Ep 325: Gerry Graf of Slap Global - 'The Still Alive Leader'

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By Charles Day. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

This week’s guest is Gerry Graf. He’s the co-founder of Slap Global. They describe themselves as a business accelerator fueled by creativity. Gerry is best known as the founder of Barton F. Graf 9000 - which he built into one of the most acclaimed advertising agencies in America.

Business Insider named Gerry “The Most Creative Man in Advertising”. Newsweek called him one of the “New Don Drapers”. PBS featured Barton as one of the new innovative shops in “The Real Mad Men of Madison Ave”. Forbes named Barton one of the 14 Most Influential Agencies in America. Fast Company named Barton one of the Most Innovative Advertising Agencies and Gerry one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business. And AdAge included Barton in their A-List issue 8 out of 9 years and named Gerry one of the 50 “biggest and best thinkers and doers from 20 years of advertising and consumer culture.”

Despite all of this, the company closed after ten years.

Success and failure are cousins. So are risk and fear. You can’t have one without the other.

How we see them and what we learn from them shape the course of our lives.

In a pre-pandemic world, a lot of leaders got their titles as a rite of passage or a reward for longevity. They weren’t leaders at all. They were in the right place at the right time, and the playbook they used was well thumbed and easy to follow.

We’re living in a time in which the rules are different. Many of them no longer exist. And yet so many leaders are still trying to turn the clock back to 2019. Most of the references we hear today are about returning. But the winners will be those who re-imagine.

Human beings, by nature, are creatures of habit and risk adverse. And the status quo is a compelling drug.

But leadership has always been about looking ahead. About telling a story, building trust and keeping people moving forward.

There’s risk involved in all of that. You might be wrong. It might not work.

Which is when leaders step forward and try again.

Which, when you think of it, sums up the entire history of human evolution.

What story do you want to write?

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