Interview by Hannah Sprouse
Yohannan Terrell is the CEO/Partner at Warhol & WALL ST. and a creative force helping to drive the pulse of the capital city. While Yohannan moved to Columbus to attend The Ohio State University, he made the decision to plant roots here after experiencing the positive growth Columbus offered. Well-known and well-liked in numerous circles of the community, Yohannan uses his platform as a small business owner to make advertising and audience engagement personal and creative. He continues to learn and appreciate his potential and wakes up every morning ready to help others within the connected culture of the city.
Where are you from and what brought you to Columbus? I’m from Akron but I’ve been in Columbus longer. I definitely have felt a close connection to the city and see the opportunities here.
Give us a snapshot of your career path: I’ve been an entrepreneur pretty much since college. I’ve never really worked in corporate. I’ve worked at Community Action agencies and worked for Radio One Columbus as the digital content director. But most of all I’ve started and ran many small businesses including a small printing service, an events promotion company, and FlyPaper Media Network.
Tell us about your current job: My role today is chief visionary at Warhol & WALL ST. I get to dream up ways to engage with people and bring people together in meaningful ways through our clients’ products, initiatives, and campaigns. Our company specializes in bridging the gap between art and business, creativity and impact. Clients typically come to us if they are looking to impact their audiences in creative and engaging ways. We do this through branding, content, events and experiences, data and creative consulting.
What’s new and exciting at Warhol & WALL ST? Right now we are very excited to be creating programs for our clients that incorporate not only just design and strategy but also content and experiences. We have been building out our experiential departments and have been dreaming up some insane concepts to help our brands create experiences that have their audiences talking all year round. You will be seeing a lot more authentic, yet exciting and meaningful things, coming out of our offices this year and into the future.
What do you want everyone to know about W&W? I want everyone to know that we represent where marketing and branding is going into the future. Today we do not engage audiences like we used to years ago, and the future will continue to change in that regard. Today brands and companies have the chance to really build strong relationships with people who really connect with them. Instead of casting a wide net and spending millions of dollars in advertising, we help clients understand their true audience and then find ways to super serve that audience, transforming them to brand advocates by creating deeper relationships. And the best part about it is that we get to do this through art and creativity. Because we are strategists by calling but artists at heart.
What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek? I wake up excited every day to create, plain and simple, the opportunity to solve problems creatively. No day looks the same and I love that. Goals get me through the workweek. The days fly by so I keep pace by setting small goals daily and weekly. I may not get them all done but I keep the intention there.
What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way? I’ve only had a few true mentors in my career and the more we innovate I find it harder and harder to connect with leaders in this space. I’m always looking to connect with people who can help me navigate growth, success, setbacks and those times I really just need to lean on someone who’s been here before. Being a black man coming from poverty, understanding my potential is one of the biggest lessons I continuously have to learn. When you aren’t exposed to much or don’t have examples of success around you, it’s hard to see yourself in that position. But as we’ve broken barriers and bumped our heads, we’re just beginning to understand our potential to impact lives globally. It sounds crazy but you wouldn’t believe the amount of potential in individuals who come from where we come from and who have yet to discover it. I’m glad we are embracing it and putting that same energy back into our communities. And that is one of the great lessons I’ve learned along my path. One mentor told me that you have to “Give to Get to Give,” and I fully believe that. I am always looking to help others because I know how hard it can be to follow your dreams, make change, and try to earn a living for yourself.
Explain some of your work-life balance challenges and how you achieve success in spite of the hustle and bustle? Work-Life balance? What’s that? No seriously, it’s been a challenge for me. I’m a single full-time dad so I have to make time to take care of my daughter who now is a teenager (yeah, just think about that for a sec) but I’m also blessed to work in an industry that is just as entertaining as it is hard work. I love to travel and experience live in other cities, so traveling for work is fun for me most of the time. And when it comes to success, there are some things that we all agree on, and that is it may look ugly behind the scenes sometimes but the end product comes out beautiful. That means the hustle and bustle is real inside the office but we all focus on the goal and that is making sure our partners make the right impact. I’m sure some people can relate.
What do you do or where do you go to unwind? Honestly, I find the best way to unwind is with friends and family. I love to laugh so getting together at a friend’s house and talking trash and not talking work is just the best. I’m also a big foodie so finding a nice spot for good food and great drinks is always fun too.
What might someone be surprised to know about you? That I used to be a dancer, not classically trained but a hip hop dancer who used to tour when I was in high school with some national acts. I still got the moves though! It just doesn’t look as cool when you look like a linebacker.
What would your autobiography be called? “The Lives I’ve Lived Just Trying To Live.” Yeah. That sounds about right.
Which organization are you involved with around the community? I am a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. I am a proud member of the Create Columbus Commission. I am the Mayor’s appointee to the Board Of Trustees for the Greater Columbus Arts Council. I am the acting Public Art Chair for The Short North Alliance Board Of Directors. I am a member the Gen Wex Advisory Committee, and I am a member of Nationwide Children’s Hospital Development Board. Art, connectivity, and helping others; I love all of the organizations I’m involved with.
Tell us about a community initiative you’re most passionate about. Oh snap! Fashion! Seriously, I am leading an initiative with both public and private partners to amplify Columbus’ fashion scene and help our city embrace its fashion potential. It’s a fully comprehensive plan that includes skills development, incubators, manufacturing, experience, and innovation. Stay tuned because it will be a game changer for the city of Columbus and we can’t wait to announce it later this year.
What’s the most exciting thing about Columbus right now? The growth of Columbus is very exciting and that’s why I continue to stay here. In my industry it’s a lot easier to succeed if you are in a market like Los Angeles, New York, or Chicago, but Columbus is growing into a city that has both big city excitement and a quality of life that you don’t see as accessible in many other big cities. It’s a connected culture here unlike any other city I’ve been to.
What are three things that you think Columbus needs? Pro Basketball, more thriving cultural community hubs, and more activity downtown.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them? The pulse of Columbus is the people of Columbus. After being here for a while you really start to see who makes this city more exciting and special. Shout out to all of those people who work tirelessly to help move our city forward and make it a special place.