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Meet Leigh Dow of Sway Media in Frisco

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leigh Dow.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Leigh. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I have a diverse career profile. I started my career in politics, working first for the Governor of Florida’s Cabinet press office and then in the U.S. Senate.

My undergraduate degree is in geopolitics. In my first post-college role inside the Senate, I drafted legislation related to Immigration, Department of State and Department of Labor issues. It taught me a lot about research and strategy and built my critical thinking skills. Seeing how our government works from the inside of one of the most powerful institutions in the world was an incredible learning experience and introduced me to the importance of building and managing a personal brand.

After a couple of years in government, I transferred those skills to a law firm lobbying role. Lobbying taught me about managing influence and led me to my first job in Silicon Valley working for Intel in government affairs. While working in the Bay area, I decided to go back to school for my MBA with a focus in Technology Management. It was during that time I left government affairs and began focusing on building a career in marketing and public relations.

Many years later, I moved from semiconductor marketing to aerospace marketing at Honeywell. Over the course of seven years there, my job continued to grow in scope managing global eCommerce and online marketing.

The executive who originally hired met at Honeywell retired and a few years later we reconnected. He encouraged me to start my own agency because he thought I had the right mix of marketing expertise and entrepreneurial spirit. It planted the idea for me, and after seven years at Honeywell, I left to start my own agency and entrepreneurial journey. The first agency I started, 48 West Agency, is the parent company to our Dallas-based venture Sway Media.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I have never met an entrepreneur who has said they’ve had a completely smooth road.

I’ve learned for us to continue to be a high performing team, we have to be surrounded with talent we trust and respect. We’ve built a very tight team that works very well together and a thrives through great collaboration. That didn’t happen overnight, it’s something we worked to create.

One of the hardest things to do in my role is invest in people who I recognize potential, only to be let down by their poor work ethic or watch them self-sabotage their potential. We come across very talented people who are sometimes surrounded by people holding them back or they can’t escape a mindset that limits them from tremendous success. It requires the ability to manage the emotional aspect of believing in someone’s talent while recognizing when it’s time to part ways and do what is necessary to move the business forward.

We try to encourage the people we invest in to become more focused and develop a tunnel vision, and we also push ourselves to follow the same mantra. Building successful business and achieving goals means limiting distractions that waste time and have nothing to do with the goal. Those who are very successful become exceptional at fighting for what they want to achieve. Tenacity and determination are the keys to achieving goals and the same is true for both our clients and our team. That level of discipline means making difficult decisions.

I’ve also learned to pick my battles and not die on every hill. Not all things or people are worth my attention and focus. When I find someone is not doing the things they need to do to achieve goals, I’ve learned to ask myself if they really deserve our time and resources. I’ve become much wiser about choose my battles carefully.

Another difficult part of the journey is learning to let areas of your life slide in order to devote the energy to growing your company and succeeding. Professionally you need to surround yourself with people who buy into your goals and help you succeed. Personally, you have to surround yourself with people who are strong enough to give you that space and understand when your priority is not them.

Please tell us about Sway Media.
48 West is an award-winning agency known for solving complex marketing challenges for companies at strategic inflection points. We do this through market research, new product or service introduction, implementing AI and automation technologies and developing creative campaigns. Part of what makes us unique is that our team comes from the Fortune 100 environment, so we know what it’s like to be the client.

After spending 2019 getting the Sway Media subsidiary up and running, now we are focused on continuously scouting influencers and talent we want to work with and building relationships with brands who want to partner with them. We also have been working on some exciting new collaborations across music, sports, and fashion. 2020 should be a really exciting year for our team.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would have started off working on the business, not in the business. It took me several years to get to the point where I didn’t have daily client responsibilities, and that made it more difficult for us to grow. Getting involved in simple details rather than delegating them kept me from being a more effective leader.

I’m responsible for the big picture. It’s important I spend my time setting goals and positioning us for future success. Every minute I wasn’t focused on planning, strategizing and building is a minute I’m keeping us from being at our best.

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Leigh Dow

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