"Speak it, Make a Plan, and get it done!" This is the mantra and life philosophy of Houston native Erika Smith. In business and in life, her goal is simple — to create new waves and to ride the ones that head her way.
Success is such a personal concept – we all see and define it differently. How did you personally define your success?
I've learned to look inward with regards to success. What are my goals? How can I do my best? If I always look at other people to define my success, then I'll never feel successful. Maybe it's not ‘the industry way’ of looking at it, but it's the way I've been able to practice self-care in an environment that puts self last.
What advice would you give women who want to enter your side of the industry. What are your top three tips?
A)If you demand seat at the table, you better be ready to bring it. I know for me, I'm so used to ‘fighting’ for my seat at the table that I forget about the real process. What you do at the table matters just as much, if not more, than fighting for a seat at the table.
B) Give yourself permission to “SELL YOURSELF!!!!” Men do this easily and they tend to speak more highly of themselves. We tend to talk down our accomplishments and overlook our talents.
C) It's okay if you can't do it all at the SAME TIME. We can do whatever we put our mind to but maybe part of doing it all is not doing it at the same time. I'm at that place now in my career.
How have the personal and professional experiences in your life contributed to your success today?
Interesting question. I'm sure it's all played a role, but it's kind of hard to pinpoint. For example, when I worked at the Talent Booking Agency, I shined because I know the Gospel Music world really well. I'm a follower of Christ from Houston, Texas, and prior to moving to NYC, I worked at a faith-based school. I never would have thought to connect the three (or four) but those experiences helped me to shine.
Can you share with us some of the challenges you’ve faced?
My biggest challenge would be with myself — my mental. I believe that if you (I) can get your mind right, the rest is MUCH EASIER!
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
Most valuable?? That's a tough one. I guess the most recent valuable lesson I've learned is to not be afraid of the ‘NO.’ The Nos will lead to a ‘YES!’
What do you think is the most pressing issue women in the music industry face in your region?
There’s not a lot of women in certain sectors of music, so the empathy for something is lacking. I lucked up a bit at my agency. I was the only woman agent and they were very accommodating and supportive with my pregnancy. That's rare in this business.
Who inspires you, and why?
My former students and my son. I want them to see that ALL things are truly possible. If it can happen for me, it can definitely happen for them!
What do you look forward to accomplishing at your company in the next year?
This should answer the next two questions. I left Universal Attractions Agency to focus on motherhood. That time allowed me to really think about my first love, which is event planning, producing, and programming. I plan to focus my time and resources into that. It looks like working for a company, pursuing independent projects,and just getting MY BUTT OUT THERE!!!
You can follow Erika on: