‘Don’t put it off’: Exceptional Women of the World featuring Val DiFebo, Deutsch NY

Exceptional Women of the World is a podcast that highlights and celebrates the great achievements, lives and POV of amazing women throughout the world of advertising, marketing, digital, tech and creativity.

Being at an agency for 5 years these days seems like a monumental accomplishment. The fact that Val DiFebo, CEO of Deutsch New York, has been at the same agency for 25 years isn’t an anomaly — it’s testament to her dedication to not just the agency she has called home, but to the industry overall.

Starting as an account manager, the Bronx native has steadily and continually climbed to the stratosphere of leadership in her own way — with honesty, candor and a competitive spirit. But DiFebo is also incredibly loyal to her team and women in the industry and mixes her innate bravery with kindness and care.

DiFebo knows how to read people well, but also doesn’t wait when she sees an opportunity to engage for the greater good — especially with clients. This superpower, she believes, is a learnable trait and one that can be valuable when practiced with mindfulness and empathy of others.

One critical aspect of DiFebo’s own growth, and that of the agency, is her insistence on breaking down the walls of the C-suite. Her open-door policy is a refreshing change from the hierarchal nature of business and affords her an opportunity to know her team better and, conversely, allows the team every chance to contribute meaningfully to the business.

Additionally, DiFebo believes that if an opportunity presents itself, now is the time. Whether it’s building a company, learning a new skill, there is no point in putting off ones passion.

Known industrywide as being a fearless leader, DiFebo is an advocate of failure, but in a way that ensures something is actually learned as opposed to just failing for failing’s sake. A huge theater fan, she points to Hamilton as an example of something that people may have not been ready for, and could have failed, but showed that innovation can be intoxicating.

DiFebo is at her best when she takes care of herself and “puts the oxygen mask on” (in a figurative sense) through meditation and yoga. It helps her get out of her own head with clarity, continuing the practice of being mindful, even as the business of advertising swirls about.

New York through and through, her love for the city and what it stands for is limitless — and it’s a love affair that continues to grow every day with oases, both naturally and culturally, that stimulate the senses and afford a steady diet of inspiration.

But, in the final analysis, it comes down to 25 years in one important place. Work clearly does not define DiFebo, but the fact that she comes to Deutsch each day feeling as though the roots she has planted have helped grow something truly special and unique is reason enough to celebrate a remarkable career that has plenty of delightful chapters remaining.

Listen to previous episodes of Exceptional Women of the World here. If you would like to nominate exceptional women to be part of the show, please complete this form: http://bit.ly/EWOWPitch.

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Doug Zanger

Doug Zanger is the Americas editor for The Drum. He leads the Americas editorial team’s content activity in the growing region. Based in Portland, Oregon, he is committed to sharing the most meaningful stories that benefit the global industry and its people. A Minnesota native, Zanger has covered a wide range of brands, issues and personalities, including Aloe Blacc, Seu Jorge, Wendy Clark, Susan Credle, Dan Wieden, Jeff Goodby and more. Fiercely dedicated to diversity, equality and talent, he has interviewed several women in leadership roles through his Exceptional Women of the World podcast.

All by Doug