Tag Archives: Nelson Mandela

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.

Why You Must Have A Mission Statement To Grow Your Audience

Why do you do what you do?

This is the heart of every organization, company, leader, speaker and author’s work. This mission statement defines your why to understand the purpose of your endeavors. Understanding your why is what connects other people to your cause, your music, your business, your brand, and ultimately to you.

51mh08K4bsL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_World changers operate from a mission statement. They have to because there are so many voices, agendas, lobbyists, and intangibles all clamoring for their support or against their endeavors that, without a clear “why” for their purpose, they will lose their direction. Nelson Mandela was a man of greatness, overcoming 27 years in prison to unify his country and end apartheid. How did he do it? In his own words:

“Have a core principle-that people matter. Everything else is just tactics.”

That core principle, or mission statement, kept his mind focused while enduring imprisonment for over two decades, and was the central anchor in him leading his country to unification despite endless struggles, even within his own party. More on the magic of Mandela can be found in the book Mandela’s Way by Richard Stengel.

What is your music mission statement?

Every truly successful artist has a mission, whether they are actively pursuing it or not. Some artists aren’t aware that they are operating with a specific mission in mind, but there is something discernible that is leading the direction they are traveling with their music.

williamfitzsimmons-240William Fitzsimmons, an outstanding songwriter and musician creates music from a specific place. For him, his professional background of therapy has spread into every area of his writing. He calls his writing “musical therapy” and in doing so, it directs how he crafts his songs. That craftsmanship and mission-led direction has drawn audiences across the globe to his music, allowing songs to be coping mechanisms for fans dealing with loss, depression, mental illness, and other ailments.

 

What is your music mission statement?

dgrantsmith-ironandwine-2010Fellow bearded songwriter Iron and Wine hasn’t operated from a directly implicit mission statement throughout his decade-plus career, though his early work is indicative of someone who wants to do similar things as Fitzsimmons: provide helpful commentary on life’s most difficult passes. His early work of Endless Numbered Days describes coming to terms with death as inevitable yet loving in songs like Naked As We Came. By making shared experiences a part of the coping process, we are able to live at peace with each other and our trials. Music is one key that unlocks this opportunity.

What is your music mission statement?

Let’s be honest and open-minded with each other: from a market standpoint, the music industry is more supply heavy than the oil market. There are producers of music in every single zip code in America, with many more globally, and all are trying to grab a piece of the limited pie that is the music fan base. We as a music audience collectively are not in a shortage of supply. Demand is also at a medium level considering the massive amount of channels and listening options available to any one person as any time. From terrestrial (FM) radio to online radio to streaming providers (Pandora, MOG, Spotify, Apple Music) to satellite radio (XM among others) to youtube, to cable TV (too many numerous music stations there) to independently produced web stations, the choices are often too many to quantify.

With all of this content, music for music’s sake is an offering that doesn’t warrant attention. Not in today’s market. There was a time when music for the sake of a fun beat and a good time might have gained an audience. But not today. There are too many places where that can be found.

Look inside yourself, your music, your writing, and the thing that drives you to create songs. What is it that you want other people to connect with you on? Be specific. If all you want is “for other people to feel like I’m with them on their journey,” dive deeper into that line. What aspects of that journey do you want people to connect with through your music. You can have a few key parts, from good experiences to tragedies, but be specific.

The more specific you can be about your music mission statement, the better your ability will be to connect with music fans who will support you. Sometimes artists have a very hard time defining who their target audience is. The music mission statement solves that problem.

I’ll ask again: What is your music mission statement?

Let’s talk about it and find out how to take your mission statement to the audiences that are actually look for it so that your audience can grow and  you can experience more success with your music.

Quality Issue With Radio And Music

Radio Mic Old FashionedToday I’m going to give you Keys To The Having Remarkable Sound.

Radio wants good sound. I’m going to reiterate that a bit here but dive deeper into the elements of that sound beyond just the production. But production is where we start.

Sound quality is the number 1 requirement for station managers and program directors in both realms of radio (the commercial side as well as the public/community/web radio avenues).

When big time mainstream artists release “demo” tracks, notice the amount of production work that has been done to the quality so that it’s “radio friendly.” There are exceptions to this rule, and some stations don’t hold to the sound quality requirement due to their broadcast signal, but for the most part quality is king here.

It’s audio only, therefore the sound quality having the top criteria makes sense.Where this applies to you is everything you post on your website, social platforms, and music outlets is a reflection of your brand.

Radio has a QUALITY rule, and you should too.

Put music out to your fans that is of high quality, preferably that has been worked through some form of studio recording and given a little tweaking on the EQ for the best quality.

Remember, some of these recordings and songs could be the first impression you make with a potential fan. You want that first impression to be positive, so give them a reason to come back. Plus, you want the music you link to or include with your Press Kit to be the best reflection of your band/brand that it can be.

Can you still release a demo version of a song or maybe even a video of a new tune you’re working on to your fans? Yes, of course.

There are exceptions to nearly every rule out there, and there are times when a short demo recording could be released to get a feel for what your Super-Fans think. But be careful with how you do that, and don’t make releasing unfinished songs as demos a part of your music release strategy for everything you do.

What if you’re cash-strapped, how can you get a high quality recording of your music made to post to your Soundcloud page? Wouldn’t it be better to release something so you have a representation of your sound?

Good question. This is the reason (excuse) many artists make for putting lesser-quality music on their site or sending to stations. It’s a bad idea.

[Gut Check]  The reason for that has a lot more to do with what stage of the music process you’re on. This may sound harsh, but it’s the truth. From the perspective of a decision-maker for programming, you need to have experience doing this for a little while to be taken seriously, especially when it comes to releasing music for distribution.

If you’re using Reverbnation or Facebook page to get more fans, you can do that and still have a good quality recording. There are ways to get a strong quality recording of your music without having to spend thousands of dollars in a big studio. If you need help doing this, just ask me. The key point though is that you should make quality of recording a big priority for your music.

Quality is a branding avenue in music

As you prepare to post your brand to the world, make sure you are putting representations of yourself that truly reflect the high quality of art that you create. You don’t have to promote every single one of your songs, or promote each new one.
Make sure the music you are publishing for people to see is your best work, and make sure you’re playing these songs at shows. Don’t promote music to radio that you aren’t playing live in your gigs. That won’t serve your best efforts.

Right Attitude Is Key To Success in Music

Is money the key to building a successful enterprise in the music industry? According to some people’s attitude, that’s all you need to rise above the noise and prevent impending failure. However, it’s so far from the truth that it’s truly tragic some people not only believe it, but it captures their feelings on what composes success. Conversely, having the right attitude is the perfect key you need for success.

This goes without saying but I’ve seen and experienced it WAY too many times to name. Even recently, I had a long conversation with a guy on one of my social channels who had a really terrible attitude all the way through about his current state of business. He works in radio, has a station with (I presume) a decent audience size, but no matter what ideas or options we talked about, the prognosis in his mind was that the situation was hopeless because he had no money.

Blog-AttitudeI understand that. It’s really hard to get started doing anything, regardless of your market or industry, and even regardless of the experience you bring to the table or your personal connections to help you. Getting traction is really difficult. Musicians especially face an uphill battle going from completely unknown to known because there are SO many people making music, and the industry is BRIMMING with talent. However, despite all the competition and noise, it is possible to be heard and to make money with your product.

But failure to have the right attitude about this possibility (nay I say even chance), and you destin yourself to the fate you’ve chosen: failure.

Attitude is everything. Want more proof: read the so-called secrets or insights from some of history’s most successful people. i didn’t say the music industry’s most successful people or even business leaders most successful individuals. I said History. If the name Dale Carnegie doesn’t mean anything to you, you need to visit a library and at least read the description of How To Win Friends And Influence People (should be considered mandatory reading for anyone trying to make money outside of a corporate employer and even those people). His other big book is How To Stop Worrying And Start Living. All of his books, written in the early 1900s, correspond to the same theme: your thoughts and attitudes determine the reality you live in.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

I’ll name just a few other highly successful people in business and entertainment who have the exact same philosophy and have risen from poverty and the complete unknown to fame, wealth, and/or international notoriety. These individuals are Oprah Winfrey, Grant Cardone, Will Smith, Seth Godin, Michael Hyatt, Nelson Mandela, Morgan Freeman, and others. Each of these folks are world-renowned in their industries and have overcome tremendous obstacles on the path to success. What do they all have in common: a positive attitude.

Staying positive despite what challenges present themselves in your pathway is certainly not easy, which is why is it so uncommon. The easy option is to wallow in your sorrows, accept the thoughts that success will always elude you, and close your mind off to possibilities for improvement. This is common. Apart for what seems like the universe not favoring this attitude is the fact that people you are associated with don’t favor it either. You probably know a few people who see the glass as either half-empty or never having a drop in it, regardless of what is going on in their world. After a few conversations, these people will make you feel terrible about the world you know and become a huge drag on your emotions. Most of the time, you find yourself consciously and subconsciously avoiding them.

Consequently, if you adopt a similar attitude of failure, people will avoid you too. The same people who might be drawn to your music or your unique offering to the world will begin to be repelled by the stink of that bad attitude. A small few might be honest with you about why they are not as supportive as they once were, but most will remain silent. And you’ll be left wondering why.

Avoid this altogether by surrounding yourself with positive thoughts, positive people, uplifting messages and an attitude that good things will happen for you, regardless of what you may be seeing or feeling in the moment. We create the world we live in. This is the power of our thoughts. Want more insight into how to create and cultivate positive thinking, send me an email. I’d love to work with you on how to improve your life just with the power of positive thinking.