Jeremy Rubenstein

Jeremy is a leading expert in combining research based bullying prevention techniques with interactive live theater.

He also specializes in creating media campaigns and curricula to bring dynamic, evidence based bullying prevention to the entire school community.

Jeremy graduated from The Pennsylvania State University-University Park, with degrees in Journalism, Theater, and History. He also holds a Certificate in Arts Education from Long Island University, NY. He has also studied under famed performer Avner Eisenberg, earning a Certificate in Eccentric Performance from The Celebration Barn Theater in South Paris, Maine.

Jeremy founded Box Out Productions when educators came to him, asking him to do something about their issues with classroom bullying. In suburban private schools to public urban schools; Jeremy found a common theme. Students lacked empathy, there was an accepted culture of bullying, and the students felt powerless or didn’t want to be a ‘tattle-tale.’

So, using audience participants, improvisational comedy, and innovative multimedia, Box Out Bullying made its debut in November of 2008. Since then, Box Out Bullying has received rave reviews and has been experienced by tens of thousands of students each school year.

What started out as a personal mission has turned into a grassroots movement. Bullying has now been recognized as the societal issue that Jeremy always saw it as. Now, more than ever, when educators, proactive parents, and other concerned community members come to Jeremy for help, he brings the data, the product, and the proven track record of success in improving their school social dynamics and communities and a whole.

Jeremy has been in the forefront on this national epidemic, as an educator, as a national speaker, traveling to communities from Crossville, Tennessee to Madison County, Florida, Harlem, New York to Tell City, Indiana, the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont to Washington, D.C. and everywhere in between. What he has found is that the issues facing our children are the same. But the solutions are the same too!

Where did the idea for Box Out Bullying come from?

In the fall of 2008, bullying was a whisper in terms of the educational zeitgeist. It was all too common for parents and educators to say “kids will be kids” and “bullying it’s just a part of growing up.” I thought differently. The year prior I was touring schools in New England consulting about nutrition and healthy lifestyles. And from my conversation with students, I knew that their greatest concern was how they were being treated by their peers. And I knew there was a need because educators came to me and said, “we need help!” No one at the time, was teaching socio-emotional lessons: bystander empowerment, the difference between bullying and conflict, building empathy. And it wasn’t just the message, but the way the message needed to be presented. I harnessed the power of live theater. The medium was used to maximize the message. In two years, the concern of bullying moved from a whisper, to a roar. And by that time I had a refined product, with a proven track record of success. We are entering our 10th season with Box Out Bullying. And are a national movement offering student assemblies, parent workshops, residencies, and faculty professional development. The term Box Out is actually a basketball term. It’s a defensive maneuver where you try to keep your opponent from getting into the key to get a rebound. The show uses the medium of live theater, and we have a large, specially constructed box that serves as the main focal point for the assembly presentation. So when we “Box Out Bullying” we are trying to keep bullying from attaining its goal by instead focusing on how to give students answers on bystander empowerment, addressing potential problems, and creating empathy among students.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Every day is different. That’s what I love about this organization. I spend time consulting with school sites, or writing new curriculum, or speaking at special events nationally. I love reading fan mail from students and answering questions from concerned parents. That keeps me going.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I surround myself with awesome individuals. People that to create. Experts in their own fields that we can throw ideas off of each other.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’m excited about this push towards teaching mindfulness. I think it’s going to be the next big thing in a couple of years.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I am great with learning from my mistakes the first time. So that I won’t make the same mistake again.

What advice would you give your younger self?

When I was 25, and first started my organization, I wrote myself a birthday card. It was me giving advice to myself. Meta. I said something like, “let’s give this a shot. We’re in this together.” Now looking back, I’d say don’t be afraid of growth. I obtained my 5 year plan in a year and a half! So surround yourself with people who can help you expand.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

You don’t need to return your hotel key to the front desk upon checkout.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Get a dog and give him a good walk everyday.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Have an excellent product. Don’t advertise. I work in the education field. When I first started, I was happy to get 5 venues a month. Now we’re averaging 5 venues a week, with multiple casts. One counselor saw the presentation, then goes and lets every counselor in her district know about our programming. That’s an instant 12 venues. And that’s only one example. Have a fantastic product. Let your clients advertise for you.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I would say don’t put all your eggs in one basket. We’ve had issues with casting individuals and, while they were good in the interview/audition, they turned out to be not very professional. So ask for three references instead of one. And always have an understudy.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I don’t have a good business idea to give away at this time.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I got a train ticket from a venue back to NYC for a special event, and then I caught a cab.

That cab was Cash Cab! I got to be a contestant with my younger brother on a show I watch religiously. It was a dream come true, I was so happy.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Boomerang for gmail. It’s so good with following up with clients. It keeps me organized.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Eat Right for (4) your type. When you’re running a business, you have to be at your top. Mentally and physically. This book has a wonderful theory that there are foods that are beneficial, foods that are neutral, and foods that you should avoid, based on your blood type. I’ve changed my diet, lifestyle based on this. And I’ll tell you, my health, physical appearance, and attitude have all been great for years.

What is your favorite quote?

A mistake on stage is a buddha’s gift.” Mark Olsen
This is from one of my favorite college professors. When you’re giving a workshop, or training employees, you have to remember to be truthful, live moment to moment. And that what might seem like a crisis is actually an opportunity.

Key learnings:

  • If you don’t like doing something, get someone else to do it. Outsource so you can concentrate on things that are most important
  • Listen to your customers. Let customers tell you what they need. We started as a production company to a national touring consultancy organization with parent workshops, faculty professional development, and Residency Programs. All because clients came to us, liked what we were doing, and wanted to continue to work with us.
  • Strive for excellence in the product you offer. I’d rather not present then put out a mediocre product. People will talk. And are motivated by displeasure or extreme elation. Settle nothing less than elated customers.

Jeremy Rubenstein on Twitter – @Jeremy_Ru
Box Out Bullying on Instagram – @boxoutbullying