Episode 45
Brand Story Podcast

Developing Creative Leaders

featuring Vann Graves

Executive Director of the VCU Brandcenter

Vann Graves, Executive Director of the VCU Brandcenter, discusses storytelling and creative leadership with our president, Steve Gilman

Vann didn’t plan on his career journey coming full circle. After taking advice to leave his hometown of Richmond and gain more life experience, he spent some time in D.C. and New York working in the advertising space before finding his way back to VCU’s Brandcenter. Now he serves as the Executive Director, helping to inspire the next generation of creative leaders.

In this episode of Brand Story, you’ll hear from Vann about the lessons he’s learned from the advertising world, and why storytelling plays such an important role in the creative process. He shares how his time in the military helped shape his views on leadership, and the need to be both fearless and a little bit kooky to be successful in the industry.

About the Guest

Vann Graves

Executive Director of the VCU Brandcenter

Vann is the Executive Director of the VCU Brandcenter, a master’s program focused on developing the next generation of creative leadership. A former Creative Director, Vann has an extensive background working for advertising agencies including BBDO, McCann, and J. Walter Thompson, and is also a decorated combat veteran.

Quickfire Q&A

What's a trait of yours that you used to think was a weakness, but you've really learned to value?

Vann: I have a dad sense of humor. I tell really bad jokes, and I always find, no matter how serious the situation, some connection where I can make a really bad joke. It has diffused some tough moments, but also has brought folks together where we just start laughing.

You have a military background, but you ended up in creative. How did you put those two things together?

Vann: I was in New York, a creative in an agency, BBDO at the time, and September 11th happened. I was lucky to have parents who believed in service, and I felt compelled. BBDO taught me how to be a great creative, they taught me the craft, but the military taught me how to be a leader.

About The Host

Steve Gilman

As the President of Gravity Group, Steve is passionate about helping brands reach their goals through honest, creative marketing and powerful brand stories.