Welcome to Interview #2 of our Manager Interview Series! This series deep dives into the creative and commercial lives of some of the most successful managers in the creator economy!
Let’s dive straight in!
Could you introduce yourself?
I'm Courtney Carter, founder of Carter Media Group and Ally2Action — a nonprofit focusing on equity and creating space and resources for allies and advocates.
I work with a really beautiful cross section of talent across the landscape who are innovating in more traditional spaces of the entertainment industry.
What got you started in talent management? What led you to your current role?
I got started in sports and really fell in love with creating opportunities for advertisers by connecting them with a community of passionate people. So whether that was the New York Knicks or Major League Soccer or anything at ESPN, I really fell in love with making storytelling financially beneficial.
The people at CAA randomly called me one day and after a long courtship, I decided it would be really awesome to step over into more specific entertainment. I moved to Los Angeles and was an agent at CAA for three and a half years. I started in the non scripted talent side of the business and realized very quickly that the democratization of platforms and content was truly the future of the industry.
I very quickly kind of fell in love with how to navigate that space within the agency and was lucky enough to be a part of the founding CAA Digital talent packaging and brand partnerships team.
I left five years ago to fill a gap that I saw within the management side of the business, especially in a world where creators could control their own narratives and stories.
This was when content creation and distribution was being democratized by creator platforms. At the time, managers were either on one side or the other. I entered that space intentionally to work with some of the most innovative creators.
Could you walk us through some of the key daily tasks you perform for your clients?
My daily tasks are never the same. We're partners in the ideation and creation process - helping nurture who our clients truly are and what they really want to do. We then create opportunities for them to express this in whatever form that might take: video, audio, live events, publishing, and so on.
This approach entails being a steward and an advocate for them within their larger teams: agencies, attorneys, business managers, creative collaborators and commercial partners all need to be aligned with our clients’ fundamental vision.
We're very honored to be entrusted with their passion, but I like to say we’re intersectional architects, because that's what we truly are.
What are some of the recurring challenges you face as a manager?
I think they mainly revolve around establishing systems — there's never the perfect system. We're always trying to create efficiencies in order to service our clients better and faster.
The one thing that is finite is time. I think the biggest challenge for us is protecting time not only for our clients but also for ourselves. This way we can truly be more proactive, as opposed to reactive.
Are there any specific tools that help create efficient workflows for yourself and your clients? What does your current tool-stack look like?
There are multiple tools now that help creators carve out time and space for themselves.
Stir helps if creators don’t have the ability or desire to spend money on a business manager.
Similarly, if creators don't want to hire an assistant, they can get a virtual assistant, or set up Calendly.
Between ourselves and with our clients, we use Slack. With our clients especially, Slack acts as an intentional place to talk about business as opposed to text. We use text only if it's urgent and we really need to get in touch with somebody.
Of course, GSuite and the tools that come with it have been helpful. We’ve tried to build our own systems within them.
Asana has been really helpful from a project management standpoint for some clients—solving their need for wanting to hire a team.
What are some of the common traits you’ve seen among successful managers?
An unwavering curiosity to create. A manager is a creator—they just do it differently. The managers that I believe find the most success are creators themselves—with a very sharp business edge to them. That's not to say that someone who's not creative is a bad manager. It's just very important to empathize with creatives in order to support them well.
A common trap I see young managers fall into is getting stuck in a very reactive role. Successful managers make space for proactive strategic planning, and build things that create generational wealth as opposed to a block and tackle approach.
What are some of the pressing challenges that creators face today?
I think it's really unique to the Creator. For instance, creators who use YouTube as their main platform face the pressure that comes with continually having to come up with new ideas and putting out new content.
There's this expectation that you have to deliver an engaging video over and over again—and that video needs to be better than the last video.
Of course, the consumer of the content doesn't quite understand just how difficult creating that content is and how much time that takes—something that looks so effortless takes a lot of effort.
What is the best way for a creator to scale their operations? And when is the right time to hire a team member?
When you feel like you’re bursting at the seams mentally, physically, emotionally or financially, that's when you need to identify what role you should hire for and how it will free up the most amount of time and space for yourself.
When you’re starting out, find products that create time and efficiency for you. (Like some of the ones we discussed above)
Once you've reached a point where you make enough money but find yourself wanting something a little more hands-on, that's when you should scale.
Remember, everyone's needs are different here. For some creators it’s a personal assistant, who could help with making sure all the pre-production is done beforehand. For others, it's a full time editor-shooter who can also help riff on creative ideas.
Think of this as an investment in yourself and the future of your business.
Would you like to talk about what's coming up next for you or your clients? Anything you'd like to plug?
Follow our clients who are growing, emerging and shifting culture forward in non-traditional and disruptive ways.
Outside of following us and what we're up to, I'd say support minority-owned businesses. If you have the opportunity to spend 10 more dollars and support a minority-owned business, you should do it.