The Sit Down: Constance Schwartz-Morini

She’s my sister-from-another-mister, my partner in crime (literally), and most importantly, my friend for the past 20-plus years. Constance Schwartz-Morini (“Con” to those who know and love her) and I met in the early 90’s after I was drafted by the Giants and she was working at the toughest of boys’ clubs, the NFL. Con crushed it in sports entertainment at the NFL for 10 seasons before moving onto talent management, where she helped elevate the already successful career of Snoop Dogg. Since we both saw something special in the other from day one, we decided that nothing could be better than working together, so we co-founded SMAC Entertainment in 2011. Today, Con is the guiding force and beating heart of SMAC, a sassy, stylish, smart product of serious drive, dogged determination, grace, and grit. But at the end of the day, it all boils down to this: I’ve got her back and I know she’s got mine. (I also know she won’t tell any embarrassing stories about me because if she did I have plenty of stories about her as well.)

Her early start: “I was able to read at the age of two, and whenever I would play school with my friends, I was always the teacher. I began my training early to run a situation. Being an only child with older parents also encouraged my entrepreneurial spirit, as I had to entertain myself a lot. And there were no iPads, so the few programs I got to watch were Magic Garden, Sesame Street, and The Electric Company.”

Her short advertising career: “I graduated from SUNY Oswego with a B.S. in Marketing, and my original intent was to be in advertising. But in 1990, in order to even get an interview, you had to be able to type on a typewriter at 60 words per minute. I had no issue starting at the bottom, but I just could not type under pressure. So that was the end of my advertising career, and I’m so thankful for that because then I would not have applied for the assistant position in corporate sponsorship at the NFL.”

On breaking through: “Back in the 90s when I started, most businesses were boy’s clubs and the NFL was at the top of the list. For me, I welcomed it because I didn’t know any different and every obstacle that was presented I saw as a challenge to conquer. Don’t get me wrong: I would get pissed, but I never felt sorry for myself. I made sure I would remember the moments that made me feel bad and do my best to never treat anyone in that manner or foster a work environment that was discriminatory in any way. We take pride at SMAC that everyone is equal, we don’t have titles, and ideas and opinions are welcome from everyone.”

Her NFL training ground: “I worked for the NFL for 10 seasons and got the best on-the-ground training—better than any MBA could have provided. If you look at SMAC Entertainment you can see the blueprint [that emerged] from those years: marketing, P.R., branding, endorsements, live events, television events, children’s education programs, entertainment licensing, strategy, production, management.”

Her day-to-day: “I don’t have typical days, but I try to begin each one with a few deep breaths to mentally prepare for what’s to come. I walk my dog, Biggie Mo, and either do yoga or work out with a trainer. I slacked off last year, but have ramped up again full-force. I find that I have a better attitude and more energy throughout the day [when I start with exercise]. I start and end the day by checking emails and texts (if my husband is reading this, he will say that’s only 90% true). Because our business is bicoastal, depending on which coast I’m on, I have an influx of messages when I wake up or before bed. When you’re in the business of people and content there is no down time. But, because Michael and I have built this business together, I don’t mind…it’s a daily reminder that hard work and dedication do pay off.”

Her career highlights: “My first boss at the NFL allowed me to run with hiring a lesser-known band to play at the Super Bowl Tailgate Party. The band was Hootie and The Blowfish, who by the time Super Bowl came around, they were one of the biggest bands in the world. From that moment on, I was encouraged to build out an entertainment division at the NFL. I also had the opportunity to manage Snoop Dogg and help him launch the Snoop Youth Football League. And, of course, starting SMAC with Michael and navigating his career from retirement to the present.”

Her success secret: “Honesty, integrity, hard work. And keeping the faith especially when doors won’t open.”

Her best advice: “When you f**k up, own it.”

Her “work husband”: “Michael Strahan and I met in the 1990s while playing for the NY Giants. As great of a player on field he was a talent off field. He had on camera presence, team player mentality and [we soon discovered] we had the same work ethic and drive. When my husband, Mike, and I were discussing who would preside over our wedding and who we felt would represent us both equally, there was no one else who even came to mind. Michael met my husband on our third date, as he has always been the ‘big’ brother I never had. Michael and Mike have since developed their own great friendship.”

Talking SMAC: “Each project at SMAC is so different and brings a new challenge and excitement; they intersect and have meaning to build and expand. All of our clients help one another, our shows, and the individual businesses. SMAC is a special group of clients, partners, and employees.”

Her style: “As my wise client and friend, Deion Sanders, always says, I’m a “pitbull in pumps.”

Her gotta-have-its: “Dave Matthews Band and LL Cool J’s new satellite-radio station, Rock the Bells, on SiriusXM. I have big, curly hair but I love a good blow out, so I like to explore every hair product out there. Italian food, especially Emilio’s Ballato in N.Y.C. and Scopa Italian Roots in Venice, CA. As for fashion, as much as I love my Christian Louboutin shoe collection, I am now a big fan of sneakers. My best-kept-secret store is Jami Lyn, in Beverly Hills. She has my favorite brands and knows exactly what will fit and how far to push me outside of my comfort zone.”

Her biggest influence: “My mom: strong, yet feminine, and forgiving.”

Talents she’d most like to have: “To dance like Janet Jackson, play piano like Alicia Keyes, and perform like Pink.”

Her happy place: “Anywhere with a beautiful beach and a golf course!”

Her motto: “Hustle like you’re broke.”