Smalls_wordmark with tag_white-01

The Struggle is Real

By Aaron Smalls

There aren’t many smooth roads in life. And, the roads that are, typically become a struggle at some point. And if they don’t, you’re probably not challenging yourself. 

Choosing to be a performer is a struggle period. And I’ve overcome my share of challenges, setbacks, roadblocks, and rejections.  A career in entertainment is comparable to golf (let me explain). I very seldomly play golf, but I’ve heard people say about golf that they hit one great shot out of a handful, and they declare triumphantly, “I love this game!” The rest of the time when their shots slice, or go camping in the woods, or vacation in a sand trap, they frustratingly say, “F*ck this game.” So, it’s a lot of, “F*ck this game, F*ck this game, I love this game!” and repeat. There’s a resilience and a love-hate relationship with golf, just as there is in the entertainment industry and beyond. Anything worth doing isn’t easy.

How do you know when what you’re doing is the right path? That’s a great question. I don’t know how people expect you to know what you want to do with your life when you’re in college, let alone, before that. That was probably one of my first struggles. I didn’t know what my “gift” was until I started hosting live shows for Nickelodeon and then everything came into focus. When someone put a mic in my hand and allowed me to perform for hundreds of people, that made my heart sing. The ability to connect with that many people on such a level that a stranger had them laughing, and pumping their fists, and fully engaged is an addictive feeling.

One’s gift is what she [or he] does better than anyone else. It’s how she serves the world. It’s when your body, mind, and soul become perfectly aligned. Some call it being “in flow”. Some call it finding your “why”. Simon Sinek has a great book called Start With Why which is about a naturally occurring pattern, a way of thinking, acting and communicating that gives some leaders the ability to inspire those around them. And my gift is being the mirror that reflects the most attractive, engaging, inspiring image of a person or brand, breathing life into their vision. Wouldn’t you want to look into that mirror every day and often? 

Hosting, Acting, DJing, and teaching people to unlock their Charismatic Advantage™ are my passions, but hosting was my first love and the foundation of my career in the entertainment industry. However, there’s no legit, recognized path for hosting. There’s not a dedicated degree you can earn in school. And people don’t understand what hosting really is (Especially, for live events). Learning how to sharpen your skills or finding mentors or convincing people to see your value and trust you to hire you is a struggle.

Rockstar’s used to be rock stars – celebrities, icons. Then DJ’s became rock stars. Then chefs became rock stars. I’m working to make hosts rock stars. And with the Charismatic Advantage™, I’m working to help you become a rock star in your industry and in your life.

Once I figured out my path, the next struggle was finding consistency. I’ve been performing since 2005 and up until 2015, advancing was arduous. It’s still a struggle to this day (much less so than before), but Marc Summers, popularly known as the host of Nickelodeon’s Double Dare once said to me, “The hardest workers get the luckiest…” and I’ve been lucky enough to create a semblance of consistency. The consistency comes from relationships I’ve cultivated, trust I’ve won, and talent I’ve developed. The higher we climb up the mountain of “success” the louder rejection echoes in our mind.

Rejection is as common as social media filters. The client is going in a “different direction”, or getting overlooked for the promotion, or the guy dating the other girl, can really scratch at the door to your self-esteem, well-being, and mental stability. If we don’t keep our minds fed and occupied with positive, uplifting, healthy nourishment, our brains will begin to dwell on the little things. And it’s the little things that give us cause to negotiate with ourselves.

That voice in your head starts telling you, “You’re not good enough” or “You’re an imposter” or “It’ll never be your time” or some other negative, fear-based limiting belief(s). I can’t even count the number of times I’ve thought about getting a “real job” because of “that voice”. I often say, “I’m an imposter. You’re an imposter. We’re all f*cking imposters. But no one cares so long as you deliver [value] and you deliver [value] strongly. Identify a need and supply the solution.

Having the patience and resiliency to stick with it and the strength to get back up after the K.O.’s is an ongoing struggle. Rejection always hurts no matter where you are on your journey. However, somewhere along the road, I learned that “it”, whatever “it” is, just wasn’t the right fit or the timing wasn’t right (Often this was a blessing in disguise). I either had to fight for it or accept it and move on. We have to face it, to embrace it, to either eviscerate it or elevate it.

I learned to let my struggles, failures, and rejections fuel me toward winning instead of spiraling me toward quitting. I’m sure you’ve heard the following paraphrase before: success happens when you have the dedication to get back up again and push forward. Chris Rock said to Jerry Seinfeld on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee on Netflix, “Be a skateboard kid. They keep falling and falling trying to land a trick, but when they get it, it’s a sense of accomplishment.”

Life is and should be an adventure. Be grateful for the wins, no matter how big or small. Learn and grow from the setbacks. There aren’t many smooth roads in life. But I believe in you and believe that you can overcome your share of challenges, setbacks, roadblocks, and rejections. Finding your path and your gift in life comes with consistent excavation. I promise with consistent, dedicated work, the “diamonds” are closer than you realize.

Like Ted Lasso says, “Believe.” Believe in yourself. Believe in your voice. And believe that you have a value that makes a substantial impact on this world.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog entry. I appreciate you and can’t wait to share more with you and connect more directly. What did you learn from this first post and what do you look forward to on our adventure together? Feel free to reach out to me at, or via the contact page on, or on social @TheAaronSmalls

Share this Post


2 Responses

Leave a Reply

About Aaron


Aaron Smalls is a keynote speaker, host, DJ and actor. He partners with some of the biggest brands around the world.

Over the course of his entertainment career, he has learned to channel his strong sense-of-self and natural charisma to succeed in an industry where there’s unlimited uncertainty. 

As a keynote speaker, he teaches public speaking and communication, personal branding and reconnecting with our youthful energy. This allows his audiences to differentiate themselves, increase their value and strengthen their relationships. 

And that is what Aaron refers to as discovering and owning your Charismatic Advantage®.