UG 013 – Sarah Hofstetter on How to Build a Brand, Think Differently, and Stand Out in a Crowded World

    Sarah Hofstetter is the global CEO of 360i, a premier digital advertising agency.

    Sarah has received numerous awards, including Advertising Agency’s “40 Under 40”. Her company, 360i, is the only ad agency to be named the Top Third Agency in “Advertising Age’s Agency A-List” for three years in a row.

    Sarah shares her story about how she went from a Journalism major to an advertising executive. In just 10 years, she ran PR for a public company, launched her own company, and then joined 360i; ultimately becoming its CEO. Now she creates brand strategy for major companies such as Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, HBO, OREO, and many more.

    In this episode, we discuss Sarah’s insights, as well as lessons she learned along her journey.


    • Sarah’s start in PR as a journalism major (1:52)
    • The 10% rule and the need for change (8:10)
    • The question Sarah asks to spur innovation (9:30)
    • The most important asset that today’s companies possess (13:23)
    • Increasing attention for your brand, when consumer attention span decreases (15:20)
    • Deciding when to leave where you are and launch your own business (19:52)
    • Digital word of mouth: Merging search engine marketing and public relations (26:09)
    • Doubling down on digital (32:35)
    • How to balance it all: CEO, mom,and religious Jew (39:37)
    • The secret to not just being #1, but staying #1 (46:01)
    • How to dig deeper to find the strength within yourself when hitting a wall (50:05)


    • “The only constant is change.” SH
    • “It’s never the brand. It’s always the people.” SH
    • “Well, it’s not about looking at the competition, it’s really about looking at the potential.” SH
    • “The only asset that you really have is the last thing I have connected you to… reputation.” CH
    • “In order to get to great opportunity, there is usually a prerequisite of challenge, confusion, lack of security…” CH

    Sarah Hofstetter is CEO of 360i, which was named the “Best Place to Work” by ‘Advertising Age’ and ‘Crain’s New York Business’.

    Since joining 360i in 2005, Sarah has created and rapidly evolved the agency’s industry-leading brand strategy, social marketing and emerging media practices. She helps brands such as Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, OREO, and others to connect with more than 250 million consumers every day.

    Sarah currently sits on the 4A’s Board of Directors, and she was named in the 2014 AAF Hall of Achievement. She is frequently quoted in publications, including ‘The Wall Street Journal’, ‘Advertising Age’, and ‘The New York Times’.

    Functional Fixedness
    Inverted Nut Graph
    Disconnect to Enjoy


    • If I were starting my own company today, what unique skill would I bring to the market?
    • Do all of my employees think the same? Am I surrounded by people who all have the same thought process? Am I limiting my ability to be creative by not bringing in new perspectives?
    • What makes my clients tick? What keeps them up at night? What worries them? Can I service them based on their needs and not mine?
    • Am I balancing my life in the way that I want to? Am I taking on too many activities that cause me to pull away from the areas of my life that I care about the most?
    • When I measure success, am I looking at beating my competitor, or am I looking for a way to bring my unique value to the next opportunity that I am presented with?

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