Q&A: Dale Bornstein, 2018 Agency Honoree


The Plank Center recognizes and promotes the critical role mentors play in helping to develop leaders and advance the profession and honors leaders throughout the profession who, by word and deed, have demonstrated a superior commitment to mentoring others, and who are committed to accelerating the success of others in the field at its annual Milestones in Mentoring Gala.

Our question and answer series introduces the 2018 Milestones in Mentoring award recipients.

Dale-045_2000_01Meet Dale Bornstein.
Dale Bornstein joined M Booth, an integrated communications agency specializing in public relations, digital strategy and content marketing and is headquartered in New York with a presence in Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco and Boston, as CEO in October of 2013. Under her leadership, the agency has nearly doubled in size and been awarded every industry accolade including overall Agency of the Year and Best Place to Work twice.

What is your role as a mentor? What inspires/motivates you to mentor?

I believe the role of a mentor is to be a “sherpa” – to listen, guide and inspire; share learnings and experiences. But most importantly to help bolster confidence and provide encouragement to follow passions, explore, be adventurous, take risks and fail forward. I believe there’s nothing more important than relationships in life and in our business. And for me, there’s nothing more rewarding than knowing I have made a difference or positively impacted someone’s career or life story. I heard Shaq recently use the term “real model” vs role model. And I love the idea of inspiring others by living my values and aligning my actions with my words. If I can help inspire someone by being a “real model” then it’s been a great day. #womentor

What have you found to be the most important key to having a successful mentor/mentee relationship?

Mutual respect, trust and confidentiality. It’s impossible to share openly unless one feels safe – and that requires keeping everything that’s discussed confidential. It’s also so important to earn one another’s respect and trust.

What is one powerful thing you’ve learned from mentoring someone different from you?

You need to be authentically curious. When you mentor those who are different from you, it’s a real opportunity for mutual growth and learning.  And it can be one of the most enriching experiences, especially if you listen actively and ask a lot of questions.  A huge part of mentoring is helping your mentee gain confidence. It’s critical to build on their strengths (not yours) and that takes real effort but can be really rewarding.

What do you see are the differences between mentorship and sponsorship, and how do you approach each one?

A mentor should be someone who helps you grow and learn and develop professionally and personally. A sponsor should be a trusted advocate to help you seek out and when possible, secure, your next opportunity. In a best case, both should be people you admire and trust.

There is a myriad of changes around us. What issues have or will become a “wake up call” to the profession?

The biggest challenge will be “next gen” talent acquisition and retention.  “Talent for Tomorrow” (which is really talent for today) needs to be diverse in every sense of the word – from ethnic background to mindset to skillset.  Practitioners of the future will need to be facile in both data interpretation and creative ideation/visualization; proficient in story-making and storytelling.  And organizations will need to be laser focused on inclusivity in order to retain, develop and support the kind of diverse talent that will lead to enhanced creativity and innovation for our clients and the profession.

What’s your favorite way to spend a Saturday?

I’m a weekend warrior when it comes to exercise beyond every day cardio and strength training.  Saturday is made for jump board pilates, figure skating, tennis or a marathon afternoon of cardio shopping. Any or all of the above could make for a great Saturday.

Favorite drink?

A cold sparkling water (with a funky French name in a flavor like grapefruit) or a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. #client

If given the choice to trade places with anyone (living or dead) for one day, who would it be and why?

I can’t sing and so I would love to trade places with any of the great singers of our time. I think it would exhilarating to actually be able to carry a tune. Having just seen Hello Dolly, I think Bette and I would have a blast trading places.

Favorite place to vacation and why?

If you know me, you know that South Florida overlooking the beach (and on the tennis court) is my “happy place.”  But I love to vacation in places where the people are friendly and I don’t have to have to “dress” or do my makeup. Throw in some great shopping and it’s nirvana.

My leadership tip is… Stay true to your True North and live your values. Also, make sure that those you are leading are clear about your values and the values of the organization and what you want the organization to stand for. And if you are leading in a place where your values are compromised, consider a new adventure.

My mentorship tip is… Listen actively and be present.

Every mentor is… Hopefully someone else’s mentee.

Go-to news source… Morning shows during my morning workout, The New York Times, WSJ, The Skimm

Lesson that took you the longest to learn… What a difference a day makes! It’s simple but true. The long game requires perspective. You need to be able to celebrate the “ups” and weather the “downs” – because business can be a veritable rollercoaster ride. So buckle up and enjoy it.

Habits in your daily routine that strengthen your leadership skills… I know this may sound cliché, but I need sleep and exercise and clean eating to be a great leader. So I try to get at least seven hours sleep every night and then I do my best to eat healthy and exercise in some way every day. I subscribe to the Corporate Athlete philosophy — do everything you can to bring your “best energy” to the workplace every day. And, being “hangry” is not an option. I carry healthy snacks with me always. In fact, for years people have teased me about my “Mary Poppins lunch bag.” That bag has clocked some serious miles, but I can’t lead or mentor on an “empty tank” or an empty (calorie) stomach.

Published: August 17, 2018


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