Alyssa, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview, and also for donating your time and expertise for our most recent Silent Auction in support of youth. We greatly appreciate your fantastic contribution!
Why is it important for you to support missions like Mentor Foundation USA and other like-minded organizations that support youth?
When I reflect on my life and the various struggles I’ve endured, the most tangible thing that has pulled me out of each and every dark moment, aside from my faith, was the light offered to me by a mentor. Just a glimpse of hope was all I needed in order to push past barriers that I was convinced would always stand in my way. Similarly, I truly believe that every individual needs this type of support. And when I say “every” individual, I mean it.
This is not only relevant to kids who come from rough environments; the same can apply to kids growing up in the most luxurious homes that you can imagine. For example, I’ll never forget back in 2016 when I was on a trip to the east coast and met a few seventh graders from an extremely wealthy neighborhood. I hadn’t known them longer than twenty minutes before they openly shared stories of their excessive partying escapades, paired with repeated suicidal attempts; when I asked them why they felt so open to sharing, they said “because you seem open to listening.” That really stuck with me. Sometimes all someone needs is to be heard. The simple act of listening is a form of mentorship, and the step that follows is often the most life-changing: reinforcing a future of hope. Mentors don’t have to be formally trained, but it’s always special when a group of mentors come together to achieve a common goal. So, for me, Mentor Foundation USA has an incredible way of harnessing the power of an individual and transforming it into tangible results for the collective.
The simple act of listening is a form of mentorship, and the step that follows is often the most life changing: reinforcing a future of hope.- Alyssa Lein Bryant (Smith)
Most notably, you held the role of VP of Business at legendary Quincy Jones Productions, Inc. for 3 years, and was at the company for 8.5 years in total before starting your own company, Alein Creative, in 2022. Would you mind sharing the story of how you came to achieve this position?
When I was a sophomore at Loyola Marymount University, the dean of the business school forwarded an emailed job posting from Quincy Jones Productions, Inc. to all of the business students. The posting was an internship position in the area of talent management, and it specifically stated an interest in graduating seniors only. Once again, I was only a sophomore, but as the saying goes “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” So, I took my shot and wound up landing the internship after multiple rounds of interviews. Long story short, I was offered a full-time position at the end of the semester, but I declined, because finishing my degree was of the utmost importance to me. I was also working other jobs in event management at the time and had been an avid public speaker in both local and national settings. However, I believe that complex situations are simply escalated pathways to solutions, so I countered with a part-time position that was accepted. I held that role up until receiving my BBA with an emphasis in marketing. I then continued as a full-time employee, advancing through the roles of Talent Manager; Project Coordinator; Chief of Staff; and ultimately Vice President of Business. I always knew I would work in music, so landing at QJP was the perfect blend of my knowledge of and excitement for music, on top of my experience and expertise in marketing.
I truly enjoyed my time at the company, and it will forever be an honor of a lifetime to work with the one and only, Quincy Jones; I have also gained some of the greatest relationships with my colleagues, our artists, and partners. Moving forward, I’m excited to continue working with QJP in the capacity of Senior Advisor and manage incredible artists/collectives such as ASHER YELO and Music Box. As for Alein Creative, my creative advising company, I am looking forward to sharing the exciting projects I am working on in the areas of writing, producing, public speaking, and more.
What does a normal day at work look like for you with such an exciting job position?
I don’t think I’ve ever had a normal day at work! Every single day is truly different, because the nature of what I do is non-linear. Some days it’s filled with creative writing, other days it’s about problem solving, and more often than not, back-to-back with client consulting. Such a disparity in regularity isn’t for everyone, but I truly enjoy waking up every day not knowing what is going to come my way.
What is your best advice or tip for young people with high ambitions?
There will always be plenty of talented people in the world vying for the same positions you are, but that list gets significantly narrowed down when you try to identify those who also have the drive to do something with it. View your competition as motivation to rise above, not a deterrent.
Is there any lesson you’ve learned along the way that you would like to share with our youth, network, and supporters?
People will often find reasons to discredit you, such as your age, experience, a “disability,” or your economic status, but if anything, those things make you especially unique. They provide you with an opportunity to not only prove others wrong, but for you to see how truly strong you are. Most importantly, strength gives way to longevity, and longevity gives way to legacy.
People will often find reasons to discredit you, such as your age, experience, a “disability”, or your economic status, but if anything, those things make you especially unique.- Alyssa Lein Bryant (Smith)
You are also known for making sure to use your voice and platform to advocate for the advancement of females in executive-level positions. What would you say is the greatest challenge we as a society face when it comes to this topic?
Not being taken seriously. And then when why try to be taken seriously, we are often made out to be a threat, because speaking up can be seen as intimidating. It may feel threatening to those on the receiving end, but when you see something that isn’t right, the only way it’ll change is if someone does something about it. It’s easier said than done, but trust me, it’s important.
Is there any special insight or advice you would like young girls to take with them from this interview?
You can be powerful, and so can your counterpart. It should never be about bashing one gender or side, to support the other. I’ve found that some of my most important relationships have come from building each other up, regardless of differences. I’d also add that just because society tells you something is “cool” doesn’t always mean it is. So, self-love doesn’t have to be at the expense of other people’s feelings.
Quincy Jones new book, “12 Notes: On Life and Creativity”, that you co-authored was recently released. How did that feel? And what is your favorite “note” from the book?
The last note, G# – “Recognize the Value of Life,” because it really captures the essence of what we were trying to convey as a whole. To share an excerpt:
“Now that we’ve reached the final Note in the scale, I must say that it’s wonderful to achieve goals and reach a certain level of success, but when it’s all said and done, what’s the point? It’s a question that I’ve been faced with many, many times, after having almost faced death many, many times. If you’re not careful, stacking up material accomplishments and possessions may provide a temporary sense of fulfillment, but only at the juncture of life and death did I come to learn that the simple, yet complex, gift of living life itself is the ultimate achievement.”
During your successful career you’ve met some truly amazing people, some of which you’ve also managed and mentored. What has been the biggest reward for you when mentoring others?
Simply seeing their growth personally and professionally. I’ve been fortunate enough to keep in touch with many of the interns I’ve hired throughout my time at QJP, and some of them now hold influential positions at various music entities. I would never say that I, as a mentor, am the reason that a mentee has excelled to a certain point, but I feel it’s an honor to play even the smallest role in helping to provide a bit of hope about one’s future.
Did you have a mentor or role model that inspired and motivated you growing up? What is the best thing they ever told you?
I know it might sound a bit cliché, but my mother. She instilled a sense of belief in me that is hard to shake, and possessing that type of thick skin is necessary, especially in the music industry!
Before we end our chat, we always like to ask the person we are talking with to share their favorite inspirational or motivational quote. What is yours?
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” – Mark Twain
Quincy shared this quote from Mark Twain with me when I was going through a rough patch in my life. It stuck with me ever since and has been one of the most profound lessons I’ve ever learned. We simply cannot excel if we have anger stored in our hearts. At some point, we have to let it go, or else it will be the thing that keeps us stuck in our past.
Thank you so much Alyssa for sharing your story, experiences, and very insightful thoughts. We know you are a role model for so many young people with your inspiring career journey and dedication!