Tag Archives: goals

Sometimes When You Need Just A Little Encouragement

Image by Megan Lynette

Image by Megan Lynette

It’s the start of a new year. Most of us are busy setting to work on getting things really going so that we can achieve our New Year’s Resolutions, or more practically that goals we set to build on last year’s victories.

Are you with me on this?

Here’s something that keeps popping up here and there in just the 4 short days of 2016, and I want to focus a little time on it now with you so we can move forward to achieve our shared and individual goals AND enjoy the process.

Sometimes we need just a little encouragement.

I’m going to be tempted to get bogged down in details with finding the right THIS or the best THAT to use in employing strategic elements to reach my goals this year. And there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll see someone advertising on Facebook or soliciting on Google that they were able to build, grow and reach millions of new people with tons of new business, all in just 3 weeks (or something ridiculous like that), and I might feel like I missed the mark.

I’m still working on reaching the big goals I set 3 years ago as far as reach and I haven’t made it yet. But I will.

However, I’ll admit to you that I do get a little discouraged at the pace of growth sometimes. You might get discouraged too, right? Do you feel a little bit thrown off like you missed the boat when you see an ad or a pitch for an online course, Ebook, or webinar where someone claims to have done something that you’ve spent months or years working on, and they achieved it in days or weeks? Most of these claims aren’t entirely accurate (experience showed me this unfortunately, but that’s a conversation we can have later) yet the feeling is real.

Sometimes we need just a little encouragement to see that when we keep working, stay focused on our goals, and put to use the insights and ideas that even outside events show us, good things can hapen. We’ll see our dreams come to life, and we’ll celebrate the victories that accomplishing goals brings us.

With the notion that disappointment might try to sneak in and throw off my groove, I’ve been on the lookout for some small pieces of encouragement, and have successfully found a few. I want to share them with you, so that you can grab them when the little antagonizing voice of disappointment or failure comes sneaking up on you and tries to throw off your groove. Then you can punch it in the mouth with this great stuff.

Here we go.

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 10.08.43 PM

First, I’m a football fan and being from Houston I celebrate the Texans. Sorry Cowboy fans, it’s been a tough year for you guys. Hopefully something good can happen in the offseason.

The Texans made it to the Playoffs this year for the first time since 2012, beating the Jaguars yesterday 30-6. It was a tremendous game that saw the defense do things that would make for a full season highlight reel. The encouragement I found from this was more than just a victory, and more than just a trip to the playoffs. These guys had been written off as losers and a lost season just 8 weeks ago.

Think about that.

Most teams who start 2-5 don’t end up with winning seasons, and they also don’t make the playoffs. The coaching staff (led by Bill O’Brien) changed the way the team practiced, putting the decisions of game-time flow in the hands of the players instead of telling them what to do during the week. That changed everything. They went on to win 6 of their next 8 games, take the team to the post season and do what the sports world had said wouldn’t happen. That to me is encouraging. It means that when things aren’t working out, I can change something small, or something off the radar and get better results.

Switching from sports to politics might be a little off-kilter but that’s ok too. I don’t want to weigh in on the political race of 2016, because it is a bit of a divisive mess right now. However, it’s interesting to look at some recent news posted on the campaign of Bernie Sanders, the independent Senator from Vermont (who is running for the Democratic nomination). Like him or not and regardless of your political views, he should be someone that entrepreneurs, small businesses and especially musicians pay attention to because of his grassroots growth.

Remember that little temptation I mentioned earlier that most of us fall prey to, the one that tells us we’re failing if we don’t grow exponentially in our platform audiences in a short amount of time? Bernie has done something in his campaign that most crowdfunders dream of, let alone small business startups and DIY musicians. He’s raised millions of dollars appealing to people on a personal and real way.

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 9.42.34 PM

I took this little pic off of Facebook because it’s the easiest to illustrate. Again, I reference these stats and Bernie’s growth not because of his politics but because of how he’s connecting with real people. On a whole, I’ve talked a lot about the difference between building empires and building communities. I believe community building beats empires over time. It would appear that this is true based on these stats too, regardless of whether he wins the nomination for the Democratic party or not.

The encouragement I get from seeing this little blurb is that when you are real with people, appeal to individuals on a common level and not segregate others out or kick people out because of some jaded belief system, you can build strong and powerful bonds with people of different walks of life, different cultures, different beliefs, but shared values. Isn’t that what makes strong communities vibrant and thriving?

A more little note of encouragement on this piece-note that the average gift to his campaign is less than $30. That’s less than the average contribution to a nonprofit fundraising campaign, a public radio pledge drive, or a crowdfunding campaign for a tech startup. Again, it’s not about the size of the gift but the way that individuals are impacted. I can be encouraged by that. How about you?

Me with Iron & Wine in 2010, presenting him a Golden Fork Award trophy (the first ever made)

Me with Iron & Wine in 2010, presenting him a Golden Fork Award trophy (the first ever made)

One final piece of encouragement to start the year off, this time I’ll dive into a different realm in music. I confess to spending absolutely zero time looking at anything involving pop music. I admit to following the latest news with Adele and Taylor Swift only because of the impact of the music licensing royalties with Soundexchange and the new lawsuit against Spotify because it pertains to my work (both in radio and in working with musicians). Their shared impact on music streaming platforms is intriguing as well.

Plus, in an age when music streaming is the standard method of listening for most people, their success highlights the fact that people continue to buy albums. Musicians, make note of this.

I heard a little bit of both Adele and Swift’s albums from 2015. My conclusion? Not really impressed, and it’s not because they’re pop stars. I don’t get the heart, soul and powerful presence from them that I do from the albums by Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell (Sing Into My Mouth), Trevor Hall (who had 2 releases in 2015 and both were stellar) or Brandi Carlile (The Firewatcher’s Daughter). Only Carlile among them got national recognition (via a Grammy nom). Yet despite the lack of national attention, these artists continue to grow their audiences by making great albums, convicted to the notion that real music is found in a full album experience that they deliver time and time again. By the way, they’re all nominated for a big award I do every year and you can hear 2 cuts from their 2015 releases HERE.

In a music world (and industry) that seems to be dictated by flashy imagery and millions of social media imprints, here are 4 musicians who don’t fit the pop culture’s mold of success and yet they continue to write, perform and thrive. That my friend, is inspiring. Here’s the thing though, these are just a very small group of the many MANY musicians out there who are thriving and winning in this constantly changing marketplace for music, one where the industry is panicked. When you connect with real people by giving them a powerful experience, you will win. That’s the way it works.

What experience are you giving?

That’s the question I’m asking myself every week when I sit down to produce The Appetizer Radio Show. What experience am I providing? What experience do I want my audience to have? I think that every musician and every business owner should let that question pass through their brains at some point during every week, at least a few times. In the end, it’s the experience that brings people back to us, that we build community together with, and who help us reach the goals we set out for ourselves.

Did you need a little encouragement to start your week? Good. Now let’s move forward together!

Why Time Won’t Wait For You

Mrs. Smith and I at London Bridge 2014

Mrs. Smith and I at London Bridge 2014

There’s an old saying “Time waits for no one.” Sages and zen masters have used this for centuries to move their nations forward.

We all try and convince ourselves that we have plenty of time to do something on our goal list, or worse to start doing something on our big dream list.

But nothing happens unless we act. The goals can’t be goals and the dreams can’t be more than something we wish for unless we actually do something to move forward towards them becoming a reality.

This year my wife and I celebrate our 10th anniversary. Since we first got together, all she talked about was London. She spent a semester there in college and when she returned, wanted to be right back there.

For the first few years of our marriage, she dreamed of returning and we both talked about how “one day” we’ll go there. One day was a long ways off, because every time we’d talk about how it was a “goal” we had to do it, neither of us were doing anything to make that happen.

One day we both stopped each other and asked, when are we going to London? Are we ever going to go or are we just going to talk about it?

The truth is, we didn’t have the money to make an international trip. Finances had been the main reason we’d just talked about London and not been proactive about making it happen. However, just because you can’t pay for something big right now doesn’t mean you lack the resources to make it happen at a future date.

So from that day forward, we saved money every month and put it in our London Fund. Note, we weren’t making a ton of money at the time. Both of us worked full time jobs with a few part time projects on the side and were fresh out of college. We cut expenses where we could and did what was necessary to be able to save up.

Me&LeilaniAtPhoneboothLast September that dream came true. We spent 10 days in London and the surrounding area, got to experience the gorgeous English country side, some of the best pub beer on earth, and I even bought a few comic books at this killer antique shop.

What made the dream into a reality was more than money, which was what we originally thought was all that was needed. In truth, what it took was deliberate planning, discipline, and an end date. Years ago when we started this process, we set an end date for 2014, roughly ten years after her original trip overseas. Without an end date, it’s easy to keep kicking the can down the road, and then nothing come from your goal setting.

You have goals and plans and hopes and dreams. Do you have an end date set for when you want those to come into fruition? Is that end date realistic?

Sometimes obstacles that lie in the path of our goals and dreams can seem too big to overcome, or too much to try and deal with right now, so we say to ourselves, “Someday I’ll have that.”

Let someday be today, because you’re choosing to take action and figure out what the next steps are.

Let me know what your goals are, and what challenges are in the way. We can put together an action-item plan to help you get ahead and reach your dreams.

Time isn’t waiting onĀ  you. You are.

Overcoming the Magic Wand Myth

magic-hat-vector_z1Jxylw_Most of us want answers to the problems we face, and sometimes we look to people who claim to have a magic wand that can be waived over us and our dreams come true. Tell me if this sounds familiar:

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How about this one, it was sent to me by a friend who received a series of bogus claims through email. One of them was:

There are over one billion musicians on the web trying to climb over your dead body to their own success. But there is one simple 5 minute change you will learn that makes all competition a thing of the past. You and only you, stand on top of the mountain.

Does it make you a little curious (not in a good kind of curious way) when you see something like this?

If all it takes to go from the starting line to the finish line is 2 simple steps or signing up for a newsletter, then we all live in Bizarro-World because it’s not real.

Image from All-Star Superman #003; art by Frank Quitely

Image from All-Star Superman #003; art by Frank Quitely

*By the way, Bizarro-World is a place in DC Comics where Superman nemesis Bizarro lives; he is the polar opposite of the Man Of Steel in every way. My previous Seinfeld references also allude to the Bizzaro-Jerry episode. You don’t have to be a nerd like me to know the reference but it’s important for the analogy.

Here’s the deal: Process is how real things take place in the real world. Man, do I sound like my dad saying that? I’m sorry, it was not intended to come out that way. However, it’s still true.

Anyone claiming to lead you to change and growth that doesn’t involve a degree of process is selling you a bill of goods, or in actual terms, selling you a bunch of crap.

Hey, I’ll be honest with you that I’ve bought into the Magic Wand lie too, to my own detriment. I’ve seen the ads and bought the lines hoping to have a transformation take place in an instant to alleviate the problems or obstacles in my path. This actually is what caused many delays in my success and growth.

I’ve also made mistakes in following the wrong people in hopes of overcoming these obstacles or finding success. I’ve tried to partner with well-meaning folks who had built businesses from the ground up in a completely different industry, believing that some keys in business can be replicated in any industry (which is true, but you do need more than just the fundamental business stuff to make it work). The results that buying into these supposed magic beans (or wands) were loss of time, more questions, and dead ends.

What is the Magic Wand Myth? It’s a promise or pitch that “All You Need” is a hope, a dream, and very little work on your part to achieve your goals. And it’s not true.

Who do you know who has achieved greatness that didn’t require risk, failure, and lots of work?

Farming and gardening are great examples of process that requires dedication, commitment, and process. So is invention and the art of innovation. Can you say Thomas Edison wasn’t a genius? How many attempts at the light bulb were made until he figured it out? That’s commitment and process in a very big picture sense.

As an artist and creator, you’re trying to make impacting experiences for people that lead to them buying into your magic (no wand required). The “buying in” part of that is them literally spending money, time, and energy on you. It’s a relationship you’re having, even if the interaction is different than most of your relationships.

How long does it take to foster relationships? What about relationships that lead to transactions of money and time? The answers depend on different factors but few (if any) every happen in an instant.

This is true for your work as a musician, entrepreneur, and creator. It’s true for your audience growth and it’s true for gaining media coverage like radio and blogs. An email that only says “I’m a musician; listen to me; hear my new song; my songs rule” doesn’t create connection. There’s no magic here.

Instead, be relational. Think of achieving the goals you have like planting a seed. Nurture it, cultivate the connection. Give and take, and offer the other parties involved something that benefits them. Commit some of your time and energy into building connection and see magic take place. For musicians, take this principle and apply it to your music with The Indie Radio Promotion Course.

This is what I’ve done to successfully grow my enterprise, my business, and my radio program. It has all taken time, and been more than worth it. Are there individual steps to take in this process? Absolutely yes. Would you like to know what those steps are so you can have a richer, greater, and more beneficial audience? Good. Tell me below what your goals are and where you are right now in the process.

Math For Musicians

When you were in grade school, there were classes you had to take that didn’t really teach us much in the realm of what we need as adults. Sometimes, math was that class. Fortunately there are some math lessons that do matter. The key is knowing which numbers to pay attention to and which to ignore.

Download your copy of Math For Musicians now to learn lessons on growth and development for your music project to reach goals and create new opportunities.

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