On a recent episode of How Success Happens, I spoke with Constance Schwartz-Morini, the co-founder and CEO of SMAC Entertainment, an incredible talent management firm, business incubator and production company.
Schwartz-Morini has had an amazing career — she began at the NFL, evolved into the music business and then in 2012 combined those interests to form SMAC (sports, media and culture) with NFL legend and award-winning journalist Michael Strahan.
I was excited to speak with Schwartz-Morini about her journey, what motivates her and how she propels her small but mighty team to “hustle like you’re broke.”
Schwartz-Morini and her team manage some of the biggest names in the business. Deion Sanders. Erin Andrews. Tony Gonzalez. Wiz Khalifa. She has also launched several businesses under the SMAC umbrella. She and Strahan launched his eponymous lifestyle brand, which sells tailored and casual clothing for men and boys, plus a new skin and shave line. The dynamic Erin Andrews has a clothing brand, WEAR by Erin Andrews. Snoop Dogg’s new pet line, Snoop Doggie Doggs, launched this year with Schwartz-Morini’s team leading the charge. As if that weren’t enough work, Schwartz-Morini is an incredible film and television producer, with Coach Prime (Prime Video), $100,000 Pyramid (ABC) and the new BS High (HBO) among her credits.
Schwartz-Morini and I grew up one town apart from one another, and we bonded over our experience growing up in what some call “upstate” New York (we both know better). I hope you enjoy our conversation and get inspired by her road to success. You can listen to the whole conversation below, and here are some takeaways from our wide-ranging discussion.
Finding her way as an entrepreneur
Schwartz-Morini’s mom owned a flower shop in Yonkers, N.Y., and although she never thought of her mom as an entrepreneur, “those flowers got me through college,” she says. Entrepreneurship was in her blood — she just didn’t know it originally.
After 10 years at the NFL and nearly a decade in the music business (including a career-changing stint managing Snoop Dogg), Schwartz-Morini took the entrepreneurial leap with a friend. It took encouragement from those around her who told her, “You’re such an entrepreneur,” along with a bit of a kick — she was fired from the agency at which she worked.
“When I was looking for what my next home was, I couldn’t find the right place,” she says. “People were trying to define me and put me in a box and say, ‘You should just be in sports,’ ‘You should just be in reality TV’…or sponsorships, or brand partnerships. I was like, ‘Absolutely not.’ I can combine all this, which is what I learned over the 20 years, and create [SMAC].”
Timestamp — 19:50
Related: How This MLB All-Star Turned a Baseball Career Into an Entrepreneurial Journey
“Let leaders lead”
It’s easy for CEOs to be too hands-on. Schwartz-Morini has an eye for talent and understands the importance of simply letting leaders lead.
She recently hired a COO to add structure and forecasting, especially to the company’s myriad of celebrity-led businesses.
But what brings her joy is seeing former interns now running departments, including Jose Diaz, who oversees the talent management team, and Koral Chen, who manages several consumer lines.
This new structure lends itself to rapid expansion in the next 12-18 months. Letting up-and-coming stars lead is the key to that success.
“We’re 20 people, [but] people think we’re 200,” she says.
Timestamp — 33:23
Related: The Founder of CAA-Backed Celebrity Brands Discusses What Makes Companies Successful
“Earn your way”
It’s no secret that the sports and entertainment field is male-dominated. To Schwartz-Morini, there’s still a long way to go towards equality.
“There’s a saying that a lot of us use. ‘If there’s no seat for you at the table, build your own damn table.’ I started building my own table,” she says. “There’s still misogyny I face all the time. If I can’t be the agent of change for the generations coming behind me, then I’ve failed…this up-and-coming generation should not have to face the obstacles that get placed still to this day.
She also reminded our listeners that the sports and entertainment industry is filled with hard work early on. “There’s nothing wrong with starting at the bottom. You’ve got to earn your way.”
No matter your background, “As long as you can earn your spot you should have a chance at taking it.”
Timestamp — 39:04
Related: How Success Happened for Nick Molnar, Co-Founder of Afterpay
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