Transforming Creators into Moguls

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Transforming Creators into Moguls

Mar 27, 2019

Adam Krasner Photo

Our interview of Adam Krasner for “The Creative Influencer” podcast is available today for download on iTunes, Spotify, and premier platforms everywhere. Adam started his career in the mail room of William Morris Endeavor.  While at William Morris, he worked with clients including Donald Trump.

After spending time in the advertising world, Adam became a talent manager at Fullscreen Media, specializing in representing digital creators.  Adam is now the CEO of Two West Entertainment, where he represents some truly dynamic talents in the digital space.


A transcript of the full interview follows:

Jon: I am joined today by Adam Krasner.  Welcome to the Podcast.

Adam: Thank you for having me.

Jon: I’m going to go to your background first.  Where are you from, originally?Adam: I am from New York.

Jon: And you now live?

Adam: I live in West Hollywood, but I feel a bit nomadic these days.  So, I say I’m based in Los Angeles today, but tomorrow might be somewhere else.

Jon: Now, I’ve got to ask you: LA vs. New York – which do you like better?

Adam: This is an ongoing debate that I have, and I don’t necessarily think that I have the answer that you want to hear.

Jon: I don’t know that you know the answer I want to hear.

Adam: I think that New York and LA are by far the two best cities in this country, if not two of the greatest in the world.  They both have their pros and cons.

Jon: Okay, so Jets or Giants?

Adam: Giants.

Jon: Mets or Yankees?

Adam: Yankees.  Teams that are good.

Jon: Back to the current work situation.  You recently formed Two West Entertainment.  Can you tell us about that?

Adam: Yes.  Two West Entertainment was formed in October of 2018, so about – it’s crazy to say this, but about – five months now.  It feels like it’s either been forever or was yesterday, but it was definitely a long time coming.  At the time it was formed, I had been working in talent management for three years at two other companies, but sort of just got to a period of time where I realized that the best way I could represent my clients was doing it independently of a larger company.

Jon: When you started your career, did you have a master plan – A to B, B to C, C to D?

Adam: No.  I think that when I look back, I’m very proud of the resume that I have built up for myself, and it looks like there was this grand master plan, but I would be lying if I said that.  My general plan was having zero plan at all other than trying to find something that I genuinely enjoyed and was excited to wake up to do everyday, which I know is a luxury but that was my goal and I believe that I was finally able to achieve this.

Jon: Growing up, what did you want to do?

Adam: I really was not sure what I wanted to do.  I think that, like many children that grew up in big cities with parents that were professionals, I was just pushed to experience a lot of different things and really focus on my education.  So I was never really focused on the result as much as I was focused on the process.  And I think that I had the confidence that it would just all sort of work out – which again sounds like a nice privilege to have – and it hasn’t been an easy road, but it’s working out.

Jon: You mentioned education.  Where did you go to college?

Adam: I went to the University of Michigan for undergrad.

Jon: Now being a New Yorker, how did you pick Michigan?

Adam: I went to a small private school for thirteen years of my life, and I wanted to leave the Northeast.  I wanted to go to a big school that had school spirit, that had great sports teams because I love college sports.  And I wanted to go somewhere that I could meet a diverse group of people from all over the country, and not be in an environment where everybody knew everyone and everybody knew each other’s business.

Jon: Did Michigan turn out to be that way for you?

Adam: Yes.  I’ve never heard of anyone who went to the university of Michigan who does not have glowing thing to say about it.  I would say that is one of the themes I have heard from anyone who has ever spoken to or dated or been involved with anyone who went to Michigan.

Jon: There’s a guy in the office from Ohio State and he doesn’t have the same view.

Adam: Yeah, I bet.  But I would say that people from Michigan don’t have such great views of Ohio State.  We’ll let the academic reputation speak for itself.

Jon: After Michigan, did you have more school?

Adam: I did.  And I think this goes back to the question that you asked – I really was not sure what I wanted to do, but I knew that I was good at school, and I enjoyed school, and I enjoyed reading, and I enjoyed writing.  I was an English major in college, which has the great reputation of being the most useless major with direct application to a job – which is true – but it does teach you how to think.  And I think in that sense that law school seemed like a great opportunity for me.  So my Senior year of college, I took the LSATs, and I applied to law school, and I was fortunate enough to get a great scholarship to go to Cardozo which is based in Downtown New York City.

Jon: Did you take the Bar afterwards?  Are you licensed?

Adam: I am.  I’m a licensed attorney in the great state of New York.

Jon: Hence the back and forth between New York and LA.

Adam: Yes.  And I do not have any plans to study or take the Bar in California, because I have barely enough time to shop for groceries.

Jon: Did you go to work for a law firm when you graduated?

Adam: I did not.  I spent my summers in law school really focusing on the public sector and figuring out ways that I could use my newfound education to contribute because I figured that once I graduated I would probably be more focused on the business side of things.  As I learned, I really enjoyed doing that, but I also wanted to be more entrepreneurial than that. I always had a really deep interest for the entertainment business, and I started networking.  And I figured out who I knew and what entertainment opportunities were available for people in New York – because obviously the entertainment business is based in Los Angeles – and at that time of my life, I couldn’t imagine my life existing anywhere outside of the bubble of Manhattan – which in retrospect is a little sad but made sense back then.

Jon: But the whole New Yorker cartoon makes sense.

Adam: The whole New Yorker cartoon makes sense.  But I would say that at that time period was right around when the show Entourage was on TV, and I think was introducing the business side of the entertainment industry to a larger group of people.  I definitely didn’t aspire to have the personality, per se, of some of the agents that were depicted in Entourage, but it definitely opened up a world to me in which I could be on the business side of the entertainment industry.  And it felt very entrepreneurial, and it also happened that a lot of agents and managers were lawyers, so it seemed like a cool application.  So probably in my final semester of law school, I started networking, found some connections that I had personally to both WME and CAA, and I interviewed at both to start in the mail room.  This was during the time at which I was taking the Bar exam.  And the day after I finished the Bar exam, I received a call from the head of HR at WME in New York offering me a job to start in the mail room.  And this was my dream job – to push a mail cart and make ten dollars an hour – so I said “yes” immediately.  I had already had a post-Bar trip planned with a couple friends from law school, and I was able to sort of pick my start date.  I want to say I started the first week of October.  And this was back in 2011, and this was in New York.

Jon: I know back in the day, before emails and before you could just have deliveries, if you worked in the mail room you actually delivered stuff.  What did you do in the mail room when you started?

Adam: A lot of gossip.  It’s really learning the entertainment business through osmosis – all the way down to the really granular part of knowing where every agent sits and the names of different agents all over and what departments they were in.  But yes, we literally sorted mail and maid photocopies and delivered packages all over town.  Now that she’s passed away, I feel more comfortable talking about it: I delivered something to Aretha Franklin one time at the Trump International Hotel – I think it’s the Trump International – right in Columbus Circle.  So you do get to have some funny encounters – I’ve been in hotel rooms with movie stars where they’re in their robes and I’m delivering a script to them in person.  All the stories are true, and even with electronic communication books like “The Mail Room” very much hold up.

Jon: And the book you’re referring to is about all the executives that started in the mail room and have now risen to power.

Adam: Yes.  And I think that’s a really good book to mention, because it’s first of all such an easy read and was definitely the inspiration for / solidified my decision to want to start from the bottom up in the entertainment industry.  And also, reading it is inspiring because it makes you realize that all these amazing executives that are CEOs, that are heads of studios, that are leading talent agencies, et cetera, all started in the exact same place.  And I think that there’s this sort of shared camaraderie that exists between the men and women that experienced this – where there’s just a mutual respect for the hard work and the aspect of no task being too menial for someone to do.

Jon: At some point, you left the mail room.

Adam: Yes.

Jon: You were still at William Morris.

Adam: I was.

Jon: What did you do next?

Adam: I started working in the non-scripted television department, which I very quickly identified as the area of interest that I had.  The talent agencies are all based in Los Angeles, and they all have different sized offices – I would say that WME and CAA have the most significant offices in New York, size wise.  But there are some businesses that are just based – and only based – in Los Angeles, so when you work for a talent agency in New York it’s not necessarily a satellite office, but you don’t get exposure to the film side of the business as much as the actors/actresses/talent side of the business.  So probably the two largest areas that the talent agencies focus on in New York, just based on where the buyers are, are their books department and their non-scripted television.  Because there are a lot of TV networks based in New York, especially on the talk show side, reality TV hosting, et cetera.  And obviously news.

Jon: And one of the clients that WME had on the non-scripted side was….

Adam: Our Preident Donald J. Trump.  Is it J?

Jon: I don’t know.

Adam: I think I just made that up.  It sounded great, but I guess I’m a bad American.  Anyway, he was one of WME’s former clients, and I believe that WME finally ended their relationship with him when he started making inflammatory comments about Mexicans during the beginning of his campaign for President in 2016.

Jon: When you were there, were there regular meetings scheduled with him?

Adam: I would say with him, nothing is regular, but as regular as it could be.  WME represented him mostly in a production capacity because obviously for ten plus years prior to that he was a very successful non-scripted television on-camera personality and producer.  Trump Productions was one of the producers of “The Apprentice,” I believe.

Jon: When I went back, I did a search.  In September of 1990, there was a show called “The Trump Card.”  It was a game show filmed at the Trump Castle in Atlantic City, and on the opening episode he made a cameo.

Adam: Interesting.  So he’s obviously always had a lot of interest in being on camera and being in the spotlight, which we all know, but I think with a particular interest in non-scripted television, or pseudo-scripted.  I feel like they should get some more airtime, but there are some really funny moments of him doing WWE wrestling with Vince McMahon.  Have you seen any of this stuff?

Jon: I’ve seen those.

Adam: I’m sure he didn’t let himself get hit by a chair, but I want to think that he probably hit someone over the head with a folding chair.  This was in the Nineties.  This wasn’t even such a long time ago.  So we really worked with him in a support capacity because I think in my mind, in retrospect, most of everything he does is fueled by ego.  So I think it was a relationship like everything in this business, really just helping his team develop new ideas for television.  Since at least at the time, they owned the “Miss America” property, so there were obviously ways to exploit that IP.

Jon: And there was a time where you had a fact-to-face with him.

Adam: Yes.

Jon: Can you tell me first the layout of this meeting.

Adam: Yes.  He’s definitely the only American President I have met.  I have heard him and our previous President, Barack Obama, speak, but I had the opportunity.  And again, it’s definitely an opportunity/experience that I had that even before he was running for President or elected President was always a very memorable story – one that I would always have told.  And not even because it was him.  Obviously it was a name that everyone knew at the time just because he has been a public figure for such a long time especially in New York.  But really, it was the first meeting that my boss at the time took me to.  As someone who yes, went to law school, but then was quickly humbled and felt fortunate to be pushing a mail cart and be making ten dollars an hour – which is also funny because that’s not even minimum wage anymore.  And this was only ten years ago, so how quickly things have changed.  What was really nice about it was that my boss brought me to a meeting with one of the agency’s clients and a substantial public figure none-the-less.  It was a really empowering moment because my boss wanted to expose me to something that he didn’t have to – because usually assistants are just on the phone line listening on mute, and that’s really how we learn a lot about how to interact and do business – so the fact that he was willing and felt comfortable having me meet Donald Trump and his team in person was a really great experience.

Jon: At that point, he was just “The Donald.”

Adam: Yeah, he was just “The Donald.”  At the time, WME’s offices were in mid-town, and we walked over to Trump Tower and walked through the lobby where he had all of his knick-knacks on sale, and we took the elevator up to the Trump Organization’s offices – which were just maybe a floor, or two.  And exactly how they described, met his long-long-time assistant, and we were taken into Donald Trump’s office.

Jon: Who was in there when you just walked in?

Adam: When we first walked in, it was just me, my boss, and Michael Cohen.

Jon: The Michael Cohen who has just testified before Congress.

Adam: Yes.  Just recently testified in front of Congress.  At the time, he definitely – I can confirm everything he said – he was definitely his fixer.  He was a very, very loyal employee of Donald Trump or “Mr. Trump” as Michael fondly and only referred to him.  I believe the meeting began with Michael and his colleague at the time Larry Glick, and Donald Trump and his daughter Evanka joined us shortly after.  The conversation was very light.  It was fun.  The only things we really spoke about were business related – which obviously is private and not really relevant – but what I would say that I really enjoyed was the stack of – which there are plenty of pictures of – the stack of plans for golf courses on his desk, and all the news clippings.  I would say for the first twenty minutes of the meeting, he was just telling us about all the golf courses he was renovating and buying.

I think for me – and again this is why it’s one of these meetings that really stood out for me.  And I told myself repeatedly about this to try to make myself feel a little bit better during the election and post election – because I would say that I firmly was not a supporter nor did I vote for him.  But one thing that I really appreciated – and again, in the context of it, being someone who was looking for their opportunity to be listened to and heard – when we were having discussions of business and ideas were being floated around the room, more than once Donald Trump looked at me and asked me “what do you think?”

In those moments, I felt very relevant and very heard by someone who I thought could so easily blow me off.  I’ve been on the phone with him before, but did he know that I was on the phone?  Unclear.  Not that it was a secret, but it was never necessarily relevant to him.  So I think being in a room and being acknowledged and recognized by someone of importance and power was a really nice feeling.  He genuinely wanted to know what I thought, and listened.  And I observed that he actually asked everyone in the room what their opinions were.  I think he would kind of go around – this is sort of how I synthesized it in my head afterward – but he would go around and ask everyone their opinion on something and he would make up his mind and he’d move on to the next thing.  In that moment, at least, I admired that.  That might be a good business skill, asking the people that you’re with what their opinions are then taking them into consideration.

So I think in those moments, I told myself “at least he listens to other people.”  I think in retrospect, or maybe the caveat to asking people’s opinions before you make decisions is you should probably have your own opinions as well, and the opinions of the people you’re asking are only as good as the people you’re surrounding yourself with.  I think it’s a little easier when the stakes are lower, when you’re talking about golf courses or reality television, versus matters of national security.  And also, the types of people that you surround yourself with on matters of golf courses and reality television might not be as important as with matters of national security.  So I don’t think my hope for applying that style of management to the Presidency has been as successful as I was hoping it would be.

But it was definitely an interesting opportunity.  I can say that, in all my interactions with him, he was nothing but respectful to me, and I am at least able to take that with me.

Jon: What about Michael Cohen?

Adam: He I think has been accurately depicted in the media as someone who was blindly loyal to a man of power.  Based on everything – having interacted with him and being an intuitive person – I can only say that everything about him is true.  But I also don’t think that he is being untruthful in any of his testimony.  And that’s just based on inference; that’s not based on any first-hand knowledge of anything.  I think that he’s a victim of circumstance, and I also think that he’s a victim of his own greed and blind ambition.  I think it’s a good lesson to learn for anyone who is aspiring to make it in the entertainment industry or otherwise.  You can cut corners to get ahead, but eventually, it’s going to catch up to you.

Jon: Let’s shift gears.  WME had a partner company.

Adam: Yes.  They had many partner companies.  I started working at WME at an interesting time, because they had taken on a significant outside investment from a private equity firm – I believe it was private equity – SilverLake.  They injected them with lots of cash, which meant that they were able to invest in a ton of ancillary businesses.  I believe that CAA was the first agency to do this; now the big three all have.  UTA has significant investment as well.  They’ve all taken on different investments in different areas of the entertainment industry that they’re allowed to invest in as talent agencies are.

One of those businesses is Droga5, which is an award-winning advertising agency and top agency in the world by Ad Week and Ad Age for probably five or six years running at this point.  When they acquired them – I’m not exactly sure what the synergies would be – but one of the goals was obviously to try to find synergies between WME’s vast talent roster and the brand’s clients that Droga5 executed their ad campaigns for.  That was something that, as I was working for different people at the company, I was becoming more and more involved with.  As I got older, and not having gone to WME right after college, I was also noticing that twelve dollars an hour – because you got a one dollar raise every year.

Jon: Was that what it was?

Adam: Yeah, one dollar a year.  So my third year, I was making twelve an hour, which was not necessarily paying the bills in New York City – our most expensive city in our country to live in.  So I started realizing that the agency life, although it was glamorous and gave lots of access, was not necessarily my best course moving forward to pay my bills both in the short and medium term and give me the life that I wanted.  And also, I was wanting to get more involved in areas of the business that I didn’t want to wait any longer for.

An interesting opportunity arose with Droga5 to work with them in a hybrid capacity where I was able to both use my law degree and my knowledge of talent and the entertainment industry, and work across the different departments that they had servicing the large companies that they represented.  So I went over there, and my title was a mouthful – I’m still not exactly sure what it was.

Jon: What was your title?

Adam: My title was “Integrated Production Business Manager.”

Jon: Which is what?

Adam: I’m still not sure, and that’s why I spent only a year there.  It was a really fascinating experience.  I was able to basically run the business side of some of their biggest clients internally.  I worked on Under Armor, I worked on Smart Water, Diet Coke, I was involved with Google Android.  But it was really a hybrid role.  For me, the lesson I learned is: sometimes, expectations and reality don’t align, but there’s always something to gain from any work experience.  In that one, I was optimistic that I would have more of a role in crafting both the strategy – especially on the talent side of things.  Though I learned that when there’s an entire department called “strategy,” it’s hard to ingratiate yourself with them when you have a four-word title that I’m still not sure what it means.

Jon: So strategy was a little territorial.

Adam: I would say for creative industry, from the outside looking in, advertising is a very silo-d space where everybody sticks to their lanes – which was a total 180 from the agency world and representation in general, which is just such an entrepreneurial job where you have to wear so many different hats, even in the same meeting with the same client.  I think for me, the thing that I struggled with the most was being put in a very specific box and being expected to stay in that box.  That just never fit my personality my entire life, but also specifically in business when I knew that I had so much more to offer than negotiating production agreements with production companies, and licensing songs from different record labels or publishers, or getting the rights to use pictures of James Dean in white t-shirts for Hanes or Jockey – I believe it was Jockey.  I think that I learned a lot of different aspects of the advertising business.  And again, I also was able to work on some really cool talent campaigns.  This was when Steph Curry won his first MVP, and he’s an Under Armor athlete, and we did a huge campaign for that.

So I definitely learned a lot about the different aspects of the business, but I realized that it was much more…  Obviously talent representation is a client servicing business, but it’s much more proactive, in that – I don’t love the analogy, but – it’s “eat what you kill.”  You’re only going to make money on the business that you’re bringing in and your clients have skin in the game, whereas in the ad agency world ad agencies are representing these multi-billion dollar corporations that are publicly traded.  You’re dealing with marketing executives at the brands that frankly just want to make sure that their bosses are happy, so there’s a lot more constraints in that experience and that environment.

So I’d say for me, it was just a bit limiting in the entrepreneurial and collaborative aspects that I really, really enjoyed about entertainment.  And I very quickly realized that I needed to get back towards representation if I wanted to pursue a career that was enjoyable to me.

Jon: Which ultimately led to a move to Los Angeles.

Adam: Yes.  I was thirty at the time.  My family and many of my friends live in New York, but I very much realized that if I was going to jump back into the representation business, and I knew that I did not want to go back into working – frankly, I just didn’t want to put a suit on everyday.

Jon: You don’t wear a suit everyday?

Adam: I don’t.  My typical outfit is sneakers and some shade of black jeans and some shade of black shirt or sweatshirt.  It’s just comfortable., and it’s also disarming when you’re in meetings.

Jon: So you come to Los Angeles.  You work as a manager?

Adam: Yeah. I was very cognizant of looking at where the larger entertainment industry was headed.  It was no surprise ten years ago, it’s no surprise today, that there was a trend toward what the digital landscape meant.  What it meant to be in digital media to begin with.  Who and where the new talent were coming from in the industry, outside of traditional actors and actresses.  I always like the analogy of looking at big companies as cruise ships and little companies as little speedboats.  You can do a lot more and have a lot more going on on a cruise ship, but in order to pivot and make a sharp turn, it takes a lot longer than when you’re in a speedboat.

I think that, for me, seeing the changing tide of the industry was clearly towards the digital side of the business and I felt like I needed to get on that side of it.  So I started as a talent manager at the digital media company Fullscreen, which is based in Los Angeles.  A former colleague of mine at WME was running their talent division there.  And they were involved in a handful of different businesses – one of which was talent management, with digital talent specifically based/building businesses on YouTube.

Jon: Let me interject.  You talked about the digital shift.  Where do you see digital in the next three years?  Is it going to continue to have the importance?

Adam: Yeah.  What I find to be so fascinating is – and I think it’s necessary for big businesses – the delineation between digital, and between non-scripted television, and between film, and between scripted television, because at the end of the day, they’re all just different forms of content.  I think this is sort of where people get lost on the entertainment business side of things, is that it’s much more about the process of distribution than anything else.  Obviously, everyone on the business side of things have adapted to this.  Linear television and Netflix: the only difference is how it’s distributed.  For me, learning that was really interesting, but being on the talent side of it was really about seeing where talent were being discovered and how they were building their own businesses.

Looking at the next three years, like any new area that comes out of an existing industry, I see the digital side of things continuing to stabilize.  I like to make predictions every year, and I can say that I have clients that have been consistently on an upward trajectory since I’ve started working with them.  Another phrase that was taught to me while I was at WME in the mail room and as an assistant and being stressed about getting promoted and all these things – I was always given the advice that the cream always rises to the top, meaning that the best people and the best talent eventually always get recognized.

Jon: Do you think that’s true for YouTubers?

Adam: I do in the long term.  I think that there’s a difference between going viral and getting an audience because you’re shocking individuals, and having an audience because you’re creating content that is high quality over a long term period of time.

The way I look at the next three years is just a continual stabilization of the digital sphere in the best possible way.  To remind everyone, YouTube has been around now for more than ten years.  They talk about some of the original YouTubers as “YouTube OGs.”  But the truth is that those people didn’t have access to representation in the ways that they do now.  They didn’t have access to high speed internet in the way that we do, and having the variety of all the different platforms.

Jon: Well, nobody thought it was a career.

Adam: No.  At the time, YouTube was the only platform available to self-create and publish content.  I know the surveys say that the number one job that elementary students want now is to be a YouTuber.  I don’t know what it was when I was a kid, but it was probably astronaut or fireman.

Jon: For me, it was football player.

Adam: Football player.  Okay, fine.  Either way, it’s definitely shifted.  I think what we’ll see now – because a lot of digital talent are just younger – I think you’re going to see them grow up, and the industry grow up with them.  I think as they become even more comfortable in their own skin and really grow into themselves as adults, you’re going to see their businesses mature along with them.  And I think that’s the general trajectory that the “digital space” is taking.  My approach, and the reason that I’ve been drawn into the digital side of things, was very much informed by my time at WME working in the non-scripted department with hosts and experts in different areas.  Those hosts or experts became became popular by….

On the Food Network, having the Food Network discover great on-camera chef talent. And entire multi-dimensional businesses have been built around Rachael Ray, and Giada De Laurentiis, and Bobby Flay, et cetera.  At the time, these were restaurateurs or hosts – Rachael was a host on local cable access in New Jersey, I believe – and they just came out in a time where they didn’t have the ability to self-distribute the content that they maybe always wanted to create themselves.  So the way I approach my clients is in that same vein.  These are individuals that, if they came out twenty years ago, they would have had to rely on the more traditional media outlets to snatch them up.

Jon: The perfect transition to talking about your clients.

Adam: Yes.  I love talking about my clients.  They’re all my favorite clients.

Jon: So let’s first start with Karina Garcia.  How would you describe Karina and what she does?

Adam: It is a fascinating question, because depending on who I’m talking to, they might have no idea what it is.  If it’s a child, they might be speechless.  If it’s a parent, they may or may not hate me.

Jon: Or they might be speechless.

Adam: Yes.  So Karina Garcia is a wonderful, wonderful human being.  She is twenty-five years old.  She’s a first-generation Mexican-American; she grew up in the Inland Empire just outside Los Angeles.  When she was twenty-two years old, she had been taking some college courses and had some side jobs.  Her twin sister had been establishing herself as a beauty YouTuber, and Karina was really into crafting, and she decided, “if my sister can do it, why don’t I give it a try,” and she decided to upload her first YouTube video.  This was about four years ago, and she did it from her family’s mobile home that she was living in at the time.  She’s one of six children.

She stuck with it.  It was just a side hobby and something that she was enjoying and having fun with – no expectation of turning it into a career.  But she was really into crafting and DIY, and about six months into her putting out videos – she was growing a small audience, a thousand people every week or something were starting to subscribe – and she found a recipe on Pinterest to create what we millennials might remember from watching Nickelodeon in the Nineties as “gak,” which is basically a slime that you can play with.  Kind of a gooey substance that was colorful and that parents definitely didn’t love.  But Karina found a really basic recipe to create it with household ingredients, and she made a video about it, and she had so much fun with it, and it sort of just ballooned from there.  It became really popular, really quickly.  Fast-forward a few years now, she has almost nine million subscribers on YouTube and has other platforms.  People thought slime would be a trend like fidget spinners.  It’s not a trend; it’s a new product category.

Jon: Slime is here to stay.

Adam: Slime is here to stay.  Her title is “the Queen of Slime.”  She has now travelled all over the world making appearances and building businesses.  She’s a great example of how someone who just uploads a video on a whim as a young adult can go from casual participant in self-distribution of content to having a multi-facetted empire.

Jon: So let’s go from slime to astrology.

Adam: Yes.

Jon: Aliza Kelly.  Tell me about her.

Adam: Yeah.  Just like Karina in the sense of really being a self-starter, Aliza is a fascinating individual who always was interested in the occult and astrology as a child, and it was something that she had as a hobby.  After college, she tried to figure out a way to meld her love for that and her love for creating businesses, and she actually created an astrology-based dating app, which had she started now would probably be wildly, wildly popular – she was probably just a few years too early on the trend.  She decided to commit herself to being an astrologer full-time, which can mean a lot of different things, but for her: she was the astrologer for Allure Magazine, which is part of Hurst, and she authored a book called “The Mixology of Astrology,” which just like it sounds is a cocktail book with cocktails that are recommended for everyone who has different signs.

Jon: Has she read your horoscope?

Adam: She has read my full birth chart.  I have –

Jon: What drink are you?

Adam: You know, I don’t remember off the top of my head what drink I am, but I also like to say I’m equal opportunity when it comes to a well-mixed cocktail, so I have a feeling I would probably enjoy many of the cocktails in her book.  But I have learned a lot about astrology.  I think what’s fascinating about it and why I love working with Aliza and building her business.  And now she’s actually an astrologer for Cosmopolitan Magazine and they now actually have a ten-page astrology section, she has a video series with them that’s distributed on YouTube and Amazon Prime where she reads the star chart of their cover star every month.  We’re building out her business in courses, in product categories.  She has a new book coming out in just a few months that is going to be for young adults which is almost like an astrology workbook to guide them through understanding where they are in this.

I think a lot of people associate Astrology or their horoscope with romance or financial success.  What I love about how she approaches it is – and this is one of the first things she ever said to me – is “Astrology is a practice in empathy.” For her, what that means is it’s a great entry-point into people being a little more self-aware and reflecting on what it is about them that might be their core attributes, but also ways in which they are straying from their values because of many things that may have happened in their past or are currently happening.  So I think for her, it’s almost a more accessible, less taboo version of therapy.

Jon: So let’s go from slime, to astrology, to tech.

Adam: Yes.  And I think this is another great example of how varied the digital space is as it comes to talent that have built their own businesses.  One of my clients who I work very closely with though she is based in New York is Sara Dietschy.

Jon: Rhymes with “peachy.”

Adam: Rhymes with “peachy.”  And I think again this is another fascinating story about someone who started on the internet – though I don’t necessarily recommend for people to drop out of college – Sara was an engineering major in school.  She was obviously one woman in a very male-dominated field.  She saw her debt mounting, and she really wanted to be a content creator.  She was very passionate about technology, and she saw a really cool opportunity that Adobe put out which was called the Adobe Creator Program, I believe.  She applied on a whim.  She had maybe 200 YouTube subscribers at the time, and she wrote out “I want to be a content creator.  This is what I envision.  This is what I would do.”  It’s essentially a one-year grant where she was paid a very, very good salary for a twenty-one year old to receive, and she was able to spend an entire year just focusing on her creativity and building out an audience, because that’s what she had pitched Adobe as her passion.  Adobe was trying to empower a new generation of creative that use their technology in different applications.

Jon: And it’s clearly worked for her.

Adam: It really did.  It’s incredible.  Especially that this is one of the first people that they enlisted.  Clearly, whoever is reading the applications had a great eye for talent, because she very quickly built a very sizable audience on YouTube and Instagram and Twitter.  She caught my eye very early on on YouTube.  She was very hesitant to talk to a manager because she was receiving a salary already.  She was very hesitant to monetize her overall business, but very sweetly and realistically said “why don’t we reconnect once I am done with my one-year grant with Adobe.”  So we kept in touch, we met in New York, which is where she’s based, and I gave her my top-down vision for both her business and where I see talent situated in the digital space – specifically content creators like herself, and we started working together.  This was nearly three years ago, now, and since then she’s built an incredibly diverse business for herself.  She works with a ton of top-tier companies helping them promote their products.  She has worked with Shell.  She has worked with Intel, Dell, Apple, Sony, Cannon – the list goes on.  She also has built an incredible audience with a podcast.  She has a merchandise business.  I think it’s an example of how you can start on one platform where you’re just creating content for fun, for your fans, and expand from there.

Jon: Into a real business.

Adam: Into a real business that very much pays the bills and then some.

Jon: And then we’ll end talking about your clients with – she describes herself as “the Walmart greeter of sex and relationships.”

Adam: Yes.  That is very much how she describes herself.  And again, Shannon is a great, great story of how –

Jon: What’s her full name?

Adam: Her name is Shannon Boodram.  She is from Toronto, originally, and moved to Los Angeles about three and a half, four years ago.  But again, just a great story of how, if you believe in yourself like all of my client have, you don’t have to wait for other people to make these opportunities for you.  She went to school for journalism.  She actually released a book over ten years ago that she edited called “laid.”  And she really wanted to be an on-camera host or personality.  Toronto is actually a huge city – the largest in Canada – and is the center of their entertainment industry, but the options from a television perspective are limited.  She was recognized by some executives at Viacom on MTV and BET’s side, and she ended up being cast in a few pilots that didn’t end up getting picked up, but that made her realize “I don’t want to wait around for other people to cast me in their projects when I already have a ton of ideas and I can create it myself.”  So that sort of lit a fire for her to go on YouTube and just started creating videos.  And she built a sizeable audience being, just like you said, the Walmart greeter of sex, and giving people advice in an accessible and fun way.

Jon: One example of that is she said that “love is an addiction, just like food, and you should avoid junk food relationships,” which you can’t disagree with.

Adam: I wish she gave me that advice ten years ago, and I’m very lucky to have her in my life now.  I would say – and I do love all my clients – but I am fortunate to have clients that are experts in very useful areas.  Because I might be lost without Sara’s advice for me on my next tech purchases – she’s very instrumental in the new lens I got for my camera, which I’m very excited about.

Jon: So the side benefit.

Adam: Yes.  So there are side benefits here.  But what’s amazing about Shannon, again, is the ability for someone to be a self-starter not to wait for things to happen for themselves.  And moving to Los Angeles – her and I working together for the past three years – she has an amazing book coming out this summer called “The Game of Desire,” which is almost like the female response to the book “The Game,” which is a very popular book for men about relationships and interacting with the opposite sex.  She had a series on Facebook Watch, which just like Netflix is just another platform.  But she’s done that, we have other projects in the works, she does a very substantial lecture business where she goes all over the country talking about all thing sex and female empowerment.

But I’d say the through-line is that you can build really interesting, diverse, multi-faceted businesses around individuals that are experts in certain fields.  For me the through line is that I mainly represent women that are making a difference in the lives of the audience that follows them.  It might seem silly at first glance to think that Karina playing with slime on YouTube is making a difference, but she really is because her story alone is so inspiring to so many children – and especially the Mexican-American community, not having as many role-models to look up to.  But additionally, what I love about what Karina does is in an age where I can’t stand walking into restaurants and seeing parents put an iPad in front of their kids so they don’t have to talk for the next hour and a half while the adults talk –

Jon: And drink.

Adam: And drink – is that she creates content that actually forces children to create things with their hands and move away from the screen.  And in that sense, Karina has a big touring business, and whenever I’m at any of her events, I always make a point to speak to the moms and dads that come with their children, and they’re always saying, “I love Karina because she’s someone who’s safe that I can sit my children down with, but also it forces them to create things and not just sit in front of their computer or on their iPhone or iPad all day.”

Jon: Which is a great way to end this.  How can people find you on the internet?

Adam: They can find me on the internet by going to my business’s website,

Jon: Thank you.  It’s been a pleasure.

Adam: Thank you.

The Creative Influencer is a weekly podcast where we discuss all things creative with an emphasis on Influencers. The podcast is hosted by Jon Pfeiffer, an entertainment attorney in Santa Monica, California.  Jon interviews influencers, creatives, and the professionals who work with them.

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