Tag Archives: mission statement

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.

Build A Super Fan Tribe The Bruce Springsteen Way

Over 40 years and more commercial success than you or I can throw a stick at might make some musicians think that Bruce Springsteen is so untouchable as a musician, trying to follow his path to success is a pipe dream.
That thought would be off, in a few ways.

After completing the biography Bruce by Peter Ames, I found myself with several journal pages of insights into how a self-starter musician in the late 1960s transformed rock music, created a cult following that has stretched into the modern day despite  obstacles, and much more insights.

Let me be clear, I am a Springsteen fan, potentially a super-fan of sorts. I do have most of his album collection on CD and vinyl, though I have not seen him perform live yet. By confession, I’ve only been at this level of interest in his music for less than a decade. Maybe I’m a slow starter…..

I say all of that because there’s a chance you’re not a massive Bruce Springsteen fan, though there’s also a good chance that you enjoy his songbook, or have at one point. The purpose of this book review isn’t to convert you to his fan following. What music you enjoy is your choice. Instead, what I want to do is give you plenty of reasons why you should pick up a copy of this book, if anything to learn some very practical and specific ways to cultivate super-fans of your own work.

Bruce is not all sunshine and rainbows, as the Springsteen lineage is traced back two generations and we see the trials and tribulations of his grandparents and parents. Their stories have found a way into Springsteen’s stories over the years in a few different varieties. And his own story is allegorical in songs like The Promise, which outlines the breakdown of his relationship with former manager Mike Appel.

I talk with a lot of artists who are convinced that they just need a manager or a booking agent to be successful. Maybe those two job roles could help. In Bruce, we see how even passionate and well-intentioned people can do things that are not in the best interest of the artist they represent. And we see how those situations can be avoided.

What about the infamous super-fan following that The Boss commands? Where did that come from and how did he manage to maintain it for several decades?

One thing that is clear in the book is that Bruce and the E Street Band played a ton of shows, and at times did touring that didn’t put them in front of massive audiences. The purpose of the rigorous schedule was to get the music and the band out to as many places as they could to promote their albums. Radio airplay helped promote the music to a point, but touring was key. This was how music success worked in 1973-1984 even with a hit record. It’s still true today.

The more you get in front of people, the greater opportunity you have to connect with music lovers who could potentially be your super fan. That’s one part of the puzzle Bruce and Co figured out early. The other part was more what Bruce discovered on his own and incorporated into everything he did. This part was operating from the mantra that people matter, and people’s stories are his to be shared. Music is the community connector.

Here are some quotes from the book dealing with this ideology:

“There’s a morality to the show, and it’s very strict. Everything counts. Every person, every individual in the crowd counts. To me.”

“…..the fans who came out every night in search of something more perfect than they could find in their daily lives.”

“(Audience growth) happens through the conversation you have with (people) in your songs. If people fall away, it’s because you lost the thread of that connection.”

There are many other great quotes worth your exploration. The heart of the How-To guide for Springsteen Super-Fan creation is an ideology that’s lived, and has been since the beginning. It’s not a facade or experiment to see “if I do this, people will love me and then I’ll be successful.”

The Springsteen method of super-fan growth is to be who you are. For Bruce, that meant to be a common person and not a diva, at least for the most part. No one is perfect and there are a few stories where we see a dark side to Bruce who seems a bit more like a diva than who he was trying to be.

What he did to connect with people and build his following happened as much off stage as it did on it. Bruce would spend time at places where his fans would frequent, like dancehalls and bars. He would engage with people he’d seen at his shows, or even as shows for other artists and have conversations with them, sharing stories that gave him a better perspective of people who could occupy his songwriting.

Even after the success of Born To Run, which launched him into stardom as a musician, he continued with this mantra of being approachable and relatable. Two decades later he took that relational practice a step further, personally contacting the families and survivors of 9/11 who expressed some degree of fandom for his music in the material he had access to. He kept his communications with those fans private, not using it as a marketing tool to promote his tour. He wanted that connection to be real and personal, and not perceived as political or a part of any agenda. Doing so had such a more dynamic impact than what we see musicians and entrepreneurs do so often-using events and tragedy as an opportunity to get their name and face out there.

“The best of my music that has social implications functions like that. They reach your heart first, then they speak to your soul, then they get into your bloodstream and move through the rest of your body and into your mind.”

Isn’t this a different pathway than many artists write? Most “undiscovered” or unsigned musicians are writing to connect with the mind first, with the hope that what the song is and does can eventually find its way into your heart. Instead, when the music becomes a part of you, you have created a connection that goes much, much deeper.

In a recent conversation I had with indie singer-songwriter William Fitzsimmons, he said something incredibly profound that we see in Springsteen’s work. William said artists must have a mission statement, and it can’t be to just make music. That’s too easy. For William, he writes musical therapy, that’s his mission.

For Bruce, “ordinary people tell their story through music; intimate stories of ordinary folks whose labors made wealthier men’s dreams come true.” This concept defines the entire songbook of Springsteen. It’s mission-driven work. Being great as a musician was a part of this mission, but there was something else driving the bus. The heart that drove the machine was the real and genuine connection with people.

Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin is available via Amazon and if you click on my affiliate link I will really appreciate it.

What are you doing to make real connections with people? How can you take the story of Bruce Springsteen and apply those keen insights into your work? Let’s talk this week about that. Reach out here and tell me how your music can be better impacted through relationship connections.