Talking Shop with Ricky:
into his life & career
When did you decide you’d be in brand(s)/branding?
Right after my Bachelor’s in Brand Communication, I realized every teacher I had worked professionally with big-name brands and had dedicated time to teaching about their experiences working with these iconic brands like Coca-Cola, Colgate… they spoke about them as living entities or people they knew. I realized then; brands had such a strong hold in our everyday lives, and I wanted to do the same for other people.
What was your first contact with a brand that made you think “Holy Shit”?
My first HS moment with a brand was with Disney Parks. I was astonished with the perfect design that existed behind creating a truly magical experience through attention to detail… the experience and the feeling created through brilliant design made me fall in love with the realization that that was even possible… I was 10 at the time BTW
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in your career and how did you overcome it…
My biggest challenge thus far has been dealing with people, specifically global managers and people with big responsibilities on their hands. Their work is directly attached to iconic brands, and that means that you’re equally responsible regarding execution and outcome to what happens with some of the biggest names in the world. This also becomes a Personal Brand development challenge of sorts, because your name and what you’ve done is your brand. My biggest challenge to date was with Corona Global… We were executing a shopper marketing strategy in Italy. I worked from NYC. I was trusted to execute [the strategy] instead of the Global Brand Manager in a multi-agency project we’d been working on for a year… so I had to travel to Italy in a role I had never executed. I knew then that I had passed a threshold in my career, becoming an actual partner to one of these amazing brands, rather than a sub-hire, like I had worked as in the past. Holding this responsibility was an entirely new role for me, as I dealt with 3 languages and was able to successfully carry out my activities and direct a team. Honestly, the tools I had and understanding the confidence I had to portray helped me get through. A lot of positive self-reinforcement… knowing I had this position for a reason, and I was prepared to do it. Even when I doubted it… I convinced myself I was ready and capable. In the end it all worked out, so me and myself were right!
Which of your mentors has had the greatest impact in your life/career?
Mateo Batiston- head of design for Luxottica. At that time he was the director of my Uni, he’s since become the school director and is now working full-time with Luxottica, working with all the brands I love (Persol, RayBan, Tiffany & Co., etc.) What was that impact/lesson? Aesthetics matter, and your happiness matters. It’s the things that make you personally excited and vibrate… What matters to you is what’ll help you succeed in anything you do. How has it helped you so far? The more I work as an independent consultant, the more I realize the power behind showing who you truly are and what you like and dislike. Your specific aesthetic is extremely valuable, not only to yourself and your happiness, but to the clients you work with.
If you were to start over, knowing what you know now, what would you have told yourself?
I would say “risk more” regarding life and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Take your barriers down early, because that is when you begin to thrive… not only understanding yourself more but letting others know you and understand you as well; allowing them to see you and see your true value.. Just do it… start that brand or put yourself out there. Even if it doesn’t work as you had planned, you’ll learn so much from that experience.
Moving forward, where do you wish to be in the world of brands?
First off, the cover of Ad Week [laughs]… I want to be an opinion leader and a beacon of personal fulfillment for young LGBTQ+ people that think they’re the outcasts. I want people to know from early on that they can create something of incredible value just off what they like and want and dream. How about Personally? There’s an amazing exercise in personal branding where you write “what success looks like” for you… This helps you realize the things that you already have. More than anything, I wish to continue doing the things I currently love: painting, being close to my brothers, being in a space that fulfills me creatively.
Which 3 words describe you best?
CREATIVE. SENSITIVE. GLOBAL. Why “global”? – A citizen of the world. Being able to move and think from a global perspective.
If you were granted one wish regarding your career/industry, what would that be?
That every brand manager would consider the LGBTQ+ community in their strategy work. The exercise itself places brands in an entirely different environment and opens them up to exploration for everyone they might not be considering in their initial outreach. So many people around the world across various spectrums need recognition, and this level of validation from the brands they love and interact with on a daily basis is incredibly valuable. — What the world needs in conflicting moments and polarizing climates is a surplus of ideas to draw from… and these [ideas] come together in moments like these.
To anyone following in your footsteps, what words of motivation could you give them if they’re struggling?
Focus on the little guys and the locals… the more you understand your immediate area of impact and the influence you can have, the more you understand that everything works in a similar manner. All big brands started small, so don’t think the little-guy represents little in any way. Small things go a long way.
What drives you currently? Is there any quote that inspires you in particular TODAY?
“Where focus goes, energy flows.” – Tony Robbins – Understand what makes you vibrate (feel physically) because that is what drives you. What drives me is having vulnerable, full-hearted conversations with people that want to do good in this world. i.e. To work with good people, that are doing good, with good brands… The more I do this and realize that my skills have an impact, the more I’m able to help others that act in this same manner and do more good in this world. Another one I constantly think of is “Opening yourself to vulnerability will be the greatest act of daring and the most fulfilling thing you can do ” – by Brene Brown.
B1. What is something you should really throw out that you haven’t…
Not celebrating my wins. We meant physical things… There’s nothing I really keep, I’ve been detaching myself from material possessions lately. One of my favorite things is shifting energy and moving things around, so removing things that don’t serve a purpose anymore is a natural part of my life cycle. This applies to people as well. There’s little time and space that we have, so we might as well keep them tidy.
B2. If your best friend were to announce you in front of a group of strangers… What would he/she say?
SHE’d say: This is Ricky, my long time friend, we used to work together and have fun together. You’d love him because he is passionate about everything.
B3. What is the best sandwich?