From sleeping on floors to creeping up forbes.
Julian Mitchell shares, "The story behind the story”
Julian is an award-winning content creator with a passion for adding my perspective to topics in music, media and entertainment. He's spearheaded campaigns and content for brands like American Honda Motors, Wells Fargo, Google, and Magic Johnson Enterprises. He's also worked closely alongside Sean "Diddy" Combs to launch REVOLT Media & TV as Social Media Director, before shaping the network's voice as Editorial Director. Julian notably covered many of the biggest stories and moments in music, while interviewing many of its biggest artists. Julian also teaches Brand Writing and Content Marketing for MediaBistro, showing digital marketers how to tell impactful stories and build meaningful brands.
Part 1: The Story Behind The Story (12 mins)
Part 2: Breaking Through and Building the Culture (13 mins)
So many people know you for your success and the recognition, but often times they don’t know the story behind the story. What was growing up like for you?
Julian: I was born in Seattle, Washington, and my brother was born in Alaska. My mom was a young mom so she had my brother as a teenager and had me when she was barely in her 20s. When she had us, it was really difficult so my grandmother ended up taking us in. My grandmother was already much older so she was bedridden. It was one of those things where like they say, when you grow up and you don’t know anything different…you do what you have to do. When I was growing up, there was a community of people who had their hands in my life, but I didn’t even realize what that [sense of community] meant as a kid. I was left to my imagination. People say “struggle builds character”, I would also say that struggle shows you the power of your imagination because when you don’t have anything in front of you, you are put in a position where you have to believe what you see for yourself in your mind.
MAKE A DONATION
Listen: Without access to role models and professional development, the youth in our community risk not going to college, remaining underemployed, and completely unaware of empowering entrepreneurial opportunities. Our programs provide platforms for today's leaders to educate and inspire the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs in Washington D.C. and beyond.
Julian Mitchell Part 2
Talk about your career and how you got started in entertainment.
Julian: Entertainment is funny. I always like to say it started back in high school just because I was doing stuff that I love like starting dance groups , performing at talent shows, and rapping at lunch just free styling with everybody. The first step I took [to gain experience in the industry] was I took a lot of internships. When I was in college, I was the consummate hustler. I interned at Warner Brothers Records, which was a big thing for me because my dream when I was coming up went from me wanting to a businessman and lawyer to me loving the music business. I knew who all the people were at the record labels and all the credits on the albums because I grew up studying them. You think when you come from nothing and you get to a place you’re like, “Well because I’m smart and I have access, I should be a businessman, lawyer, or a doctor.” You have a preconceived notion of what you should be doing. I said I wanted to become an A&R and that became what I wanted to do. I interned at Warner Brothers and the only internship they had was Alternative Promotions and I knew nothing about that. It’s basically you promote alternative artists to radio.As an intern, my job was to get the watermarked copies that were supposed to be sent to the radio ready for executives before their meetings. I would take the watermarks, learn what was going on, and then get on the phone with the people at the radio, and then go to the station and pitch the record.
How did you turn that hustle into an opportunity to work with Diddy launching Revolt?
Julian: When I was in college, I interned with Debbie Allen and there was a guy that was in the music business that was an alumni of my college that owned an agency. At this time, agencies were just building websites. They weren’t talking about creating content and platforms or even culture. Long story short, he would also help me a lot with the concerts and things like booking artists. He became a mentor of mine and I moved to New York out of school and that’s where I got my first media taste. I had a job out of school, quit, and moved to New York on a whim. I ended up running a blog and that blog got some traction. That’s how I learned I could really run a website,create content, and really do it well. It was called Multitude New York and they had buzz as a streetwear brand. I told him, “You don’t have to pay me but if you let me handle your marketing, I’ll run your website.” I worked at Bloomingdale’s during the day and then I would just go in the streets and throw myself into everything and write about it all day. The same guy suggested that I turn what I was doing into a company. I joined him and a few other people and launched a digital agency called Quanticy. It went from having these ideas to doing things for Google, Wells Fargo, and Magic Johnson and creating their first digital platform. A guy who was working with Diddy at the time was paying attention and he said he loved the work I was doing.
What do you remember about the first time meeting Diddy?
Julian: I could tell you that the thing that stuck out the most was his genuine passion for culture. It’s a passion you won’t see when you’re watching him perform or when you see him on a casting list. He knows the difference between Sean Combs and Puff Daddy. I think the core of his real genius comes from the fact that he genuinely pays attention and cares and has a vision for the way he uses his influence to inspire people to action. I remember him having computers laid out, videos and Tumblrs up, a whiteboard up.We’re watching videos of Stokely Carmichael, James Baldwin and all these other old interviews. It was one of the dopest conversations about things that I care about with somebody that embodies the culture and it was comfortable. There was never a moment when I was like, “ Oh this is Puff. I’m in his house!” or anything like that. We were just connecting on really making an impact and influencing a generation.
how did you end up with jobs at Complex and Huffington Post? what were those experience like?
Julian: I always feel like when it comes to back to my purpose, it's just being able to translate the message. It’s being able to understand the language and the lifestyle and the spirit of something and being able to translate that to whoever. When I think about Jay-Z, and one of the things that inspires me about him is that he is the epitome of representing the people that came from nothing and also representing the people who are of influence, access, and accomplishment. I think those are the most powerful people in the world. When I think about that, that’s how I think I look at the world. I can walk in a boardroom- a CEO, a billionaire, or an investor- speak to them in their language, teach them about culture, content, or you and I, and then I can go back on the block and talk to everybody I grew up with, anybody that was in Southeast D.C. for Broccoli City, and we can speak the same language and I can translate to them what I got from the boardroom.
Interested in learning more or connecting with Julian?