Wise Women Wednesday: April Harris

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Q. Who are you? What is your background? 
A. I am April Harris, and Greensboro NC is my hometown.  

Q. What is your work?
A. I founded my community and economic development practice – New City Ventures - six years ago and have worked most recently as university and neighborhood partnership builder, programmer of pitch events for entrepreneurs, plus helped establish a maker-space co-working space in downtown Greensboro.  Right now, my primary focus is monetizing and scaling Gate City Live, a weekly podcast with live performance and interviews that showcases local poets, songwriters, and musicians.

 I started Gate City Live as a hobby 18 months ago because I was curious about the explosive growth of podcasting.  I wanted to understand how the industry’s evolution would play out and thought, “What better way than a front row seat?”

Now, with 63 shows published on Spotify and iTunes, I’m ready to take it to the next level. In the next year, I plan to grow the podcast and expand it to a regional audience through a partnership with public radio.

Gate City Live is a perfect fit for public radio because it matches their desire to evolve their sound with new voices and new approaches. Young people – especially artists - no longer see standard industry protocol as their gatekeeper.  We see that young, emerging artists develop their own opportunities through digital media and social networks. By engaging on their terms, Gate City Live taps into these new voices and perspectives Our show already appeals most strongly to the 18-24 demographic, and we believe we can help expand the voice of public radio.

One important premise of the show is “Nobody Famous.” We believe that just because someone is not famous doesn’t mean they aren’t talented. Talent is everywhere. 

I can eventually see our format scale into a network of programs, with Gate City Live as a model for other communities that want to uncover and promote their own unique talent.

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Q. What is one project you are excited to be working on right now?
A. I’m focusing on building audience and revenue for Gate City Live, drawing on my experience in entrepreneur development and treating it like any other startup.  The first year of episodes is my minimum viable product. I have researched the industry and identified a need that Gate City Live would fill – our value proposition.  I developed budget projections with an eye to growth, defined target customers, and identified podcast revenue channels.

Right now, I’m building a marketing piece and underwriting model for potential financial supporters, and getting serious about collaborations that will broaden our audience. I’ve also just added a monthly live show with live studio audience that will stream live on You Tube and Instagram.

Q. What is one thing you've done recently that's scared you and took courage, but you're glad you did?
A. Last summer, a friend and I rode motorcycles and camped in Alaska for 10 days. A year before, neither one of us had ever driven a motorcycle. We spent a year preparing for the trip. I loved the fact that almost everything we did, both in planning and on the trip itself was a first for both of us! It was scary and exhilarating at the same time.

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Q. What is the work you most want to be doing and are you doing it?  If not why not what's stopping you? 
A. I’m doing exactly the work I love and was meant to do.

Q. What would you tell your high school or college self?
A. Step over the line! Funny story: I had an English teacher in high school that said, “If you remember anything from my class, I want you to remember Organization is the Key to Success.” So I spent the next 35 years following that philosophy.  It’s had an impact. I’m definitely organized and it’s been an important tool for my success. So fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I saw my former teacher at a restaurant. I wanted her to know how much of an impact she had, so I went up to her table and introduced myself and thanked her for the phrase that left such a positive impression. She asked, “Oh what was that?” I told her, “Organization is the Key to Success.” She laughed and said, “I stopped telling my students that years ago. Now I say ‘Step over the line!’”

There you go. Her philosophy worked for the previous 35 years, and now I have a new one for the next 35.

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Q. What's one piece of advice or motto you love and use in your daily life that you would like to share with my sweet readers?
A. Everything is hard until you make it easy. You just have to think about it the right way.

Q. What keeps you creating when you don't feel like it?
A. Love of community

Q. What's your favorite yoga pose? 
A. Eagle pose, especially when its hot yoga and my legs are sweating!

Q. How do you live a life of abundance?
A. I am grateful all day, every day.

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