Name: Bryan Pierce
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Current Title: Founder of 1964 Agency
Prior Professional Experience: Harrison & Shriftman, Team Epiphany, Taylor Strategy, 5W Public Relations, Brand Building PR
Education: SUNY Brockport
What is the most important professional lesson you've learned to date?
The most important professional lesson to date I’ve learned is to network no matter where you are. Making connections with people is the most important asset in my industry. You never know who you may meet or how their experience with you may be beneficial to you or a client--if it’s a small nugget of information or an insight that can help with building a campaign strategy.
What has been your biggest professional failure to date and what have you learned from that experience?
My biggest failure to date has been losing clients because I was overwhelmed as a small business owner with projects and didn’t outsource for additional help. I learned from that experience that there is nothing wrong with asking for help. In order to properly grow a business you have to build and trust a team that will support that growth and help you garner additional business.
I have since started to outsource freelancers to help me work on projects. These freelancers have either been former colleagues or people recommended to me from people I trust. These roles vary from product managers to creative consultants.
Prior to this, I would work on smaller projects as favors or discount my rates to help potential clients but with having to now hire staff, I can no longer do this if I want to successfully grow my business.
What issues have you dealt with being a person of color in corporate America and how have you overcome these challenges?
For a majority of the agencies that I’ve worked for, I have either been the only person/male of color or the agency had the only people of color on staff in a room full of partner agencies. The issues I’ve experienced from this lack of diversity have mostly been ignorance or people assuming my expertise was “urban.” My results and work ethic speak volumes and have allowed me to really feel confident in the service that I provide to my clients. My unique perspective allows me to come up with out of the box thinking that has given clients a cultural nudge that the mostly White partner agencies couldn’t provide.
What resources, professional or personal, have you leveraged to ensure your career is progressing?
There hasn’t been any particular resource I’ve utilized to ensure my career is progressing, but I have seen the results of my work take on a life of its own and become a cultural moment, and I’ve garnered a lot of my clients from word of mouth.
Do you have mentor? If so, how did you select this person or people?
Currently, I do not have a mentor but there are various individuals I talk to for professional advice when I’m uncertain about things. These people are either in similar industries or have experience in subjects I know little to nothing about.
Through my various experiences working for several brands, I have had an opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and professions. Several of these people have been successful entrepreneurs and leaders, who not only strive for greatness but have results to prove it. Several of these clients have provided me insight on how they’ve become successful or provides resources for me to utilize to get the answers I need.
What advice would you give a young adult who is about to start their first job post college?
Get as much experience as possible, especially on your own. A 9-5 gig is great, but what are you doing to invest in yourself to ensure you’re not depending on a 9-5 as your only source of income. Utilize your passions and hobbies to create something else that you enjoy that could potentially be profitable. Multicultural is the driving the force behind what trends are notable, and we have to understand our buying power. Investing in our own communities and build businesses amongst our peers will honestly be the something after college that can be beneficial in the long term.