Sandy Rubinstein | Crain's Tampa Bay

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Sandy Rubinstein


Sandy Rubinstein is the CEO of DXagency, a New Jersey–based digital-marketing and advertising firm with an office in Miami. The agency's clients include Mastercard, NBCUniversal, Oticon and National Geographic Books. An alumna of the University of Miami, Rubinstein previously was an executive for Lifetime Television, Fuse TV and Nickelodeon after beginning her career in the music business and transitioning to television.

The Mistake:

When I was applying to college, I thought I was going to be a broadcast journalist and would be reading the news. I was going to be fantastic — the best newscaster you ever saw. My path went in another direction, and at first, I was very resistant to it. I thought I knew better, but looking back I do believe everything happens for a reason.

I had a teacher in high school my senior year who said I needed to go to music school. She set up all of my interviews and drove me to the auditions and, once there, accompanied me on the piano.

Because of her, I went to music school [and double-majored] in music and business. Had she not pushed me down that path, and had I continued resisting and thinking I knew better than everybody else, my life would be in a totally different place — and I still probably wouldn’t be a broadcast journalist.

Try to take a step back from being a driver to listen to and learn from others.

The Lesson:

The earliest lesson was that I had to sometimes let go and trust that everything is happening because it’s supposed to happen. Part of that is also trying to take a step back from being a driver to listen to and learn from others.

Even now in my career, I try to keep these lessons in mind. You have to be open-minded enough to hear what other people have to contribute, and sometimes an amalgamation of all the ideas works best.

You can still drive and be successful and have a strong opinion, but I think the smartest bosses take all of the opinions into consideration, and that serves the purpose better than where you started.

When you’re young, you want to show you have ideas with merit. But as you grow in your career, it is so much more important to show everyone that their ideas matter, and whether you go right or left, you’ve taken into consideration what they tell you at each corner.

I believe leaders who listen and allow their team to participate are the leaders everyone wants to follow. People are more invested in the success of a project because they feel that at least their opinions were considered.

It’s about giving up the fear that if I’m not driving the train, it’s not going to be good enough, and saying instead to your team: “We’re driving the train together, and it’s going to be awesome.”

DXagency is on Twitter at @DXagency.

Photo courtesy of DXagency 

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