You have a BS in accounting and an MBA in finance and have worked in big companies making budgets, long-range business plans, mergers and acquisitions, and more. During your career, you also developed a side gig as a DJ. How did that happen? What was it like to build your DJ career while working full-time?
I’ve always had a passion for dance music, but my life took a turn in the early 90s when I was introduced to my best friend and mentor, DJ Billy Carroll. Back then, DJs used vinyl. I would carry Billy’s record bags to his gigs in some of the biggest clubs in NYC (like Roxy, Limelight, Palladium, and Tunnel) and hang out with him in the DJ booth, absorbing his mixing skills and style. Occasionally, he would let me spin a few tracks, and it was such a rush. In late 1994, Billy surprised me with two amazing gifts that would change my life forever and allow me to pursue my passion to become a DJ while simultaneously continuing my career in corporate finance.
First, Billy got me into the #1 DJ record pool in the country, For the Record. Every Friday at lunchtime, I would rush from my corporate job in Times Square to the Flatiron District to pick up the latest vinyl promo-only and pre-releases from all the major record companies that would provide these to the record pool every week.
Second, Billy secured my Friday night DJ residency at Champs, a legendary NYC gay dance club. I felt like I had just won the lottery. I also received some great press in HX and Next magazines (two gay NYC weekly publications that, unfortunately, are no longer around) and occasionally DJed at a few other clubs in NYC.
In addition, in the summer of 1995, I was offered DJ gigs on Fire Island at the Pavillion and the Blue Whale. I also DJed many house parties as well as benefits for the Human Rights Campaign Fund, the Empire State Pride Agenda, and DIFFA. After my Friday night gig at Champs, I remember jumping on the seaplane the next morning to get to Fire Island so I could DJ there over the weekend. I was living my best life ever, juggling two careers and having the time of my life. Luckily, my DJ career was mainly on the weekends, so I could devote 100% to both jobs. For me, DJing was a release from all the stress of my corporate career.
Over 30 years, you pursued your passion as a DJ while also developing your corporate career. However, at one point, you took a step back from being a DJ to focus on your corporate job. What advice would you give to someone with a corporate career who wants to pursue their passion?
Go for it! Follow your dreams! Pursue your passions! You are only limited by your own
state of mind. Believe in yourself and be tenacious. We all multi-task these days, so we are capable of juggling two careers as long as they don’t interfere with each other. I used many of my corporate skills and came up with a “business plan” on how to manage both and was successful in making that happen for more than four years, but like any business plan, it was subject to revisions. I re-evaluated the demands of both jobs and realized I had to devote all my time and energy to my corporate career. I still pursued my passion and love for dance music but put it on the back burner to give 150% to my finance career.
In 2021, you decided to wind down your corporate finance career and went full speed ahead into becoming a full-time professional DJ in your 60s. Tell us about that decision and what it means to you as a Re-Imagineer. How can people listen to your music?
In 2021, I decided to make the move from NYC to Fort Lauderdale as I wanted a fresh start in a warm climate. I knew my last chapter had not yet been written and in early 2023, I decided to relaunch my DJ career. Like most professions, DJing had evolved, and everything was now digital, so I had to reimagine it as well, investing a lot of time and energy in researching the latest technology, equipment, and sources for music. It was actually like starting a whole new career, and I was terrified to jump back into a profession I had not been involved in for over 20 years, but my previous experience as a vinyl DJ and my passion for music gave me the confidence to move forward. I developed a new “business plan” for my “relaunch” and it once again included many things I learned from my years in the corporate finance world, especially the best ways to network and promote myself in a very competitive environment.
Social media plays a big part in this.
In 2023, I secured gigs at a number of pool and house parties (which happen fairly regularly down here) and DJed for Floatarma, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds to lift up LGBTQ+ Youth.I was also chosen to be the resident DJ at Nomanors, the newest addition to the Wilton Manors gay nightlife scene that opened in mid-September and filled a niche that was not really being served: a bar/lounge with an NYC underground vibe.
Although my reimagination is still in the early stages, I am happy with what I have achieved so far. I know who I am and what I bring to the “party” and I’ve prepared to take it to the next level. Be confident in your abilities, surround yourself with people who support you, and be reliable and professional. And most of all, have fun doing it!
You can hear my music on Soundcloud at soundcloud.com/ronnieminutella. You can follow me on Facebook at Ronnie Minutella and on Instagram at @djronnie.minutella.