Invest in yourself: Never stop being a student, take time to get stronger intellectually and physically and take care of your mental health. Without you, the business is missing a vital organ.
As a part of our series called “My Life as a TwentySomething Founder”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Arbital.
Scott Arbital is the Chief Creative Officer & EVP of Fulfillment, as well as the Founder of M. Scott Media. As a creative leader, Scott has worked with numerous clients that include Justin Timberlake, Tommy Hilfiger, Mariano Rivera, RSA Technology, Becton Dickinson, Novartis, The Blue Angels and so many more. His ultimate goal is to encourage and motivate the next generation of artists/designers to dream bigger and paint the world in their image.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! What is your “backstory”?
Thank you for having me. My name is Scott Arbital and I am a 29-year-old Founder, Creative Director, Graphic Designer, Artist and storyteller. Growing up, I was always an artist but things really started to change for me when I took a graphic design elective class in my junior year of high school. Each day I would do my assignments, then go home and redo them. My teacher may have had a vein popping out of his forehead for having to grade my work twice, but little did he know that he was building a fire within me. A passion to paint the world around me and build brands in my own vision.
By senior year, I had started posting my work through various social media networks and entering competitions for design and illustration. That winter, I won a national competition for a skateboard design, chosen by McRad. The reward was to have 1000 skateboards made for underprivileged kids, as well as one for myself. My dad, being a dad, bragged about my new accomplishment to all of his friends and colleagues. One professional in particular took an interest and asked to be connected with me for a logo design project. It happened to be for RSA Technology (an international cybersecurity organization). As payment, I was given an RSA jacket, $250.00 and a college recommendation. However, what I was really given was the chance to have my creativity seen internationally at such a young age.
By the end of my senior year, I had launched my freelance business. In the last 11 years, there have been ups and downs, lessons learned, obstacles hit, goals reached and so much more. Only recently has this endeavor become my one-track future as I brought on two partners for business, sales and project management. Together, we are building something that my 18-year-old self only dreamed of.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company? What lessons or takeaways idd you take out of that story?
Very early on, I had a skewed impression of business that I would come to find out was not true. I assumed you always needed to be professional, dress in a suit, not use foul language, etc. I thought you needed to always act, look, talk and walk “the business way”. Little did I know some of my first clients would be in the fashion, music and modeling industry. Soon I had found out no one is stereotypically professional. People would dap instead of shaking hands, dress in comfy outfits and not be so stiff.
So here I was, walking into work, with my chest held high, in a button-up and a vest only to find my superiors and colleagues in hoodies. My first boss actually asked never to see me in a tie again.
As awkward as that experience was, I learned a lot from it. The lesson was to understand your demographic. Some of my clients have been those stiff business types, and others are exactly the opposite. You can only sell and network with people who are comfortable with you. There is not one outfit for every occasion, even in business.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes M. Scott Media stand out, is the fact that we have developed a large infrastructure, while still providing a small business, white-glove service. Our team and process allows us to have very fast turnaround times for affordable prices. Each client gets to know our team members, be part of the process and become part of the family. They say you cannot have the best of both worlds, but somehow we have found the sweet spot. M. Scott Media’s infrastructure is virtually unseen in the industry today and because of that, our service allows for nearly any need in the design and branding space to be accomplished. We launched this M. Scott Media 2.0 only this year and in a short time, we have seen such growth and results by keeping prices low and turn around times fast, while still giving work that blows our clients away.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I cannot say that only one person helped me along the way. It takes a village to grow each of us and I am a stubborn one to teach! I can narrow my achievements down to 3 main people in my life:
- My Grandmother: Growing up, I would always hear stories of how she was the first woman in her family to go to college. She fought for equal rights among colleagues and friends. She was an artist and made it her life’s work to teach, not only art but all of the lessons she could. Even while getting cancer multiple times throughout her life, she fought to teach her students, her children, myself and others. My grandmother has been my rock, my number one supporter and my confidant to bounce ideas off of as I grow my business and my reach.
- My Father: My dad not only got my first client for me, but for as long as I can remember, he has been teaching me all about business. Lessons like how to value each dollar made, how to conduct myself in a business setting, hard work mentality, business ethics, etc. I am often surprised at how many people do not know how to handle simple professional techniques, like writing an email or understanding a contract. I always was one step ahead because of him. That being said, the number one lesson in business that my dad has ever taught me was how to price myself. My father would say “How much are those sneakers you want? And how long are you willing to work for them? That is how much you charge.” Simple math and I knew how to price myself accordingly.
- The last person I need to give credit to is my mentor, friend, colleague and old boss, Daries Allani. Daries has been a constant in my life since I interned at his company, Evil Genius, in 2014. We immediately connected and worked together on some amazing projects including branding for Justin Timberlake’s restaurant, fashion marketing for the Hilfiger’s, semi-annual NYFW branding and so much more. He has always been there to give me advice but also wanted to hear my opinion and help me grow into the Creative Director and Founder I am today. Even now, I still turn to Daries for counsel on my next steps both professionally and personally.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
The way M. Scott Media is structured, I get to have new and exciting projects daily. In 2023, our team has already worked on over 500 projects for 300+ clients. The most exciting projects we get to work on as a design agency are always the brand builders. That package provides a logo, a photoshoot, stationery, demographic profiles, print collateral, digital collateral, social media, messaging and email templates. I personally love these projects because the team gets to build from the ground up. We get an opportunity that not many others do. Every day, we get to paint the world around us and make it a little more beautiful through our creative perspective.
One project that recently hit our desk was for a brand called “Live Love Life”. The goal of this organization was to build a new holistic perspective and approach to the world. The CEO started by making and selling organic soap, moving to clothing and even wanted to expand to building low-income housing out of recycled material. Through the creative process, we were able to help push this dream a little further and hopefully make a positive change in the world as well.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I have seen so many amazing projects come across my desk that I can say bring goodness into the world. The more successful we are, the more reach we have to do so. Recently, a client came to M. Scott Media in search of a logo and branding material. He was starting a construction company but asked for a punching fist as the face of his organization. After our initial Discovery Meeting, he proceeded to tell the team that his son had passed away from cancer two years earlier. Only now was he starting to get back in the workforce and wanted to keep his son’s memory alive. The boy used to love the Hulk and even pretended to be the Hulk as he fought through cancer until his unfortunate passing.
By providing a logo with a Hulk-inspired punch coming through the typography, the family was brought to tears in memory of their lost child. Through this creative process, we were able to help this family take back just a little of what was taken from them. If that isn’t being able to put good into the world then I do not know what is…
Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
I actually love to read graphic novels. Partially ones like Dragon Ball, Ultimate Muscle and Shaman King. As an artist with dyslexia, the illustrations and layout of the text inspire me but also allows me to take in the information much easier than in a normal book. I even love to take influence from these compositions into logos, marketing campaigns and more.
I particularly did this through a project for “The Mad Hatter Blog & Editorial”. A typography lockup was created for this brand with modern san-serif fonts & then ripped in half across the word “Hatter” to emphasize their rebellious business personality. A pattern of illustrations was formed through skeletons, tattoos, graffiti, cameras, art and more to further push their rebellious nature and to show the context of some topics you may read about. The art, composition and type were impacted by the graphic novels when creating the patterns of different illustrations, shading, and more.
It is always cool to see how various art forms can impact each other!
Can you share 5 of the most difficult and most rewarding parts of being a “TwentySomething founder”. Please share an example or story for each.
- Your friends will not be your number one supporters:
It was a difficult thing for me to understand why good friends are not the first to buy from you, share your business, etc. However people around you cannot always make your goals their priority. Do not expect your friends to build your marketing for you. Find new customers that love your product enough to tell EVERYONE.
- Be Patient: We all want to get to the finish line, but it takes time. There will be hurdles along the way. Never stop fighting for the dream because you will make it, when all the pieces fit together.
- Support others: Your friends may not be the first people to share your business, but you should be the first to share their’s. Not only will you feel good about doing so, but you are actually marketing yourself by marketing others.
- It will not look the way you thought: As a business, you need to always grow. This means that once you hit the finish line, the organization may look very different from what was originally planned. That is ok! Growth and change are good. Without them, your business would not have made it.
- Invest in yourself: Never stop being a student, take time to get stronger intellectually and physically and take care of your mental health. Without you, the business is missing a vital organ.
What are the main takeaways that you would advise a twenty year old who is looking to found a business?
The main takeaways that I would advise a twenty-year-old who is looking to found a business are:
- Management is about encouragement and asking questions. Even when an employee messes up, they need to be encouraged to do better next time. By yelling, talking down to or any other form of similar management, you will just be making them paranoid, which will lead to more issues down the line. Ask questions and get their feedback on any and all situations. After all, you can learn from your employees too.
- Understanding KPIs can be tough in a world of social media, multiple touch-points, smartphones, AI and more. Instead of looking at total clients brought in or total earnings made while starting out, instead, look for smaller stepping stones. You can see your click-through rates, your impressions, your order completion, your review ratings, your site speed and more. All of these little goals will get you to much larger ones in the future.
- You do not need to cold-call to be successful! We live in a world full of technology that offers so many other possibilities. Partnerships, publications, professional groups, platforms that bring clients to you, etc. See what your industry has to offer before you spend hours on the phone all day.
- Do not be afraid of AI in business. It will not replace you, as long as you master it. Instead of being scared of this sci-fi-like growth, use it to speed up processes and help better your product. If you can master these systems, then your business has a step above the everyday human who gets their hands on technology like it.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I would love to have a private meal with Gary Vee. Not only is he a very successful businessman in a similar industry to myself, but his message of mental health and being a good person while succeeding has really hit home. I have so many questions I would love to ask him. How do you not take your failures to heart? How do you get so much done without burning out? What does your time management look like? How do you handle stress in the workplace and in your personal life? What gives you the drive? And so much more! He is definitely a businessman/a human being to look up to!
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
You can follow, reach out and see work from M. Scott Media on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/mscottmedia/. My personal page can be found at https://www.instagram.com/scottarbital/ where I post about all my creative inspirations, life around me and more.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
About the Interviewer: Douglas E. Noll, JD, MA was born nearly blind, crippled with club feet, partially deaf, and left-handed. He overcame all of these obstacles to become a successful civil trial lawyer. In 2000, he abandoned his law practice to become a peacemaker. His calling is to serve humanity, and he executes his calling at many levels. He is an award-winning author, teacher, and trainer. He is a highly experienced mediator. Doug’s work carries him from international work to helping people resolve deep interpersonal and ideological conflicts. Doug teaches his innovative de-escalation skill that calms any angry person in 90 seconds or less. With Laurel Kaufer, Doug founded Prison of Peace in 2009. The Prison of Peace project trains life and long terms incarcerated people to be powerful peacemakers and mediators. He has been deeply moved by inmates who have learned and applied deep, empathic listening skills, leadership skills, and problem-solving skills to reduce violence in their prison communities. Their dedication to learning, improving, and serving their communities motivates him to expand the principles of Prison of Peace so that every human wanting to learn the skills of peace may do so. Doug’s awards include California Lawyer Magazine Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers in America Lawyer of the Year, Purpose Prize Fellow, International Academy of Mediators Syd Leezak Award of Excellence, National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals Neutral of the Year. His four books have won a number of awards and commendations. Doug’s podcast, Listen With Leaders, is now accepting guests. Click on this link to learn more and apply.