15 Questions on Leadership & Mentorship with Erin Amadeo, VP of Marketing at Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux

15 Questions on Leadership & Mentorship with Erin Amadeo, VP of Marketing at Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux

Name: Erin Amadeo

Brand: Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux

Title: Vice President of Marketing

Age: 38

Years in franchising: 6

No. of units system-wide: 60 

What do you wish you had known before taking your first management role? I wish I would have known in advance that it is okay to make mistakes – and trust me, lots of them have been made over the years! A person who makes no mistakes lacks life experience.

Which leadership skills were most difficult to develop? Listening has been an acquired leadership skill for me. I’ve learned over the years that listening first, and to the entirety of a story, helps me mentor much more effectively. I find that offering my team the opportunity to speak first has strengthened their trust in me as someone to confide in as a leader.

Who helped you on the way to the top? This is tough to narrow in on because I feel as though I’ve had mentors in every step of my life: personally (my mom, dad, and grandfather), athletically (college coaches), and professionally (through executive leadership at Walk-On’s).

What was the best advice you ever got? You have to invest in the root to get the fruit. Always remember that the amount of fruit we produce is just an outcome and measurement of how well we are nurturing our roots.

Is that different than the advice you give? Actually, no. Although in the marketing world we have a fiduciary duty to get a positive ROI, I constantly encourage my team to focus on the pieces that build for long-term results. Those who are relationship-focused always yield the most lasting results.

How do you mentor, and what advice do you give those you mentor? My first question when I mentor is to ask what their goals are, both personally and professionally. This helps frame the approach I take when mentoring. If they aren’t sure, then we break it down until they are able to pinpoint focused areas. I believe that it’s always important to work toward the mentee’s goals so they are able to stay motivated.

What skill sets do you think are imperative for young women leaders? Inner fortitude is #1 every single time. Finding the strength to face adversity head-on with a level head instead of emotion is critical.

What are your leadership do’s and don’ts? Do’s: Take risks. Show interest in employees’ lives. Motivate and delegate. Create the right work/life balance. Don’ts: Have a one-size-fits-all leadership style. Create barriers for your team. Put yourself on a pedestal; be a servant leader instead. Focus on mistakes; turn them into life lessons.

How did you learn to embrace risk-taking? Covid made taking risks a lot easier because we had to make new decisions if we wanted our business to survive. Fortunately, the size of our brand allows for calculated risk-taking, so we are able to be nimble as needed.

How should aspiring female leaders build allies? In a very much male-dominated industry, it’s important for women to be assertive, work together, and master the art of reading a room. Active listening (listening to understand, not respond) is equally important.

How do aspiring female leaders balance patience and perseverance? I love this question because it allows me to reference my grandfather! The phrase “patience and perseverance” is the exact reason for his mention above. I heard these words from him every day growing up. These are both qualities very much linked together, yet different. Patience means endurance, and perseverance means determination. Another term that we use internally that combines both of these qualities is “grit.”

What roles do education and experience play in leadership development? Education lays the foundation. The macro knowledge and experience teach you the lessons you need to develop as a leader.

Was there a time when things didn’t turn out as planned? How did you bounce back? Rarely does anything I do professionally turn out exactly as planned. Rolling with the punches and optimizing as you go is what produces great results. It doesn’t mean there isn’t focus. On the contrary, optimizing means you are focused enough to adjust as needed to get the best result.

What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned, and how has it proven invaluable? Just go for it, even if you are the underdog. There is no stronger mindset than that of an underdog. You must have the willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done, the grit, the hustle. These are qualities that great entrepreneurs, athletes, and other bright minds possess.

Why is it so important to give back to the next generation of leaders? The next generation of leaders are the future. It is quite literally our responsibility as mentors to make sure they are equipped to take charge and create change within their communities.

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