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L. Michelle Smith talks diversity and winning at AT&T

Smith on panel at Brand Innovators Summit — NYC Social Media Week (Photo provided by L. Michelle Smith)

Name: L. Michelle Smith
Title: Director, public relations, AT&T Global Marketing Organization

Organization: AT&T

L. Michelle Smith is the voice and timbre of diversity at AT&T. She also leads the team that executes the communications for the award-winning “It Can Wait” campaign. Industry leaders have said that when Smith speaks, it causes ripples across the marketing industry. She has been called The Culture Guru, as she spreads the gospel about how multicultural markets are the new mass market. She is urging brands to get ready for the dawning of the browning of America.

What is your role at AT&T?
I am a consumer insights expert who is helping one of the world’s most respected Fortune 10 companies prepare for our nation’s new reality — an unwired, digitally-driven, multicultural and global society. I lead diversity and citizenship and sustainability corporate communications for AT&T.

What qualifications prepared you for this job?
I have more than 20 years of experience as an integrated marketer and communicator at three top global agencies. I also owned my own agency. I am a natural-born leader, entrepreneur, innovator, motivator, technophile and culture guru.

What are the three most important factors of being a successful woman?
Servant leadership, tenacity and emotional intelligence.


Smith speaking at the Brand Innovator’s Summit — Content Marketing at AT&T. (Photo provided by Smith)

How has technology changed the way you approach your work?
Technology enables everything I do, personally and professionally. I remember needing a way to stay connected with my small client base when I started my agency around 2002. The smartphone was my answer. Now, I’m able to remain connected to the Internet when my schedule takes me on the road so that I can respond to emails on the fly or review documents that need to be approved before going external. But I also stay connected to what inspires me, whether it is emailing my daughter’s teacher to check on her day at school, streaming music on my commute or streaming my church services on Sundays when I’m on the road.

Who or what motivates you and why?
My faith in God motivates me, and my 4 year old daughter Joni keeps me focused on the most important things in life.

What advice do you wish to offer other women that are seeking a similar career path?
Discover your expertise, but zero in on your passion. Somewhere in between, you will find your purpose.

If you could change one thing in the world what would it be? Why?
I would change hearts and minds as it pertains to understanding and accepting others who may not look, act, believe or think like we expect them to.

What is your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure is binge-watching series like “The Get Down,” “A Different World” or “Luke Cage” on Netflix.

Favorite vacation destination?
Martha’s Vineyard

Favorite wuote or words of wisdom?
“When you pray move your feet.” –African Proverb

Smith calls herself a “Gladwellian Connector” which is evident in her recent participation at the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit in Phoenix, Arizona. Smith helped bring the most influential women in Hollywood, Corporate America and Madison Avenue in one place to celebrate sisterhood  in honor of NY Best Seller Luvvie Ajayi.

The room was filled with glass-ceiling breaking women such as, Bozoma Saint John, Global Marketing lead at Apple Music, noted motion picture and film producer Debra Martin Chase, Teen Vogue Editor-In-Chief Elaine Welteroth, director and special assistant to Michelle Obama, Kristin Jones, and Cynt Marshall, SVP of HR, chief diversity officer at AT&T, who provided opening remarks.

When Smith isn’t on the road speaking and launching multi-year initiatives with top talent on behalf of AT&T, she’s chasing after the love of her life, her 4-year-old daughter Joni, whom she says has even more smarts and tenacity than she does. Smith was also honored as one of Steed Media’s Top 25 Women of Dallas.

Follow her on Twitter @lmichellepr