Name: Dean Harrison
Occupation: Public Relations and Luxury Event Specialist, Fine Wines
Car(s): When I’m lucky enough I borrow my partner’s 2013 Mercedes E350 convertible, fantastic ‘cool’ factor, not so great for binge shopping trips to Costco or event ‘load in’.
I once had to borrow a colleague’s Chrysler minivan, filled with Penfolds and Riedel stemware. I’m sure that the staff at the Shangri-La Toronto LOVED having me park it beside the Maybach and Bentley for hours!
Gadgets: iPhone, iPad, Kobo, Apple TV, and my amazing work laptop, a Dell circa 2003.
Sports: Krav Maga, Tennis, Racquetball
How did you get started on your current career/lifestyle path?
I transitioned into the wine industry easily; it had been an industry that I had always been around. The longer I worked with my current employer the more I realized what I am truly passionate about…luxury consumer goods and forming genuine professional connections.
I most enjoy the creativity involved in PR and events. I love being ‘over-the-top’ with everything that I do professionally. Why have one gift bag for guests when you can give away three…collaboration in this industry is key.
One day (hopefully soon) I plan to start my own luxury events business focused on the alcohol industry.
Did you have any mentors who helped steer you on this path?
I have plenty. My parents, from an early age, taught me the importance of hard work. My current VP of Marketing is an incredibly smart woman who literally knows everything, for real! My words, not hers. Unbelievable role model.
Mary Symons, principal of Mary Symons Communications, and I have worked together on a few things this year. I am always inspired and in awe of how incredible she is at what she does, so clever and always focused on the goals of her clients. She is the embodiment of luxury in every way…the world would be a much more enjoyable place if everyone was a bit more like Mary.
Gabby Nobrega, principal of Breakthrough Communications, is one of the smartest PR people I have collaborated with. She knows her stuff and her connections with media are incredible. She works hard and always delivers.
How has your work contributed to a) your development as a person and/or b) the lives of others?
Work has taught me to be more direct and less nice.
If you had one piece of advice for someone just entering your field, what would it be?
I think everyone is over the typical PR girl…hair in a bun, Michael Kors boyfriend watch, navy blazer with sleeves rolled up showing faux silk lining, flats…and a King West meets Kensington Market pair of hipster glasses.
Make people believe that you’re capable of pulling off a PR strategy, meeting impression numbers, obtaining media coverage. Dress the part, be casual at home. Always do your homework before meeting with clients, preparation is vital.
Also, not every man in PR has to wear brightly coloured pants to EVERY event. I never got on that bandwagon…smh…If you did I’m giving you major shade right now.
Do you have a personal work philosophy?
Always plan ahead, you can never be too organized. This is especially important in events. I’m of the opinion that they are the riskiest of PR activities for professionals in the industry. Everyone can see your mistakes…make sure they aren’t any.
What do you do for fun?
I travel, work out, laugh with friends, shop. Shopping sounds cliché however, it’s a weakness, a serious character flaw.
Honestly, I have a really fun role. Work is fun to me, I get to go to some seriously cool things and meet seriously cool people.
What motivates or inspires you?
Andre Leon Talley was once quoted as saying, “Luxury or nothing”. That inspires me, every day. Lounging on a yacht with a glass of Grange off the coast of St. Tropez…that’s the goal…one day. Until then it’s Bin 389 on my rather small balcony overlooking Bay Street…
What has been your greatest achievement (personally, professionally or both)?
My goal was to own property before I turned 25…by the grace of God it somehow happened this summer.
What is the one thing you hope to achieve?
I would love to own my own luxury events agency working with spirits and wine throughout North America…before I turn 80!
If I had the opportunity to choose two more:
To lose three pounds
What is your super power?
I love making people feel good about themselves…with honest and truthful feedback…no bullshit. If I can make you see how wonderful you really are then I feel accomplished.
Who’s your hero?
Mariah Carey…it’s always important to recognize when a ‘hero comes along’…ugh, sorry! Watch her compilation video while filming at HSN, it will keep you laughing. You will be calling everyone, ‘dahhhhhlingggg’ for days…or in my case months.
Plus she completed 500 hours of beauty school…she’s educated too!
What are you reading (or watching) these days?
I’m reading a few PR related books right now…nothing too fun.
‘Ja’mie Private School Girl’ on HBO is where it’s at. It is ‘Ja’mazing’!
Insert any piece of advice, anecdote, villain story, funny story, joke, recipe or life lesson you’d like to share with our readers.
An old colleague once had a motto when managing a very last-minute employee of his (not me!) that I have since adopted as my own: “I’m not letting your procrastination become my emergency.”
Words to live by.
If you had it all to do over again, would you change anything?
I would have shot down those questions of insecurity sooner: Am I smart enough? Can I pull this off? What will people think?
Screw what people think, it’s all bullshit that will lead us to failure if we let it get to us.
What’s next for you? What’s your next big idea, project etc.?
Starting my own business.
What one piece of advice would you give to your own son (hypothetical or otherwise) in the hope of making him a better man?
Don’t buy into stereotypes about who you think you should be.
If men of our generation bought into the stereotypes of our grandfather’s generations we would all be cowboys, firefighters, or policemen. Not that there is anything wrong with those occupations. I would want my son to know he could be anyone, or anything he wanted…as long as he didn’t wear socks with sandals.