Trust yourself: you know yourself best, you have the wisdom, the intuition, and the knowledge all inside of you. So frequently when it comes to making decisions we ask advice from everybody else, and often these people aren’t where we even want to be. No one knows you better than you, and if you would cultivate that confidence in who you are and what you stand for, nothing can stop you.
As a part of my series about leaders helping to make the entertainment industry more diverse and representative, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Alyssa Hoffman.
Alyssa Hoffman quit her Fortune 500 job, sold her possessions, and moved onto a tour bus to manage six time rock radio charting band, Wayland. She took her very first meeting with Rock Against Trafficking and began a two year journey creating Fearlyss Entertainment label services from the ground up with the mission that music is medicine, and using rock and roll in service to the whole to bring awareness to true human issues.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I didn’t choose the music industry, the music industry chose me. After over a decade at working at a Fortune 500 company and traveling as a regional education, I thought I was on the fast track to becoming an executive there. I had no idea that one night at a concert I would meet the band that would inspire me to quit my job, sell my possessions, and open Fearlyss Entertainment. My parents and five brothers and sisters had traveled the country following this band which was completely uncharacteristic for any of them, and I had always been away traveling at work. They spoke so highly of not only their sound but their work ethic, and I found myself at a show one night right before my birthday. I had two weeks vacation and they were looking for a merch person when they asked if I wanted to get on the bus. I had never done anything like that in my life and without thinking I said yes. After two weeks on the road, I knew there was no turning back.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
The most interesting and best thing that has happened to me since starting my career happened on The Kiss Kruise. Kiss is one of the most celebrated bands in the world and Wayland had beat out hundreds of other bands for a spot. The way that most musicians grow up wanting to be the frontman, I wanted to be Doc McGhee. They had a segment called “Ask Doc” and a fan had asked if he had any new bands he liked. He proceeded to tell the story that he was eating dinner the night before, put his fork down and said “who the f is that,” and left his dinner to watch MY band play. I chased him down after that segment when he introduced me to Paul and Gene and gave me some of the best career advice I’ve ever had. We left the boat the next day and he told my band “you better listen to her,” and it was the highlight of my career.
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?
The funniest mistake I made when first starting was learning how to put shows up on Bands In Town. I am really fast on the computer, and I started entering dates as quickly as I could to get through my admin work, and all of a sudden every venue across the country was calling. I wasn’t selecting a date as I was entering and so every venue had us playing that night. Fans were commenting, Facebook was filled with DM’s, and I definitely learned to slow down and pay attention.
Ok thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our discussion. Can you describe how you are helping to make popular culture more representative of the US population?
I work in the music industry and I am part of the organization She Is The Music. The numbers are astounding of the lack of female representation in production, label services, and overall content creation. In addition, the lack of experienced representation is really interesting to me. Not only do I look for diverse ethnicities, but I really look for diverse experiences. I’m not interested in if you went to college or had enough connections to score a great internship. I want to know what you went through, how you survived it, and how that real life experience can translate. I have several people on my team that have experienced trauma to varying degrees- human trafficking, sexual abuse, domestic violence, drug addiction. These experiences, their humility, and their stories of fearlessness inspire the art we distribute.
Wow! Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by the work you are doing?
I host a segment called “Can I Please Speak To The Manager,” and the inception was twofold. I created and curated WaylandTV which is our version of MTV and we have recreated classics like Cribs, TRL, and The Real World and made them Wayland. My version of a talk show was born where I allow fans to ask the manager questions and I help them make things more manageable, quite literally. We’ve discussed everything from sexual abuse to overcoming anxiety, to how to take the guilt out of pleasure. We use songs from our artists and playlists to support their journey and the overwhelming amount of fan letters has been so touching.
As an insider, this might be obvious to you, but I think it’s instructive to articulate this for the public who might not have the same inside knowledge. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why it’s really important to have diversity represented in Entertainment and its potential effects on our culture?
Diversity is essential for any form of innovation of creation. The entertainment industry, television programming, and radio programming are quite literally programming our brains, our responses, and our courses in life. Working in environments that are diverse allow fostered creativity, connections, and expands our self awareness. We’re able to provide the most vulnerable, authentic offering to the public and reshape how pop culture influences us, this time positively.
Can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do to help address the root of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?
To address the root of diversity in the entertainment business, utilize and implement awareness practices. Include a diverse interview panel, hire to expand your team, not constrict it. Look for “disrupters,” who would you not have asked a certain question on your team? Why not? Ask them anyway. Look for opportunities to include everyone and treat everyone as an individual. Groupthink is not what’s going to create a new future. Communication and grace are two of the biggest ones for me. “Cancel culture” is so tragic and it teaches you that if you make a mistake you should be horrifically punished. I believe in forgiveness, expansion, and growth, and when we do that together the vulnerability allows our team to strive.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
A leader is a BOSS, and a BOSS is a BEING OF SERVICE. When you are in service to your organization and your team, you are naturally leading them to a place of success and self empowerment. The more involved, excited, and included people feel, the more they will contribute to the success of the organization.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Trust yourself: you know yourself best, you have the wisdom, the intuition, and the knowledge all inside of you. So frequently when it comes to making decisions we ask advice from everybody else, and often these people aren’t where we even want to be. No one knows you better than you, and if you would cultivate that confidence in who you are and what you stand for, nothing can stop you.
- People will tell you no, ask them why. No is not an answer, it’s an invitation to more information. If anyone tells you know, ask them why not? It encourages them to offer you feedback they may not have previously offered. This feedback can encourage you to rethink your strategy, or know that the person and partnership wasn’t in alignment for you.
- People see themselves a certain way and they see you a certain way. Act accordingly. People have a certain image of themselves and all of their thoughts, words, and actions will be in alignment to maintain that. If a man thinks he’s a gentleman, he will do the gentleman thing in front of and for you. If he sees you as naive, he will create the story in his head that you are naive and treat you that way. When I say “act accordingly,” I’m not insinuating to “act” or “behave,” I am saying ACT as in take action. If you’re being treated as naive, address that head on and take action to change the narrative.
- Make it look easy. Struggling or taking the hard way isn’t inspiring, not to other people and not to you. Everything can be made to look easy with a smile on your face no matter how you’re feeling inside. The real secret? Smiling for 30 seconds releases serotonin in your brain and those chemicals help shift your state and answers are able to come to you more receptively.
- Be kind. “Your mood shouldn’t dictate your manners.” Kindness is the catalyst for great change in this world. Anytime you have an opportunity (you always do) be as kind as you can possibly be. Nice is surface, kind is from the depths of your being. Be authentically kind and do more than you want to. You’ll never regret it.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂
Love is the revolution, love is political, love is the way. When we embrace “love” for what it actually is and not look at it as a religious or romantic concept, but realize that love is a promise, love is an action, and love is a state of being, we remember we are one love, one people, and one Earth. That unity consciousness will change everything.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote of all time is “Shake Your Ass & Save Your Soul.” My grandmother taught me from a young age that not taking life too seriously and making sure that joy and kindness were incorporated into my every action has been the song stuck in my head my whole life.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Stephanie McMahon without a shadow of a doubt. I have been following Stephanie McMahon since I was five years old and did everything in my power to be her. She ran a successful company, had a successful marriage with her husband whom she worked with. She was the “billion dollar princess” on television and her character that left her “evil father” and inspired her to run away and build a business inspired all my teenage dreams. Stephanies’ philanthropy, genius marketing, and risk taking is something I’ve admired my whole life. Plus she has my dream body and would probably make excellent lunch recommendations!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can find me at @alyssahopehoffman on all platforms. My band is @waylandtheband. I host “Can I Please Speak To The Manager” every Monday on YouTube and you can find me on Wayland World, Cribs, and TRL every week on the band’s Facebook page.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!
Thank you so much for having me.