Do me a favor…take a second to think back to your childhood and recall how you answered the question: “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Did you say a professional athlete, an astronaut, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, or something else? Whatever it is that you said, look at your life right now. How does what you’re doing right now differ from that “dream job”? Some of you might have actually lived out that dream (which is awesome), but many of us have moved onto completely different careers, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. Our minds constantly change – we gain new passions, we develop new dreams, and a lot of times this change happens unexpectedly. We can either ignore this change and choose comfort, or take the risk and give this new calling a chance. For agent trainee/music coordinator, Phil Quist, ignoring his new calling was not an option.
Phil grew up in the mecca of the finance industry, aka New York City, with his parents and younger brother. From an early age Phil’s parents instilled discipline and time management into their two sons. They wanted both sons to succeed in their respective endeavors and did everything in their power to ensure that. At just 13 years old, Phil left home to attend boarding school in Cheshire, Connecticut…a big move for the young teenager, especially since he was so close to his family. Albeit daunting at first, Phil quickly adjusted to the new Connecticut environment and created a structure that would keep him very busy throughout the next five years. He said, “I was always involved in different organizations, teams, clubs, etc., which is something that still holds true today. In hindsight, boarding school was one of the best things I could have done.”
Upon graduating from Cheshire Academy, Phil went onto study finance at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas where he also played goalkeeper for the men’s lacrosse team. Throughout college, he obtained several finance internships including one his junior year at the world-renowned investment firm, Morgan Stanley. On his last day as an intern at Morgan Stanley, he was offered a job as an Investment Banking Analyst at one of their New York City locations and accepted it on the spot. Being influenced by the industry surrounding him, he grew up thinking he would settle for a career in finance. This…was Phil’s dream job.
However, as previously mentioned, throughout our lives we gain new passions and develop new dreams. And so holds true for Phil Quist. While working at Morgan Stanley, Phil found ways to integrate himself into the music scene. He would go to a bunch of shows at night even if it meant he had to go back to the office at 3am to finish his work. Music had always been a huge part of his life. After about a year of investment banking, he realized that his passion for music outweighed that of finance so he took a leap of faith and left the world of banking.
He immediately went to intern for Adam Alpert, current manager for The Chainsmokers and CEO of Disruptor Management/Records (a joint venture with Sony Music Entertainment) and then made his way into one of Hollywood’s top talent agencies, Creative Artists Agency (CAA). He began his journey at CAA in October 2012 as a floater at the New York office. Since he had been in New York his whole life he eventually felt like he needed to expand his network and transferred to the office in Los Angeles. Shortly after his arrival in LA, Phil quickly climbed his way up the ladder. He then became an agent’s assistant and recently an agent trainee/music coordinator…just one step away from becoming an agent.
“The move has been nothing but beneficial to me. Los Angeles is the epicenter of the entertainment business so I’ve made so many new connections, not only in music, but also in film, TV, sports, and more. The only real challenge was leaving my friends and family in NYC behind, but thankfully we still stay in touch.”
Despite working for such a renowned agency, Phil has found a way to stand out. For example, being a person of color is rare in the electronic music industry, however, he uses this uniqueness to his advantage. There are only a handful of multicultural agents in dance music, and they are all doing well so he hopes to continue that trend. He has also helped CAA’s Electronic Music department sign acts such as The Chainsmokers, Lost Kings, Jenaux, and Prince Fox. In addition, he likes to establish personal relationships with his clients so that he can better understand them and help them grow. Several of his artists have even become his closest friends.
Even though he admits missing the paychecks from investment banking, his passion for music and helping people is so deep that the money doesn’t even matter. He may have spent his childhood overlooking music as a career choice, but now he is determined to continue living out this dream. Without the help and inspiration of his parents, none of this would be possible. They instilled the value of hard work and appreciation into Phil and his younger brother, which Phil now translates into his own advice for all of you…
“Talent is overrated; hard work is what helps you succeed. You can be the most talented person in the world, but if you are not willing to put your head down and grind it out, you won’t rise to the top. Another lesson I’ve learned is to never say no to the opportunity of meeting new people, because you never know what could come out of a 5-minute discussion.”
In his spare time, Phil is also a curator of great music via his Soundcloud: PQ Selects. Check it out if you want to hear some dope tunes!