Rachel Wexler: On the importance of being challenged, motivated, and self-assured
This #movethedial interview with Rachel Wexler, now Director of Marketing at TribalScale, was conducted by Jodi Kovitz. Together they’re celebrating Rachel’s exciting promotion to TribalScale’s leadership team. TribalScale is an innovation firm that helps startups and enterprises step into the future.
You were recently promoted to Director of Marketing at TribalScale. Congratulations! What has the road been like?
When I accepted the Marketing Manager position at TribalScale in August 2017, I saw it as a complete change in my career path. I was asking myself how did I end up here, but looking back, it makes complete sense. I always loved designing and using my creativity, but I started to look for the business and strategic lens that drove the creative, the “why.” I began to notice the impact and disruptive power of technology on retail, and bricks and mortar industries. It was clear to me that tech could be the solution to these hurdles, and I wanted to be part of that solution.
After being introduced to TribalScale, I realized the company had the blend of innovation and culture that I was looking for. My experiences at WE helped me realize the importance of being with a company whose values aligned with my own, a company that appreciates diversity and knows the need for a strong workplace culture. I found this at TribalScale, not to mention the challenges and excitement tied to an innovative industry. As soon as I came in, I could feel the energy and passion and I didn’t want to leave the building.
What has the rapid rise to success at TribalScale been like for you?
When I first joined TribalScale, Sheetal (TribalScale’s founder and CEO) said to me that his best employee is someone he knows he doesn't have to check-up on, someone he knows has his back and he can trust. That really stuck with me. It demonstrated a level of autonomy and respect, and right from the CEO, which is so special. I loved it and wanted to take on that challenge and responsibility.
My vision aligned with Sheetal’s so nicely [Jaitly, Founder and CEO]. I totally understood and clicked with the TribalScale process. It felt natural to jump in and execute on that shared vision. I seized opportunities and took advantage of chances presented by the leadership team. I think having a strategic vision for TribalScale’s marketing helped me prove myself and show my commitment to the shared vision. It has been an incredible experience to work so closely was such an inspiring and passionate founder.
Being put on the leadership team meant I was working at the leadership level. The fact that I was recognized for my work ethic and efforts so quickly cemented my view and understanding of TribalScale’s unique and inspiring culture. The promotion came as a complete surprise, and that’s really rare and special. I had no clue those sorts of conversations surrounding my role and responsibilities were even taking place. I’m really grateful, I also owe thanks to Kirstine Stewart [President and CRO] for announcing my promotion and being so supportive of women in tech and in leadership positions.
What has been the biggest challenge for you at TribalScale?
In the past six months, the biggest challenge for me and my professional development was the shift from B2C (business to consumer) marketing to B2B (business to business). Coming from retail and commerce (B2C), I always had concrete measures and KPIs, but joining a company that was young, scrappy, and went with it’s gut meant there weren’t always those sorts of numbers. B2B marketing is very different, but there is still a value to measures and results, it’s tricky to establish and implement those KPIs.
Also, we call TribalScale a rocketship, and that’s how it feels. In the past six months we’ve leveled up, we’ve changed how we present ourselves, and we’re totally different. The growth has been crazy, I can see it across the teams. At the same time our Director of HR, Anisa [Berisha], has done such a great job of preserving the incredible culture here. I’m so inspired by the growth and the culture here, in some ways work has become my life. I’ve found my people, I am passionate about what TribalScale does, and I’m constantly motivated and inspired at work. This also means that the 9-5 doesn’t really exists, the rocketship is busy. This could be a challenge for some people, so it’s important to embrace it, but also practice balance.
How have you contributed to and changed TribalScale?
I’m looking 2, 5, 10 years into the future. I think and practice strategic marketing, not reactionary marketing. I am driving TribalScale’s brand evolution in close partnership with Kirstine and Jane [Motz Hayes, TribalScale Director of Design], thinking about where we want to be, the story we want to tell, and who we want to work with. It’s been a really incredible experience to collaborate so closely with other women in this field. It’s about what thought leadership we want tied to our name. I am always thinking about how the brand resonates, how it appeals to client partners, different verticals, recruits, and new hires.
I also know the importance of diversity and culture, and really push this at TribalScale. For example, the gender balance at our TakeOver Innovation Conference, culture-add hires, and finding complementary strengths in teams. It’s important to identify needed roles, hire the right people, and bring in new ways of thinking and skill-sets. Every person has a unique background and can bring a different set of expertise to the table, so we should harness and value that diversity.
If there was one thing you wanted the world to know about TribalScale, what would it be?
We help people step into the future. By people I mean our clients, but also our employees. We are so passionate about what we do, our processes, and the positive effects we can have on the businesses we work with, but also their users and consumers. We’re always thinking ahead, not what worked in the past, but we’re looking at the emerging tech, the future, and how we can intersect and adapt to those changes and innovations. This mindset is also in our culture. We want our teams and people to succeed. The leadership team has done an amazing job with this. Every person at TribalScale is cared for, not just today and in their career at TribalScale, but long term. TribalScale wants future success and happiness for everyone, no one should be left behind.
You lead a team of amazing women! What is your day-to-day like?
A day in the life, well every day is different. But one thing I love about TribalScale are the rituals. Everyday we have the Tribe-wide stand-up at 9:15, we share announcements, failfasts, and give kudos. Then we break down into our departments, state our goals for the day and any blockers. It’s a really productive way to start the day, and it guarantees that me and my team are at work early and ready to dive-in. On Mondays we have our marketing intake meeting, and then in our Friday retros we talk about what we accomplished that week, what we missed, what we learned, and our action items for the next week. These rituals give an added sense of accountability and transparency. Our pairing process goes beyond the engineering team, each team works together - two heads are better than one. We all have the chance to contribute and provide feedback. XP [Extreme Programming] is embedded in our culture, it goes beyond a day in the life. How TribalScale works really inspires me. I like action, progress, and efficiency, and this is just part of the DNA.
Marketing is lucky, we work with every team. We build content, coordinate and develop TribalScale’s social media presence, and we work with large news outlets for our PR. I’m also lucky that we have a large PR announcement to make every few weeks. We work closely with everyone at TribalScale, Jane and her amazing team of designers, the product managers, engineers, sales and the leadership team. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to work so closely with our President, Kirstine, who is so supportive and empowering. I also have the chance to collaborate with external partners in the industry. Right now we have a biweekly blog with BetaKit, so we’re also communicating, brainstorming, and producing content for the broader tech space. With our events we have the chance to work closely with sponsors, and other amazing groups, like #movethedial. Even we [Rachel and Jodi] have the chance to work together on projects and events, support each other, and push ourselves forwards. It’s fun to have the opportunity to really get involved with the community and work in so many different aspects of the industry.
If you could give one piece of career advice, what would it be?
Understand your strengths, and find a company who will play to those strengths.
From a young age I knew that being challenged and inspired were key for my success. I always live by this and accept challenges as they come. I believe that being comfortable is an inhibitor to success. I knew that I needed to work for a company and a leadership team that would motivate me, and would always present me with new and exciting work challenges. I know that in this sort of fast-paced environment I produce my best work. It’s about knowing and playing to your strengths. When it’s the right fit, you give 110% of yourself to the job.
Your career path is admirable, Director of Marketing at a fast growing tech company in just 6 months. What would you say to other young women and girls in the industry?
The workplace shouldn’t be a place of competition. It is essential to champion other women, not compete with them. It’s very important to build meaningful connections, find support, and care about the people you surround yourself with. If you care about their well-being, it will be reciprocated. Work on building diverse relationships across the board. Look for mentors, team members, and employees that compliment your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be afraid of your weaknesses, let someone else take the lead in that respect. If your company or team isn’t diverse you will come against challenges, different perspectives can be so valuable. Female empowerment is important in a male-dominated industry, but it also goes way beyond gender.
Find a team that will help you champion your strengths and will help support your weaknesses. It’s about self-assurance, knowing your worth, and value. It has been really amazing for me to connect with women that have the same beliefs, rituals, and values. My team is so lucky to be close with #movethedial and hear about all the work you are doing. We love being involved, partnering, and supporting the initiative. It’s really important to connect and build strong relationships with other women in the industry. I want to further advance women in tech and in leadership positions.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
Well, there isn’t just one. I had an english teacher in high school that taught me the importance of being surrounded by people that inspire, motivate, and challenge you. Her teaching style was more about passion based learning, figuring out what makes you get up in the morning, and how to channel that energy.
I also give major credit to my parents who always backed my crazy ideas. I always wanted to put myself out there, experience different cultures, countries, and ways of life, and just immerse myself in something new. My parents fully encouraged me to travel, give back, and learn from others no matter what. My experiences abroad gave me a level of self-assurance and confidence in my ability to take control and shape my future. They also influenced my approach to work, not just my work ethic but my mindset of always looking for new opportunities and taking risks. My family taught me the importance of discipline and confidence from a young age. I truly believe that if you have confidence or a sense of self assurance, motivation, and passion, those are the three key ingredients to finding happiness and success.
You and I connected over goal-setting and accountability to your goals. Can you share a bit more of that?
Yes, we connected over q-cards! I think setting goals and writing down a very specific goal is so important. For example, instead of a long-term general goal, “I want to be successful,” it’s about having very specific goals with a deadline. A year ago I wrote a q-card: I want to be a director by the time I am 30. Now, I was made Director of Marketing a month before my 29th birthday. Setting specific goals helps you visualize and understand the multiple steps needed to reach that bigger goal.
Once you have a clear understanding of how to achieve your goal, it’s much easier to wake up every morning, know and feel that every little action you take is a step in the right direction. I also make my goals known, I tell people what they are. It’s an added level of accountability and transparency. I let people know what I want, and how I plan to get there, and often you find amazing support. Even with this promotion, I told Sheetal I wanted to become a director and asked how I can get there. He said: well, you already are. I had no clue, and then it was announced the next day. Specific goal setting, and making it known has been so helpful for me.
Amazing, I love that. What is your favourite book?
My favourite book is “A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry. It explores life in India during the Internal State of Emergency. It reinforced how fortunate I am and the importance of gratitude. The book give me a new perspective on politics, social well-being, and my general understanding of the world. It reinforced a habit in me to be grateful, and be grateful of past and future opportunities. The incredible English teacher I mentioned earlier also happens to be Rohinton Mistry’s wife, so reading this book a month before heading to India had many lessons for me.
Rachel Wexler is the Director of Marketing at TribalScale. She leads TribalScale’s internal and external marketing efforts, and oversees all PR and events. Rachel is directing TribalScale’s brand evolution while the team continues to grow. She is a futurist, passionate about the intersection between strategic marketing and creative design, and is helping put TribalScale on the world stage.
Prior to TribalScale, Rachel was part of the marketing team at WE. There, she was responsible for campaign and corporate partnerships in the WE school’s programs, and then managed ME to WE’s retail and ecommerce marketing. Rachel also led the rebranding for a lifestyle organization. She is a certified English as Second Language teacher, taught and volunteered in Laos, India, and Fiji. Rachel has a joint foundation degree in photojournalism and graphic design from the University of Arts London, and Advertising Design from OCAD.