In 2001, Pat Houston negotiated the highest paid record deal in music history for $100 Million Dollars for her client Whitney Houston. With over 25 years of experience in promotions, marketing and management profession she worked within many aspects of the music industry, including strategic corporate relationships. Today, she oversees as Executor to Whitney’s Estate.
Between Pat’s career and family, she managed to establish a non-profit organization called Teen Summit- a program designed to Rebuild, Repair and Restore the lives of teens and young adults facing life challenges and provide the life management skills that so many young people lack. Her latest venture was the worldwide release of her personal candle line entitled MARION P. Candles which launched in 2011.
Her Agenda had a chance to catch up with Mrs. Houston to hear about her journey, here is what she shared:
Her Agenda: There’s often a bit of pressure that comes along with the ability to have several talents and professional work skills. Understanding that the journey is never clear, did you always have a “clear cut” end goal? If no, did you ever find yourself conforming to the pressur e to choose a career based on one skill set?
Pat Houston: Life is in seasons. When you are in high school your expectations are for you to make sure that your grades are in tact and when you’re in sports your making sure that you’re healthy for that particular sport; so at certain moments in your life you know that things have to happen in order for you to move forward . Once I was injured I had a focus to move on and I didn’t let failure take me down. You pass failure on your way to success and I guess that’s what I was doing. When I left Gardner Webb I knew that’s what I was there for and of course education but of course once the basketball was gone, I really had to put myself into education because it was all I had at that point. I did what I needed to do to get to the level and that’s what you need to do. I always tells people, the secret of their future is hidden in their daily routine and that’s how you have to look at life. You have to make sure that it’s something that you’re doing every day to get you where you need to be and to get something that you never had, you have to do something that you’ve never done, that’s always been my philosophy.
Her Agenda: During your time as a manager, you negotiated a $100 million dollar record deal for one of your clients. What was that experience like and how does this correlate to the struggle many woman face in negotiating for higher pay in the work place?
Pat Houston: That was at the very beginning when I started managing Whitney [Houston]’s career. She was coming into new management, Clive Davis had moved from the record label and LA Reid had taken over Clive’s position. Everything was new for her, new management, new lawyers, new record execs it was a chance for every last one of us to reinvent and make something happen. [The music industry] is dominated by men and most executives are men. You just have to walk into a situation as a person that’s credible to get the job done rather than focusing on your gender. When I walk into a room, I walk into the room not as a black woman but a woman that’s there for a purpose and to get the job done and that was my purpose.
I didn’t do it alone, I had a powerful network in LA Reid and in the attorney’s. The attorneys were incredible. I was working with some incredible men, and I knew my lane, they knew theirs and we got the job done and that’s why she got that big deal.
Her Agenda: How much has the industry changed with the rise of social media? There are so many ways to get discovered, self promote and function as an independent artist. Does that aspect become trivial when working with a musical legend?
Pat Houston: Musical legends, if you’re talking about the Clive Davis’ of the world, him primarily because I think he’s just god to the industry, not God but god to the industry, he’s been around for a very long time. The thing is, we’ve had to deal with change all of our life and we adapt to the change that we’re introduced to from social media to technology. We have to change with the times or stick to tradition which is stability and strong foundation. There’s a lot of artists out there like Janelle Monae who has her own label, there’s quite a few of them that do. Everything is about timing, and it’s what you desire, if you feel that you are the workaholic, you can get out there, you know what you want for yourself, nobody else can tell you how to invent yourself and reinvent yourself then those are the ones that make it. For those who do not have those elements in their character, they have to try to go through the musical legends to get it done because they don’t really have the niche or the know how. You have to use those people to get where you want to but there are some out there that have the ability and already know what they want and choose not to go through any type of loops or changes to get there and to me those are very strong entertainers and they are out there.
Her Agenda: You discovered a bit about yourself during your study abroad experience in Paris. What are some things a woman in her 20s in bound to learn while exploring abroad?
Pat Houston: Living life through a bigger lens. Learning to live outside of the box, outside of the walls of where you are in. If you’re in North Carolina and you want to move, or if you’re in Chicago and you see something bigger than what you’ve seen and you recognize that and you internalize that and when you personalize that, you’re personalizing your life in the way in which you want to live it and not the way another person wants you to live it. Once you really know that and you know your place in society, you just go for it and you do it and you don’t worry about what other people say because like ears, opinions, everybody’s got them. People are going to always judge you and naysers are just always going to be naysers and we know that to be true. You just have to stay on your path and not deviate all your dreams. When you really think about it and you feel that God is involved in your dreams and you’re very involved in His there is nothing that can stop you. It gives you such a sense of peace.
Her Agenda: What’s your every day motto?
Pat Houston: The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.
Her Agenda: You’ve had a hand in creating several service initiatives for your community. What’s some advice you would give to our readers concerning developing a philanthropic attitude as well as balancing their budding careers?
Pat Houston:Nothing is ever really about me, I love helping others help themselves, that’s when you know what your purpose is. I’ve been on a journey for a very long time. I always knew my lane and stayed in my lane, when I got married, I became a wife and with that come specific obligations. When my husband and I three years later decided to have a daughter, I became a mother and I knew as a mother there are specific obligations that were required of me to get things done. When I became a sister-in law and a friend and daughter in law to my extended family there were specific obligations that come with that. When you know that you have an obligation to whatever it is that you have to do, you have to stick with that. I think when you understand and know what your boundaries are, any and everything you do, you can balance it out. You can’t get upset because you have to cook dinner for your husband and you can’t get upset because you have to pick your kid up, you can’t have an attitude about having to travel on your job because these are choices that we make. When we make those choices we have to live up to those choices and be able to move accordingly.
Her Agenda: Do you have advice on how to continue building a professional brand even when you’re going through personal and private struggles? What was the experience like balancing your personal life and creating Marion P candles?
Pat Houston:You know Marion P, that’s my name. It’s a name give by my parents, Marion Patricia and Whitney was the first one to start calling me Marion P and I didn’t realize what I meant to her until she started messing with me, when she joked. Marion P to me is excellence faithfulness, gratitude, faithfulness, order. I was extremely humbled by that, she always told me and she spent all of her holidays here and she loved the way I did things in the home and loved the way I handled my life and managed my life and she said, “why don’t you start designing some sheets, do some aroma therapy, do something with that name?” She said “I’m not kidding” and I said “You do it!” and she said “It’s not about me, it’s about love and I just believed that this would be something beautiful we’ll do it together.” I thought about it and I said you know what I’m going to come up with candles because we both love candles and when I decide to do this she was at a point in her life where she was having struggles. I said “Here I am…she has never endorsed anything in her life, for this woman to endorse Marion P she wants to move into something else by way of me, and I’m going to do it.”
The candle line is called Marion P inspired by Whitney Houston because it’s the truth, that’s what it is, I wouldn’t have made that move without her. She inspired me to do what I did and I was told that maybe I shouldn’t put her name on the box seeing that so much is going on and I said I can’t do that. I can’t do that and I will not do that because I would not feel comfortable. I know it would have broken her heart for me to put Marion P and not include her name anywhere because she really did inspire Marion P and I did it. I researched and for over a year and it was 2010 when I decided that I was really going to do this and when I did it was one of the happiest moments of my life. To see something, I mean we actually did it and everything that was going on in our life with managing her and us really trying to reinvent (she hated that word) but her trying to reinvent herself and came out with a new album we were determined for this candle line to come out and we did it and I’m proud of that. I’m proud of that for me and I’m more proud of it for her because it is something she really wanted and I was very happy that I did it.
So with the balance it’s a matter of knowing what you want to do and going for it, just do it you have to.