Creatives Offscript: Jay Russell, GSD&M


By Assemble

July 27, 2022

Jay Russell is the Chief Creative Officer for GSD&M, the powerhouse Austin-based agency behind campaigns such as Popeye's Chicken Sandwich Wars. Join us on this special episode live from the Cannes Lions as Jay teaches us about finding the tension in a campaign, learning to stand by your opinion, and running around the world (twice).

Find this episode on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Also available at Creatives Offscript.

Nate Watkin: We are live for this special edition of Creatives Offscript in Cannes, France with Jay Russell, Chief Creative Officer of GSD&M hailing from Austin, Texas. You may know GSD&M for the most successful product launch in food history with the Popeye's - Chicken Wars campaign, along with seven Cannes Lions at this festival last year. But Jay has been making waves in the advertising industry for over 20 years, creating iconic work for the likes of Bud Light, American Airlines and BMW. Thanks for joining me today, Jay. Great to have you.

Jay Russell: Yeah, thanks man, excited.

Nate Watkin: Awesome. So wanted to go back, start from the beginning. Read up on your story. You said that you've wanted to be in advertising since you were 14 years old. Can you tell me about this ad man that sparked your interest on that fateful career day?

Jay Russell: Yeah, it was crazy. So it was career day and you got to pick from three different people, right? So I'm going to talk to a lawyer, a doctor and advertising guy. So after two minutes in the doctor thing, I'm like, "I can't do this. I don't know what he's talking about." So then the lawyer visited and I was like, "Well, I can't..." I asked him, I'm like, "Well, what if the person's guilty and you know it?" He's like, "Well, you still have to give them a fair trial." I'm like, "I'm not going to do that." And then the advertising guy shows up 10 minutes late on a motorcycle, and he comes in, and he's like, "So you guys seen that Budweiser frog thing, the Budweiser?" Everyone's like, "Yeah, yeah." And he's like, "That was me." He's like, "I get paid to do that crap." And I'm like, "I can do that." I drew Van Halen logos on my notebook and I could do what he just talked about. So yeah, I knew then, that's what I wanted to do.

Nate Watkin: Amazing, amazing. Calling from a young age. I love it.

And, so after college or, I guess, right at the end of college, you broke into advertising through the One Club Young One's competition. Can you tell me how that happened that night in New York?

Jay Russell: Yeah, it was so crazy. My writer and I, who had just hired back recently, we did the college competition. It was for Dove soap and we won. And, so we flew up to New York, and we're two kids from Texas in the big city, and we won, and we didn't know what to expect, and we were walking around. And the CCO of DDB Needham at the time, we met him. He was like, "You guys want a job?" And we're like, "Yeah." And, so he's like, "Can you start Monday?" I'm like, "Yeah." And, so off we went. I was hoping to take a couple months off after college. We got two days off and then we started work the following Monday.

Nate Watkin: Wow. Yeah, it happened fast. And, actually, I wanted to pause there and go back to something you just said. So you actually hired that writer back over 20 years later now and y'all are working together again, is that right?

Jay Russell: Yeah, funny story. So his name's Wade Alger and he is pretty legendary. He's done Clouds Over Cuba, Unskippable for Geico, We Choose The Moon, so much iconic stuff in the year. So we worked together for 14 years and if you have a creative partner, you tend to be with them more than your family, your wife, your boyfriend, your husband. You just spend so much time together. And, so after 14 years, we had this blowout. And he wanted to go to the Martin agency, I wanted to go to GSD&M, so I was like, "You go there, I'm going to go here." And the next year he won 36 Lions and in one show, and I was just like, "That was a really hard, hard thing to watch from afar."

The next year, I'm like, "Well, I guess I was the problem, because Wade's really good." And then he's gone on to win 57 Lions, something like 93 One Show pencils. And, so I called him a couple weeks ago and was like, "Hey, we should work together one day." And he's like, "How about now?" And I'm like, "You're kidding me, right?" So this is, by the way, still really raw with me. This just happened yesterday, that he agreed to come on board. And, so it's still like, "This is not real. The guy that I started all this with is coming back." And then, this little jet lag distance, none of this seems real. So pretty excited about that. Maybe he'll win me 57 Lions.

Nate Watkin: Just goes to show how long these relationships can last in this industry, right?

Jay Russell: Oh, yeah. It's crazy.

Nate Watkin: And you've had an amazing career yourself. I know you started at DDB and then briefly momentarily moved to Boulder to work at Crispin Porter, which... I interned there when I was a younger kid back in the Colorado days. But had a brief stint working at Boulder for Microsoft and then moved back to Austin. I'm curious, what brought you back to Austin?

Jay Russell: Oh, man. I was at GSD&M, I went to Boulder and then came back to GSD&M. And it's almost cliche, every agency is like, "Oh, we're all about the culture. It's the culture." But, man, it's hard to even call GSD&M an advertising agency, because it's just so different. And maybe it's because we were brought up with Southwest Airlines where you put the employees first. Above all else, what do the employees want the place to be? And the place has always walked the walk on that. They actually listen. We listen, which is rare. And it was that. Love Austin. It is such a creative muse, just the city. And the more it grows, everybody likes to say, "It's growing, it's not the same," And I'm like, "It's actually better." I'm one of the few people that you will hear, in Austin, say that because we just keep getting more art, and more restaurants, and just more voices. I think it's great.

Nate Watkin: Huge migration out of the major cities, right, during COVID and I think Austin was one of the key benefactors. And now you look around, you got Tesla, Google, every major tech company, now, dropping big headquarters in Austin. What do you think the future looks like for that city?

Jay Russell: Well, it's definitely Silicon Valley Part Two. And I've seen it happen over the last 10 years, is it was really 10 years ago, GSD&M was it, right? That was pretty much the only creative place in town. You didn't have really an option. There was a place down the street, McGarrah Jessee, but then R/GA moved in, and then Wunderman. And, so it started, then Preacher popped up and Callen. Then it became like, "Okay, great, there's options," right? So if I get fired tomorrow, there's options in Austin. And then, all of a sudden, you got the Facebooks, and the Amazons, and even Whole Foods started blowing up, and with Tesla. And, so there's even more options, even though people don't know what they are, like Facebook. You know you can go get a job at Amazon Marketing or Facebook.

The tech places tend not to be, at least that I've seen when people go there, they quickly want to come back because the company sounds great but, "The job is not what I thought it was," right? Facebook sounds awesome but when I got to the day-to-day work, it's great but the marketing, it's different, right? It's in-house, so it's a different vibe. So a lot of people, they go there and they tend to come back.

The future of Austin is definitely... It's just growing. It's hard to say, but definitely tech. Tesla hasn't even really opened and it's changed so much about that city already. Half of California's there.

Nate Watkin: And you got the biggest headline personality in tech living there as well, with Musk, so it's going to be-

Jay Russell: He's a train wreck. He's not super welcome so far. We'll see how it turns out.

Nate Watkin: And, so with all these great companies there and these new agencies popping up, going back to that thing you originally said about the culture of GSD&M, what do you do to retain talent? What is your secret to keeping those talented people in house?

Jay Russell: The value proposition, it's always, other than money, it's... A culture's hard to define, because I think, if you're there, you know very quickly if someone's going to do well there, because it is such a family place. And you can even tell in an interview if somebody is a GSD&Mer. You can just tell. It's a vibe and we don't look like advertising people, the cliche. A creative at GSD&M looks like they might as well be an accountant. You know what I mean? So there's just a vibe to it. That's what I think a lot of people love, is it's not the East Coast, it's not the West Coast, and we're not surrounded by those trappings or even down the street. There's no backstabbing. I guess, that's part of it.

Not just GSD&M, but the entire community of advertising amongst the creatives, it's pretty tight in Austin. So that whole vibe, if we ever have to let someone go, I will call Rob Baird, a Preacher or anyone, and we just take care of each other. So it's not hard once you're in Austin to keep people in Austin, so everything else is a benefit. It's just work with people you love, make great stuff, and have fun, and that's the vibe of that place.

That's a rambling answer and I don't even know if I answered the question.

Nate Watkin: No, I got it. It sounds very Austin to me. That's the vibe that you get in Austin and it's really amazing. But I'd love to dive a little bit into your creative process. Tell me more about the power of tension and addressing the elephant in the room.

Jay Russell: Wow, this is why I love Austin and this is why I appreciate the whole idea of tension, which is very much a crisp... They brought it to life, right? Their whole agency was based on cultural tension. And I realized, the thing about Austin is... I call it a tension donut. So in the middle of Austin, you've got the state capital, right, arguably the reddest, most politically Republican, maybe, place in the country. And then you're surrounded by this big donut of blue, right, the most open minded. I always tell people I'm from Austin, not Texas, right, because it's such a different place and you know that if you've been to Austin. And then, outside of Austin, there's more red, so it's this little ring of blue. So there's tension on the inside and there's tension on the outside.

And that's always where art comes from, right? It's always musicians, writers, you need something to push off of. And, so when the city has that from the inside and the outside, there's always something happening that is... I don't care if it's a march or art popping up on murals, on walls, making statements about something or another, it's surrounded by it. You just live and breathe it. You always have your fists up a little bit, looking for the thing that you're going to push back against just in your day-to-day there. Because I say I'm not from Texas, but Austin is in Texas, but it's fraught with that.

So as far as it turns to work, you just... I've been there long enough, for 16 years at GSD&M, geez, maybe even longer, but it just... You just look for the thing that is at odds with what's in the market, right? What's the thing that is keeping people from using this product in culture or whatever it is. It's easy when you get to pick a fight with whatever the thing is. Tension by definition is picking a fight, so it's fun.

Nate Watkin: And are you picking tension with the competition or tension with the company itself?

Jay Russell: Oh, you mean the client?

Nate Watkin: Yeah.

Jay Russell: You just find it. That's a funny one. Like Southwest Airlines, the tension for them, A, it's travel, right? Their value proposition over the years has changed, but right now, travel is the worst thing ever, everything about it. People are heightened. You flew over here. You sense it the second you walk into an airport. And, so the travel industry is their tension, right? They were founded on the belief that everyone deserves the right to fly, not just the rich, elite, business travelers of 1971. And, so right now that tension for them is the airport, right? It's like, "How do we fix that? How do we address that?" We're getting ready to launch a campaign specifically about that, but you just got to find it. And that's an easy one because it's in culture, right?

At best, tension comes from an obvious human truth that we all... Everybody hates traveling right now. It's just miserable and we're all in it. The airlines are in it, we're in it. It's understaffed. It's crazy. So that's an easy one to find the tension in. You can't make it up. It's hard to create tension. You know what I mean? It's got to be real and authentic.

It's hard to find tension in an air conditioning company. You know what I mean? You may have to dig for it with a lot of research, but there's always some tension somewhere that you're up against, some are just easier than others.

Nate Watkin: I love that advice. It's making my gears turn just thinking about our own company and where the tension exists in our space, so that's really, really great advice.

As an example, it seems like you hit it right on the money with this RadioShack spot where it starts off, right, the first line, "The '80s called and they want their store back." Of course, everybody thinks that, right? Everybody's like, "Yeah, RadioShack's old," right?

Jay Russell: I always fear... Whenever we get a new client, the first thing out of their mouths is always like, "Oh, we want to win a Lion." And I'm like, "Well, that's easy. Winning a Lion's easy. That's on you. We'll get you a Lion, you just have to buy it," right? "You got to believe it. You're going to be the one has to take risks," and I will give that to RadioShack, they bought that. And I was like, "Wow, you're going to let us tell people that your store's outdated, and old, and irrelevant feeling?" And they're like, "Yep," so that's a brave client, right? I really mean that when I say it's up to the clients to really admit the tension, right, accept it and use it because it's scary, right? If it doesn't work, then that CMO could be out of a job.

Nate Watkin: And what have you learned about not trying to make everyone happy?

Jay Russell: So that's a funny story, man. The best advice I ever got was from a client, Jack Pitney. He unfortunately passed away and he was at BMW. And I'll never forget, it was 6:00 in the morning, we flew up there and I was a young CD or new to the role. We were in the room, and there were eight clients, and we were showing the work, and Jack's like, "What do you like?" I'm like, "I like this ad. I like ad number two." And then someone else was like, "What about one? We like that thing." I'm like, "Oh, well maybe we can put that in two." And then, "Well what about that color?" I'm like, "Yeah, well, I'll take a look at that."

And, so I go around the room and then Jack stops the meeting. He's like, "Hey, Jay." I'm like, "Yeah?" He goes, "We pay you for your opinion, you should give it." Well, "You should give your opinion because that's what we pay you money for." And he gave me a wink. He was kidding. And then, after the meeting, he's like, "Seriously, you're not going to make everybody happy. You are good at what you do. Don't forget that. And your opinion is valuable, so don't make everybody happy, you're not going to." I love that. It's the best advice I got.

Nate Watkin: Do you feel like you've perfected that or is it an ongoing challenge to maintain that?

Jay Russell: Yeah, I think it's always an ongoing challenge and definitely the biggest thing I've had to overcome, by far. I've always liked to make people happy, right? It's part of my personality. I love people, I feed off of people, so part of that is, you need to be around a lot of people and I think it's human nature. You don't want to make someone upset or any of that. But I definitely have gotten to the point where I'm like, "That's life," you know what I mean? It's life. And in doing so, I realize that people respect you for it. They respect you for your opinion more than if you just try to make everybody happy, that's for sure. I admire people who stick to their guns more than just about anything. So yeah, it's a daily challenge. I'm definitely getting better at it.

Nate Watkin: Awesome. And, so I know you've probably spoken on this topic, ad nauseam. It seems like every conference there's been a speaker on it, but the big story coming out of GSD&M recently, of course, is the Popeye's Chicken Sandwich campaign. You had a lightning strike moment that I think that every person in advertising really dreams of. I'm mostly just curious, what was it like riding that wave? What happened inside GSD&M during the days when that campaign really started to go viral?

Jay Russell: It was crazy because, what happened, it was definitely lightning striking, but it was also the way it was set up. And we had this thing called Project Orange, right? And it was our social listening setup specifically on Popeye's. And Popeye's audience has, and still is, Black Twitter. They are the most influential advocate of that brand. They have been and they run the marketing, right? Black Twitter is such an important voice in that. And our social team, they listened, they listened. And the way it was set up with our clients, it was like a giant WhatsApp chain. A lawyer was on it. Quick decisions were made.

And, so Chick-fil-A, they sent out that tweet that was like, I forgot what it was, "Two pickles, one bun, and something else equals the original chicken sandwich." And then, one of our younger writers that was new to advertising at the time just put, "Y'all good?" And it blew up. You're used to little spikes in culture where they last like, "Oh, yay, we made it on The Tonight Show," or whatever, Saturday Night Live. You got a little blip on.

This thing just didn't end. And, so after a couple days we're like, "This is a thing. This thing's not going anywhere for a while." That buzz, this was a year, two years ago and we're still getting hits. It's still showing up in culture. Someone just launched another chicken sandwich. It's still going on. And, so that buzz, but right out of the gate, it was just crazy, man. It's one of those things I've never... I don't want to say I'll never be part of something that big, but that was just... It's one of those things. I'm glad I was there to be a part of it because it's the thing, people will remember it. It's nice to have something that you've done that will definitely affect culture. That's a cool thing, so that's my favorite part about it. "Oh, what do you guys do at GSD&M?" "Oh, they did the Chicken Wars." "Oh cool." You know what I mean? That's neat.

Nate Watkin: Totally. And I'm curious, how did the plan change? I'm sure you had this whole campaign planned out of, "We're going to do this over the following months," and when it just started to take off, was it a scramble? Was it all hands on deck? How did you adapt in that moment?

Jay Russell: Well, the funny thing is, we shot a campaign before the tweet for the chicken sandwich, right? And then that, we just scrapped. You didn't need it, right? Word was out, so we scrapped that. And then it was just, "How do you pour fuel on this fire?" The first thing we did was like, "Okay, they're out of chicken sandwiches, but they have chicken so let's do a bring your own bun. We'll do a BYOB." So a lot of places you could bring your own bun and they would just throw chicken on it, right? That was one of a ton of little things that, just weekly... Clients get... When something like that happens, they're pretty open to new ideas or quick ideas, right? So momentum begets momentum, and it just kept going, going.

Man, you're making me nostalgic. It was so great. It just kept going. The Twitter, what was cool about it is we went up and visited Twitter, and they had all the analytics, and data behind it, literally to that tweet. It just exploded. It's just neat to see the data behind it. They were like, "We've never seen such a marked moment where a tweet has instantly just blown up that quick and just gone nuts." It was crazy. It was cool.

Nate Watkin: And, so I know you're an avid runner. And from what I've said, you've already ran a distance over the circumference of the earth, is that right?

Jay Russell: Yeah, it's 24,902 miles a year ago, a year ago.

Nate Watkin: Wow. Do you have any goals to lap the earth at this point?

Jay Russell: I actually said, "I guess, now I turn around and go the other way." I was actually at lunch today with Margaret Johnson from Goodby and we were talking about it. And it's, A, other than being an amazing therapist, you're running shoes or a great therapist, it's also something you can control, right, in an industry, in a career where you control nothing. Right? We try to, but 99% of it is failure or just, "Don't do it that way," and it's just this constant fight. No one can tell me what to do, like running, right? I can carry my shoes anywhere in the world. I was on a run when you texted me right before this, and I control it, and no one else does, and it's nice to control something. So that's why I like it. That was the root of it, we discovered. It's like, "Oh, no, you like it because no one can tell you what to do." So I'm like, "Yep, I like it."

Nate Watkin: Interesting. Margaret, we actually had her on the show. She's out here in Cannes.

Jay Russell: Yeah,-

Nate Watkin: Nice.

Jay Russell: ... she is here.

Nate Watkin: I'll have to try to connect with her while I'm here.

Jay Russell: At the Long Beach Restaurant, to be exact. That's where she's right now.

Nate Watkin: Nice, nice. Best advice for a first timer at Cannes?

Jay Russell: At Cannes, start slow. Start slow, we're here with someone that shall remain nameless that went pretty hard the first day. But the truth about Cannes is, it is what you make of it. A lot of people abuse it, right? It is a giant rosé drinking festival. But the truth is, if you go under the pale and you walk around, look at that work early in the morning when nobody's there, man, that's it.

That ticket, the price of a badge... By far the most powerful thing is, you go into the pale, and you look at that work, and you wander around. It's better in the morning when nobody's there. And because it's just you and the work, and you walk out of there up the stairs, and you realize what a tremendous hack you are, because the work down there, it's unbelievable. The quality is so, so, so good. It's what fills you up. You talk about tension, that's the thing you want to beat. I need an enemy, and I see that work, and that's all the inspiration you need, coming out of here. It is something else.

Nate Watkin: Amazing. What's your best Cannes memory?

Jay Russell: Oh, man, the first time you get on stage. You win a gold, and you go on stage. It's so silly, right? I told my neighbor and he's like, "What are you doing over there?" And I'm like, "You make a good ad, and maybe you get on stage, and win a Lion." And he is like, "Hey, Jay, you work in advertising, nobody cares." And I'm like, "That's not true." You get on that stage in front of all, not just your peers that work within The States, but the whole world. It's awesome. You know the jury is made up of this giant international, best in class. It means a lot, you know what I mean? It means a lot to be acknowledged for great work by the best in the world.

And standing on that stage, when you're looking out there and you've got this... It's cool. I don't know. I'll say it, it's cool. It's also really silly, "Thank you for patting me on the head and giving me a little trophy." But last thing I'll say on that, it was like... The next day, the first Lion, we came here and you won it. And then, the next day I remember waking up and this giant exhale where I'm like, "Okay, Lion's done," right? "You hit the mark. That's it." There's a relief in knowing that, that's your biggest goal as a creative. That's the biggest accolade in the industry, I think, that you can get, is a Lion. And, so when you get that first one, it makes it a lot easier to get the other ones, because you're not trying this hard. That's, I guess, probably my best Cannes memory, is that feeling the next day knowing you won one.

Nate Watkin: Yeah, and I'm sure any feelings of Imposter Syndrome or, "Am I really supposed to be here," that just validates that you are world class at what you do, right?

Jay Russell: For five minutes and then you wait for the sheep hook. I'm still waiting for the sheep hook to come out and pull me off the stage because this industry is... I am the biggest fraud out there. It's just crazy.

Nate Watkin: Just out of curiosity, do you remember what your first gold Lion was for?

Jay Russell: Yeah, it was for the United States Air Force and it was a virtual classroom, but at the time it was one of the first. I was talking to a judge afterwards. I'm like, "It's really cool." He's like, "Yeah, you guys invented a virtual classroom. That'd never been done before." I'm like, "Really?" He was like, "Yeah, that's why you won that." I loved winning for the Air Force and we've won quite a few Lions, because it's the United States Air Force, which globally might have a lot of, not a lot of love, just because it's the military and United States reputation hasn't been... You understand the position that the country has been in. And, so not only to win a Lion, but I think for people to see the power of that in the United States Air Force, it means a lot. I know it makes it a little bit harder and it makes it a little bit better when you're winning for the Air Force.

Nate Watkin: Hard mode.

Jay Russell: Hard mode, definitely hard mode.

Nate Watkin: What's the most influential book you've read or film that you've seen?

Jay Russell: Man, I remember one specific and it's not fair, because it's a book on advertising and it's not even a book on advertising, it's just deck of cards called the Creative Whack Pack. But I remember this one specific story in it. It was advice on cards, right, a playing card.

And one of them was this architect, and he was talking about how he built this big campus, and he did everything, but he didn't build the sidewalks. He never finished the sidewalks. And the school, they were all like, "Where's the sidewalks?" And he was like, "I'll finish him later." And like, "What are you talking about?" And, so after four months people were used... They were just walking, right? And he noticed in certain places, where people were walking was whiter and then in other places it was narrow. And, so after people have already used it and defined the usage of it, he just filled it in with cement. And, so it's this beautiful, very natural, how people actually walked it.

I don't know. It was a really fresh way of thinking, right? It was a really cool way to look at the mundane, like, "Great, I'm going to make a sidewalk and I'll just fill it in. It'll be four feet wide and it'll go all over the place," and kind of made it this beautiful thing that matched the flow of how people actually used the terrain. And I don't know, it always stuck with me. I wasn't even graduated, and it stuck with me, and I'm like, "I need to learn how to think like that."

Nate Watkin: It's interesting that that's an advertising book because it seems like such a useful lesson for product design as well or user experience. That concept feels really ahead of its time, if you were learning that way back in college, so that's very insightful.

Jay Russell: But the older you get, the more you realize that creativity, it's like... Everyone's, "Well, you're creative. That's really cool. I wish I was a creative," and it's silly, but you realize that muscle, that creative muscle, it applies, it's everything, right? Anyone that excels in their career, some of the most creative people I've ever met have been accountants and they're not thieves, they solve problems. You know what I mean? They solve problems in ways that people aren't used to. Yeah, that creative muscle, yeah, I admired it. I thought it was really just fresh way of looking at the world.

Nate Watkin: Awesome. And what are you reading or watching these days?

Jay Russell: What am I watching? I feel during this pandemic, I'm running out of shows. I feel like I've watched everything. What am I watching right now? Better Call Saul. I'm not one of those, like, "Oh my gosh, have you seen this weird show that's written in Uraguai and spoken in French that only a few people know about?" I like the mainstream. You know what I mean? Someone asked on a panel, "What's your favorite movie?" I'm like, "Red Dawn." They're like, "I'm sorry, Red Dawn, the horrible cheesy movie with Patrick Swayze?" I'm like, "Yeah, that one." I'm like, "I like it. I grew up with it. I love it." I don't need to tell anybody why, I just like it. I don't even know the right book to say that you're supposed to say, right? There's all these like, "Oh, this book by this philosopher." Nah, I'm pretty right down the middle, mainstream kid. Raised in Missouri.

Nate Watkin: Breaking Bad, one of the greatest shows of all time, definitely.

Jay Russell: Yeah, the best.

Nate Watkin: And what's something that you're really passionate about, outside of work?

Jay Russell: Well, running. We've covered running, but I am crazy passionate about that. Well, this is the truth and if you ask anyone about me, I am so passionate about whatever's in front of me that I believe in. Not a little bit, like, "Oh, Jay says there's no gray in his life. It's either he loves it or it's 200%." There's no gray in my life. I'm either overly all in or not at all. And that passion can change daily. They always joke, like... If I see an idea that I like, it's going to happen. I will will it to happen." I will be the annoying dog that does not shut up about it until I just wear people down, so I'm passionate about being passionate, I guess."

Nate Watkin: I can relate to that. I feel the same way as that. It's a gift and a curse, I think, because I struggle with the gray area stuff, right? If I'm not a 100% in, it's probably not going to happen. But when you are passionate about something, it happens.

Jay Russell: I get a lot of passion out of people that are passionate. If there's a brick layer, and they're totally stoked in what they do, and they teach you the methods, like, "Oh my God." I love anyone that's passionate about anything and that makes me more passionate. I don't know. Choose good, right? Choose happy, and choose enthusiasm, and passion.

Nate Watkin: What advice would you give to a 20-year-old you?

Jay Russell: Oh, man, this is so easy for me to answer because I had to figure it out for myself. Do not let this industry define success for you, as I at Cannes, right, which is hilarious. I wasn't the best fit with Crispin, right? But I went there because they're the hot shop and that's where you go. Yes, at that time it was like, "Yeah, go to Crispin." You're supposed to go to Crispin. You got a job at Crispin and you go to Crispin. I thought that was the path, right? You're supposed to do that and the older I get, again, I'm like...

My definition of success is, now, I think I said in the beginning, it's like, "Make great work, work with people you love, and have fun, and the rest takes care itself." But it's easy for a creative to go down that path of the industry telling them what they should be doing, and it's just... That's the worst thing you could ever do.

Nate Watkin: Well, it sounds like you've been doing a excellent job of following your own advice. Obviously, incredible success with GSD&M down there in Austin, building one of the hottest shops in one of the hottest markets, so congratulations on everything you've done.

Jay Russell: I just get to watch, it's fun. But thank you, thank you. I appreciate that.

Nate Watkin: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for joining us. Hope to join you for a drink here in Cannes and enjoy the week ahead.

Jay Russell: Hey, I appreciate it, man. It was great talking with you.

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