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M.AD Insighter Series

Design Confidential (with David Tann)

May 12, 2021 - 04:00pm

Speaker

David Tann

Founder at Tantrum Agency

Overview

David Tann is an award-winning Founder and Creative Director of Tantrum Agency. He’s spent his entire career working with global brands. In just over 15 years, David has launched brands for Abercrombie & Fitch, designed record-breaking holiday campaigns for Bath & Body Works, managed packaging for Kohl’s department store, revitalized the OshKosh B’gosh clothing brand, directed e-commerce for Carter’s, and unveiled the new identity for his hometown NBA basketball team, the Atlanta Hawks.

David has consistently shown a knack for recognizing trends and translating them into effective campaigns and products. More importantly, he has a firm understanding of the subtleties and nuances that make great brands resonate with people.

David Tann

Founder at Tantrum Agency

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Full Transcript:

Hank Richardson:

Thanks everybody for coming into our broadcast today. It's an exciting broadcast. Our speaker, David Tann is an award-winning founder and creative director at Tantrum Agency, located in Atlanta, Georgia. He has spent his entire career working with global brands, and in just really 15 years, Dave has launched brands from Abercrombie & Fitch, designed record-breaking holiday campaigns for Bath & Body Works, managed packaging for Kohl's department stores, revitalized OshKosh B'gosh clothing brand, directed e-commerce for Carter's, the largest children's clothing creator in the world, and unveiled a new identity for his hometown NBA basketball team, the Atlanta Hawks. He's always shown a knack for recognizing trends and translating them into effective campaigns and products. More importantly, he has a firm understanding of the subtleties and the nuances that make great brands resonate with people.

Hank Richardson:

So, David is, prior to Tantrum, he served as vice president and creative director for the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena in Atlanta. He was responsible for establishing and really consistent brand voice for the Hawks and across all media. His creative team played a really integral part in rolling out the NBA's team bold visual identity and he delivered a vibrant brand aesthetic that represented the mantra of the Atlanta Hawks, true to Atlanta. But there's one more thing I want to add to this introduction of David. David is also an alumnus of the school, and we're very proud of him, what he's achieved over time, and he's been an alumn that constantly brings important messages back to all of you, and to that I'm indebted to him and really say thank you David of all these years of doing that.

Hank Richardson:

So, in David's first job, and I'm not going to go into this in depth, but I want to share something with you. I'm not going to tell you a lot of the story behind it, but I am going to share it with you, and everybody gets to see my messy desktop for a second. Not everything you create will be a masterpiece, but you get out there and you try. Sometimes it really happens, the other times you're just stretching your soul, Maya Angelou. So, that is a gift that David gave me years ago, and when he gave it to me he thought that is what a portfolio education out of M.AD looks like when you build those books, and I have to agree with him. If you're ever in my office at school, you'll see it hanging on the wall. That's just a copy of it.

Hank Richardson:

So David, with that said, I think it's a good place to share it to you now.

David Tann:

Awesome. Thank you for the introduction Hank, Stephanie. Thank you all for tuning in today. I'll just sort of talk about the journey, a little bit about my background, and then, excuse me, we'll just sort of open it up to questions. I definitely want to give you all the ability to ask questions and I want to make sure that whatever we're talking about today is relevant to where you are in your career and what your interests are.

David Tann:

I will say if you had told me way back when, when I was in your shoes, that I'd be able to accomplish those things over the course of a career, coming out of school, there's no way that I would've believed it and I probably would've laughed at you and definitely had not taken it seriously. But I think there's something to being in the environment that you're in and around such great creatives and the energy, and realize that sometimes people like Hank, like Stephanie, are seeing things in you that you may not be able to see in yourself, and that that's really what the role of the teachers, the mentors, the professors, the real world professionals that you interact with on a daily basis. When they're pushing, when they're being difficult, when they're poking and prodding, that is ultimately the goal, is that they're trying to refine, they're trying, they see diamonds in the rough and they're trying to get you to where you need to be.

David Tann:

I say that because it's not like when I was at Portfolio Center I was the best, or back in the time when I went to Portfolio Center, Miami Ad School, it wasn't like I was the best student. I think that I had potential. I think if anything, I worked really really hard. I did not enroll in school with any art background whatsoever. So, still to this day I tell people I don't really consider that I have any true artistic talent. I draw and sketch in stick figures, circles, lines, triangles, squares, literally that's about it, but I entered with a communication degree from Wake Forest and I entered as a writer, and as I was walking around the school and saw all the cool stuff, every time I saw something that I wanted to do, like hey, how do you get to make that poster? How do you get to make those wine bottles? How do you get to do that chair? How do you get to do that branding? Whatever the case, every time I asked the question, and the answer was design.

David Tann:

So, I enrolled in the design program, and just sort of never looked back. I think that I'm a testament to I don't feel like there's anything particularly special about my ability. I just think that I worked really, really, really hard to get to where I am today. You can ask anyone who knows me, I still in very much a way have a chip on my shoulder and feel like we still have so much more to prove, and that we're just beginning for what we could be as an agency and as a company.

David Tann:

I think that there were definitely a couple key projects when I was a student that really set the tone and really changed things for me. Once I got kind of locked in and I began to see what I could be, I just sort of never looked back. I think that you're always going to be constantly questioning yourself, constantly evolving, constantly growing. I used to have a saying, where I would talk to other people and we just sort of joke around, it's like if you're not crying, you're not trying. It seems silly, but to me, the sort of creative school, the way I'll explain it to my friends, is like it's med school for creative. Only the strong are going to be able to survive, only the people who really want it are going to be able to cut it. That's just the way the mentality that I had. I was so focused when I was in school, I lived out in Kennesaw, which is about 30 to 45 minutes north of the city of Atlanta. I would drive in every day for classes, I would sleep on the couch and go to a morning class, sleep on the coach in the afternoon and go to class in the evening, come back home, work all night, do it all over again.

David Tann:

I didn't go out a lot when I was in school. I just felt like I was behind and I needed to catch up, and I was super, super focused. I think that that probably has translated over to my career more than anything. I went to Hallmark, designed greeting cards, didn't know what I was doing, but learned a lot there. From there I went to Abercrombie & Fitch. I was actually hired to do labels and hang tags, and when I got there they literally had phased out the job that they had hired me for within six weeks, and they asked me, "Would you be willing to do T-shirts?" And I was like, "Yeah, absolutely." So I learned how to do T-shirts and got really good at that. Then when they went to launch a brand, a new brand, my boss fortunately threw my name in the hat, and I interviewed and was able to get that job, and launched Gilly Hicks, which was their version of PINK. It's still around and it's under the Hollister brand now.

David Tann:

So, it's just like my career just sort of kind of began to pick up steam, and each step along in the way, like I see design, creative, art direction and whatever. I don't necessarily see the buckets or silos. To me, it's all just part of being creative. I see it very much as a trade or a craft, and in order to get good at your craft you've got to put in the work. Every step along the way was like let's say I'm a ... I think back to my grandfather might have had a fifth or sixth grade education, right? But he was a master carpenter. He could build a house from scratch, right? He knew the way, when I was little I'd go with him to these jobs and I'd watch how he'd build, and he knew exactly how to do all these different things, and he could measure things, and all these crazy ways and angles and all these other stuff, and he just realized there's booksmart, then there's real world practical smart, and there is like he is a genius in this thing because that's his trade and that's what he values, and that's what he puts the time into.

David Tann:

So, I see this creative world as very much a trade, and each step along the way I was mastering a particular tool that I would need to eventually build the house, which is what this agency is. So, I could look at Hallmark and say Hallmark taught me specifically about organization, specifically about systems, specifically about process. Abercrombie taught me about branding like you would never believe, taught me about understanding numbers, and working with merchants. Bath & Body Works taught me how to market. You're selling soap, how do you do that and make that appealing? Kohl's taught me packaging. OshKosh, another branding experience and revitalizing, and bringing something back. Then the Atlanta Hawks is when I finally began to kind of pull all of it together, and even then there was a lot of stuff with environmental graphics and working in the arena, and across multiple departments and teams that I got from that experience.

David Tann:

So finally, it's like okay, cool, I feel like I have mastered this trade, now let me go try to build my own house, and that is essentially what Tantrum has been and you take a step out, you take a leap of faith, and it's back. You're like you're starting all over again. You're making new mistakes. You have new lessons to learn. You're now competing with agencies that have been around for 20, 30, 40, 50 years. So it's been a cool experience. It's definitely been probably the hardest thing that I've done from a career standpoint, because we started with one client. To get to this point has been a blessing, but like I said, very much still feel like there's so much more to achieve and still so much more to do.

David Tann:

I think that's sort of it. I mean, just from a background for me and what we're able to achieve. Are there any questions or anything that you guys want to talk about specifically? I actually see some people I know in this group. Very cool. Steph-

Stephanie:

So, I went ahead. Yeah. I went ahead and turned everybody's mics on. So, whenever you want to ask a question, just jump in, unmute your mic and talk with David. Such a wealth of knowledge here.

Speaker 4:

Okay. [crosstalk 00:13:16].

Speaker 5:

Hey David. Thank you for taking the time to meet with us. I had a quick question. So, I see that Tantrum is classified as a design agency when you look at it on LinkedIn or something like that, but you made a really good point about how you don't want to be just glued to the different buckets. So, what was the thought process behind classifying as a design agency versus like just an in-house creative agency?

David Tann:

Yeah.

Speaker 5:

What was that thought process like?

David Tann:

Yeah, so the classifying myself as a design agency is more not necessarily for me, it's really more for people externally. So, regardless of how I view what we do or what our approach is, people still need to know when they're looking for you what technically bucket you fall into because they're looking for a service, right? So, that's the closest thing to what makes sense for people who are looking. They're generally looking for some sort of creative need. When we actually begin to talk, when we begin to send them proposals, do the RFP process, et cetera, that's when you begin to sort of differentiate yourself and begin to sort of separate okay, this is what we actually do well, and this is what we don't do, et cetera.

David Tann:

I'll give you a perfect example. There are people who will approach me and ask me for a logo or any time I'm out and people ask me like, "What do you do?" I'm always reluctant to tell them because the minute you tell someone you're a designer they're like, "Oh man, I need you. My uncle has this business and we need a logo for this, this, and that and that." And you're like, "Yeah well, that's not really what I do." And I've had people actually really get mad at me because I'll say, "Well, I don't really do logos." And they're like, "Well, what do you mean? I'm looking at your website, there's logos on your website." And they're like, "Yeah, that's part of the service that we offer, but that isn't the service that we offer." So, if you just want a logo, there's 50 million places where you can go where someone is going to knock out a logo for you, but for us, we're about the creative process and we want to understand who you are and what your business is, and so there's a journey. If you're not willing to go on that journey, then we're not the right people for you.

David Tann:

So, that's a hard ... It takes a while to get to that place where you are comfortable and you know who you are as a creative, where you can say yeah, I do this, but I don't do this.

Speaker 5:

I love that.

David Tann:

It's a little bit different. It's very interesting even too psychologically because there'll be times where we're pitching stuff and we know okay, we got a good shot at this, but if we act like we don't want it, they want you even more. It's like dating in a weird way. But if you know who you are and you're like, "Hey, realistically if this is what you want to do, we're not the right people for you, but best of luck, here." Then they're like, "Wait a minute. No one ever told me that, blah, blah, blah." So, it gets pretty interesting, but I think it's really for us just knowing who we are, what we have to offer, what our strengths are, and being secure with that.

Speaker 5:

Awesome. Thank you. That answered my question.

David Tann:

Any other questions?

Stephanie:

Actually we've got ... Let's see. We've got one in the chat. It says, "Hi David, really enjoying your talk, and would like to know what makes a digital portfolio stand out to you."

David Tann:

I won't necessarily differentiate digital versus, like a portfolio is a portfolio. I think what I will say is the portfolio depends on where you are in your career, I'm looking at them very differently. If I know that you're coming out and that you're a student, student books tend to look the same because you're working on projects that aren't truly real. So, either you're doing some stuff that is more conceptual, blue-sky. You might have separate assets in there that I wouldn't necessarily feature if it was a real particular project, whatever. So, student books, when I'm looking at them I'm looking at do they have a basic understanding of design, but also too, do I see the potential of what they could be?

David Tann:

Versus if you're a seasoned vet and you've been in the game for 10 years, I'm looking at your portfolio and I'm breaking that down very differently. I want to see exactly what you've done, and I want to know exactly who you did it for, how did you execute it, what did you do at this part, what was the handoff, how did that look, et cetera. I will say in general when looking at the portfolio, I always think about it like a book. There is a beginning, a middle and an end. So, you want to have super strong pieces beginning, middle and end. So, that when I go back and I think about your book, I don't feel like there is any weak spots in there because you've given me something great in the beginning, something great in the middle and something great in the end, I'm going to remember those things, versus if you put all your great stuff in the front, and the last thing that you leave me with is something that's so-so, then I'm going to be like, "Well, I don't really know if they're consistent." You know?

David Tann:

So, the biggest thing with the portfolio is really like you're not trying to give anyone any reason to doubt you. The other thing too I will say is this is just in general, this is regardless of portfolio, this is résumés, all that stuff when you're applying for jobs, right? Let's say you're applying for a job and it's a hot job, it's a lot of people are going to want that job. Your number one priority is not to get cut. That's the number one priority. Keep your résumé, keep your portfolio, whatever, from going in the trash bin. So, if they give you these parameters, they say, "We want your portfolio as a PDF, we want you to submit 12 pages, we need a résumé that's a one-pager." Don't turn in a two page résumé and don't send in your résumé as a Word doc because anyone, any little thing that you do that is a reason to cut, you're going in the trash. So, usually by the time, like when you're a senior executive, by the time a résumé or portfolio gets to your desk, it's probably been vetted by HR, it's been vetted by the internal design team, or art director or whatever. So, literally you're just trying to make it through all those cuts.

David Tann:

So you want to make sure when you're looking at that or when you're submitting, okay, what did they ask me to do? I need to make sure I did exactly all of that stuff first and then let me make sure that I have something great in the beginning, something great in the middle, and something great in the end. Let's make sure my email address works. Let me make sure my URL works. You know what I mean? All these little basic things. It seems silly, but you would be surprised at how many times someone will put a URL on their website and the link is broken, and it's like okay, at that point I don't really have time to deal. If you don't care, then I don't care, so next.

David Tann:

So, all those little details matter. Then once you get your foot in the door, it's all about you and your personality. The portfolios, they help you get your foot in the door. Once you get in the door, it's like your personality, your work ethic, do I think you can work with the team, all that kind of stuff makes a difference.

Stephanie:

Great. Hey, we got one in the chat. But Jasmine, you want to ask your question?

Jasmine:

Yeah, I have a question that kind of goes in with that. So, when you first started out, and even now, what are some of the pitches that you made to get these higher brands to work with you?

David Tann:

All right. They're two separate things. So, when I started out there wasn't any brands specifically that wanted to work with me. When I started out we had our portfolio. I remember it very vividly, I was with Hank in New York at a portfolio review. We were in a room with a bunch of students showing work at a Art Directors Club conference. There, again, actually, I will say this. Every single person that you guys interact with, every single person, every single person, there is like 80 people in here, any one of these 80 people could be a referral, could be a potential boss, could be a network, could be whatever. So, when I was at the Art Directors Club thing in New York, two ladies just came up to my booth and they were looking through the work, and they were like, "This is pretty emotional stuff. Would you ever consider coming out to Kansas City?" And they were two ladies from Hallmark, and I was like, "Yeah, I'd go out to Kansas City." And I think that they were surprised because you're in New York, there are not a lot of people who want to leave the big city to go out to the Midwest, but for me it was all about getting to the best team. I didn't care what job I was doing. If you're on the best team, then you're going to learn how to be a winner.

David Tann:

So, in the beginning it wasn't really about me going to a place or doing the stuff that I actually thought that I really truly wanted to do. It was like let me get to the best team and see if I can learn something. Once you get that, then you have that on your résumé. It's much easier to parlay that into the next thing. Then once you get something great, the next thing it's much easier to parlay that into the next thing.

David Tann:

So, that's how the career started. As far as the brands that we work with now, the thing that I'm actually most proud of from the agency, and this is actually crazy when I think about it in hindsight, I think over the course of three years there has been only one job, one, that came across that wasn't a referral from somebody else. That one was through me doing this same thing a year ago for MODA. Someone was in the audience at MODA, saw it and then reached out to us and that was for the Museum of Food and Drink. That's the only person, the only client in that entire roster of people that there's not some personal connection of a person, or a person, or a whatever. So, those relationships make a difference, and all that stuff matters. You'd be surprised who is watching you.

David Tann:

When I got the job at Abercrombie a guy by the name of Greg Crawford, who was a couple quarters behind me, I did never actually know him personally, but he knew my work because when you're in school you're always watching the kids that are ahead of you, and Abercrombie had a position open, and shout out to Greg, Greg was like, "Hey, you need to hire this guy." And that's how it works. There have been countless instances where a job comes up and someone calls me and is like, "Hey, do you know this person? What do you think about, yay or nay?" So, that's honestly how we build the rosters, just all personal relationships. You have to obviously deliver when you do that.

Jasmine:

Thank you.

David Tann:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Good question.

Stephanie:

Great. So, I'm going to quickly ask one from the chat and then we'll go back. John David, you're after this one, okay?

Stephanie:

So, Gardy Banks asked, "When did you know," you kind of touched on this, "But when do you know when you're ready to take the challenge on of starting your own agency?"

David Tann:

Ooh, you're never ready. To me, well, I will say this. I mean, Hank knows, honestly. When I was in school I very much wanted to go to an agency and be mentored and all that stuff, and I ended up going to the largest creative department in the world at Hallmark. So, at the time they were massive. But about two maybe three years in I started getting this itch of ooh, I want to do my own thing, because there were people that I had graduated with or there were people who graduated a little bit before me that I watched do really cool stuff, like Wade Thompson. I watched Wade and I thought Wade was like oh my god, how is he creating, how is he doing this and he just graduated? Greg Miller. How is Greg doing his own photography thing, and how is he getting all these clients?

David Tann:

So, I would literally be in Kansas City looking at their websites. I guess it was like a year. I'd be in Kansas City looking at their websites, like how are they doing this and how can I figure out how to do it myself? And truth be told, you go through these little what I call quarter life crisis. Who am I as a creative? What do I want my career to be? Where do I want to be? All that stuff. So, do not for any second think that I've had it all figured out. There's definitely been a ton of trials and tribulations, and I also too think that life dictates some of that.

David Tann:

So, Barbara, my wife, we met in school, and we are both designers, and we went to Hallmark together, and then we went to Abercrombie together, and then we started a family and we decided that it was going to be best for her to stay home and raise our kids. So it's like well, it's not practical for me to take that leap at that time period because I'm the single source of income. It didn't get practical until our kids were much older and they didn't need to be home anymore, or she didn't need to stay home with them anymore and she could finally kind of go out and get back into the workforce.

David Tann:

Then it became practical because it was like she told me, literally, "You've let me have my dream for 10 years of being home with the kids. Now it's time for you to go chase yours and do this agency thing." So, that was like okay, and the minute she said that I was like, "All right, we're doing this." So, there are a lot of different factors, but I tell people it's like having a kid. There's never going to be a time when you're ready because everything that you think that you know, there's so much more to learn. There's just certain things that you're just not going to know until you experience it.

Speaker 7:

Hello David. I'm curious, as a designer and CEO, what is your perfect collaboration between strategists and creatives?

David Tann:

The perfect collaboration is the next one that we're working on.

Speaker 7:

All right.

David Tann:

[crosstalk 00:28:24].

Speaker 7:

I guess more specifically, how does it work? How, in your experience, do you get the best result from?

David Tann:

I know. Honestly, it's just good people that are open to working together. People always ask me like, "What's your ideal client?" And it's like I don't have an ideal. To me it's just if they're cool people and we like the project, and they're cool to work with, then that's an ideal client. As far as the process goes, I mean, we kind of have it down to sort of a science, and I think everyone, you'll find that most of the agencies kind of processes, they're all similar, they just might speak about them differently. But generally we have some sort of a kickoff meeting where we're trying to understand from the client who they are, what their business objectives are, what do they want to achieve, how do they view themselves, how does the market view them, and just a basic understanding of all that and then we'll go off, we'll do our own research on them. We'll do competitive analysis. We'll have some sort of a second meeting that says okay, this is what you said, this is what we heard, this is what we found, and this is the way forward. Are we good with the way forward? And it's all just about getting consensus, and if they're like, "Yeah, we're good with the way forward." Then we actually start doing creative.

David Tann:

So, we don't put pen to paper for a while into the process until we have that alignment. Once we have that alignment, then it's very easy because the answers typically are in the problem. So, once we really understood the problem, it makes it much easier to get those creative solutions. Then we're off doing rounds of creative. Typically, you're anywhere from two to three rounds. By the third round we should be pretty tight. Every once in a while you'll get these projects that kind of spin out of control, or you miss the mark for whatever reason and it can take a little bit longer, but typically two to three rounds, and then depending on what their budget is, depending on what their objectives are, et cetera, it can look like okay, cool, we did this branding for you. Here's a package. You can just take this now and use this however you want, or it's like now we're actually going to launch something full on, and that can kind of continue through press, PR, whatever.

David Tann:

We work with all scales of clients. So, we're doing some stuff for a personal chef that I love, and it's a much smaller project but it's like you need those projects because they're cool and they have really good energy. But then we're doing stuff for huge clients, like the government, and it's a totally different animal, so. Did that answer your question?

Speaker 7:

Yeah, thanks.

David Tann:

Yeah. No problem.

Hank Richardson:

David, can you give them some insight in, because of your insight, into the in-house situations where you were along the way. You mentioned how huge Hallmark was as inside of that. What that could look like to them, and you once mentioned to me along the way, I remember, and we were joking, and you said, "Can you believe that I'm in charge of Bath & Body Works?" And the ability to be gender neutral inside of a scenario like that, [crosstalk 00:32:13] fake it, and everybody thinks that you're the great sports guy because you were at the Hawks, and they don't realize the other part of the story.

David Tann:

Yeah. I think the only time the Hawks is really relevant is because it's the part that I think is the most sexy for people because it's like you're dealing with the NBA and you're dealing with the athletes. But truth be told, that was only three and a half years of the career, and prior to that it was all ... Honestly, if you want to be 100% about it, my whole career has been actually selling to women, because if you're at Hallmark, you're selling to women, if you're at Abercrombie, you're selling to a mom who has kids. If you're selling, if you're at Bath & Body Works, for sure, Kohl's, for sure, OshKosh, Carter's, for sure. So, I've learned very early on to be able to assess, tap into people that are not necessarily me.

David Tann:

I think the in-house world, particularly at these companies, is like a whole other world. I know particularly when I got started no one was ever really talking about, and you can make a very lucrative career being in-house with someone. Typically in school you really hear a lot more about the agencies, because the agencies are doing, they have all these different types of clients, and that's the lifestyle that most people sort of view themselves as living, but whereas the agency may work on multiple things, the in-house person gets to go super deep in one particular thing, and it's a totally different animal, but you could make a very ... I know people who literally all they do is apparel graphics, and they've done them for 20 years, and they get paid very well, and they have amazing careers and work for really, really cool brands.

David Tann:

So, that is definitely an untapped world ... I would say not untapped, but a part of a person's career that doesn't get talked about a lot.

Hank Richardson:

Can you also share, your presentation skills are unbelievable, and one of your secrets is building decks.

David Tann:

Yeah.

Hank Richardson:

Can you talk about that a little bit, because all of these guys need to know what you know.

David Tann:

Yeah. So, here's the deal. So, I spent all this time going to design school, creating this amazing book, doing all these really, really cool stuff throughout the course of my career, and then I started an agency and all I do is really work in PowerPoint and Keynote. It is crazy, but you can make a lot of really good money. I was actually talking to another creative and he was telling me he does something very similar. He was just like, "There have been a couple of really big brands that literally are just like, 'We just need you to ... We are going to put you on retainer just so you can do our presentations for the next six months.'" It's something that nobody talks about, but if you get good at it, you can definitely carve out a niche for yourself in that world, and more than anything, when you're doing creative that you see in the marketplace, you don't really realize it, but that creative is on the tail end of the process, right? So usually when you're a creative, whether you're in a agency or whatever, someone is handing you a brief, right? When they're handing you a brief, that means that there was actually a meeting two weeks, two months, six months, a year ago, whatever, where there were some executives actually mapping out this is the strategy of what we actually want them to do.

David Tann:

So, all the cool, sexy creative stuff that you see is on the tail end of that. When you start doing these decks you actually now become part of the front end. So, you actually get to be in those meetings, and hear that strategy, and hear what they're trying to do, and now your job is to help them sell that idea either to an investor, a potential C-suite executive who they might want to get onboard, a celebrity who they're trying to get in for a partnership, et cetera. So, you become part of that strategy in the beginning, and that's always where I wanted to be. It's like oh, cool, now I'm actually in the board room at the table, hearing kind of that strategy part, and now let me create something that helps bring that to life in a way that's going to get other people excited. So, there can be significant, there can be big money attached to that, but there is also a higher pressure in being able to make sure that you're delivering on that because they're using those things to actually raise millions of dollars.

Stephanie:

Beautiful, beautiful. Let's take another one from the chat, David. What do you do to get out of a creative funk?

David Tann:

I don't think I ... I don't really feel like I ... Well, it's been so long since I felt like I was in a funk. To me it's just like it's a process, and sometimes it's there, sometimes it isn't, and it's like it'll come eventually. It always does, and I think that's probably being in the game and doing this for so long, it's going to come. It's just like it may not come specifically when you want it to or where you want it to, but I think when you become a professional at it, when this becomes your career versus a job, versus just something that you do, you learn that there are all these different things and ways to sort of build and reference.

David Tann:

So, Pinterest is your guy's best friend because literally the world just comes to you. I hate to be that old guy, back in my day, but legit, and Stephanie and Hank are going to laugh, I would have to go to Emory, I would go to Barnes & Noble, I would have to go to all these places, rent books, buy books, buy magazines, come home, scan them, return them just to get images, just to find stuff that you could reference, stuff that you could be inspired by, et cetera. So, this idea that literally the world can come to you, it's crazy and I swear I feel super old, but do not take that for granted, because part of that, it's very easy to begin to pull mood boards.

David Tann:

So, for all the stuff that we do, if I do find that I'm in a funk, the first thing I do is well, let me just make some cool mood boards and just pull some inspiration. The other thing that I do is conscientiously not work on that project. So, my wife will tell you, even when I'm not working, working sometimes because ... This happened a couple weekends ago. I was literally designing something in my head for two days, and I wasn't on the computer, but we were talking, we're at dinner, we're doing whatever, and in my head I'm figuring out how this stuff is going to work and then when I decide to sit down, late Sunday night or whatever, I'm just banging it out because I know exactly what I want to do because I've thought through that process. For people that are younger in their career, you may not be able to do that. I think that essentially what you're doing is everything has been done before in some way, form or fashion. People are putting their own individual twists on stuff, but you can always find a reference point for some sort of creative.

David Tann:

So, in the beginning you're literally trying to build up that database of stuff to pull from. So, that's why if I was to show you. Actually, I'll screen share this. Let me ... I'll show you this, you guys will think is cool, or you'll think that I'm crazy. We have folders of just swipe, what we call swipe, in the industry it's called swipe. So, assets. Am I going to be able to find it? That's the real question. All right, so you see all these folders that are called swipe. Swipe, swipe, swipe. Here we go.

David Tann:

So, literally, I don't know how much of this you guys can see. This is just folders, on folders, on folders of inspiration. So, when I find myself in a bind and I'm like, "Oh, I need to find something that is using this neon thing." I've already got tons and tons and tons of reference points of imagery just in my database that I can reference that's just using a color. This is just literally, this folder is just neon yellow green stuff. It's like oh, this folder is literally all just black and gold stuff. So, depending on what the client is or what the project is, let's say we had a packaging project come through. I already have a folder of stuff that's just packaging. So, we can start referencing, like I could look at this and be like, "Oh cool." I can reference things for different things.

David Tann:

This might be I love the pattern work, or this might be I love the die cut that reveals the product. I mean, there could be any number of things, but I've already got a database that I'm already pulling from to begin to get ideas, and I think that that's the part in the beginning. There's one thing between directly copying someone's idea. There's a different thing of being influenced and being able to take in and absorb what's happening in the world around you. So, this for me is very much a way to sort of absorb the world around me and create. So, literally this is all just swipe. This is just inspiration. We do a lot of packaging. So, this is just really all cosmetics broken down by brand. We're doing some stuff in the CBD cannabis space, so here it is by category, here it is by brand. All of this is just literally swipe and inspiration. So, that's one way that we easily sort of break out of that stuff. Then another thing that we will do, this is kind of getting to Hank's point, is it's one thing to have a folder full of all that stuff, but all that stuff is not an idea.

David Tann:

So, now you've got this full database of thousands of images, how do you now pick the six that are going to convey an idea? So, these are all mood boards that we keep on the server and we'll make a mood board for every ... Any time we have a client or a project, we'll make a mood board for it. So like, okay cool, this is a futuristic vibe. I mean, we have so many of these. It's insane. This is a mood board just of patterns. So, these are easy ways to begin to sort of break out and get out of the funk, is like surrounding yourself with stuff that you could be inspired by and creating these mood boards and these visuals that help you hone in to a direction, if that makes sense. My computer froze.

David Tann:

Yeah, so this is just pattern stuff for packaging. I mean, we have so many of these things. You can throw something out, whatever, and I'm pretty sure I've got a mood board that addresses or attacks that in some way, shape, or form. Basically an easy way to do this is every time we have a client project we'll make probably, we probably will present like 10 or 12 different mood boards, and then once we've done those we just save them, and so now we can reference those for other projects. Then we can just over time just begin to build a database of stuff that you can pull from.

Stephanie:

So, I was going to say David, one other question was while you had your computer up, can we see your personal portfolio that you created in school?

David Tann:

I don't think I actually have my portfolio from school. Let me see. Let me see if I can dig for that. I don't know if I even still have that, to be honest.

Hank Richardson:

David, I can share two things from it. I saw that question. I think it's a great question. Let me share my screen and you talk about it. They're two projects I found of yours.

David Tann:

Yep.

Hank Richardson:

And you can talk about them. They both have great stories.

David Tann:

Yeah. So, the one of the left is my chair project from actually Hank's class, which again, not to sound old, but back in my day that was a 5:30 class or 6:00 or whatever time we were doing it in the morning, and we didn't get out till Hank decided that he was done for lunch at like 12:30 or 1:00 or whatever. But no, that was one of my favorite classes, and that chair was about the Atomic Age. I can't remember what the other movement was, because it was like two, but this was the story of a young girl, and there's a really cool story behind this. All right, so it's called Sadako's Chair, and there is a young girl named Sadako Sasaki, I believe. Her family survived the bombing, the atomic bombing in Japan, but she eventually ended up getting cancer, I think, from all the radiation.

David Tann:

So, once she started getting sick she had this wish that she would eventually live, survive the cancer, but she realized that at some point that her fate was inevitable. So, she changed her wish to be a wish of world peace. The crane, the origami crane became a symbol for her, and she thought there was a myth that if you made 1,000 origami cranes you would get whatever your wish was. So, a lot of people adopted her story and they tried to make all these different cranes for her. I think there's actually a statue for her in Seattle, if I'm not mistaken.

David Tann:

But so this was my attempt at honoring her, but I also thought, what is the simplest shape that you would need to see a bird in flight? And it was literally like this outstretched wings. So, I built it thinking that it was going to be something that kind of displayed that. Now, these are the types of things that you happen when you actually have to physically make it versus actually getting it rendered. Once you actually have to physically make it you start getting into materials, and it's like okay, I couldn't find anyone that could actually do the wings in a material that made sense.

David Tann:

So, finally I found a guy that actually did hand done glass tables, because that piece I believe was like four feet wide, three to four feet wide, and no one could work with glass at that scale, except for the guy who makes tables. He's like, "Yes, I can do this for you." So, the top came from Rhode Island, the base was done locally here, and the chair didn't get put together until literally the day of critique, because that's when all the parts and pieces. I was unpacking one piece and putting them together. There is a light inside that illuminates. So, at night you get this. The thought was that you would get this shape of an abstract bird floating, once it was illuminated.

David Tann:

When I was actually getting the chair done, the guy, because he just is an artist, is like, "Oh, what color do you want this to be?" And I was like, "Oh cool, throw some orange in, because that was a hot color in the Atomic Age, whatever you think will be cool." And so he's like, "All right. Cool, I got it. Got it." So, he sends me the chair and waits till it's actually in shipping. So, it's left his facility, it hasn't made it to my facility, to me yet, and he calls me and he says, "Hey, just FYI, I put the tint in it to make it orange." He's like, "It didn't really come out orange." I was like, "Okay. What color is it?" And he's like, "Yeah, it's kind of a golden-ish color." Okay, cool.

David Tann:

I got it and I was like, "This is not gold, this is green. This is green green." So, I was literally about to go into critique. Now, keep in mind I didn't see this piece until maybe an hour, an hour and a half before I have to walk into critique, and I've got to present this work. I know they're going to ask me why the base is green. This is where your research comes into play, and this is where I think that there is like what I call happy accidents. I don't think that it was a mistake. I think that it was supposed to be this color, but I had remembered reading and doing all the research that when the bomb hit, the intensity was so hot that it would actually turn the ground into green glass. There were parts of the ground that would be green glass. So I was like oh, it just naturally came to me when I saw it and the chair literally is green glass, and there's all these little specks of red and stuff in there because that's, you know.

David Tann:

So, I flipped it and in the presentation was talking about it, that it turned the ... If you could zoom into it too, Hank, you can kind of see that there's ridges and stuff on the bottom. It's not a flat shiny piece of glass. So, I told the story of this is what I image the earth to look like during that time period or during that moment. When I tell you literally about the time I was done, people were in tears, and literally this is one of the pieces, there's two pieces that got me hired at Hallmark, this is one of the two. It was that story that the lady remembered. She remembered the story of the girl and the chair, and they were in tears. They were like, "You have to come out to Kansas City." So, that was that.

David Tann:

The watch was just a really cool fun piece that we did. At the time I thought that this was the most revolutionary thing ever because it was more of like a bangle than a true watch. Keep in mind this is like 20 years ago, but that was fun. But the chair actually has a really cool story, and that one was a pivotal moment in my career.

Hank Richardson:

David, I have it. Unfortunately, I can't open it because it's an old program that I-

David Tann:

Yeah, no worries.

Hank Richardson:

... don't have, but I have your genesis project. I just don't have a program I can open it with.

David Tann:

Yeah. It's crazy, all these old program. Actually, I have it here. I actually do have some stuff. Here, I'll share it. I'll screen share it. So, this actually kind of what represented a temple to me, which is part of just the Asian culture. This was metal because that was part of this industrial thing that the Atomic Age kind of came out of. Then you can see all the imperfections. It's really kind of eerie how it has this crazy pattern underneath it, but when I began to sort of tell the story of okay, this is what I imagine the ground to look like, then it was like oh my god, it's real, and it felt like I had thought of every single detail, but in actuality it was a happy accident. But if you know your stuff, you're able to make those connections that probably most people wouldn't be able to make.

David Tann:

This was another piece, a book cover. This was the other piece that got me hired at Hallmark. There is a cool story behind this. I don't know if we have time for it, but basically long story short, this is Tania's book of poetry. She used to teach in Miami Ad School. This is her daughter, who at the time was three. I had this vision of shooting an image of her out in the field at Kennesaw Mountain, which is out near where I lived. I kind of pitched the idea to Hank, and Hank was like, "A little girl with a ballon. I don't understand how that gets to her poetry." He's like, "When I think of three year olds with balloons I think of birthday parties." So I was like, "No, I really have a vision for it." And so we did it. This is how long ago this was. We were shooting real film. So, the problem with shooting this girl was that every student who needed to use a young child for any type of student portfolio work, they would use her, so she was like a pro. She was used to going on photo shoots.

David Tann:

So, she was very unnatural in the sense that everything that she was doing was staged. She was like, "Is this my good side? How do you want me to stand? What position? Where is my mark?" All that stuff. I'm like, "Wait, that's not the vibe that I wanted." So what I actually did was we were talking with the photographer and I was like, "Yo man, this girl is better than either one of us. The only time she's being natural is when she thinks that we're not paying attention, so I need you to dig in your pockets or something or look the other way, and let's snap a few images." And so he was like, "All right, cool."

David Tann:

So, this actually, the film that we actually used wasn't the actual film from the shoot. This was actually a Polaroid from the test shoot, and that's why it has a very kind of gritty image. So, literally he was looking away and she wasn't paying attention, and we snapped this, and it was the perfect shot. Then there's text laid in the background. That's actually a letter that her grandfather had written, or her father had written to her mother while he was in the service. So, it's just like a super, super personal piece. When I showed it to the author, she was in tears. So, that's when I was like, "Okay, we have the ability to move people with what we do from a design standpoint." So, those two pieces for sure were the two pivotal pieces from Hallmark.

David Tann:

I think those are the big school ones that I have still. What else you guys got?

Stephanie:

Okay. So we got one more from the chat and then if you've got time, David, maybe we'll do two more after this question. Is that good?

David Tann:

Yeah. For sure.

Stephanie:

Cool, okay. Great. So, in the chat Camille asks, "What is some advice you have gotten from your mentors to keep you going on the path that led you to where you are now?"

David Tann:

Jeez. I think that has been constantly changing and constantly evolving. I think throughout the course of the career there have been certain people who would be pivotal and who I think served in mentorship capacities even if at the time I didn't see them as that. So, the latest people that I've actually been really the most inspired by has been Ryan Wilson and TK Petersen from The Gathering Spot. For those who aren't in Atlanta, they're two young black guys who came and started a private club in Atlanta about five years ago and now they're in three locations, looking at five different locations, Atlanta, DC, LA, looking at Charlotte, Detroit, Houston, a couple other places. Truth be told, they're probably 10 years younger than me. So, I think that that's part of ... You can find your inspiration, you can find your mentorship in lots of different places. You just have to open your eyes and be willing to sort of take in that information and take in those lessons.

David Tann:

So, there would be times, like I would be working, we designed their yearbook, and there would be times when we would be working on the yearbook and I'm sitting in my office like, how am I going to get through this next week? And Ryan would tell me this amazing story of how difficult it was for them, and if just keep pressing forward and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So, this whole time that they're making the yearbook I'm not saying it to them, but I felt like they were literally speaking to me as far as what it was like to be a young entrepreneur and how hard it was, and the most difficult thing is actually just staying in the game.

David Tann:

So, another lady by the name of Tonya Hicks, she's a female electrician. She's a African American woman and an electrician. So, she's super super an anomaly. She would tell me, "Everybody wants to get up to the plate and hit home runs, but sometimes it's really about literally singles and walks. Just stay in the game because if you stay in the game long enough, good things will happen." And you can't swing for the fences all the time. So, it really is about longevity. So, the hardest part is just getting to that second, third, fourth, fifth year and then hopefully the floodgates open.

David Tann:

So, we're a little over three years old. We're going into our fourth year, and this is we're beginning to feel like okay, we're beginning to reap some of the benefits of the work, but for those first two or three years it was just like, I don't even know. There were definitely plenty of times where I was in the old studio and I was like, "I don't even know how we're going to do this. I can't even." And actually too, I'm going to tell another story. Stacey is going to kill me.

David Tann:

So, we just promoted. Stacey Smith to creative director. I've never told this story publicly, and she's watching. She's going to get super embarrassed. But Stacey used to work with me at Kohl's, so again, it's relationships. I was only at Kohl's for 10 months, but Stacey was on my team and she was a super hard worker, and we just kept in contact over the years. When I went on my own she was still at Kohl's doing the same old thing. I was like, "Hey, why don't you just come work with me?" And she was like, "For real?" And I'm like, "Yeah." So, she left a really solid thing and took this risk to kind of come and work with me at the agency.

David Tann:

There was a period of last year with COVID where literally I could not pay my employees. I literally was like, "I don't know. I can't run payroll. I think we're going to have to close the shop." And she was just like, "We're going to keep working." And I was like, "But Stacey, I can't pay you." And she's like, "I know, but that's the risk that we both knew when we started this thing. We're going to keep working and we'll figure it out." And we kept working, and two weeks later this job came through, and then three weeks later this job came through, and then by the end of the year everything's back on track, and now it's crazy. But you need those sort of people who believe in you sometimes when you don't believe in yourself. Sometimes that's older mentors, sometimes that's younger mentors, sometimes that's good friends. It can be any number of things, you just have to be open to receiving it.

Stephanie:

Camille, you got a question?

Camille:

Yes, I do. Thank you David so much for being here and dropping gems. My name is Camille, I'm a first year art direction. I was interested on your thoughts about, I know you worked in retail too, seeing black female sneaker retail stores in about five to 10 years, because I know that you worked with the Strategic African American Retail Track, and I think that's a dope program for the culture, super crazy. Yeah, how do you see females or minorities taking up space in the sneaker retail industry? [crosstalk 01:01:50].

David Tann:

That's a super easy one. Honestly, so when we rolled out the program that Camille is referencing, is a program that we did with The Athlete's Foot that just launched about two weeks ago, it's called StAART, Strategic African American Retail Track. So, we helped develop a program for The Athlete's Foot to increase the number of black franchisees. So, there is one person in their organization right now, Isom Lowman, who I think has nine or 10 stores, and he's opened I think over 30 or something like that, something crazy insane over the course of his career with that organization. But we did a panel conversation the very next day after the launch and Darius Billings, who is the head of marketing at The Athlete's Foot, he openly said women are the biggest growth area. So, the whole point is that not only are we trying to increase minority representation, but that includes women specifically too. So, there's a lot of really cool women doing some really cool things in the sneaker game. It's not something that I specifically follow. I did a lot of research for the particular project that we're working on, but I'm not a sneaker head. I can appreciate it, but honestly I wear the same, I wear white Chuck Taylors every day, you know what I mean?

David Tann:

There's one thing that I learned from Hank, and I used to always like, why does he wear black every single day? And it's like it's one less decision. I do not have to think about what shoes I'm going to wear, it's whether I'm going to wear this old pair or do I bust out a new pair? There's just like, I literally buy four pairs of the same shoes. So, the sneaker world I can appreciate it, it's just not for me, but as far as to your question goes, you specifically, you're the demo. You're specifically the room for growth. Everyone is trying to get to you.

Camille:

Thank you so much, man.

David Tann:

Yeah.

Stephanie:

All right. I think we have time for maybe one or two more, so.

David Tann:

I have time, so I'm not [crosstalk 01:04:06].

Stephanie:

You do? Okay, good. Good, good.

David Tann:

So, I could probably go for like another 20 minutes. If you guys want to hang in, whatever, I'll answer whatever you guys [crosstalk 01:04:13].

Hank Richardson:

Before you go into the next round of questions, I want to share with everybody, because I know this goes through people's minds a lot. I want to show you the best thing David ever created, has created. He talked about, and I think this is important to know, over time we've had so many marriages in this school, that have come out of this school.

David Tann:

Yeah. I rolled my eyes just like you guys are rolling your eyes when I was in your place, like, "What is he talking about?" But.

Hank Richardson:

That's Barbara right there. She's an amazing designer. So, I just thought it would be great to share that with you really quickly.

David Tann:

Yeah, and honestly Barbara is my biggest critic, for real. I mean, you need those people, but no joke, I can think something is the coolest thing in the world and then I show it to her, and I'm like, "Yeah, but this ain't it." You know what I mean? So, there was literally a couple times not too long ago where she was like, "Hey, did you do this?" And I was like, "Why?" And she's like, "It's horrible, you need to take this down." It's like okay, all right, cool. She's like, "This is not a good look for you. This is not a good look for the brand. You need to fix this ASAP." Like all right, cool. Whatever, all right, fine.

David Tann:

But I mean, you laugh and joke about it, but truly speaking, this is not possible without that kind of support. So, it means the world, and it makes it possible because it's like okay, you're running the household, which allows me to run the business, so you definitely need, nobody does it alone ever, so. What else you got, Steph?

Stephanie:

Let's see if there's anything else in the chat. I think we're good there. So, everybody can just kind of pop in.

David Tann:

Melvin said, "I drive and think or walk in the park." Yeah.

Stephanie:

Oh yeah.

David Tann:

I used to do the ... I have a client that we were working on a project, and I don't remember this, but he just told me this story back a couple months ago. He was like, "I knew that you were serious." He's like, "I knew we got the right guy because we just went through this kickoff meeting, we had been talking for hours about what we wanted to do, and you said to me, 'All right, I'm going to go home and work in the garden for a little bit and marinate on this, and then I'll get back to you in a week.'" And he was like, he's just like that was so foreign to him, that that would be part of the process creatively, but that was a thing that I was into for a little while, where it was just like all right, cool, let me go plant some flowers and not think specifically about the thing that I'm working on because that's where the cool true inspiration comes from.

Hank Richardson:

David. I would love it if you say one more thing, because I think you represent, we talk about all the time we talk about the network that the school has, and I think you're representative of that network to the hilt, and just how people get opportunities. I can think of at least off the top of my head, people who've gotten opportunities because you saw them in some capacity.

David Tann:

Yeah.

Hank Richardson:

Sarah Busby, Alice [inaudible 01:07:51], Devin Carter, [MC Copage 01:07:51], the list goes on.

David Tann:

Yeah. I mean, to be honest, Hank, and I've said this before to other people, I truly hope that that is my legacy more so than any of the other creative. There have been people that I've worked with over the years that I'm super super proud of. This is what I'm telling you, as students, realistically anybody that you're interacting with potentially could be hiring you. So, there are times where there are students who I sat in on their portfolio review, never had them in class, and I was like, "You're amazing." And when a job opportunity presents itself, put their name in the hat.

David Tann:

There have been other people where I've seen some stuff and was like, "Oh, I need you in my class." There have been other people, I mean, there have been people who literally have cursed by name, and literally to Hank's, explicitly curse my name because I might have told them something that they didn't want to hear or gave them approach that wasn't what they wanted or didn't expect or whatever the case, but then a year, two years later we literally laugh about it. At the end of the day, if I ... What I'm able to create, if I crated nothing else, I feel like I've had a very successful career, I mean, nothing else. I mean, and we're even talking from an agency standpoint. If we don't get another client this year, the stuff that we have on deck, and there's some stuff that is coming down the pipeline that is bananas specifically, so go follow us all 60, 80, whatever of you. Some stuff is about to happen in the next two weeks that is like crazy.

David Tann:

So, if we did nothing else, it's like yeah, we had a really crazy year, and that's like it's May. So, but the part that I'm actually the most stoked about are, to your point, the Devin Carters, the MC [Copages 01:09:58], Alice. There's probably, if I really counted up, 20 to 30 of them that I could look to specifically and be like in some way, shape or fashion helped them. There is a couple in the chat. I was literally just talking to Melvin the other day. Gardy, who asked the question, I've never had him in class, but for the two years or whatever that he was going through the program, every once in a while he'd just hit me up, like, "Hey, I got a question. Can we talk?" Yeah, let's talk.

David Tann:

So, it's really cool to see them go off and spread their wings, and progress and have these big time careers. Brooke Sutherland, I was like, "Yo Brooke, I can't even get on your calendar because you're so big time. Have your people call my people, I guess. Let's have lunch." So it's cool. It's super, super cool, and I know that right now it's hard to fathom that you'll be there, but you will be there sooner than you think. The network is a part of that. That is why you're doing what you're doing, that's why you're paying to go where you're going, and connections, relationships are everything. I could rattle off. Honestly, you name whatever company that you want to and it's like, we know somebody there or know somebody who knows somebody there. That's just relationships, networking, working with good people, et cetera.

Hank Richardson:

Two more things. One, that is so true. I remember Chris Rawls that was at Abercrombie, and Chris, I can't say any more about this, Chris is now with another big company, and he's in the process of hiring a student right now from this school. Then we're all about a pursuit of excellence. So, I think this is such a great piece of the school lore. I really want you to tell it from your tail, of being in the classroom and when you were teaching a class.

David Tann:

Why do you do this to me, Hank?

Hank Richardson:

It's [crosstalk 01:12:17].

David Tann:

All right, here we go.

Hank Richardson:

It's such a great-

David Tann:

All right, here we go, for everyone who is still listening. So, what I would kind of say to you guys is if you're in class and you have teachers, particularly if they're real world professionals that are teaching your class, you have to realize and recognize that they're doing that because they want to give back. You're not doing it because of the money, because realistically if you did the cost analysis, I'm actually losing money because I'm going to make more working for my business, or working for my client, or working for the company that I am and teaching 10 times out of 10. So, if I'm there, I'm there because I want to give back, because I want to be inspired by the students, because I love working with Hank, or the stuff here in the school or whatever the case. There's any number of reasons, right?

David Tann:

So, I didn't realize this when I was a student, but I definitely did have one or two teachers that like sent me home crying and made me think like, "Wait a minute, is this what I really want to do?" And we were in class and I had a group of really talented individuals, but they were not performing, and they knew that they weren't performing. This group had a little bit more sass than usual. I'm going to name two of them just because we're good friends, like Alicia Coleman who is at Sesame Street right now, right? So, she's one of the people.

David Tann:

Devin Carter who's with the Hawks was in there, Alice, Brooke Sutherland was in there. All people who have really, really great amazing jobs, but the group as a whole was definitely underperforming and people weren't doing what they're supposed to be doing. So I said, "All right, cool everybody. Let's get out a sheet of paper. Get out two sheets of paper, just scrap paper." I say to them, "Okay, you guys are going to start an agency and you are going to hire two people from this class. Write their names down, ball it up and hand it to me." And so they take, they have no idea where I'm going with it, so they write down the two names, they think for a couple minutes, they hand them all over. So I was like, "All right cool. Let's start counting the names." So we start counting them out and let's say the class had 12 people in it, maybe 14. The same three maybe four names kept coming up, right?

David Tann:

So, by the time that we were done I said to them, "This is amazing for these four people, but the other 10 of you, what does this say about you?" And then the room got super quiet because they hadn't thought about it in that way. I was like, "So, now when you leave here, don't go cursing my name and don't go cursing Hank's name because you're not getting where you're supposed to be, because your peers literally told you that you're not pulling your weight." And then that's when it got super real and people got really, really pissed. I think it hit home in a way that no one else had actually broken it down to them before because it's like, wait a minute, your peers see that you suck right now, right? And they're openly, whether you say it or whether you realize it or not, they're acknowledging it, and you kind of are acknowledging it too.

David Tann:

So, it got super heated because one person voted for themselves, actually two people voted for themselves but only one person admitted it, and now I'll tell you, it was Devin. He was like, "Yo, I don't trust y'all people. Y'all aren't ..." You know what I mean? He's like, "It's going to be me and one other person because y'all aren't doing it right now." And so people got, they're like, "You aren't allowed to vote for yourself." I never gave anybody any specific rules, I just said you're hiring two people. So, man, it got heated. It got back to Hank. I don't even know. I don't even know how he navigated those waters, but there were some really upset people. One of the names that kept coming up was Brooke, and Brooke at the time was maybe fourth quarter, and she was in a class with a bunch of six and seventh quarter students. So, I was like, "Look, all of you guys voted for this girl and she's halfway through. What are you doing? How come she's outperforming you and you're cool with that?"

David Tann:

So, I always believe in being competitive and having that good kind of competitive energy, where when you see someone's stuff, it makes you want to step your game up, and I believe that you need to have that around, so I'm always looking to be inspired, and that's why I love Ryan and TK at The Gathering Spot. It's like I see what they're doing and I'm like, "All right, that's dope." And then I come back to my team like we need to step it up. But that was definitely, definitely a moment, for sure. I think I stopped teaching after that, Hank.

Hank Richardson:

It inspired the students. Every one of those students in that class is very successful out there in the world now. I believe some of you have some of them back for teachers today, which is even [crosstalk 01:17:56].

David Tann:

Yeah, so if you are fortunate enough to have Brooke as a teacher, you should definitely ask Brooke about that moment, for sure.

Hank Richardson:

So, do we have any other questions on the day?

Stephanie:

I think we probably need to wrap it up. I don't know if anybody gets to class. I know there's a class that starts a little early, maybe at 6:00, but we do have time, maybe one more if somebody wants to squeeze one in there, but yeah, we can.

Speaker 9:

I'll go for it. Hi David. I remember having you at the beginning of the whole program, and I'm always so impressed by your organizational skills on your map. Those are goals. So, I have two questions for you. One, what are some of the habits that you create to maintain that focused lifestyle? Then number two, some of us are going to start internships and navigating and going into a space where we can apply all the things that we have been learning. How do you do that seamlessly or ask questions and just perform in that space?

David Tann:

I have two. Those are really good questions. The first one I think it's just work ethic. I'll be the first to say I'm probably wired a little different than most people. I love what I'm doing. So, literally it's not work for me. It's work in the sense of I have deadlines and I have stuff to do, but I dreamed of being able to be creative and get paid for it. It's like now we get to do it, and we get to work with cool people too. Yeah, I love this. So, for me, I always ... I try not to rest on my laurels almost to a fault, where definitely there are times where people have to be like, "Yo, can you take a second and think about what you guys are doing and just acknowledge that?" But to me, the not acknowledging it is what drives me to do more, because it's like all right, that's cool and all, and I think it's probably also part of growing up in retail. So, all right, great. We had a great spring season, but now we're back to school, we got to kill it back to school. Okay, back to school was cute and all, but now it's holiday. So there's always the next thing, and you're always trying to make the next thing better than the last thing. So, that's really my mindset.

David Tann:

So, that's good in the sense that it drives me, but it's also sometimes not healthy in the sense that you do have to be deliberate about taking moments to acknowledge sort of what you've been able to achieve. So, there is that, and then as far as the intern process goes, I think the biggest thing for me is just work ethic. When you're in that, nobody as an intern expects you to have all the answers. You're going to make mistakes, there are going to be things that you don't do right, et cetera, but the biggest thing for me is like, are you actually doing the work and are you actually putting the time in? If you're putting the time in and you're doing the work, everything else sort of falls into place and takes care of itself.

David Tann:

I think, and Hank can sort of be a testament to that, is like the habits that you're building in class do translate whether or not you realize it or not. At the same time too, that reputation will follow you. So, understanding when you get to an internship and you get to a place, you're trying to put your best foot forward. The intern thing is the same as what I was talking about as a teacher. Companies don't have to have interns. They're not doing it because they're making money off of it, they're doing it because possibly it exposes them to some young talent, maybe, cool, but there's also a part of a giving back thing to it too. So, when you're interning at a place, you want to make sure you're putting your best foot forward and trying to deliver. Sometimes that's like that could be any number of ways. That could be doing the jobs that no one else wants to do, that could be staying late, that could be getting there early, that could be following up on an email. There could be any number of things, but the intent and the work ethic is what really sort of separates and makes the difference.

Speaker 9:

Thank you. I appreciate it and much [inaudible 01:22:43] with everything moving forward.

David Tann:

Awesome. Thank you guys all for tuning in. I truly, truly appreciate your time. This was fun, and like I said, check us out. If you haven't or you aren't following us, there's definitely some really cool stuff happening within the next two weeks that is pretty crazy.

Stephanie:

Good stuff. David, thank you as always.

David Tann:

Yeah, no problem. Happy to do it.

Hank Richardson:

Thanks David so much.

David Tann:

Yeah. Thank you.

Hank Richardson:

Do you mind if students reach out to you?

David Tann:

Yeah, for sure. If you want to just go through stuff and can get my email address. I will tell people, I say it all the time, if we were meeting in person I'd hand everyone business cards who wants it. If you want to shoot me a note, just know sometimes it takes me a little while to get back, but I do try to get back to everybody that reaches out. Yeah.

Hank Richardson:

Yeah, it's great. David, I've actually seen ... Say hello to Allison Peden, who I know is working with you, and a few people on here that have associated with you, it's so great to see them on here.

David Tann:

Yeah, Allison. Allison is probably cursing my name right now.

Hank Richardson:

Well, thank you so much for this today. It's been great, and if any of you would like to get ahold of David, he will get back to you, I promise you. He's got a lot of good thoughts. Thank you all for coming today. We look forward to seeing everybody next week. Buh-bye.

David Tann:

[crosstalk 01:24:19]. Thank you guys.

Stephanie:

Thank you.

Hank Richardson:

Thank you.

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