- COVID-19 has changed the world in ways we’ve never seen. It has caused me to reflect more deeply on my life than ever before. What I’ve ultimately realized heading into 2021 is that life is a blessing, and that time is all we have.
- I began my professional career as a lost college graduate who didn’t want to do anything in life other than become a platinum superstar music producer. It was my dream to produce gold records for the biggest artists in the world.
- I spent 5 years as a full-time music producer and songwriter in New York. During this time, I worked with artists like Fat Joe, Shaggy, and Ryan Leslie. I loved it (and ended up hating it at the same time).
- The grind was taxing, but it gave me a unique competitive advantage in the business world.
- I realized that most musicians and tech companies have the exact same problems:
- Cutting through the noise.
- Building a trusted brand.
- Developing an engaged audience.
- Competing against already established powerhouses.
- Converting leads into customers.
- Transforming new customers into loyalists.
I faced these challenges as a musician trying to grow my brand. And without knowing it, I taught myself how to become a digital promoter and built transferable skills.
My background as a musician combined with my technical marketing acumen creates a unique hybrid of creative and analytical skills. This is the secret sauce that sets me apart from the rest.
Despite humble beginnings in my career, I’m proud to say I’ve worked with VC-backed startups, mid-market e-commerce brands, and Fortune 500 behemoths.
In my first month of doing professional marketing, I was working with clients like Major League Baseball, Complex, Grainger, and Trojan Condoms.
Today, I’m responsible for Demand Generation Marketing at Nextiva, a leader in Cloud Communications.
Why did you decide to transition to marketing from the music business?
- Ultimately, I transitioned into marketing because making money as a musician is extremely difficult. Most people don’t know this, but it takes millions of streams on Spotify just to earn $1,000.
- My first big accomplishment in the music business was co-producing a track called “Sounds” for Ryan Leslie and Bobby V. After that, I co-produced a record for Fat Joe called “Too Quick” on his latest project with Remy Ma.
- These songs didn’t go platinum or viral on the billboard charts, but they were big milestones for me. It took years to make them happen. People see the result, but they don’t see the struggle.
Working with Shaggy was also a huge accomplishment for me – he’s a legend.
My biggest song from 2019 was a single I released titled, “I Gave You Love”.
- Fast forward to today, I’m currently leading a marketing team at Nextiva – a cloud-based communications company from Scottsdale, Arizona.
- I run the demand generation marketing team right from my apartment in Miami, and balance that with producing and writing music.
- I’m an Italian from New York City― one of the most diverse places in the world.
What keeps you motivated?
- The fact that I’m an underdog. I grew up in the Bronx, New York – the poorest county in the United States, and one of the most diverse places in the world. My family came here with nothing. It helped me build work ethic, character, respect for others, and a strong sense of self-awareness.
- Most people from the Bronx aren’t able to get to where I am in life. Truly, I am blessed to be able to live in Miami, Florida, and lead a growth marketing team of eight amazing people at Nextiva, one of the fastest growing tech companies in America. I balance that with producing and writing music. You just don’t see it, but that keeps me motivated.
Who has been a role model to you and why?
- Unquestionably, both of my grandmothers. I lost my grandma Luisa to brain cancer and my grandma Crisia to Alzheimer’s.
- Grandma Luisa was the chef of our family restaurant, DiNardi’s. She ran the kitchen despite her cancer. She was a fierce woman who cared deeply about her family and customers. She wasn’t going to let cancer stop her from living life on her own terms.
- Then following that, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. When life smacks you in the face, it can throw you off-course and mess up your plans. The key is to fight through it and stay focused.
- I poured my guts out on the Sales Hacker blog, recapping all the most important life lessons I learned from both of my grandmas.
How do you maintain a solid work-life balance?
- To take care of my mental health, I’ve set aside time to unplug from work. I’ve used that time to recommit to music. I’ve been writing songs, playing my guitar and even making music videos. It has made my daily life better. I’ve also recommitted to fitness and lost 20 lbs. since the pandemic started.
What traits do you possess that make a successful leader?
- Straight up, I’m not a jerk and I don’t micromanage.
- I don’t ask questions like this:
- Why did you miss that deadline?
- Why is that project off-track?
- Why didn’t you respond to my email?
- What are you working on right now?
- What new business will close this week?
- What’s your pipeline looking like?
- Your productivity seems to be slumping. Why?
- Instead, I ask questions like this:
- Do you need any support on project XYZ right now?
- How’s everything going? Are you and your family okay?
- How do you like working remotely? Do you feel it’s going well?
- How’s your home office setup? Need any tips?
- Is there anything we can take off your plate?
- What’s the biggest roadblock you’re facing right now?
- I noticed project XYZ is stuck. Can I remove any blockers?
- Do you need to vent? I’m here for you, just let me know.
- Here’s some helpful resources on XYZ subject.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
- Speak less than you know, have more than you show.
- Aggressive action is often the worst action. Have patience and think things through, don’t retaliate or act hastily under pressure.
- Never try to prove a point through arguing.
- Don’t become frustrated by incompetence. Seek to understand, then educate.
- The power of scarcity: too much circulation makes your price go down: the more you are seen and heard from, the more common you appear.
- Never call someone out publicly. Don’t name and shame.
- Learn how to neutralize aggressive behavior. Remain calm and create space to counter intelligently.
- The power of nonchalance: Don’t brag or boast. Your talent must appear to flow naturally. Make your results appear effortless, even if it demands a lot of sweat.
- Learn how to reinvent yourself periodically. Don’t become stale, or boring. Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define it for you.
Outside of work, what defines you as a person?
- My identity as a musician. I’ve advocated on Harvard Business Review for working less and spending more time on hobbies. This advice has been very well received by the tech community.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Running a growth marketing bootcamp – a business where I teach and mentor young digital marketers how to become successful by elevating their skill sets.
- Growing my side project – Musicians in Tech.
How can you be reached?
► Website: https://officialgaetano.com/
► Apple Music – https://music.apple.com/us/artist/gaetano/1462567527
► Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/official_gaetano
► LinkedIn –https://www.linkedin.com/in/officialg/
► Twitter – https://twitter.com/gaetano_nyc
► Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/OfficialGaetano
► SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/officialgaetano
► Medium: https://medium.com/@Official_Gaetano