How Does Geojam CMO Noelle Chesnut Whitmore Stay Mindful?
In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, Geojam chief marketing officer Noelle Chesnut Whitmore explains her self-care and mindfulness practices.
In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, Billboard has partnered with Ian Davis and Brandon Holman of The Mindful Creative on a series of conversations with music artists and executives about the self-care practices they use to keep themselves on track, both during the pandemic and beyond.
Today’s installment is with Noelle Chesnut Whitmore, the chief marketing officer for music discovery app Geojam. For nearly two decades, Chesnut Whitmore has channeled her love for music and cultural experiences into a fulfilling career with some of the biggest names in the industry. She has worked with The Recording Academy, AEG, Abrams Artists Agency and Goldenvoice, where she served as festival marketing manager for Coachella, Stagecoach and more. During her time at the company, she co-produced Kanye West’s Sunday Service at Coachella 2019. Chesnut Whitmore’s personal venture More In Music aims to educate individuals about the various career pathways in the industry.
When I think about wellness and mental health, I think about finding a balance. That balance of being centered and grounded in peace and joy, and some of that is work stuff. I am very thankful and very grateful that I get to do something that I truly love. When you start thinking about some of the demands that our jobs have, it can cause you to be off center which can have an effect on your body physically and mentally. Wellness means being in tune with how I am feeling and giving myself the necessary pause to be rejuvenated.
A lot of my personal mental balance comes from my spirituality. I’m a Christian. I spend time every morning listening to praise and worship music, being grateful and centering thankfulness. It is a privilege to be able to live every day doing my dreams. That is not everyone’s reality.
A part of wellness is also responsibility and accountability and acknowledging where you are. I acknowledge and I recognize I need to do better with my workouts and my physical body. I try to be intentional with my diet and make sure that I am taking care of myself, but the best ways I take care of myself are spirituality and sleep.
And communication. A lot of mental health and wellness comes from communication and setting boundaries. I am really good at being realistic with myself and whoever I have to deliver something [to]. So it’s, “Hey, here’s my bandwidth. Here’s the reality of how long this will take,” and setting those protections around myself.
As a supervisor, I am responsible for other people’s mental health and stresses. My number one priority as a manager is understanding their process, understanding what they need in order to thrive in their role. At the end of the day, our success and scalability has to do with how quickly we can execute on things. So it is pushing to the point of greatness and challenging yourself, not pushing it so much to where you suffer in the areas of mental and physical wellness.
For any of the things that I work on, I usually start with asking questions. I try to be intentional from the jump. What does this person have going on? I try to center the human and who you are as a person first. If you’re only thinking about the title of people, you completely strip away their identity of who they are. I communicate, “Here’s the expectation. We have to deliver X,Y, and Z by this date.” I explain what is coming down the pipeline and give people enough time to prepare.
So much of what we do as creatives starts in our brain first. People might need days to just ideate and think and draw inspiration and motivation. I don’t know that our industry understands or values that process so much. We are so quick to churn things out that sometimes I wonder if we are executing the best possible product because we don’t always prioritize time. The pandemic taught us, way more than ever, the value of the pause.
If we’re going to keep it 100% real and 100% above, I wish I showed up that way every time. This is where the human nature comes in. When I’m dealing with high stress situations, 98% of the time I’m my cool, calm, collected self. There is that 2% of the time, given the circumstances, I may not show up as the best version of myself. I’ve had many emotional breakdowns and someone has had to support me and give me a pep talk. I’ve had to just step away sometimes and ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” What I’ve learned about myself is that I over-analyze. I am extremely self-aware.
So I pay attention to how I am feeling, what I’m feeling and why I’m feeling that. I do this all the time throughout my day. I’ve gotten in the practice of understanding why I feel the way I feel. If I can’t pinpoint it immediately, I kind of give myself therapy in the sense of, “Ok, Noelle. You feel this. What is it tied to? Is it a trigger? Are you stressed? Oh, you talked to your mom. Are you misdirecting the burden from that call with your mom? Do you need to go eat some candy?” I ask myself these questions to try to find the solution to why I am feeling this way. I have to offer myself some grace. As perfectionists, we feel like we have to show up and be superhuman. You still need water and you need to sleep. Do you need a Red Vine and do you need Samoas? But don’t eat 12 boxes though, only eat one. [laughs]
The same way that companies prioritize meetings about finances and where they’ve grown year over year, I’d like to see that energy matched for the well-being and goals of their teams. Companies need to realize how much one’s mental health is tied to their performance and success overall. I am going to be very sad if we as an industry don’t learn anything from the experience of this past year. I think we’ve learned a lot of lessons about what it means to be kind and how important it is for us to work together.
As told to Taylor Mims, Ian Davis and Brandon Holman.