Derek Walin is a founder at Super Music Group, a boutique artist management firm based in Miami, Florida. Follow him @Walin
What is the first thing you did to turn your current business from an idea into a reality?
When I was 22 years old, I turned down a job at Atlantic Records in New York City to stay in Miami and start my own artist management company. Seven years later, I haven’t looked back.
What is the scariest part of being a young entrepreneur and how can others overcome this fear?
The typical stuff — being responsible for your clients and employees’ livelihood. You’ve convinced all these amazing, talented, dedicated people to get on board your ship and sail on your journey with you. You better keep that boat afloat.
Were you ever told not to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams? Who told you that, what did they say and why did you ignore them?
Come on, I’m in the music business — of course I was! I have all the typical stories of teachers and parent’s friends telling me to pick a “real” career path. But my favorite memory was when my business partner and I, at age 23 at our first SXSW, met industry legend (and personal hero of ours) Lyor Choen walking on Sixth Street. We introduced ourselves and told him we were young artist managers. He looked at us without missing a beat and said, “Your parents let you come here? Your parents are letting you get into the biz? Didn’t you hear the music business is over?”
He said it with a smile, but he was serious.
What is the No. 1 thing you wish you’d known starting out and how did you learn it?
I learned that being young and in the music business is an asset — not a weakness — and to not be embarrassed by our age or lack of experience when we started.
Now, looking back, we say, “Wow, if we only took that meeting when we were 22, we really would’ve impressed them.”
What do you recommend all new founders do for their business — or their personal lives — that will help them the most?
Not to get too deep, but since you asked about the intersection of personal and business life: If you’re unhappy in your personal life, it will spill over into business and vice versa.
Handle the things that are hanging over your head, hiding deep in your subconscious. If there’s a personal relationship that needs work, or you feel like you need some time to do something for yourself, don’t delay.
How do you end each day and why?
I end it the way I start it: with my to-do lists. There is just no other productivity tool that comes close. I have lists for everything. I’m constantly updating them, morning, noon and night.
What is your best PR/marketing tip for business just starting up?
Sorry for the cliché, but authenticity is key. PR is about the story, you need to give them something to write about. When I start talking about something I’m passionate about, I can’t stop. When I don’t care, trust me, you can tell. Focus on the angles that evoke passion and wild enthusiasm from you and your team. The energy will shine through in the press coverage.
What is your ultimate goal? What will you do if/when you get there?
My ultimate goal is to build a business that our clients, partners and employees can be proud of. I think we’re already pretty close, but there is always work to be done. We’re getting better every day.