Tag Archives: growth

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.

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.

The DIY Artist Route & You Episode 6: Liza Wisner

LizaWisnerThe DIY Artist Route & You series continues with a colleague who I’m becoming better associated and friends with, Liza Wisner. Liza is an amazing and passionate entrepreneur with a heart for helping to build strong communities where education and opportunity are available to everyone.

I first was introduced to Liza as a radio guest when she was a finalist on NBC’s The Apprentice with Donald Trump in 2012. During that time, Liza had established herself as a team player and as a savvy business person in a variety of ways. She ended up finishing 3rd on the show, but the experience helped her to grow her entrepreneurial skills and build new business relationships that continue to help her in her new enterprises.

I wanted to include Liza Wisner in this podcast series for a few reasons. First, the essence of what makes an uncommon artist thrive is your ability to build communities around not only your music but also the people who are most drawn to you. Community building is key to success in the new music industry, because just being known is no longer something only the top performers have. Social media has a lot to do with that, and it’s something Liza and I discuss in this podcast.

Another reason why I wanted Liza on the podcast is because she brings a fresh, entrepreneurial perspective to what growth really looks like, discussing how it’s not a matter of arriving at a certain spot or achieving a certain outcome that creates ultimate success. Instead, success is a journey you are constantly on. Her perspective and take on not only success, but real growth on our different and uncommon paths is very pertinent for where you are as an artist, entrepreneur and creative person.

If you have any questions or want more information on Liza Wisner and her organization PowerUp, you can find out more HERE.

Have you missed any of the DIY Artist Route & You Podcasts, and want to go back to hear (and download) any of them again? Click Here to see the series episodes, download and share them.

Tony Lucca, The DIY Artist Route And You

Recently I was granted the opportunity to talk with a really great guy, Tony Lucca. I’d only heard his self-titled album before given the interview with him. Upon researching his background, it became more apparent that his story is incredibly valuable to both artists and entrepreneurs who have made fame their lone quest. Fame wasn’t Tony’s ambition, but he has achieved it.

6PAN1T-R PSDThe former Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer was in the same class as Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris. Matt is a feature artist on The Appetizer Radio Show, doing an exclusive in-studio session with us in 2011. Tony has also been featured on TV commercial and shows like Malibu Shores. His music career took him to the 2012 season of The Voice, being selected by Adam Levine and going on to place 2nd in the season finale. That led to being signed to Levine’s record label and a massive tour with Maroon 5. Isn’t this the dream of most musicians, or even entrepreneurs, to rub elbows and share social circles with prominent names?

All of that has its benefits, but Tony has since chosen a different path, that of an indie artist. The DIY artist and entrepreneur shares a lot in common with Tony Lucca. This podcast features the conversation he and I had about music, business, his advice to the DIY artist and entrepreneur, and an unsolicited vote of approval for indie radio’s role in helping artists grow.

What do you think of Tony’s perspective? Let’s talk about how his insights apply to where you are right now. Comment or reach out through email.

What Successful Musicians Do

MusicansPlayInBarThe easiest way to see where to apply insights learned, or to know exactly where to put your focus on achieving the success you want is to narrow down your choices.

There are an endless amount of individual ways you can improve and grow at any given time. The 10 Ways To Do  This Or That can get lost in the 5 Simple Steps To Achieve Happiness In Everything You Do article or blog that comes out daily on a variety of sites, all from knowledgeable, well-intentioned people.

Break down the success you have to see where you can grow and improve. Look at what your existing options are in light of the challenges you face. Challenges can include location for travel (the size of market you’re in), budget, planning, etc.

Here are 3 ways that musicians and artists are successful:

1. Successful musicians make music that connects with and impacts other people

2. Successful musicians profit financially, emotionally, psychologically, and communally from their work

3. Successful musicians change their community and create ways to benefit the lives of others

When you’re doing one or more of these things, you have achieved a level of success worth recognizing. The next step is to determine where you can improve so that you can discover the How-To element. How-To can be ever-changing or consistently present. It can take 2 steps or 20, and can come when you’re looking for it or when you least expect it.

Do you know where you’d like to improve, and in what capacity? Let me know below what it is that you want the most improvement in, and I’ll see how I can be a resource to you to achieve that success.

 

Reach Your Goals By Narrowing Your Focus

6924223634_74e709f616_oIt’s becoming increasingly harder to get things done with the number of messages, emails, social engagement posts, and other content all targeting us with headlines that offer something we think we need (or worse, something we think we want). How to gain more money through your network, how to improve your booking and sales, to offerings for a better XYZ option, it’s really difficult to utilize these resources for what they are and take their suggestions to heart.

I do realize that many of my offerings here fall into this category. Which is why I’m going to make a suggestion that might seem to contradict my content, and in some ways not serve the purpose of my business. I want you to pick 2 sources for content to help you grow your music career or your business.

Just two.

Three only if you want a backup option. But don’t continue down this road with 4 or more memberships, subscriptions, and outlets that are constantly sending you the latest tips on how to do this or that.

This requires a more precise focus than we’re used to having as individuals surrounded by constant media and incoming content.

Why would I say such a thing? Because chances are, the more possibilities you have for how to improve your work, the less likely you’ll be to implement even ONE of those options.

The reason is simple. When we have more than 2 options for how to move forward, we spend a lot of time debating on which option is best.  When we have various subscriptions to different email newsletters or Facebook profiles that mostly send us content offering to help you improve what you do, it’s really hard to block out the necessary time to truly plug in to what that one message says. Because your inbox just received a new article or post on 5 ways to improve something else, or 10 things not to do to be successful. Are you going to really take the time to read each of these, or are you going to save them for a later time and never really go back to them?

I’m speaking in many ways from experience. I’ve been a subscriber to only a few e-newsletters and sites that send content to help me improve my business. Ultimately as much as these folks want to be helpful, they also me to buy their stuff, which is why they offer what they do for free. And to be honest with you, it’s why I offer what I do for free in some instances. I want your business. But more importantly, I want a relationship with you where we can talk one-on-one and dive into the specifics of your situation to really make an impact where you are right now and create new opportunities for growth both in your audience as well as your pocketbook.

I can also speak from experience on the value of having a mentor and coach to help focus my energies and endeavors moving forward to reach my goals. I do practice what I preach. Having a coach to help me narrow my focus on only a limited number of options in the direction I’m headed has proven to be monumental in my professional work in reaching specific milestones faster than I ever did before on my own. On my own, I was too distracted most of the time from the never-ending barrage of options. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience.

MeByAbbeyRoadSign I also realize that if you have too many voices offering you similar but different paths forward, it’s really hard to choose which one to take. And it’s even more difficult to not subconsciously combine a few suggestions from one person and something else from another into an amalgamation of options that might end up benefiting you in the long run, but also might end up causing unnecessary confusion and frustration.

So make a choice for a few months. Stick with receiving content, updates, and tips from only a few select professionals or individuals. Follow through with their suggestions and how they can best be used to benefit you. If you choose me as one of those sources, excellent! I really appreciate the honor. If you don’t, that’s ok too. Check on your results after 3 months. If you’re not where you want to be, evaluate who your teachers, mentors, and suggestion-box people are and make the appropriate changes.

Ultimately you have to serve the best interest of yourself, and having the fewest number of options serves you best. Good luck, and thanks for choosing to follow me up to this point.