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The A-list Podcast: Episode 007 with Gerry Graf

“I try to be really clear at what I’m not good at and then think about how I can change that… it’s about just being honest with yourself”

This week on “The A-List” podcast, host and chief creative officer of DiMassimo Goldstein Tom Christmann chats with the one and only Gerry Graf, founder and chief creative officer of Barton F. Graf.

Before starting his own agency, Graf spent the better half of two decades making award-winning creative for some of the most well-respected agencies in the world, such as Goodby Silverstein and Partners, BBDO, TBWA/Chiat Day, and Saatchi among others. For his outstanding work, Business Insider would later label him “The Most Creative Man in Advertising”.

Tune in as Gerry tells Tom all about his time writing for the “SNL of Notre Dame”, hunting rats in Venice Beach, the importance of making your own opportunities and why creativity is valued more today than ever. Full episode and show notes below!

Show Notes

  • [0:00 – 1:42] Intro
  • [1:43 – 4:56] Tom and Gerry’s past at BBDO and what it was like growing up in Lexington, MA
  • [4:57 – 7:30] Going pre-med to Notre Dame
  • [7:31 – 13:07] Writing for the Keenan Revue – the SNL of Notre Dame
  • [13:08 – 14:23] Post Notre Dame life and hunting rats in Venice Beach for six months
  • [14:24 – 17:15] Hating life as a stockbroker for two years in Boston
  • [17:15 – 22:03] Gery’s first portfolio, getting denied from agencies, and the introduction of Ken Fitzgerald
  • [22:04 – 25:48] Being offered a job at Saatchi & Saatchi while on a payphone in Grand Central
  • [25:49 – 27:13] The walk of shame
  • [27:14 – 29:22] Emulating Cliff Freeman
  • [29:23 – 37:50] Gerry’s “pull the rug” copywriting trick and getting his big break on Snickers while at BBDO
  • [37:51 – 44:54] Working at Goodby and finally Reuniting with Ken Fitzgerald after over a decade
  • [44:55 –50:25] Making your own opportunities, asking the right questions and not giving up
  • [50:26 – 52:43] Selling and maintaining a good idea
  • [52:44 – 57: 42] Getting in the industry today and valuing creativity
  • [57:43 – 58:57] Outro

“The A-List” is a podcast produced by DiMassimo Goldstein, recorded at the Gramercy Post, and sponsored by the Adhouse Advertising School, New York’s newest, smallest, and hippest ad school. You can subscribe and rate the show on iTunes or listen along on SoundCloud. For updates on upcoming episodes and guests, be sure to like the A-List Podcast on Facebook and follow host Tom Christmann on Twitter. If you want to be interviewed for an upcoming episode, contact us at