Tag Archives: growth hacking

3 Ways To Growth Hack Music Success With Jon Nastor

Jon Nastor

Jon Nastor

Every now and then the “recommended” notification on Twitter will suggest someone to you who is actually a good fit. A few months back, the recommendation was for Jon Nastor. After looking at his profile and seeing that he’s a drummer, and entrepreneur, and an author, I had to see what this guy was about.

That led to an exploration of his site, diving into his podcast and realizing that he and I share a lot in common. We both love punk rock, both play drums (him far more successfully than I). We both have working in the music and entrepreneurial space for a while. We have also had excellent conversations with some of the same people on our podcasts like Tom Giles, Kevin Kelly (episode coming soon), and Seth Godin. I knew I had to talk to this dude.

Jon is a great conversationalist, and a truly comfortable person to engage with. He was gracious in extending the conversational love to me in letting me join him on Hack The Entrepreneur Podcast shortly after we talked. Listen to our chat on his podcast here.

His insights into what success actually means, how to combine our passion and our freedom to do what we want, and what growth actually is are spot on.

I highly recommend his book Hack The Entrepreneur, the book and the podcast. It’s insights into what real growth professionals like the individuals mentioned earlier and several others give to show the way forward.

Episode 26 with Jon Nastor Show Notes

Jon gives a Cliff Notes definition of “Growth Hacking” for musicians in first 10 minutes of conversation.

You don’t have to have a ton of experience before starting out. If you want to do something do it. It’s how Jon created his podcast and wrote his book. The backstory and his insights are perfect for helping you get started.

We talk about how annoying auto-DM messages and auto-responders are when first making new contacts with people on social media. This is particularly insightful for musicians who do this on Twitter. What Jon says about this is how most professionals in media and with an influential audience feels if you auto-DM them right out of the gate.

We cheer for the underdog in the story but we tell other people we’re the giant. Why that is and how that hurts us about 3/4 into the podcast.

Jon Nastor Podcast Quotes

“Do work that matters. What matters to me might not matter to you. But it’s worth talking about.”

“I like my businesses like I like my music: fast and independent.”

“If you have an idea and you put it onto paper, and then in a digital format, and put it out to the world, that is entrepreneurship.”

“We all go against Goliath in real time, and cheer for David, but then we try to pretend to be Goliath in what we do. Then we lose that personal connection. Everything I write and everything I say is for 1 person. If I treat them well enough there will be that connection personally.”

Listen, download and share via this player:

Sponsor For This Podcast Piece:

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Bird Thomas On The DIY Artist Route Podcast

Bird Thomas, Community-Building Maestro

Bird Thomas, Community-Building Maestro

The DIY Artist Route Podcast continues on in 2016 and I’m so excited to present this conversation with you. Bird Thomas is one of my dearest friends who also embodies strengths that I am inspired by regarding connecting with people. To put it simply, Bird is a very uncommon person.

You can generally tell when you encounter someone who changes the way you feel in a moment’s time. Most people want to be associated with folks who make them feel good about who they are, excited about what’s going on, and enthusiastic enough to go out and get others to join in with the movement. That’s one of the things I first noticed about Bird that showed how uncommon and powerful she is as a community builder.

 

A little insight into Bird and why she’s on the latest podcast episode

She is the Curator of Fun Learning Experiences at the Center For Contemporary Arts in downtown Abilene, Tx. That job title is one of the best there is, and it says a lot about her heart towards the arts. She strongly believes in the power of experiences to shape our motives and actions, as well as the power of intention in all we do. These are 2 things we talk about more specifically in this new podcast episode.

When community building first became a realization for me as a creative entrepreneur, and was further inspired from reading Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking, I started going through my Roladex of people I know who do this well. Bird is one of the best people I know. Spend 5 minutes with her and you’ll walk away feeling like the coolest person on the block. Few people have the power to cultivate that kind of impression on a first meeting. It’s something that can be learned, and in this podcast you’ll learn how she empowers others to join in with what she’s doing. This is the essence of community building.

There are so many great nuggets from this conversation. A few of the standout quotes (to go back and listen to again) are:

“If you will learn to just be, moment by moment, you realize that in that particular moment you are ok. Nothing is really threatening you. If you be, as human beings you are meant to do, you realize that everything is fine.”

“The way you achieve things and the way you create things is to first see it in your mind. Everything. Everything begins as a thought. The stronger you build the thought, the faster it becomes a reality.”

“You have to believe that you will achieve whatever you give thought to. You have to believe in yourself.”

If you want to experience what it’s like for the arts community to come alive and involve other members of a community, city or region, venture out here to Art Walk in Abilene. It’s a great way to see a thriving and supportive community in action.

Book List: The Top 13 Books I Read This Year

D Grant Smith-2015 Booklist
After an inspiration from one of the authors you’ll read about soon, I’ve made my first ever book list. I read a lot of books in 2015. These are the best ones of the pack, most of which are Business and Self-Help books with a few biographies and memoirs.

There are affiliate links presented here if you want to buy any of these titles from Amazon. Yes, you’ll be helping me if you buy through my affiliate links and I do appreciate that. If you choose to shop for them at a book store or Goodwill (where I have found a few of these titles) that works too.

The big thing for me is to have a book list given to you to help you grow. Feel free to comment or message me on suggestions you have. If you’re not a member of my subscription list, sign up now to get a bonus mentioned at the end of this list. Connect with me on Goodreads and let’s talk books. You can see my recents and favorites in the widget at the bottom.

The Top 13 Books Read in 2015 (in no particular order)

1. All Marketers Are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works–and Why Authen ticity Is the Best Marketing of All
by Seth Godin

A manifesto on the power of story-telling with anyone who has something to sell be it a product, service or (namely) themselves. Our inability to get people on board with what we do has more to do with our inability to convert powerful stories that incite action than it does our ability to deliver great work. It’s up to us to be better storytellers to grow the exposure and (ultimately) marketing strength that we seek to build and expand.

2. The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help By Amanda Palmer

It is a year of reading manifestos, because Mrs. Palmer’s book was a revolutionary piece of writing that spoke to the inner depths of my heart and soul, addressing fears that have stayed with me for most of my life. I credit this book with being a prime source for overcoming these fears and challenging many debilitating thoughts that have hindered my personal and professional growth. It’s also why (and how) I was able to launch my first ever crowd funding campaign and exceed the goal, because learning the art of asking and admitting that you don’t have all the answers (or all the power or all the skills) to do what you dream of doing is a gift in and of itself. Aside from that, Amanda embodies the strengths of seeing individuals wholly, which garners people into her spheres and increases the audience connection she’s fostered for years. It’s very inspirational.

3. Mandela’s Way: Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage By Richard Stengel

I read this book because I believe that we can learn the art of forgiveness and wholeness without fostering bitterness and resentment to others. I knew that from the history of what Mandela experienced post prison. I didn’t know how. Come to find out that Mandela’s peace with his captors was an internal decision to not sink to their level. Though he was technically in prison physically, he refused to think like a prisoner, nor be treated as one. His mental strength was superior to anyone he experienced in prison and he brought that strength (and matured experience) with him when he became South Africa’s President/Prime Minister. Forgiveness isn’t just a decision we make about the people who wrong us, it’s a decision we make about ourselves and how we see our individual worth. That’s the way of Mandela.

4. The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino

I’ve long felt that sales is the biggest weakness I have as a business person, and picking up this book at Goodwill was the direction of seeking a path to become a better salesman. This book is a work of fiction, ultimately, told as a parable about a servant to a great merchant in the Middle East who is tasked with trying to sell a garment that would end up doing so much more. There’s a biblical allegory in the tale but what I did learn from it is that giving to others and sacrificing (at times) what is in your own self-interest for the interest of someone else can result in greater reward that fulfilling that personal interest could ever give you.

5. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

I had heard that this was a ground-breaking book but I didn’t know exactly how. Amazon recommended it too. Fortunately, Goodwill had it for 50 cents and I got to own it on the cheap. Pausch was a lecturer at Carnegie Mellon who specialized in virtual reality and got terminal cancer. He was asked to give a last lecture on what was most important in life. The entire book I thought was leading up to his actual copy for the lecture, but it wasn’t. He pulled a head fake (you’ll have to read the book to get what that means). The end results of reading this book is looking at life and the pursuit of happiness differently, not because a man’s dying words were to do so but because of the powerful stories expressed here left an inspiration to do more, be more, and matter more to the people in my life than merely just being a big name could every achieve.

6. Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life’s Riches by Steve Harvey

I’ve always liked Steve Harvey, from his days on the Kings Of Comedy Tour to his work hosting the Family Feud. Despite the recent “event/scandal” with Miss Universe and the teleprompter, Mr. Harvey is a class act and someone worth modeling after. I didn’t know how much of an inspiration he is as a person until reading this book, nor did I know the challenges and obstacles he faced to get to where he is. I didn’t realize that Steve had been homeless for a while, had worked in a few jobs that were not in the entertainment world until he knuckled down and focused his complete attention on what he wanted. Most of this book is about the act of thinking like successful people think, which ended up being a concurrent theme in the majority of the books I read this year. One of the most powerful elements of the book deal with understanding who you are and what vehicles you take on your path to reaching the goals you set. Often times we look at our vehicles as the identifier to who we are, instead of just seeing it as a part of the journey. This truth alone is worth diving into the book and discovering the rest of Mr. Harvey’s wisdom.

7. Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin

I’ll admit to being a Bruce Springsteen super fan. More than that, I’m a student of the art of building a super fan base. The Boss is certainly one of the rare artists who has garnered a strong, loyal, and passionate following that has stayed with him for 40 years. People sell their belongings and travel the country to see him perform. Only a handful of artists in history have garnered the loyal base of followers that Springsteen has. This book is more than a history of Bruce and how he became a star. It’s the only authorized biography written in the last few decades, recording even exclusive interviews with friends, family, and band members that other writers don’t have access to. How do you build an army of super fans? Read this book and learn the Springsteen method. It will change the way you go about trying to build your brand name.

8. The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday

This was an Amazon purchase and worth every penny. Reading this book would lead to more self-discovery than just about anything else, and make me a big fan of Ryan Holiday. This book list is also inspired by Mr. Holiday’s influence.

I’m inspired by the underdog story, hence my fascination and obsession with the Rocky movies (among other stories). The concept implied in the title of this book was reason enough to pick it up. It also turned me on to Ryan Holiday as a voice of direction in a confusing world of mass-marketing. Drawing on the wisdom of the Stoics (namely Marcus Arilious), Holiday illustrates through stories past and present the power of using our greatest challenges as the means of overcoming them, showing that we have the power to turn our giants into vehicles that propel us forward instead of being the things that hold us back.

9. The Martian by Andy Weir

I didn’t read a ton of fiction this year, but this book was certainly worth the experience. A remarkably quick read and a compelling story that keeps you tuned in the entire time (I stayed up late night after night to get further along in this), The Martian has recently been turned into a film and rightfully so. It tells the tale of Mark Watney, an astronaut who becomes stranded alone on the planet Mars and has to use his wit, engineering, and dogged determination to figure out how to survive long enough to make contact with earth and pray for a means to intercept a returning voyage of astronauts or die alone on the planet. It’s riveting and full of adventure, and will also make you thankful that you live on earth. And it will make you appreciate the brilliance of your average scientist a little more, as well as those who work for NASA. Seriously, rocket science isn’t for the faint of heart (or mind).

10. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

This is a Must-Read for anyone in management, leadership, or building an organization. Diving into what makes great companies just that, great, Simon illustrates that no one gets behind the What of our business, but will support the Why when it is conveyed with clarity. Leadership who follows the precepts outlined in this book are destined to increase not only their bottom line, but also the people who talk about the greatness of what you are leading. This book was recommended by my mentor Steve P and I highly recommend it to you.

11. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth by T. Harv Eker

I picked this up in Audiobook from Half-Price books and listened to it at least 3 times beginning to end. In 3 short discs, Eker illustrates the powerful differences between three different mindsets that are prevalent in America: Poor, Middle-Class, and Wealthy (or Rich). I gained a lot of insights into how wealthy people as a whole think about opportunities, wealth building, relationships, growth, giving, and working starkly different than even middle-class people. One of the biggest lessons gained is that when given (what seems like) a choice between two things, poor and middle-class mindedness will choose one or the other. Wealthy mindedness will choose both. This is just one of several valuable nuggets of wisdom that changed the way I think to increase how I operate my business and family, all with great results.

12. Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World by Craig and Marc Kielburger

This year I really dove into the power of community-building, adopting the core principles of community-enrichment as the foundational mission for all I do. This was certainly one of the best books on the subject, highlighting how people around the world who have embraced a We mindset of helping others have transformed societies and helped communities of people thrive. There are great real-world examples that Craig and his brother Marc use including spending time with Mother Teresa to illustrate the power of giving, service, and individual sacrifice in the name of helping others to cut away from the selfish nature of Me-First that dominates the American way of life, and move into a We-First attitude that has made strong, vibrant communities around the world. It’s great examples of real people doing these acts that inspire the kind of change our politicians and leaders aspire to do.

13. Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising by Ryan Holiday

I’ll admit, I became a fan of Mr. Holiday this year. Following The Obstacle Is The Way, I bookmarked on my Amazon account this book and bought it for myself for my birthday. The new revised version has even more great content in just 120 short pages. It’s a thorough guide to how to adopt a mindset change to dramatically increase your audience base and marketability with little to no budget, paired with some additional materials including a FAQ and other bonuses. I’m already putting this book into practice and it’s super-charging what both of my businesses are doing. Look for Ryan to be a guest on my podcast in the coming months where he’ll talk more with us on the power of growth hacking, and how you can implement it into your work, especially for DIY musicians and entrepreneurs.

In conclusion there’s more to come in 2016 including a book by me

This year also marked the completion of my first book, which will be published officially in a few months. It’s called The Radio Promotion Handbook: The DIY Musician’s Guide To Growth Hacking Your Audience Building And Networking Through Strategic Radio Airplay. I’m going to be talking about this a lot in the coming months, and some of the biggest lessons learned from this book list found its way into this upcoming book.

Members of my subscription list (up top in the left column) will get a special discount on this book, and those who buy my upcoming book will get an even bigger discount on The Indie Radio Promotion Course. Sign up now if you haven’t already.

How To Know When You’ve Fully Paid Your Dues

morgan-freeman-godHow long does it take to pay your dues?
Ask an actor or theater buff about the art of paying your dues and you will most likely get the same response: You pay your dues for life.

Even the most successful names in the business recognize that the end game is actually retirement. Fame is not the end goal you’re seeking.

Entrepreneurs struggle with this concept too. Small business owners and even icons stop short of fully paying their dues before they should. The result is they have to work harder and dig deeper to make up for lost momentum.

What does it mean for a musician to pay their dues?

I have a few interpretations of this including that you have to be invested in your craft for a period of time and not a rookie or someone starting out. That’s one step of the due-paying process. You need experience in your field, and a resume of sorts to show that you’ve been through some fires, tried and succeeded while also trying and failing. Failure is a great teacher, and also a truer indicator of someone who is going to achieve great things. Failure to face failure and rise again is an indication of someone not truly vested in their journey.

Paying dues can mean several things, but the big picture is overcoming the tragic mindset of “arriving.” That old adage that “Life is a journey, not a destination” applies here. It means you keep working, keep investing in your future and keep honing your craft until you’re completely finished with everything you will do with it.

You pay your dues until the game is fully over.

I’m a fan of Chris Hardwick. I speak for fellow comic-book fans, sci-fi nerds, and others who have been misjudged because of our passions for (at one time) unpopular things in citing Hardwick as a hero. His Nerdist podcast is excellent because he speaks with people from many different walks of life, and the conversations almost always highlight some profound truth that changes the way I think.

One of his archived podcasts was with Morgan Freeman. There’s a million reasons to love Freeman, including his voice and the fact that he has played both God, Nelson Mandela, and Batman’s tech-brain (Lucius Fox) among other notable roles. In the podcast episode (listen here), Chris asked Morgan if he felt like he didn’t have to pay his dues anymore.

Morgan Freeman’s response was incredible. He said, “Nowhere is it written that your career has to ever be stabilized.” [Quote is at 26:29 of the interview and 28:20 is another point added to that; listen to the full interview to get the most out of Freeman’s wisdom]

Morgan Freeman still considers himself to be paying his dues.

Think about that for a minute.

Of all the actors in Hollywood, there are a short list of A-caliber individuals who can get any role, any time, without an audition, and probably command whatever paycheck for their time that they want. Freeman is on that list.

And he still feels that he’s paying his dues. This goes to show you that to be truly great, you never stop giving your all and proving your worth in everything you do.

Here’s the takeaway: You’re not going to finish paying your dues as an artist, musician, actor, entrepreneur, business owner or otherwise until you retire and hang up your gloves permanently. You may reach a level of success where you don’t have to work as hard or as long as you do in your early days, but that’s an attitude decision, not a reality decision.

Mick Jagger (Photo: Marty Melville, Getty Images)

Mick Jagger (Photo: Marty Melville, Getty Images)

When your attitude is to give your best every time, no matter what, you will have success that follows you everywhere. Proof of this is what Mick Jagger told Rolling Stone recently after telling the world that at 72 years old he and the band still want to play a world tour. Jagger said “always play your best show, every time.”

Based on that statement by one of the biggest names in the history of recorded music, telling artists that they still have to perform at their highest level each and every time regardless of how successful they may be is indicative of never fully paying your dues.

If Mick Jagger hasn’t fully paid his dues, none of us have.

What this also means is that we as Due-Payers should be looking for help in all we do where needed, and be humble enough to ask when we realize there’s something we don’t know.

I’m in that boat too, which is why I work with a coach to help me grow, improve, and make myself better.

What is it that you feel like you are still paying dues in, maybe even something you don’t want to still be paying dues in? Let’s talk. Let me know in the comments below.

*Chris Harwick is the author of The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life). You can buy it via the affiliate link which will benefit both you and me.