’re a person of color, that you don’t see that director level, that C-suite that looks like you, then you have to make a choice and say, “Do I fit the bill the director that they’re promoting, is that my trajectory and how long will it take me?” But if the phone rings and you start to make more money by dumping agencies, and you see there being some again, money involved, then I think a lot of people jump until they make it. Or completely leave the marketing agency life, because they start families. And there’s no way that you’re going to work these hours with the salary that you’re getting. So you start going to the sales side, you start looking for the ideal client job.
Those are some of the two things you can point to, is time and money. And what does that mean as you’re now changing your lifestyle? Because what I think agencies do really well, is attracting fresh out of college people, in their twenties, wining and dining you in that Chicago restaurant by the river, boat cruises by the salespeople. And that life only lasts until so long, until you want to actually settle down.
Oana Amaria: I think you also touched on something really important is that, in industries and we see this a lot in tech, people tend to recycle the same people. So you’re going from there to there, to there, to there. So it actually becomes quite… I don’t know what I would use as a descriptor here.
But it’s the same folks it’s like you’re not getting in new blood. Because it’s a lot of, “I know so-and-so from that agency, or I work with so-and-so on that project. They’re really good.” So it becomes very self-selected. And it doesn’t get at the heart of the pipeline that exists, but we’re not helping people stay. We’re not retaining, we’re just burning through. Because that is the business model or the system. The ecosystem that has been created in that industry. And it’s really interesting, because the people are just stealing from other companies, but they’re not figuring out, “How do I actually build trust?”
For example, you talked about relationships and ideas, that requires time. So are we weighing the wrong values, are we met our metrics, may be off for what it takes to get there. To not do mass marketing, but to do segmented really hyper-focused nuanced ads. And not have big fails because somebody overlooked something due to their own biases. It’s super fascinating to hear that. Thank you.
Argelia Martinez: Just to pause on something that you just mentioned around people jumping and being the same type of, maybe like profile, of who is moving around in the industry, that is predominantly white. Until you do something intentional like the,ANA is doing (the National Advertising Association). Nurturing talent that is of people of color, that’s when you truly start to coalesce and bring a collective group of people that are underrepresented in their local cities.
But then when you’re able to do something like add color where you’re bringing these underrepresented groups from Chicago, LA, Miami, Texas, Dallas, that’s where the true power comes in numbers. Where you’re able to make a dent in how these pipelines have been built. But to your point, it needs to be intentional programs, where you’re not mass marketing.
You’re catering to the needs of the underrepresented group on a local level, and you’re trying to make a change in recruitment, to see more people on the marketing and agency side that are building plans. Because they are the people that you want to reach as well. And then you start to see the chain reaction in the work that’s being produced.
Oana Amaria: It’s also the fact that, your sales people have to understand the value proposition of marketing to those communities. So that you can get the full picture of those brilliant minds.
Start each day by working for yourself
Jason Rebello: Argelia, you mentioned earlier how COVID really forced people to re-examine values and things they want to place an emphasis on. And you also, in one of your posts to our website, talked about action steps for BIPOC leaders, if they want to thrive. And one of them was around, this concept of taking time for yourself and starting each day by working for yourself.
And I think that, I’ve heard more and more people align with this type of mindset as a result of their 400 plus days in quarantine. I want to ask, how have you been able to integrate that concept into your own life, and where was the genesis for that for you? This idea of, and part of being able to thrive in our careers and our workplace, starts with being able to take care of ourselves.
Argelia Martinez: The model that I like to use is, start the day working for yourself. And when my friend told me that, it changed my mindset in the frame of mind of, I was at a moment, this was before COVID, where I literally was waking up and I needed to write that email, or I needed to read that article.
Where I was waking up thinking of my to-do list and less about myself. And when I was in the mindset of, again, just starting the day working for yourself, in my mind, it was more around the idea of, let’s just do something good for you, that serves you, that will re-energize you, and that will be dedicated solely to you.
No strings attached. What does that look like? And I think that when I posted that, my hope was that everyone would have a different interpretation of what that means. Because at the end of the day, again, it’s something that serves you. And for me, it was the ability to wake up, take a walk, breathe in something healthy in the words of meditation, prayer.
But something that served me before I started to work for someone else. And I think that became so much more important in COVID, as we were putting in so many hours at home. I hope that’s something that we take with us if we’re back in the offices, of just starting the day doing something good for yourself.
Jason Rebello: It was so impactful for me, myself and my wife. We realized how much healthier we got both from a spiritual and a mental standpoint, from having the time to take that time in the morning and not just racing off to whatever office building we were at, prior to COVID.
That we really set out to intentionally redesign our lives, to make sure that we could do that moving forward, because it was such a different. I say that to say, I totally agree. My hope for many people is to be able to find a way to do that for yourself moving forward.
Argelia Martinez: And Jason, let me ask you. Now that you’ve incorporated that more and your wife, it’s almost like a magnetic thing that you can tell when people have actually prioritized themselves. Your demeanor changes, your energy changes. You’re calm, because there’s something very grounding about taking that moment, either for yourself or as a couple. Where I think you can actually tell, who takes that to heart when you interact with people.
Jason Rebello: A hundred percent. I totally agree.
I’ll only add one more thing. My mom told me that, you have to fill your cup before you can give water to someone else.
Jason Rebello: So true. One of my colleagues mentioned that same thing. Especially given the work that we’re doing, which is helping people transform in this very… Oftentimes is a tenuous area of their lives, which is around their work, and careers, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and all the triggers, and all the stuff that comes up from that.
And beyond being able to facilitate hours and hours of conversations around this topic, it’s so important. It’s important for everybody, but it was a very important reminder. I think for me, I’ll speak for myself too. Oh my gosh! We have to be able to take care of ourselves. We have to be able to give from a place of being full ourselves and not constantly running on empty.
Oana Amaria: I’ll share one tip that I added. This is like a month in. It’s so small and silly, but I don’t check my phone anymore before. So I forced myself to do water before coffee, which is a thing. And now I’m not allowed to check email until I go to my desk. So I’m not going to drink my coffee on my couch, and read my email, which is my addiction.
I’ll drink my water, take my vitamin. Because that’s a new thing I’m trying. And then really be present to your point to fill my cup to then, even if it’s 15 minutes, it makes a world of difference. And Jason and I practice Buddhism. So chanting is a big thing for us. But for me it’s, before I even champ. It’s just like, “Drink water.” Because the rest of the day I’m guzzling coffees. So that really resonates.
Argelia Martinez: I want to take that with the water before coffee. I want to leave you with one more thing I just learned this June. Have you heard of moon water? So basically when there is a full moon, you leave your mason jar with water, and you pour your intentions that you want for that full moon. You leave it outside the window. And now in the morning, you then get to tangibly drink your intentions. I thought that was beautiful.
Oana Amaria: It makes me think of that documentary, Jason. A long time ago, where you put the words on your water-
Jason Rebello: Oh yeah.
Oana Amaria: The molecules.
Jason Rebello: “What the Bleep Do We Know?”
Oana Amaria: What the Bleep… That’s it. I love that. Argelia, what is something that you are really excited about right now?
Argelia Martinez: I mentioned this and I’ll probably say, I’m 40 years old. Yes. I know I don’t look like it! Something that I’m proud of is that, we got to experience this mundial, this world of awakening last year, how difficult it was for everyone involved. But the fact is that we did it in a world where we’re connected through technology. And there was this huge awakening in so many perspectives. Probably in the most unfathomable way that we could have ever even ever imagined. And what I’m proud and excited to show is that, our world has been elevated right from the work that you’re doing in the DEI space, from being a person that isn’t the standard status quo, as Jason had mentioned before.
There is something about us being able to continue the reckoning through our work, that I’m proud of. And to be able to be valued, because I had this lived experience and we wanted as a collective group, make society better. So as hard as it was, I think it’s just the path forward and being able to have people pay attention.
Oana Amaria: And honestly, I don’t know if I ever want to go back to the other way. I don’t want to go back to check the box, DEI. Or I don’t want to go back to not being brave enough to say things that need to be said. And I think that’s maybe what this collective empowerment has been about. The courage to speak truth, and the courage to speak up, and the courage to say this isn’t working anymore. Now which I think is really huge.
Argelia Martinez: I think something that we’re all working on is, how to speak up effectively?
Oana Amaria: For sure.
Argelia Martinez: Because every scenario and environment is so different. It’s really hard to be prescriptive about it, but to ask is such a great step.
Argelia’s advice for DEI Champions
Jason Rebello: Love that. Argelia, first of all, again, we want to thank you for being here with us. One of the things we like to conclude with all of our guests is, asking if there is a question or request you have for us, or for inclusion champions like us? Especially those that are struggling to engage and nurture BIPOC talent maybe, or anything. But this is an opportunity for you to make your ask of us and the community that we’re connected to.
Argelia Martinez: I love that you ended on that note. And I’m definitely a lifelong learner, and I think the question I would ask for you in this space is, as we’re walking into 2021 and closing the year, what is something that you’re very optimistic about that has changed from last year?
Jason Rebello: Oh wow!
Argelia Martinez: I would love your perspective.
Jason Rebello: One of the beautiful things is that, we ground our work on the idea of transformation. When you start from that framework, you realize that there is a process, there’s a path. Part of that path is this really difficult, painful type of moments, along that transformation. So that when you see that happening, which is what I feel like a lot of us have experienced over the last year and a half.
And to be quite honest, I think we’re still in that space and we’re not out of it yet. To not be discouraged by the fact that we’re still in this, or things aren’t changing or progressing as fast as we might want them to. But to realize that, this is a part of that journey and these things have to happen, these things have to come to light.
What I’m encouraged by is, the more and more people that start to understand that, we’ll be more and more hopeful to continue the work. Continue their own growth work and help other people do the same. I think when we live in an age of this expectation of things happening in this hyper second type of mentality, and the moment things don’t change right away, we throw up our hands and get distracted by the next thing. What I feel like for many of us or for enough people, or hopefully enough people, 2020 was to your point, a moment of awakening, a moment of grounding, a moment of learning about patience. And we’re going to need all of those things as we continue to navigate from the bottom of the U, as we like to say.
That is the toughest part of this transformation journey, and eventually start to see ourselves make that a sense, but don’t be discouraged by the challenging typical moments. Because that’s part of transformation. We have to go through that in order to transform. That’s what I would say. That’s what makes me hopeful.
Oana Amaria: That’s beautifully said, I couldn’t have said it better. So thank you, Jason.
Argelia Martinez: Kudos. I was just going to say, that was so eloquently said. As you said, these things need to happen. We can’t speed our way through change.
Jason Rebello: Thank you.
Argelia Martinez: I’m so glad I asked that question. That was a great way to end it.
Oana Amaria: Thank you for coming on. We appreciate you.