Working away at a nine-to-five every day can sometimes make even the most creative pursuits feel a little unfulfilling. When you’re not feeling totally inspired at work, there’s no better way to challenge yourself than by becoming the CEO. We know, we know — easier said than done. But for Sandy Rubinstein, becoming the CEO of one of the industry’s hottest digital advertising agencies wasn’t so much a question of how, but when. An inspiring Latina and daughter of immigrants, Sandy gave us all the details on what it takes to be the boss.
B+C: Walk us through what you were up to before becoming the CEO of DXagency.
SR: I spent most of my 23 years in marketing, working for various entertainment properties. I started as an intern and worked my way up to senior vice president, before coming to DXagency as the chief marketing officer (CMO). I spent five years as the CMO before taking the role of CEO in 2014.
B+C: Give us the skinny on DXagency. What does a digital ad agency do and how do you differ from other, more traditional advertising agencies?
SR: DXagency is an engagement agency. We are different because we ask our clients what we want to accomplish at the end of the campaign and we build the best solution to get us there. What do they want their customer to do, feel, act upon, etc? One size does not fit all, and that was what I was most frustrated about when I was the client.
Ad agencies would rinse and reuse the same media plans for every show launch, and it just doesn’t work. Digital is our primary vertical at DX, but when other verticals make more sense, we recommend that to our clients.
B+C: You’re the daughter of immigrants. How did your upbringing differ from your peers, and how did that shape the type of person and leader you are today?
SR: I was taught that failure was not an option. I could accomplish anything in this country if I set my mind to it and worked hard to achieve it. My parents instilled a strong work ethic, and I have had more than one job at a time, every day since I was 14. My parents were self-made. My mother was the daughter of Holocaust survivors who fled with nothing. There is no time to wait for things to be handed to you. Set your goals. Work hard. Make it happen.
B+C: You work in a pretty cut-throat industry. How do you manage to block the haters and continue to grow in your career?
SR: See answer above. If I let all the haters get in my head I would be curled up in the fetal position under my bed. You have to have a thick skin and remember what Eleanor Roosevelt said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Just do what you think is right and try to be a good human. All the rest is just noise.
B+C: Tell us about a campaign you’ve worked on that you LOVED and what made it so special.
SR: I am actually working on it now. My twin sons are launching a website where kids can find ways to volunteer. We are a family very involved in giving back to our community, and our boys choose charities each year for their birthday where they ask guests to donate instead of gifts. They wanted to find additional ways to volunteer, but it is not that easy for kids under 14. So they decided to develop a website. Watching them work through all the details is my proudest project and proudest moment.
B+C: Any thoughts on how women can help other women be successful in business?
SR: Mentor. Mentor. Mentor. It takes one person to change your course, and mentoring is a fantastic way to help others coming up. There are so many experiences you have already had — share them with others so they don’t have to face the same challenges or pitfalls. Let them learn from your years of learning.
B+C: What surprises you most about being a CEO? How do you stay inspired?
SR: The massive amount of responsibility. I wish I had more time to get more deeply involved in every project we are working on. I wish there were more hours in the day. I stay inspired by attending our agency weekly meetings. Hearing all the teams report in on all the active projects, industry trends or fun ideas is what drives me.
B+C: What’s your best piece of advice for #girlbosses currently trying to climb the ladder?
SR: Be kind, be humble, be inclusive and laugh at yourself… A LOT!
Tweet us what #GirlBoss we need to talk to next @BritandCo!
(Photos via DXagency)