Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic.  In this profile we feature Lee Wall.  Photography for the series is by Cade Martinwardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire and Sybil Street for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson, Janice Kinigopoulos and Lori Pressman for THE Artist Agency.

Lee, please provide a short bio.

I started my career in New York City after graduating with an MFA in “New Forms” from Pratt. That was a catch-all category for conceptual art, installation art, performance art, etc. I found fine art was often an uncomfortable fit for me, whereas marketing felt more logical. With fine art, too often, I saw creators trying to mystify and obfuscate a rather simple something. With marketing communications, I enjoyed the more pragmatic challenge of making a complex topic easy to pick up.

Eight years ago, I started my own firm, Raison, a branding and marketing boutique shop in Richmond, VA. After years as a creative director, working through account executives, I wanted to have a shop where clients work directly with the talent. It’s actually been a challenge to maintain that as Raison has grown, but it’s something in the DNA of the firm that I’ll always work to preserve.  

What are the things you are most proud of?

Personally, I am honored to be married to a teacher who changes lives. My wife, Rebekah, has taught in some of the most challenging schools in our city, teaching kids with a variety of intellectual, emotional, and learning disabilities.

Professionally, I’m proud to be a job provider. Having been educated as an artist, I was also taught that I would be a “starving” artist. I’m proud and sometimes surprised that I am eating quite well and also providing a livelihood and valuable benefits for other people and their families.

Who are your personal role models?

I am a driven person trapped in a cautious and acute introvert’s mind. And for introverts, you often have to “fake it till you make it.” So spending time with CEOs and CMOs who are often extroverts full of confidence and swagger has been very educational to me.

What did you learn from these extroverts that you applied in your business?

Before I started Raison, I was debating whether to keep my day job or go rogue. I met with one of these CEO-types to see if he would be willing to do business with my potential new firm. He would not offer any commitment, but rather scolded me, explaining that he would not invest in the success of my hypothetical business when I myself had not shown the confidence to invest in it. It was not what I wanted to hear, but it was what I needed.

What professional advice do you have for others?

Here are four things that I think are important:

–  In work/life balance, “life” comes first;

– People are rarely transparent. Be a ninja-detective when it comes to working with other people. The better you investigate and analyze what their unstated biases, proclivities, and goals are, the better your chances of a successful interface;

– Don’t commit to a direction for your career or company if you don’t fancy the idea of on-going, non-stop learning in that orientation. A perpetual hunger to learn more in your field is critical to not only your success, but your survival; and,

– Deliver. Don’t sell poppycock nor balderdash. The world is full of con artists. Don’t go there.

What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?

Don’t get me started! I am an obsessive playlist creator. See my Spotify public lists with titles like Dawn of the Nerd ’75-’80, Music to Barbeque By, Bamako Film Board, Country Women’s Studies, and Balloons, Bubbles, and Kites—60’s Kitschy Pop. Tune in

What’s your favorite restaurant?

My garden—I highly recommend the cucumbers.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

I make a mean green curry.


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