Pivotter Series: Director of Strategy at Worn, Carolyn Rush

The Pivotter Series explores the themes of ambition, motivation, and productivity as experienced by high-performing women.

Carolyn Rush

Director of Strategy  – Worn, a creative agency that empowers women to lead

What are some of the most important things to know about you?

I attribute a lot of my strength and courage from the men in my life. I was born in Sarasota, FL with an instant connection and love for the water. Growing up with two older brothers I went wakeboarding almost everyday after school. I learned a lot about myself on our little ski boat. I learned to never give up. I learned that if you want to be good at something you need to practice and practice and invest in it. And most importantly a Rush family staple, “If you whine, you’re left behind.”

I like to say I was raised by two strong women- one is my mom and the other is my boss and partner Nicole Aguirre. It’s because of both of them that I see myself as a confident, beautiful woman. I am a daughter, sister, girlfriend, friend, boss, employee, youth group leader, but I don’t see one as more important that the other. I think making and maintaining relationships is the most important thing you can do in life.


Why do you do what you do (i.e. what drives you in your career as well as personal endeavors)

Our agency, Worn, is a creative agency that empowers women to lead. Nicole and I have frequent “check in’s” to ensure we are accepting projects that are on mission. That could be anything from working with a female entrepreneur to launch her brand, or working on a campaign speaking to women. We believe that considering gender when taking on projects will help close the gender gap. We pour our efforts into this agenda, resulting in more women obtaining and maintaining leadership positions, de-stigmatizing conversations for women and amplifying our collective voice.

When I was little, I used to come home and watch Oprah–everyday. I was incredibly moved and inspired, watching one woman do so much for so many people. One day, my mom told me “you know, if you shut off that TV and go out and do something good for someone–maybe one day you’ll be on TV!” This motivated me to be the type of person that takes action. I think of this exchange, everyday. It drives me to "walk the walk" - not just talk. 


What does ambition personally mean to you - what place does it have in your life?

Ambition to me is the energy to work hard. I view ambition as that feeling in your stomach when you know you have to get something done. It's also that butterfly feeling when you achieve something you’ve worked hard for. 

Ambition to me is something that if I’m without it, I need to seriously check myself. If I am ever lacking ambition, I will take it as a sign that I’m lacking purpose. 

Do you think our culture perceives “ambition” to be a dirty word for women? Why or why not?

    There are certain powerful, motivating words that unfortunately, when used to describe women, take on a different, negative connotation.

    This happens often and is not ok. Women should have the right to the same opportunities, same levels of success, and access to the language that we use to describe those things.


    A note about motivation and lifting each other up: 


    One thing I'e learned from the men in my life - is that women need to lift each other up. In my years going to business and “networking” events, I found out something interesting; men are more likely to hear you out, create rapport and find a way to help the other person achieve goals. Women are more likely to size each other up or compare themselves. Through my work with Worn, I hope to encourage women to lift each other up, and create platforms, systems, and opportunities to facilitate that. That’s why I have this gif in my email signature:



    Please share one of your current, important goals (can be personal or work-related).  


      Work related goal: Produce a global campaign destigmatizing the conversation around fertility (big plans currently in the works!)

      Personal goal: To find peace in situations when they don’t work out. This is everything from working through a damaged friendship, circumstances where I don’t get my way, Finances...everything!


      What do you do if you are having a hard time defining goals?

      Make a life board for myself. I literally copy and paste pictures and words into a word doc so I can visualize the things I want to accomplish.


      What is one tool/trick/lifehack/resource/service do you use to stay productive?

        In order to stay productive, I make sure to address *all* the things that are important to me - this includes maintaining relationships.

        Sometimes, when you are focused on your career, relationships take a back seat. I've been really close in taking that too far. Now, I set aside times on my Google calendar to call my mom, eat dinner with my boyfriend, meditate or pray.

        Don't let the important things get away from you.

        For work - I have specific tools that really help with efficiency:

        Tools/Resource for Business owners:
        • Basecamp: Running to do lists project to project)
        • Dashlane: Share passwords
        • SmallPDF: Compress and combine anything in just 2 seconds- AMAZING.


        What activities do you do outside of your full-time gig? How do you find time to do it and how does it make you more successful in your full-time gig?

        Working out! It’s so important for me to exercise, my brain needs it. Also, it's important for me to spend quality time with family and friends. I take that "quality" part seriously – this means putting the phone away and focusing on the person. 

        With free time, I enjoy learning new things through podcasts (trying to learn French!) or by reading about industries or topics that are completely opposite of what I do day to day, such as architecture or animal studies. 


        What would you do with an extra 15 minutes a day?

        Call my mom more.