Source : Forbes
When you love music, but your mother tells you that you need to be a lawyer or doctor, what do you do? For Natalia Nastaskin, who moved to America from the Soviet Union when she was a shy eight-year-old kid, her solution wasn’t predictable: she graduated from law school and started her own entertainment law practice. It was crazy hard work and some may have said it was just crazy, but that didn’t stop her. Today she’s the Head of US Music Operations at United Talent Agency, a powerhouse agency for big name artists including Guns N’ Roses and Paramore. And she’s won a lot of awards: T.J. Martell Foundation Women of Influence, Billboard Women in Music, Billboard Power 100 and Variety Women’s Impact list.
How did she do it? Here are three of her Mentoring Moments, that she shares on this week’s Mentoring Moments podcast (condensed and edited):
When I was first starting out, I was scared to death. I was young, working by myself and I was competing with some of the biggest attorneys in the world. I had to be extremely professional and extremely on. There are things that I absorbed or was told by executives that I admired that have stuck with me. Here are three of them:
You’re Not A $20 Bill—Not Everyone’s Going To Love You
“You’re not a $20 bill—not everyone’s going to love you.” I was an extremely shy eight-year-old kid when I moved to America from the Soviet Union. I came here wanting to be liked, wanting to lose the accent, wanting to lose the extra pounds and wanting to have brilliant white teeth like all the American kids.
I was so concerned about: “Do people like me? Will they talk to me? Will they be my friends? Will they recognize that I have an accent? Will they be okay that I am from the Soviet Union?”
When that plagues you for the majority of your young adult life, it can impact your professional life. It took me a long time to get over needing to be liked. As an attorney, I’m in adversarial situations negotiating deals and I need to represent my clients to the best of my ability. I need to be a zealous counsel, advisor and guide to my clients. That means that sometimes I have to take unpopular positions—and that means that some people won’t like me.
Step Into Traffic
“ You have to step into traffic. If you don’t step into traffic, nothing will ever happen. ” As a young attorney hearing that, I thought, “What traffic? What does that mean?” As an entrepreneur, what I ultimately realized is that this means you need to get out of your comfort zone—network, meet people and collaborate. It wasn’t easy for me to put myself out there. But I did—I joined every possible bar association, the copyright society and I was a volunteer lawyer for the arts. I did everything to facilitate my network and I stepped into the traffic that was the entertainment business and absorbed things from experienced attorneys who were practicing in this space. I talked to lawyers who had business inquiries that were too small for them, but I could take them on.
If you don’t step into that proverbial traffic, you’ll get stuck in your own little world and you don’t learn. If you don’t step out of your comfort zone, you won’t create connections that can take you to the next level in your professional career.
Return Every Phone Call
A very important executive at William Morris Agency—it was called WMA at the time—told me: “ I want to give you a piece of advice. I promise it’s going to help your entire practice. Return every phone call. ”
I thought, “Okay. It’s reasonably simple, but when you’re inundated with calls as you’re growing, developing and nurturing your business, do you really have to return every call?” The reality is that you do because as he said to me, “You never know what’s on the other side of that line.”
A lot of the great things that happened to me in my practice were not planned. A lot of the clients I have worked with over the years—clients that I could have never imagined I would be representing—started with a call from somebody who knew somebody who left a voice mail on my phone and said: “I was sent to you by so and so. Maybe you have a few minutes to take my call and I can tell you a little bit about what I’m working on.”
Often times we’re so busy, it seems easier to delete a message from a person you don’t really know. But some of the most exciting deals and clients that I have worked with came from those voice mail messages that I could have very easily deleted. Yes, you do have to return every phone call.