2 Minutes With ... Geoff Renaud, CMO & Co-Founder at Invisible North
Geoff Renaud is the co-founder of Invisible North, a global experiential agency. His team works with clients including Adidas, Ledger, Netflix and Hermes. He's built his career at the intersection of progressive culture and live experiences, developing the Coachella Festival and touring with music artists including Prince. With a passion for emerging tech, Geoff and has invested in over 30 early-stage startups, advising founders on their narrative, go-to-market strategy and organizational design.
We spent two minutes with Geoff to learn more about his background, creative inspirations and some recent work he's admired.
Geoff, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I grew up in Metro Detroit and now live between Austin, Montana and Paris.
How you first realized you were creative.
We were a musical household and held to really high standards of musical knowledge. My dad is incredibly eclectic and my younger brother is a successful professional musician. When I would go to school and try to talk to my friends about music, I realized that we were different. I’m really grateful for our strict musical upbringing.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
Prince. I ended up leaving college early to work for him. I was from Michigan and moved to Minneapolis in the dead of winter (and thought I knew what cold was before then). Surprisingly, in some ways, he seemed super Midwestern and normal and he loved some of the same routines I grew up with, and I think that's why he stayed there.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
I was fortunate enough to have a high school teacher that recognized my love for music, and she had a friend who was the music writer for the Detroit News. I got to shadow him for an entire day in my junior year. It was my first exposure to the "industry" and it set me on a path I'm still on.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
There's a Finnish photographer, Roope Rainisto, that uses generative A.I. in his work. He just put out a collection of photos he launched as NFTs called Life in West America. Even my art world friends that can't stand NFTs are impressed by it.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
I'm rewatching The Sopranos, again. I missed it when it was originally out and this is the second time in a few years I'm watching it from start to finish. It's just so good.
Your favorite fictional character
Pee-wee Herman, of course.
Someone or something worth following on social media.
MIT Technology Review, on Twitter as @techreview. I also get their daily newsletter, The Download, and it's my top read every day. It's incredibly intelligent and fun at the same time.
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
I flew 120 flight segments in 2019. It was exhausting and you trick yourself into thinking that having Diamond Status is worth breaking your body over (it's not). Since the pandemic, I've been able to be a lot more selective about when I travel, and my wife and I have taken full advantage of being remote by breaking our year up into living in our favorite places. We're in Austin for the winter, Montana for the summer and Paris for the fall. There's zero chance I could have made that happen pre-pandemic.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.
We bought 40+ billboards in Times Square on Earth Day last year for Algorand and went completely dark for a whole minute to highlight their leadership in energy efficiency. When everything came back on, the entirety of Times Square was awash in this majestic green, and we filmed some incredible content that won several awards.
A recent project you're proud of.
We worked with Adidas to help launch their digital fashion capsule at Art Basel and I was super proud of how our team brought the experience to life. It felt very much like a working example of this virtual-hybrid world everyone is anticipating.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
When I moved to New York, Lower Manhattan still felt like a major hub for all parts of the creative world. Visionaire and DFA Records were the pinnacles of downtown creativity to me and I was fortunate enough to have some slightly older friends at those companies that took me in and accepted me as part of their tribe.
Someone else's work you admired lately.
Your main strength as a creative person.
Energy. I have a lot of it and it doesn't seem to be fading. When I’m at my best, I think I'm passing on some of that electricity to my colleagues. I can work 18 hours a day, seven days a week if I'm feeling authentically inspired.
Your biggest weakness.
Getting deep work done during the day. My day is total chaos with 12 different app notifications buzzing and constant communication cross-fire, and I'd like to better organize how and when I respond. There's a heavy cognitive toll to pay when you are constantly switching gears and I have to get up way too early to have peace and quiet and get deep work done.
One thing that always makes you happy.
Supporting Jeffrey Flocken and his team at The Humane Society International on moving the needle on global legislation for better protections for animals.
One thing that always makes you sad.
How we've totally lost the ability as Americans to have nuanced, distinct personal opinions shared in public, and have open and healthy dialogues about them. It's destroyed individualism and trickles down into what gets made creatively.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
Helping non-profit organizations get much better at marketing and growth by bringing experts from the business world in to mentor and educate them. That's my post-agency plan and I get to do a bit of it on the side now, which keeps me fulfilled.