Be humble and don’t be too proud to beg. The first couple of clients that we won, I told them we really wanted to do the job and asked them to please let us do it.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Schultz, an experiential marketer who has worked with brands like Facebook, Google, Uber, Twitter, NBC, Netflix, and The White House Office of the First Lady Michelle Obama. Brian led experiential units at R/GA and Crispin Porter + Bogusky before opening his own agency, We’re Magnetic, in 2012. Now he’s a brand experience entrepreneur connecting with consumers in even more meaningful ways while also giving back to the industry by mentoring and teaching young talent.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path?
My whole life I’ve loved creating experiences for people. In high school I organized pep rallies, and in college I ran a production company. When I graduated, I started working in entertainment. I was assigned to work sponsorship tents at a festival, which sparked my interest in brand activation. I loved that it combined the tactical with the creative around music and experience. At that time my wife was working at Crispin Porter, so it was the perfect opportunity to take my love of creating fun experiences and merge it with brands.
Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
Fifteen years ago when digital was just taking off, everyone was excited about interactivity. As someone who really believed in the power of experiential marketing, it was frustrating to see that take a back seat. We challenged ourselves to bring experiential to the forefront, so we rolled up our sleeves and came up with the term “outeractive.” It’s the idea that digital interactive experiences could be amplified by outeractive experiences. It took a lot of thought and grit, but we found a way to leverage something in the marketplace that people were talking about that ultimately helped support our growth.
Later, after I had worked at agencies for years, it was frustrating that experiential still a secondary thought to major campaigns. When I saw the path to experiential I really wanted to take it, I said screw it, I’ll start my own business. If you seen an opportunity, sometimes it’s worth showing some grit and taking a shot.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
When you’re doing something new, it’s the inherent passion and love in what you’re doing that gives you the drive. There’s a natural adrenaline that rushes through you, in good times and bad times. With a startup, it’s also about getting your team excited about being industry outliers. You can’t do everything yourself, and by having a ragtag band of misfits working together, you can feed off of each other.
So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
When you’re gritty and trying to build something, you sweat passion. Your employees, staff, team members and partners get into it, and so do your clients. When you’re really trying to push forward and break through, the spirit and adrenaline is infectious.
So, how are things going today? 🙂
Great. I built a successful company in We’re Magnetic, but it was time to get gritty again and do something new. Right now I’m working with a couple of companies because I love the adrenaline rush of starting new ventures. I just love the energy it brings.
Based on your experience, can you share 4 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each)
● Be humble and don’t be too proud to beg. The first couple of clients that we won, I told them we really wanted to do the job and asked them to please let us do it.
● You can’t know everything, and it’s OK to reach out and get peer support. You might feel like you’re on an island and have to do everything yourself. But there are other people who are happy to share their experience and expertise. Get some help.
● Know the business side. It’s not just about the cool product or service you’re selling. Understand the economic and operations sides of your business. Part of building grit is being a sorcerer of all. Identify what you don’t know and learn it.
● Get a big bullhorn. To be successful you need to shout from the mountaintop through speaking and networking, and you also need to be an excellent listener.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?
I have to name three. The first is my dad, who was a serial entrepreneur and helped me at key points along the way. Bob Greenberg, founder and chairman of R/GA, was very helpful when I started my own company. We spoke about how he grew and transformed the agency over time. And Rick Dobbis, former president of Sony Music International and manager of the Rolling Stones, has helped me through the years to identify and reassess my goals. Coming from a creative industry, Rick is used to dealing with challenges similar to mine. I consider him my business coach.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’ve always felt that mentoring is the most important thing I could do. At all my companies I really worked hard to help my team with their development. Now I’m teaching. I recently gave a lecture at Virginia Tech about opportunities in advertising and marketing. I’m also advising three startups on how to scale their businesses. So I’m taking the last 15 years of grit and applying it as a mentor to others.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’m working on a top secret initiative around the 2020 election, which applies my advertising and marketing know-how and entertainment experience. I would love to tell you more but you will be sure to see it in the next election cycle. I’m hoping to make a real impact through this work.
What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Ensure that you have a scalable organization that allows for employee growth. Get to know your staff personally and find out what makes them tick. Figure out a way to give them a stake in what you’re doing — not just through compensation, but also through the feeling of ownership. Finally, consider coaching or training to become a great mentor. Also, and most important: focus on self and personal health. A good healthy environment is the best place to get gritty.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Society is now very tense and often combative. I hope to come up with a great campaign and a message that tells people, “listen to your peers, understand them and thank them for their wisdom” instead of just being loud and demonstrative. It’s about being kind and realizing that listening and talking things out is best.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Nothing is impossible — strive for everything. I’ve always felt that when people say something is impossible, that’s when I get the job and put my problem solving skills to good use.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.