Many of the most successful and talented people have had to overcome major obstacles in their lives, and Elvira Guzman is no stranger to them. Facing her teenage years with both parents incarcerated, the young PR power woman not only graduated from high school with a 4.2 GPA and the University of Southern California with honors, but went on to found Elvie G PR at 23, working with entertainment heavy-hitters including Steve Harvey.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Guzman to talk her latest book, how youth can find their own success, and how her relationship with Steve Harvey changed her career and her life.
You wrote an e-book called Your Blueprint: An Interactive Guide to Remembering Your True Purpose in Life. What’s the “blueprint,” so to speak, for young professionals to brand themselves in today’s job market, especially when it comes to the entertainment business?
When I graduated college, I still didn’t know what I really wanted to do. There’s a lot of pressure from society when you graduate. Make your own lane, and dig deep. I was producer for TV and radio at USC, and I still wasn’t fulfilled. Yeah, I had great things, and I had to remember education is No. 1 and that I have to follow my purpose and passions.
What are the top three professional branding lessons you’ve learned as a PR vet in the industry?
Your online presence is extremely important. As soon as I get clients, or they inquire representation, first thing I look at is their social media imprint to see how much work I have to do. If you need to clean up anything or update your information, do it.
Know your look. It’s important. One client I’ve worked with, Musiq Soulchild, you know how he looks even if his back is to you.
Know who you are and what your value is. Not all deals are worth going after.
You count Steve Harvey as one of your mentors. How did you establish that relationship, and what’s the most vital piece of advice he’s given you?
I was listening to the inspirational part of Steve’s show one day, and I decided to dedicate my life to God. I faxed in to be a studio audience member, which gave me the chance to see what radio was like. I said to myself, ‘I need to work here.’ I went around and tried to get a job, and they laughed because of my young age. The staff eventually told me about an internship. I didn’t even know what internship was at the time. Thanks to Steve’s inspiration, I was able to rebuild my life.
I later typed a letter to Steve that I was initially afraid to give it to him. Eventually I got the courage to just do it, and immediately, he responded and asked where I worked. He offered [an attractive salary] and I went to work for him.
Advice from Steve? He told me, ‘Always follow your true passion. When you follow God, all the doors will open for you.’ In 2005, when Steve was no longer with Radio One, I was asked to go with him to New York. Every day he asked me, ‘What’s your purpose? What do you want to do?’ At that point, I’d worked hard at everything I did in order to excel. When you can’t afford to be fired, and you need money to eat, you make sure you give your all. If he asked me for 5 hours, I’d give 10. He’s like my stepdad. We have a very close relationship.
If you could give career advice to your 21-year-old self, what would it be?
Enjoy your career. When I was 21, I had two jobs and was taking 20 units at USC. Enjoy the ride a bit more.