My Lightbulb Moment

I have heard people talk about lightbulb moments before, you know, when the lightbulb lights up above your head and suddenly everything is clear to you. Until the winter of 2012, I had never experienced one. I had a vague sense that I wanted to work in music, use my MBA, and be around creative people, but I wasn’t sure what that was supposed to look like. Then, out of nowhere, I was having a beer in a West Seattle bar with some friends in a band, and the lightbulb over my head was suddenly so bright, I was almost blinded.

I come from an entrepreneurial family. By the time I was 12 my father had started, grown, and sold at least four companies. Dinner table conversations as a child consisted of how to grow the bottom line, strategic marketing plans, financing new ventures, and helping my dad pick out logos. I always knew I would someday run my own business.

It’s funny, then, that my real jobs out of school were for some of the biggest companies in the United States (Universal Music Group and Amazon.com). At these companies, I got to work with the best people in music and e-commerce, contribute to music tech products that were changing the music business, and work with some of the most talented musicians on the planet. But, I wasn’t fulfilled. I was antsy for more: more control, more creativity, more face time with talent, more freedom.

It was then, during my time in Seattle at Amazon when I was feeling like I wanted more, I went to catch some Nashville musician friends on tour in a club in West Seattle (think East Nashville with more rain). I witnessed something really special that night. The band transformed the gloomy room into a dance party. I saw potential in the business they were building and in the rabid fanbase that was supporting them. After the show, the lead singer Daniel and I were chatting about their progress as a band and he jokingly quipped, “I wish you’d move back to Nashville and manage us.”

That was it, that was my lightbulb moment. My education, experience, passions, strengths, and needs all collided in this one moment where I finally knew what it was supposed to look like.

I quit my job the next day. Moved across the country, and opened up a management company a mere 30 days later. I made coffee shops and kitchen tables my office for about 8 months until I had enough income to rent a little corner desk. I got interns, a logo, business cards, and signed more clients. But it always comes back to this: I have the freedom to be creative and do things the way I think they should be done. I found business partners in the artists I manage. We, together, scratched and clawed and fought for market share. Now, the company has grown- with new clients, new employees- but one thing stays the same: my clients make beautiful music, and I try daily to make beautiful business.