What Would Drew Do?


The ultimate dream is to do what you love and get paid for it… Drew Newlin hasn’t woken up yet. The 28 year old talent and business manager has made a career out of inspiring youth and managing his closest friends. Newlin was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska where he attended college at the University of Nebraska. His 17+ years of skateboarding led him to The Bay skatepark in Lincoln, where he met youth speaker, future client, and best friend, Mike Smith. The rest is history!

Find Your Grind spoke to Drew about his rockstar uncle, the hardest obstacles he’s overcome, and how your math class might actually be useful.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

What’s Your Title or Job?

I am the Business and Talent Manager for Mike Smith Live and The Harbor by Jostens.

Who did you look up to most growing up?

Outside of my favorite pro skateboarders, I looked up to my uncle Doug a lot, who’s one of the founding members of the band 311. They became really popular in the mid-90s and I can vividly remember watching them play on “The Late Show with David Letterman” when I was seven or eight years old. I think the rest of my family and I all realized in that moment that my uncle and the rest of the group had finally “made it” in the music industry. I look up to Doug a lot, not only because of his talent and his success, but also because of the huge risk he and the rest of the band took to move from Omaha to L.A. just to pursue music. They dropped everything to chase their dreams and it paid off tenfold!

What are the most important skills to have to be good at talent management?

I’ve found that there are many necessary skills and strengths to do my job. You have to be skilled in time management, organization, and communication, as well as attention to detail, thoroughness, and efficiency. Being that we work alongside teenagers daily, knowing how to brand and market to them is beneficial. On the tech side of things, you’ll need to be proficient with computers, email, and various apps and program suites (e.g. Microsoft Office, Adobe CC, Final Cut Pro, etc.) These skills are just to name a few!

What’s been the most challenging obstacle you’ve had to overcome as a talent/business manager?

One thing I’ve had to overcome is being willing to compromise and admit when I’m wrong. I also tend to take control and micromanage projects because that’s how I’ve always worked, even since middle and high school. It’s been hard to break that habit!

My boss and I have disagreed with one another on things and butted heads over the years, but I think a lot of that has to do with me thinking that my way is the only way, or the best way for us to go. When I realize my narrow-mindedness, I’m quick to admit to it and apologize if need be. If we disagree, we resolve it, and move forward.

What’s the most valuable class you’ve ever taken?

I think my Statistics classes helped make me more comfortable with managing numbers, which can play into small business management. Every tech, web, and programming class I took ended up being pretty beneficial too! What I value most is the ability to self-teach and learn new skills…Google and YouTube can serve as a how-to guide for thousands of skills, so don’t be afraid to use those resources!

Do you consider networking to be crucial in your line of work?

Networking is HUGE in my line of work! We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for networking and collaborating with new people.

Do you have any past mentors that you attribute your success to?

I’ve had a few mentors that have been helpful to me, but the biggest one has honestly been my boss. Mike Smith’s personality, ideas, work ethic, and his passion have left an irreversible impact on who I am, and I’m forever grateful to him for that. Mike Smith also serves as a mentor to every teenager he encounters, so in that regard, mentoring is EXTREMELY important to the work that we do. Our business gives young people someone to look up to, and a message they can emulate- that can go a long ways.

What does it mean to you to Find Your Grind? Why is it important?

To me, “Find Your Grind” has always meant finding that thing you’re so passionate about that you can’t bear to live without it. When you do “Find” a passion, it should continually challenge you to learn, grow, and adapt not only within your craft, but also to the world around you. The “Grind” aspect can mean so many different things, but I think it boils down to all the work and practice you have to put into your passion. In order to receive any true gratification or reward, you’ll encounter both failures and successes along the way.

Skateboarding was, and continues to be, my passion and the only facet of my life that genuinely challenges me. Through skateboarding, I’ve learned numerous life lessons on the importance of freedom, individuality, creativity, style, practice, persistence, consistency, etc., all of which have factored into how I act and manage clients today. Skateboarding has irreversibly reframed the lens through which I view the world and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Skateboarding has also led me to my current position at Mike Smith Live and The Harbor. The biggest plus is the work that we do continually inspires youth across the country to find what they’re passionate about, and encourages them to live and breathe their passions every day. Helping kids find their grind gives me the same sort of fulfillment that skateboarding has given me throughout the years…That’s why this is so important to me!


Are you an educator or a teacher?

Find Your Grind has a variety of educational products in schools across North America.

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