20 enterprising Women COVER STORY and mentored me along the way. Their experiences and key learning have prepared me with the knowledge and tools to support strategic decision-making. I have never been shy or afraid to ask for help, and quickly learned the importance of tapping into various networks and resources to help me build the business. WPO specifically has been a wonderful resource and network. It is amazing how willing and excited this community is to help. LD: If it is one thing you know for sure that promises success in business, what is it? AG: Hire people that are smarter than you, and give them space to do what they do best. That is what is working really well for us at Luci and what allows us to continue to grow internally and within our project base. LD: What do you want to see from the next generation of leaders and business owners? AG: Look past the competitive nature of business, develop strategic partnerships with other complimentary experts to make each other and the work better. LD: Lastly, what does the future look like for your business? AG: Personally, I am focused on ensuring that Luci Creative’s culture inspires our employees to be excited to come to work everyday and make our clients proud to partner with us. For the business, we anticipate continued and sustained growth. Over the last year we’ve doubled in size, opened a second office in Boston, and continue to expand our project presence globally. I have the same goals for next year and look forward to the journey ahead. A CONVERSATION WITH Sandy Marsico CEO, Sandstorm Design (www.sandstormdesign.com ) Laurel Delaney: Describe your role at Sandstorm, define what your business does, what your brand stands for, and how you differentiate yourself in your industry. Sandy Marsico: My role is the founder and CEO of Sandstorm Design, a digital marketing and technology agency headquartered in Chicago. We’re highly collaborative, analytical, and nimble in our approach to brand strategy, user experience design (UX), data analytics and web development. With 3000+ user research studies under our belt, we have mastered the art and science of uncovering insights and developing global brand experiences within multiple industries including technology, healthcare, financial services, associations, CPG and retail. I adore our team of philosophers, artists, educators, researchers, marketers, scientists, and engineers who don’t simply make creative things, but are creative people and compelling storytellers. LD: I want you to weigh in on a single topic: Disruption. Adding to that, what are you trying to disrupt in your industry and who’s trying to disrupt you today? SM: We are constantly looking for new ways to leverage predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to garner deeper user insights so we can tailor content and messaging aligned with the user’s motivations and behaviors. Our ability to anticipate needs and provide a personalized online brand experience increases engagement, loyalty and overall business growth. LD: What do you never worry about in business and why? SM: I usually don’t worry about the day-to-day administrative work that I have great people handling such as payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable, office supplies, and company lunches. This gives me time to focus my energy on growing our amazing team, identifying technology shifts, and exceeding client expectations. LD: How do you bounce back from setbacks? Can you share an experience? SM: To bounce back, I give myself 48 hours to feel bad, complain, stew, and sulk. Giving myself permission to “feel” helps me move through it. For example, if we lose a pitch for a large scale website, data analytics engagement or global brand strategy account, we take a moment to look back and learn from our losses, and then we move on. No need to dwell on the past. LD: With all your success, do you still find yourself seeking mentorship from others? If yes, how? SM: I am always seeking mentorship from others. I have both a paid advisory board and a peer advisory board called the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) that have been instrumental in helping me process issues, develop a hiring plan for growth, build a strategic plan, and handle HR issues. In addition, I have some inspiring female CEO mentors that have been instrumental in making introductions, referring me to mentoring programs like the c200 Protege Program, and encouraging me to take risks. LD: If it is one thing you know for sure that promises success in business, what is it? SM: My best piece of advice would be to surround yourself with others who are smarter and run businesses larger than your own.