James Stephens


James Stephens

Partner + Managing Director

Culture and competition are the cornerstone of James’s psyche. The two together have driven him to work tirelessly in the name of making an impact, with brands, on humanity where it counts. Couple that with his natural curiosity and having a hand in different disciplines, and you could say that James and Decoded were kindred spirits.

Prior to his time at Decoded, James’s career was spent on those global brands that meaningfully contribute to the passions points he loves most – sports, sneakers, hip hop music and entertainment. While it hardly feels like work when it so perfectly intertwines with your raison d’être, work nonetheless meant time leading scores of teams, creating big ideas for adidas, ESPN, Beats by Dre, Sprite, Instagram, Netflix, Coors, Budweiser and Gillette. In that tenure, James has had the honor of collaborating with some of industry's best minds at 72andSunny, R/GA, Anomaly, BBH and BBDO.

He grew up an athlete in a family of teachers and coaches in Shaker Heights, Ohio and was an English Lit major dabbling in Social Psychology, Team Dynamics, Film and Logic at Dartmouth College. Should you be so inclined, and if you ask nicely, you'll find the words of many of his favorite authors tattooed across his arms and chest.

Being from Shaker Heights, culture and competition became the nexus of what James wants and expects in his team – differing backgrounds, cultures, identities, ideas, skill sets and outlooks – all coming together, thick as thieves, making each other stronger.