My beloved Geek Files climb a notch higher, and burrow a layer deeper, as design Einstein Jeff Staple takes us on a personalized tour….through his sketchbook.
The Link: Mae Dichupa, Country Marketing Manager of Nike Philippines
The Circumstance: I’ve been blessed with a wonderful work/play relationship with the people at Nike - from collaborating with their team on the creative end of activation projects, to rocking the mic and the camera for their events and campaigns, and being part of the almighty “Influencer” list that every celebrity athlete/musician/TV personality clamors to get on. It also means that when it is relevant for me to meet VIPs, Mae will make it happen. In this case, it was Gentry Humphrey. Gentry Humphrey?! I die. Now THIS is a man whose brain I would love to pick for hours. To put it candidly, if there was a man other than Michael Jordan responsible for Jordan Brand - you’re looking at none other than G.
“How do you take a brand from big to huge? How do you make a brand part of the everyday lexicon? Gentry Humphrey, the man who helped make Air Jordans a standard wardrobe accessory, tells audiences how to move consumers by innovating, imagining and inspiring.
If you doubt the influence the Jordan Brand has had on popular culture, think about this: Before the first AIR JORDAN, basketball shoes were “low tech”, simple and all white.
Inspired by the greatest to ever play the game, the BRAND JORDAN franchise continues to lead the footwear and athletic apparel industry in design and innovation. Gentry Humphrey has been influencing the brand’s creative direction for the past 17 years.
AIR JORDAN 1: It all started here. A legendary franchise, as both a high-performance footwear line and a cultural icon, is launched. So revolutionary for its day, they are banned by the NBA for violating its “uniformity of uniform” rule. Michael wears them anyway, incurring a $5,000 fine per game. Today, the Jordan Brand is a billion dollar enterprise with Gentry spearheading and setting the vision for the business since 1997. Gentry set the creative direction for the brand, the designers, product developers, advertising agencies, and athlete selections. He drove the athlete and consumer insights that are at the core of the brand’s success. And Gentry was a key architect in launching the Jordan Brand as a separate business unit from Nike, Inc. in 1997.
Today, as International General Manager, Gentry is responsible for leading expansion of Jordan Brand’s cultural influence internationally.
Originally from Cerritos, California, a small suburb south-east of Los Angeles, Gentry was a tenacious basketball player known for his dedication and an ability to lead. True to form his dedication to school, allowed him to never miss a single day of high school and earned him a degree in Public Administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills. He paid his way through college by working for the specialty clothing retailer, Nordstrom. This experience provided his initial entry into the footwear industry and fulfilled his passion for sports and athletic footwear. Away from work, the golf course is his sanctuary, and his love of God and for his wife and two boys is his compass for life’s journey.
Gentry Humphrey is the visionary mind behind one of the most successful brands in history. On the podium, he shares his story of success and his secrets for building a brand and reaching consumers. In a high powered multimedia presentation, Gentry shows you how to leapfrog the competition and slam-dunk your way to success.”
[via CAA Speakers]
The Impact: I was speechless around Gentry. All I wanted to do was listen. And so while he talked about his family, I listened. While he talked about basketball, I listened. But what shook me, was the reciprocity. His attentiveness when I spoke perhaps taught me more than I bargained for. And in the two days and three run-ins I had with G, amidst the talking, listening, dancing, and laughter - something happened to me. I suddenly remembered what it felt like to have a dream so big you needed 8 hours of sleep to float around its perimeter, waking up, wanting to touch it. Wanting it to be real. I realized that while I was dilly-dallying, I had somehow propelled my way into the company of individuals whose grasp of an industry that requires extreme levels of both creativity and business-sense, was on another level entirely.
But I guess that’s what Jordan Brand is about, isn’t it? Excellence. Impact. Passion. Relevance. Performance.
I’m just so grateful to be able, again, to have access. Matter of fact, based on Day 2 with Gentry, the concept for Geek Files was born.
The Aftermath: There is no aftermath at this point. My geeking out days with G and Jordan Brand are hopefully just beginning.
But all in all, the love and respect I have for my Nike family runs as deep as it does, because everyone in it is incredibly passionate, talented, and gifted with the opportunity to shape their respective industries. From the actual employees of the Swoosh, plus the homies that hold it down on the court locally playing in the PBA, to the music heads that rep the brand with me - all the way to our international counterparts — well, let’s just say that Gentry is by far the last Nike fam member you’ll be hearing about in the Geek Files.
“Oh my God…MELO.”
- My profound conversation starter with Gentry Humphrey.
[Photo of Gentry at RONAC Art Center, c/o Mong Alcaraz]
[Jordan photos taken on my World Basketball Festival Media junket in NYC 2010.]
[Group Photo at Republiq, c/o King Crux]
I think it’s only fitting that my first legitimate Geek Files entry is dedicated to somebody that became an unassuming mentor to me in many ways - Mr. Daniel Cherry III, otherwise known as DC.
The Link: Jarrin Kirksey - who was in the same modeling agency as I was in New York, and had grown up with DC in Ohio.
The Circumstance: Jarrin was swinging by the Frank151 office on Canal Street to say hi to his family friend. DC was helping the Malbon Brothers run the “farm” over there, changing the landscape of growing brands in an urban lifestyle landscape — still one of my favorite guides to underbelly music, art, fashion, social, youth culture. I happened to tag along. (2003)
“Daniel has made a career influencing global brands spanning key consumer categories. Daniel has recently joined the legendary soccer club, The New York Cosmos as its Chief Marketing Officer.
Previously, Daniel served as Managing Partner Director of Brand Strategy and Director of Brand Strategy Anomaly, Daniel led the agency’s brand strategy division, directing global brands such as Converse, Umbro, Cole Haan, Budweiser, and Motorola.
Prior to joining Anomaly, Daniel was a Sr. Planner at Wieden+Kennedy. While at W+K, Daniel’s primary focus was on Nike, the Jordan Brand, and ESPN. His work on Nike included the included the Grammy 2007 nominated song “Classic” (Better Than I’ve Ever Been) featuring pop stars Kanye West, Nas, Rakim, and KRS-One. His passion and expertise in music marketing led to his 2010 selection to be on the board of The Grammy Foundation – the charitable arm of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS).
Before W+K, Daniel was a co-owner of Frank151 Magazine and malbon Brothers Farms (mBF), the advertising and brand consulting division of Frank151 Media Group, where he led branded content, influencer marketing, and event promotions strategies for Red Bull, Sprite, Toyota Scion, and Glacéau Vitaminwater.
Daniel got his start in advertising at Crispin Porter + Bogusky. While there, he successfully brought AND 1 Basketball to the forefront of the athletic apparel industry. The breadth of work for the AND 1 brand – which included the groundbreaking “AND 1 Mixtape”, a street basketball tour and video series – landed them Brandweek’s Guerilla Marketer of the Year honors in 2000. Additionally, Daniel played a critical role in the development of the anti-tobacco “Truth” brand, a campaign that has grown to be the most successful teen anti-smoking effort in history.
Daniel is a proud graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.”
The Impact: I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but I ended up interning at Frank151, under DC. It was short-lived but blasted my mind open to the possibilities of cultivating urban culture in the Philippines to be as healthy, vibrant, and commercially relevant as it was in the side streets of New York City.
The things I learned from DC in that blink of an eye triggered the founding of Steak Productions - an events and creative agency we operated out of Manila from 2004-2008. In the four year run at Steak, Banjo Albano, Chris Aldaba, Mark Africa and I (along with our roster of talent) successfully resurrected Hip Hop club culture - converting an Indian restaurant called “Prince of Jaipur” into a headquarters of sorts for people that were legitimately steeped in the lifestyle; DJs, break dancers, basketball players, and the like. It became a required stop for visiting Filipino-Americans, and led to the development of a tourism initiative entitled “Back to the Motherland”.
Events and creative consultancy for brands ensued, including collaborations with Nike Philippines (Air Force XXV Anniversary series of events, LeBron ‘Chamber of Fear’ release), development of the indie Filipino multi-genre music compilation “Urban Discovery Project” album with West Cigarettes, fresh launch concepts for Absolut Vodka and Mazda, and large scale productions for Siemens and Convergys among others.
The Aftermath: I find myself hauling my mind into “DC mode” every now and then, adopting his perspective and applying it to whatever business opportunity or creative channelling I have on my plate. He gets a random drop-by from me when I’m in New York, but other than that, the mentorship is kept alive because his name comes up in conversations I have with almost every other influential person I meet in this industry. A true gem, and someone I still feel I haven’t been able to express my gratitude for - Dan Cherry.
P.S. I adamantly told Dan they needed to do a feature on the Philippines for Frank151 back in 2003. Fast forward to 2011, and Chapter 45 — to be released in May/June of this year — is dedicated entirely to the Philippines. Eight years later, and completely separate from anything I had to do with, but nonetheless - happening. And guess who is helping out with some of the features in it? Yup, me. A randomly(?) full circle.
“Your e-mail address is email@example.com? I like it. Now let’s see how you make that work.”
*drops a stack of magazines in front of me*
“I want names of editors and their e-mail addresses.”
*walks away* *turns around*
“Oh, and Sarah? When Futura gets here, stop what you’re doing and come have a beer.”
“Gratitude is my attitude.” - Mos Def, Roses - ft. Georgia Anne Muldrow
I remember holding back tears not too long ago, wrought with frustration at not having access to more people that could significantly inspire me in an OG kind of way - part of the drawback, perhaps, of being part of a Hip Hop generation in a country where pioneers are your peers.
Maybe being on the camera for MTV spoiled me, five years of my life spent interviewing musicians and creators, or sitting in the wings at concerts, absorbing. Perhaps it was a sudden surge in standards, coupled with a simultaneous drought of relevance.
Whatever the case is, I was an artist drawing on a tank of empty, and fretting over it.
Bottom line — nothing fuels me like geeking out.
The act of becoming emotionally and physically aroused by the sight or the thought of a technicality of a certain topic of major interest.
It resembles an “orgasm of the mind”.
Geeking out is not a universal feeling. As a result, if one person in a group geeks out, everyone else is wondering in curiosity what is wrong with that person.
I geek out all the time that I read about my favorite software language.
When I saw how all the computers were built, I totally geeked out!
When I heard that he had collected all the baseball cards that I had looked for for so long, and he finally offered to show me that collection, I totally geeked out!
Thank you, urbandictionary.com.
The “Geek Files” series on this blog is going to be my transcript and ode to the people that I have had access to, that have in some way, shape, or form, tweaked my manner of being because of their achievements. Chances are, you will not understand what the big deal is most of the time, but if it were about popularity, this would be an “I love Bieber” feature instead.
Geeking out is about losing composure over something you’re passionate about. It’s about getting caught up in the profundity of something you feel at times is only blindingly beautiful to you. My stories will have a great deal to do with music, and art, and basketball, and sometimes fashion, or business, and advertising. They will have to do with New York and the Philippines, and epiphanies - subtle and otherwise. Overall, they will be about a very personal sort of inspiration, and serve as a reminder to myself that I have been blessed with access.
Hopefully you’ll enjoy the read.
Love Geek Numero Uno,