What do sport bike racing and pool hustling teach you about being a good marketing exec? It’s all about focus and quick thinking, according to Walt Geer, our latest guest on Heard on the Street.
“Racing has allowed me to think completely differently about my day-to-day job,” Geer says. “On the track, you’re going 160 mph on a straightaway and 120 mph through turns with your knee scraping the ground and other riders within inches. … You have to focus within high-stress environments.”
Off the track, Geer’s career has involved lots of cross training in marketing, media, and technical roles. That unique cocktail is required for any decent creative director these days, given a quickly changing environment and robust set of expectations. It’s a far cry from the Don Draper role that most people envision.
“The role of the creative director today has changed drastically,” he says. “The days of photoshop jockeys with master’s degrees has come to an end. The future of creative directors hangs on the intersection of marketing technology, product design, sales, and data.”
This orientation toward technical skills and data analysis is one that Geer has embraced and even took the lead on implementing in many cases. Always a maverick who has pushed technological limits in his career, he has more technical aptitude than most marketing execs you’ll meet. He even holds six patents.
We talk to Geer about these tactics and other learnings from his career, including the challenges of being a black executive. Drawing on what he calls the “black quarterback challenge,” he tackles the question of how we can prime the next generation of execs and creative directors in more inclusive ways.
“I didn’t really know much about what a creative director was until I got to Viacom years ago,” he says. “I think it’s important for people like me to reach back and show the youth and kids in high school and college a little more about this space and the role of creative director because that’s where it starts.”
Check out the full episode above, find out more here, and stay tuned for episodes every two weeks.
Mike Boland is Street Fight’s lead analyst and author of the Road Map column. He covers AR & VR as chief analyst of ARtillry Intelligence and SF President of the VR/AR Association. He has been an analyst in the local space since 2005, covering mobile, social, and emerging tech.