An interview with Joanna Martinez, author of A Guide To Positive Disruption: How To Thrive And Make An Impact In The Churn Of Today’s Corporate World

Is there a book for procurement professionals (or any professional) that revolutionizes the way employees see themselves in the corporate world? Is there a book that shifts corporate paradigms, challenges beliefs, and fosters better employees? Is there a book that provides employees with the tools to disrupt their workplace, and, simultaneously, increase their value to their company?

The Anser is Yes

A Guide To Positive Disruption: How To Thrive and Make An Impact In The Churn Of Today’s Corporate World, written by Joanna Martinez, is such a book. Weaving a tapestry of personal experiences, poignant allusions, timely anecdotes, insider knowledge and successful corporate disruptions, Martinez’s pragmatic conversational style forces the reader to question his or her place in the business world. Martinez challenges the reader to “become a goldfish in the sea of blue fish,” while providing the tools to do just that. She is a master storyteller. Martinez earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering at Rutgers. Starting out as an engineer in a factory, she has 40 plus years of work experience and is an expert in procurement and supply chain transformation and education. She is the founder of  Supply Chain Advisors LLC and is a popular speaker on business topics. I recently sat down with her to discuss her book:

Question:

What inspired you to write A Guide To Positive Disruption?

Answer:

Most of my career involved fixing problems within a company. Because the firms that
hired me tended to be encountering difficulties, I also lived through a number of reorganizations-
18 to be exact. Somewhere along the line, I figured out that, instead of fearing change, I should
be creating it – that becoming a positive disruptor was the right thing to do. Because I do a lot of
public speaking, people often reach out looking for help. I thought that I could give them more
than just a one-off opinion. I thought that I could give more complete advice in an organized way
and that they could take advantage of it.

Question:

What obstacles did you encounter while writing your book?

Answer:

I struggle greatly with a blank computer screen – the classic writer’s block. After six
months, working 10 hours a week, I had only an outline and a handful of stories. Basically
nothing.

Question:

How did overcome these obstacles?

Answer:

A friend recommended using a service whose process allowed me to speak the book
while they transcribed it. Sometimes, I found a quiet room and envisioned myself at a corporate
presentation. I mimicked my presentation by standing and telling stories to invisible people
sitting in front of me, while facilitators recorded it and, later, transcribed it. I am thrilled when
someone says, “This is book sounds like your voice,” because it literally is my voice.

Question:

What did you learn about yourself writing this book?

Answer:

I learned that I could do it. That with tenacity and creativity, there is a way to overcome obstacles, like speaking the book instead of keyboarding. I have four small grandchildren who call me “JoNana”. Although I hope the book is successful today, I also hope that they can pick it up someday and understand JoNana better when I can’t articulate things for myself.

Question:

Is there anything you would add or change in the book?

Answer:

There were places where I could have given many more examples and could have gone much deeper. But, I realize that people now read shorter books. In creating a shorter version, I really worked hard. If I had three examples, only one or two made it in. I tried to choose the best one because I had to give the message concisely.

Question:

What has been the reaction to your book?

Answer:

Awesome. People are reaching out with such positive responses. Several people wrote that they had purchased hard copies and were underlining and taking notes. I’ve heard from factory workers, medical professionals, executives, college students and their parents. A CEO bought a copy for himself and told me he was buying three more copies to give to each one of his children. My book is resonating with a broader group of people, better than I ever expected. The feedback is much more favorable than I allowed myself to dream.

Question:

Who has had an influence on your career and your book?

Answer:

The late Anthony Bourdain. I picked up Kitchen Confidential and, from the first
paragraph, I was hooked. I loved the book. What hooked me was the conversational style. I felt
like I was sitting around the table having a cup of coffee with Anthony Bourdain. He used stories
quite a bit. He made me feel at ease. He was a masterful storyteller. Instead of a list of do’s and
don’ts, he gave real life examples.

Question:

What else did you learn from Anthony Bourdain?

Answer:

He was so respectful of everybody that was part of the process. I write in my book about being kind. I would like to use the word respectful as well. There is no reason for people not to be nice to other people. When I read about the respect he had for farmers and for the prep people in the kitchen and the servers, that’s the respect for people in the background that I personally try to achieve.

“To be treated well in places where you don’t expect to be treated well, to find things in common with people you thought previously you had very, very little in common with, that can’t be a bad thing.”
–Anthony Bourdain

Question:

What do you expect the reader to take away from your book?

Answer:

That there are two reasons to practice positive disruption:

1

You have a job today. You are getting paid. I think we all have obligations to our employers to bring our best forward. The very fact that we are being employed, means that we should bring something to the table.

2

The other reason to practice positive disruption is that, if things go south or your company gets acquired or merged, you have a real achievement that you can talk about with a future employer – a nugget that you can use to set yourself apart from other people with similar backgrounds. When you practice positive disruption, you are serving\ your employer and yourself simultaneously.

Martinez loves to cook. We, therefore, thought it only fitting that we give you a taste of her book. I know it will whet your appetite for more:

“Begin taking time to gain an understanding of your own personality and preferences, and those of the people with whom you come into contact. Create strategies for how you interact with others and adjust your actions and reactions accordingly. Do what’s necessary, not what comes naturally. Remember that every interaction and conversation is a type of negotiation, but don’t be afraid if you don’t think naturally on your feet. Compensate by learning the basic elements of negotiation and being well prepared. Make contacts outside of your current industry and geography. Meet people who do your job at another firm and learn about their challenges. The opportunities that spring from active and constant networking are endless.” (Martinez, 2018, p.136).

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