What is the best thing that I love about my work? What I love most about being a brand and business strategist is getting to connect with other millennials all over the world who are trying to change how work is done and what it means to be an influencer. I am constantly inspired.
What is my idea of perfect happiness? Perfect happiness is sitting at a table in Mariage Frères at the Carousel du Louvre with a book and a big pot of tea getting lost in a fictional world in one of my favorite places in the real world.
What is my greatest fear? I fear any procedure that involves needles to the spine. I had a spinal tap as a child and the resident tried 12 times to get the tap into the right spot. Also, snakes.
What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? I bite my nails.
Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? As I’m in the business of personal branding, everyone with a strong brand is a potential candidate for my love, but I tend to admire people who define culture by subverting cultural norms; RuPaul comes to mind. From a visual perspective, I’m also partial to what I call “hipster minimalist chic” design, which I think Meg Lewis of darngood.co epitomizes.
What is my greatest extravagance? Makeup, easily. I’m much better than I was a year or two ago. I could go into Sephora and drop 1000$ easily (when I definitely didn’t have the money to afford it). I’ve really cut back on what I buy now because I have so much, but I really love the creativity of makeup.
On what occasion would I lie? I try to abide by “honesty is the best policy” but I’m more likely to lie to get out of going to a dinner or anything that has a lot of people that I don’t know. I’m an introvert, so I’m perfectly happy having 2-3 friends.
What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? I dislike the drama that comes with being in the TCC industry. There’s a lot of fear-based and negative marketing with people trying to put each other down or claim that their way is the best way or say that people are doomed unless they buy their product. Personally, I don’t want anybody to make a fear-based decision; I’m all for using urgency to motivate a purchasing decision, but at the end of the day, whether someone’s buying a $12 or $12,000 product or service, I want them to feel good about the decision and feel like the value they got was worth at least that much. It probably hurts my bottom line, but it means the people who do buy from or work with me are really loyal. Maybe being a brand strategist makes me biased, but I think that if people spent less time looking at each other’s work and spent more time focusing on how to make their products and services the best they can be by refining their process and building a really strong brand, we’d all be much better off.
When and where was I the happiest, in my work? I’m the happiest that I’ve ever been right now. A recent rewarding moment that really got me excited was when a client unexpectedly gave me a video testimonial. I was so proud of her development over the last six months that to hear her talk about it made me cry.
If I could, what would I change about myself? I’d immediately replace my right hip and both my knees – it would change so much for me! Other than that, I’m pretty happy with who I am.
What is my greatest achievement in work? There’s been a lot, but I think that growing my business to six figures this year is the standout.
Where would I most like to live? New York and Paris
What is my most treasured possession? AC/DC Razor’s Edge tour shirt. My dad bought it for me when I was a little girl and I’ve had it for over 25 years. It’s grown with me.
What is my most marked characteristic? My ability to take seemingly unconnected threads and put them together.
What is my most inspirational location, in my city? Musée des Beaux Arts, for sure. When I’m in a creative funk, I’ll go to the museum, sit in front of a work that speaks to me and outline things for my business. I’ve sat on the bench in front of an artwork from open to close many, many times.
What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city? To eat? Kafein, hands down. It’s the spot we used to go during uni and I have a lot of fond memories there. To drink? I can never remember the name, but across from the group entrance door at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, on Bishop street, there’s a little café that serves the best tea in town. They have over 30 varieties, so there’s something for everyone.
What books influenced my life and how? I’m a fan of YA literature. I was really inspired by the Harry Potter series, the Artemis Fowl series, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. All three series had characters who were unapologetically intellectual, and that made me feel less alone as the smart kid in my classes. They helped me see that being nerdy could be a really great thing.
Who are my favorite writers? Jen Sincero is my favourite personal development writer because we share the same sarcastic humour. Rupi Kaur’s poetry is a gift to humanity. George Watsky’s essays speak to me on a deeply spiritual level. Foucault also has a special place in my heart because he’s one of the more palatable philosophers I had to read in grad school, and the running joke in my cohort was that he was like the salt and pepper of paper writing – you were never really “done” with your work until you sprinkled him in.
You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? My current playlist on Spotify. It’s a mix of 70s and 80s rock, early ‘00s punk pop, contemporary Latin pop, and contemporary North American pop.
Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? Hermione Granger, without a doubt.
Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? I’m not one to idolize or put people on pedestals – as my mentor, Maru Iabichela would say, we’re all peers in the human experience, but I do love me some Michelle Visage, Jeremiah Brent, and Dita Von Teese. As a queer person, I also adore the usual spectrum of LGBT icons – Liza Minelli, Cher, Britney Spears, many a Broadway performer and composer.
Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? Oh this is hard because I studied film for five years so I have so many I want to recommend. If I had to stick to one, I’d say L’Année Dernière à Marienbad. It’s the definition of cinematic porn and I love that there’s no definite answer about what’s going on in the movie. Every time I watch it, I see something new that I didn’t see in a previous viewing. Other than that, I’m partial to Claire Denis’ films, and Hitchcock’s Rebecca, which I first saw in the company of Guillermo del Toro at the TIFF lightbox – not a bad way to see a classic for the first time.
What role does art play in my life and work? Art plays a huge role in my life and work. Before I started my business, I was a PhD student in Art History and my BFA and MA are in Art History. I feel like art awoke me to a different plane of existence that I didn’t know was out there. I was about 15 and we visited Brian Jungen’s show at the Musée D’Art Contemporain and I was so overwhelmed and moved by the art that I actually got lightheaded. It was a total awakening and art has played a huge role in my life ever since. I’m a terrible artist but I have a huge admiration for all forms of art, but especially painting, sculpture, and site-specific installation. In my business, when I’m thinking about the energy of a new program or service, I’ll often pull up an artwork on my screen that invites contemplation and meditation as a starting point for getting me into the feeling of what I want to create. Most often, I’ll pull up works by Pollock or Hockney, but lately, I’ve been going to Eva Hesse’s Contingent (1969).
Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? My aunt, Maria, definitely.
Whom would I like to work with in 2018? I’d love to start working with entrepreneurs who got to six figures by ‘winging it’ and have a business that they aren’t totally happy with. I do a lot of work in diving in to who my clients are that always yields really positive results. There are so many entrepreneurs who are “trapped at six figures” and I’m particularly good at helping these individuals transition gracefully so that their audience moves with them. I’d also love to work with medium and large corporations – I’m starting to get into the consulting and training space.
Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2018? Gary Vaynerchuk, Selena Soo, Mariah Coz, Lewis Howes, Glennon Doyle
What project, in 2018, am I looking forward to work on? I’m looking forward to creating more passive income in my business so that I have more time to work on my first book.
Where can you see me or my work in 2018?
http://erikacouto.com or http://facebook.com/erikaashleycouto are always the best places to find out what I’m up to.
What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? It means that passion is the creative fuel that keeps burning. I love what I do and for me, as long as I’m excited about what I’m doing, then I’m happy to throw myself into it.
Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story? Rachel Spencer, Christiana Hill, PollyAnna Brown
How can you contact me?