American history is made rich by the contributions of immigrants and a blend of cultures that provide us with a wide range of ideas, viewpoints, and motivations that influence us today. During Black History Month, we want to intentionally celebrate and recognize the incredible contributions of some of our local Black marketing professionals and partners who are doing the work that is changing the landscape of our community. The other day, in another feature on Black marketing professionals, we published a blog post about Henry Adaso, an award-winning marketer, bestselling author, and copywriter.
Today, we turn our attention to Ray Smith. Ray Smith holds a degree in Audio Engineering from MediaTech Institute – Houston. He has a huge passion for helping businesses reach and grow their audience using podcast-based interviews. In 2018, he co-founded Speakerbox Media, a full-service podcast production company that helps B2B businesses launch, edit, and manage their podcasts. He is a book, coffee, and hip-hop enthusiast, a proud introvert and lefty, and can be found creating something new every day.
1. Tell us a little bit about you! What work do you do, and where do you work?
I’m an Executive Producer and Managing Partner at Speakerbox Media, a full-service podcast production company specializing in helping B2B businesses launch, edit, and manage their podcasts.
I’m married to my beautiful wife Sarah, and we have a spoiled Miniature Schnauzer named Tyson. We recently moved to Downtown Houston from the tiny city of Rosenberg,, where we both met and grew up.
2. What is the most fulfilling part of your work? Or, what do you enjoy most about the work that you do?
It might sound cliché, but I love to hear my clients say WOW when they hear their podcast back for the first time. My team and I put a lot of effort and energy into bringing their stories to life through our work. Every podcast is a journey and a process that takes a lot of time and energy. So, seeing their wide-eyed grins, laughter, and over-the-top excitement is beyond fulfilling to me.
3. Has there been a significant experience you have had that has impacted your journey to this point?
Simply put, it took a long time to build confidence in an industry where, at times, I was the only person of color in the room. I haven’t always felt respected or seen as an innovator or creative. However, along the way, I have met some amazing people who believed in, valued, and supported me from the beginning. Jason Pizzitola of Pizzitola Design Co. and Terri Hoffman of Marketing Refresh have been massive pillars of support for myself and my business. They have helped me break through many barriers and roadblocks that I’ve faced as a new business owner, from negotiating high-level contracts to organizing my business assets. I’m light years ahead of where I should be, thanks to them sharing their knowledge and experience with me simply because they wanted to see me do well.
4. As a Black marketing professional, what is the most important message that you would choose to share with your industry at large?
You can’t have diversity in any organization until you have diversity within its leadership. The people making the decisions should look like the people who are impacted by those decisions. Inclusion isn’t just about placing more people of color in advertisements but also allowing them a seat at the table of decision.
5. Who/what motivates and inspires you?
I grew up in an area where I didn’t see many people of color making an honest living outside of basketball and hip-hop. I want to be a role model for the next young creative kid like myself. I was an introverted kid, often playing by myself, building, creating, or learning something new. I didn’t fit the mold of my environment, and I know that there is a kid out there struggling to find their place in the world because they don’t either. There is so much creativity and talent that goes unnoticed, undeveloped, and unseen simply because people of color are underrepresented. That’s what motivates me to get up every day and do the work that I do. I want to show up as myself every day, contribute to creating meaningful work, and be part of breaking down these barriers for people of color.
You can further connect with Ray here:
It is our hope that by highlighting just a small fraction of the stories of Black marketing professionals in our communities, you are encouraged and inspired to hear more stories from people from all walks of life. We are all better when we make sure that the voices that surround us are diverse in perspective, experience, and story.
The History of Black History Month, Revisited:
In September of 1915, Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-educated historian and minister Jesse E. Mooreland created the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). In 1926, The Association for the Study of Negro Life & History designated the second week in February as National Negro History week. This week was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. As the popularity of Negro History Week began to grow among colleges and was fueled by the Civil Rights Movement, Black History Month was designated by President Gerald Ford in 1976. The tradition of designating and celebrating Black History Month has been continued by every US President since, with each year’s celebration holding its own theme.
Catrina Ballard is an entrepreneur who believes that connection is at the heart of significant progress and accomplishment, professionally and personally. She is a Team Coach who consults with businesses to improve employee communication, culture, and retention through the company she owns, Happy Teams. Catrina has a diverse professional background that includes experience in the fields of counseling and psychology, higher education, and entrepreneurship, which give her a unique perspective and approach to her work. Catrina holds a M.S. Ed. From Baylor University in Educational Psychology and is an Enneagram 4. She is a huge sports junkie, hates scary movies, and genuinely values your story.