Blogs by InnovatorsBox®

MEET KELLY GRAVO: A CREATIVE INTERN WITH A VIBRANT PERSONALITY

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This is InnovatorsBox’s “IB Backstage series, where in celebration of InnovatorsBox’s 6th year anniversary that’s coming up in November 2021, we are highlighting the stories of our incredible team members.

Kelly Gravo will brighten every room with her cheerful spirit and questions. She may be the youngest, but her passion and tenacity equal any other member of the team as she dives into all of the wonder that music, marketing, and color can bring people together. Started as an intern, she is now a key member who brings out beats, insights and perspective in our Studios work in podcast, music, and marketing development. Meet Kelly who is eager to share more why you should check out music and Gen Z voices more.

In my Q&A with Kelly, we cover topics from what excites her about what she does, why she chose to study music and what music means to her, what are things she’s learned that would be helpful for others to note, what trends she she’s seeing among the Gen Z’s, and a lot more. 

MONICA:  How would you describe yourself in three words?

Kelly:  Bright. Warmhearted. Visionary. 

MONICA:  Why is creativity important to you?

Kelly:  It’s all I’ve ever known. Creativity and innovation are the fundamental pieces of our humanity – it’s how we’re able to communicate, feel, and express. And harnessing it in your own unique medium is extraordinary.

MONICA:  What was your favorite project, experience or memory working at InnovatorsBox?

Kelly:  Sitting in during the Dear Workplace and Curious Monica guest interviews. I’ve learned so much wisdom from these 50-minute conversations, and it reminds me that these industry experts are human – with lived experiences and stories to tell.

Trends about work:

MONICA:  What does music mean to you? Why is studying music important for you?

Kelly:  I come from a very artistic family environment of animators, painters, architects, florists, writers – but music has always been the medium I could call my own. For me, music is a language that I never really needed to learn. Yes, studying jazz theory at school helped me expand my ‘vocabulary,’ but no one NEEDS it to love and create music.

In terms of studying theory, it allows me to appreciate the hard work and intellect that’s behind any impactful music. But, I think studying music business is so important for me because it allows me to support creatives in a fundamental way. There’s so much misinformation and overcomplication of simple concepts – contracts, elevator pitches, marketing strategies – which causes musicians to be exploited at their own cost. And what I’m doing helps more artists to create and inspire others (including myself); there’s nothing more exhilarating than that.

Studying jazz theory at school helped me expand my ‘vocabulary,’ but no one NEEDS it to love and create music.

MONICA:  Where do you like to find your best ideas? How do you get better at it?

Kelly:  I find my best ideas by observing – and by not limiting myself to only music. I love to watch movies, visit exhibits, eat amazing food, walk in beautiful places, and even visit fashion & interior design shops. There’s not one formula for finding ideas, but I just live and find inspiration in life.

MONICA:  What excites you about marketing? What are you curious to learn more about?

Kelly:  I love that marketing is a transparent and powerful platform for connecting brands with people who need them. It’s a multidisciplinary sort of concept – anyone can do it if you pursue ‘purpose not product’. I especially find a connection with it when it becomes a visual storyboard – when fashion brands or music artists use it for a visual aesthetic and colorstory. I’m curious to learn more about data trends and analytics – it’s so interesting to see how tech can help you measure your impact and audience so accurately.

MONICA:  What is something you wish you learned when you first started music school that you’d share with others to note as they start their journey in school?

Kelly:  That you will inevitably have an artistic ‘identity crisis’. Imposter syndrome is debilitating, and if you can’t healthily overcome that mindset, you’ll burn out your artistic passion. As horrible as these growing pains were, I came out with a stronger confidence and understanding of who I am musically. Everyone needs to soul search for their own sound – and that’s something you can’t simply copy or mimic from someone else. Others CAN inspire you, but your best sound comes naturally – so don’t overthink it.

MONICA:  What trends are you seeing among your Gen-Z  friends in how they think about career and life goals? What is interesting? Any surprises?

Kelly:  I’m finding that everyone is trying to achieve their dreams in our generation’s challenging financial situation. As college tuition and costs of living have exponentially grown, a lot of us have had to work with our own reality and really hustle for our goals. It’s really empowering that we’re not going through this alone (with the age of the internet), and I’ve seen this generation have the most resilience and compassion.

MONICA:  How do you balance everything – student, life, interning, and all the other projects? Any advice for those who are learning how to?

Kelly:  This is a tricky question to answer because I’m still learning how to balance my bandwidth with all that I’m doing, haha! But as I’m constantly in innovative and changing environments, I embrace this fluctuation even more. As cliche as it sounds, I’m driven to continue because I love all that I’m doing.

In terms of practical application, it’s important to assess your bandwidth and take chances. If you want to do something new or even step down from a task that’s not a priority, then you just have to do it – sometimes it’s impossible to retain your sanity if you want to do it all. You gotta ask yourself, “Am I completing these projects at a high quality? If not, which ones do I think I will learn and improve from the most?”.

You can only become yourself when you stop defining your capabilities by the abilities of others.

Getting to know Kelly

MONICA:  What advice would you give your younger self?

Kelly:  You can only become yourself when you stop defining your capabilities by the abilities of others.

MONICA:  What is a book that you couldn’t stop reading?

Kelly:  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ by Maya Angelou. All I remember is that I couldn’t keep my hands off of it in AP Lit.

MONICA:  What are you listening to lately?

Kelly:  Been listening to Sarah Vaughan’sSwingin’ Easy’ album this entire summer. I’m taking some improv notes from her – it’s been a resolution of mine to expand my scat vocabulary this year!

MONICA:  What are you watching lately that you really enjoyed? Why?

Kelly:  The OBC Hamilton performance on Disney+ has been the only thing on repeat (I’m really late to the game I know!). It’s so wonderfully executed, there’s nothing like it – that blends my love for US History, hip-hop, and powerful lyricism.

 
MONICA:  What is your favorite way to decompress? Why?

Kelly:  I think a great family-style dinner with friends is my kind of relaxation. Isn’t it funny that ‘decompressing’ starts when others are there? I just find so much joy getting to know them deeply, and it’s refreshing to tap out of my own head and live through their storytelling.

MONICA:  Who are musicians or creatives that inspire you?

Kelly:  Laufey Lin, Peggy Gou, Silk Sonic, Jenn Im, Doctor Woo, Roy Choi… the list goes on. They’re all creatives defying the boundaries of their singular ‘craft’ – all by embracing different creative mediums. All to say, they’re multi-faceted.

MONICA:  If someone is visiting Los Angeles for the first time, where would you recommend they go, eat, or do?

Kelly:  I would recommend them an itinerary through my lens of growing up here 🙂 Hollywood Farmers Market on Ivar in the morning, lunch at Sanamluang Cafe in Thai Town, explore the Getty, and watch the sunset skyline at Griffith Observatory. Also, you MUST finish off the day with some LA Galbi and a karaoke room in K-Town!

MONICA:  If you could travel anywhere and do anything, where would you go and what would you want to do?

Kelly:  I have a lifelong dream of a romanticized summer in Italy – I want to live it out like a movie!! Reading books in the sunshine, learning how to make pasta from scratch, drinking coffee, learning the language – I want to live life through the eyes of locals. I especially want to visit the Italian Riviera and Amalfi Coast.

Thank you, Kelly for bringing your insights, the passion for your craft, and your authentic, curious, and vibrant self to what you do at InnovatorsBox, and beyond! We look forward to working together with you on various creative projects in the days to come!

To connect with Kelly:

Instagram: @kellygravo

LinkedIn: Kelly Gravo

About the Author

Monica H. Kang

Monica H. Kang

Monica H. Kang, Founder, and CEO of InnovatorsBox® and Author of Rethink Creativity is transforming today’s workforce through the power of creativity. She helps companies rethink culture, leadership, and team development by making creativity practical and relatable regardless of industry or job title. She has worked with clients worldwide including Fortune 500 companies, higher education, government, and nonprofits. Monica’s work has been recognized by The White House, Ashoka Changemakers, National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Prior to InnovatorsBox®, Monica was a nuclear nonproliferation policy expert. She holds an M.A. from SAIS Johns Hopkins University in Strategic Studies and International Economics and a B.A. from Boston University.

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