Welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s interview, where we delve into the minds of visionary leaders shaping industries worldwide. We have the privilege of interviewing Scott Carlson, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Van’s General Store. With a distinguished career in marketing and advertising, Scott is celebrated for his mastery of digital strategy, content creation, storytelling, and integrated marketing.
Join us as we uncover the insights and inspirations driving his remarkable journey.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Scott Carlson: I’m Scott Carlson, the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Van’s General Store (VGS), a creative collective specializing in storytelling, digital strategy, and integrated marketing. At VGS, we focus on crafting master narratives for brands, developing their stories over time to create impactful and authentic brand experiences. Our modern agency approach combines the talents of top creatives and strategists to produce compelling advertising, brand content, and films for an impressive roster of clients, including Pepsico, GM, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Hulu, and more. Our goal is to unlock the full potential of brand narratives, elevating them to new levels and fostering deeper connections with audiences.
In the past year, what is the greatest business achievement you’d like to celebrate with your team? Please share the details of that success.
Scott Carlson: While many might simply say surviving the pandemic’s industry impact, honestly our greatest achievement has been getting back to our roots where we are focused on creating great work while still having fun.
What advice do you wish you had received when you started your business journey and what do you intend on improving in the next quarter?
Scott Carlson: I received good advice when I started from just about everyone in my life. So, I would say the advice was dead on. What we are doing right now is making sure we are working with like-minded clients. People who collaborate. We have had fun over the years doing amazing things. There were a few times where we needed to tighten the belt and take on projects that were more about survival, but we realized that it doesn’t make sense when you aren’t enjoying the work. You have to enjoy the people you work with as well as believe in the product. Our goal for next year is that we work with good people, and that we have fun doing it. This is business, but there should be a sense of fun to it. That is what advertising and marketing is all about. Our goal is to vet our clients well and get to a point where both sides are enjoying each other’s company, the work we are doing, and that we believe in it.
Online business keeps on surging higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for the year to come and how are you capitalizing on the tidal wave?
Scott Carlson: From a communications and marketing side, the question is, what is driving things to e-commerce? Is it a digital play? Are most people clicking from one digital piece of communication to get to the next or are they driven to e-commerce by other things like QR codes, posters, etc. Are you experiencing something that you can log into that moment. Can I be a part of an experience program that has QR codes that I can click through to take me to the objects I’m enjoying at that moment. The reality is that everything is turning into sales and analytics, but where is the brand in this outside of consumption? Until this is addressed, things will stay on their current path of data focus rather than the emotional impact.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as THE real challenge right now?
Scott Carlson: The real challenge right now is there are so many agencies out there that finding business is a real issue as well as finding like-minded clients and CMOs. That is the biggest obstacle, and not just for us, as I’ve heard that from about five different agency owners in the last couple of months. Now all of a sudden, on Instagram, TikTok, and others, I get hit up every time I go with a link to find an agency. This of course is due to the proliferation of AI. Then the issue becomes, do we align with these people and their goals? Does the work just spit out what they do best rather than align with the brand? The work could be funny and great, but if the message doesn’t connect it was useless.
In your experience, what tends to be the most underestimated part of running a company? Can you share an example?
Scott Carlson: The thing that doesn’t get said enough is that it’s a blast. Since there is so much pressure, stress, and employees and all the other stuff you have to deal with you don’t get to acknowledge, at the end of the day, the fun part. Even at the end of the year, I look back on that year and while there are always some struggles for a small business, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I love the people we work with, so to me, we don’t acknowledge to ourselves the fun we’re having enough because every day comes with issues, but at the end of the day, it’s fun.
What does “success” in 2024 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Scott Carlson: To me, success is a happy group of people, client and agency side. We want to be proud of the work and it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. At the same time everybody’s enjoyed getting through that process. It’s not always going to be that way, but if we can make it the majority of the time, even on a project where it’s 75% fun, and 25% solving challenges, then it’s a win. So, success to me isn’t about money. Success to me is about laughter, music, people having fun at work, clients that appreciate what we do, and the fact that the people working for clients appreciate what the client does. To me that’s success.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Scott Carlson for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Scott Carlson or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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