In this episode, host John Laurito talks to the CEO and Founder of Archrival, Clint Runge. They talk about how Clint lives his life creatively and how that translates into his company’s leadership. He also shares how leaders can leverage creativity when leading the new generation at work.
Clint Runge is a founding partner of Archrival, a youth culture agency that wins the hearts and minds of young adults. Nationally recognized and full of mischief, Archrival goes against the grain of the typical marketing approach to build brand love, sales, and loyalty.
Clients such as Adidas, Red Bull, Spotify, and Hollister leverage the insights you’ll hear to form their product positioning, marketing messages, and business evolution.
Today he stands on two decades of experience working with ‘it’ brands, athletes, and entertainers, having created iconic marketing experiences and programs that have fueled companies to relevancy. He’s won as many awards as he’s had all-nighters, leading Archrival to become a 2016 Ad Agency of the Year and Inc Magazine 1000.
With a few tricks up his sleeve (he moonlights as a performing mentalist), Clint’s best sleight of hand turns a complex generation into common sense appropriate for any industry or audience. Presentations and workshops are dynamic, full of energy, and hit deep into the conversation organizations must have to innovate.
Collecting well over 250 keynote presentations and workshops in his sneakers, he’s adaptable from the largest conference stage to a small boardroom.
Connect with Clint
[2:35] What does living a creative lifestyle mean?
[7:02] Creative timing
[8:48] Knowing when to take risks
[12:11] Why is creativity important as a leader?
[13:39] Leveraging creativity as a leader
[16:20] What should leaders know in terms of leading the new generation?
[23:03] On Archrival and his vision for it
[25:23] Where to find Clint
John Over the last two decades, I’ve been on an insatiable quest to learn everything I can about leadership. What makes the best leaders so good? After running companies small and large over the last 20 years, today I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name is John Laurito. I’m your host, and I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this very topic. And what makes the. Best leader so good. Welcome to tomorrow’s leader. All right. Tomorrow’s leaders.
John So I have Clint Runge, who’s a CEO of a firm called arch rival. Basically, they help big name brands like Adidas, Red Bull and other companies like that tap into the right kind of branding and marketing for a younger generation. There’s a lot of leadership lessons in this podcast. I think some of the struggles leaders have is leading a very diverse workplace. And and what Clint brought out, which was like some total mind bending stuff that I hadn’t really thought about, was just how different different generations are and some ways to really tap into that. So this is a really good, engaging podcast with some really good action steps. I know you’re going to like it. And by the way, this guy is a mentalist. Wouldn’t even get into that. I just I we had so much of the stuff going on. I’m going to have to bring him back on and have him do his mentalism on me or something. I don’t know. I’m fascinated by that. But I mean, you know, how can that even be like number three or four in your bio that’s going to be like right front and center. I’d be like, I’m a mentalist. Whatever you’re thinking, I know what you’re thinking. That’s it. And by the way, I’m also this I don’t know, I’d I’d have that as my my title. Okay, well, enough of this. So here is Clint Runge. All right. Welcome. This show, Tomorrow’s Leaders. I’m here with Clint Runge, the CEO of archrival in Lincoln, Nebraska. Clint, thanks for joining us.
Clint Yeah, thanks for having me.
John Yeah, absolutely, man. And I know most of our audience is listening. They can’t see that really, really cool background that you’ve got, which is awesome. So everybody needs to tune in to the YouTube channel and they’ll see it very, very cool stuff. I’m a background guy. So yeah.
Clint The the LED lights, they go with the voice. So every time I speak, they go off.
John Oh my god, I didn’t even ealize that. That’s even better. That was cool before, and they just took it to a whole nother level of cool.
John That’s all right. Cool. Well, listen, let’s. Let’s get into some stuff. There’s a lot that I’d love to talk to you about. I know the listeners can really learn a lot from you. You’re leading an organization that really you’re you’re in deep in the in a certain part of the demographic that I think a lot of leaders sometimes struggle with candidly. And I want to get to that. But one of the things you said in a prior conversation is you talked about living a creative lifestyle. And I want to I want to understand that a little bit from you. What does that mean? I know that’s important to you. And you have some some thoughts around that and a mantra around that. What is what is that all mean?
Clint Well, I’m in the creative business, and I’ve always wanted to be in the creative business. And when I was early on going through school, I went through architecture school, is going through advertising school. I just really felt like, you know what? How do you become a great creative? And the elephant in the room I found in in back then and even today is people want you to be creative. They want great ideas. They want new game changing entrepreneurial concepts. But where is this stuff come from? You know? And so early on in my career, I was like, you know what? I don’t feel like I’m getting out of school. I think it feels too formulaic. And so I went and interviewed the best creatives in the world. I just went and visited them on my own dime and just I wanted to learn from them. And after about 20, 25 or so of doing this, I realized that what I was looking for was this it was misplaced. The secret to being a great creative had nothing to do with your education and some of the like formulas, although all that stuff is very important as a foundation. The real secret was in how you live your lifestyle. And so early on I. I mimicked and I followed and thought to myself, Well, that’s how I want to live my life. How you live your life dictates your ability to be a great creative. And, you know, that is really been great for me.
John And what does that look like? So I hear you on that because I feel like there’s days where I feel like I have it or periods of time where I do and then a period of time are known. What does that look like to live a lifestyle that kind of helps that and breeds that creativity?
Clint Yeah, I actually I came off about ten different things. I’ll just I’ll give you a couple nuggets here. The first one morning surprised you at all? It’s just who you surround yourself with, right? I mean, there are people who take things from you and they soak you of everything. And then there’s others that give. And having that imbalance was just something I realized that was incredibly important. There’s all these little things like golden nuggets. There’s there’s people that whenever you talk to them, they give you energy. Right. And it’s not it’s typically not your best friend or your spouse or someone you’re dating. It’s typically someone that’s on your periphery. And what I found is the best creatives in the world. They stay in touch with those people because every time they talk to them, they walk away from that coffee or that beer or or having a phone call, whatever it is. They walk away energized with goose bumps. And ready to tackle the world again. And I and I knew exactly who those people were in my life. And I have kept them in my life since then. That’s them. And I know that has been very meaningful to me. The second one was actually the space in which you live. So think about how much time you spend at an office, how much time you spend at home, wherever you do your work. You do your best thinking. Typically, people aren’t they aren’t cognizant about the impact of your surroundings. So, you know, what are the kind of places and spaces in which you more creative? Well, it’s funny that we think about that only at work, but we don’t think about that as at home. And so I immediately said, I’d say, Well, I want my home to be a place of energy and creative as well. And so I actually went bought like this old rundown grocery store, community grocery store. I turned it in my house and every time that I would come home to this house, I got new energy. And so it was just like, is it these sort of things that I learned from these other creatives just really end up adding up a lot?
John I love that. And that’s so important. You’re so spot on because I find that there are places in my house or even outside my house where if I’m sitting there, I can do better work. I can do different types of work. I can do more if I’m trying to think about or create a keynote or a podcast. There are places where I know that if I’m there, I’ve got a higher likelihood of coming up with great stuff. So it’s interesting. I don’t think I ever really was overly conscious of that. But you bring up a great point.
Clint Can I give you another one? This is it’s very related. It’s creative rhythm. So like creative timing. So I found that I was I was getting up in the morning and trying to work on ideas. And I’d be honest with you, I’m terrible. I can’t come up with great ideas in the morning, but I was scheduling all my time that way. I have a friend who’s an incredible designer. He comes from a military background. This dude is up at 4 a.m., cranking out better stuff before I even get out of bed. And he’s amazing from, like, 4 a.m. until, like, 9:00. This guy is on point, you know? And I realized, you know me, I’m better. Like, late afternoon. Like, that’s kind of my time. I have another friend who’s best, like, 10:00 to one in the morning. They do their best work. And what I realized is that the best creatives in the world understand their creative timing, and they just go with it. They don’t fight it. They get all the administrative stuff and all the stuff done doing the other times. But their creative time is sacred to them because they know their body, whatever. It’s just like it works out for them. And that’s something also that people kind of know. But how often do we actually actually listen to it and follow it?
John Oh, it’s totally, totally true. I mean, there are times where I know for myself I’m better at doing a podcast at certain times than doing something like this that others you know, I wouldn’t typically do this at 8:00 in the morning because I don’t. Takes a while for my my personality, my energy to get going. So, yeah, that’s such a good point. So paying attention to that and really for those people that might be listening saying, you know what? Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know when my best time or most creative time or maybe even more my intellectual time, you know, if I’m doing something that’s involving really heavy thinking and problem solving and strategic work, there’s probably a time in the day that that’s going to be better for me than other times of the day.
John Love it. Good. You won’t give us one or two others. I love this list.
Clint Yeah, I mean, it’s a pretty big list. I mean, some of this stuff is also take it like another one I often think about is just taking risks. I mean, I know that you could do a whole podcast just on that, but, you know, knowing when to take those risks, listening to your creative intuition, how many times have you probably known that like, I know this is going to work out, but you can’t actually figure out. You don’t know why it’s gonna work out. You just have a great gut instinct on it. The best people that I found, the best entrepreneurs, they just trust their gut instincts. And that was a that was hard for me early on to do that. But I’ve learned just be like, Hey, there’s something about this that feels right. I’m going to go with it. Not going to make a bad move. It doesn’t mean you’re, you know, you’re gambling, but but you are willing to take the risk. And I think that that has been proven out. More and more people who take those risks see the return on those rewards as well.
John I love it. I love that. Absolutely. And that’s a big part of it. You know, you think about so much of leadership is that it’s taking risks, it’s helping people, other people. And risk is not. Some people look at risk is just financial risk or making a big decision and it might go the wrong way. But risk is just stepping outside your comfort zone. I mean, it’s doing something either maybe you haven’t done before or something that makes you uncomfortable because you have done it before and haven’t had the experience you want. That’s a risk. And that’s such a key part, not just of creativity, but just of growth.
Clint I think being always a little bit uncomfortable has been a great place for me, which means that I have enough to say yes to something, but I’m also a little scared about saying yes to it. That’s the kind of risk it. It’s your costly, uncomfortable. And when you’re done when you. When you have that uncomfortability, you’re always improving, you’re always growing. And that keeps you in the game and keeps you coming up with new ideas.
John It’s so funny. I see. And I know I talk to people about this all the time. Think about how. And I have some sometimes very, very, you know, candid conversations with leaders that there’s that there’s a lot of fear that people have. And it might be, hey, taking on that new role or promotion or it might be, you know, now I’ve got this new problem of got a tackle and there’s so many people that don’t do it because of that fear. They don’t take they don’t go for that new opportunity because of the fear and the fear of failure. The fear of success. We’ve heard about that, too. And in reality, sometimes there’s comfort in knowing that, hey, you know what, everybody deals with it. They may not show it, but everybody deals with it. They just manage it a little bit different and manage through it and lead themselves through it a little bit better.
Clint Because if you do it enough times, you just get comfortable with being uncomfortable and that just kind of becomes the place in which you live and then it’s not. So it doesn’t feel like such a big risk, right?
John Right. Exactly. Yeah. It’s like anything. I mean, you could equate it to anything. You could equate it to anything physical if you’re running. I mean, the first time you get out there, it’s painful. Doesn’t mean when you run and keep running and keep running that it’s not painful or uncomfortable, but it’s a little less uncomfortable because you’ve done it and you’ve had some success. Now, granted, you’re running a longer distance that might be more uncomfortable. You still have the confidence of knowing what you’ve done in the past. So, yeah, you think of how critical that is.
Clint Yeah, yeah, I find it. Anyway, I have I have ten things, you know, your listeners want to hit me. I’m happy. Give them all ten things.
John I love it. Awesome. So I want to relate this also to leadership. You got a lot of leaders that are out there that are are are really, I think, relating to what you’re talking about. Why is creativity important as a leader? Why is it important to help breed that creativity in the organization?
Clint Well, there are a few reasons. One, I think it’s part of surviving the world that we’re in today. I think I think the world requires disruptors, game changers, and that and that requires people with creative thinking. And all creative thinking is is really understanding the culture of what people want and desire and then creating the products, services, brands, right to meet that. And I think that takes a I think that is creativity is fine as is being able to come up with something that matches what people want that and then you can apply that to the business if you can apply that to employees in retaining or getting them or how your product evolves, I think that’s so important. Everything is to constantly never feel like something is set. You’re constantly innovating on top of it.
John Absolutely. So I want to go back to something you said. You talked about the importance of knowing your timing and kind of when you’re best at certain things. If I’m a leader and I’ve got a team of people and I’m trying to get them to work together, but I also am acknowledging that that people are different, better at different times, and it could be whatever, whatever, whatever aspect they might be better. How how can a leader effectively leverage that when they’ve got a team of people that they’re trying to get to work together? I know that’s a tough question to put you on the spot with that, but I’m just interested in your opinion on that.
Clint Well, I’ll tell you how I’ve solved it is just being flexible, being okay with it. Obviously, as a as a CEO, you want control, you want it. You want to know when people are in, when people are out and start and stopping. I don’t think that’s how the world’s working right now. And so I have found that I have to be okay with the flexibility in allowing people to be their best when they’re able to do their best. And that has worked out so far. I mean, it’s it’s it feels a bit dangerous at times, but I think that’s the way that people actually operate. And now we’re seeing results of that. And so I found allowing people the flexibility to do that is been a pretty big win.
John And I think that’s important. And that is a risk for a leader, especially one that has been used to leading an organization with kind of tight control. You’ve got it. That mind shift has got to change. That mind mindset has got to shift from the old way of, okay, a full time job works from 8 to 5 or 9 to 5, whatever it is, it doesn’t work that way anymore. I mean, you know, I think that’s what’s happened with the the virtual world and the pandemic is it really has eliminated the boundaries. It’s not the typical the way we work today is not the typical way that they work. So that’s a great point. I think leaders understand and listen. You’ve got to treat your people as though, you know, regardless of whether you do or not, the you know, that they’re bust in their butt and working extremely hard to give them the flexibility to do it in the way that works best for them. And when it works best for them, I think is really a good takeaway.
Clint And I think that all the the reasons not to do it, I still think they exist. I. The fears are legitimate, however, just there’s risk and reward in everything. So if you keep rigid to your times, right, and you want people in and clocking in and clocking out at certain times and you don’t know where everyone is at all the times, of course, there’s risks and rewards of that, too. Same thing here. There’s still risks and rewards. I just think that you’re the rewards have become greater than the risks now, particularly since the pandemic.
John Absolutely. Totally agree. So as you think about, you know, I know a challenge for a lot of leaders. They lead an organization that has different generations. You’ve got different types of personality styles, you’ve got different experiences and backgrounds and whatnot. And that’s all part of leading a diverse and really strong and powerful organization. What is important for leaders to know about leading the younger generation, especially those that may not have had a lot of experience with it? What are some of the things that are really critical for them to know?
Clint It is such a wild time. Generational thinking. This is where I spend the bulk of my time is just thinking about how different generations, particularly in America, but any industrialized country, really how these different generations think. And you know, what are the driving factors and value systems for everything from how they vote to how they buy a product or subscribe or download? And and that includes leadership. And so the, you know, leadership that is existed today, largely these are boomers or older Gen Xers that are in positions of being CEOs and in the c-suites of business organizations, they the way that they grew up and the culture and the sort of value systems that are in their work, DNA is completely different than the value systems and worked in a of a say Gen Z today who are just really entering the workforce. They’re wildly different. And the rift right now is that this sort of top down the boomers, they sort of they came from left. The world had to be organized and there had to be almost you know, they grew up during a time of war. I mean, it’s sort of like there is a hierarchy to the world and that businesses are best run when they’re structure in that way. And that’s why you see a lot of the corporations that we do today, they’re very successful in that way. There’s nothing wrong with that corporate sort of entity. It’s successful for a reason. But Gen Z, like they don’t even value the the ladder, let’s say climbing the ladder. Right. That’s like a thing you and I probably grew up with. You want to get somewhere, someone, your career, you do. You go up the ladder, don’t even want your ladder. They want to build their own ladders. They want different didn’t want they want a different structure altogether. And so it’s just a completely different way of thinking. And it’s much more, let’s say it, this one boomers are sort of top down. This one’s much more bottom up, and neither is right nor wrong, although that’s how it’s approached in the workplace. And but if you understand each other’s point of views, I have just found that it can be really quite successful because both are bringing things to the table. By the way, this is I go and I give a talk on this, right? Like this is sort of what I do is really how those different generations meet each other is is almost key to a successful organization today, I think.
John Yeah, that’s amazing. I love what you just said there. You know, that’s not about climbing the ladder. They don’t want to climb your ladder. They want to climb their own ladder. How can a leader tap into that? I mean, how do they is it just as simple as asking or what can they do to really understand and really and and help somebody in in Gen Z get to where they want to get to and at the same point, align with where the organization is going.
Clint Yeah, it’s difficult. And again, because the the your instincts and your DNA are just coming from different world, really. They really are. And so it is very difficult now. It takes it takes someone with grace and with humbleness as a C, but someone who’s been very successful, right. Their CEO doing it their way has led them to success. It’s almost humbling to be able to say, okay, I’m actually open to a new way. And allowing a younger voice into that room is almost age. You have to be willing to do it, and it can be very hard because some of the voices that you hear may not be what you actually want to hear. And again, inexperienced, gen-z ears, but passionate and have a ton of energy. And they have a pulse on culture and what people want. If you allow them into the room and you’re open to that, you’re going to see a lot of solar and wind come with that. So one of the things that the organizations that we work with in their major organizations is oftentimes building like a Gen Z board, if you will, the same way that you might have a board of advisors for your entity that you trust and respect. Well, what’s that for your younger consumers? What does that look like? And allowing them to have that voice and it can be a. Easy way and all a safe way into hearing their voice into your business.
John Gotcha. I love that. That’s a really good a great point. And I think that if you think about that, you know, the organizations that really do a great job of that, I think they they benefit not only from tapping into the best of the talents in Gen Z and helping create a great growth path for them and help them be more impactful in the organization but also attracts more of them to your organization. So that’s what people are looking for. They’re looking for a place to go where they can truly make a big impact and grow and have an organization that’s flexible enough to identify what’s going to help them do that and give them the path to do that.
Clint Yeah. Yeah. And I think what you’re talking about, as I liken it to gravity, if your organization has gravity, that is that you’re not out there shouting saying, hey, look at us, this could be your marketing or it could be your employer getting the employees to come work for you. Hey, look at us. We’re doing these great things. We’re so cool. Like that works great for an older generation. It doesn’t work at all for Gen Z. Gen Z, you need gravity that they turn and look at you and go, That’s a product I want to buy. That’s an organization I want to work for. That’s a company I want to support. It’s a different in and out. And, you know, a lot of the work that we do is in advertising and it’s a complete shift from yelling at your consumer base that you’re relevant to actually becoming so relevant that people come to you. And that is the only way to get Gen Z, because you can’t there’s no mass market for them. You can’t just blanket mass advertising. It’s too nation, too expensive. You have to have that gravity and.
John Wow, I love that. I love that you get so much going on in my head right now and I’m sure everybody else feel that way, too. That’s a really interesting concept, you know, and that’s I think what you’re bringing up is a lot of stuff that people are unconsciously incompetent about. And I mean, a lot of leaders don’t know that. They don’t know they don’t realize this. They’re just thinking, okay, what worked and has worked for my career for multiple generations is what’s going to be working. Now, that’s not the case.
Clint And it’s hard to admit that it’s not because you have been successful in that. But look, every industry, every company, you see this, this is your world. Each one gets disrupted, turned upside down. Things that were super successful suddenly, almost seemingly overnight are not. And, you know, oftentimes that’s because there’s been a refusal to acknowledge a new generation of thinking into that into their into their systems.
John Excellent. Well, you run archrival. I’d love to have you share briefly about what you do, and I’d also love to know where you’re going. Like, what’s your vision for the organization?
Clint Sure. Well, our tribal is a youth culture agency, so we help brands understand young adults, teens, the 20 somethings. How do you win the hearts and minds of your consumers is the game. And so, yeah, that looks different. We we work with different organizations. I mean, some of them are very much on the cusp of youth culture. They would be today if you were like, Who are the brands winning with Gen Z? It’s those there. We have a completely set of different set of clients who are not there but really want to be there building products and services that should be relevant to this generation. But maybe they we have done historical, you know, marketing, maybe just they’re big and old and need a complete redo or they’re brand new and no one cares about who knows about them. Wherever you are today becoming more relevant tomorrow, that’s really what we do. And so if you’re an organization that’s already on the cusp, staying relevant is very difficult. And those that are here and want to get there, you know, we help them help them get there over over a period of time.
John I love it. What’s the as the leader as a leader, what’s the thing that keeps you up at night the most?
Clint Oh, my gosh. Probably. You know, it’s probably no different than what anyone else would would say about any business, which is just you always feel like, you know, am I hitting the right marks at the right time? You know, I feel that way about our employees or our clients or, you know, our relationships just are we are we are we striking the right tones at the right time so much as changing, you know, the technology, technology and innovations that are coming out? Are we are we adapting quickly or too quickly? You know, it’s probably all the exact same things that, you know, every company is struggling with. The one thing that I feel really confident is we have a great point of view on the cultural side, so we feel like we hit the mark there. But beyond that, you know, I’m no different than anyone else in terms of of trying to predict the future and meet it there. Is it that’s that’s probably every every CEO’s dream or nightmare.
John Yeah, absolutely. Well, I’ve loved our conversation. This has been phenomenal. You’ve you’ve you’ve enlightened me. You’ve got me thinking about a lot of stuff that I wasn’t thinking about before. So that’s always very, very valuable. If people want to engage with you client or they want to learn more about our travel, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Clint You just hit archrival dot com and by the way, I there’s there’s a ton of insights there. We do we do a constant writing called Almanac where we published our thoughts on culture and gen-z today. We actually just did one on Alpha Generation, which is basically if you’re 12 or younger, you can read about some insights that we have there. We did a incredible amount of research with them and then, you know, if any of that stuff is of interest, I do a state of youth culture presentation. It’s like an hour long they give to any organization, but they’re interested in hearing our point of view, discuss some of things we did. They, of course, a lot of others. Easy to find on our website.
John I love it. Awesome. Well, we’ll have all that in the show notes. Clint, thanks for joining. This has been phenomenal. You are a true leader and you are tomorrow’s leaders. So appreciate you dedicating your time to the show.
Clint Well, I appreciate you doing this podcast is awesome and I’m lucky to be on it, so thank you for having me.
John Well, thanks, my friends and thanks all for joining today. We’ve been here with Clint runs the CEO of Arch Rival will have everything in the show notes as I mentioned before. Before be sure to check him out before be sure to check arch rival out and as always like share subscribe all that kind of good stuff. Go down below. Give a five star review and we’ll see you next time. Take care.
John Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader. For suggestions or inquiries about having me at your next event or personal coaching, reach me at email@example.com. Thanks, lead on!