Tracy Percival — You Got This- as a young woman, most people around me came up with reasons why I ‘shouldn’t’ get into business. I feel like if I had someone to encourage me early on, I wouldn’t have struggled as much.
Anastasia Brown — Value your worth. — Why — not everyone within a business Eco-system will, so you must.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tracy Percival, Chief Operations Officer of Visionary Media Group and Anastasia Brown, Chief Content Strategist, Visionary Media Group.
Visionary Media Group (VMG) is a next generation American media and technology company, employing a suite of state-of-the-art technologies to empower creativity, engage fan community, and amplify storytelling. Its mission is to tell innovative American stories, through the power of connected music, media and technology.
Under the direction of Anastasia Brown, Chief Content Strategist, Tracy Percival, Chief Operations Officer, and Founding Managing Partners Ron Zamber, M.D. and Nick Sciorra, VMG has engaged a world class team with over 100 years of expertise in high-level entertainment and digital media initiatives, including in-label operations, music supervision, music publishing, sync licensing, strategic business design, streaming and distributive content platform development, business and legal affairs, and media-technology asset financial modeling.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Tracy Percival: My career has evolved so much over my lifetime, but I’ve been an Entrepreneur since I’m 22 years old, most recently as the founder of a wellness brand, Patty Lou, working as a consultant in the beauty industry and now working in the Entertainment & Media industry. I was brought into my company, Visionary Media Group initially as a consultant for brand partnerships and after a few weeks, I was asked to join the team full time as their Chief Operating Officer. Although a completely different field for me, my 30 years of owning businesses and helping others achieve success in their business, allowed me to jump right in seamlessly.
Anastasia Brown: My love of music and storytelling developed at an early age; singing in my church choir and later in various bands. Then throughout my life my grandmother, Anastajia, and I would exchange handwritten poems, so I’ve always enjoyed writing. Those two passions have motivated every pivot throughout my career; from A&R, artist management, a published author, columnist, music supervisor to movie producer and now all of that experience is wrapped up into one new entertainment and media company.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
TP: I began my entrepreneurial journey as a manicurist and opened my first business, a salon, as a single mom, at the age of 22. A shy, introvert with an unusual confidence and self-motivation to succeed. I remember the first time I was taken advantage of by a salesman that came in, (back in the early 90’s, sales were done door to door). He had sold me a program he was offering that would guarantee me more business. The program cost me a lot of money, and delivered absolutely no results. As a new business owner, I struggled to make up that loss. It was a hard lesson learned, but one I’ll never forget. After beating myself up over being taken from that salesman, I decided I’d let it go and accept it as a lesson and not a failure. This is something that drives me, still today.
AB: When I first worked on Music Row in Nashville back in 1993, I was in my mid-20’s and struggled with being taken seriously by some of the “good ole’ boys.” So, I tried to minimize my femininity by wearing boxy suits, glasses and slicking my hair back and putting it in a bun. Thankfully my business partner, Miles Copeland, did take me seriously and over time realized that authenticity is paramount, so I leaned into just being me.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were hard?
TP: I grew up as a middle child with 3 brothers. My parents were very protective of me and lenient with my brothers. I remember wanting to do what they were doing, go where they went, wanted the later curfew like them, etc. My parents would say that I couldn’t do what they did, because I was a girl. This really affected me. I feel like most of my life, I’ve been trying to prove that I could do anything I put my mind to, because I was a girl. This set the basis for my strong work ethic and my “I can do anything I put my mind to” mindset.
AB: My passion for music and those who create it along with creating opportunities for the creative community in Nashville drive me at all times.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
TP: Work is super busy right now, but super exciting! Grit and resilience has made me a bit more savvy, strengthened my intuition and overall made me a better woman in business with the ability to juggle many projects at once. It has certainly served me in many ways as a COO.
AB: Grit and determination are the two key ingredients in this success story; I’ve been working towards creating a Nashville-based company that merges film, TV and music under one umbrella for 15 years. With Visionary Media Group we are doing just that and more, adding our proprietary technology into that mix allows for a truly immersive media experience
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
TP: I was off to my first consulting gig with a major beauty brand. Me and another woman were both entering the elevator at the same time and wound up slightly bumping into each other. Instead of apologizing, she looked at me annoyed, then I was annoyed that she was annoyed and we rode up the elevator in silence. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the conference room and she wound up being one of the Executives I was interviewing with! Lesson learned — don’t let other people’s actions influence your own actions.
AB: One of Miles Copeland’s artist management clients was Sting, I learned so much from those two brilliant men. In addition to managing Keith Urban, Junior Brown, and signing Waylon Jennings and Leon Russell to Miles’ label, I asked to exploit Sting’s catalog in the country music arena. So, our first mashup was with Tammy Wynette and Sting recording “Every Breath You Take” in 1994. I was so excited about spending a day in the recording studio with those two legends I told a girlfriend all about it, forgetting she was a reporter. I mean, the one poster on my wall growing up was The Police and she was and is the Queen of country, can you blame me? Well, after it ended up in the local paper the next day, I got an ear full from the record label. I learned a lot from that mistake!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
TP: Visionary Media Group (VMG) is a next generation American entertainment & media-technology company. Based in Nashville, TN, Our world class team is embarking on an exciting mission to empower artists and share a sense of purpose and storytelling. We’ve been working on an industry changing platform, soon to launch so stay tuned!
AB: Every person on our executive team truly cares about the future of music, songwriters, artists and storytellers. With that motivation in mind, after COVID began to devastate the entertainment industry we all did a major pivot and studied our technology to determine how it can benefit that collective group. When we reveal what we have been building, this immersive media company will stand out on a global stage.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
TP: I’ve been burnt out, so I know how debilitating that can be. I find I’m at my best, when I put my well being a priority. Prioritizing my time, keeping organized and delegating tasks, all help me thrive and move the needle everyday without feeling overwhelmed.
AB: When I feel mental exhaustion after 10–12-hour work days, I lean into music. When feeling unsettled due to the obvious reasons, I listen to The Shack soundtrack. When I get a hankering to dance, alone in my kitchen, I ask Alexa to play Elton John and Justin Timberlake. Music by Leigh Nash (Sixpence None The Richer) helps me with every mood and mental state.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
TP: I’ve had a ton of people help in different ways over the years, but I’d have to say my son is whom I’m very grateful for. Being a young, single mom, gave me my initial drive to succeed. He was the reason I read endless books on business and marketing, attended more networking events than I can count… the reason I got into business in the first place.
AB: Miles Copeland was the most impactful mentor in my entire career, he believed in me before I believed in myself. All we need is one believer at the beginning of a career or during a transition. The second person who I am so grateful for is screenwriter, Les Bohem. Back in early 2000, I decided to make a major pivot in my career committing to music supervision and content creation full time. He was in pre-production on “Taken” the Steven Spielberg mini-series on Sci-Fi. Back in 2003, Les called me during my pivot contemplation asking for a favor; to ask Emmy Lou Harris to record the end title song. I replied “Sure, if you hire me as the music supervisor.” After getting my first credit, thanks to Les, I never stopped.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
TP: From mentoring high school girls to organizing charity events, I’ve always believed that it’s my responsibility to give back to my community as part of my life’s purpose.
AB: I am a fierce mentor; I take it seriously and am proactive about sharing my experience with the next generation. One mentee has written five #1 singles after her internship, one is in a successful band on the charts, one is a huge influencer and podcaster, another is Director of TV Music @ Lionsgate/Starz and we just hired another former intern at VMG.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- You Got This- as a young woman, most people around me came up with reasons why I ‘shouldn’t’ get into business. I feel like if I had someone to encourage me early on, I wouldn’t have struggled as much.
- Trust Your Gut- I’ve always had a wicked intuition among other gifts, but fear and insecurity created doubts in decision making. I’ve learned to listen and trust my gut.
- Be a Good Communicator- Not having honest communication in business, creates energy blocks and resentments (another lesson learned). I’ve found that people can’t actually read my mind, (ha!) so I’m always working on my communication skills.
- Hire a Team that believes in the Vision- Finding team members that not only see your vision for the company and someone you can trust with minute details, is difficult to find, but when you do… it’s magic!
- The Journey is the BEST part- Being in business for so long, it’s easy to get caught up in the minutia of the daily grind and running on autopilot. Realizing the journey is more fun than the outcome, makes the days more exciting!
- Value your worth. — Why — not everyone within a business eco system will, so you must.
- Trust your gut instinct — Why — some people will disagree with unique ideas, if you believe in them it’s worth fighting for them.
- Slowly hire people with character and passion — Why — sometimes the bio is not complete, give “homework” and suggest follow-up tasks before you hire.
- Express your needs and expectations on the front end, don’t be shy.
- Act before you speak — Why — especially during the “year of the pivot” wait to discuss your plans externally because they may change.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
TP: I would start the Gratitude Movement — practicing gratitude raises your vibration and slowly changes what we focus on. What we focus on, becomes. Practicing gratitude increases happiness, optimism and overall well being. If everyone practiced gratitude daily, we’d see more compassion and kindness in the world…something we can never have enough of!
AB: We are doing exactly that at Visionary Media Group, pay close attention in 2021.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Linkedin — Tracy Percival
FB: Anastasia Brown
PT: Anastasia Brown