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Day in the Life: Brian Shembeda

Get a glimpse into the day of this U.S. Army veteran, prankster and creative director.

On this edition of Day in the Life, we’re giving you a look into the work day of EVP, Creative Director Brian Shembeda. With a team of nine, he leads the creative process for clients such as Esurance, Capri Sun, GM and more, while also helping to develop Leo Burnett Chicago’s new employee resource group, Burnetts Vets.

But Brian holds many more titles than the one found at his desk, including: veteran, father, classic car restorer and master prankster. As a former U.S. Army sergeant, Brian’s military background has a strong influence on his leadership style, which emphasizes camaraderie and community support. Even so, Brian is more comedian than drill sergeant, fostering a positive environment where pranks and laughter are just as important as creative briefs and client calls.

Today on Instagram, we’ll be sharing glimpses of this cool dad – and possibly cooler boss – during an average day at the office. Make sure to follow along on social and get to know more about Brian in the Q&A below.

Describe your role in one sentence.
I’m a creative director, working with a very talented team of people to grow our brands.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?
People watching (not the people around your desk) is an endless source of inspiration. There’s so much to be observed and learned by stepping outside the building.

How does your background as a military veteran influence your work?
My military background gives me a great deal of perspective. Whenever I hear people complain or feel frustrated, I can’t help but smile. Perspective.

Tell us about your love of classic cars. How did you get into them?
I’m not sure if it’s a love or an illness but I’ve been obsessed with cars for as long as I can remember. Let’s blame my older brothers and “American Graffiti.”

What advice do you have for people starting in advertising?
Overdeliver. Don’t assume the only opportunity you have is listed in the brief under “deliverables.” And don’t believe the budget for a project is somehow in proportion with the size of the opportunity.

What do you like about podcasts and how did you get started listening to them?
I listened to podcasts off and on, but “Serial” really got me hooked. A podcast gives me the opportunity to learn, be entertained or just occupy my brain no matter what I’m doing. I think they’ve actually taken over my reading time.

You foster a real sense of comradery amongst your creative team. Why is that so important?
Because we’re in this together. Yes, we compete and, yes, we want to win; but in the end we are a team, which is always more capable than any group of individuals.

Why is pranking each other so special to you and your team members?
It’s a way of building a team bond and relieving stress. We do stupid, juvenile things that are probably only funny to us – and that’s OK.

One word to describe your leadership style?

What is your favorite part of your job?
The people. I absolutely love the wonderfully diverse conglomeration of misfits (and I mean that with the utmost respect) who make up this industry. You can only imagine the amount of creativity and energy these magnificent lunatics pour into their brands.

August 29, 2017