Ruthie Schulder Minisode Transcript

Women Innovating Networking Growing Scaling – that’s WINGS … I’m Melinda Wittstock, my mission is to help women take flight to soar to the success of our dreams in business and in life– and create and grow businesses in alignment with our passion and purpose.

On this Mentoring Minisode of Wings of Inspired Business … we talk about the necessity to decouple yourself from your business and not take the ups and downs personally. How to choose your battles and stay focused, and why it’s vital to invest in the inner work – and energy healing – necessary to clear any and all limiting beliefs standing in your way.

Here with us today to provide her insights and inspiration is …

Ruthie Schulder.

Ruthie is the co-founder and CEO of The Participation Agency – and she’s busy turning the traditional marketing and advertising agency model upside down … by creating radically experiential campaigns. She’s innovated creative ways to attract, add value and excite clients and customers without being salesy.

Ruthie is one of Adweek’s Disruptors – a list of 39 women spearheading the revolution in advertising, media and tech.

Ruthie Schulder will be here with her advice in just a moment on our Mentoring Minisode and first …

As co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Participation Agency, Ruthie is reinventing marketing by bucking the trend of conventional pay-for-play opportunities in music and art. She and her partner create what she calls “radical experiential campaigns” with brands as partners—not clients.

Focused on the idea of placemaking, Ruthie pioneered Outpost—a series of sophisticated rest stops for creatives in developing markets. Serving musicians on tour, Outpost, and its sister Basecamp locations, route culture and arts through emerging markets across the US, invigorating cities with world-renowned talent and giving brand partners organic exposure.

With an international portfolio of clients, Ruthie’s work has helped drive multi-million-dollar campaigns for Fortune 100s, tech startups, and cities seeking innovation through experiential. Ruthie was named Inc.’s Millennial CEO Rising Star and under her leadership, The Participation Agency has won a CLIO, an Ex Award and consecutive placements on Inc.’s Fastest Growing Private Companies list.

Ruthie is one of Adweek’s Disruptors – a list of 39 women spearheading the revolution in advertising, media and tech. Ruthie and her co-founder are also behind “Let’s Work,” a monthly gathering for women to rethink networking and forge professional alliances, developed in partnership with the Soho House.

Melinda Wittstock:         Ruthie, welcome to Wings.

Ruthie Schulder:              Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to talk to you today.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, well me too. I always start these mentoring Minisodes with what is inspiring you right now.

Ruthie Schulder:              Yeah, I would love to share. I live in New York City and I am a big consumer of culture, whether it be theater or music performances, and things like that. I have just been going to so many things recently. I have been seeing some of the most incredibly creative directed things. I went to go see a Bonnie Rare show, which I thought was a concert, but was actually in collaboration with this amazing, amazing modern dance troupe, and it was this dance performance powered by some of my favorite music against this incredible set design. In my company, I’m actually not a creative. I’m the real businessperson and strategist, but just being able to be around energy and creative expression like that, just inspires me on a whole other level and I’m always looking to bring things like that into my life.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, absolutely. So in your business, what are some of your current challenges? Because I think as women we have such a perfectionism gene that we often don’t talk about our challenges or we don’t ask for help or whatever, and I want to change all that. So what are some of yours?

Ruthie Schulder:              Yeah. Well sort of at the high… I thought about this a lot recently, and kind of at the high level, I think a challenge that probably a lot of us are still having is the fact that this women in business conversation is even still a conversation that we all feel like we’re constantly having to have, and that it feels like every time we make progress, it’s two steps forward, five steps back, and we’re still continuing to have to unpack some of the sexist bias that we’re seeing across all industries, and that is a really big challenge for me as somebody who’s really kind of out there. Not only for me, on the frontline and for my company, but mentoring a lot of young women who are in a lot of these big corporate cultures, and it’s just so crazy to see things that we thought we all moved past from. We really kind of haven’t. And the way that younger women are still being socialized and how we’re still having to unpattern so many unproductive learnings is I think just a really, really, really big frustration.

Ruthie Schulder:              For me, personally, in my own day to day, I big part of my journey as an entrepreneur is how do you continue to be incredibly, incredibly passionate about your business and so committed to your business, but not let the emotions of it being your baby really get in the way of, like, you’re kind of how old? And also just in your business decisions and how are you distancing yourself a little bit and not falling into the, my business is me, I am my business, but more looking at it a little bit more objectively and taking a little bit of the space and distance to give you some clarity.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s so important. Just knowing that dividing line between when you’re working in your business, as like an employee, or when you’re working on it, as a learner.

Ruthie Schulder:              Yeah. Yeah. It’s true. It’s true. Going home with a lot of stress, it doesn’t help. It doesn’t get you further faster.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s really, really true. When I get into a flow state where I’m really working on the highest priority and the thing that gives me joy, I find that all the other busy work somehow, someway, sorts itself out. But if I’m in that grind mode, you feel like your busy and you’re checking things off a list, but you can be running in place.

Ruthie Schulder:              Totally, yeah. I agree with that and get into that for sure.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah.

Ruthie Schulder:              Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         So along the way, in everything you’ve learned in your business and your life, what would be the top three go-to pieces of advice that you would give to female founders and female CEOs and business owners, whatever stage they’re at in their business?

Ruthie Schulder:              Yeah. Totally.

Ruthie Schulder:              The first thing that I think is a really great piece of advice, is to start doing inner work as soon as possible to really learn about yourself and your strengths and your weaknesses and become as self-aware as you can. That is really helpful in getting over your own limiting beliefs of things that are really going to hold you back. Really like subconsciously, and it’s doing that work that really gets you to uncover those deep layers that you don’t even know are getting in your way, but are definitely getting in your way.

Melinda Wittstock:         What are some of the things that you’ve done to clear out that? Those old, I call them the icebergs, the things we don’t even know we don’t know, right? What have you done to clear those?

Ruthie Schulder:              Totally. If you want to get all woo-woo, my woo-woo life, I work with energy healers and that has been really, really, really helpful and really understanding the way also that energy settles in different places in your body. That’s been really interesting for me. I think therapy is really great. I like to dabble a little bit, like astrology, things like that, and then for me, fitness. Honestly, I have so many breakthroughs when I’m in motion and so I do a lot of physical activity and lot of movement, and that’s really helpful for me.

Ruthie Schulder:              Then I have started also in the last few months, I’m dipping a toe in mediation. And I say dipping a toe not because I don’t believe in it, I really, really do, but just because I’ve been bad about doing it consistently. But getting into that more. And my form of mediation, honestly, is not clear your brain, it’s kind of just like a more focused visualization because I haven’t been able to clear my brain, but how am I sending energy, thinking about things in a more clear-headed, centered way. That’s been really helpful for me.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s fantastic. That’s so good, and it’s such good advice.

Ruthie Schulder:              Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         I always joke that if you don’t have time for meditation add half an hour.

Ruthie Schulder:              Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         So, right? So much is going to come from it that just makes everything easier.

Ruthie Schulder:              Yeah, yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         And energy work, and all these things, whatever the modality, pick something, absolutely. So what would be advice number two?

Ruthie Schulder:              So number two is to be really clear about which battles are worth fighting for yourself and knowing you’re not going to have the energy, the time, and the wherewithal to fight all of them, and there are going to be a lot of things that you see around you that you’re going to have to let go. Really know what is your vision for yourself, for your career, for your business, and how do you have to be a gatekeeper to make sure that you’re aligning everything towards that, and then that helps you really decide and understand what to let fall away.

Melinda Wittstock:         Very, very important. If we are constantly putting out fires in our business, we’re not really growing our business.

Ruthie Schulder:              Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         Certainly not scaling it. What would be advice number three?

Ruthie Schulder:              Yeah. I own an agency, so I am in a service business, and so I mentioned before, I’m embedded in a lot of other company cultures. What I’m seeing a lot from my own colleagues and myself and these women that I work with who work in these companies, that people are really internalizing feedback from their managers or from their clients in ways that become really destructive, especially when that feedback is really just a projection of what your manager or your client is saying. People listen to this feedback and they say, “Well, that person is saying this about me, and so this is who I am, and I’m bad at the things that they think that I’m bad at, and I’m good at the things that they think that I’m good at.”

Ruthie Schulder:              I don’t think that that’s true. I think that we all have to know for ourselves what are we good at, what are we bad at, et cetera. What really matters to us, and if that person is having a bad day and said something kind of off the rails to you, that’s actually not true to who you are. ow can you really, really start to really internalize that and separate that out from having the strength and the ability to create your own story about who you are, and your place, and your job, and your career, and in your world.

Melinda Wittstock:         I love that. That’s so important. I’ve seen that happen so many times where women, in particular, get over-coached or over-advised, or someone literally… It’s just a projection.

Ruthie Schulder:              Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         We can get blown off course because we just take it too seriously. What good advice. So, Ruthie, how can people find you and work with you at The Participation Agency?

Ruthie Schulder:              Yeah. So our website is, and my email is Ruthie, R-U-T-H-I-E, at That’s the best way to find me.

Melinda Wittstock:         Fantastic. Well thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us.

Ruthie Schulder:              Thank you. Thank you.

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