Native New Yorker and Pace University graduate, Tola Lawal is no stranger to the marketing industry. Tola has been the force behind big campaigns such as the Carol's Daughter Healthy Hair College Tour and the widely successful launch of Hip Hop mogul Sean 'Diddy' Combs Blue Flame Agency. Like many entrepreneurs Tola balances a full-time career as Marketing Manager in the Brand Solutions/ Ad Sales department at BET while being the Director of Business Development aka Founder of SixOne7Creative (she's not a big fan of the term CEO). Tola's work with SixOne7Creative has garnered a respectable client portfolio that includes VH1, Reality Star Tami Roman, Ryan Leslie, Super Producers The Olympicks, Columbia Pictures and a bevy of other known brands. Read more about this Marketing Extraordinaire below! Describe your personal brand in three words
Marketing. Music. Creative.
30 second elevator pitch, Go!
I’m a marketing genius! By day I provide marketing strategy at BET in the Brand Solutions/Ad Sales department. I also run my own marketing and branding company, in which I produce youth consumer activations for brands, clients include Carol’s Daughter, Heat Free Hair and Pynk Magazine. I execute marketing and public relations plans for music brands and provide workshops for individuals who want to develop their own personal brands.
Current position and your typical work day
Brand Solutions Manager at BET and Business Development at SixOne7Creative. I start my day at 7 am to get ready to head to the office for 9:30. I usually respond to email during my commute and review the days “to-do” list. I’m at the office from 9:30 to usually 6:30/ 7. What happens in those hours is never the same. It’s a combination of meetings, conference calls, creating marketing decks and executions. My company work is usually responding to emails and calls. After work there’s always an event that I’m either producing, working or attending, but if not I run home, respond to email and write out the to do list for the next day. My day usually ends around 1 am.
How have you developed your brand?
Digitally, I try to make sure my digital extensions remain concise, consistent and are clear a representation of what I want people to know me for! Personally, I'm all about cultivating genuine relationships, collaborating with like-minded movers and shakers and contributing to projects that make sense. All of those things add to ones personal and professional value, your brand!
Explain the role that your personal brand played in getting you to where you are today.
Your personal brand & digital footprint should reflect exactly what you want people to know about you when they search. An old boss of mine told me that in addition to a great interview, he hired me because of my twitter engagement. That’s when I knew it was real. People DO pay attention to your digital presence.
Personal brands attract opportunities. What has been the greatest opportunity you have gotten?
I had the opportunity to produce a major college tour for Carols Daughter last year. A number of opportunities have come my way since then.
Who are some of your mentors and why?
I like to call my mentors my “Starting 5”. You should have a mentor that can advise you in different aspects of your life. Some of my mentors are Michael Brinkley (Big Sean’s Manager). I call him the quiet storm. The man is so tranquil is scary. You need someone like him in your life to keep you calm when you feel out of control. Lanre Gaba (VP of A & R Admin at Atlantic) is like a sister to me. I go to her for advice on the music industry and most times to just bounce ideas off of her. She always makes me feel like I’m a genius and on the right track. Courtney Oliver (Nickelodeon) is like a mother to me. Oddly enough she and my mother have the same birthday. She’s there to guide me professionally and helps me maneuver in the corporate world
What were the steps you took in college that impacted your professional success?
I was involved on campus and I interned while in school. I was President of the Black Student Union for two years and active in everything. My sophomore year, when I was ready for an internship, I printed out my resume, wrote down a list of all of the labels (back then we have a ton to choose from) and other places that I was interested in interning at. Then I "borrowed" some of those Kraft 9” x 12” envelopes from my on campus job and snail mailed my resume. I received about 6 call backs. That was the beginning and I was excited!
What would you say to a young person who wants to work in your industry?
This is no cake-walk. Leave the sense of entitlement at the door. Bring your “A” game and be ready to work. Stick with it. This does not happen overnight. Do your research, always be prepared. Be creative, think outside of the box and read. You’d be surprised what you can find in a book.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
A couple of college tours with some amazing brands! The rest you’ll just have to wait and see!
What has been your biggest branding challenge thus far?
Being a creative you come up with a millions ideas all the time. Learning how to streamline those thoughts and to focus on what exactly you want your brand to represent is a challenge. Learning how to hone in on one thing, master that thing and then move on is important.
Connect with Tola!