ALWAYS PLAY THE LONG GAME
Leadership Lessons is a series of Q&A sessions with members of The Committee of 200 (C200), an invitation only group of the world's top female entrepreneurs and C-suite executives who work to foster, celebrate and advance women's leadership in business.
Beth Bronfman, director at large of the C200 governing board, is CEO and managing partner of View, a New York advertising, interactive and branding agency that creates category leaders. Bringing brand expertise and insights acquired throughout her career, including as vice president of advertising at Macy’s New York, Bronfman has built her agency into a multimillion-dollar firm. She has earned accolades including the Presidents Award of the Women Presidents' Organization (WPO) and the Enterprising Women of the Year Award.
What's the most important business lesson you've learned, and how did you learn it?
Early in life, I learned the lesson that has become the foundation of my company’s culture: It’s not about me. Delighted to be visiting my father at his office in the Empire State Building when I was 12, I burst through the doors, blurting out who I was and why I was there. Overhearing my spirited entry, my father took me aside and reprimanded me, explaining that I needed to look beyond myself and be considerate of the person I was speaking to — in this case, the receptionist. In that moment, I realized how important it is to look at things through the perspective of others. In business, this means checking our egos at the door and understanding that it’s always about our clients — not about us.
How did you develop your leadership style?
My parents, as well as my grandparents, were exceptional role models. They taught me to be kind, generous and collaborative above all else. They instilled in me the confidence to know that I could do anything in life, but also helped me understand that caring about people comes first. As I began working for various bosses, I discovered that people want to work with leaders who treat them with respect and kindness. As a leader, you don’t have to be the smartest one in the room, but you do need to care about and listen to the thoughts, feelings and opinions of others.
How do you hire?
I listen to my gut. Meeting someone face-to-face is much more telling than any resume. I like to share a meal and spend time socializing to see who candidates really are. When we are hiring at View, I always look for people who are smarter than me in their area of expertise and who exhibit flexibility, the desire to grow and the ability to communicate.
How do you continue to grow personally and professionally at this stage in your career?
We should all strive to grow every day of our lives. I grow by participating in leadership groups, including C200 and WPO; networking and connecting people; consulting my advisory board; reading; and asking for help when I don’t know an answer.
What advice do you share with young business leaders?
Remember that it’s about the long game, and have the vision to take your business where you want it to go. That means standing back and working on your business, not just in it; regularly evaluating whether you have the right people in the right seats; building strategic alliances with partners whose expertise contributes to your long-term growth; adding value to your business every day; and conscientiously monitoring your profitability. Also: Get a line of credit when you don’t need it so that it’s there when you do. But most importantly, create a culture of relationship building: At View, we serve as brand stewards for our clients, because no matter how your business evolves, maintaining a strong client focus is vital to your success.