AMA Voices Episode 1: Liz Ruf, AMA Triangle, President


Podcast Episode Transcript

Rob (00:01):
AMA voices captures conversations about marketing, diversity and more impacting our community in the Triangle. I’m Rob Ainbinder VP of external communications for AMA Triangle and your host. And this is the first episode of our new show today. We welcome Liz Ruf chapter president. Welcome Liz.

Liz (00:21):
Thanks Rob. It is a long time coming, but I’m so glad that we’re here. <Laugh>

Rob (00:25):
Yeah, I’m really glad to get this underway for the chapter, we’ve got lots of interesting conversations planned.

Liz (00:32):

Rob (00:32):
So sadly, you’re moving on next year.

Liz (00:36):
I am, I am. But you know what? We’ve got a great team in place that is gonna roll over and I have every faith in Hank Hoffmier, my president elect who will be taking over in July. For those of you who don’t know, AMA Triangle is a 100% volunteer run nonprofit organization here in Raleigh Durham, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, Burlington area, and our board cycles over every year and it cycles over on July one. So my time as president is coming to a close, but I know great year so far.

Rob (01:11):
Yeah. So we’ll just roll into a few questions. How did you find the AMA to begin with?

Liz (01:18):
Oh my gosh. This was years ago, Rob. So, a past president and national volunteer of the year named Evan Carroll is a friend of mine from college. I moved back to the area and he said, “hey, I’ve got this great group of crazy marketers”. And he invited me to be his guest at one of what we called back then, luncheons. But now we call them our signature speaker series events and I drank the Kool-Aid. I was caught hook line and sinker. I love the community. I love the people I met and immediately got involved as a volunteer.

Rob (01:59):
What do you like best about our chapter?

Liz (02:06):
Everything. Can I answer? Can I say everything?

Rob (02:10):
If you had to pick one thing about our chapter, what do you like about it?

Liz (02:14):
See, there’s not just one thing. If I boiled it down, I would say community … AMA Triangle has been one of the greatest blessings of my life.It has brought me so many of my closest and dearest friends. It has brought me my partner. It has brought me leadership experience that I never would’ve gotten at such a young age and everything, I mean just everything <laugh>

Rob (02:46):
I’m just coming to understand that about, about this opportunity and it’s, it’s really wonderful to experience with such a great, all volunteer board and such a wonderful mission. What advice do you have for anyone in chapter leadership?

Liz (03:08):
Don’t try to do it all. You know, we as leaders and, and I certainly fall victim to this of like, okay, it’s easier if I just do it myself. And that is not what servant leadership is about. Yes. Servant leadership is about rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty alongside your, your colleagues your fellow volunteers, but it’s about trust. It’s about making sure that everyone has that shared vision and, and really working together to make that come to fruition.

Rob (03:47):
Okay. So now onto something, a little different kittens.

Liz (03:52):
Oh yeah.

Rob (03:53):
Tell them, tell us about them and you,

Liz (03:56):
Oh my gosh. So I am certified cat lady. I’m not one of the crazy cat ladies that has like 700 cats and litter boxes everywhere. But I I grew up with cats. I had a couple of cats and I now have a kitten and she is feisty and energetic. I’ve locked her upstairs in a bedroom so that she does not interrupt us, but she is she’s so feisty. I adore her.

Rob (04:22):
<Laugh> okay. That’s so great. Yeah. I had a cat in my life once and it’s, it’s, it’s something else for sure. Moved on to dogs and dogs are something

Liz (04:33):
So you’ll find this interesting. I I’m gonna, I’m gonna break some rules, hang on. Cause you know, you’re not supposed to leave <laugh> I bought her a harness.

Rob (04:47):
Oh my gosh.

Liz (04:48):
Cause I’m determined that she will be an adventure cat. Oh

Rob (04:53):
My gosh.

Liz (04:53):
And I’ve started putting it on her, like in the house. We tried to go outside earlier today. But she’s in that phase where she just wants to eat everything, so she tried to eat the leash, so.

Rob (05:14):
Okay. So yeah. So doing some research on, on you, Liz

Liz (05:20):
Fin, oh boy. Would you dig up

Rob (05:21):
Finland? Finland. And what was that experience like?

Liz (05:27):
Yeah, so I I’m not a traditional marketer by education. I studied political science for my undergraduate degree at UNC Asheville and was fortunate enough to spend a semester living in a, in a tiny, tiny, tiny little town called Joensuu . It’s about four. I know, I know. It’s about four hours north of Helsinki by train. And so we were up there and it was cold and it was six months and one of the best experiences of my life. And I wish I would’ve gone longer.

Rob (06:00):
<Laugh> really <laugh>. Yeah.

Liz (06:02):
Despite the cold, despite showing up to like six feet of snow, right. I, I would love to go back and, and should have stayed longer.

Rob (06:09):
So what was the connection in marketing and four hours north of Helsinki? I, I I’m struggling right now.

Liz (06:18):
There wasn’t one. So <laugh> they do this matching program and I wanted to go to a school in Scandinavia I was looking at schools in the Netherlands in Denmark and in Finland. Finland was my match and I ended up I took some forestry classes because I was studying like environmental studies, environmental politics, ethics, all of that kind of stuff. And it just lined up really well.

Rob (06:51):
Great. Wow. That’s that’s quite an adventure.

Liz (06:55):
I did not. I attempted to learn, Finish, but if you have ever seen words written and Finish oh, my word, the longest word in their language is like 50 something or 90 something characters letters.

Rob (07:11):
Well, yeah. And you know, not directly related, but you know, there is a retailer that has really long product names here. <Laugh>

Liz (07:22):
Yeah. It’s it’s I took a photo of it because it had to go, it was on a slide. It was on slide and on a slideshow. I remember. And the, the word went onto a second line. It went entire width of the slide and it’s, it’s a word for a very specific rank in their military.

Rob (07:39):
Wow. Okay.

Liz (07:41):
I would not be able to pronounce it now, but I, I did. I could, you know, 12 years ago. <Laugh>

Rob (07:49):
So Liz, I understand you might be a fan of sports, maybe hockey.

Liz (07:54):
Yeah. My, my voice might be a little shot. I was at the playoff game last night.

Rob (08:00):
<Laugh> right. That’s exciting. So is it, is hockey it for you or are there other sports?

Liz (08:08):
Every sport name, really name a sport. And I either have a favorite team know about it, know how to score it or

Rob (08:16):
Wow. Baseball.

Liz (08:18):
Chicago Cubs.

Rob (08:20):
Okay. Football

Liz (08:23):
College football, Clemson tigers and Miami dolphins.

Rob (08:27):
Man. We are just not gonna get along on sports. <Laugh>

Liz (08:31):
Why, what are your sports

Rob (08:32):
New England Patriots <laugh> and Boston Red Sox.

Liz (08:37):
Oh yeah, no, no. My partners are my partner is a red Sox fan. I have, you know, some level of respect for them. Theo Epstein manager of the socks when the curse was broken manager, you know, owner of the Cubs when our curse was broken. So we’re kind of kindred spirits here,

Rob (08:58):
Kind of yeah. That we do have that one connection. <Laugh>

Liz (09:04):
I’ll take it.

Rob (09:04):
Right. So for those that might just be jumping in the middle of this. This is the first episode of AMA voices, capturing conversations about marketing. And we’re here with Elizabeth Ruf, president of AMA Triangle. What time of day do you get your best work done?

Liz (09:26):
Ooh, I am a morning person, which I didn’t used to be. I used to be a night owl and would do like schoolwork and stuff between like 9:00 PM and midnight. And now I’m like a 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM kind person.

Rob (09:46):
Okay. That’s a big shift. And I admit I’ve gone through a similar shift <laugh> I used to be a wicked mean. Yeah. A night owl and now it just doesn’t happen like that.

Liz (09:59):
Yeah. Well it’s, it’s like the quiet of the house. You wake up and either everyone has gone to school or no one has, you know, flustered you yet. It’s focused. It’s quiet. I love it. I love it.

Rob (10:14):
Switching to things, marketing what’s the most important marketing lesson you’ve learned over your career so far?

Liz (10:21):
Ooh. You know, I think everything, it feels like every year there’s something new and there’s something that changes. But to me, the biggest lesson is when it comes to content. And that is something that you and I have talked about previous to this conversation. Produce once and publish often. Yes. If you’re going to be doing something like this, where you’re recording a podcast, be thinking about, okay, this is a video, we’re also doing the audio of it. We’re gonna turn it into a written blog post, and then we’re gonna turn it into social media. And so how do you get the most out of the, the content that you’re creating to give it legs and to find different angles and make sure that it’s not timebound.

Rob (11:10):
Absolutely. Yeah. We, we are kindred spirits in that thinking. No doubt. <Laugh> when I, when I previous to this and we were had our conversations, I was like, when I, you know, when we looked at things more broadly and we saw this opportunity and I was like, let’s jump on it. You know, let’s create the fire and let’s see what happens with it. Yeah, totally agree. If, if you have one, what’s your favorite marketing hack?

Liz (11:42):
My favorite marketing hack. Ooh. I have Two.

Liz (12:00):
One is Canva, which I feel like is not a hack at this point in time. I am not by any stretch of the imagination, a graphic designer. Like I have friends who are wildly talented graphic UX designers and they, I see things. And I’m like, “how did your brain think of that?” But I love Canva. Canva is great for super quick graphics, team collaboration, all of that. So that’s one. And then the other is any, the, the one I’m familiar with is called Otter, but any sort of transcription service that you can get you know, with, with just everything in general, but with more of an emphasis in marketing on accessibility and making sure that we are creating websites and environments and digital experiences for anyone of any ability. I think having captions on videos that are well edited and synced with the video is crucial. Alt text on websites is crucial, clear navigation is crucial and you know, those transcriptions transcription tools say that five times fast is the best way to make sure that we’re creating digital experiences for everyone, no matter what their ability level is

Rob (13:29):
Great. Three marketing books that you’d recommend to our audience and why?

Liz (13:37):
So I’m not, I’m, I’m an avid reader. I love reading. I don’t read nonfiction

Rob (13:44):
<Laugh> okay.

Liz (13:45):
So I don’t, so I don’t unfortunately read a lot of marketing books. But I’ll tell you anything, anything by Seth Godin is gonna be great. Anything by Jay Baer is gonna be great. There’s a woman named Jackie Huba who has a lot of great stuff. I also really love anything that Amber Naslund puts out. Okay. If you’ve been around AMA triangle for a while all of these names are going to be familiar to you because they’ve spoken with us and for us before. And mm-hmm <affirmative> you know, most of my marketing books have come from folks who have, who have given talks with us.

Rob (14:24):
Yeah. moving on to kind of the last question, what’s one question you wish I had asked and how would you have answered?

Liz (14:35):
You know, I kind of mentioned this a little bit before, but we talk about how marketing trends and marketing changes so often. And so I think I’d love for you to ask, you know, what I think the future of marketing is. And I would answer that, oh, I, I think the future of marketing is personal. You know, we hear about automations. We hear about personalizations. We hear about AI and how that’s, you know, engaging. But one of my dear friends, Danny Rosen, who is, is a nonprofit executive, not executive director, but nonprofit founder, and really engaged in the Triangle community, but also owns a promotional products company. He talks about, you know, human to human. Like we want to connect with people sure. On a very human level. And I think we want brands to do that too. I think we want brands to feel like our friend and feel like they’re taking a stance on issues or mm-hmm, <affirmative>, you know, the brands that I follow on social media are the brands that make it seem like I’m talking to a friend. When I look at their, when I look at their content, they’re sending me emails based on, you know, what I’ve indicated on surveys that I want to hear about and those kinds of things. So I think, I think it’s personal.

Rob (16:16):
Yeah. It’s, it’s interesting as, as I’ve delved more into the, the the lessons of branding and how brands should be informed and how they should look to create these experiences. And, and part of that extension is through the channels of email and social and promotional products in person events and that sort of thing. And I think, yeah, we all, we all want our brands to show up a little more humanely and humanly than they might be. <Laugh>. Yeah. And a, a final question is we’re, we’re coming to the end. Where can listeners and viewers find you online?

Liz (17:00):
Oh, I’m everywhere. Some of my, well, I’m not everywhere. That’s a lie. The only reason I have Facebook is because I have to for work. But I don’t use it. So don’t try to friend me on Facebook. I’m on LinkedIn Elizabeth Ruf, R U F one F as in Frank or Foxtrot. And then I’m also on Twitter. Umy Twitter handle is at Elizabeth Ruf. You will find God knows what kind of content on there. It’s probably a mix of kitten pictures and retweets from different sports teams and little bit of politics, a little bit of randomness who knows. So those are, those are the two places that I can be found.

Rob (17:42):
Great. Well, we’ll drop those links in the show notes. When we get that up, I really appreciate the opportunity and your time talking with us in our inaugural episode of AMA Voices.

Liz (17:55):
Awesome. Thanks Rob. And just plug anyone else. We would love to highlight as many AMA Triangle members, friends of the community, partners, anything and everything. Even if you don’t have a connection to AMA Triangle. Rob, can we also, in the, in the show notes, drop a link to, to submit your voice or join. We’d love to highlight as many people as possible.

Rob (18:18):
In fact, as we close, I want to thank everybody for listening. AMA Voices is produced by AMA Triangle, a nonprofit educational voice in marketing across the Triangle for over 40 years, listen to podcast on Apple, Google, or wherever you listen. Find out more about our marketing events and training for marketing professionals of all levels at