Having spent more than two decades creating award-winning campaigns that spark conversation, drive engagement and positively impact the bottom line, Wendy firmly believes in the power of a great idea and its ability to transform. After spending more than 15 years working in a ‘big agency’ environment as the Executive Vice President of global PR firm Porter Novelli, she was inspired to rethink the traditional agency model in the creation of her own agency, replacing the conventional approach to professional service with the successful ‘Hollywood model’ of business, using a ‘marketing agnostic’ approach to brand challenges and curating teams with expertise uniquely suited to address each client’s needs. The result: better quality work, higher client satisfaction levels, and less turnover. Wendy Watson is CEO and Founder of Clearstream Agency LLC and has set her sight to do more than that.
“My goal is to educate and empower whenever I can.”
Clearstream: Ahead of the Current
Founded in 2015, Los Angeles-based Clearstream is an award-winning boutique agency focused on developing comprehensive communications strategies that build brands across media. Clearstream clients include innovative startups, established brands, and Fortune 500 companies. Wendy is particularly proud of the agency’s early work in artificial intelligence, well before the AI ‘Goldrush’ hit. This she says, “has helped us to stake our claim in that space and has brought us several innovative clients that are changing the world.” Also for the most part, she prides her agency in taking on clients that are a contributing member towards the greater good of society.
As for Wendy, her journey,, has been very progressive. She literally ‘grew up’ at her previous firm, rising through the ranks and eventually being named the youngest SVP in the company’s history. She directed campaigns for some of the world’s most well-known companies including Disney, HP, Marriott, Mercedes-Benz, MGM, Procter & Gamble, Qualcomm, and Verizon. She attributes these successes to the support received from managers and clients over the years, effectively engaging in ‘male-dominated’ industries such as automotive and tech. “That said, it is never lost on me that my successes are on the backs of previous generations of powerful women that have made this all possible,” says Wendy. On the other hand, she remembers thinking of one instance having encountered the proverbial glass ceiling while in Tokyo for a client meeting. She wasn’t allowed to participate in the discussion due to the simple fact of being a woman, so a junior male counterpart had to take the meeting in her place while she was made to wait outside. “Yes it was two decades ago, but this still blows my mind to this day,” exclaims Wendy. Even so, she remains optimistic and adds, “We have come such a long way and yet there are still miles of road ahead.” Fast Forward to 2019. Wendy has been recognized as one of the 2018 Most Influential Woman in Strategic Communications – Los Angeles by Acquisition International (AI), honored as a US winner of the CEO Awards 2018 for her innovative thinking and strategic vision, received the Business Woman of the Yearaward from CEO Today, named a Game Changer by Finance Monthly, and PRWeek’s 40 under 40 Stars of PR. So what does Wendy have to say now about how she got to the top? Challenges, she exclaims. “All of my key learnings have come from facing challenges, not through big successes. You have to be willing (and prepared) to fail and learn from your mistakes. That is how we grow,” says Wendy. She asserts while telling one leadership lesson that her journey has taught her, “You cannot be frozen by the fear of failure or ‘analysis paralysis.’ Dare greatly to achieve great things.” But work-life balance is always tricky for everyone these days and especially for working women, and working mothers. “Being a working mom is full of sacrifice. You have to continually ask yourself, what am I willing to let fall off today’s ‘to do’ list,” says Wendy, “The feeling of balance for me personally comes from the sense of well-being derived from doing work that you truly love and being fully present for what each moment holds, personally and professionally.”
Wendy Watson, Founder & CEO, ClearStream
Outside work, Wendy plays on a competitive tennis league and enjoys the time on the court as well as the friendships off the court. She also loves to travel with her three kids. Seeing their eyes light up the very first time they see something – from the awesome New York skyline to the majestic waterfalls of Yosemite – for her is priceless. Her other interests include gardening, photography, and fashion. “One of my colleagues gave me a plaque for my desk that says “Fashionista at Work!” chuckles Wendy.
Making a Difference
Early in her career, Wendy had Barbara Parsky as a powerful mentor for many years. She describes her as PR powerhouse who worked at GE under iconic leader Jack Welch, and later became the General Manager at the agency where she worked. She was also a high-level thinker – strategic, focused and could hold her own in any room. Wendy soaked up the experience of working with her like a sponge. Now modeling the mentorship that she received, Wendy is paying it forward by offering guidance to young women and is very proud to see them accomplish great feats. “I am humbled and grateful to have made a difference in someone’s life. That is what this journey is all about,” smiles Wendy. One difference though, from her experience Wendy points out and is deeply concerned about the impact of technology on the developing brains of the younger generation and the implications of spending the majority of one’s life on devices and in front of screens. “The problems associated with this have already begun to surface in the workforce, with many young professionals who seem more comfortable looking down at their devices than looking up into someone’s eyes and engaging in conversation. Effective human interaction and the ability to demonstrate a high EQ (emotional quotient) in my opinion is what will set the next generation of female leaders apart from the masses,” says Wendy. She advises women to first and foremost be a good listener as being a strong leader demands that. “Also, as you climb the ranks, never go to a superior with a problem that you do not have a proposed solution for, show them that you have thought it through, even if it is not the right answer, it demonstrates the ability to problem solve,” adds Wendy.
Wendy ultimately hopes Clearstream will make a difference, to do its part in bettering humanity. That may be through their collaborations with non-profits such as the American Heart Association to educate children about the importance of staying active to launching an innovative new app that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to allow young people give back to their communities and more.
“My goal is to educate and empower whenever I can,” concludes Wendy.