August 15th, 2014

Keynote It

As of last week, director Jerry Brown can now add keynote speaker to his skill set.

Since we couldn’t make it up to PDX for Jerry’s keynote at the Young Entrepreneurs Business Week, we figured the next best thing would be to go to the man himself and ask him how it all went down.


How did you come to know YEBW?

My friend Gregg Mindt is my connection.  He is the Executive Director at YEBW.  I have him to blame. Gregg asked me if I would speak publicly at the event at Portland University.  I tried a few feeble excuses which didn’t pan out, Gregg was persistent, and I ended up speaking.

How did it go?

I arrived early and got to speak to some of Gregg’s staff before the actual event and that was more my speed.  I have done some public speaking before (mostly at schools on career day, that kind of thing), so I had a sense that I could easily blather on for 45 minutes which is what Gregg asked of me.  I strayed off the script pretty much from the start and tried to make it a conversation between me and the students at the conference.  I think that was probably a pretty effective play, and it seemed to be engaging for most.  I took the students through one entire project – Sara Lee – from agency board to finished script, all of which was shown on a big screen.  I wanted to show them an overview of how it “typically” works – while also acknowledging to them that every project has its own personality.

Anything that resonates particularly strongly?

I remember thinking how important it was to me that my work appeal to those students because they represent the sensibility of what’s current and where the creativity is going.  They responded very well to the work I showed them, and that was gratifying, only because college students can be a tough crowd when it comes to judging creative work.

Speaking as a creative at a business conference: creativity and business – intertwined or disparate?

Well, not only is it not disparate, it’s undeniably intertwined.  I also think it is situational.  Some projects require more business, and some more creativity.  The recipe varies.  And I’d say it varies from creative person to creative person.  We all take a slightly different perspective.  To me, even if it’s not sponsored content of some sort, it’s still got a business or marketing side to it – even if it’s a spec spot no company would buy.  We create stories (or commercials) not just as expression to fulfill some creative urge but to inform, not just to entertain but to brand or educate.  There’s no getting around it, I think.  Seems to me like there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you acknowledge that’s what you’re doing.  It’s a great challenge to figure it out for me!  I certainly don’t go even close to the philosophy of an agency account exec I know (who shall remain nameless) who was fond of telling agency creatives that if they wanted to do “art” there was a sidewalk out front of the agency and they could feel free to quit their job and try to sell it there.  Ha!

Any other thoughts?

It was fun.  I had a good time and I wore a suit for the first time since the last Christmas party.  I was told I looked good.