It all started with a tweet.
Erin Sharoni was modeling a new line for Fila when she met Darren Rovell, CNBC's sports business reporter. The previous six years found her working as a swim coach, personal trainer and, unlikely enough, Wall Street investment banker. In an attempt to leave the "soul-crushing" finance business and get back to her artistic side, Sharoni attended an open casting call and won a job with the athletic clothing company.
After appearing on Rovell's television segment, he asked about her professional goals. Ah, the eternal question, for which Sharoni had no definitive answer. Rovell, a huge proponent of social media, asked how many Twitter followers she had.
"Maybe ten," Sharoni confessed.
Rovell shook his head and informed her she wasn't using the platform correctly. He promptly tweeted a picture of her modeling for Fila, and within an hour she had roughly 500 followers.
"That's when I realized how powerful social media could be," she says.
Those less than 140 characters found their way to St. John's, and Sharoni was soon hired as the sideline reporter for RedStormSports.com. She would eventually host "We Are St. John's: All Access" on Red Storm Report. With that experience under her belt, it was no surprise that the man that sent that all-important tweet contacted her again, this time with a job offering.
Now Sharoni is the sideline reporter for "CNBC SportsBiz: Game on" with Darren Rovell.
ThePostGame sat down with her to discuss her strange path to television including a Happy Meal-less childhood and a reluctant stint with the clarinet.
ThePostGame: Your heritage is Scotch-Irish on your mother's side and Yemenite-Israeli on your father's -- the epitome of the melting pot that is New York. What stands out about growing up in the city?
Erin Sharoni: It's a unique experience. It's funny because people ask if I grew up in the city and I did -- Queens and Manhattan. Their reaction is they're shocked. They say, "I'd never raise my kids in the city!" But the amount of culture I was exposed to growing up was absolutely
incredible. It's truly a melting pot. From a young age I could say words in different languages. I had friends that were Korean, Russian, Indian. You go over to their house and instead of having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich you're having rose water balls or a mixed rice dish.
TPG: You're very health conscious and have a certification in holistic nutrition. Where'd that come from?
Sharoni: My parents were like modern-day hippies. I was a carob kid before carob was cool. (It is thought of as a healthier substitute for chocolate.) This was when there was no Whole Foods. I was going to school with my whole wheat bread and no-name juice box. My lunch smelled funny and tasted like crap. I didn't get Wonder Bread or Hi-C. I was miserable. I always joked with my mom that all I ever wanted was a McDonald's Happy Meal for the toy! My parents were very healthy, holistic and strict. It's something I hated as a kid, but I appreciate now. It's even a growing trend.
TPG: You loved the arts from a young age, but how did you end up playing Carnegie Hall when you were just 13?
Sharoni: For two years I went to The Louis Armstrong middle school. It was music-focused and had a whole bunch of arts programs. In sixth grade you had to pick an instrument that you were going to play for band class. And I didn't know the difference between the flute and the clarinet. For some reason I thought the clarinet was the long, silver one. I distinctly remember asking the kid who was on line in front of me, "What's the long, silver one you hold to the side?" and he said the clarinet. So I wrote down clarinet as my first choice and of course I got it. And I was like, "This isn't what I asked for!" The flute is this pretty, feminine instrument and the clarinet was so nerdy. There's spitting involved and reeds. But I got into this city-wide band that practiced twice a week and we got to play Carnegie, which was pretty cool, except for the clarinet part.
TPG: You went on to Wesleyan University and got a degree in Studio Art. What was the plan out of college?
Sharoni: There was no real plan actually. I was very confused. I didn't know what I wanted to do. Interestingly enough though I had a concentration in Digital Media, and I had no idea it would become such a huge thing. I graduated in 2003, the year Zuckerberg created Facebook. I was basically a computer geek, working in the Mac media lab doing graphic design and creating book layouts. I was trying to make some sort of career out of art because I knew no one was going to pay me to do stone sculptures or paint naked people, which is what I was doing at the time. Now digital media is what got me to where I am now, so it's funny how life comes full circle.
TPG: But before social media you had a stint as a U.S. Junior Olympic-certified swim coach?
Sharoni: Yeah. After I graduated, I didn't have a job. I'd hung out in L.A. with a friend for a little while and when I got back to New York I didn't know what I was going to do. I would go swim at my local Y (YMCA) in Queens. This woman with a thick Russian accent yanked me out of the pool one day and said, "You will swim on my team." But I was too old, so I became an assistant coach for her tri-state swim team. We did pretty well. That's when I realized my passion for health and fitness, so I decided to become a personal trainer.
TPG: So how do you go from personal trainer to equities trader on Wall Street?
Sharoni: I was a trainer at New York Health & Racquet Club, which was across the street from Goldman Sachs. I literally knew nothing about the firms, and everything I knew about the market came from my college Econ course. I went to Wesleyan where they teach you how to protest the IMF (International Monetary Fund), not that there are viable jobs in the financial field. It didn't take long before I figured out that personal training wasn't going to pay off my student loans and I was thinking about going to law school. One of my clients, who was a lawyer, told me to skip it and instead go work in the equity trading division at Goldman.
So being this brazen 22-year-old just out of college I decided to just go interview at all these banks. I literally interviewed at every investment bank on Wall Street. Most of them laughed me out the door. I had no training, no pedigree. I hadn't even had an internship. Then I interviewed at Bear Stearns and they only cared that I could do the job. They hired me as a sales assistant and that's how my Wall Street career started.
TPG: You stuck with it for six years, working your way up and making good money. Why leave?
Sharoni: It was crushing my soul. That's not to say that it crushes everyone's soul. It's just not my true path. I was not brought into this world to be a money manager. It gave me some stability, and I liked the fact that I could be this straight-laced professional person. My whole life I was an artist. Maybe I was trying to fit in a little bit. But I learned a lot on Wall Street. Most creative people have no idea how to manage a business or take an idea to fruition, so that experience benefitted me a lot.
TPG: So you finally decided to get back to your creative side?
Sharoni: Yeah, I was unemployed for like a year. I was at Bear when they were sold for like two bucks. I was working at a company called Bridgewater when the crisis really hit. That's when I went for the open casting call for Fila. That woke me up. I credit them with a lot. It got me into social media, and then I met Darren.
TPG: Yes, the fateful tweet that got you to St. John's and eventually teamed up with Rovell. What's the best part about working on "CNBC SportzBiz: Game on"?
Sharoni: Being able to take all of the things I've done over the past however many years -- my artistic training, to my writing, to this business background that I ended up with somehow -- and seeing it all come together and being able to apply it to an area like sports which I'm so passionate about and I love and is so fun. That's the surreal part. It's like everything really does happen for a reason.
TPG: So is this your proverbial dream job and if not, what's next?
Sharoni: If you had asked me what my dream job was ten years ago, I wouldn't have said this. And yet, this is my current dream job. I don't know that I could accurately pinpoint what my dream job would be, but from this standpoint today I'd love to host my own show in the areas of fitness and wellness because that's something that's really important to me. The ability to reach and influence people in a positive way about things they care about, to me, is the most gratifying of all.
-- You can watch Erin on CNBC's "SportsBiz: Game on" with Darren Rovell on Fridays at 7 p.m. ET on Versus. Follow her on Twitter @ErinSharoni.
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