The Power To Be Your Best ★彡
Writing this particular Blog Feature should have been easy for me. I mean, it's what I do for a living. It's something I've done a hundred times over. I'm not new at it and yet, this Feature proved to be one of the most difficult features to create; not because I couldn't find the words to describe my Blog Guest or even find content to share with you. It was difficult because this particular guest shines like no one I've ever known. A creator and blanket licence owner of her own success, Sandra has enriched her soul with passion, chased every dream she has ever had and never once questioned her ability to make it all happen. That is what I call having the power to be your best.
Since childhood, this music industry legend always knew she wanted to work in radio. In fact, she revealed to me that her parents still have a reel to reel recording of her at the age of 2 telling everyone that "she just wants to talk on the radio." How adorable, right? Sandra Henein is a staple in the music/radio industry and not just because she had a dream but because she turned her dreams into reality. But let me tell you, it wasn't easy!
This blog feature is special to me on many levels. I've had the pleasure of Sandra's friendship for almost a quarter of a century. I know, I know... that sounds wayyyy longer than it really should but a 25 year friendship is special. I first met Sandra when I worked in radio (surprise). Although, I drifted away from the industry to dive deeper into the corporate world and start on my writing career while Sandra continued to build on her industry career. If you don't know who she is already, you definitely will by the end of this blog feature. In fact, I'm certain you'll want to follow her on social media, just to keep up with her extraordinary journey.
Thank you for joining me today Sandra. I would like to get started by having you tell us a little about yourself:
My Name is Sandra Henein, I am a Feisty 40 something Scorpio who lives and breathes for my 13 year old son Tyler, as well as my family and friends. I was born in Canada. 1st generation Egyptian Orthodox; something I wear proudly!
Since my childhood I knew I wanted to work in Radio. My fondest memories growing up would be when my parents would gather my sister and I in their bedroom .We would all cram into their bed and watch award shows; whether it be music, film or Miss Universe. That was our family staple. I remember, when we would be watching these shows, I’d start crying because I wanted to be part of that world so bad. The entire entertainment industry consumed my being from such a young age and I remember saying to myself that one day I was going to be working in that industry.
I think there's something to be said about having that type of passion at such a young age. Did you jump into broadcasting immediately after high school?
I jumped into broadcasting during my high school years. My co-op teacher in high school, Brenda Weber, set up a 2 week radio shadowing at Community radio CKWR in Kitchener, Ontario. Those 2 weeks turned into 4 years where I had my own radio show on Tuesday nights called Mediate. Then, in 1993 I was accepted to the Radio and Television Broadcasting Program at Conestoga College where I majored in Radio. I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in radio, but I knew it was in my blood and my passion for the industry was strong. I felt like music was in my blood, in my DNA and to this day, continues to still be.
I'm always impressed when young adults know exactly what they want to do career wise at such a young age. I personally struggled with the career path I wanted. The 17 year old me wanted to be a Lawyer but sadly, I allowed fear to rob me of that dream. The fear of chasing my dreams and negative self talk was a struggle for me during high school but they are also the two major traits I've learned to overcome. What life lesson were you blessed to gain from high school?
In high school, I was voted least likely to succeed. Growing up in Stanley Park Kitchener, it was majority a German town. My family and I were brown so, I felt the minority status. However all this made me strong. I’ve always and continue to this day to never let a situation bring me down regardless of the outcome. I’ve always been a very tenacious woman who refused and still refuses to take NO for an answer. All of this has built my character and made me into the woman I am today.
Let's talk post secondary for a moment. Unlike high school, College and University offers young adults their first experience of true independence, growth and sometimes bigger hardships. For the most part, many young adults entering post secondary studies have never lived on their own. This in itself offers it's own set of struggles but, your hardships didn't come from independent living, course overload or even social acceptance. In fact, your hardship wasn't derived from post secondary at all. I know this is difficult, but I also know you are a million times stronger because of it. Would you be able to share your devastating and life changing experience while in school with us?
When I was 20, my mother was tragically killed in a car accident by a drunk driver. I was in my last year of college. I still don’t know how I managed to graduated but I feel like music was always there for me and got me through it. Music acted as my therapist, a soul mate of sorts and my best friend. I started writing my own “Dream Board” of where I wanted my life to look like, to feel like and how I wanted my life to go. I never thought I would end up with the blessings that I have received to this day. In my personal life I have overcome many obstacles, but hope and drive have always allowed me to use the passion in my belly to thrive for success. I’ve never been one to hesitate. Since childhood, I was taught that nothing is impossible and, here I am today; President of my own company. Henein Media Events & Promotions is a full service Public Relations Agency. I’ve always been one of those women who wants to try new things, gain knowledge in every area of the entertainment business.
I know that was difficult and I thank you deeply for sharing that intimate part of your journey. I'm certain your tenacity and strength is founded on your experiences and what you've had to face in the past. I'm also certain that you were able to bring that experience and knowledge into your career. I know for me, my own personal experiences has helped me grow and flourish as an Author, Blogger and Course Creator. I'm certain is has for you too. Let's talk about your career. What was your first career job?
Funny story actually! I remember my professor telling me that I should start off in Radio Sales because that was the quickest way to get a job. So, I applied to a sales position. At the time, I had received a job at the Fan 590. Back then, the pay was amazing. $24k base plus commission. But the problem was that I would live and breathe this new all dance radio station called ENERGY 108 FM!
I remember constantly applying and speaking to the station manager Murray Hanes, who repeatedly told me that there were no sales positions available. I didn’t take no for an answer (I never did). I remember the day I was supposed to tell the Fan 590 whether I was going to accept the position or not, but before I called The FAN I called Energy 108 again as a one last try attempt. I spoke to Murray himself and said this: "I will work for COMMISSION ONLY" and after hesitation, he said "fine, OKAY!"
And, that's how you chase your dreams! Good for you Sandra. It takes a whole lot of confidence, courage and risk to ask for a job based on commission alone. I love hearing these types of stories and, as a former employee at Energy 108, I can confirm that the energy and vibe at that radio station was like no other. I mean, everyone LOVED Energy 108; The number 1 hit music station. Yes, I had to throw that jingle in there. If you were an Energy 108 listener (or employee), I know you sang that liner in your head while reading it just now. Tell us more about this job and your experience working there.
I started work the following Monday. I had no phone and no desk. Just a piece of paper and a phone book but I knew how to make it work even though I was an extremely shy and introverted person. The day I walked into the station, I was in AWE. I thought wow, these are the announcers who I listen to daily. I felt I was walking through the hallways of royalty and I often had to pinch myself.
So, how did working for just commission workout for you. According to an article in Forbes, Art Sobczak says in order to be a successful salesperson, one must be motivated and self-disciplined, confident and positive, a great interviewer and performer, and have an immense desire to learn. And, they should be someone who is never satisfied. He also goes on to say that the best salespeople say that they can do more or that they can do better. How does this resonate with your experience in sales?
Remember I was working on commission only, and I had $9,000 in personal savings. I hit the pavement running. I studied anything and everything about sales and I was on a mission. I got my first paycheck from Energy 108 after 4 months..That's right 4 months…my cheque was for $12.14. I still have the cheque framed in my house to remind me where I started and where I am today. Needless to say, I spent $9,000 of my own money the first year, to only make $5,000 in commission.
After my 3rd year, my yearly income was 6 figures. I went on to create “Lulu’s Dance Night” Lulu’s was the largest bar in Canada (I believe) and fit over 7,000 people. When I pitched the owner he kicked me out of his office, called my boss and tried to have me fired. I however took on the challenge and told him to give me $5,000 in ad buys and if at least 3000 didn’t show up I’d give him his $5,000 back from my own wallet.
The first licensed Energy Dance night at Lulus 7000 people showed up and the line up at the door was half way down the street. Energy dance night at Lulu’s continued for 5 years, with expansion of all ages dance nights. These dance nights were monthly and continued for 5 years.
That's quite the accomplishment! Not too many people have such a big success story like this to add to their resume. What's more is that I know this is only the tip of your industry success...so far! So, what happened next? Where did you go from there?
From then I was asked to lead sales of the Energy Radio Cluster in London in which I split my time, and was awarded a letter from the Energy Cluster CEO congratulating me for the highest amount of clients on air at once.
I also was the first rep to work with Club Renaissance which is a (LGBTQ) nightclub in Kitchener. They were the first LGBTQ night club to advertise on the radio. In fact, I convinced them to do a one time “Live To Air” broadcast from their nightclub. This was the first live to air in ALL of North America for the LGBTQ community. I’m very proud of all these accomplishments.
Yes, I would say a damn great accomplishment to be proud of! Congratulations girl. So, what came next for you?
I spent 7 years at Energy 108 FM when The Hamilton Spectator asked me to come on board as a Senior Executive for New Business Development. I took the chance, because again, it was another media format I wanted to learn about. In my 2 year duration I helped create “Auction Mart” an in paper and online auction and I traveled to 22 newspapers across Canada Training sales Reps.
I also created a 5 day talent search at Copps Coliseum (now called FirstOntario Centre) that drove circulation, readership and revenue by 30%. During this time I was given the amazing opportunity to write an entire 8 page section dedicated to the entertainment industry. The section was called “Dare To Dream.” I ended up interviewing announcers from the previous radio station I worked at, Energy 108 FM as well as famous producers, vocal coaches and talent agents. I was even blessed to get advice from famous musicians.
It is clear that you are multi-talented. I mean, the Rolodex of accomplishments that just came out of your mouth is not only wild, it is also inspiring. So, did you end up leaving radio all together to pursue a more diverse sales career?
I knew these accomplishments were great, but music still lived in my veins so I accepted a job with Hypnotic Entertainment, a record company in New York, at witch time I managed a local girl band called “Baby Girl.” My management helped get them on the billboard charts with a top 10 hit on Flow 93.5 with Biggie Smalls on the hook of their single. After that, I decided that managing artists was too draining for me. I was never home; always touring and spending most of my time in New York City (not that I complained). New York felt like it was my second home. Alas, I wanted to go back to my roots in radio, and that is when in 2003 I found out Canwest Global received a radio license in Kitchener. Perfect I thought. So I sent my portfolio all the way up to David Asper one of the owners, out in Winnipeg. I didn’t give up and was the second hire for 91.5 FM The Beat; 7 months before the radio launch.
I find myself holding my breath in anticipation each time you tell me a story about a new job hire. I'm not sure why though because, girl, you know how to land on your feet! So... let's hear it. Back into the radio scene again, you secured a position with 91.5 FM The Beat. Anyone else want to immediately sing "we got the beat, we got the beat, we got the beat" by the Go-Go's? How exciting was it to work for 91.5FM?
It was an exciting time, we didn’t have a building, equipment or even a logo at that time. It was all done from scratch. My boss, GM David Jones, gave me the title of Promotions Manager. Those that know me know promotions and thinking outside the box is my middle name. After our first ratings book we were #3 in the market. Something very difficult to do in the Kitchener market.
I remember one day walking into “The Still” (a bar), to meet with the owners. As I was walking in, I saw a huge parking lot and remember thinking to myself, “man a concert here would be awesome.” With that idea, I went to my boss and told him that I was going to pitch that idea. My boss reminded me that I had never put on a concert before. My initial though was "ya, how hard can it be? My boss even suggested that I hire House of Blues or a production company to do the logistics but I still insisted that I had it under control.
I’m a very quick learner and my determination was immense. I worked with the city of Kitchener to acquire the parking lot. There was tons to do and we even had to remove some trees. I envisioned every tiny little detail, and all the time I was pregnant. I was so determined to make this project work, I was putting up fencing while I was 7 months pregnant. At the time 91.5 FM The Beat only had a staff of 9 people, or (hustlers) but we were a close family. Needless to say, BEAT ROCKS THE BLOCK was the very first FREE outdoor concert in downtown Kitchener with over 40,000 people in attendance. I acquired all the major sponsors and brought the Lions Club Kitchener to pour Molson with the proceeds going to seeing eye dogs. I believe they raised over $32,000 that year.
Yes, yes and more YES! If my readers could see me right now, they would witness a glow of pure happiness and hand clapping excitement going on. I'm thinking you win the #BossQueen award if there ever was one. Most people dream of working in just one radio station and here you are crushing the industry, one station at a time! But, us industry people also know, nothing lasts forever. Format's change, take-over's happen, acquisitions are inevitable, huge layoffs dampen our careers and even station shut down leaving us scrummaging to reinvent ourselves and our careers. So tell me, how long were you at 91.5 before moving on?
After 4.5 years working at 91.5 FM The Beat, Corus purchased the radio station and my job was eliminated when they restructured. I was very bitter sweet. Many people don’t know this but when you work in the entertainment business, and you loose your job, it's like a punch in your gut because its your world, its all you know. And here I was with a 10 month old baby, lost, dazed and jobless.
I feel you on this Sandra as I know many industry personnel do as well. I left the radio world completely (well, mostly) and went to work for myself. Leaving radio was an extremely hard decision for me as I'm sure it was for you too. But girl, you went form one amazing opportunity to another. Okay, I'm certain we all know what the JUNO's are and, if you don’t, Google it now! You didn't just get a job at the JUNO's, you landed the Promotions Manager position. Hello! Tell me more. How did this all come about?
Two weeks after being let go from 91.5, I took a risk and contacted a friend at the JUNO Awards. It just so happened their Sponsorship and Promotions Manager was going on maternity leave, and I got the job. I thank God because that was really unheard of.
I spent 2007-2009 first on contract before obtaining full time. Ratings were dwindling so I came up with the concept of “Journey To The JUNO’s.” An 8 city tour with Theory Of A Deadman upon the release date of their album. The concept was to bring the actual JUNO Award to each city with radio wristband winners in each city. Theory Of A Deadman (TOAD) did acoustic performances in each city with giveaways and photo ops with the band and the JUNO Award. The President of the JUNO Awards sent me a letter thanking me for driving up the ratings for the 2008 JUNO’s which happened to be the highest ratings they had in years.
I made friends with the most amazing musicians and bands and was blessed enough to spent countless hours in the studio listening to musicians in the booth produce magic. My second home quickly became the studio.
And yet, I know your journey doesn't end here. Not by a long shot! I mean, it's completely fascinating following you on this industry expedition. A career path filled with change, objections and adversity. I'm so inspired, I feel like you should have your own Jingle that plays when you walk into a room. Wouldn't that be fun! Is there more? I mean, can there possibly be more?
Yes! In fact, from there, when my contract was up, I decided that I wanted to try the Movie business. So I went to work for tribute.ca (everything movies) and Tribute Magazine. That job was amazing. I got to work with all the movie studios, find product placement for Canadian film production, create promotions and contests, and best of all, I was in charge of creating and executing after parties during TIFF. Some of the most memorable parties I was involved with was “Red Tails” with Cuba Gooding Jr. as well as “Last Night” with Eva Mendes. I was also in charge of 14 network sites under the tribute.ca umbrella which gave me the education on web project management, SEO front and back end management and look and feel. Through all of these opportunities, I got to learn about movies and the internet pretty fast.
After tribute, I took a year off to deal with personal issues and to really reflect on myself, my career and my future. I thought about what it was I really wanted to do and really dig deep into what my passion was. After careful deliberation, I decided it was time to march to the beat of my own drum and open my own PR business. It was a difficult start but, when I allowed myself to reflect back to everything I’ve done and accomplished, I knew it would represent a “new start, new concept, new idea,” so I just went for it.
I want to talk about the Not For Profit organization you created. First, let me just say WOW! Not many people can say they created a not for profit organization and yet here you are, mastering yet another extremely difficult undertaking, like a pro! This specific organization ties into your music and movie industry experience and with your highly connected roster of connections, I can only imagine the impact you are able to make. You've partnered with Socan, Heritage Canada, CAMH, Kids Help Phone and even Factor; just to name a few. Tell us more about the Music Artists Against Bullying organization.
Yes, it's true, I created the not for profit “Music Artists Against Bullying” organization (musicartistsagainstbullying.com) with other like minded musicians, actors and athletes from across the world. We use these school visit to discuss bullying, what it means to be bullied and to hopefully end bullying by creating a safe community. Plus, our musicians offer personal messages about bullying that get aired on radio throughout Canada. It's just getting started, but this has always been my dream. You see, I was bullied as a child, and I have always thought that with what God has given me I must give back with the friends in the industry I know. To make a difference to even one child is a blessing. We work on sending underprivileged kids to concerts and meet and greets within the Tri Cities.
I love this idea Sandra. Are there any plans to expand?
Yes. My company continues to flourish and we have now branched out to promote social media Influencers to large Ad agency brands through grass roots funnels such as YouTube and all social media outlets. One of my clients is Fitzroy Vanderpool; known as Fitz The Whip. Fitz is a 6 time boxing champion. He is known worldwide but his heart is in KW where you will always find him in hospitals; visiting sick children, and giving hope to everyone wherever he goes. It is clients like these that make my job worth while. I have reached 24 years in the music business but, there has to be a realistic outcome as well, like giving back to the community, helping others, teaching others.
Is most of your work based out of Kitchener Waterloo now?
Most of my clients are out west and Toronto, which makes it very accessible when working from my office here in Kitchener, where I grew up. Yes, it is definitely fun and the additional perks in gifting lounges, promoting authors, musicians, and other facets of the business, but at my age now, I appreciate the human approach more. The fact that I’m helping the community is really what gets me up in the morning. No client is too big for me or too small. If I can help a person, a company accomplish their dream, that’s my real pay off. I love seeing visions and ideas come to life. I love to see people happy and gain success. I love unity, passion and anything humanitarian.
Okay, let's get into some fun lightening questions now. These questions are meant to be fun, answered quickly and without hesitation. What would be a good theme song for your life?
Independent women – destiny’s child
What fictional character would be the most exciting to meet in real life and why?
Yoda. Because he’d give me some really great spiritual advice. I’m on track in business but I seem to miss the boat in my personal life. I’m sure the first advice he’d give me is to stay single and I’m fine with that.
What is the best and worst purchase you have ever made in your life?
The best purchase I've ever made is my BMW and I purchased it all in cash! Perseverance and hard work allowed me to save for my dream car. The worst purchase I made was buying a Ducati motorcycle. I took a sharp turn the very first day I got it and injured my back. I never rode it since but I am thankful I am alive.
What's your favourite song right now and why?
"Fall On Me" by Great Big World and Christina Aguilera because me of my spiritual relationship with God and what he’s done for me. I think of him when I hear that song.
If you were given a one minute advertisement slot during the super bowl, what would you fill it with?
Wow Joanne, that's an excellent question. I'd have to say something about highlighting musicians with anti-bullying campaign and promoting music artist against bullying.
What would be on your highlight reel of life?
Rags to riches not materialistic things but life lessons, with the bittersweet that has allowed me to be the strong independent woman I am today.
You're really good at this! You need a "One Sheet" like Drake sings about needing a "One Dance." Let's do just a few more. What's the weirdest question you have ever been asked (besides this one of course)?
If I was related to Terrance Trent Darby because apparently I look like him. I guess everyone with braids looks the same.
What was your favourite toy as a child?
A microphone and a reel to reel. I’m dating myself I know. We didn’t have anything growing up but I’d write music as a child. Oh, that, and my organ and my guitar.
What's your favourite way to relax, unload, de-fragment and unwind?
I come home, I read a lot, I write a lot of music and poetry, I play with my cat and spend time with my son. Bubble baths, and going to salt caves.
Okay, lightening round is over and man, you did fantastic! I'm pretty certain there is nothing you can't conquer with ease and grace, which leads me to believe that you have some amazing mentors in your life. Who are your mentors right now?
Anyone with a success story that stormed through the weather and came through stronger then ever. We are all equal and beauty from ashes is the drive that gives me to help those. I always say when I’m climbing a ladder, I use my right hand to climb up but I use my left hand down to help others climb up with me because, if we can’t learn and mentor from each other what do we have in this world?
Sandra, you are one wise woman! We’ve known each other for…ahem…a long time so…ahem, I am blessed to have your friend for a quarter of a century now. What's something I've said to you that's always stuck with you?
“You got this girl.” You always say this to me and at the most important times. I need to hear it so, thank you Sister.
If you could switch places with anyone alive on this planet right now, who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t because I don’t know their personal journeys or what happens behind closed doors. I love me and I love my accomplishments, and the people surrounding my life positively.
Pow-er-ful!! I'm pretty certain I know your answer to this next question but I'll ask anyway. If you could visit anyone who has passed on, who would it be and what question would you ask them?
Easy my mother, and I have too many questions to write it down for the interview. But I’d thank her for making me whom I am today, because a lot of the dreams she couldn’t accomplish here in Canada were similar to mine and I’ve done a lot of this with her spiritual guidance. I know she’s proud.
Are you still learning who you are?
Every single moment of every day. Every day is a lessen whether good or bad. I will never stop learning about me because there is so much I still don’t know. I am an analyzer. I analyze everything. Sometimes it gives me a headache but hey, that’s how I’m growing.
What has been your biggest growth or transformation in the past year?
I have learned that its okay to wear my heart on my sleeve. It's okay to love ME and put myself first. But, it's also okay to be selective of who I let into my inner circle. Specifically, making sure it's positive. I have had a rough personal year but I came through stronger then ever; like a lotus, like a phoenix I have risen.
What do you value the most in life?
God, my son, my family and my friends.
What do you want people to remember about you?
I think people remember that as much as I’m a wacky out of the box woman, what you see is what you get. I’m blunt, unconventional, happy go lucky, a feisty Scorpio who doesn’t believe in accepting no as final answer. I exude so much energy and have so much love to give, but I’m also an amazing business woman who makes every vision come to life. I’m misunderstood, but I can be the life of the party. I will always check on my friends and through it all humanity drives. I am Me.
You are a wondrous spirit. I have enjoyed this interview to the fullest. I mean, I think this is my longest interview I've ever conducted. I find your journey fascinating and I can't wait to see what it brings you next. Thank you for taking the time to share so much about yourself. How can others follow you?
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