This week, Product and Activation Director Jaleel Brown shares how his parents were integral to his understanding and appreciation of black history, the best piece of advice he’s ever received and how he’d win Naked and Afraid.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you find your way to Conde Nast?
I like to think of myself as many things, but most people would say I love fashion, design, plants, sunlight, and health & wellness. Last year I started calling myself a triathlete and in November completed my first Half Ironman Race (with many more to come).
Ever since 2015 I knew I wanted to work at Condé Nast — the blend of my interests, Condé’s portfolio, and the robust, scrappy environment I had heard of it seemed like a perfect match. In 2019 I finally received an opportunity to work here and made the leap. In previous roles I’ve worked at Adobe, Meredith, and OMD — each sharing a common thread of developing client relationships, with a keen focus on driving strategic initiatives, and executing large-scale media programs.
How do you describe your job to friends and family?
Honestly, I just say I’m in Marketing and they pretend to know what I mean.
You were recently named co-chair of the NOIR ERG. What are your goals for the year?
The ultimate goal is to create, source, and drive meaningful and impactful programming for black employees and also anyone else who’s interested in learning, engaging with, and supporting our community.
Can you share a personal reflection on Black History Month?
My parents worked incredibly hard to keep me educated on Black History, defining moments, key figures and the progress that has led us to where we are today. When I was a youth, they made me read African American Encyclopedias — I didn’t grasp the importance then, but I now see how that has shaped my values and ultimately who I am today.
All of my school projects, summer reading, and book reports growing up had a pro-black focus. With my family consistently cherishing our rich heritage, every month felt like Black History Month.
What do you think is the most profound moment from African-American history in the US?
Emmit Till’s mother had the strength and fortitude to have an open-casket funeral, which was the spark that ignited the Civil Rights Movement.
What would be the first thing you’d do if you won the lottery?
If I’m feeling responsible that day, I’d call a wealth manager. If I want to ball out I’d take my girlfriend, family, and friends on an all-expense-paid week-long trip to Mykonos.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Self-discipline is the key to success.
If you could do anything, besides what you’re doing now, what would you do?
What website or app doesn’t exist, but you really wish it did?
A pancake rating app for every breakfast/brunch restaurant
If you had to spend 100 days on a desert alone, what three things would you take with you and why?
A machete, fire starter, and mosquito net. I binge-watched 10 seasons of Naked and Afraid and found these to be the most effective among all the participants. At this point, I’m convinced I would survive, but it’s easy to say that from the couch LOL.