“I was the worst front desk person in history,” Campbell said with a laugh. “I wasn’t hospitable and I wrote constantly. But when my boss said he needed a website, I bet that I could figure it out. I knew I was creative and knew how to tell a story.”
So Campbell did what any industrious creative out of their realm would: he pirated a copy of Photoshop and taught himself website design. Which led to learning to code. Which led to $250,000 of online booked revenue in the first year.
Which led to more offers for website design, including one which became the number-one spring break website in the world.
Campbell would go on to learn that he was a “unicorn”: a person who had the talent and skills to take care of web building from coding through design. He met another unicorn at a conference, AJ Leon, an entrepreneur, who changed his life forever.
“We’re going to work together,” Campbell said. “Once AJ told me that, I knew my life was going to change. He introduced me to his friend, Adam, who couldn’t figure out a bug in his website code. I fixed it in ten minutes. Our journey to Spherical started that day.”
Coming Full-Circle Back to Spherical
“I had this singular vision: boutique, luxury hotels through an interdisciplinary lens,” Wallace said. “I wanted to do it all; Cebo was attracted to what I was doing and he propelled my growth in ways beyond anything I could do.”
Campbell arrived in New York City as a slow-sipping coffee drinker in cargo shorts. Wallace was his energetic juxtaposition: slamming the java as if his explosive charisma relied on it. The one-time footballer from Florida’s Panhandle was thrust into a brand new world, tasked alongside Wallace to close five pitch meetings in two days.
“One was on Madison Avenue,” Campbell recalled. “White walls. White furniture. Beautifully dressed people. It was beyond where I should be. But I’ve learned that if you keep quiet, people think you know what you’re doing.”
The twist was that Campbell and Wallace knew exactly what they were doing – it was the other agencies that were on the outside looking in.
“These agencies were showing us terrible designs,” Campbell said. “Designs that didn’t make sense to me. If this was a story, I’d rewrite the whole thing. Adam was on the same wavelength.”
Call it synergy, call it poetry in motion, call it a story for the ages: when Wallace and Campbell had the mic, the room was theirs to command. Out of the five meetings, they closed four…and someone from the 5th eventually came to work for Spherical.
It was only fitting that AJ, the one who introduced Campbell to Wallace, would be the one to separate them, at least, geographically.
“AJ wanted to change the world. At that time he worked with Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust, Engineers for Change, and multitudes of Humanitarian Initiatives and asked me to come to London to help him by becoming his creative director,” Campbell said. “Meanwhile, my website designs were bringing Adam more business; now I had to tell him that I couldn’t work full-time with Spherical. After three years working around the world for AJ, I needed to express myself and my stories the way I wanted to, which led me right back to working with Adam in New York.”
Spherical may be self-made, but the story of Adam Wallace and Cebo Campbell is self-written. It wasn’t the dollar signs that led them to success, but rather, the creative calling that guided them down a path less followed.
So to the dreamers with passionate desires: don’t be afraid to dance with risk. Success requires a strong-willed mind, but self-contentment relies on the workings of the heart. If Wallace and Campbell prove anything, it’s that reaching your goals and living your ultimate life doesn’t require a linear path.
Follow your creativity no matter where the road leads
And always remember that life is spherical; the right opportunities will always come back around.
Well-Rounded Advice From Spherical
What qualities should entrepreneurs possess to turn their passion into success?
Adam Wallace: One of things I look for when hiring is whether the candidate wants to be a generalist or specialist. This perspective is built from important decisions we make in college and how we view work. By nature, you need to be a generalist as an entrepreneur and business leader. You need to be familiar with finance, HR, sales, etc. But you also need to know how to think about the work you’re creating. My academic background was very interdisciplinary, looking at a single problem or issue through a myriad of disciplines. Interdisciplinary studies helped me choose the services I built out. Social media, marketing, branding – all parts need to relate from a creative and performance-based viewpoint to drive business results. There’s real power in understanding the interconnections and interdisciplinary thinking. It’s been a big part of my success.
What advice would you give an artist who doesn’t consider themselves entrepreneurial?
Cebo Campbell: The business of art is different from the creation of art; it’s the difference between simply wanting to make something and knowing which exact gallery you want it featured in. Creatives need to break the mold that limits their creativity to the canvas. They have to learn to see business as a part of the creative exercise. Go deeper, fill your bucket up with knowledge and learn to express yourself in ways you’ve never known were possible beyond the things that you create.
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