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Leadership Spotlight

Leading by Example: Stephen Weinstein

Haley Robinson, Senior Copywriter

August 8, 2022

Welcome to our new series on leadership featuring Hothouse leaders and innovators. We’ll learn how they tick and what they think makes a good leader. To kick things off, we’re speaking with Stephen Weinstein, our Senior Vice President of Account Management. His career has spanned many decades and agencies big and small. We’re going to ask him the hard-hitting questions you want to know – and maybe some you don’t.

Haley Robinson (Senior Copywriter at Hothouse): Let’s dive in. How did you get into advertising?

Stephen Weinstein: I’ve always had an interest in TV commercials. Even as a kid, I was always trying to figure out why the brand did what they did, who they were speaking to and the point they were trying to make. When I learned I could actually do this as a job, I was sold. I thought I’d be on the creative side — like everyone does — but discovered my talents were best used on the business side. In college, I landed an internship in NYC at Ogilvy in the media planning group. I didn’t know the different roles at the time, but I was in and that’s what mattered. Eventually, I transferred to Atlanta and decided to pursue an account management/supervisor role. I didn’t have any training and learned it all on the fly. After hopping around different big agencies I decided to see what the small agency world was about.

HR: How did you find Hothouse?

SW: I had worked alongsideJay Cronin (Hothouse’s current Managing Director) in a prior life and learned about Hothouse through him. I fell in love with Jon Katinsky’s (Hothouse Founder and President) leadership style and the autonomy a smaller shop would give me to carve my own path.

HR: Okay, you liked what you heard. But why did you choose to leave the big agency world for a small one?

SW: Honestly, Jon was the main reason. He treats people like people. He respects employees and their life balance. I wanted to help grow what he started.

HR: Your five-year anniversary is coming up. Congrats! What do you consider your biggest contribution to the Hothouse team?

SW: In my time, we’ve developed a REALLY good account management team that has become a true partner with our clients to produce the best work possible. We think instead of just respond. Not every agency can say that, and I think that’s really cool.

HR: Five years is a long time in advertising. How has Hothouse changed since you came on board?

SW: When I first came, it was 80% entertainment clients. Jon had the foresight to diversify our client base, and he brought many people in to help in that effort (myself included). Now, our client makeup is the opposite. We’re more well-rounded and handle many different B2B and B2C brands in travel, auto, manufacturing and entertainment. We’ve also done a good job in upgrading the talent level in the agency. Knowing content creation would be huge, we built up an incredible team in video production. And we adapted to the Covid reality well – since we’re remote-flexible, we have been able to expand our talent base to find top-tier talent across the country.

HR: You lead the account management team here. What characteristics define your leadership style?

SW: I’m a big believer in giving people as much rope as they can handle. You can’t treat everyone the same way – we are all different. I hate being micromanaged and prefer to be a sounding board and someone who can give advice and guidance. I lead by example and hope people watch how I conduct myself and treat people and soak it up themselves.

HR: Why should potential hires choose Hothouse?

SW: This isn’t the right environment for everyone. You have to thrive on creating your own direction and path. But you’re going to be given the opportunity to run with things and grow, push and question things as much or as little as you are comfortable with. That’s not true everywhere. Here, it’s okay to fail and question.

HR: What is your best advice for those starting their advertising careers?

SW: Two things. First: find a place that matches your values. It’s important today that people fit the values and culture of a company. Second: one of my first bosses always told me to “show, don’t tell.” It is much more powerful when you find a way to connect with someone through action, thoughts, senses or feelings.

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