The Importance of Creating Your Own Lane in Business with Guest Ron Woodall

Welcome to another episode of Launched & Legal with Dayna Thomas, Esq., entrepreneurship attorney and law firm coach. Launched & Legal is an Atlanta Small Business Network original series dedicated to bringing entrepreneurs and business owners the best practices and tips for strategizing, legalizing, and monetizing their ventures. Today, Dayna talks about creating your own lane in your industry with special guest Ron Woodall, CEO of The Talent Connect.

If you have questions or comments about today’s show, send Dayna a message or comment on Instagram @daynathomaslaw.

Transcription:

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
On today’s show, we’ll be talking about creating your own lane in your industry. One common barrier to starting a business is thinking that the market is saturated. Maybe you’re passionate about starting a certain type of business, but discouraged because of all of the competitors, or maybe you haven’t quite nailed down what would make your business better or different from the others. Well, today we’ll be hearing from Ron Wink Woodall, the founder and CEO of The Talent Connect, an entertainment service hub that offers talent management, merchandise, career and mindset consultation, and motivational empowerment for creative talent across the entertainment industry.

Not only is Ron a talent management extraordinaire, he was also one of my middle school guidance counselors at Baldwin Middle School in Long Island, New York. Since then, Ron has created his own lane in the talent management industry, which has helped his business stand out from the rest. Today, you’ll hear about his journey and learn how you can also create your own lane in your industry. Ron Woodall, who I formerly called Mr. Woodall, but not anymore. I’m so happy to have you, welcome.

Ron Woodall:
I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for having me.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
Absolutely. I definitely want to get into The Talent Connect and focusing on how you created your own lane, that’s the topic today. We’ll be talking about your journey and of course, any advice that you might have for our viewers who want to create their own lane. Tell us about your background and how you came to the idea of The Talent Connect.

Ron Woodall:
Sure, sure. Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
You’re welcome.

Ron Woodall:
It’s such a pleasure to be here, to just have everything come full circle. I mean, this right here is amazing, and this is actually a part of how my story has always worked. To start off, I was a childhood actor from the age of about seven to 12 worked, I was in a theater company called The Black Spectrum Theater out in Queens, New York. Did pretty well. I was one of the leading actors at the theater company where we did several different play productions. Then of course, I did do one commercial, but I grew up in an area where it wasn’t as popular-

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
Oh, I know.

Ron Woodall:
To be an actor. You either played football or basketball. So I caved into the peer pressure and so then I started playing football and took some interest in there. Then by the time I graduated high school, I ended up going to college where I played football. But I wasn’t brought in for football, my grades weren’t as great. What they did, was they brought me into a HEOP program, this one was called the NOAH Program. That’s where I really learned more about myself. That’s where I learned of the power of looking at the value of yourself. Then from there, I decided to start looking into the space of servicing others. When I graduated, I graduated with a BA in psychology.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
From Hofstra, right?

Ron Woodall:
From Hofstra University, minor in Africana studies. But while I was there, I did venture back into acting, because I missed it. I got pulled out from peer pressure but-

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
But it’s your heart.

Ron Woodall:
But my heart and love brought me back in. This time around I wasn’t as successful, but I tried it. The benefit though of this next experience was I was able to try it with one of my really good friends, Tobias Truvillion, who many know him as one of the actors on probably Empire, they’ve seen him on, they’ve seen him on Blue Bloods. Right now you’ll see him on First Wives Club with Jill Scott and Deborah Cox and he’s on a slew of other things. But I had a chance to watch his experience and through his experience, I was brought into the space of understanding what it takes to have talent, book shows. How do you package them? How do you move them through crowds? How do you position them so that they can grow into another level, because everyone’s trying to get to the next step.

Ron Woodall:
That’s how I would explain the business side. It’s a slow brew. Not everyone gets it right away. There’s some folks that are extremely successful right away but for many people, it takes years and years. That has been his story, he’s still growing. He’s doing amazing things, but he’s still has places to be. As he has been growing, my experience from college after graduating with my BA in psychology, I went on to get a MS.ED in school counseling, that’s what it is. I did that, of course, became a school counselor where you and I met.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
My counselor.

Ron Woodall:
Amazing. That experience alone has been truly awesome because it gave me a chance to do the thing that I love, which is servicing others. I learned to embrace that type of experience in life because there’s so much value in it. To watch people grow, to get a chance to hear what they’re about, what they’re interested in and then watching them take those steps along the way. That’s how I ventured into the talent manager space. Working as a school counselor, I of course became tenured. Then after tenure-ship, I still wanted to grow. Got all of my certifications and paperwork to become a principal or if I wanted to apply for a school district administrator. Yeah, it’s called a SDA, school district administrator certification where if I wanted to apply for a superintendent, you have to have the experience of course. But I still had the credentials for that.

Ron Woodall:
I continued to move up and up and up, but I wasn’t able to I guess, apply my leadership creativity, I should say, the way I wanted to.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
I got it.

Ron Woodall:
For me it was what do I do different, or how do I position myself where I can exercise my leadership creativity? That’s where I ventured into the one thing that kept coming back to me, which was the experience that I’ve had in the entertainment sector of managing talent and managing Tobias and watching him grow and watching others come this way to want to do the same thing. That’s where you have me rolling into the talent management space.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
That’s amazing. You know what, there are no mistakes. Your path is exactly perfect for you. What’s interesting is I actually got into entertainment law from being the talent myself. A lot of people don’t know that. When I was in was it middle school? Yeah, middle school actually I did some acting and singing and auditioned for The Lion King on Broadway, all that stuff when I was in New York. But then as I got a little bit older and I moved to Baldwin, then I got out of that space. I took my first legal course at Baldwin High School and that’s when I said, “You know what, how can I marry my love for entertainment, but then now I love business and law,” and that’s how entertainment law came for me. It was interesting, the parallels. So I completely understand where you’re coming from.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
You mentioned about starting The Talent Connect and so what would you say makes The Talent Connect different from other talent management companies?

Ron Woodall:
I would have to say my approach. For me, I mean, look, we all have to offer talent the opportunity to maximize what they have going on with themselves. If you have an actor who is working about three or four jobs, you have to help manage that space. Then whatever’s missing, you want to fill in those blanks. Then of course, if you have a plan in place, and which you should, you should be looking at what is needed in order to get them into that next level. Like I said, everyone has got a new level to get to. For me, I also bring my mental health background.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
So important.

Ron Woodall:
Extremely important.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
So important.

Ron Woodall:
It’s unfortunate. I’ve watched a lot of people and you see it in the news also. I mean, you have Michael K. Williams, you have Simone Biles. Justin Bieber talks about his need for mental health support over time. I mean, everyone needs it. What I say to people is, “Hey, look, if you have the time and money and energy to invest in a personal trainer at the gym to take care of your exterior, then you can also take the time to invest or at least put in the time and energy to take care of your insides, the core, because that’s the most important part.” People can see that, believe it or not, most of the time more than the outside. The outside’s the show. Exactly.

Ron Woodall:
For me, I pay a lot of attention to that. In fact, it’s not a requirement, but when we are onboarding talent, that’s something that’s important. Understanding that they’re going to be willing to invest in their personal lives, into their personal selves because holding onto your internal identity is what’s going to help you thrive. If you continue to try to be a chameleon as you are going into these different circles, trying to give others what they’re looking for and you completely lose yourself. Even though when you’re an actor, you can still hold onto yourself. But if you completely lose yourself, you’re going to have a hard time down the road.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
Which we’ve seen actors do before.

Ron Woodall:
Absolutely. Oh, it exists.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
Oh, my gosh. Especially in the entertainment industry where there’s so much pressure. You mentioned about being a chameleon. In one room you’d be like this and the next room you’re like this. Then this other producer or director wants you to be like this, or you’re not this enough.

Ron Woodall:
Many people have a hard time learning how to transition in and in and out of character and themselves. You don’t have to be a character in real life. You’re a character on scene. That’s fine, do that there, but leave that on a shelf when you leave the scene. We see people do that all the time and sometimes it’s confusing. I’m never going to say that it’s an easy thing. It’s a practice. You have to put the time and effort into it. But you see it all the time. But it’s worth the investment because if you want to have longevity in this industry, in this business, because that’s what it is, you have to put in the time and energy to hold onto who you are. That’s what we focus on. That’s the difference, that’s one of the key differences. I’m sure there are other things that I can identify, but I don’t want to keep you here for four hours.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
I love that you focus on the mental health aspect because I think in entertainment and entrepreneurship in general, people don’t realize how that is an extreme foundation for everything that we’re doing. Even for my online courses, my first lesson is always about your mindset, because if you don’t have the right mindset, then you can’t build on anything else. It’s impeccable and incredible that that’s something that your business focuses on because I know being in the entertainment business side myself, that usually it’s just bottom line, revenue, dollars, numbers. But if managers-

Ron Woodall:
Which is important to survive.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
Yes, it is. But I think you reach more of that if your talent was stable, not only physically, but mentally, as well. I think that’s great. I love that you solidified a niche for your business. What advice would you have to other business owners that want to do something like that, as well and solidify a niche, but they just don’t know how do I even nail it down?

Ron Woodall:
Yeah. I’m going to say what a really wise person said to me when I was trying to figure it out. I was in college and I still didn’t know what I wanted to be. I just knew that I loved working with others. I loved offering service. I found that love in college when I was going through the NOAH Program, because I learned to love myself. When you have love for yourself, then you can love others. And this is not just for business or for entrepreneurs, it can be for anybody. Find something that you would love doing even if you weren’t getting paid for it. If you can do that, then you’re going to enjoy whatever you’re getting paid for. I believe in that, because I’m blown away by some of the things, some of the experiences I’ve had through the work that I’ve done.

Ron Woodall:
Yes, I’ve been paid to be a part of some of these things that have happened. But at the end of the day, if I wasn’t getting paid, I’d still be amazed. I’d still be amazed to sit here, to look at you, Dayna Thomas. I’m not even going to say how many years later, because I don’t want to give up my time, but just look at you.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
Thank you.

Ron Woodall:
This 12 year old in a school, trying to figure out life, trying to fit into groups, although you were pretty popular. But we have kids that don’t know what’s going on and then trying to figure it out. It takes that little opportunity for them to start plugging and trying and start trying to head somewhere to figure out along that way, as you’re taking your journey, eventually you’re going to find your way. Look at you, a successful attorney.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
Thank you.

Ron Woodall:
Copyright law, I’m coming to you now. I’m coming to you for counsel.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
Full circle again.

Ron Woodall:
How amazing has that been? For me, that’s the fruits of my labor. Those are the things that I enjoy doing. I would tell anybody, if you are looking to take on the challenge of becoming an entrepreneur, because it’s not all that easy, it’s not as peachy. Before I got here I put out a few fires and when I leave, I’m going to have to put out some fires.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
It happens, yeah.

Ron Woodall:
But the reality is I enjoy the results.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
That’s right, it’s worth it.

Ron Woodall:
Absolutely, I love the fact that when I leave here that fire that we put out earlier, we’re going to have someone on a network television show because we were able to put that fire out. We help someone move through life in a way where it’s going to allow them to become greater and better. I enjoy those fruits of the labor.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
Now that we talked a little bit about how we met, I think that’s a great segue for this next question, because I would love to know, even though I can picture it now from the conversations that we’re having, but how would you say that your experience as a guidance counselor has helped with you as a talent manager? Now I can make the connections, but I would love to hear from you.

Ron Woodall:
Oh, man.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
So much, right?

Ron Woodall:
It’s so parallel. When you think of a child or student, they come to you with potential, correct?

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
Yep.

Ron Woodall:
And they have this passion. Well, some don’t and you have to try to work with them on it. But I want to be a doctor, I want to be a lawyer. They don’t know what they want, but they want something. There’s that potential. They show their potential through their achievements. Making the honor roll, being to class on time, getting all of those recommendations from teachers. They’re showing all of the general potential it takes to do whatever you want to be. It’s like, “Okay, that’s what you want to do and so let’s identify that space.” You do that with students, you identify where they want to be and then you look at a reasonable path for them to take steps to get there.

Ron Woodall:
For the time you’re with them, because you’re not with them completely. You went on to high school, but for the time you’re with them, you get a chance to walk them through some of those paths. In the middle school level, it might be okay, I want to do something with medicine. So you might be a part of the Science Olympiads, remember that? Well, I don’t know if it was science for you, but I’m just giving an example. Or I want to be a sports figure, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. You start to help that student take those steps because along that way and as long as they are taking steps towards something, they’re going to end somewhere. But you have to take the steps. Then sometimes you have to shift. I don’t like that, I wanted to go into the medical field, but I have to take blood. Well, hey, let’s look into something else. It’s better to find that out as a middle school student or even high school, as opposed to paying tens of thousands of dollars in the university to find out later.

Ron Woodall:
Very similar to students, very similar to that path of wanting to explore where you’d like to be. Of course, the potential has to be there, it has to be there. Then but once that potential is there, then it’s let’s try it. As a talent, hey I only book co-star roles, I want to go into guest star. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the different levels, but you help them identify what those next steps are and what are those steps that we’re going to take to get there.

Ron Woodall:
We may need to update your head shots. We may need to get you more content. Yeah, you’re auditioning for the big stuff, but guess what, a student project is just as good. Nowadays we’re working in an industry or we’re living in a world where you can create whatever you want. This is much different from when I started. I’m not saying when I started, but I’m just saying. You help them take those steps along that path that you charted and you pay attention along the way, because there may be some things that are coming up along that trip that you may want to explore down the road that might have been really great for you. But as they’re taking their steps, you help them get there.

Ron Woodall:
That’s the same thing, they’re aligned. It’s the formula is the… Well, it’s my formula. I’m going to make it up right now.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
That’s fine, let’s go.

Ron Woodall:
You take the student or the talent and you have the goal and then you have the steps that you’re going to help them chart along the way. Then you pay attention to that path along the way. If there’s success, you keep it up. If there are things that need to be changed, then you do that. But that’s the idea of how it works. It’s the same formula, but different industries. In both industries, you have to understand how it works. You don’t have to be an expert in everything. I don’t have to be a science teacher or have been a math teacher in order to be a principal. I need to know how to get information from my math teachers in order to make it work. Same thing in the entertainment industry. I don’t need to be an attorney, I don’t need to be a CPA. I have some really great contacts in the CPA and the attorney and even in the copyright space.

Ron Woodall:
My point is, it’s very similar. They’re aligned completely and it makes me enjoy the space so much more because it’s that personal niche that I was able to roll into. I don’t know how many other school counselors that are able to run into the talent management space or beyond that because we’re beyond that. But I don’t know how many others are able to do that. I was able to find this lane and I’ve been running ever since and it’s been so amazing.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
It is great. You know what that reminds me too, do your talent, do they understand that as an entertainer, they’re also entrepreneurs? That’s something that I’ve had to teach my clients in the entertainment space. Yes, even though you haven’t traditionally started a business, you’re an entertainer, so you are your business, you are your brand. Do you think that entertainers typically understand that when they’re moving or what are the parallels to you between being an entertainer and an entrepreneur?

Ron Woodall:
I find that the more successful actors or I call anyone, actor, director, producer, I call them talent. I find the more successful talent in actors or directors or whatever, I find them to be more successful when they understand that it’s a business. Because when you understand it’s a business, then you understand that there are certain things that you’re going to have to do, regardless of what your personality is.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
That’s right.

Ron Woodall:
Let me say that again.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
The spectrum of personalities.

Ron Woodall:
Yes, yes. There are things that you’re just going to have to do because it’s a business, like being professional, like being on time. There’s a whole list. I’m not going to hold you up because I know I’m very wordy, but you get my point, you get my point.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
No, you’re good. No, you’re good. I often teach about that and that’s something that I definitely want whoever’s watching to know about, is that when you’re an entertainer, you are an entrepreneur. When you are an entrepreneur, you might not be an entertainer, but all entertainers are entrepreneurs. As it relates to having LLCs and needing contracts, that’s a big part of what you do, as well. Contracts and trademarking your name and copywriting the content that you’re creating, your reels and different things like that. That is what entrepreneurs do and that’s what entertainers should do as well. So it’s very, very similar.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
Ron, tell us about your fantastic book, The Pocket Book of Quotes. I love it, tell us about the book and what your goals are for the readers.

Ron Woodall:
Absolutely. Say that again, I love this book.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
I can tell.

Ron Woodall:
The idea of the book came up, there are going to be a line of books that come out. But I came up with this one first because it was something that I wanted to get out immediately because books can be a slow brew. But one of the things to me that was really simple to jump into was what we’re about as a entertainment service hub. We are about motivating, we are about uplifting, we are about doing everything that we can to help talent understand that they are worthy. That they are self affirmed, that they don’t have to depend on anyone to give them a pass.

Ron Woodall:
We may want to book something, but that doesn’t mean that because you didn’t book it, that you’re not worthy and that you didn’t do very well on that audition. Many times the reason why certain auditions don’t work out, a lot of times it has nothing to do with you as a talent, it has everything else to do with something else in the business. People don’t know that and the idea behind this book was to help keep them motivated. That’s the title, The Pocket Book of Quotes and Actor’s Guide to Motivation. If you are someone who is about to go into an audition and you are second guessing what’s going on with yourself or, “Oh, would they want this? Last time I went into an audition I didn’t get any feedback on this, so should I shift this?”

Ron Woodall:
No, you need to go in and do exactly what it is that you trained for. As long as you’re doing your work, as long as you are doing your research and you are doing all that you need to do, you’re going to go in there and you’re going to kill that audition. It may not go your way, but that does not necessarily mean it didn’t go your way. Because at the end of the day, that job may not come to you, but those casting directors who are watching you or those producers or directors who are in that room, they’re looking at you saying, “Okay, maybe they didn’t fit into this role because whatever, but we have these other projects. We don’t need this person in this co-star role, we might want to put this person in this guest star role on a series that I was thinking about that’s coming up next.”

Ron Woodall:
You always have to pay attention to the entire picture and not so much personalize or internalize what’s going on. Unfortunately, in this business a lot of things are fast paced so you may not get all the answers. But that doesn’t mean you did anything wrong and that’s what this book is for.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
That’s right, because what’s meant for you is for you and that might be meant for somebody else.

Ron Woodall:
Wow! One of my mentors, Monty Ross, he says that. Monty Ross is one of the founders of 40 acres and a Mule with Spike Lee. He says, “What is for you will be for you,” just that simple. So don’t go in there and lose your brain or walk out and lose your brain because you didn’t hear something right away. There are a lot of things going on, a lot of moving parts and you are part of it, but not everything. That’s not the reason why it didn’t go your way. Again, that’s what this book is about. It’s there to be that motivational source.

Ron Woodall:
That’s really what the company is, to be honest with you. We are known for our talent management, but overall we are a motivational resource for actors. And it’s something that really can be applied across to any industry, if you think about it. If you’re going on an interview for a job, look, if you’ve done your research and you have those credentials and you worked hard and you finished that master’s program or MBA or doctorate, whatever it is, then you got this. Just go in-

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
That’s the formula, absolutely.

Ron Woodall:
That’s right.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
And if you don’t, that’s okay too.

Ron Woodall:
That’s okay because what is for you will be.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
Is for you, absolutely. I always say the only way that you can fail is if you quit.

Ron Woodall:
Oh, my goodness.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
If you keep going, you will ultimately be successful. But if you stop, you are guaranteed to fail.

Ron Woodall:
Absolutely.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
I love the banter because both of us as entrepreneurs, we can understand how the mindset and just knowing who you are is so important. I think that a lot of platforms realistically do focus on formal education and legal aspects, which I do in finances and marketing and— It is important, which is why I do what I do. It’s extremely important. But there is an unwritten ingredient to the formula, which is written now, but I think needs more attention, which is the mindset and knowing who you are so that when there are challenges or you face rejection in entertainment or entrepreneurship, you can know that’s not a sign that you need to stop. That’s just a sign that you have to keep going, you’re onto something good and ultimately it will pop for you.

Ron Woodall:
Look at you. Oh, my goodness.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
Awesome. Tell everyone how we can keep up with you, how we can connect with The Talent Connect and then of course, purchase your book.

Ron Woodall:
Absolutely. Well, it’s just that simple. Am I looking here?

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
Sure.

Ron Woodall:
Actually, just to let you know, The Pocket Book of Quotes is small enough for you to put in your pocket, it’s made to be convenient. But anyway, The Pocket Book of Quotes can be found on our website, www.thetalentconnect.com. We also have other platforms like Instagram, where you can find us as well, The Talent Connect. If you want to just go directly to the store, it’s The Talent Connect Store. But again, everything you can find from the website, the book is going to be everywhere. Just punch it up into the Google stream if you can’t get to the website and just find us and just get motivated. Come on, this world is for you and if you don’t put your best foot forward, how do you expect to get as far as you need to go? Let’s do it.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
I love that. Well, thank you so much for joining me today. We definitely have to do this again. I know the audience is not only educated but inspired as well. Really, really appreciate your contribution today. Thank you, Mr. Woodall, Ron.

Ron Woodall:
Yes, student Dayna. Good to see you. Oh, my gosh.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
Thank you. Awesome.

Dayna Thomas Esq.:
Well, I hope today’s show helped to educate and inspire you as you pursue your business goals. Be sure to share today’s show with someone who can benefit and visit myasbn.com and subscribe. If you have any questions or comments about today’s show, I would love to hear from you. Send me a message or comments on Instagram @daynathomaslaw. Remember to tune in next week and every week to make sure your business is launched and legal.


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