Interview with Amy Badun

Join me as I have a conversation with Amy Badun, VP of Strategic Planning at Theo (TAXI) in Canada. As she shares her 3 pieces of advice for a strategist, her strategy journey, and what she found most helpful in joining The Planning Dirty Academy.

Perfect. Hi, uh, I’m Julian Cole. Today’s guest is Amy Badun. Who’s VP of strategic planning at taxi in Toronto. So my first question for you, Amy is what are your three pieces of advice for a strategist? Okay. So I actually put some good thought into this because I remember the days I remember thinking, you know, sitting in boardrooms and looking at more senior strategists and just thinking.

How, how do they come up with this stuff? It’s so it’s a wonderfully creative. So, three things that I would recommend to junior planners, even planners across their journey. The first one is such a lived reality for me, which is that creativity is a muscle and you would be amazed the more that you write, the more that you think, the more that you discuss things with interesting people, how far you can come and even six months or a year.

And you’ll look back on some of your old writing and some of your old strategy and think like, well, how did that even get approved? Because you will have improved so much from just writing every day. So creativity is a muscle. Exercise that move it. Think about it. Spend time with other creative people.

It’s going to make your craft a lot better. So that would be my first, my first piece of advice. My second piece of advice would be to write one more draft or to be your own harshest editor. Cause a lot of times when I’m reviewing work, my planners are a step away from something really interesting. And so we ended up writing that last draft together, which is my job.

But when you think you’re done and you think you’re ready, Right. One more draft and you’ll be amazed at how far you can push your inside or how far you can push your single most and make it just a touch. More interesting. And the last one, and this is advice that when I started working for my current boss, Christine Marsh, she gave me this advice early on and I try to look by it every day and teach my planners as well.

Right at human. So it’ll land with a human it’s so easy for some reason to write like a book or a textbook or a client, or, you know, the stuff we learned in school, but it’s. Totally meaningless. If it doesn’t actually sound like you or me or somebody that you would be speaking to. So write it like a human, so it lands like a human.

And if that gets challenging set the brief aside or set the project aside, say it out loud and oftentimes that’s the best draft you’ll get too. So those would be my three pieces. Yeah. Right at human. I love that. I’ve never heard of it for humans. Love it. It’s great advice. I would love to hear your journey of like how you, how you got to where you are today.

Totally. I don’t know if this will be encouraging or discouraging, but I definitely fell into planning. Which is so lucky. So when I started in planning, I starting at accounts, which is pretty typical. I usually tell people there’s, you know, three or four ways into planning, accounts, research, or some type of freelance, maybe you’re a journalist or something.

For me, it was accounts. And I was working at JWT, Toronto at the time. And I was an account coordinator for like a hot two seconds before I was like, Nope. This is definitely not where I’m headed in. Luckily for me at that time, um, the client that I was working on Walmart, Canada had a ton of money earmarked for insights and planning that wasn’t being effectively used at that moment.

And so there were two planning directors who were my first planning bosses, also incredible, incredible woman. Brilliant, helpful, good guides. Just amazing. And so lucky for me, they just picked me from the account group and said, you know, we’d love for you to formally move into this planning group as a junior planner.

And it was great. And I stayed there for four or five years before I, Move to the UK actually, and decided to pursue a master’s degree. I knew I always wanted to either travel and maybe work abroad or study abroad. And so this program fit me really nicely. And so I moved to the UK for a little bit, to study and then came home.

Cause I actually married an English guy here. So we, so I came home. Freelance for a little bit in research. So really kind of combining a lot of what I had started to do in insights back at JWT. And then ultimately I wanted to answer the question that I think we all kind of joke about. It’s like, what are the clients do all day?

What w what do they got going on over there? How can I round out my, my strategic background with more insight into what they do? And so I actually, in a, in a kind of a small world twist of events, I worked for the client. I worked at the client that I’m currently working for now. So yeah, so it’s a big telco in Canada.

And I went there and, and again, I worked in research, so I’ve spent, a lot of time in research now from the qualitative side and the quantitative side, stayed there for a couple of years, but at the end of the day, I really missed the writing part of it. And there’s nothing quite like, you know, getting up.

Weird problem. And, and having to think it out and, you know, learning from other really talented creative people or creative writers, and that just doesn’t come as frequently at large Canadian organizations, we just don’t have the type of in-house strategy that you might find in other parts of the world.

So there was just never going to be enough, writing or that type of critical thinking for me on that side. So a good friend of mine that I’ve worked. At a couple agencies with brought me over to taxi and that was four or five years ago. And so it’s been a bit of a very journey, a little bit heavier research than I thought it would be.

But it’s a great, great, critical thinking too. I know a lot of people come up for accounts, but research is an awesome, awesome starting point for anybody. It’s also amazing you going from, cause I’ve heard the working at the agency and then jumping client side, but I’ve. It’s rare to hear client side and then jumping agency.

So totally, totally. So it’s a bit of a back and forth. I agree when I left client side. Cause you’re all, you know, we joke again. It’s not necessarily true, but that’s the beacon role working to get to the other side. So when I decided to go back agency side, there was a ton of people who were like, you’re crazy.

What are you doing? But you just can’t get the kind of writing and thinking client side that I want to do. Yep. Sure. So you’ve been a member of the planning 30 academy for a while now I’d be interested to hear what’s your one piece of benefit that you’ve got from it or practical advice. Totally. So this one kind of this, my answer for this one, straddles, I would say, the first question that you asked me in terms of tips and tricks for being a planner, and then equally what I get out of the planning, dirty community and.

I think this is probably, I tried to avoid giving this answer because I think every planner says it, but, you know, remain curious and read. And one of the things when planners tell you to read that they maybe don’t say explicitly, but read about your craft. There are so many, tips and tools available that help you be a better planner.

And the thing for me that I find exceptional about, Planning Dirty. Is the tools. It’s the best starting point that you can get. It’s not an answer, but it is a tool in your toolkit. And when you are faced with a problem that you just don’t know where to start with, you have a tool you’re never sat looking at the screen, you know, with the dreaded little cursor, like what do I write?

You have a solid starting place, right? They’re to the point. They’re easy to understand. You can talk about them with, with colleagues, but read about your craft. It doesn’t, you don’t have to be sitting there as a junior planner, which I often remember being like, how did they think I’m going to get to this answer?

This is crazy there. It’s just that great starting point. So that when you think you can’t come up with the idea, there’s a prompt to get you going that combined with the practical application. So even if there’s ever a doubt, which is like, oh, maybe once in a million or I could never do that. You can see how it comes to life and, and it’s, and it’s that transition from God.

I don’t know where to start to like, oh, I got this. There’s something to go off of. So read about your craft, use the tools they’re they’re quick are free. They’re easy to digest. And it, it really, It just helps make problems more digestible and fun instead of intimidating. Excellent. Thank you so much, Amy, for having a chat.

No problem. Thanks for having me.


Sign up to my fortnightly Strategy Finishing School Newsletter. I share tools, resources and brain bombs for your strategy comms for planners.