Deon Graham boasts the title of Chief Brand Officer at Combs Enterprises.
Before reaching this career milestone, Graham worked in the Miami, FL, nightlife scene for several years. He also worked with liquor brands and later launched his nightlife website, City Never Sleeps, in 2008. The pivot came after recognizing a lack of diversity within the space. Going forward, Graham knew it would be important to work in an environment that places diversity at its center. His wishes were answered. One year later, he landed the role at Combs Enterprises.
“When I got into the club scene, I realized they don’t want certain crowds to represent their brands. My first instinct was — I have to try to fix this. Then joining the Combs team, which was Blue Flame at the time, was my first real corporate job, and all I know is Black and brown employees.”
He continued: “What Puff is doing here, is really the example and the blueprint that we should be sharing across the industry. I see the genius. I see what happens when you give people opportunity. Now, how can we multiply this by a hundred times and take it into other buildings? So, I’m coming from the perspective of actually working inside of a Black-owned company with people that look like me every day. Then, watching that be good for business and then trying to put that blueprint in different industries.”
Growth At Combs Enterprises
Graham spent nearly ten years leading digital strategy for Sean “Diddy” Combs and his brands. He scored several promotions, including director of digital marketing, then VP of digital marketing before becoming Chief Brand Officer (CBO).
According to information provided to AfroTech, Graham has overseen “creative, content, digital, marketing, and the cultivation of creative talent for a diverse portfolio of businesses and investments including spirits, media, music, consumer packaged goods,” plus more. This also includes portfolios within Combs Enterprises such as DeLeón Tequila, CÎROC Premium Vodka, Sean John, REVOLT Media, and Bad Boy Entertainment.
With such a primitive role in the company, Graham attests to his leadership ability for fostering his growth in the company. Furthermore, being a great leader also means empowering surrounding talent to perform their roles effectively — doing so creates more success for the business.
“I spent a lot of time being a one-man show and now I understand how to be a leader, lead by example, and go from just doing the work to empowering others,” Graham told AfroTech exclusively. “By me growing as a leader, it allowed me to bring other people into the fold. That creates more success for the businesses because now we have more bodies with the right mindset going after the work correctly. Whereas in one category of the portfolio, businesses may have been succeeding because I was helping touch it. Now, we can extend that across our portfolio businesses.”
Mastering The Art Of Presenting
In addition, mastering the art of presenting has been a key factor in Graham’s success. The skill has helped push concepts past the ideation stage for Combs, various investors, and partners. Over the years, with the help of mentors, Graham has refined this skill.
“One of the most important things is figuring out how to present to Puff, a group of people, investors, and partners. I always had the knack and knew the strategy, but framing things in a proper keynote presentation and backing my thoughts and my strategy with data, were all things that I had to learn. I wasn’t taught this in school. So, just watching other people present and pitch was important.”
He continued: “You can come in, have the strategy, have the way to go about things, but if you don’t properly lay things out so everybody in the room can understand, you can get stuck. I remember struggling with that in the beginning, but I had really good mentors pushing me to get my keynote skills up, get a flow and get my points across in a digestible way.”
The REVOLT Summit
Graham has been involved in various efforts within the company, many of which he is proud of. What stands out most to the CBO is the company’s efforts to empower the next generation of talent through their work with the REVOLT Summit.
According to information provided to AfroTech, the 2021 three-day REVOLT Summit x AT&T had 3,600 attendees. Additionally, there were mentorship opportunities, and job opportunities, and over 20 Black-owned businesses were supported.
“The one that’s most meaningful is our work with the Revolt Summit. It’s just us putting our hand in to create an atmosphere and an event that is not just about partying and being entertained, but actually connecting up and coming people with jobs, networking, and providing them opportunity and information,” Graham told AfroTech.
He continued: “I like to put the REVOLT Summit at the top. We can sell records, we can do content on REVOLT, we can sell spirits, we can sell clothing, but the most important thing to me is just trying to provide opportunity and to share knowledge.”
This year’s REVOLT Summit will be held from Saturday, Sept. 24 to Sunday, Sept. 25.