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Def Jam Founder Russell Simmons: A 'Still Mind' Needed for Creativity

Def Jam Founder Russell Simmons: A 'Still Mind' Needed for Creativity
Narrative is an innovative B2B digital marketing firm founded by Def Jam's Russell Simmons / Credit: AOL.com

Def Jam's Russell Simmons is no stranger to entrepreneurship. In addition to co-founding the popular hip-hop record label, he is also responsible for launching clothing labels Phat Farm, Argyleculture and American Classics. For nearly 30 years, Simmons has been building and promoting brands in the entertainment and fashion industries. Now he's applying that branding experience to the world of tech and manufacturing with his innovative marketing firm, Narrative.

Narrative, which works primarily with B2B agencies, was founded earlier this year by Simmons and his business partner, Tricia Clarke-Stone. In this installment of AOL's "Acting Disruptive" video series, he describes his venture as a "digital technology solutions" company that aims to use the latest tech tools to tell the stories of brands.

"We're narrators," Simmons told "Acting Disruptive" host Max Lugavere. "We tell these brand stories in ways that [make them] travel across media, create emotion and make people understand the purpose of these brands. Through technology, there's so many innovative things you can do that really lets the DNA of a brand breathe."

[Digital Marketing a Top Priority for Small Business]

Simmons has spent most of his career building brands from the ground up, so working for existing brands with Narrative has been a new adventure for the entrepreneur. While he's continually impressed with the ideas from his creative executive team, Simmons is happiest when he's in his element working on marketing campaigns.

"Sometimes there's a campaign for something that I love, and I can get involved daily," he said. "I get to be the creative adviser, and that's fun, too."

When asked about the defining qualities of a disruptor, Simmons responded that the first thing he or she needs is a "still mind."

"The only time you can ever be creative is with a still mind," Simmons said. "When the noise is gone, an idea will flash. It's the inside where all the ideas dwell."

Learn more about Narrative's philosophy, the company's recent Under Armour campaign with retired NFL star Ray Lewis and recording artist Pharrell Williams, and Simmons' journey to becoming an advertising executive in this "Acting Disruptive" feature.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Nicole Fallon

Nicole Fallon received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.