Michael Carroll is a social media marketer, producer and artist manager.

In this episode of From the Source, Michael deconstructs popular media marketing tactics and how they add to the complexities of raising his teenage daughter. Can Michael protect her from what he’s creating? Listen to how Michael attempts to achieve work-life balance. 


Jourdan: What do you do when your work, your livelihood, conflicts with the life you want for your child? Michael Carroll, a Penn Hills native, works as a social media marketer, producer, and artist manager. To Pittsburgh artists, Deej, Fedd the God, and others. Michael is the go-to person for planning project rollouts, building a fan base, content management, and all the little decisions needed to heighten an artist’s appeal: Influence and star power to the masses, Michael says the complexity of work life balance comes in what he sees the impact of media marketing on his teenage daughter. 

Michael: What’s true for sure is that there’s a complex relationship between what I do for a living and how my daughter thinks reacts and responds to her environment because it’s almost like I’m a part of the problem, like on a micro level, like, it’s like I’m a part of the problem for sure. 

Jourdan: Listen to Michael as he deconstructs media marketing tactics and how he’s raising his daughter to think beyond the first impression. 

Michael: When it comes to my daughter, it’s like she’s on point, like a script with the social media rhetoric. She’s saying everything that’s being put out there, and I understand it’s not her words. But at the same time, I’m trying my best not to be dismissive. Right, so it’s like that balance of like the outside influence is tremendous in this day and age. 

Jourdan: And you don’t know it. You don’t see it until you see it like your as a mature enough to be like, Oh, that’s where that came from. That’s why I wanted that so bad. 

Michael: That’s my job, literally to make my clients money. I have to create a ecosystem online that influences people to make decisions they thought it was their own. So I explain this to her like, this is what I do at a micro to middle to macro level. Have your own mind. I just go against the grain sometimes. I tell her, like, if you really believe in what you’re talking about, don’t just talk about it. Find a way to contribute in any way that me, your dad, can help you facilitate your contribution to society, I’m here. Which falls in line with like what I tell my people I work with for my clients or my mentees, was like find a way to show value, contributed to your environment and thus raise your value so that your word or your resume or your reputation can lead to you building a brand that can lead you to selling whatever hair products or whatever music or whatever art that you have to deliver, whatever book you’re about to deliver. It’s a part of brand building. Essentially, I’m teaching her how to build her personal brand, I guess.

Jourdan: it’s tough for sure. I think for, for kids and for adults. You know what I mean? Like, there is always the ongoing conversation as far as women go. So the old argument of like, I wish these industries would do better, you know, being appropriate for the kids versus, you know, any time something come out, it’s like parents are like it’s on the industry and industry is like, Watch your kids, you know what I’m saying? Like. 

Michael: No, that’s bullshit. you can’t blame the system, that’s bullshit. The system will spit out what we give them. Like, yeah, I mean, the system is an easy target. Of course, you can blame the system. You can blame every system in the history of mankind. The arguments I have sometimes online is like, we have to fix ourselves and then hold the system accountable, like we perpetuate and promote these images just as much. We elevate them. Like, it’s tough to have conversations about certain things and when at the very next day, we’re promoting the same things. So it’s just like, you know, and I have this conversation of being involved in music. It’s like it’s a double-edged sword. It’s like I’m trying to elevate my community at the same time. You know that anyone trying to elevate the community, the very bases, if we listen to certain music, we’re hypocrites. And it’s just like, that thought, like in my day to day being a hypocrite and is it OK to be a hypocrite and then grow? All right. So if I’m trying to elevate, you know, my my African-American community, but at the same time, listening to Yo Gotti the next day? Where’s the connection in that? How can I grow and get better on that connection and then being aware and understanding like the relationship and the Hey, I’m a walking hypocrite. But let me just work on myself and my community and get better over time. 

Jourdan: That definitely resonates. That definitely resonates. As someone who used to be a mentor, you know, I live in the community that I’m from, and I live in a community that I would mentor kids in. And so it’s that like, I want to go, I’m going to a party and I stop down the street to get a couple beers or something and the kids see me walking and it’s, uh, realistically, I’m an adult. I’m of age. I’m not going in here to get like super intoxicated. But at the same time, I’m telling them from, I don’t know from what hour to what hour like, you know, try to stay away from alcohol and drugs, try to do the right thing, be above the influence. So I definitely hear you understand that, and I think that is easy to point the finger at the people who are outside of your home. It’s easy to point the finger at the people who we feel are responsible and trying to make the responsible for all of the issues and all of the problems and all the hardships that you may feel like are popping up in your own home or popping up in your parents, your mentorship. But it’s not realistic, and we got to be realistic about this thing. 

Michael: If we want people to stop rapping about prostitution, stop rapping about drugs, stop rapping about this, stop singing about this, stop showing their bodies a certain way. We have to train mentally, train ourselves to not consume the product, 

Jourdan: Not be interested in it.

Michael: Not be interested in it. And me being a music, I see it. I’m aware I see it all the time. It’s like, we want to stop this. We want to stop like, these influences influence our kids to make these certain decisions, One: it starts in the home. And second, if you really care, like stop consuming, it’s not consuming. And it’s a really tough thing. I guess to be honest, across the board is a tough thing, but I’m aware of it. 

Jourdan: It’s like we all have those things that influence us, right? But at the end of the day, like when it comes to like my, the kids that I work with or whatever, it’s just like, I want to be realistic with them. I want to be honest with them. I don’t know if they’re always at the point where they can accept or understand what I’m saying, but I want to drop those seeds so that when they get older, they can be like, Oh, Ms. Jourdan was trying to tell me this, and I see where she was coming from. All of these things like, You’re going to grow up, you’re going to experience certain things, you’re going, you’re going to have sex, you’re going to fall in love, you are going to experience lust, you’re going to be intoxicated, you’re going to experience alcohol. You may experience or dibble or dabble with drugs, whatever, what have you. But like, how do we put the reins on? So it’s not the extremes, and that’s what I feel like. I hear you saying, 

Michael: Yeah, and me being in this industry, I’m aware, I’m aware of everything that I help curate or put out and what it does. I’m aware of like trying to make everybody around me better and understand the art that they put out. And I’m also aware that I’m raising a daughter. So it’s just like, Yo, just balancing those things, understanding and being OK with like, Yeah, I’m a hypocrite, but I’m aware I understand what it’s doing, and I’m working on the inside on how to make it better and how to deliver creatives that maybe sometimes promote some of the stereotypes. But slowly but surely and in different spaces, we’re elevating the creative. I hate to pound-the-chest people that never been in the building. 

Jourdan: That’s sitting outside and pointing the finger. 

Michael: Like you wouldn’t even try and get the job in the mailroom, if you believe it then quit your job and go get your job in the mailroom and work your way up. Like, I believe the same things as you’re saying out there. It’s just I love my culture so much. I want to try to figure it out, and I believe in what I’m doing. 

Jourdan: For fathers to their daughters, what advice do you have for fathers trying to encourage their daughters to be more authentically them and maybe not follow trends? 

Michael: You got to let her make our own decisions and our own choices, support her and be there for her, throughout everything and try and deliver as much knowledge, whether it’s through experience or books or documentaries that you can as possible. And I talked to my daughter, I got, you know, made some filters that I would talk to like a really, really good woman friend. We have open dialogue. I don’t just practice with my daughter. I practice with everyone that I’m close with, no judgment. I’m not judging you. I want you to feel comfortable talking to me, and I want to give you my perspective and I want to hear your perspective. I want to grow from this conversation. That’s why I tell my daughter, like this conversation I had with you? I grow from it. I want you to know that, and I hope that you are able to take something from the conversation as well. You know, as fathers, we’re like, we’re super dismissive. I come from a strict household and I’m still super strict with my daughter, like, take that trash out and clean your room and you say anything, it’s over for you. You know, I come from that. So like, I balance that with like we talk about real issues of like mental capacity and like these complex structures and like how she feels, these cultures become very open and she can say whatever she wants to say. If I disagree, I say, Hey, I disagree. Tell me why you think that way? OK, you think that way? Because this, this and this. All right. Well, this is why I disagree, and this is why I think, let me give you my own life experiences that make me think the way I think. I provide a real life example because unfortunately, she doesn’t have as many real life examples as I do. And she might provide a real life example, which is very curious because she’s only 14. But Jesus, she be having some real life experiences. My friend went through this and they said this sentence, or she knows, or she ‘they’ or he ‘they’ now. So I got my pronouns in check, daddy. Oh, well, teach me about pronouns. I need to learn, so yeah just being open and not dismissive, and learning and growing with your children. 

Jourdan: Being her father, being her parent, being a provider, what has she taught you? How has she opened your eyes, opened your heart, opened you up to receiving more? 

Michael: Well, my daughter has meant so much from me. My daughter’s the only reason for any type of success I’ve experienced. That I’ve always done things with her in mind when I’m in the worst place I can be in. She’s always kind of been like my source of inspiration. And then just as she’s grown and become this beautiful little woman talking to her, it’s incredible. It’s like I’m talking to a 25-year-old. It’s like, whoa, there’s how she’s so stubborn and what she believes in. I’m so proud of how stubborn she is, but I’m also so scared because that’s in your blood, sweetheart. It’s a part of my success. But boy, it was a part of my failures. And if I can help you, God willing, if I can help you, I can help you just achieve success then maybe you can be in a better place at 22 than I am at 33. And that’s ultimately the goal for any father. Parent person of that type of relationship is to make sure that your children are in a better place than where they were at whatever given time. I think she will be. 

Jourdan: Season three of From the Source podcast is produced by Jourdan Hicks and Andy Kubis and edited by Halle Stockton. If you’re curious to learn how you can share your story with us or appear in an episode or from the source, you can get in touch with me by sending me an email to Jourdan@publicsource.org. PublicSource is an independent nonprofit newsroom in Pittsburgh. You can find all of our reporting and storytelling at publicsource.org. I’m Jourdan Hicks. Stay safe and be well. 

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Jourdan is a senior community correspondent at PublicSource. Previously, Jourdan was engaged as a community-based educator in the Hazelwood section of the city. A lifelong Pittsburgh resident, she’s...