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How 34 Taught Me To Embrace Failure

The one and only Bo Jackson

The one and only Bo Jackson

You may be wondering who or what “34” is. That’s a good question. I’ve been pretty fond of 34 for about a year. The reason: It’s my age (until Wednesday this week). It was also the number of Hakeem Olajuwon, Walter Payton, Nolan Ryan, and Bo Jackson (the greatest athlete ever, in my opinion, and who I share a b-day with).

Over the past few years, I take the cake and the candles and do something a little different. I look back at the year kinda like we usually do on New Year’s Eve. A look back at the successes of the past year and how to improve upon them. There have been quite a few successes I’m very proud of from this year, and one of them has to do with learning to embrace failure.

Why Embracing Failure Is Important


I don’t know about you, but I didn’t learn how to fail in school. I learned how to avoid it. Mostly, I learned how to avoid it at all costs.

Both of my parents are really smart people. My dad is an engineer and my mom works in the medical community. My sister is also pretty brilliant, working for one of the largest design companies in the world. Smarts is something that should have been natural for me, and probably would have been, if only I’d paid more attention.

Instead, I spent a good amount of time avoiding things that were difficult, particularly math. From the story in the video, math was something that I didn’t ever understand as well as I should. My avoidance of understanding led to failures that have taught some pretty profound lessons 20 years later.

This year, while I’ve succeeded at expanding my horizons and connecting with a much larger base of folks in the creative industries, I’ve also faced some pretty big challenges. Whereas in the past I might have run from those challenges, or beat myself up for not winning right away, I’ve taken a different path.

Failure is a great teacher because it costs us something to learn the lesson. What’s something I failed at? I didn’t execute on my launch plan for the DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook. That’s the honest truth. Did I make a plan? Yep. Did I map out a course of actions to take for 3 months to make it happen? You betcha. Did I start that plan with a lot of energy and enthusiasm? Yeppers.

So what happened? Why would I consider the launch to be a failure?

I don’t consider the launch a failure. I consider my execution of the launch plan to be. I started it the right way. I mapped things out. I had a strategy. But I didn’t stick with it and update my progress as I went. After the first few weeks, I just guessed at what I needed to do and kinda went through a series of actions that ended up working out pretty well.

What’s the lesson learned from this? Several actually. First, make a plan and stick to it. Second, create a calendar for what action steps to take on a weekly basis until those things become second nature. Third, be organized and follow through. Making the plan and executing the plan are different things. They both need to happen for success to be achieved.

Was the launch of my debut book a failure? Nope. However, I can recognize the difference between the success I have had and the success I could have had. Execution on the plan is the difference.

Overcoming The Fear Of Failure

One other big thing that failure has taught me is that it’s not as scary as I thought it was. I have avoided failure for most of my life out of fear. One of the big victories of 34 is diving deep into my heart and digging up the darkest fears that have hindered my growth. Bringing these things out into the light to be examined and discussed has been a tremendous method of creating success.

Fear and failure go together like a tag-team wrestling tandem hellbent on destroying progress and opportunities for growth. Fear builds on the worst scenarios of your life, or the worst-case scenario possible, to convince you to give up. Quitting and not believing in yourself leads to the ultimate failure: one where you throw in the towel.

When I think of that combination, my old days of watching wrestling come to mind. It’s like the terror that the Undertaker and Kane used to instill into people. But facing those two is not an impossible task. We just need to smell a different kind of attitude (yes, that’s a reference to The Rock).

Instead of fearing failure, and instead of looking at failure as a zero-sum game, let it be a teacher. When we don’t end up with the results we want (aka failing), we have the opportunity to go back and look at what happened. Analyze the space and the actions. What could have been done differently? Was something in the plan not done right? Where did things go askew and how?

Failure creates opportunities to improve, to rise up, to grow.

It also makes us much more thankful of the opportunities and happenings of success.

Shifting Gears To Look At Some Big Wins

d grant mcmurray speechSpeaking of that, the success of 34 has been far more vibrant and joyful than anything else. Here’s a shortlist of the big wins this year has brought:

-Outstanding growth through the DIY Artist Route Podcast including monumental conversations with folks (and heroes) like Seth Godin, Derek Webb, Matthew Mayfield, Rachael Yamagata, Kevin Kelly and Jon Nastor.

-Guest spots on podcasts like The Miews with Shane Freeman, We Spin with Andrew Apanov, Bridge The Atlantic with Marcio Novelli and Ross Barber-Smith, Music Monster with Greg Wilnau, Hack the Entrepreneur, and more.

-Being a presenter on the monumental Music Launch Summit, the largest online music growth conference hosted and managed by the incredible Steve Palfreyman

-Being a featured writer for some outstanding music publications like Sonicbids, Bandzoogle, and Hypebot

The Appetizer Radio Show gaining new stations carrying the show across the country

-Launching my speaking career doing presentations about Growth Farming For Success including speeches at universities, organizations, and finishing 3rd in divisional competition with Toastmasters

-Releasing and spreading my first published book The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook

 

That’s a lot of great things to come in just 365 days. I’m excited about what is to come in the near year, which will include some new offerings just for you to help you grow. I’m excited to share more with you, including insights on this road that include what is working for me and what isn’t so that you can have the most wins every step of the way.

Finally, since winning and growth are such big focus points in what I do here with helping you growth farm, I’m giving away a few copies of my book. Get a chance to grab a copy by signing up for my email list in the right hand column. The giveaway is for my group and community. Join up with me in there and we’ll talk soon!

 

 

 

Warning Signs You May Be Taking Yourself Too Seriously

Photo Credit: Bailey Weaver

Photo Credit: Bailey Weaver

Sometimes the best way to see problems with yourself is to watch someone else act exactly like you do. The behaviors of other people doing just what you do should cause you to pause, reflect, and go “Don’t I do the exact same thing? Oh, that’s gotta change!”

I say this because I’m guilty of doing some of the things that bother me the most about other people. Taking yourself too seriously is certainly one of my flaws, one that I’ve spent the better part of the past 2 years trying to correct. I used to be really bad. Now it’s a less-frequent problem.

Here’s how I know I’m taking myself too seriously, and the problems it’s caused me in connecting with new people

I’ve been working in radio for a long time. I’ve been making a radio show in the same town for over a decade. That can lead you to assume that just about everyone knows about what I do. Not true, yet I used to think that if someone didn’t know what I did they must have been on another planet.

This is the "Angry Rooster Face" dubbed by Mrs. Smith

This is the “Angry Rooster Face” dubbed by Mrs. Smith

I used to get offended if someone who claimed to listen to the radio station I worked for hadn’t heard of The Appetizer Radio Show. Or, even worse, if someone asked about the food that I talked about on the show. I make this face when I’m confused (see left) that my wife calls my “angry rooster face.” That’s the face I used to make if someone made a comment about my radio show and said something about me talking about food. “I thought you said you listened to my show? I’ve never done anything about food specifically. What are you talking about???” would be the thoughts going in my head, but I would not say such things. Yet you wouldn’t have to struggle to see those thoughts on my face. This face and this look don’t hide too much.

Either way, my attitude was that of an asshole. I took myself way too seriously and potentially offended good-hearted people who might have otherwise actually given the show a listen. I assumed that since I was so passionate about my work, everyone who asked me about it must be too. I assumed that if someone showed the slightest bit of interest in my work, then they should know all about it and not need me to explain to them why it is important.

You know what they say about what happens when you assume? Except I’m just the one who was the ass.

Seeing the other side of the serious-taking-issue has revealed a lot of the negative side effects that this attitude can have. It’s also the exact opposite of grace and humility. There is a good chance that you haven’t read my About page, or looked up the articles I’ve written for Sonicbids, CMuse, or other sites, or heard all the episodes on the DIY Artist Route Podcast. That’s ok. Do I want you to experience these things? Yes, of course. Is it a prerequisite for us to connect? Absolutely not.

I’m saying all of this because it’s important for us to put our contributions and our stories into perspective. This is especially true as we’re trying to reach new people we don’t know with our work. I’m not the only music curator discovering excellent talent. I’m not the only radio host who has been showcasing indie and unsigned music for years and years. Several great music radio icons preceded the work I do. The same is true for artists and businesses.

You have a passion for your songwriting and the mission behind your music. However, there are other very passionate, talented, and inspirational songwriters who are changing the world.

Keep that in perspective. It’s great that you’re not alone. What is it about your work specifically that is remarkable? What completely unique and uncommon thing makes you stand out from others who are doing similar work? These are the pieces of your communication that need to come out with new people who are being introduced to your work.

Where I see Too-Serious play out the most

Music submissions are the prime place where I experience my old behaviors play out, and it’s mostly in a digital format. Not every artist who submits music gets accepted. This is true on every platform. When an artist sends an email to me that is full of links to videos or songs, I don’t always follow all of the links. I honestly don’t always spend 15-30 minutes diving into a band’s music, especially not when the sender is a person I’ve never interacted with before. Remember strangers and gold?

I may not read all of the sender’s bio either. And when I reply and ask specific questions to get the artist to tell me more about what makes them unique (or essentially sell me on why their music is attention-worthy), some musicians take that as an affront to their music. That’s not the case.

The reality is that I don’t know the artist (yet), and the first impression they’ve left is that they take themselves so seriously that someone who wants them to tell their story makes them upset. It’s an artist giving me their own angry rooster face, and expecting the interest to be natural and inherent. I hope this isn’t the response that other music curators are receiving when they interact and don’t instantly jump into the musician’s work. It may produce worse results.

Here’s the Takeaway to save face and the connection potential

Most new people won’t know your backstory, and they may not give you the attention time you seek at first. Instead of taking yourself too seriously and getting offended at what a stranger doesn’t give you right away, nurture the first spark of that interest. Build a dialogue. Approach the potential connection with grace and kindness. So many good things come out of a change in perspective and a better attitude.

That’s the win that comes out of this reflection. When we see ourselves in other people’s behaviors we want to see happiness and joy, and not something that leads to looking like the backside of a donkey. Donkeys don’t win beauty pageants, even social ones.

Grace and respect in meeting new people, and learning how to approach strangers in a way that builds their interest while also getting you what you seek is the subject of my debut book The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook. Officially it’s out on May 3rd but you can grab the first 4 chapters for free now. Click Here.

Michael Brandvold On The DIY Artist Route Podcast

michael-brandvold

I was captivated by the title “Michael Brandvold shares 25 lessons he learned working with KISS.”

Reading his short Ebook (free on his website) and then hearing his Music Biz Weekly podcast, I was intrigued. “I have to have this guy on the DIY Artist Route Podcast,” I said to myself.

Here we are. Michael Brandvold was gracious to join me in a discussion on what makes successful fan building, and his insights into working with KISS are perfect for understanding the power of Super Fan Building. This is a consistent subject we talk about here on this blog, and today’s insights from Michael are spot on for how to identify your Super Fans and bring them into your music to benefit you the most.

Opening The Super Fan Gateway To Help You Grow

Recently on a blog from Sonicbids, I talked about how to put your online and offline work together to strengthen your audience and build more connections with your fan community. Michael adds more ideas to this, and the best part is they are all simple and inexpensive.

I love learning powerful things from people who simply challenge me to think a little bit differently. We definitely get that benefit in this podcast. Dive in, learn something new, and share it with 1 person you know who can benefit from it too.

Take Michael Brandvold Insights A Step Further For Your Own Music Growth

There are some big areas of audience building and fan community that are discussed in this podcast episode. What areas of your fan building and connection do these ideas resonate with OR are there things that you still are trying to figure out when it comes to growing your fan community?

Did you pick up on how the mainstream successful bands share 1 thing in common with DIY Musicians like you? It’s about seeing what you do for what it is. Reach out and comment here so we can look at them together.