Category Archives: Uncategorized

Who I Am And What I’m Really All About

DGS-StairsProfileHeadshotThis isn’t a typical blog post, with tips or insights into growth strategies. Instead, I just want to shoot from the hip with a little insight about why I post the content I do each week, what drives the subject matter, and who I am so that you can have a better grid for connecting with me.

In the end, that’s what I’m striving for with this online platform: connecting with you.

We connect with people we relate to, folks whose stories are similar to ours and who show us a part of who they are that syncs with who we are.

I work in two seemingly different fields (music and the entrepreneurial business world), but actually they’re very similar. You can read the About page for more of my history, but all of those experiences lead to very concrete ways of doing things in a practical sense, especially since what I do involves working one-on-one with people.

Instead of a narrative, I’ve been asked some questions in an interview format that I’ll share with you so you can know a little more about why I do what I do (and more specifics on the what as well).

Q: What are you passionate about in your career?

I’m excited and passionate about people. I spent a very long time in life being afraid of people, scared for a few different reasons, but mostly thinking that I wouldn’t be taken seriously, or worse, taken advantage of. In the past few years I’ve come out of that shell, thanks to many great people including mentors and my amazing wife.

It’s people who have reshaped my career. Working both in radio, the music industry, and the nonprofit sector, I’ve been incredibly blessed to have been impacted through the relationships, networking, and mentoring of some great individuals who changed the way I see myself and the world.

That’s one thing that has made The Appetizer Radio Show so fulfilling to me personally over the past decade and more. Helping to launch someone from unknown and uncelebrated to nationally recognized, showcased, and prized is a big deal. Sharing in someone’s underdog story as they rise to success is a very fulfilling part of why I do what I do.

Q: What or who are you most passionate about?

I mentioned fears earlier, and I think most artists and creative people share some of the same fears. Overcoming them is a vital part of the growth and success process, and at times it’s a daily exercise. From my experience, I’m drawn to people who feel like they’ve been ignored or skipped over by pop culture, who don’t fit neatly into boxes, who have the odds stacked against them but who have a fire burning in them to win. Their ambition and goals aren’t too big for their circumstances. They just need a little help and direction. They are the Rockys who need a Mickey in their corner (I speak often in metaphors and boxing provides plenty of them for me).

Q: What do you believe in?

This is one of my philosophies: Talent is important but by itself it won’t lead to consistent wins, or even the wins that matter most. Heart and determination, paired with talent, that will take you to bigger and better place, and more powerful wins along the way. That’s what champions are made from, talent plus heart plus determination.

The quality of your character is the most important thing for who you are. Do what you say you will do. Treat others with love always. And true power doesn’t come from one person, but instead from the power of community and relationships.

Q: You writing a lot about being uncommon, building community and growth. Ultimately what is the message you are trying to communicate?

The world is inherently selfish. As individuals, it’s in our nature to be very Me-First in what we do and each of us has to deal with those tendencies in our own ways. This leads to a very important question that each of us has to answer as we face our path forward to success: How do you get people to take notice of you and unplug from themselves so that you can build an audience, a following, and a growing platform?

I think we look at the ground, plants, and trees for wisdom here. You water their tree. The basic roots of relationship are in sharing, but giving is required to start. It’s human nature to put yourself out front and shout for attention. What happens when someone notices you first and engages with you? Something happens that is dynamic in its connection power between you and that person. We care about people who engage with us. You then become a fan of this person in some way. So to attract a fan, maybe you should think about the reverse path of how they would come to you and go to them in that way.

Be Uncommon

To build anything you need strong roots. Roots that are deep and well connected to resources. Those take water and a process for growth. I want to be better at growing strong, solid roots and that’s what I work at every day. It’s what I write about here on this blog, speak about at events and engagements, and coach my clients with in their development. Growing roots and nourishing the connections we have to the people we want fruit from is the key to success, to winning at this game called business and life.

Doing growth and process this way is not ordinary, it’s not common. Common people follow the herd and do what everyone else does because it feels safe and not risky. Yet the more people do the same thing in terms of trying to be heard, the more noise that gets put out there. Noise doesn’t lead to wins. That’s why I talk so much about being uncommon. The uncommon path and uncommon people are the ones who are well received, prized and showcased. True, loyal, and solid fans/audiences don’t follow regular or common artists. They follow amazing and uncommon ones. That’s what we can build together.

Q: How about some other insights into who you are that are not business, music or career related?

I’m a staunch Alabama Crimson Tide fan, but only during football season even though I didn’t go to college there. I do love football. My favorite player of all time is Bo Jackson because he was simply a superhero on the field and we share a birthday. If you haven’t seen the 30 for 30 biography on him, Netflix it today.

DGrantTexansManningJerseyBeerUntil last year I was a pretty die hard Houston Texans fan and continue to follow them but for different reasons. I’m a super fan in most areas, so if I follow something it’s with all of my heart. Honestly I was a Texans fan because they had Danieal Manning at safety and he played at ACU when I was in college there. Manning was the first player to be drafted out of ACU since Wilbert Montgomery in the 70s. Unfortunately for my fandom, Manning retired this year and the secondary of the Texans has suffered for it, but that’s my opinion.

I’m a big fan of Batman, in particular the Christopher Nolen Dark Knight trilogy. Actually I have all of the books related to the movies including the novelizations. I’m very nerdy about that stuff. I do have a ton of comics and graphic novels as well. I think Jeph Loeb, Frank Miller, and Brian Azzarello’s writing is top shelf (excluding The Dark Knight Strikes Back, that was rubbish). On the subject of books, I’m an avid reader and am usually reading at least 2 books at a time.

My favorite thing in the whole world is having engaging conversations with people. I love to grab a beer or coffee and talk about anything and everything. Again, people are what I’m really passionate about.

I’m married to a gorgeous and amazing woman who inspires me every day to do things I haven’t thought of, and who makes me laugh harder than anyone on earth. If you want some truly fantastic storytelling plus really awesome DIY ideas for your home, visit her blog HERE.

Now that you know a little more insight into the what, the who, and the why philosophies behind the blog articles and posts, don’t be shy about reaching out and asking questions.

I’m open to you to build your uncommon pathway forward. Reach out and let’s talk.

Why I Work With Musicians & Entrepreneurs As A Coach

DGS-StairsProfileHeadshotRemember wanting to be cool when you were younger in grade school? As I get older, the desire to be cool in the eyes of other people still lingers but it’s not near as strong as it was in an
earlier time in my life. Part of that change is due to age, and hopefully a little maturity, but most
of it is because I know who is going to be interested in me, what I have to say, what I do and
who I am. Who I am is not for everyone, and that brings me comfort instead of fear.

The desire to be liked or to be cool with people is the same as the desire to be popular. Often
times, I think we confuse our desire to be respected and appreciated for a desire to be praised
by everyone. As technology keeps allowing for individuals to connect with each other across
spectrums without the former barriers of distance, time, or even language, there are more and
more people to potentially appeal to.

For people who don’t know their specific craft in life, or the certain colors that they paint better than others and the unique story that separates them from the crowd, coming to this realization can be daunting.

This is why I work with musicians and creative entrepreneurs as a coach and mentor. These struggles kept me from fulfilling my dreams for a long time, and they keep talented people stuck for far too long.

Musicians feel some version of this fear in several ways, as do entrepreneurs and creative startups. One way this fear comes into play is how it’s becoming harder and harder to promote your music and your business on a small scale or limited budget.

For musicians this is because the amount of indie and unsigned musicians (not including artists on major labels) is vast and large and growing by the day. For entrepreneurs, often the marketing and development side of networking isn’t something they’ve given a lot of thought to, but is absolutely necessary to reach the levels of success we all dream about.

All of these artists are creating and trying to sell their music. Innumerable options available to a
limited number of people creates fears of how it will work.

The music fan has changed too, because he or she is able to access so much more content
than any period in history, from anywhere in the world, and not have to have a hard copy of it to listen to,or have to take up room on their computer. Oh, and it’s free too. How do you sell a
product to a populace who is used to getting something without cost and who just wants a taste
of it without taking any ownership or commitment to it?

The whole identity thing is bigger than just knowing who you are and what makes you cool. It
helps you know what makes you and your story appealing to others. When you know the what, you can find the who. All you have to do is look inside.

I created a radio program (The Appetizer Radio Show) over a decade ago.  Originally it was designed for people who love music. I’m a big fan on noncommercial artists, but also love the B-side tracks on some very well-known albums. Those songs don’t get heard on the radio, not the big named stations. I was sick of having to listen to the same 40 songs repeated constantly. So I made a show that featured nearly every genre and type of artist. The radio program was called The Appetizer Radio Show, because like food, we sample different types of music regularly for our music diet.

As I tried to appeal to fans of all music, I became frustrated with the inability to really grow the
program. It’s hard to move forward when you’re trying to carry the weight of the world with you.

The whole world wasn’t going to follow one idea, and when I started to discover the stuff I was
drawn to the most, and then started featuring more of that, our audience grew. Growth was not
just in numbers but in quality of connections and relationships. I used my ability to connect with
people to single-handedly syndicated the show to markets across the country and even a few
international ones without using a high priced marketing agency (I did look at a few of those and the cost versus the return was outstanding).

Working with indie artists over the years has taught me a lot, and it’s made me a better
professional, both in music and in the relationship business that is life. One of the biggest
lessons I can give, and help people with in their process, is drilling down deep within themselves to discover the specific elements about themselves that make them great, so that they can know who will be most drawn to their art. If you want to make a million dollars in music, good luck. No one has discovered the formula for making that work, not even the billion-dollar labels. They lose money constantly trying to promote artists who don’t make real music or connections with people.

Relationship building through good old-fashioned methods has brought me more growth and
opportunity than I could have achieved using any other way. It’s what I want to pass on to
others, especially musicians and entrepreneurs.

There is a LOT of competition out there, but there is also a lot of opportunity. People are searching for stories, powerful ones that empower them and inspire them to do more. We’re looking for interesting people worth celebrating and connecting with, who value true connection instead of flash-in-the-pan fakery. Syncing up with the people who fit your music and artistic identity is the key to you finding the ongoing, long-term success that makes for legendary artists.

That’s what I do, that’s what I love. That is my why. Tell me your why. What is it that drives your music or your entrepreneurial endeavor? Connect with me to discover new ways of getting your story out to the audience that is hungry for it.

Lessons Learned In Crowdfunding

Two months ago I launched my first ever crowdfunding campaign. It was, to say the least, an adventure. It was also a big learning experience in both communications, outreach, community building and fundraising.

I thought I was pretty good with at least 2 of those 4 categories, and I did learn new things in each of them. Since crowdfunding has become a more common approach to fundraising and project creation for both entrepreneurs, startups, and musicians, I wanted to share the lessons I learned in crowdfunding with you, so that you can have even more success with your projects.

What I’m going to share here in no way makes me an expert on crowdfunding. There are plenty of people who have run campaigns that raised 100s of 1000s of dollars and more. Our campaign was relatively small, but we did fund it successfully, while several similar projects have had a rough go at getting funded. Here is what I learned that you can and lessons you can take with you to make your campaign run successfully.

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  1. Do a lot of research BEFORE you start your campaign.

I did a lot of reading and asked friends who have done crowdfunders before how their campaigns worked, what they did right and what they would do differently if they could do it over again. I also read a ton of articles before we started the campaign. I did a lot of research before I picked which crowdfunding platform to use. Regarding tactics and strategies used, Amanda Palmer is one of my biggest mentors for this by way of her book The Art Of Asking.

I’m a big fan of PledgeMusic (even beyond having interviewed Benji Rogers for a kickass conversation) and what kind of connection-building platform they have, but the project we did was not something that we could necessarily bring our audience into the making of. Our biggest challenge on which crowdfunding platform to use came down to Indiegogo, Go Fund Me or Kickstarter.

Kickstarter has a more robust set of tools and more funders use it, which leads to a greater overall contribution total than all other crowdfunding platforms. However, there’s only 1 way you can raise money and that’s if you raise 100% of your goal. Indiegogo gives you to option to keep a portion of your goal, or whatever you raise. Initially, that was the deciding factor in picking Indiegogo, except that we ended up selecting the Fund All option (more on that in a bit).

2. Get a commitment for 20-30% of your goal total before you launch your campaign.

This was something that came up consistently in the research. Before you kick off your campaign, have some commitment from your fans, followers, audience, email list or family and friends who pledge to fund a portion of your campaign. I got this commitment via email 2-3 weeks before we started the campaign, with suggested pledge levels and a few insights into possible perks.

Suggested contribution amounts in that introductory email are important. Some people will contribute at the suggested level, while others will give a different amount. When we kicked off the campaign, we had a solid first few days where we eclipsed 30% of the goal in no time. It was a great launch to the campaign itself.

3. Be patient with the process.

The solid start led me to a little fear after the first week when we hit this lull and the contributions virtually stopped for a few days. It was agonizing. I mentioned getting a solid commitment from folks via email but there were several people who didn’t respond to the initial email message and I wondered if my message had been lost. The lull in campaign support and the lack of response to messages in those days made me question a lot about my ability to communicate effectively, the value of our project (the creation of The Appetizer Radio App, which will debut before the end of 2015).

Fear is common in fundraising but you have to remember that it is a 30 days process and not something that happens overnight. I was reminded of this fact when we had a final surge towards the end of the campaign and eclipsed our total goal well before the campaign end date.

Crowdfunding isn’t an overnight fundraising event, or even a week long pledge campaign. It takes 30 days (60 if you elect to run that long). My fundraising experience in public radio pledge drives lasted 7 days on end, and there were usually 1-3 days in the middle of those drives where the pledges and contributions were stagnant. I had to recall those experiences in the midst of this crowdfunder as a reminder that the beginning and the end of the campaign is when the majority of your fundraising contributions come int.

4. Crowdfunding is sales and it takes a sales strategy to be successful.

Like I wrote about last week, we are all in sales no matter what industry or career we’re in. Crowdfunding is a sales process too, even though the setup is different. The core sales aspect is that you’re campaigning to get people to buy into your idea, your project, and the benefits that funding the campaign will provide for them. You have to sell people on the campaign, the project, and above all on you. None of the process is a given and nothing is guaranteed (more on that later).

Sales strategy is very much a matter of clear communication, which has to be a commitment from everyone on your team. I had 3 people working with me on our campaign so that it wasn’t all on me to take care of. The other responsibilities included marketing and promotions on our blog and social channels, outreach to new people, followup on contributions, email marketing messages, and updates to the campaign.

I also added videos and images periodically through the campaign to show more of what the value of the project is to existing and new funders. These videos helped to strengthen the connection to the project and provide more incentive to give. The videos were easily produced using iMovie. Production time took about 1 hour per video.

5. Don’t buy the promotion pitches you’ll receive after you start.

This was a big mistake I avoided and am very relieved we did. Almost immediately after the campaign began, we started getting private messages on Twitter and through Indiegogo from all of these companies who claim to be able to put your campaign in front of millions of crowdfunding supporters.

We already had the campaign shared on every social platform a whole lot and had some other media talking about the campaign. We weren’t at a loss of publicity or people talking about it. Chances are you will have a lot of people talking up your campaign too. If you follow my previous advice you’ll be in good shape. None of the contributors to our campaign were from random people who just saw our campaign and thought “Hey that looks cool. I’ll give them $5 to help out.”

That’s not the way crowdfunding works. There are hundreds of campaigns going on at any given time. People don’t part with their money easily. You have to build a connection with them and give them a reason to support your project. The so-called social media promotion companies all charge $25-$150 or more to put your campaign out to their list of people. They will message you throughout your campaign with solicitations to buy their promotions. Save your money and focus your energies on connecting with the people you know and the communities you’re in to get support.

6. Followup is key before and after the campaign ends.

This is one of the biggest lessons you can learn in community building. Followup and strong communication pave the way for better connections and more fruitful collaborations. I’ve seen crowdfunding projects that are funded successfully and then spend months without contacting the supporters to let them know updates or news about the project. How detrimental to your success is that!

We’ve made it a point to not only post updates to our Indiegogo campaign through their site but also email our funder list periodically to inform them on the status of the app, questions about particulars for perk items, deliverables and new connection information. And we’ve made it possible to continue to support the campaign after it ended (what Indiegogo uses is In Demand). These people are not just your funders, they’re your strongest community members. Keep them in the know for ongoing success and connections.

In conclusion

Crowdfunding is not a guaranteed way to fund your next recording project or make up for the money you already invested in your big idea. It is a way to really connect with the people in your community and garner their trust. Crowdfunding is about relationships and networking, and it requires a strong skill set in relationship management to be successful. If you want to just make money, pick a different method. If you want to build connection with your community and expand your network for a project that you don’t have the funds for on your own, consider crowdfunding as a viable option.

If you need any help, tell me how I can serve you.

 

 

Is Real Success In Building A Community Or An Empire

Harmony Or ControlWhich would you rather build, a community OR an empire?

Essentially that’s the distinction you have to determine as you set out to build anything, be it your own business or enterprise, your artistic/musical endeavor, entrepreneurial platform, nonprofit organization or a location of existence (be it church, city council, group, or place of residence).

Yes, even nonprofits and churches can build empires, or attempt to do so. It’s all a matter of your attitude and perspective.

To know whether you are building an empire or building a community, let’s look at the characteristics of what each have, how they operate, and what the end results of each are. Determine for yourself which of the two you have established and operate in, and (more importantly) which end result you truly want.

Separating Communities From Empires

Communities put others first and seek harmony for the collective involved. Empires put one person above everyone else, usually whoever is at the head, who has all authority and control. Control is the highest value in an empire.

Communities are established to create peace among people of different backgrounds, needs, and interests but with a common location, belief, and mission. Empires are established to create caste systems, one set winners and the other losers, or one group perpetually fortunate and the other perpetually with loss.

Communities thrive on harmony. Everyone benefits each other, or at the very least works together to achieve benefits for both individuals and groups within the community.

Empires are the opposite, they thrive on tyranny. Everyone sacrifices to serve and benefit only one (person or elite group). Caste systems and the extreme spectrum of wealth-to-poverty are prevalent in empires because of the “Us vs Them” culture.

Empires create conflict and war out of self-preservation and self-interest. Control has the highest value in an empire, and must be pushed to the furthest boundaries to prolong its legacy.

Communities create opportunities for others to be included and shield themselves only against hate, leaving prolonged conflict outside the gates.

Confrontation is done to the betterment of everyone within a community because tension and imbalance require an addressing of issues for resolution, understanding and peace. Even in difficult circumstances or situations, confrontation can be done in a way that still leaves all parties feeling understood and doesn’t excommunicate individuals from the group unless absolutely necessary for the operation of the whole gathering.

15338308235_014a57c693_zEmpires treat confrontation as acts or declarations of war, with hostility being the main emotion that drives how confrontation is made. The only end result that can happen when empires confront other groups is increased tension and loss to one side. Rarely does peace for all parties come at the hands of an empire confronting another group or entity.

It’s seductive to want to be a part of an empire, but mostly from the vantage point of what leading an empire would present you in terms of power. However, to be on the opposite end of power in an empire is similar to what it is like to be a slave, with no rights or voice, completely at the mercy of whatever power is over you.

Communities don’t create slaves, instead they foster participants and members. Interaction within a community is voluntary, and therefore more engaging and appreciative.

Empires don’t see individuals. They only see masses, and therefore assume that the whole has only one voice, opinion, way of living, and belief system. Racism at its core is driven by an empirical mantra that groups all people into one category and judges them accordingly. This is an extreme example of empiricism that we (unfortunately) still experience far too often.

Communities see individuals and value the unique characteristics of each person as someone who brings something special to the gathering, offering a new way to move everyone forward.

Building a community is no easy task, but being a part of a healthy community is far more appealing than being caught up in the agenda of an empire. Which would you rather be a part of?

As you build your entity, be that a following around your music or an entrepreneurial business, keep in mind which of these mantras is determining your course, whether you are becoming more of an emperor in how you lead or a community builder who sees people for what they can do for others as well as for you. And see what you can do for them. This is harmony lived out loud.

Why You Should Be A Mayweather Fan Even If You Don’t Like Boxing

FloydMayweatherFirst things first, let’s identify a few important types of people: Entrepreneurs, DIY/Unsigned Musicians, and Small Business Owners and Managers.

If you fall into any of those categories, this blog article is for you. If you saw the name Mayweather and the word Boxing and were interested, this will be worth your while as well. If you want to carve an Uncommon Path, Mayweather is a great person to model after because he is Uncommon in many ways.

Any of the people mentioned above (or some combination of any of them) need to pay attention to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. It doesn’t matter if you like boxing or not. It doesn’t matter what you think of him outside of the ring (some of his luxurious lifestyle and all of the convictions of assault are not to be proud of) or inside of it. It doesn’t matter if you think he is a cowardly boxer who runs from his opponents (which many of his detractors do) or if you think he is a boxing genius and defensive master (which many of his supporters do).

Remember in 2008 when the housing bubble burst, sending the economy into a downward spiral and fall from a large height? Millions of people lost there jobs, their retirements, and a lot of money went down a black hole. The stock market plummeted. Whole industries took a huge nose dive. Other than politicians, who still made (loads of) money in 2008? Mayweather did.

If you think Mayweather was still able to capitalize his earnings on the fact that he’s a professional boxer, you need to look closer at the details. Not all professional athletes make money, or in this case tens of millions of dollars per year, especially in a downward economy. Boxing as a professional sport is nowhere near as popular in America as football, baseball, basketball or golf. We can chalk Nascar up there too. Where there is popularity there are masses of people who spend massive amounts of money to support athletes and organizations. With the masses come sponsors and advertising, which fuels the whole enterprise.

Boxing has a few big sponsors, but they don’t have the masses or audience. The days when a heavyweight boxer could captivate the nation were the days of Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Tyson, and Hollyfield. Though the legendary Bernard Hopkins (the oldest boxer to be champion) is still in the game,the lack of interest in the sports world for boxing has affected the greatest names’ paydays.

Except for one person: Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

But you shouldn’t pay attention to Mayweather because he’s one of the richest athletes in the world, or for being the #1 pay-per-view moneymaker in history. That’s not why you should care. The money (no pun intended) only proves the point that he has been able to do something magnificent in a time when everyone else in business and entertainment has made excuses for not living up to their ambitions or abilities.

For Floyd Mayweather, Jr, success isn’t a matter of whether or not the economy is doing well, or even if the market for sports is stable or not. It has nothing to do with the popularity of a sport that continues to decline in viewership. How many business owners or entrepreneurs do you know who will justify the poor standing or quarterly results for their business with excuses on how poorly the market is doing?

Here are 3 Takeaways you can get from Floyd Mayweather’s success and how you can apply it to what you do:

1. Use any attention given to you to draw people into what you do and then you set the pace.

Mayweather is great at being a heel, to the point where he uses the public’s dislike for him to gain more of what he wants (in this case money). He’s a master at making bad press or negative reviews work to his favor. Are there haters in your world? Floyd uses the sentiments made against him to draw his detractors in and make them interested in what’s going on. He makes haters buy in to his events in the hopes that their desire for his defeat will be won. His undefeated record reveals how well he’s executed his plan, and how people continue to buy expensive pay-per-views for the same reason. He sells the conflict, instead of selling one side of it or the other.

2. Mayweather is a consummate student of the game of winning

Nonboxing fans think that a boxing match (especially one that costs $60-$100 to see on TV) should play out like a Rocky movie, with two fighters in the middle of the ring duking it out. Sorry folks, that’s not good (or real) boxing. Without getting into how the sport actually works, defense and technique have more to do with solid boxing than raw power alone. If you want KOs, watch UFC. Rhonda Rousey is really good at that (speaking of carving an uncommon path, a woman who dominates a male-heavy sport is certainly doing an uncommon thing).

The science and art of boxing is different, it’s to hit and not get hit. KOs and knockdowns are an exciting part of boxing, but they’re not the whole thing. Most fights are won by decision, by determining which fighter on a round-by-round basis did the most to score points by landing punches, avoiding being punched, ring generalship, and being aggressive.

Floyd is a true defensive genius in the ring, making opponents (many considered to be more powerful punchers than him) look silly trying to hit him. If he struggles in a round and takes too many shots (as he did in only a few rounds against legends like Cotto, Mosley, or Pacquaio), he rebounds in the next round and changes his strategy.

Mayweather is two important things here: Fluid/Adaptable and Experienced/Studied. For you as a musician or entrepreneur, knowing the ins and outs of the science of your craft makes you an excellent and skilled individual in your ring (market). Being adaptable and fluid (adjust to changes as they come) and not allow an occasional blow to throw off your game will make you a champion.

Mayweather-v-Pacquiao-The-Fight3. Sell the potential for happiness and satisfaction

One caveat here, you should be selling actual happiness and satisfaction with your offering. For Mayweather, since he knows that many people buy his fights in the hopes of him losing, he sells the hype of that coming to pass and plays on it. In the end, he’s still selling the potential for his haters to be satisfied. For his fans, he’s also selling the potential that their happiness will continue, because he consistently trains harder than anyone while also claiming to be the greatest of all time. Both sides win, at least until fight time.

Most of the people who bought Pacquiao vs Mayweather in April 2015 weren’t buying a boxing match. They paid $100 to see Pacquiao, one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport and former undisputed pound-for-pound champion, put Floyd “Money” Mayweather on the mat. It was some of the same fan-fare that led people to watch the first Frazier-Ali fight, and subsequent rematches. It was classic good guy vs bad guy in the billing. Floyd knew that it would bring in non-boxing fans who just don’t like him, and he cashed in on that. Most viewers bought this fight to see Manny beat the hell out of Floyd. That’s why I watched the fight, being a big Pacquiao fan who never had much appreciation for Mayweather.

Until I watched the two greats fight each other.

The  fight spoiled a lot of hope for a lot of people. Mayweather brought his A-game technique and defense, as well as some amazing counter-punching and precision power-shots. Regardless of whether or not Pacquiao was 100% the night of the fight (post-fight his trainer Freddy Roach claimed they knew he had a torn rotator cuff prior to the fight but chose to fight anyways), Floyd avoided getting hit and returned/countered more punches with authority and accuracy.

As far as boxing goes, I became a Mayweather convert after watching this fight. Non-boxing fans hated it, but they bought the potential for satisfaction, aka hype, and not real boxing. Boxing fans got to see one of the best fights in the history of the sport. And at the end of the day, Mayweather walked away with much more than another victory and justification for his claim of being the greatest.

Hype is not something many people want to admit to buying into, and usually not something anyone brags about being said about them. Look at the last 20 years of NFL draft picks in the first round, particularly quarterbacks. But in this case, hype selling was hugely profitable for a sport who has seen better days.

Mayweather “officially” ended his career with a scientific beatdown of Andre Berto. Berto was a long shot on the ticket, a heavy underdog, who never gained any traction during the entire fight. Mayweather, though not known for power shots had a counter and tactic to best every one of Berto’s strengths, rendering them useless. The victory put his professional record at 49-0, tying Rocky Marciano as the all-time best record in boxing.

This tie leads most serious boxing fans (myself included) to believe that Mayweather will return to achieve the yet unattainable 50. Will that match be against Khan, as many boxing fans have wished for years, or a rematch against Pacquaio. We’ll just have to find out.

The big takeaway for you is this. Regardless of the economy or the popularity of your market. Regardless of whether your fan base boasts about you or you have a ton of haters seemingly out to destroy your name at every turn. Regardless of whether your product offering or place in the market is over-crowded to the point of mass congestion, you can still win and win big when you carve an uncommon path. Choose to look at your situation a little differently. How can you out-strategize your competition, lure new people into what you’re doing using uncommon methods, and take negative reviews about your work and turn it into a positive?

Be like Mayweather, and you won’t be able to do anything else but win. But it takes a strong commitment to being focused, dedicated, educated, and uncommon. Do you have what it takes?

 

**Author’s Note**

I am a fan of what Mayweather does inside the ring from a boxing standpoint. In no way do I support or condone his behavior outside the ring, including multiple convictions of assault against women, and the myriad of other indulgences his vast wealth affords him. The purpose of this blog article is to show how he’s done some amazing things in an unpopular sport, not to say that the dark sides of his lifestyle and behavior should be ignored in favor of his winning streak.

 

Core Audience Growth For You

DGS-StairsProfileHeadshot
Before you reach 1,000,000 fans, you have to reach 1,000.
To get 1,000 fans, you need a core audience.
Do you know who your core audience is?

If you go to the gym and lift only for your arms or legs, there’s a good chance you’ll injure your core muscle group. At the very least, you’ll offset your growth potential in the long run. The same is true with your audience/customer base. While fast growth may seem like a win, without a strong core it’s more difficult to build on your victories.

Your core audience is essential to your short-term and long-term growth.

 

Let’s talk about how to identify and engage with your core audience by having a short conversation about your music and your fan base.
Click Here.

See you soon!

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How Having Your Back Leads You Forward

My high school graduation pic. People thought I was 16 until about 4 years ago (I'm in my 30s now)

My high school graduation pic. People thought I was 16 until about 4 years ago (I’m in my 30s now)

Let me shoot you straight-when it comes to height and weight I’m a little dude. I might be taller than Bruno Mars or Prince (who is apparently 5’2″) but body size and weight are actually big deals to guys as much as girls.

This can lead to confidence issues in those beloved teenage years where all of your friends, who are also going through changes in their height, weight, and other body factors, are always the most encouraging people on earth. Wait, our peers are always the most encouraging people, right?

Of course I’m being facetious there. In high school I was a little over 5 feet tall and maybe weighed 100 lbs. That is a scrawny little dude. But that was me. And some other physical attributes helped me to be the brunt of a lot of jokes and a bit of bullying in school. I hated it, as most kids do. I also didn’t know really what to do about it, so I used sarcasm as a means of deflecting pointed remarks. And I hid/avoided the 2 people I knew would give me the most hell.

What made the difference for me in that era of time wasn’t a self-help book or taking a kung-fu class. Though I really did want to take kung-fu. Bruce Lee was only 5’4″ in his day and he kicked everyone’s ass. That gave me some hope. But it wasn’t the path for me. Instead, I found some love in an unexpected place that changed everything.

As you know, I’m a radio guy and have been since the late 1990s. How and where I got my start plays a role in this story of overcoming bullying because often our work or ambition experiences play larger roles in the things that we are and who we become. While in 10th grade I was given the opportunity to work on-air at a community college radio station about 30 miles from my hometown.

The station (89.7 KACC) was in Alvin, Tx. I lived in Sugar Land. One or two times a week I would drive down to Alvin and do my radio shift. It was a ton of fun and some of the best work experience I could have ever had. That experience on-air and doing radio stuff is what opened the door for me to start my freshman year of college working on-air in Abilene (ironically on 89.7 KACU).

The professional ground isn’t the focus of my story this time, but that gives context to where I’m going. There were two main guys who took me under their wing at KACC, Eddie and Shannon. Two room-mates who made me one of their buddies. I got to hang out with them off the air, camp out on weekends and essentially be a college guy 2 years before I should have.

In school I spent a lot of time feeling intimidated and picked on, though there was only one or two people who went to great lengths to do that to me and to others. Those instances of bullying, being picked on, belittled, and chastised still had terrible consequences on my self-esteem. Being embarrassed and bullied by someone who is physically bigger and stronger doesn’t do much to make you want to show up in class. There’s a reason why most TV shows and movies that involve high school portray bullies as jocks and athletes. The aggression they have has to be channeled, but realistically they feel as fearful as anyone else. Yet their pride makes them take that fear out on others. What do fearful people with physical power do? They prey on the smaller, physically weaker people. History tells us this repeatedly.

Hanging out with big Hispanic dudes who are 22 or 23 years old while you’re a short, skinny 16 year old white kid is empowering. It was to me. And they loved me, for whatever reason. One day while we were hanging out, one of my college friends, Shannon, could tell something was on my mind. It had been a rough week and I’d been austricized at school. Shannon asked what was wrong and I said a dude was messing with me, and he was much bigger than I so what could I do about it.

“Where does he live?” Shannon asked with a straight face. I knew what his thought process was. These weren’t guys who looked for fights, but they weren’t ones who ran from them either. And they were stout enough to hold their own and then some. Shannon was also a black belt in Tae Kwan Do.

“Don’t worry about it man,” I said. “I do appreciate it though.”

“No seriously, where does he live? I used to be a little guy like you and I got picked on a lot. It sucked. I remember what it feels like to be bullied. I will gladly show this punk what it feels like for a bigger, stronger person to put him in his place,” Shannon replied.

And that changed everything.

What followed wasn’t a scene out of a revenge film where we loaded up in a car, all 4 of us and drove the 30 miles back to my hometown, knocked on a door and then made mince-meat out of a teenage bully. What changed was my attitude and confidence.

Why didn’t I give the address to Eddie and Shannon to go take care of my bullying issue? Because even then I knew it would only make things worse, especially for them as young adults. The bully folks weren’t the kids of people who wouldn’t do anything about the 20-somethings who beat up their son. There were political and social elements that would make this situation much worse. So I thanked my friends for their love and said if it ever got to a place where I couldn’t handle it, I’d call them. Fortunately it never did.

Here’s what changed that made the difference.

When someone you trust and respect tells you that they have your back, will go out of their way to tackle a problem you have so that you don’t have to worry about it anymore, you should feel empowered.

IMG_1333My confidence took a steroid shot that day, and I didn’t even know it. Looking back now it all seems so clear. I didn’t cower or hide from people (or at least the same people I’d hidden from for the past few years when this happened). There was no reason to hide. If things got bad, I had a number to call who would come to my aid. That kind of support isn’t common, but it’s highly empowering.

Knowing we’re loved gives us confidence.

When you’re a kid, and sometimes even in adulthood, when we think of love we think romance or family bonds. Love isn’t just those things. Love is valuing someone else and doing whatever is necessary to make sure they are safe and taken care of. Love is looking at someone else’s best interest and putting them before you, even if it costs you something.

“I’ve got your back” is love in its purest sense. Nothing asked in return, no favors required to be put into effect. It’s just straight “You matter to me and I won’t let anyone or anything hurt you.”

As a followup to some of the life experiences described earlier, I’ve moved on and done a good bit of forgiveness, most of which the individuals involved know nothing about. That’s the thing about forgiveness, it’s really more about you than the people who caused you pain. Holding on to past pain and grudges only stymies your growth and ability to move forward. It also keeps those same fears in place, instead of releasing them to have the freedom you want.

Every single one of us struggles with fear in some form or fashion. For me it was fears regarding self-image and body size stuff. With friends who had my back, I was able to overcome a lot of these issues at that crossroad in time and move on to pursuing my dreams. I later returned to facing those fears head on in my 20s, which I talk about and describe in this blog post.

Do you struggle with fears and want to know that someone has your back? Let’s talk about what fears are keeping you from pursuing the goals and dreams that you have. Reach out to me below and let’s tackle them together. I have your back.

The Uncommon Choice Has Real Value

Coach Rivas instructs two amateur boxers

Coach Rivas instructs two amateur boxers

Though I work in radio and with musicians, I haven’t spent all of my free time doing music related things. I used to work out at a boxing gym where my Coach kicked my ass every day. I loved it (strangely enough) when each workout session ended because we all had collectively done above and beyond what we believed we could do physically, mentally and emotionally in those workout sessions.

It was fabulous. However, I did dread those workouts before going up there each
day, because I knew they would be intense, and would require everything I had and then
some.

We were there Monday through Friday for about 1.5 hours a day and were pushed beyond
the limits of what our minds told us we could do. I remember days of doing nonstop cardio
workouts for 20-­30 minutes at a time, to switch to doing wild bag work combinations. My mind
would be saying “I can’t do anymore, please let us stop,” but Coach kept pushing us, and we
ended up being able to do more than we thought we could.

Though I didn't fight in competition, I did go to events to support the team. I'm on the far right in the back behind a few people

Though I didn’t fight in competition, I did go to events to support the team. I’m on the far right in the back behind a few people

I learned a lot from those experiences. I learned that listening to just the common thread of thought in your mind can be very limiting, because often times you won’t push yourself past your own limits unless something else is the driving force. But to get to the real results you want, you have to do uncommon things, which may mean subjecting your will to that of someone you trust to push you harder than you’ll push yourself. It was one of the first times in my adult life to have a coach who did such things. The results were amazing.

I learned a lot in those 2 years before I moved locations and the gym eventually shut down.
While I was there I got into the best physical and psychological shape of my life. Being a
relatively small person (standing 5’ 7” and weighing 110 lbs soaking wet), I’ve struggled with
insecurity and fear my entire life. This is a common thing that people feel, especially at school
with jocks and bullies. I’m no stranger to this stuff. But I backed down from challenges and
endured way too much emotional setbacks in my youth and early adulthood, all on account of
fear. Part of going to the boxing gym was to face that fear literally, and put myself in a
situation where I had to fight or flight.

I never ended up being very good at boxing, but I still enjoy the sport. Having done it on an
amateur level showed me so much about the unspoken and irregular aspects of the game,
something similar to how musicians who closely study their instrument and playing something
beyond chords or basic scales might understand. There’s music theory, there’s your
instrument, there’s your creativity, and there’s you. Isolating those things independently of
each other loses a lot of the power they have together. That’s just an observation. Back to
boxing.

I got in great shape boxing but what has stuck with me more than the exercises and the
knowledge of fighting is something that Coach said at nearly every session­ “Be uncommon.”
There were times when he was almost preaching a sermon to devoted followers in how he
spoke of being uncommon as a boxer and as a person to achieve true greatness in what you
do. As I’ve worked in business and in music, those words ring more and more true as I see
and experience well­-meaning people doing the same things everyone else is doing, the same
things that produce no positive or good result.

When I was in grade school, I wanted to fit in. Just about everyone wants this. No one really
wants to stand out, so we try and dress like our friends or the popular kids. We would follow
someone else’s leadership in what we would do, what we listened to, how we wore our hair,
and so on. Sometimes we would be followers of rebels instead of doing our own version of
rebelling, because following is easier than being a trendsetter and throwing popular opinion to
the wind. Standing out is difficult. Fitting in is desired because it’s common to blend and not
make waves.

Everyone feels that on some level. We all want to be loved for our uniqueness yet are afraid
that what makes us unique might also be what causes others to criticize, mock, or reject us.

So many of us hide our uniqueness and do what everyone else does so we can fit in. In the
process, we lose part of our hearts and a sense of self (or sometimes a sense of purpose)
because the road regularly traveled is quite dull, and so beaten into the ground.

Until the advent of social media, we didn’t (or didn’t as often) let our opinions dictate our
course of action like we do today. In music and in business, I keep seeing the majority of
people do things that don’t make sense. The only reason I can think of for some people’s
behavior is “That’s what everyone else does, so it must be what works.”

Everyone can be wrong. Everyone can fail to do what they set out to. This is why when you
look at those super­-successful people in any industry, they’re the minority of the group. A
small portion (usually 1­5%) of an industry or business type are the most successful in the
short term and long term. They’re not doing what everyone else is doing, because if they were
they wouldn’t be successful.

Values we represented as a team and values to live by

Values we represented as a team and values to live by

In boxing, an uncommon fighter is one who doesn’t make lazy decisions like dropping their
hands. An uncommon fighter looks for ways to strike at angles instead of standing directly in
front of their opponent and just throwing punches. Other traits that uncommon boxers have is they work harder, longer, and more consistently. They don’t let their bodies get out of shape between matches. There’s a reason why Roy Jones Jr and Bernard Hopkins could not only still fight in their 40s but remained champions as long as they did. Those two were always, always, always in shape. That’s not common.

Uncommon boxers put themselves through more vigorous workouts and prepare their minds
as well as they prepare their bodies. They study their opponents strengths and weaknesses to
find ways of getting an edge. Floyd Mayweather has fought much stronger fighters than
himself, but he always wins the battle of the mind. Sugar Ray Leonard did the same thing with
his mental game. Finally, uncommon boxers don’t just win. They win effectively and
consistently. They aren’t on one day and off the next. Winning seems to be an ingredient
throughout their lives.

The same is true for musicians.

Music success doesn’t depend solely on talent, though talent does help. It doesn’t depend on
popularity, though that can be a blessing. Music success depends on an artist’s ability to draw
a listener into their world using notes, beats, and words (unless they’re an instrumental
performer). One hit wonders are a form of music success but who really sets out to just create
one great or memorable thing?

I’ve seen it and experienced it firsthand, where outstanding artists craft brilliant music and
draw global fans into their realm through excellent songwriting, performance and sound
quality. But how do you get your music to a level of greatness that beckons a global
audience?

Don’t do what everyone else does.

It’s common to hope that winning the lottery is the answer to achieving the fulfillment of your
dreams so that you never take the steps and the time necessary to invest in reaching your
goals.

It’s common to think you can become an overnight success just because you have a desire
for greatness and a little talent, instead of putting patience, diligence, and hard work into
effect along with gauging your work over time and making improvements/adjustments when
necessary.

It’s common to do just enough to get by instead of giving more than is asked.

It’s common to do one thing well and expect the world to faun over you instead of being
gracious and thankful while seeking refinement and improvement.

It’s common to expect people to just open doors of opportunity for you that others have spent
their lifetimes working hard for and then having a bad attitude when things don’t just go
perfectly the first time.

It’s common to act like a complete diva (Kanye West isn’t the only one in music; most artists
have a degree of this that they showcase more often than not). Many artists demand that
their music be showcased, promoted, and talked about, then act butt-hurt when that
opportunity isn’t given to them.

It seems that everyone wants to shortcut the process of paying your dues, cutting your teeth,
and struggling through the early stages of growth to achieve something truly great that has
lasting value.

Don’t do what everyone is doing.

Don’t be common.

Common people can’t change other’s lives or become inspirational heroes because there’s
little inspiration in the life of someone who just gets by.

Common people don’t recognize the beauty and glory in the transformation process, the kind that takes time, commitment, hard work, and difficulty to reach monumental results.

                                                           Instead, be uncommon.

                                                           Be great.

                                                           Be more.

                                                           Change the world.

Radio-Ready: What Is It And Are You There?

Radio Mic Old Fashioned

I listen to a lot of indie, unsigned, DIY, and label artist every day. Many of these artists are making music submissions for The Appetizer, and honestly I’m looking for new music to feature on our syndicated radio show.

Though I listen to a lot of music, I hear some great talent and I also hear many artists that are missing some of the quintessential elements needed to get their music on the radio. I’m not saying that I have certain qualifications that other radio programs or stations don’t have. Actually we’re all in harmony with what it takes for a new band to get heard.

You’ve probably heard me use the term “Radio Ready” a few times. What does radio ready really mean? More importantly, how can you know if you are ready for radio airplay?

Honestly that last question is one that very rarely is asked by artists and musicians, and tragically so. The crux of the radio ready signification is having music at the level of airplay worthiness. It’s having a combination of key elements that every radio and media professional (from music directors to station managers to music curators) are looking for.

I’ll go ahead and tell you exactly what you need to get radio airplay, and these are things that aren’t stated by radio insiders, so you are getting an inside tip. Ready? Here you go, you need these 3 things:

1.  Have A Great Sound

2. Have An Existing Following

3. Provide A Positive Listening Experience

Does that seem too easy? It’s not, because there are tons and tons of artists who submit music who don’t have these elements. I explain what these elements mean and how to ensure that you are at the level where you meet these 3 things in this FREE PDF.

When an artist asks why their music was accepted for a submission but they didn’t get the airplay they thought they would receive, it’s often likely that the initial listen by the radio or media professional sounded good enough to warrant a submission, or a look at their other work. But that following listen didn’t produce the mark that they were looking for. The band didn’t have a radio ready sound through and through.

Which brings us back to, what does it mean to be Radio Ready?

I’ve laid out the 3 big qualities that your music needs to have to get radio airplay on not just the local or regional music stations who carry indie and unsigned artists, but also the larger music curator hubs like NPR Music, Paste and Pitchfork.

If you want to have a chance of getting on any of their grids, or even getting picked up on indie web stations, go ahead and download my free PDF Get Radio Ready. This is one of the best free resources available to you to get your music in the right place to make your radio submissions really work.

When artists just send out an email with a link to their music, or if they just mail a CD to a radio outlet without making sure their music is at the level where radio decision-makers are going to approve, they run a big risk of not getting airplay or feature.

Do you want to know how to make radio submissions that are incredibly effective, get your music played on stations and help you grow your audience? Good, I’m going to give you the chance to learn how to get picked up by radio stations across the country. And you’re going to get the cumulative wisdom, lessons learned, and insights that have taken me years to learn, all without having to go through the trial and error that it cost me (and others).

Take these insights and expand on them with The Indie Radio Promotion Course, the first ever online training for DIY Artists and Unsigned Musicians to get radio airplay. The course includes videos, a PDF Handbook and several videos illustrating how to do everything. Click Here to sign up.