We had the pleasure of meeting Thanh Nguyen this year at SXSW. What immediately stood out to us about Thanh is his calm, welcoming energy and his outlook on life. Thanh oozes grey (read on and you’ll see what we mean).

Thanh has “grown up” at Atlantic Records, starting 6 years ago on the marketing team to now leading Digital Marketing for the pop-rock unit. He’s worked with artists like Matchbox 20, Coldplay, Jason Mraz and Bruno Mars and has been able to combine his love of technology and music when creating marketing campaigns for these great artists.

One of our biggest takeaways from Thanh is that living in the grey is about being proactive in creating the life you want. Consider this as you construct your own grey life and be sure to soak in Thanh’s other inspiring words from the interview below:

What does living in the grey mean to you?

It means there’s no absolute, life can be approached in so many different ways. You can either attack it or be on the receiving end of whatever comes your way. I believe it’s about balancing between the two.

When did you realize that you could take your passion for music and make it your career?

I was very lucky; I knew I wanted to be involved in the business of music when I was in 4thgrade. I never had any musical talents but I always had very eclectic taste and was just always drawn to it. I used to buy CDs and go through all the liner notes. As a kid it was a dream to one day be featured in the notes. I wanted to be a part of something I truly loved.

What was your first step?

In high school I was really into producing so I was trying to do production for local artists and friends. I got serious with it in college when I landed an opportunity as a College Rep for Warner Elektra Atlantic. From there I just put blinders on and went after it.

Do you have a boundary between work and life? If so, how do you define it?

It’s a blurred line. I don’t believe you can be successful in this business if you’re only in it for the business aspect. Anyone I know that has had success it’s more than just a job for them. You have to make it part of your lifestyle, it’s cliché to say but it’s true. I try to stay creative and involve myself in projects outside of work, some are music related and some are not but it gives me an outlet to grow and continue to be creative.

Who is a mentor of yours and how do you nurture that relationship?

I have so many inspiring people around me. Our chairman, Julie Greenwald, is a big inspiration. She really sets the tone for our company and leads by example. It’s amazing to see her rally everyone, she really brings out everyone’s best qualities.

Jac Holzman, the founder of Elektra Records, is another one; he’s always given me great insight. We’ve developed a friendship from working on the Elektra anniversary project together. We stay in touch and bounce ideas off of each other, he’s been doing this for over 60 years and still works with the same mentality he had on day one.

What’s the first thing you read in the morning?

My email and Twitter feed.

What are three things you make sure you do everyday?

Run, eat healthy (this is a major try and I usually fail) and emit positive vibes. All in that order.

Do you have a motto?

Make your next move your best move.

How do you ensure your intentions become actions?

I try not to get overwhelmed by the task or a situation. Everything is manageable in doses. Taking steps vs. leaps helps me accomplish my goals.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Never expedite your dreams; you’ll suffer greatly for it. Jac Holzman said that to me once. It stuck with me and made me more conscious of the process and being mindful of the details. There are no shortcuts to success only hard work, but enjoying the journey along the way is key.

What advice do you have for others beginning their grey journey?

Be patient. It’s advice that I try to give to myself. I don’t consider myself successful because it’s a lifelong chase. I’m learning to be more patient and having more trust in the process and continue to work hard. Also don’t be afraid to fail. You can will your way through anything.


Share your favorite lessons from Thanh in the comments below! 

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