#WhatisE4: James Grandberry – My E4 Story
In E4, kids who feel alone, who don’t know what they’re capable of, have someone come alongside them and say “I think you can be great.” That’s what they did for me.
“You don’t know what you don’t know.”
If I could go back in time 2 years, or 5, or 10, that’s what I’d tell myself.
If I had more time, I’d probably sit 15-year-old James down and tell him to stop eating so much processed food, to study for the SAT, to stop using emoticons so much :p . I’d caution him on starting and ending relationships at the drop of a hat. The list goes on. I know so many things, just ten years later, that I so badly wish I knew back in high school.
You can probably relate. We can’t yet go full Butterfly Effect on ourselves, but I’ve found a way to blast open the future for myself and others: E4 Youth.
In short, E4 is a creative mentorship program. It’s not about know-it-alls desperate to share sage wisdom with silly kids — E4 is about people who have been there before. In E4, kids who feel alone, who don’t know what they’re capable of, have someone come alongside them and say “I think you can be great.” That’s what they did for me.
November 2017. Two years out of college. I didn’t call myself a copywriter. I didn’t have a website. I didn’t know the first thing about advertising (I think it’s probably “The idea is king,” or something). I knew I was creative, but I had no idea what to do about it. Then I met Carl Settles, E4’s CEO. He introduced me to Bart Cleveland, an authority in the Ad Biz, and founder of Job Propulsion Lab. By January 2018, I was mentoring students at Pflugerville High School and being mentored in advertising (and life) by Bart. I spent the next year getting personalized input on my work from dozens of advertising professionals, including executives like Bryan Jessee and Marty Butler. Just over a year later, I’m doing what I love. I have a direction, a career path, and work that I’m proud of, all because of the E4 ecosystem I was so lucky to stumble into. Lucky is an understatement – I hit the jackpot.
Picture it: Ideas nurtured and inspired and given life, coming to fruition in movies, music and modern art. Kids aspiring to be (and becoming) writers, directors, and CEOs. Parents beaming with pride. Young talent colliding with the heart of the creative world in spectacular fashion. Dreams becoming reality, for everyone involved. It’s a community — everybody eats.
I didn’t see it coming. A lot of E4 kids might not get it yet, either. But if they stick around long enough, and put in the work, they’ll turn around and see it, and say what I say, without any hesitation:
E4 Youth changed my life.