Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild Podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life, in-the-wild stories about business and marketing. 

Julia: Everybody, I am excited to introduce you to Madi Baldwin. There’s so many things I could say, but I’m gonna let Madi introduce herself. So Madi, please tell us about you and a little bit about what you do.

Madi: Well, thank you again so much for having me on the podcast today. I’m really excited. I think it’s gonna be a really, really fun conversation. But I guess just to jump right into it, as you mentioned, I’m Madi Baldwin. And I always tell people I wear a lot of different hats in life right now. So I feel like what encompasses that the best is, I always tell people I’m an entrepreneur, a writer, a traveler, and a community builder as well. So I feel like those are the four things that give the overarching picture of what’s going on. But to get a little bit more into what the nitty gritty, I guess, of what that looks like is, I am the founder and host of the Gen Z Girlies podcast. I’m a co-founder of an early stage startup called Zentrepreneurs. I also am currently working on the partnerships team at Safety Wing, which is a Y Combinator startup. And of course, outside of, I guess work in that sense, I have a poetry book out. I’m working on finishing a novel, and I think I mentioned as we were chatting earlier, but I’m also a digital nomad. So I travel around a lot and get to see a lot of the world that way, which is really exciting. So that’s an overview of that.

But I think what we’re mainly here to talk about today is specifically the Gen Z Girlies podcast, which is a podcast I started to help Gen Z women build lives and careers that they love. And so, we do this by featuring Gen Z, Forbes 30 under 30 guests, Gen Z CEOs & Founders, and other ambitious Gen Z peers for our audience to listen to. And so that’s been a really exciting business to get to build so far, and I’m just really excited to see where that’s going. I hope that that gives a good overview.

Julia: Madi, you have a lot going on. That’s all I’m gonna say. How do you make time for yourself amidst all of that?

Madi: I know, you’re totally right! It’s a very busy schedule. And I think that I’ve found a couple different ways to look at this. And I think honestly, just truthfully, I am very busy. And so I think that there are ways that I find time to make for myself within that, but I do think that also, what I’m doing for work is things that I love doing and things that are my hobbies as well. And so I think that when that is the case, it’s also a little bit different than necessarily just working a different job that maybe I wouldn’t love for the same amount of time. So I think that adds a little bit of a different point of view to that. But I think that one thing that is really important to me is just really being intentional in my friendships and seeing people and scheduling out time to see people. And what that looks I think is a big thing of how I work to balance that a little bit.

And then I think one thing that’s also changed a lot of the way that I look at work too, is everything I do right now is remote, and so I’m able to do that remotely and work on my own schedule. And so that helps me a lot as well, because I’m not necessarily just in the office from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM. I’ll often work in the morning for a little bit, take a break, maybe go see a friend and get some coffee and then come back. And so I think honestly, having that work style and lifestyle has been something that’s just really changed my life a lot. And of course, I didn’t start at that place of having all that remote work opportunity, and that’s come from a lot of work of building to that point. So I think that right now, I’ve found a really great place for where I’m at, but I think that it’s also very important to acknowledge that it wasn’t always that way, and that I’ve had to make steps towards that. So I think though, of course also, it’s a learning process of how to have that work life balance and also a little bit of a hard truth, I think.

I actually had a conversation with someone about this the other day, but in entrepreneurship, you’re gonna have days sometimes where you don’t have that work life balance. And you’re gonna be working crazy long hours and you’re just gonna be exhausted. But then of course, you figure out a way to balance that, and then you’ll have the days that you take off and are really rejuvenating as well.

Julia: I think one of the biggest lies that we’ve been served as entrepreneurs is do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. Because I tell people all the time, I do what I love, but it is still work. And there are still things that I don’t love about what I do. And that’s okay. That’s just part of what work is.

Madi: Definitely. I think I saw this quote the other day that just really resonates with me. I can’t remember who it was, but I think  it was someone on Instagram. I think it was a gymnast, but she was saying that there were days that she just wanted to quit. And as she was growing up, her mom told her, she was like, “Yeah, you can quit. You can stop, but you have to quit on a good day.” She was like, “Don’t quit on the bad days. Get back to that good day. And if you still want to quit on that good day, then do it.” But it helps, I think, to regulate what you’re feeling about your work and what that looks like for sure.

Julia: For sure! I think we can be so easily tricked into like, I have to love this all the time.

Madi: Absolutely.

Julia: We don’t! There’s hard seasons also where it’s okay for it to be hard for a little while too. Don’t let it consume your life. But anyway, back to our conversation, I wanna hear more about the Gen Z Girlies podcast. Why did you start this? What pushed you to do that? Tell me a little bit about that.

Madi: So we launched the Gen Z Girlies podcast this past November, but I started working on it in August. So there was a couple months where I was recording and planning and figuring out what that whole process would look like. But honestly, I always think it’s super interesting too to hear about everyone’s light bulb moments. I think everyone that starts something has that moment. But for me, honestly, it was something that I really wanted to start because it was something that I found that I needed and I wanted.

I remember, I was actually driving to get some coffee, and I was in the car, and you know those days that you don’t really wanna listen to music, but you wanna listen to a podcast. Career is important to me in that world, and those topics are something that I love talking about and diving into. I was driving and I was looking for a podcast that centered on career, but that also centered on people at my same stage in life, and people with similar experience that I had, and I couldn’t find anything. I found lots of podcasts for Gen Z from a millennial perspective, or a Gen X perspective. I think that while those are really important, and it’s important to have perspectives on both sides, is that there was just nothing for my own peers who were going through the stages of building their career and what that looked like. And so I think that was something that I realized that, oh, there’s a need in the market here, and this is something that I want.

And so, I think that was my light bulb moment of there isn’t this, and it’s something that I think would be really hugely beneficial. And even in my own life, I knew so many people that I was so inspired by and so in awe and impressed of. And that’s something I’ve always loved, is I love being able to see the potential in people and the opportunity there, and want to showcase that as well. So it started out by really just leaning into my own community and I’ve started featuring people that were people that just personally I was really inspired by even in my friend group, in my community, and my coworkers, and just started in that path. And then from there, we really started seeing some pretty huge traction of this was something that people really wanted. This was something that was important to get out there. And so after that, I started expanding what our guest base could look like, but also our audience base, and started reaching out to some other people that are Gen Z, and just really hugely accomplished people that they wanted to show.

But I think the special thing though too about the podcast, and I think everything that our guests know and agree on, and it’s the reason they wanna come on too, is that no one on the podcast is special or different. They’re just people who have built something cool, and they want to pull back the curtain and show our audience how to do that as well. So it’s really exciting, and I really love where it’s going. I mean, it’s just fun for me too to have these guests on and get to hear their stories and really lean into the concrete steps on what it takes to build this.

Julia: For sure! I love it. I think Gen Z is doing some really cool things, and so I love that you’re getting to highlight it in a way that is different than, should I as a millennial try to highlight Gen Z? It’s cool when you can speak for your own community or speak with your own community. So I’m curious, you are in the entrepreneurship space, you just got your master’s in entrepreneurship, and you’ve done studies, but then you’re also in it. What are some things that you’ve noticed are different about Gen Z entrepreneurs? And I realize everybody, we’re speaking in generalizations, so nobody get offended. But what are some differences that you’ve started to notice?

Madi: I think that’s a really great question, and I love that question actually as well. I think like you said, I just got my master’s in entrepreneurship, but I was also in Dublin, Ireland, in the entrepreneurship ecosystem out there a little bit. So I gotta see what that looks like on both sides of older generations working in that, and then also some of the newer generation entering, and then also my conversations with people. So it’s been really cool to also get to have that international experience of what Gen Z entrepreneurship looks like internationally as well as nationally. But I think one thing that I’ve really noticed that sets Gen Z entrepreneurs apart, and this encompasses of course, like we were saying, generalizations and other generations as well, but I think that there’s this rise from Gen Z and allowing people to show up for who they are, who they want to be in business. And I think that before this, recently, there’s been this expectation of what does it look like to be an entrepreneur? What does that mean? What are you interested in? What do you look like? What do you dress like? There’s those expectations.

And I think that really, Gen Z is starting to break down the ideals of what an entrepreneur should be, and just allowing people to just be who they are and to show up to work as they are. And I think that’s a really cool thing. I think that authenticity is a huge thing for Gen Z and getting to be themselves and bring that into the workplace as well, I think, is I think a really big shift that’s happening, I think even outside of entrepreneurship. I think we’re seeing it in corporate offices, and that as well. But I think that really, the epicenter is in entrepreneurship as well, and those ideas expand outwards as well. So I think I’d say that that’s probably one thing I would say. I think I would also say that it’s a good thing to mention. And one thing that I’ve even felt a lot on my end is that there’s often this misconception that Gen Z, I think they get labeled as a lazy generation or a little bit entitled or what that looks like. I really do think that is a misconception, and I don’t really think it’s really the case at all. I think that most of the Gen Z I know are some of the hardest working people that I’ve met. I think especially Gen Z entrepreneurs. I think they put in the hours and they put in the work.

Most of the Gen Z entrepreneurs I know work 10, 12 hours days or more, and that’s not just even on one project. I can’t remember the exact statistic, but I think 59% of Gen Zs currently have two side hustles they’re juggling on top of another job. And so I think where the misconception comes in though is that Gen Z has learned really early in life where their priorities lie. I think that Gen Z knows what they want, and they also, in addition to that, they know what they don’t want or what they’re not willing to do. And I think that they’re asking for it as well. And so it makes sense to me in some ways of how that can come off as people feeling a little entitled or feeling like Gen Z doesn’t want to do certain kinds of work, because I think in some ways that that’s true, that they don’t wanna do certain kinds of work because they know what they want to do and they’re asking for it. But I don’t think that it’s a bad thing to ask for what we want or to know what we want, and to push forward for that.

I think that with that change is also a huge thing and can be scary for people. And I think especially when we’re looking at the workplace, and if we’re trying to change what this workplace looks like for people who feel like I’ve put in my dues, why are other people not putting in their dues? I think it’s always good to take a step back at our own thinking and think, okay, what perspectives am I looking at this change from? And is it because I’m feeling like this change is happening so suddenly, and I’m feeling uncomfortable with this? Or is it because I really don’t think that what’s happening is good. And so I think that that’s always a really important way to frame your thoughts around what’s happening.

But I think I would just end with saying that it’s definitely a misconception about Gen Z. I think Gen Z wants to work and they want to work hard. I think that they know what they want. And so I think that’s really where that misconception comes from. 

Julia: I love that! This makes me sound so old, but I’m not that much older than you. But when I was in your spot and millennials were coming up, I feel like millennials were also labeled as lazy. 

Madi: I was younger, but I remember that a little bit. 

Julia: I would tell people, I’d be like, “Well, you guys made us. So the rest of you, all you Gen Xers, Boomers, you fashioned a world in which we grew up.” I also think lazy was a misconception for millennials. If you think about where the world is right now, it makes total sense that Gen Z knows what they want and also knows that it’s accessible. That’s the thing, is we have grown up in a culture where, in the United States especially, the developing world is not like this, but we have this privilege of being able to see what the potential is. So it makes so much sense that we’re like, “Hey, I don’t actually wanna work in a 9 to 5, and that’s okay. We’ve been given that vision, and we just wanna – I say we, I’m not Gen Z, but as an entrepreneur and as a young entrepreneur, we know what’s possible, so why wait?

I think that that’s part of it, is that we’ve been given this vision of what life can look like. And if we’re willing to put the hard work in now, why wait?

Madi: Absolutely. No, I think that’s totally true. And I think just with you saying that people realize too that this is accessible now, that leans into, I think even like the rise of social media getting bigger and bigger, is we suddenly have this huge visibility of what’s possible and how we can do it. I like that you said as well, if we put in the hard work, we can get there, because I think that’s also really important, is realizing that those things are possible. But of course, there’s so much hard work behind it. But I think something else I’ve always said, and a philosophy that I’ve always subscribed to in my own life as well, is there’s this idea of the career ladder and what that looks like, and you climb it one rung at a time. And that has never resonated with me. I was always like, why would I do that? I think I came up this last year actually with my own analogy of what I feel like building my career has looked like. I think it’s actually a much healthier or helpful way of looking at career, is instead of looking at it as a career ladder, look at it as gaining career footholds. And that’s what I’ve loved, is I’ll find a foothold with a job, and then you use that to leverage you up to the next foothold.

And so you don’t have to climb rung by rung but you’re pulling yourself up, you’re jumping up, you’re finding that foothold. It helps you climb, because you can’t, of course, just go from the bottom to the top. That’s not gonna happen. But what does that look like? What does climbing look like when it’s not waiting for someone to tell you you can go to the next rung? It’s making your own path and forging that.

Julia: I love that! As somebody who loves climbing, I’m also bad at it, but I love it, it also means you get to pick your own path. Like a ladder designate, it’s like, these are the parameters that we have to go, whereas climbing, for those of you who are climbers, like yes, you should climb the same color, but you could technically veer off that color. 

Madi: You could, yes! 

Julia: I think that also going back to Gen Z allowing people to show up how they are, that feels very much in alignment with that. I think about it even from, this isn’t entrepreneurial or career-related, but even fashion itself, Gen Z is dictating where fashion is going right now. And this happens with every generation, everybody. So don’t freak out! I see Gen Z at events, and I’m like, they’re all wearing different things that they love, that makes them feel comfortable. And when I was in college as a millennial, it was like, oh, there’s cool stuff to wear and not cool stuff to wear. And maybe there is, and I just don’t know about it, but as somebody looking back at Gen Z, I’m like, they’re all just so comfortable with themselves and with who they are. And that’s something that I think that the rest of the generations could really serve them if they took it seriously.

So again, realizing it’s impossible to speak for all Gen Zers, what are some things that you think businesses should pay attention to if they want to market to Gen Z?

Madi: I think that’s a great question. A couple different answers on that front; I think I mentioned earlier, honestly, authenticity is super, super important. It’s just being able to have the authenticity there between a brand and Gen Z, I think is really important. I think something else that is tied to authenticity, but a little bit different and something that in my own early stage startups, entrepreneurs, is what we’re really working to do too, that I think is really important is I think that hyper personalization, is incredibly important for Gen Z, I think. And those tie together. But really, I think being able to figure out how to scale building personalized experiences is going to really be a make or break for businesses working to figure out the Gen Z market coming up. I think that is a huge thing for Gen Z, is wanting to feel seen, wanting to feel heard, and wanting it to be a personal, authentic relationship.

I think that that can be a little bit difficult. I think when you’re looking, as a business, how do I create all these authentic relationships with all the people I’m working with, that can be a little overwhelming because of course, in some ways, that’s not necessarily plausible. But I think that with tools that are coming up now, I think honestly, AI and algorithms, and what that looks like, I think it’s going to revolutionize a little bit of how we do business, and I think it’s gonna allow us to scale those micro experiences to be experiences for everyone. So I think that those are two things that I would say are really important with reaching out to Gen Z and allowing them to enter into your brand as well. Gen Z doesn’t just want to consume from your brand, they wanna interact with your brand. And I think that’s really, really important.

So I think those are probably the more philosophical things that it’s important to have for Gen Z. I think as well, I would say that it’s true, I think if we’re talking marketing channels, if we’re talking about social media as well, I think that it’s true what they say, video is king. I think we all know that, but I think it’s still a hard transition to make. It’s hard for me as well. I like video, I know that, but it does take extra work. It’s a different kind of skill set than I think what we’ve been used to with Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and what that all looks like. But I think that that really is true, is being able to put that authentic person in front of a camera to encapsulate your brand and allow that, I think is important. I think also within video, short form video is really important. I think that just with attention spans now, and of course, that differs platform to platform, YouTube of course, would be longer. But I think that catching that interest in that short form video content and incorporating that authenticity, those type of personalized experiences, I think that’s gonna be really important with Gen Z.

Julia: For sure. I think that mention of authenticity is extremely crucial. I think about the things that Gen Z grew up through, they grew up through Black Lives Matter and all of the protests around that, all of the murders that happened, also even the pandemic, fake news, things like this that have been cultural things. I agree with you, big brands, it’s hard to be authentic, but I think that more and more, I have seen Gen Z hold big brands accountable for their actions, and I think that is authenticity in itself, being able to say, “Hey, this is where we stand on things, and not picking a side is picking a side.” And I think that even as everybody’s listening, authenticity isn’t just about like, oh, here’s my morning routine, sort of things, or opening the doors to behind the scenes. That’s not just the only way to be authentic. It’s also making statements, picking causes, things like that, that make you more of this personalized brand should you even be a large brand. So I think that’s a really important shift that I’ve seen happen that I love.

So you mentioned social media a little bit, at Stratos, our goal is to help businesses improve their relationship with social. You mentioned video is king, a few other things. What are some other things that you have seen work really well for your social media? If you were to give some tips based on your experience, what might those be?

Madi: I think besides just the video aspect as well, and I think of course, everything needs to be tailored to what your brand is as well. So it’s not something that might work for my brand, might not work for others. But I think that’s also a really interesting concept to look at, is to think outside the box and think creatively on what could fit your brand. Because for instance, just with the Gen Z Girlies podcast, of course, our episodes are all about career, all about forward moving steps on how to build these lives and careers that you love. But really on our Instagram, we are pretty unprofessional, which I think is something we wanted to lean into as well, is that I think you can show up how you want to work. You can be a Gen Z girly and also be someone who is gonna put 110% into your work. I think that’s something we wanted to showcase. But I think one thing we found really, especially on Instagram is just with getting the word out and getting engagement levels and what that looks like, is people are going to engage with the things that they find that they relate with. And I think that’s a really important thing.

So for instance, we have a few different kinds of posts we do, but we usually do, not necessarily a funny post, but a relevant post, a meme post. It is kind of funny, that’s usually related back to Gen Z girlies. And then of course, we do a new episode post. And it is really interesting. Our new episode posts aren’t really going to get that many shares. I think maybe the person who’s on it shares it, maybe a few others who found it really impactful, might share it. But the relatable posts, the funnier ones, those ones are the ones that are going to get a lot of shares, or this is funny, or this is something I related to. I think that’s a really interesting way to spread the word about your brand, is going that other route of this might not be direct marketing, but it’s some kind of indirect marketing. And sometimes that works even better than just being super direct. And so, I think that’s one thing that’s really interesting to look at.

And then, I would also say, a really underutilized channel right now, and this of course, depends on your brand, but LinkedIn is really big for us. I think that people underestimate how many Gen Z are on LinkedIn right now, and I think it is a really huge channel. Especially if you want really quality leads and quality engagement, I think you’re gonna find that really on LinkedIn because I think especially with that being connected already to personal lives, there’s a little bit more engagement, a little bit more being plugged in and connected in with LinkedIn. And so I think that’s honestly one of the best channels that we found really to promote, to get connected with people, even to reach out to people, because I think people answer in different ways on LinkedIn than they’ll answer on Instagram. I think that getting a follow on LinkedIn is gonna have way more impact and way more ROI than getting a follow on Instagram. So I think that leveraging those different, not even metrics, but just the psychology behind those metrics as well, because I think you can look at it, a follow on LinkedIn, a follow on Instagram, they look the same, but I think in reality, they have some very different impact.

Julia: I love that! I wish I could be Gen Z. That’s what I really want. That is what I’m taking away from this podcast, is I wanna give up my millennial name and become Gen Z.

Madi: Well, come join us. We’ll have you!

Julia: That’s the best part about Gen Z, is everybody’s welcome. We’re gonna close out, but before we do, what is your favorite thing about your generation?

Madi: Maybe not just one, but I’ll make it very short.

Julia: Yeah, do what you want!

Madi: I think probably my top four things, but they all feed into each other, I think it’s Gen Z’s resilience. I think honestly, Gen Z not being willing to take no for an answer, I think Gen Z’s creativity, and I think also our open-mindedness. I think when all of those roll in together, I think it’s a really, really cool mix, I think just an interesting way to look at life and to do life differently and to bring that into business. I’m really excited for what the future of work looks like with this change coming up for sure.

Julia: For sure! And it’s interesting how Gen Z had very formative years during the lockdown, and you all are taking it and running with it. Digital nomads existed when I was in college too, but the access and then the remote work that we’ve all experienced, it’s almost like second nature to some people in Gen Z, where it’s not just the cool alternative thing to do, it’s become more and more of like a norm because we can work from everywhere, and it’s something that we learned. Which just shows the creativity, what the future of work will look like. So anyway, Madi, if people want to find you and your podcast where should they go?

Madi: Well, if you wanna get connected with the Gen Z Girlies podcast, we’re on Instagram at @genzgirliespodcast (https://www.instagram.com/genzgirliespodcast/). And then the same on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/gen-z-girlies-podcast?trk=similar-pages). And we also love to hear from people via email, which is genzgirliespodcast@gmail.com. We always take submissions on people to be guests, comments, anything. So I’d love to hear from people on any of those channels. I’d also love to get connected with anyone personally. I think that’s one of my favorite things, is meeting new people and hearing stories and just hearing different paths people have taken. So personally, I’m on LinkedIn at Madi Baldwin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/madibaldwin). But yes, I post a lot of content on there as well. And then my Instagram is @Madi_Baldwin (https://www.instagram.com/madi_baldwin/?hl=en). I’d love anyone to get connected. And if anyone has any questions or anything, I’m always super open.

Julia: I love it! My daughter’s name is also Madi, also spelled M-A-D-I. 

Madi: It’s a good name! 

Julia: She’s one and a half at this point, but when we were trying to figure out names, I was like, I really like M-A-D-I, and my husband was like, “Nobody’s gonna know how to spell that.” And I was like, but let’s really think about it, there’s a billion ways to spell Madi. This is just one of the iterations.

Madi: If it makes you feel better, honestly, people don’t usually spell it too wrong. When I am in Dublin, I get a lot of Marys, I think it’s a little bit of an unusual name, so I get a lot of Marys. But usually, if I spell it once for people, they got it from there.

Julia: I’m curious, what’s your full name? 

Madi: It’s Madeline actually.

Julia: Ours is Madeline too, except we say Madeline, not Madeline. It’s one of my favorite names. So Madi, thank you.

Madi: Well, thank you. I appreciate it.

Julia: Thank you for being on this podcast. We really appreciate it. Everybody, go check out the Gen Z Girlies podcast. Based on what Madi’s told us, I think that if you are Gen Z, it will be an unusually helpful asset to you. But also, if you’re trying to market to Gen Z or want to learn more about it, I can imagine it’s full of really, really helpful things too. And so, Madi, thank you!

Madi: Thank you again, Julia. I really appreciate it. It was a great conversation.

Julia: Friends, thanks for tuning into this week’s podcast episode. I am so glad that you have. If you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have, I just ask you to subscribe so you know each time we have a new episode coming out. If you loved our podcast and wanna give us a rating or a review, I promise, we will read each and every one of them. A special shout out to our friend, Carson Childers, who is producing our podcast. We really appreciate him and all the hard work that he’s done for us. 

Also, thanks to the Stratos team. They have been behind the scenes doing all of the graphic design, brainstorming, et cetera, et cetera. Really, this wouldn’t be possible without them. I’m thankful for each and every one of you guys. 

Lastly, listener, we’ll be back next week, and I hope you will be too.