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July 15, 2020

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Brandcenter Director’s Council Spotlight Series // Brad Blondes, MetLife

Brad Blondes is a driven creative with skills and experiences that criss-cross between industries. Throughout his career, he has held positions at agencies such as McCann NY, Mother NY, BBDO and Sapient. His brand credits include Chevrolet, Ikea, American Airlines, Nike, Google, Polaroid, General Mills, Grey Goose and Audible.com. In 2016 he was selected to Ad Age’s 40 Under 40. In 2017, he joined MetLife as VP, Global Head of Brand Creative & Design.

Brad joined the Brandcenter Director’s Council in 2019, but he isn’t a stranger to higher ed: for nearly 10 years, Brad taught as an adjunct professor at Parsons, The School of Visual Arts and Queens College as an Adjunct Professor. Prior to that, Brad received his MFA from Yale University, where he was a President’s Public Service Fellow and recipient of the Charles Sawyer Scholarship.

Brad’s unique professional experiences make him a valuable asset to our Director’s Council and entire graduate program. Get to know him a little better in our interview below, where he talks about the importance of picking your battles and cultivating a practice of letting go.

 

How do you define creativity? (Or success?)

I define creativity as the compulsion to continuously be asking ‘why’. Why does the moon look so big when it’s close to the horizon? Why does the word ‘content’ have many different interpretations? Why is the number 4 considered unlucky in China? Why did this fail? Success is turning those ‘whys’ into ‘what-ifs’ and eventually into a thing.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?

My mother taught me to always ‘pick and choose my battles’. When I was young I thought that was odd, but what I came to realize is she was teaching me to be strategic. Being a creative isn’t just about making cool stuff, it’s about selling, politics, relationships, building consensus, collaboration, etc. Knowing what to fight for, and when and how to do it, is just as important as talent.

What do you do to challenge yourself?

Leading teams is often an exercise in humility. And a big challenge for me over the years has been cultivating a practice of letting go. Coming to terms with the fact that there are many forces and decisions out of our control, actually fosters a culture of trust and focus within teams. I try to challenge myself by acknowledging that there is only so much I can do, and that I will do those things to the best of my ability.

Is there a place or space you go to get inspired?

I’m inspired by wandering. Just get up and go outside. I don’t usually have a destination, but I find the act of physically wandering allows my mind to wander also. Then I like to be alone with some paper and I’ll write and doodle until there are some really bad ideas and maybe 1 or 2 good ones. Then I get excited and want to share with my wife, and if she says they are good, then I know they are good.

 

Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us, Brad!