Jessica Isaacs is the Director, Account Management at Live Nation Entertainment. What goes on behind the scenes at Live Nation? How do brands get connected with the concerts and events they sponsor? At first, that was the story that we wanted to bring you until we started talking to Jessica and learned about her unique brand of “work and hustle” and her powerful messages about making your own destiny:
- Tell us a little about your career path so far. How did you get to your current job? From the outset, my story is like many others in that I landed in my current role through an equation of networking, keeping an open mind, and doing my homework. In reality, we’re all our own best advocates, with our peers right in line. So in previous jobs, regardless of trajectory, contentment, and experience at the time, my goal was always to work hard and deliver quality work that led to being able to sell myself as a valuable asset with references to support.
- How did you land your first job out of college? How picky should you be about that first job? I always knew that I wanted to work in sports and entertainment, but resources within my undergrad program were heavily focused on an accounting or finance path. That motivated me to roll up my sleeves and put in work by calling or emailing upwards of 200 c-level executives at companies I had previously identified interest in working for. This was before the days of LinkedIn and Facebook had just launched, so the process taught me to how to research, investigate, and be bold. I figured the worst outcome would be a non-response, and in those cases, I’d be onto the next one.
Be picky in terms of what you’re interested in, but try to be open and flexible when crafting that list. For example, when people say they want to work in sports, there are many disciplines of an entire industry (finance, accounting, marketing, legal, etc.) and the flip side is that there are many companies that manage those functions within that specific industry. So the recommendation is to exploit your strengths, talk about your wins, but ultimately look at a sports focused company from many different angles (agencies, law firms, design firms, ticketing, event planning, etc.)
- I’m looking for a job, and my experience on my resume so far is not great. What can I do to make myself stand out? Network. It’s the single answer everyone gets and the single answer that really makes an impact. Utilize the resources at your fingertips; LinkedIn, alumni groups, friends, family, teachers, the list goes on. There is nothing wrong with asking for help if you prove to someone that you’re worth putting their name on the line for. Cold email, cold call; there are nice people out there who are willing to help. Once you forge a connection, it gives you another opportunity to get your foot in the door and secure that interview.
- You have some great messages about persistence and perseverance. Please share. At some point you just have to put your head down, roll up your sleeves, and put in the work. There’s no easy way out and it shouldn’t be easy. The work and hustle that I put in when I was 20 years old, taught me lessons that are invaluable to this day. There’s no better feeling than when you earn it. I’m sure my hundreds of respectful follow up emails to total strangers sounded like I was begging in some instances, but I always made sure to say “please” and “thank you” because people were busy and took time out of their day for me, even if it wasn’t the outcome I was looking for. Be a stand up person, and people will respond.
- Do you think women are treated differently than men in your industry? Do you think it is any harder to be taken seriously as a woman? I absolutely do, but it’s hard to pinpoint. While I don’t have experience in other industries, it’s well known that women across the board aren’t treated equally in many cases. I’m fortunate to work somewhere where dialogue is encouraged about this topic, and strongly believe the more we talk about it and address it head on, the more progress we will make towards equal pay and equal treatment as it relates to opportunities for women.
I thankfully haven’t experienced a scenario where I haven’t been taken seriously as a woman, but know quite a few that have. I think as women, we can lead by example and let our success and performance set the tone so that there’s no question that we’re here to be taken seriously and demand the same level of respect as men. My hope is that one day this is no longer a topic of conversation because of the level playing field.
- Are there any must take classes if I’m interested in Sports or Entertainment Management? I think the core competencies are the most important; know how to run numbers, manage a budget, have a mid-level Excel skills, know basic marketing facets, communication skills, etc. I also find the case study method invaluable. It’s the closest platform to the working world without being in it yet and is a great tool to develop problem solving skills. Honestly, it all comes into play at some point in your career and the more well rounded your skill set can be, the more marketable you are.
- Please share with us your favorite quote, favorite song or other piece of inspiration or wisdom. I have two…
“Be a good listener” – My Dad
“Do your boss’s thinking for them” – A previous manager (taught me to try and anticipate every question I’d ever receive and then start the conversation, pitch, or meeting)
- What are your tips for finding balance in your life? You have to force it. It’s a learning process and takes awhile to find the right level of balance. As my career has progressed, I’ve learned what I need to prioritize. It also helps to work for really smart, understanding people who value their own personal life and have a strong sense of perspective. The other thing I’d say is that regardless of career level, you should never feel “bad” or “guilty” for taking your earned vacation if you have a set amount of vacation days. The second you set that tone, you can’t take it back and I’ve seen it happy so many times. If you have a limited amount of time off, use it because you deserve it and when your offer was made, someone already signed off on it.
- What makes you feel confident? Wins. Small, medium or large, if my team and I work hard on something, it’s up to me to merchandise it and seek feedback. We’re all in this together, so my wins become someone else’s wins, and vice versa. When the team hits one out of the park, it just feels good, helps build cred, and adds value to the long game.
- What does “She’s Fit To Lead” mean to you? How does someone become Fit To Lead? “She’s Fit To Lead” means female empowerment and the recognition that women, regardless of background, experience, and connections, have the ability to do anything they set their mind to. It’s really true. The first step is believing in yourself and developing that level of self confidence; if you believe it, others will.