Dara Busch is Co-CEO of 5WPR.
For those who don't know anything about you or your work, can you provide a bit of background?
I have more than 25 years of experience in the public relations industry, driving awareness for consumer brands, which has led me to my current position as Co-CEO of 5WPR. Before joining 5W, I was the Executive Vice President/Managing Director at Rubenstein PR, where I worked for 16 years managing the luxury/lifestyle division in addition to oversight of all agency practices.
Was any one person who was instrumental in helping you get from where you started out, to where you are now?
My mom played an instrumental role and influence on who I am today, and she has played a large part in my success. Growing up, I watched my mom work full-time alongside raising and running a family. Through her, I learned the importance of finding a balance between my flourishing career and my relationships, especially with my family. While I’ve been lucky to have many professional acquaintances and mentors to guide me, I set out to emulate who she was in my professional career. She is a reliable source of support and encouragement for me.
Is there a particular piece of advice you were given in the early days of your business journey that you still benefit from today?
I’ve always lived by the advice to run your own race. It is of little benefit to compare your journey against someone else’s or set arbitrary goals you feel you must meet before you can accomplish the next one. Remembering to focus on myself allowed me to advance my career and achieve success without worrying about what others thought of me.
What is the most important lesson you've learned about leadership in your business journey so far?
To be a leader, you must be knowledgeable across all the industries and departments that make your business successful. Because of this, it’s important to say 'yes' to learning opportunities from early on in your career if you wish to grow.
What are the top three things you wish you'd known when you were just starting out?
Things will not always go to plan, and that’s okay. Throughout my career, there have been plenty of times when campaigns haven’t performed well, or we had to pivot last minute, and in those moments it’s important to let go of what you can and work with your team to get back on track.
Being confident in yourself will get you through just about any situation. On one business trip, my team and I were scheduled to meet with a potential client and present our proposal. We were flying out of different airports and had arranged time at the hotel to prepare our pitch. The team was bringing the presentation and collateral but never made it. A storm hit New York and I was lucky enough to be the only person whose flight made it out. Our pitch had to shift from a team of six to me solo, and I had to get fully up-to-speed fast. With a boost of confidence from the kind words of the Uber driver who took me to Staples to pick up the newly printed presentations, I crushed the meeting and we won the business. The experience proved to me that you can do anything you set your mind to.
Don’t be nervous to share your ideas from the start. If you’re in the room, it's because someone already determined you should be there. When the opportunity arises in these group setting to share your ideas, don’t be intimidated and sit by quietly. The earlier you begin to collaborate, the earlier you can begin to grow your skills.
In your experience, what is the most effective way to build a strong network of mentors and advisors to guide you in your business endeavors?
Networking is an important first step in building your reputation within your industry. Many relationships with mentors and advisors will be built naturally as you begin your career and meet coworkers through your job. Joining leadership organizations, or industry-specific groups, provide not only great networking opportunities but often also provide further educational resources that can help to build your industry knowledge and guide your endeavors.
How do you determine when it's time to pivot, and what factors should you consider in making that decision?
It’s always important to measure the success of a campaign, not only at the end but at predetermined intervals and milestones throughout. If you’re not on track to meet the goals you’ve set out for the campaign, it’s important to regroup and try a fresh strategy. The same can be said for your career--if you’re feeling unfulfilled, it might be time to find more challenging work.
How do you stay motivated and inspired during the business cycle of ups and downs?
One of the ways I stay inspired is by collaborating and spending time with our workforce. 5W takes pride in hiring individuals who are passionate about what they do, and therefore, generate excellent work, in addition to being supportive and dedicated. These individuals make an incredible impact within our agency and inspire me day to day. Another factor that keeps me motivated is knowing that these same employees rely on me as a CEO to guide the business through tough patches and come out on the other side, to continue growing and succeeding as a business.
Looking back, what one thing would you do differently if you could start your journey over again?
Nothing sticks out as something I would do differently if I was to start my journey over because I know that every decision I made, from before I even started my career, has led me to be in the position I am in today.