What does the manager of John Legend and Meghan Trainor look for in a leader? Humility, above anything else.
Troy Carter is an entrepreneur and the mastermind and brand-builder behind some of the world’s most recognizable celebrities, including Lady Gaga, Miguel, and Lindsey Stirling. He is the Founder and CEO of the entertainment company Atom Factory, and has over 80 holdings in top startups, including Uber, Spotify, DropBox, and Warby Parker.
In all of his endeavors, Troy has shown an incredible ability to understand people. He knows what people are thinking, what they’re feeling, and how to translate these feelings into successful business strategies. “Being able to see through the eyes of the consumer or other people is very important as a leader,” he says. “Then you never get caught with the emperor’s new clothes.”
Carter began his career in Philadelphia working for Will Smith and James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment and joined Bad Boy Entertainment in 1995, where he worked with groundbreaking artists such as Notorious B.I.G.
Discovering Lady Gaga in 2007 made him big, but not overnight. According to an interview Carter did with FastCompany, when Gaga came to him, she told him she was going to “change the game.” At that time, she’d just been dropped by Def Jam Records, and Carter couldn’t get her song “Just Dance” on the radio. It took a lot of clever social media, intense networking, and keen business to make Gaga into an international sensation.
Around that time, Carter also began to invest in tech startups, and the more he invested, the better entry he got into some of the top companies like Uber and Warby Parker. He’s since launched careers for John Legend, Meghan Trainor, and Charlie Puth — all newer artists with tremendous careers — and continued his own career as a highly successful angel investor.
If he’s learned anything, it’s that failure is ok. You have to be able “to get knocked down and then get back up,” he says. “We used to have this toy as a kid — it was like this blow-up clown thing with the weighted bottom. And you punch it, and it goes down and gets back up. An entrepreneur needs that sort of trait for sure.”