Michael Gordon was about to have an extraordinary day. It was 2017, and content creator FaZe Banks had just started the L00SECHANGE house in LA. Gordon had found a huge potential sponsor who would take on a year’s worth of rent and upkeep pay, and the only thing left was to oversee a meeting between the sponsor and Banks.
Before that meeting, Gordon proposed to his fiancée.
Later, black cars were sent to Banks’ house which escorted him to a party in Beverly Hills where Gordon was waiting. Banks knew how important this day was for Gordon and that, no matter what, he was there for him.
Just when he thought it couldn’t get any better, this happened:
Gordon has since taken on the role of Talent Management Vice President at Night Media, and he still maintains the same level of care, compassion, and excellence, providing “360 degree management” for all his clients. “As the manager of the clients, you want what’s best for them and you want to always be working,” Gordon explains. “[What’s challenging is] making sure you have a balance between work and life.”
We at Stropse had the chance to sit down with the laser-focused, driven manager and talk about his life spent working with others. We walked away with a renewed appreciation not only for talent management, but for the bond of community which connects all of us as gamers, storytellers, and people.
Gordon’s days typically start in a pretty standard way: “I usually wake up in the morning and look at my calendar,” he says. “Then I optimize myself and prepare myself for what’s to come.” For all the glitz and glamour of LA life, Gordon centers himself with a task most overlook: long-term planning. “You think of an idea and then a concept and then you get into what the financials look like, and then you get into what the launch looks like. Then, as you see the launch and you start to see the data and the results, you look back on your pre-planning and then you see the revenue,” he explains.
Gordon ties finances directly to the execution of an idea. After planning something for his talent and tracking the money involved, anything becomes possible for Gordon, who shares his client’s successes and keeps moving forward. Magnificent black car soirées like the one planned for Banks give way to packed convention halls, beachside pool parties, and even group paintball sessions.
“I’m a competitive paintball player,” Gordon adds. “I stopped playing because I… Had a career, but yes, I actually got all of FaZe out and they played paintball.”
But long before Gordon was out paintballing with the FaZe crew, he was finding his own way in a competitive industry. As he graduated from the University of Arizona, he took on an internship at a digital studio and a role as an executive assistant-turned-associate producer at a production studio. Still, he knew he wanted to specialize in talent management. The prospect of “Bringing in new talent, finding the next big genre, and finding the next big profit-generating opportunity across all platforms” held him spellbound.
Gordon’s first assignment at a start-up digital management firm was won by presenting to three managers with his plan to demonstrate what he could bring to the firm. He added, “I was very successful from the start and really moved the needle for those first clients, and it naturally grew from there.” Soon, he became the Director of Talent.
Gordon was allured by the recruitment art of “signing.” He explains, “My job was to look for talent that would monetize, optimize, and provide paid and non-paid opportunities and form a relationship with them using all the firm’s services.” He flourishes in the authentic connections he’s able to create with each individual client for their specific talent genre. With a light, amicable nature, he explains, “It’s very important to get face time with your clients… Nothing beats playing basketball with a client, nothing beats going snowboarding with a client.”
Gordon thrives in creating personalized relationships in the midst of what would typically be considered impersonal settings. He brings an ideal environment directly to the client, catering modes of connection across peoples’ varied needs. And when dealing with mega-celebrities in LA, accommodating individuality is a necessity.
“There are some celebrities who can’t go outside,” he explains, “because they’re so famous. So we either pay for bodyguards and they go out or they just don’t go out. And I think that’s the interesting thing. It’s like, you want some level of freedom, but you also want to be safe.” Sometimes, clients can be so famous that their safety is a genuine concern. “It’s one of those things where you let the restaurant know, ‘Can I get a private dining area’ or ‘Can I come through the back…’ I mean, with all of the events like Vidcon and Playlist Live and those things, we always had to bring talent through the back door.”
Precautions have to be taken to handle mega-crowds, as otherwise, stars face a genuine risk. “You always want to make sure that there’s no danger,” Gordon says. And when tackling crowds the size of small armies as seen in the video below, Gordon’s job of ensuring a safe environment becomes crucial.
In addition to monitoring security detail, Gordon faces another huge occupational hazard in his work/life balance. While an abundance of personalized connection and all the amenities LA has to offer sounds like a sweet gig, Gordon explains, “You could easily be out from 6 to midnight working. The amount of opportunities for the top-tier talent are endless, and you get to a level in life where you have to start declining small opportunities to even keep up with the large ones.”
Gordon’s work blends into his life so often, it becomes hard to draw boundaries. At the same time, Gordon explains that “As a manager, nothing should be hard. If something’s going badly, you have to deal with it. If a deal is hard, you have to deal with it. If there are some things being squeezed on both sides, you have to deal with it.” The job of a manager isn’t to reckon with setbacks; it’s to not face setbacks in the first place. Dealing with the highest-level talent leads to some of the highest levels of pressure, and in those situations, there’s no time to reverse course; everything has to get done.
And so, when facing the most crushing industry pressure he’d experienced thus far, Gordon bucked up and dealt with it. At his first work experience, he was thrust in a couple different directions as he attempted to “roll multiple channels into their one network,” and he felt his relationships fraying. He got into talent management in the first place because of his passion for fostering individualized relationships, and he knew that to preserve that spirit of intimacy, he had to find a home which shared his ethos of entrepreneurship and appreciation for 360 management. So, in 2020, he signed on as the Vice President of Talent Management at Night Media. The difference, he explains, has been “day and Night.”
At Night Media, Gordon can work more one-on-one to grow independent creators along different platforms. It’s less about recruiting people to the one stream-of-thought channel and more about growing each person out individually so that their star can shine as bright as possible. “My role became more about talent management, because I started spending time with fewer creators,” he explains. “And that’s ultimately why I chose to go to Night Media.”
Here, Gordon’s long-term planning can materialize in gorgeous fashion. “AzzyLand, one of my clients that I work with [at Night Media,] came to me and was like ‘I want to do a livestream, and I want to give back,’” Gordon recalls. From there, he knew exactly how to make it happen.
“We worked with SickKids Foundation on doing a livestream, we worked with Streamlabs to get it up and running smoothly, and it was a huge hit… SickKids is Canadian-based, and they were building new medical facilities, and all the money went to the facilities.”
In only two-and-a-half hours, a group of six youtubers raised $25,000 to support the cause. While much of this success can be attributed to the following power of each of these creators, in the presence of such a monetary figure, Gordon’s meditation on long-term financial planning takes on a new light:
“You think of an idea and then a concept and then you get into what the financials look like, and then you get into what the launch looks like. Then, as you see the launch and you start to see the data and the results, you look back on your pre-planning and then you see the revenue,”
As Gordon continues his fresh work with Night Media, many questions remain about what comes next. He explains only that “Right now, we’re working on a lot of cool stuff that you’ll really start to see in Q2, Q3, Q4.” Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see what expert planning comes to fruition next.