10 Tips To Follow Now: The Road To CEO

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro
Be a Boss!
“I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” Estee Lauder

Author: Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO

Original Publication: Ms. Career Girl

Date Published: March 22, 2018

That bit of wisdom from the legendary Estee Lauder has served me well in my journey from career girl to CEO. It’s one thing to set your goal at the top. It’s another thing altogether to create an action plan to make it happen. But it’s never too early to start, and while everyone takes a different path, here are ten essential tips to keep in mind as you make your way forward on the road to CEO.

Start from the bottom.
That is, if you want to make it to the top. Learn every angle of the business, from the most menial position on up. That way, you will really get to know the entire company, and all its strengths and weaknesses. Don’t ever think you’re too good for any job; you must be willing to take anything on, and work harder and longer than anyone else. You need to want it enough to do that, and have the drive to do it all well.

Find your mentor.
A mentor is essential to your success; someone who is an executive or department head whose work you admire. Mentors don’t choose you — you choose them. Find one who can teach you aspects of the business you’ve never experienced — and make it clear you are interested in having them champion you.

Get that degree.
It’s essential to have a comprehensive operations, finance and strategy background and perspective — having this as a basis will help propel you up faster. At some point, if you can, set the goal to get your MBA, ideally as you study part-time while you are working. It may be a rough road to juggle work and school, but learning these principles and then applying them immediately is an intense, invaluable experience.

Work in operations.
If you’re in a specialty role at your organization, determine the right time to initiate a switch to the operations side (at one point, I served as VP of Client Services and Operations). Once you start to work on the operations side, don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard; come up with better and more strategic ways of doing things. But, be sure to do so respectfully, in order to get buy-in – bullying won’t make you any friends or get you promoted.

Be a Jane of all trades.
Jane of All TradesOnce you’re ingrained in operations, offer to take on anything and everything — eventually it could lead you to a COO role. Working as a COO could in turn allow you to proactively ease into creating or managing the company’s mission/vision/strategy. This is essentially the CEO’s role; if they’re not doing it properly, here’s your chance to demonstrate that you can.

Don’t get comfortable.
At some point, you may become fatigued and be tempted to coast, but be patient and continue to work hard and smart. Don’t ever be lazy, rest on your laurels or think something should be handed to you. It will only be handed to you if you truly deserve it and have worked hard for it.

Always exude confidence.
It can be a harsh world out there, especially in a hyper-competitive business environment. Don’t ever expect compliments (high-level executives never get them), but do maintain your confidence, even in the face of criticism. Confidence comes from within; it is typically lower level employees who need constant, positive reinforcement. Your reinforcement should come from you — you’ll never let you down.

Don’t give up.
Tired yet? You should be! But inevitably at some point, the current CEO will move on or retire. If you’ve followed the above steps, at that point you’ll be well-positioned for consideration to take over the company. You may then feel it’s the finish line, but in actuality the journey has just begun. You will now work harder and have less sleep than you ever have in your life moving forward — but the rewards will be worth it.

Learn what the job entails.
Congratulations, you’re now CEO! Be careful – all the old adages are true; it’s lonely at the top. Come to grips with the realities of this ultimate responsibility: you will spend 80% of your time on employee/HR issues, which aren’t part of core business school curriculum — you’ll have to master this on the job. Fostering a positive company culture is also key, and so is conflict management. On top of all this, high performance will be expected in a very short period of time. And next year, you’ll have to top this year’s performance, no matter how stellar. Constant pressure is central to the job. Get used to it.

Never let go of that drive.
Once you’re there, you’ll learn being a CEO is definitely not all race cars and champagne! However, you do have the ability to be a positive influence and example for a lot of people: your employees, their families, your clients, the community. Making a difference in this world is truly the most gratifying part of the job. Let that be the ultimate motivator that drives you to even higher goals and greater heights of success.

So, you think you want to be CEO some day?
Don’t just dream about it. Create your unique path: be strategic, work hard and make every step you take one that fulfills that dream. No doubt, it takes true perseverance to get there. It’s never too early to start now and enjoy the journey!

Jessica Hawthorne-CastroJessica Hawthorne-Castro is the CEO of Hawthorne, an award winning technology-based advertising agency specializing in analytics and accountable brand campaigns for over 30-years. Hawthorne has a legacy of ad industry leadership by being a visionary in combining the art of right-brain creativity with the science of left-brain data analytics and neuroscience. Jessica’s role principally involves fostering long-standing client relationships with the company’s expansive base of Fortune 500 brands to develop highly strategic and measurable advertising campaigns, designed to ignite immediate consumer response.

Hawthorne Wins Communitas Award Recognizing Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility

Communitas Award

LOS ANGELES, March 22, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Hawthorne, a creative, analytics and technology-driven advertising agency, announced today that it has won a 2018 Communitas Award for its leadership and excellence in community service and corporate social responsibility. The Communitas Awards recognize exceptional businesses that unselfishly give of themselves and their resources to their communities. The award is a testament to Hawthorne’s deep and ongoing commitment to giving back.

“Our judges found that Hawthorne clearly exhibits the spirit of communitas, a Latin word that means people coming together for the good of a community,” the award letter said.

Hawthorne received this recognition as an example of a company that balances social, environmental, and economic imperatives. Hawthorne donates a percentage of its profits to charity, encourages employees to donate time, and serves as an advocate for important causes, such as climate change. One way it does this is through the Hawthorne Community Causes Committee (HCCC). Every Hawthorne office has an HCCC, which is empowered with monthly funds to be contributed towards community needs. The committee is responsible for the selection of worthy causes, including providing support to local and national organizations. Hawthorne employees also donate their time towards specific charities and events they care about, including animal shelters, food pantries, and equal rights organizations.

Hawthorne also received the Communitas Award for its focus on environmental sustainability. Both of Hawthorne’s offices are in Blue Zones communities (www.bluezones.com), which are dedicated to creating healthier cities, states and businesses where people live longer, better. Furthermore, the agency stands as a model corporate citizen out for its work-life balance and strong company culture. It offers a range of wellness benefits, including reimbursement for employees interested in Transcendental Meditation classes, and regularly holds “Lunch and Learns” to enrich employees’ personal and professional development.

“When people connect with something that’s bigger than themselves and actually want to go to work in the morning, the results are clear,” said Hawthorne CEO Jessica Hawthorne-Castro. “We believe firmly in treating every employee with respect and benevolence and extending that ethos beyond our office walls to have an impact on our communities.”

This is one of multiple awards Hawthorne has won that recognizes its company culture and commitment to community service. Hawthorne is a Great Place to Work® and has won hundreds of awards for its creative work, as well as accolades for Jessica’s leadership. The long list of awards validate the idea that excelling in corporate social responsibility is good for business.

About Communitas Awards:
Communitas Awards seeks to honor those special companies, organizations and individuals that go beyond rhetoric and whose commitment sets them apart from their competition. Communitas winners are dedicated to helping the less fortunate in their communities and are changing the way they do business to benefit their employees, communities and environment.

About Hawthorne:
Hawthorne, a creative, analytics and technology-driven advertising agency, specializes in strategic planning, creative development, production, media planning, buying and analytics, and campaign management for integrated marketing campaigns. With nearly 30 years of proven excellence, the agency combines persuasive brand messaging with best-in-class analytic systems to create accountable, high performance advertising campaigns. Hawthorne helps brands efficiently target their consumers, improve cost per acquisition, optimize the lifetime value of a brand’s customers and even drive consumer response to key retail outlets or corporate locations.

As a leading analytic and data driven, accountable brand advertising agency, Hawthorne specializes in integrated campaign solutions. The company offers a full suite of integrated solutions with creative, media, digital and mobile services. Hawthorne maintains brand integrity and metrics to efficiently and effectively optimize the results of its clients’ integrated media budgets via leading edge and proven data analytics. Hawthorne has developed successful award-winning campaigns for countless Fortune 500 brands. Please visit www.hawthornedirect.com and http://www.linkedin.com/company/hawthorne-direct for more information.

Kate Weckerly

Hawthorne Wins Public Relations and Marketing Excellence Award

PR & Marketing Excellence Award 2018

LOS ANGELES, March 15, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — The Business Intelligence Group recently announced that Hawthorne has won “Marketing Agency of the Year” in the 2018 Public Relations and Marketing Excellence Awards. Hawthorne, a creative, technology-driven advertising agency, specializes in data-focused ad campaigns to support business growth for an expansive base of Fortune 500 brands like Gerber, Spectrum and HomeAdvisor

“I couldn’t be happier about this well-deserved recognition for the Hawthorne agency and I’m proud to see that our work has earned accolades from the Business Intelligence Group,” said Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO of Hawthorne. “Our focus on a healthy and supportive company culture has allowed our team to deliver top-notch work to a growing list of clients and this award is proof that putting employees first makes for happier clients as well.”PR & Marketing Excellence Award 2018

“We are so proud to recognize the work of Hawthorne,” said Maria Jimenez, Chief Nominations Officer of the Business Intelligence Group. “It was clear to all of us that our winners all blended creativity and business understanding to deliver superior performances. Congratulations to them all.”

Other 2018 Public Relations and Marketing Excellence Award winners include work from Ascensus, Bospar, Digital Realty, Globalization Partners, IBM, MercuryGate International, RightEye, Synechron, Varo Money, and Vested.

For more information on the Public Relations and Marketing Excellence awards visit https://www.bintelligence.com/pr-excellence/.

About Hawthorne

Hawthorne, a creative, analytics and technology-driven advertising agency, specializes in strategic planning, creative development, production, media planning, buying and analytics, and campaign management for integrated marketing campaigns. With nearly 30 years of proven excellence, the agency combines persuasive brand messaging with best-in-class analytic systems to create accountable, high performance advertising campaigns. Hawthorne helps brands efficiently target their consumers, improve cost per acquisition, optimize the lifetime value of a brand’s customers and even drive consumer response to key retail outlets or corporate locations.

As a leading analytic and data driven, accountable brand advertising agency, Hawthorne specializes in integrated campaign solutions. The company offers a full suite of integrated solutions with creative, media, digital and mobile services. Hawthorne maintains brand integrity and metrics to efficiently and effectively optimize the results of its clients’ integrated media budgets via leading edge and proven data analytics. Hawthorne has developed successful award-winning campaigns for countless Fortune 500 brands. Please visit www.hawthornedirect.com and http://www.linkedin.com/company/hawthorne-direct for more information.

About Business Intelligence Group

The Business Intelligence Group was founded with the mission of recognizing true talent and superior performance in the business world. Unlike other industry and business award programs, business executives—those with experience and knowledge—judge the programs. The organization’s proprietary and unique scoring system selectively measures performance across multiple business domains and then rewards those companies whose achievements stand above those of their peers.

Alexea Candreva
SSPR / Hawthorne

Maria Jimenez
Business Intelligence Group
+1 909-529-2737

When Hiring An Agency, Look For These 11 Traits

Forbes Agency Council

Author: Forbes Agency Council

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: March 5, 2018

Forbes Agency Council

Finding a digital agency that you can work with is key to the success of your business. You may have a long-standing relationship with a firm, but it just might not be providing your company what it needs to reach its marketing strategy goals.

According to a report by the Association of National Advertisers, as few as 2% of agencies actually strongly agree that the client approval process works well. This may be important to your company, and without the level of service that you expect, you can be left with a poor taste in your mouth about the agency you are working with.

Eleven members of Forbes Agency Council share some of the most important but often overlooked characteristics that businesses should be looking for (or avoiding) when picking an agency to work with. Here is what they had to say:

1. Team And Expertise

I can’t stress this enough because these days, it often happens that when you hire an agency, the people selling to you are not the ones who will be handling your account. And, oftentimes, you get handed off to junior people who don’t deliver, leaving you disappointed. – Suttida Yang, Fastmarkit

2. Effective Onboarding Process

During your vetting process, be sure to inquire about the agency‘s onboarding process and communication systems. A seasoned agencyshould be proactive in sharing how they will engage with you, including the agenda for the kick-off call, how they will immerse themselves in our business, and how they handle day-to-day communication and project management. – David Lewis, DemandGen International, Inc.

3. Shared Values And Work Ethic

When picking an agency, businesses should look for a company that shares the same values and work ethic. Working with an agency is a collaboration and partnership, and should be a relationship that is vetted thoughtfully. – Lauren Shirreffs, 2Social

4. Being A Resource Fit

When selecting the right agency to work with, be honest about yourcompany’s budget and look for “resource fit.” Traditional agencies can be costly or slow to produce, or have too many processes and approval layers built in for your high-growth department, while lighter-weight agencies may not be able to scale up in the way you need. Make sure to choose partners on skill, access, scale and speed. – Megan Groves, InterimCMO

5. Responds To Your Inquiries In A Timely Manner

How soon do they respond to your inquiries or needs? If they’re not responding to you in a timely fashion or not responding to what you’ve specifically requested, get ready for more of the same as you work with them. Does your agency hear you when you reach out? Do they listen to you when you state your concerns or have questions? Also, do you have access to senior management? If yes, great! – Daniel Lazarz, Life of Dad Agency

6. Transparency

Transparency is crucial. If an agency promises a deliverable that sounds too good to be true, it generally is. Ask difficult questions, and remember that you get what you pay for. – Amanda Stein, EXPAND

7. Knowledge Of Technology And The Niche

Many digital folks lack knowledge of classic traditional advertising and the role of creative and the science behind it, and many traditional advertising agencies do not keep up to speed with the fast-evolving digital world because they are uncomfortable with technology-intense projects. Finding the creative folks with knowledge of classic advertising and good understanding of technology is key. – Nikolai Mentchoukov, LIQWID(R)

8. Creativity And True ROI

An agency should be able to develop beautiful, creative campaigns and deliver a return on advertising spend — the right brain has to meet the left brain. Look for an agency that clearly understands data-based analytics and how their marketing efforts can be quantified for every dollar invested. If they can’t demonstrate true ROI, they’re not the right fit. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne

9. Access To Your Future Account Execs

Don’t just talk to the “closer” when meeting with potential agencies. In most small firms that is usually the principal of the company, and larger firms have a business development team comprised of salespeople. Speak to the account execs that would potentially work your account. Ask how long they’ve been with the firm, what motivates them and what their passions are. That will tell you a lot about the firm. – Dan Kahn, Kahn Media Inc.

10. Proprietary Tools And Methods

Businesses should look for agencies that have proprietary tools and methodologies, based on best practices, new technologies and an innovative approach to communications. – Teresa Villarreal, Newlink

11. Ability To Listen And Understand

A key characteristic that businesses should look for in an agency is their ability to listen and understand first. Agency partners that listen to their clients’ marketing challenges and understand their clients’ businesslandscape are only then able to recommend well-crafted creative marketing solutions. Beware the agency that knows all about your problems before you have had the chance to brief them. – Kenny Eicher, The CSI Group

Hawthorne Accepted into Forbes Agency Council

Forbes Agency Council 2018 Official Member

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO of Hawthorne, a creative, analytics and technology-driven advertising agency, has been accepted into the Forbes Agency Council, an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies.

Jessica joins other Forbes Agency Council members, who are hand-selected, to become part of a curated network of successful peers and get access to a variety of exclusive benefits and resources, including the opportunity to submit thought leadership articles and short tips on industry-related topics for publishing on Forbes.com.
Forbes Councils combines an innovative, high-touch approach to community management perfected by the team behind Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) with the extensive resources and global reach of Forbes. As a result, Forbes Council members get access to the people, benefits and expertise they need to grow their businesses — and a dedicated member concierge who acts as an extension of their own team, providing personalized one-on-one support.

Jessica is thrilled to join the Forbes Council community and have the opportunity to further cement Hawthorne’s role as a thought leader and trailblazer in the advertising industry.
Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils, says, “We are honored to welcome Jessica into the community. Our mission with Forbes Councils is to curate successful professionals from every industry, creating a vetted, social capital-driven network that helps every member make an even greater impact on the business world.”
For more information about Forbes Agency Council, visit https://forbesagencycouncil.com/. To learn more about Forbes Councils, visit forbescouncils.com.

About Hawthorne:
Hawthorne, a creative, analytics and technology-driven advertising agency, specializes in strategic planning, creative development, production, media planning, buying and analytics, and campaign management for integrated marketing campaigns. With nearly 30 years of proven excellence, the agency combines persuasive brand messaging with best-in-class analytic systems to create accountable, high performance advertising campaigns. Hawthorne helps brands efficiently target their consumers, improve cost per acquisition, optimize the lifetime value of a brand’s customers and even drive consumer response to key retail outlets or corporate locations.
As a leading analytic and data driven, accountable brand advertising agency, Hawthorne specializes in integrated campaign solutions. The company offers a full suite of integrated solutions with creative, media, digital and mobile services. Hawthorne maintains brand integrity and metrics to efficiently and effectively optimize the results of its clients’ integrated media budgets via leading edge and proven data analytics. Hawthorne has developed successful award-winning campaigns for countless Fortune 500 brands.

Please visit https://www.hawthornedirect.com and http://www.linkedin.com/company/hawthorne-direct for more information.

9 Expert Tips For Achieving Maximum Success With Your Digital Agency

Forbes Agency Council

Author: Forbes Agency Council

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: March 2, 2018

Forbes Agency Council

Attaining success with your business is the goal of every digital agency owner. You strive to do better than the year before and work harder than ever to accomplish your goals for every quarter. As much as you try, you may face obstacles that are preventing you from reaching your revenue goals, especially when you are a new agency owner.

Staying a step ahead of the game and anticipating the next trend in digital can give your agency the leg up it needs to move to the next level and reach those higher-tier milestones.

Below, nine members of Forbes Agency Council share the one tip they can offer a newbie agency owner that can help take their business over the $1 million revenue mark. Here is what they recommend:

Experts share a few ways you can help your agency succeed.

1. Value Your Time

Have the courage to pitch big clients outside your comfort zone and price your hourly rate at a competitive level. You don’t want to be the high bid in an RFP, but you also don’t want to be the “cheap” agency option either. Value your time and the client will also. Then differentiate yourself through your pitch, your ideas and your work ethic. Clients will respect that more than a low or high bid. – Dan Kahn, Kahn Media Inc.

2. Remember It Takes Time To Generate Revenue

Don’t worry if you’re not making any revenue from the start — it takes time to build a business. Make sure you have six to 12 months of savings or cash reserves to support you and the business during this time. Always focus on operations and bottom line profitability, which will allow you, in turn, to be able to think creatively and service your clients well. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne

3. Don’t Give Up

Work hard at your craft and always be courteous to your stakeholders: employees, clients, shareholders, competitors. Always look to gain market intelligence and expand your business and your services. The first three years will be the toughest, but stick with it. – Daniel Lazarz, Life of Dad Agency

4. Ditch Spec Creative

Never do creative on specs. It is tempting to think that if someone sees your work, they will be impressed and hire you for a paying job. In my 35 years in the field, it never helped. – Nikolai Mentchoukov, LIQWID(R)

5. Focus On What You’re Good At

You cannot be everything to everyone. Determine what services you are an expert at and refine your skills, services and capabilities around those deliverables. – Amanda Stein, EXPAND

6. Create Processes For Everything You Do

It’s imperative that you create processes for everything you do that other people can follow and then you can trust them to follow. You can’t scale your agency if you’re still doing everyone’s job — you have to focus on growth and let your staff shine. If you don’t create defined processes, then they won’t be able to do them without you. – David Ward, Meticulosity

7. Be Patient And Work Hard

Be patient and willing to put in the work to reach your goals. Starting an agency is an exciting endeavor, but requires a high level of focus, determination and skill. Curating and hiring a team of leaders in the industry will help develop winning strategies for your clients, resulting in long-term relationships. – Lauren Shirreffs, 2Social

8. Focus On Profit Margins

Focus on profit margins over revenue. You can start an agency with little to no money, but the importance of knowing your financial model and how you will make money, and then pay yourself, is key to success. Be sure to put anywhere between 10-20% of your net profits aside in case you come across any slow sales time periods. Doing so will help you stress less, too. – Suttida Yang, Fastmarkit

9. Establish Your Culture Early On

When launching your agency, it’s critical to establish your culture and core values early on. Doing so will help to ensure that you attract and hire the right type of people. In a services company, you and your team are the “product,” and how you deliver your services will become a big part of your brand identity. – David Lewis, DemandGen International, Inc.

Time to Stop Talking Around Big Data, Embrace It and Drive Your Business Forward

Author: Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO
Original Link: Digitizing Polaris
Date Published: July 21, 2017

One of the most pressing challenges facing modern businesses today is shifting culture towards a data scientist-driven approach. To complete this shift, a company doesn’t just need a big data strategy, it needs a business strategy that incorporates big data in a way that empowers all employees to think like data scientists.

Developing the Data-Driven Business

For businesses, “big data” means taking information from various disconnected sources and using analytics tools to combine it and find new insights. It’s about correlation, discovering connections between events or information that were previously hidden

For the modern company, data is the most important asset, one that is dynamically changing. Valuable data sets come into play every day from mobile-based customer interactions to the billions of internet-connected “things” coming online. The trick for companies is to develop smart strategies to leverage this flood of data and to monetize data while improving customer loyalty and overall experience.

Three Tactics to Become a Data Driven Company

Think Differently

To think differently, you must create a business strategy that focuses on data, one driven by the leaders of the organization. Adopting a big data approach requires a cultural shift within all levels of the organization. For example, training is crucial for the adoption of big data-focused analytics tools. Staff members must understand how to look at large data sets and pull insights, whether they are based on customer behaviors, problems in the supply chain, or adjustments that could be made to operational processes.

The training needs to include actual sessions with the technology to showcase the ease of use and how it relates to the specific individual’s role within the company. It also needs to be backed by management and include a shift to a more of a real-time and cross-departmental structure. This requires management to loosen some of the constraints of the traditional business hierarchy, where previously insights had to go up a lengthy chain of approval or review. There are still checks and balances, but there is a shorter cultural pathway from finding out something is wrong to implementing a data-driven fix.

Another cultural change involves ceasing to make decisions and taking action based solely on “gut feelings.” This doesn’t limit intuition or innovation, but it mitigates risks and uses hard data as a way to augment creativity and decision making. It’s a model with built-in accountability as staff members need to justify their recommended actions with data.

Make Real World Changes through Data

Companies need to make dramatic data-centric shifts because of the real, impactful changes it can produce. Big data will drive change and induce innovation in your company as well as spur growth, improve agility and foster communication. And data is the most important asset to monetize drive loyalty and safeguard privacy and security.

Consider these examples of the direct impacts of a big data approach:

  • Review financial data to uncover incidences of fraud or potential risk
  • Refine a product’s attributes based on customer-derived data and sales numbers. For example, analyze how customers run on an IoT-enabled treadmill and adjust its construction accordingly.
  • Analyze target markets to see if demographic parameters are off-base and make adjustments
  • Enhance the customer experience by offering deals and retention strategies that are backed by data insights
  • Develop surprising new marketing initiatives and targets through review of sales data combined with customer service data, and other sources

For an industry-specific example, the advertising industry is rapidly changing due to new streams of data. Advertisers and broadcasters crave detailed metrics on viewer behaviors, they are now receiving new details via “second screen” behaviors. A significant number of consumers utilize their phones or tablets while watching television and their actions during this time provide advertisers with rich data about likes and dislikes, which can then be used for more targeted advertising campaigns.

Build a Big Data Strategy

In order to reach the goal of a data-driven company, every firm needs a big data strategy that breaks from conventional thinking. This is a whole business initiative, not an IT initiative; however, IT should enable your result. IT should be at the lead of the implementation as they control the information, but multi-departmental cooperation is a must. Remember the business goals always comes first. Develop a sound business strategy that incorporates data as a core element, with a focus on how staff members make decisions that ultimately impact the business. Augment these decisions with rich and multi-sourced data, and you’ll create a company that can move with agility beyond its competitors.

Here are some of the key steps for creating a data-driven company:

  • Assess pressing business needs. What are the unknowns about products, customers, and internal processes?
  • Map out your data architecture and identify all data sources. Can you pull together customer service chat transcripts along with website visitation metrics? You need disconnected data sets.
  • Determine how to consolidate and relate all of the data sets.
  • Develop user-friendly solutions to analyze the data to help you find surprising insights. Data should drive discovery. Let users play with the information in new ways. Rigid Excel reports and big data analytics do not mix.
  • Turn those insights into actions.
  • Consistently look to bring in new data sets.

There are some of the caveats of the big data approach that companies should be cognizant of so that the can make informed strategic moves. An over- reliance on big data shouldn’t remove personal communication between the company and consumer. And, while there are many correlations that can be uncovered through big data analysis, there’s still a human element needed to confirm that the correlations make contextual sense to the business. It’s still an “art and science” approach, ideally one where the data makes decisions better and faster.

And don’t worry if you are just entering the big data game. The truth is that cost effective data management wasn’t available until recently, so it is not unusual to have a ton of data in many, many different places. As you begin, make a goal of centralizing your data so that scalability to meet the needs of your business is less complicated down the road. The amount of data gathered increases exponentially; so, you’ll be glad you started now.


Jessica Hawthorne-Castro is the CEO of Hawthorne Direct, a technology-based agency specializing in analytics and accountable brand advertising. She has strategically positioned the agency to be at the forefront of the marketing paradigm where art meets science. Throughout her tenure with Hawthorne Direct, she has fostered long-standing relationships with the company’s expansive base of diversified clients resulting from an unwavering commitment to unparalleled service. Her role principally involves fostering long-standing client relationships to develop highly strategic and measurable advertising campaigns, designed to ignite immediate consumer response.

Ep. 110 – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro – CEO OF Hawthorne Advertising

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

Author: n/a – interview with JHC, Matt Gottesman and Case Kenny

Title of piece: Episode 110: Jessica Hawthorne-Castro – CEO of Hawthorne Direct

Original Publication: HDF Magazine

Date Published: June 26, 2017

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro CEO of Hawthorne Direct

“I came out to LA, then I broke into the entertainment industry all on my own. I had a bit of a chip on the shoulder for no real reason except for that I never wanted to owe anyone anything, and so I got into the entertainment industry with no connections whatsoever, just my resume and portfolio.”

Jessica Hawthrone-Castro – CEO of Hawthorne Direct; What makes a great CEO; Building work culture; Work / Life balance; On being a mom.

Segment 1: (Length :04:00) – General Updates; Introduction to Jessica Hawthorne-Castro and her journey as an entrepreneur and CEO; Breaking into the entertainment industry; transitioning to work with family.

Jessica’s finer points:

“This agency was founded over 30 years ago by my father, Tim Hawthorne, who was a documentary filmmaker. I grew up in the Midwest, and for those of you in the Midwest, you grow up with a good, strong work ethic.”

I came out to LA, then I broke into the entertainment industry all on my own. I had a bit of a chip on the shoulder for no real reason except for that I never wanted to owe anyone anything, and so I got into the entertainment industry with no connections whatsoever, just my resume and portfolio.”

“I was actually nearly laughed out of the room because I was so professional in how I came in, and they were used to mainly friends and family contacts. I rose really quickly in the agency world because I was dead set on becoming a talent agent at that time. I was one of the youngest female agents in this pretty much all-male agency. I loved my clients.”

“I was a television literary agent, writers, directors, producers for TV. I, at that time, represented writers on the show called Entourage. I don’t know if you guys remember it from back in the day.”

“There was a transition period of this agency that my father had. I mentioned he was a director. We never thought we would work together. If anything, he thought that I would probably represent him as a big Hollywood director.”

“Dad said he would go back to his roots. Other folks within the ad agency were looking to transition it to the next iteration of what it was going to be, because 30 years is a long time for any company, and especially an agency when things are moving so quickly.”

I took the opportunity. I came in on the client side, noting again that I would never have thought I’d work with my father. I’m an only child because it was never in the cards, and I never also wanted to owe anyone anything.”

“I came in and we actually never had any of the dynamics that people typically have with a child or someone coming in with the family, that they seem to be … have more of an advantage over others, because if anything, I came in and had a stronger work ethic, just that was in my DNA than really anyone in the company.”

“I set the standard, by example, of how I expected people to work, communicate and the speed of which I started out on the client side, then, at one point, went back to get my MBA part time while I was working full time. I managed literally every single client in the company. I just took them on.”

Having too much work is never in my vocabulary, because I do love work and what I do, so people are always shocked by that, but you can never give me too much. I always just take more and more.”

“I transitioned then parallel between the client side, the operations side, and then decided to focus my … I was basically representing all the clients, but I decided to represent the agency and all the employees instead. By that point, then I moved over to the operations side and then transitioned to CEO and then took over ownership a couple of years back.”

Segment 2: (Length :08:00) – Talking with Jessica Hawthorne-Castro; What makes a great CEO; Understanding operations is key.

Jessica’s finer points:

“When I started out, and this is probably true for most CEOs unless they have a very traditional educational background where they’re Harvard MBAs or Stanford MBAs, you don’t necessarily aspire to be a CEO; it just ends up the natural progression of what happens.”

What I feel is a strength as a strong background and can actually translate through any industry is becoming very, very good at operations.”

“That was really the key thing. I had actually an art background. I literally majored in fine arts at UCLA. I was also a realist, so I was this interesting combination because that’s not always true about artists. I was an artist, so I would painting and photography, but as a realist, I could say very clearly, “I’m good but I’m not great,” right? At art specifically. What I found is that I could represent artists and know their work very well and also help them when their careers. That’s actually why I became an agent.”

“Also, now in advertising, most people at this point even forget — or they don’t even know, some of them — that I even have this visual background. They just think I’m pure business and straight to the point because that’s how they know me, for the most part, now. I’d come in and redo an entire campaign very quickly, comment on the visuals. Obviously in advertising, it’s very important. I started on the client side.”

“When I transitioned to the operations side through getting my MBA, that gave me some of my core business skills. I already had them, but it was just a good, solid background and foundation to have.”

Being in the day-to-day and the nitty gritty I think is so critical. I know a lot of people in finance or high-level strategy, and if you don’t necessarily have that attention to detail, it’s hard to really run a business or know all details.”

“I still to this day know absolutely what every single employee does, what all their roles are, who’s working efficiently, who’s not, where every dollar is flowing through the company.”

“These are things at some point, when you get to a certain size, that you do want to have … I don’t want to say give up, but relinquish control. Especially in the very beginning, you can’t be hands-off. You have to want and be able to do the hard work.”

“For me, it’s very easy for me and I actually enjoy that work, but I have a … Sometimes it’s hard to do both sides, both the overall corporate strategy and the vision and be able to get down in the minutiae and the day-to-day, but I am able to do that.”

“Still to this day I will get in there, and if we have to prep for a conference room and other people are ready, I have no problem with just getting in there and doing what needs to be done to get the work done. That’s what I project through the whole company, that no one should ever feel above their pay grade or their job responsibilities and everyone should wear multiple hats and get in there.”

You need to be an expert, but when there’s a need, you need to get into every detail. Knowing how things work and being a core operator is the foundation, I think, to then becoming a very successful CEO.”

Segment 3: (Length :10:00) – Building work culture; Managing Millennials versus older generations; Getting ahead on the trends; Work / Life balance.

Jessica’s finer points:

“Back to the MBA thing for a second. I agree it does teach you the numbers, but as you probably know, what an MBA does not teach you, you might’ve taken one class in the initial overview, is overall culture and people management. Once you get out into the real world, that’s basically 99.9% of your job. You get some hard skills, but the rest you’re really learning as you go because as we know, life is all people, right?”

Companies are really all people, even if you’re a technology company. You still have people at this point still, programming that technology. Those are skills for me, that I reach out to other CEO networks and support groups to continue to learn those skills and perfect those as you go, because that’s the big missing piece of all of that.”

“For me, personally, how do I not feel like I ever have too much work or accomplish so much in a day? For me, personally, it is probably because I have … It’s not diagnosed, okay, but I have OCD tendencies. I have extreme organization and discipline.”

“I get probably get more things coming across my desk, emails, information than … not only in the company but anything, any words I’m on externally, anything that’s going on, or even I’m dealing with my son, flowing through me every day. No matter what, every day, even if I’m in the office or in all-day strategy meetings or out at a conference or what it is, I have extreme discipline to organize and go through everything that comes across my plate every day.”

“Also, because I’m so organized in how I approach things, I can very, very quickly filter through information and data. Or if someone’s asking for something, I know exactly where it is and how to find it in one of my thousand folders. That’s, for me, how I think that I’m able to accomplish so much and not feel overwhelmed, is because I tackle everything every day.”

Again, that’s extreme discipline. That’s not necessarily something that is, I think, taught; I think it’s just potentially who you are. That’s actually just how I have to be, because if I have a day where I’ve not done that, I feel behind or like I’m not able to think as clearly and to get to things as clearly.”

“I do not like that feeling. Instead, I just continue every day to make sure that I have dealt with absolutely everything and so that I can start fresh. I respond to every email, even if it’s someone reaching out or potential spam. That’s the respect that I like. I treat people like I want to be treated, so for clients or whatever it is, or even just people are out that you know that even it’s a sales position, they’re putting themselves out there, so I do cordially respond to everyone because I just think it’s respectful.”

“Work hard . . . For me, work is fun. It’s not actually worth it if you’re not having fun while you’re doing it. Even I love your opening beats, right?”

“I think that relationships can have some impact, but for me, I actually went the opposite route, like I mentioned, and maybe too much so. For me, I always let my work prove what it was.”

“I never had relationships be the thing that promoted me, because then, for me, I felt that it was not genuine. It always was just a parent that I was working in a more … and more efficiently, smarter.”

I would say hard work, but caveat in that work can and should be fun, and you should let your merits really speak for themselves. Then, also, be in that works with other people of similar minds. Always know what’s going on in the world and the community.”

“Outside of just your initial company, go to conferences, join organizations, and also be aware of what’s going on in the global scale. That’s what’s really helped me. I have a lot of support … I’m part of things called TED Talks and other things like that.”

“Where you go and we’re meeting with global leaders and people who are doing amazing things for the world. You’re looking at world trends, and you have to get out of our, just our US environment, because sometimes we forget that even the people who feel like they’re the downest out, even in just the US … Everyone in the US: we’re still the top 1% of the world. You have to get out of that … I don’t want to say self-centered nature, but that’s a natural human tendency. So knowing what world trends are.”

“If you’re looking at technology and you’re looking to make an innovation, that you’re looking beyond just your initial scope but what is that, the current needs, what’s going to be there in five years, 10 years? That’s what I’m always looking at, is that not what we’re doing today, because what we’re doing today is just a result of our past actions. What we’re experiencing today, whether it’s good or bad, is a result of what we did yesterday or six months ago or a year ago.”

Things are progressing so, so quickly, and that speed of disruption and that speed of needing to be competitive in just a very short amount of time, it’s absolutely critical to not only succeed but really even to just sustain in this day and age. It’s that world view. It’s obviously a national view. It’s knowing general trends in the marketplace. Just being aware, keeping your mind open. Always be seeking to learn and to go beyond. I think a constant quest for learning is really, really critical, because the moment you think you have it all, you don’t.”

“I think it’s actually fairly easy to instill in the younger workforce, because they just do that naturally. Sometimes where actually it can be more challenging is a older workforce. That is a place where I do work hard on pushing information out to them in terms of what is going on in current trends and things are going on. I think younger people: they’re just naturally aware. They’re grabbing on to that. The older ones: things did not move as fast, looking at trends and what’s happening.”

“We can’t sit on the sidelines, anyone or any company, and just say that things are going to be moving, and if they don’t get on the train … and this isn’t just my company … they will be left behind.”

“Trying to instill that but without projecting too much fear is definitely a delicate balance and what I work hard on every day to try to encourage that but not demand it too much, because you’re not going to get good work from those folks if you’re pushing them, instilling, because they’re just going to push back against you.”

what I try to encourage is there’s always going to be problems, but let’s put the problems aside but come with a solution, because I’m always looking to do things better.

“Nothing is ever … can be good enough. We can always try to do it better, more efficiently, and I’m always looking for people’s suggestions on how to do that quicker and easier and, again, have more fun while we’re doing it.”

I think that really comes from the top if that is how you are as a person. I do have to also ask my executive team members to work in that same way and instill that same level. As a CEO, you project it, but you do have to work hard with your executive team to be on the same level, and then that flows to the whole company.”

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro Selected as a Finalist For L.A. Biz’s Women of Influence 2017

Hawthorne is proud to announce that the Los Angeles Business Journal has selected owner/CEO Jessica Hawthorne-Castro as a finalist for the L.A. Biz Women of Influence awards for the second year in a row. This program honors women business leaders who innovate, succeed and pay it forward. The winners will be announced at the Women’s Summit on Friday, June 23 at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live.

In Women of Influence, L.A. Biz recognizes leaders with a clear track record of success who stand out for their achievements in the marketplace, as well as their commitment to community. Being selected as a finalist is a testament to Hawthorne-Castro’s vision and track record as CEO of Hawthorne, as well as her extensive involvement with mentoring and philanthropic causes.

Hawthorne is a recognized champion of accountable advertising, garnering billions in sales and 450+ creative awards for Fortune 500 clients. As chief executive, Hawthorne-Castro has strategically transitioned Hawthorne’s legacy of performance-driven advertising to brand response, creating their trademark: The Art of Brand, The Science of Response®.  She encourages women in leadership roles, and has an executive team headed by many women in director and vice president roles who follow her example of a strong and confident female leader.

Beyond her leadership at Hawthorne, Hawthorne-Castro is actively involved in the community through philanthropic efforts and participates with global leadership organizations, like the Young Presidents Organization, Vistage, and TED. She is a contributor to various industry publications, including AdAge, AdWeek and The Wall Street Journal, and routinely participates on industry discussion panels. For all her efforts, she has won numerous awards, including “Women’s Summit Awards Nomination” and “Woman of Influence” in 2016;  “40 Under 40” by DMN; “Female CEO of the Year in Advertising & Marketing” by CEO World Awards.

Four International Trends to Watch in 2017

Author: Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

Original Link: ER Magazine

Date Published: May – June Issue 2017

Some 95 percent of the world’s consumers reside outside of the United States, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says, so the lure of the international marketplace is strong for marketers seeking new customers, business opportunities, and higher revenues. But while thinking beyond borders presents exciting opportunities for anyone wanting to take advantage of the world marketplace, it can also introduce new challenges that can only be addressed through proper planning, forecasting, and strategizing. By preparing for potential roadblocks in advance, marketers can reap the rewards.

Recent world events have forced some companies to rethink the way they do business internationally, however. Changing immigration laws, increasingly populist mindsets, and the scrutiny paid to international trade agreements such as NAFTA, for example, are having a collective impact on the way international business is conducted. And while selling overseas remains a viable and profitable opportunity, some of these recent events and decisions could present roadblocks this year and into the future.

Here are four trends all international marketers should keep an eye on this year:

There’s no magic bullet—domestic or international—for cross-channel attribution. Defined by Forrester Research as “the science of using advanced analytics to allocate proportional credit to each marketing touchpoint across all online and offline channels, leading to a desired customer action,” cross-channel attribution is a continuous challenge. That level of complexity doesn’t change when you start doing business overseas; in fact, it multiplies. And while there’s no magic bullet for cross-channel attribution, good analytics can level the playing field and ensure that marketers get the best possible content and information available.

We’re all in a race to develop engaging, trustworthy content. Beyond attribution, the biggest challenges for European marketers surround developing layers of content that are tied to varying cultures, and creating continuous engagement with consumers via social media, blogs, testimonial conversations, trustworthy content, and the capture of key moments in the conversion or conversation funnel.

In the online international marketing magazine The Drum, author Manita Dosanjh recently discussed the obstacles companies face when trying to predict the future in an unpredictable industry. With data privacy and ad blocking posing a threat to how marketers traditionally connect with target audiences, she said, brands will need a better understanding of how to deliver meaningful experiences in the modern customer journey. “This new year won’t be kind to brands who can’t sustain a solid one-to-moment communications approach,” Dosanjh said. “Customers will only stop and focus their attention on a brand if the interaction triggers a genuine emotional connection. And they expect this regardless of how many times they’ve interacted in the past, and irrespective of the channel.”

Global ad spending is rising, but international relations could stall growth. According to eMarketer, global ad spending grew 7.2 percent in 2016 to $550.5 billion, and it is projected to rise faster than previously expected through 2020. Growth will hover between 5 percent and 9 percent each year, the forecast says, with total spending climbing to $724.1 billion in 2020. Strong demand for digital advertising, and particularly mobile advertising, will be the main driver of spending increases.

Among advertising markets worldwide, the United States led with nearly $196 billion in total media ad spend in 2016—almost 36 percent of the global total. Digital ad spending including mobile increased 20.3 percent to reach $194.6 billion in 2016, making up 35.3 percent of total media ad spending. By 2020, digital spend will top $335 billion and represent over 46 percent of total media ad investment. But whether eMarketer’s growth projections come true will be at least in part reliant on trade agreements and international policies currently under discussion—points that all marketers should watch as the year progresses.

Organizations are taking on global challenges on a case-by-case basis. Earlier this year, Chinese online commerce giant Alibaba filed its first lawsuit over counterfeit goods sold on its site. According to ZDNet, the e-commerce giant sued two vendors for selling fake Swarovski watches on the Taobao marketplace, marking the first time it took legal action against counterfeit sales. And to combat the sale of counterfeit fashion items on its site, eBay recently announced its new “eBay Authenticate” service, which offers professional, independent verification that a product is legitimate in an industry in which Certilogo reports that one in 10 items purchased in the past 12 months was fake. Clearly, the age-old issue of counterfeiting hasn’t gotten any easier to combat in the internet age, but the good news is that some of the largest names in e-tailing are taking a stance against it.

As the global marketplace continues to expand and the internet’s role in that development continues to widen, we expect to see more companies leveraging the world marketplace. Along the way, these companies will face their share of challenges, but they’ll also open themselves to more opportunities and the chance to expand outside of their own borders. So whether they’re trying to wrap their arms around cross-channel attribution, utilize predictive analytics to their advantage, or combat counterfeiters, these companies know and understand that the internet has made our world a much smaller place.

Our agency is working on a cross-border attribution tool to deal with some of these challenges. Since media, data, and products don’t always recognize international borders, it’s up to us to figure out the best approaches for our clients, companies, and trade as a whole.