Throughout my career, I’ve always had a hunger for growth and challenge. I am relentless in my pursuit of passion and purpose. A week before the COVID shutdown, I returned to Los Angeles after losing a parent and was at a point of personal and professional self-reflection as I felt at the core I was not living my best life and something was lacking. I had lost touch of my lifeforce and was depleted of energy. I acknowledged that something needed to be done and I had to pivot and change something in my life. At the time, it was difficult to tap into my energy and passion as I was mourning the loss of my parent and fearful as I transitioned out of a marriage. I recognized that this was the time for my rebirth but at the time I was fearful. So I began running and committed myself to this and quickly came alive. I started running 6 miles a day at the UCLA track where I began my Second Chapter. Run for life became my mantra and I embraced a new perspective that allowed me to discover my true power as I pushed out of my comfort zone and took the first steps to heal, letting me get closer to my true purpose and mission.
Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonald’s franchise in his 50's.
How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?
In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Edgar.
As an executive in the entertainment business, over the last 10 years Michelle Edgar has helped artists build out their brands and accelerate their reach. Her passion for supporting her clients stems from a lifelong love of music, beginning to play the piano at the age of five and growing into a trained concert. She applied that same diligence and focus to her love of sports and discovered her inner athlete on the track. Today, she has achieved her athletic goal as an All-American sprinter at the age of 38. “Just Do It” is her mantra and the way she lives her life.
Her goal when the shutdown happened was to get back on track and connect with her purpose and passion, while challenging herself both mentally and physically. As a woman in business, advancing into leadership roles in corporate America is fraught with hurdles and ceilings. She felt pursuing her law degree focused on entertainment, media and sports at UCLA Law would enable her to strengthen her skillset and further her path in being an unstoppable force in business.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born in London, raised in New Jersey and came to this country at the age of five with a strong British accent which sadly I lost along the way. I always had a strong work ethic as my family instilled this in me. We always held the immigrant mindset that anything is possible if you worked on it with discipline and focus. That philosophy was ingrained in everything I embraced and has carried throughout my life. At the age of 5, I discovered the piano and fell in love with the sound as it was a creative outlet that enabled me to express myself. I would sit and study at the piano for hours. My mother recognized that I had a gift and she invested in me through professional lessons to unleash my talent. I studied at the Manhattan School of Music for 13 years and then went to Northwestern University to train as a concert pianist, while double majoring in journalism with a business minor. My father always told me to have a back up plan and I ended up following his footsteps as a businesswoman. I always knew in my heart that with my business acumen and understanding of my craft, I could uniquely help shape artists careers through the lens of marketing and branding. My journey to the entertainment business was unconventional as I spent a summer in the talent agency mailroom and interning for Vanity Fair in London. My job in London, led to an opportunity at Vanity Fair in New York and I started my career in publishing, which led to my career as a journalist and beauty editor at WWD. One day my boss said to me, “Follow the Music’’ and at that moment I realized that music was missing from my life and I had to get back to my roots and passion.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My running coach always says, “It’s not the age, it’s the stage.” This always stuck with me. It’s never too late to find your true purpose and calling. It wasn’t until 38, that I tapped into the inner athlete in me. After 8 months of training, I set a goal with my coach to train to attain All-American status and after 7 days of training for two hours a day at 6 AM we achieved our goal when I ran 60 meters in 9.60. Looking back, I will never forget the day this all manifested, when one day I asked coach to drive down to the Olympic Training Center with me as I wanted to visualize what it would be like. It was the only day I left LA in the past year and the day culminated with Coach saying to me that we should earn All-American status and we did just that.
Sports was not something I grew up with. My typical week was, I went to high school and then spent Saturdays at music school for 9 hours. In my free time, I was prepping for concerts, which was practicing for more than 3 hours a day on top of school making it hard to have time for anything else. I once tried playing basketball and volleyball in school, but fractured my finger ending my high school athletic. 20 years passed until I competed in my first track race in July 2020.
You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
Passion: You always have to pursue your passion with purpose. It’s something you need to eat, sleep, breathe day in and day out — that’s the magic because then it never feels like work. That’s how I’ve built The XX Project and Music Unites. My passion for this drives me to continue creating and building and there hasn’t been a day in the past 10+ years that I haven’t woken up excited to contribute to both organizations. As Jeff Bezos always says every day is Day 1.
Focus: I train every day with my coach from 6–8 AM. My training and morning run sets the trajectory of my day and gives me the strength and power to perform at my best both at work, law school and every other aspect of my life. My focus allows me to get out of my comfort zone and confront my fears. Focus does come with sacrifice — as coach says, there’s only so much you can put on your plate before you begin losing your ability to accomplish your goals.
Determination: Be relentless in your pursuits of goals in order to see them through. I remember when I set out to be an agent, there was nothing that could stop me from achieving this goal. I lived in a culture of “yes” and wouldn’t take no as an answer and truly believed in myself and what I could offer my clients.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?
I feel very fortunate to have had an unconventional career journey across the entertainment, music, media business. The common thread has been my love for marketing and working with talent to launch impactful strategic partnerships and branding campaigns. I purposefully wanted to experience all facets of the entertainment and music business from working as an agent at ICM Partners to record companies Epic and Warner Bros. Records. I moved to Los Angeles almost 10 years ago to work in artist management at Red Light Management. I have worked with artists from Travis Scott to Mary J. Blige to amazing talent from Andra Day, Gary Clark Jr. to H.E.R. and Anderson Paak. It has also been a passion of mine to help the talent I work with to further amplify their voices to impact change through social impact work and artists philanthropic initiatives from women’s empowerment to voting and music education. Serving and building community and impacting change through my non-profit and women’s empowerment work has always been something I continue to focus on tied to my non-profit work Music Unites and women in leadership membership community The XX Project.
And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?
Throughout my career, I’ve always had a hunger for growth and challenge. I am relentless in my pursuit of passion and purpose. A week before the COVID shutdown, I returned to Los Angeles after losing a parent and was at a point of personal and professional self-reflection as I felt at the core I was not living my best life and something was lacking. I had lost touch of my lifeforce and was depleted of energy. I acknowledged that something needed to be done and I had to pivot and change something in my life. At the time, it was difficult to tap into my energy and passion as I was mourning the loss of my parent and fearful as I transitioned out of a marriage. I recognized that this was the time for my rebirth but at the time I was fearful. So I began running and committed myself to this and quickly came alive. I started running 6 miles a day at the UCLA track where I began my Second Chapter. Run for life became my mantra and I embraced a new perspective that allowed me to discover my true power as I pushed out of my comfort zone and took the first steps to heal, letting me get closer to my true purpose and mission. I then double downed and committed to pushing myself intellectually and then start law school at . As Coach says, “If you change your mind, you can change your life.”
Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?
My stepfather’s last words to me was “Will you move on with your life already?” This was the catalyst to my transformation. It took a series of traumatic experiences before I took control of my life and decided to invest in myself. I am transforming every day, through every step and by every mile. What I found in running and athletics was a universally positive way to heal and ignite a fire inside me. For the first time in a long time I felt liberated. I ran over 1000 miles in 2020! Coach called me the female Forrest Gump. My goal was to better myself and live my best life across all aspects — physically, mentally, emotionally and intellectually. Through hardship and a very challenging time, after losing a parent and getting a divorce, I took control of my life and went on my mission to “Run for Life” to find my lifeforce and true calling and purpose. This led to my journey at UCLA Law School, finding my Coach and turning into an All-American athlete, while totally transforming my mind and body. I tapped into my core and inner strength which transformed my body physically losing 30 pounds.
What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing?
I was always very active but I never tapped into my true athletic ability. Also to learn an entirely new sport while starting law school at the same time created a new set of challenges. I always welcome new ways of thinking and feel that if something is tough and makes you uncomfortable, you need to dive into it further. My coach said that learning track is all about overcoming life’s hurdles. I felt that if I could push myself out of my comfort zone, I would reach a new level in my personal and professional growth. When I race, I’m competing with myself. It’s not winning a race against your competitors, but breaking your best time. The training, discipline and focus I felt would enable me to grow as a leader as I learned new strategies of success through my training that I could apply to my business.
How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.
I’m excited to compete at the Olympic Training Center next week as this a dream come true. Looking back to when I visited the training center with Coach in November and seeing how far I’ve come six months I realize most all things are within reach if you are willing to commit. I’m also excited for my future journey into the business side of sports and seeing how I can help contribute to athletes and apply the same passion and expertise I have developed in the music business. I’m grateful to have discovered this passion as part of my Second Chapter and am excited for the journey ahead.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Coach Rucker always tells me that “Life is a marathon, not a sprint” and I’m grateful to have him shed his expertise as an incredible coach but also as a thoughtful mentor to me who has taught me so much about life. I’m grateful each day that he’s on this journey with me as we set achieve our goals. I believe my stepfather sent Coach to watch over me.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. :-)
I would love to go for a run with Phil Knight and hear about his incredible life journey and lessons on building his legacy building the most impactful global brand and business. I want to learn what excites him and is on his mind today. I would be honored to spend a day in the life Phil and have him put me to work and give me a challenge.
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