Tag Archives: success

Greg Wilnau Shares Mindset Shifts For Success On Podcast

Greg Wilnau Musician Monster

Greg Wilnau

Greg Wilnau has been on my radar for a long time. He’s a fantastic human being and someone who intentionally wants to help people. It’s clear in the way that he engages with you in conversation, and illustrates the power of valuing others as a key to growth.

Greg is a fellow drummer and host of the Musician Monster Podcast. He also is a coach for musicians in helping to build a strong career with gigging and growth. Get more on him at his website here.

Mindset is a big part of our conversation. Personal responsibility is a giant piece of how mindsets work. It’s up to you as a musician, creative entrepreneur, and builder to reach the levels of success you dream of.

It’s not anyone else’s responsibility. Realizing that and owning it will help you take leaps and bounds towards achieving the goals you have.

New Territory Covered In This Podcast Episode

I’m going to Just come out and say something up front that is a big part of my conversation with Greg. We dive into mindset changes that delve into personal responsibility and focus that have been instrumental in my own personal success, as well as his. We also talk about religion and faith.

I haven’t gone down this road with anyone on the DIY Artist Route Podcast before regarding religion or faith. Honestly, I used to be a very religious person. I used to go to church 2 or 3 times a week and stay for 3 or 4 hours at a time.

In my religious days, I had a different set of priorities and my concept of belief meant something completely different than it does now.Though I may not be as religious as I used to be, the focus on love as the highest value and greatest objective in life is VERY real to me. Greg and I both share this perspective on life.

It’s not my intention nor does it come out in our conversation to say or imply anything that is condescending towards religion or faith. Still the subject is something that we talk about early on. Our concepts of God and faith do impact how we interact with each other regardless of your belief system.

How Your Experiences Pair With Others For Growth

DIY Artist Route Podcast Greg Wilnau Musician Monster D Grant Smith mindset religion personal responsibilityWe also talk about the power of empowerment. Greg Wilnau illustrates how talking with people who are going through the sames things that you are empowers you to keep going (22:15). This is especially true for musicians who are in the early stages of your career, trying to figure out your next steps. It’s essential to community building as well.

Other key quotes and subjects presented in our talk include:

[On where the shift happened to go from dead end to growth]

“The biggest thing I struggled with that I didn’t know I struggled with was I would start projects strong and things would fizzle out. That was happening because I would constantly blame other people for my problems instead of taking ownership of them and figuring out how to fix them.” -Greg Wilnau

[Dealing with the human condition to model what we see]

“There are tons and tons of information being passed around, and there’s all these ways we’re told of what we need to do to succeed. But we actually model more of the things we see than what we’re told we need to do.

“We see people blaming others for their problems, and regardless of whether we know it’s not optimal, we often pattern that based on what we see, instead of what we know is best until we choose to change.” -D Grant Smith

[On what success actually is]

“The way people used to do things was they would build it…even launching music. You would write this album, create this masterpiece,hide up in your studio and then launch it. Then fame and glory would  come to you.

“Today that’s not the best way to do it. Making sure that what you’re doing with impact others before you actually do it, or doing your best to involve other people in what you’re creating and then giving them the ability to be involved in that process.

“You can’t do it alone, you have to have other people in the community with you. Getting feedback from others who are on the same journey as you is essential to your success.” -Greg Wilanu

 

[The real super-power anyone can have]

“Unless you’re Tom Hanks living on an island with a volleyball you’ve named Wilson, that’s the only place you’re not dealing with people. And the whole time you’re wishing to God you could deal with people again. So you’re ability to see people and connect with people, that’s the real super power that drives everything you do. It’s why community is such a big deal.” -D Grant Smith

Get Plugged Into Greg Wilnau On Musician Monster

I highly recommend Greg’s podcast as both a musician and as someone who is looking for true, intentional leaders to model after. You can reach out to Greg and get more connected with him here.

Making Mindset Changes Work For You

On the subject of Mindset changes for success, it’s something that I’ve been facing in my own personal and professional life for the past 3 years. It’s a big part of the Growth Farming methodology that transforms lives and careers.

Changing a few things about how I see myself and others has led to tremendous growth and success, including transforming me from being afraid to approach influencers to being able to sit down with folks like Kevin Kelly, Seth Godin, Rachael Yamagata and others.

Your superpower (which we talk about in the podcast and I talk about a LOT on this blog) matters in building community and building success. If you don’t know what your superpower is, you’re not going to be operating at 100% to get what you want. It’s another reason you and I can talk and grow together.

If you are struggling with your own negative mindsets, or brain garbage (as a friend of mine calls it), let’s have a conversation. I’m here to help you win. Get on my calendar by clicking here right now. I look forward to talking with and helping you.

 

 

How The Stories You Believe Lead To The Impact You Have

A story of how my identity and perspective changed based on what I believed about myself in this talk at Abilene Christian University with my good friend Dr. Steven Moore

When I was a little kid I wanted to be Superman. Superman made an impact. He was unstoppable, invincible and incredibly powerful.

I was not.

On the contrary, I’ve always had a small frame. Skinny, scrawny, short. These were ready adjectives you could identify me with. Still can.

impact superman pinterest artwork invincible InspiraAcao

Source: manof2moro.tumblr.com

I didn’t want to be Superman because he was the strongest dude around, could bend iron in his hand, or was faster than a speeding bullet. I wanted to be invincible. I wanted to be immune to the physical damage of bullets or baseball bats or bullies.

Suffice to say, I understood how dangerous it is to be vulnerable. I wanted to be able to create impact, but be immune from experiencing it.

Being capable of receiving pain is a human condition. It’s one I have avoided. Yet avoiding pain is not a way to grow or succeed. Therefore, I’m changing this mindset so I can grow and win.

Most of us have a real understanding of what pain is, both physical and emotional and psychological. Avoiding pain is what we’re naturally programmed for. Yet pain is a part of the human experience, and turning off our ability to receive it can cost more than the pain itself.

Where The Mindset Change Started For Me

Best selling author and life coach Tony Robbins has made a BIG impact on a lot of people. The self-help guru is an empowering teacher worth modeling after. He talks about how every decision we make is either a pursuit of pleasure, or the avoidance of pain. His book Awaken The Giant Within details how to transform your life by changing your beliefs, words, and actions to overcome the fear of pain.

Your beliefs about yourself determine the stories you tell yourself about who you are, and what you’re capable of.

This is something you might have struggled with to from a young age. You may still be struggling with avoiding pain. Pain from someone’s harsh words, or actions, or attitudes, or something else that made you feel less than and unworthy. They became the stories you adopted on your identity.

It’s our human condition to want a few specific things intrinsically. When we come out of the womb we have within us the desire to be valued, to be found worthy, and to be loved. It’s in our DNA.

Life gives us opportunities to experience this kind of love. We have friends who lift us up, encourage us, and make us feel like we’re on top of the world.

All the while there are other people we experience who do the opposite. For one reason or another, they tear down, destroy, hurt, and cause us pain with their words and actions. Try as you might, you can’t make sense of their motivation or reason. Each of us experience negativity this at some point in our lives.

The Power Of Stories On Our Understanding Of Fear And Identity

When I first experienced the pain of rejection and unworthiness from a person, it made an imprint, a story. Imprints & stories don’t go away easily.

Imprints that are negative tend to have more staying power than those that are positive, unless we’re looking for and needing that uplifting stuff. Then it’s received differently. Something that hits you and leaves a mark has a pretty strong impact on your outlook on life and yourself.

As I’ve gotten older I realize that my defense mechanisms for dealing with pain and rejection have always been faulty. An old friend once told me when we were in college that I approached people metaphorically with my arms up in defense (like a boxer).

He said I never let anyone get close enough to know me. Keeping people away from reaching in to (potentially) cause harm.

It’s hard to build community, build trust, and gain influence with people if you don’t let them in. That vulnerability thing is something we all have to deal with. It’s hard. It hurts. It’s risky. It’s dangerous. But it might just save your life.

It saved mine. But it’s also one of the most difficult things I’ve done.

When I realized that being Superman wasn’t all that great, my heart changed. How can I be understood and valued if I can’t feel or allow others to impact me in a way that leads to feelings, good or bad?

I’ve always been a pretty emotional dude, so that whole idea of being immune to feeling is a bit off. I could never pull that off anyways.

Growth Farming Creates Maximum Impact To Change The Story

We have a choice to make in our lives everyday. What will we plant within ourselves produce fruits that others experience. What we focus on, the stories we believe, determine whether we have impact on our spheres of influence, or go ignored.

I used to plant fear in my heart, and with the stories I told myself. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of being harmed. Fear of being beat up. Fear of being found not good enough.

Turns out that fear is what I produced. Afraid of not being received and accepted by people kept the folks I wanted to connect with from wanting to engage. So I felt even more rejected and alone. It wasn’t their fault. We create the worlds we think about. We create our reality.

I would avoid people I thought might cause me harm, physical or emotional. I’d only get so close. One day I was walking around downtown Abilene and saw this dude on the other side of the road I was going to cross.

He looked kinda tough, with tattoos and baggy pants. I judged that guy right then. I thought he might try to hurt me so I turned around and went the other way to avoid him.

That’s no way to live. I can talk openly about that now because it’s not who I am anymore. I felt a little voice in my head/heart ask me, “How long are you going to live like this? How long are you going to be a scared little boy afraid of the nonexistent monster under his bed?”

This realization led to me venturing into the amateur boxing realm to overcome that perpetual fear of being harmed. I ended up joining a boxing gym run by an Air Force coach who engrained in me transformative pieces that changed my life.

I never became a good boxer. But I did lose the fear of getting hurt. Yet I learned SO much more about life, business, and success from Coach Rivas than I ever imagined.

I also learned my calling. It’s bigger than music. It’s bigger than radio. It involves people and giving the thing I’ve wanted my whole life.

Transformation That Came From A Ring

I’ve always not been big on competition. Part of it was scary because it involved the possibility of losing (fear again). It also pitted people against each other, which has never been something I get excited about.

I’ve always enjoyed working with people to make something big happen. I’ve got a gift in being able to recognize people’s strengths, even those they might not know they have, and incorporating them into the mix to get the best out of a collaboration.

We naturally want to be around people who empower us, who make us feel bigger and stronger and able to do more than we believe we can do naturally. Think about the individuals in your life who give you that feeling.

Those people (and there’s probably only a handful of them that you know, they are uncommon folks) who give you the feeling of being able to tackle any giant just by being around them. They evoke a power that is transferred into your spirit. That’s a real superhero.

I no longer want to be Superman. I haven’t for sometime. Surprisingly, as much as I love Batman, I don’t want to be him either. I wish to have that kind of focus and dedication. But the skillset and methodology are too different than my inclinations.

maximum impact professor x james mcavoy patrick stewart mutant x-men movie days of future past

By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44546224

I want to be Professor X. You recall him from the X-Men films, played by both Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy. In the comics, he was the founder of the X-Men and garnered an extremely loyal friendship to each of the members of the team. There’s a reason for that, and it’s not because of his mutant power.

Professor X’s real power is his ability to inspire greatness in uncommon individuals, bring them together and show them how to use their gifts to better the world. He’s a unifier. He’s a teacher. Because he believes that everyone is capable of great things if they’re just believe in themselves, they’re able to face incredible obstacles and foes.

That’s a hero worth aspiring to. That’s the kind of leader we need. That’s the kind of person who gets the best out of others, and inspires greatness.

Transformation is a process, and this is the evolution that I’m diving into. Like planting a garden, it takes time. But when the fruit is fully ripe, it will be bountiful and bless the world I’m connected with in powerful ways.

What about you? Is there a hero, fictional or real, who has inspired you to be more than you think you are? Do you know what your super-power is? Let’s talk about how you can use your super-power daily to make the world a better place. Click here to talk with me about how you can overcome your fears to achieve success and growth.

 

 

Mark Steiner On How To Build A Successful Company

mark steiner gigsalad entrepreneur creative

Mark Steiner

In the 16 years I’ve worked with for profit and nonprofit businesses, particularly in radio, media, and the entertainment industry. There are a few key things that make for thriving organizations.

I knew from the first conversation I had with Mark Steiner at GigSalad that he had cracked the code too. In this podcast episode we both share our perspectives on what makes growth work for entrepreneurs, small businesses, artists & musicians. We find common ground and a lot of perspective that helps to put the art of Growth Farming to work.

Mark Steiner On The DIY Artist Route Podcast

Part of what put me on Mark’s radar is the platform he created and owns that is a marketplace for both musicians, entertainers, and speakers to land better gigs. Every musician I talk with struggles to figure out how to get booked at better venues and how to make their tour schedules work. GigSalad is one method that musicians, artists, entertainers, and motivational speakers can use to land more gigs. Building your reputation in the process is also what drives growth and success here.

I wanted to talk with Mark Steiner because of GigSalad but also because he’s an entrepreneur who has illustrated very specific key points to the Growth Farming method. One particular point he’s lived out is illustrated about 35 minutes into the podcast where we discuss the difference between being selfish and loving yourself:

“If you truly love yourself in the purest sense of the word, that you’re patient with yourself, you’re kind, not rude, you have compassion and love. Then the absolute natural, the absolute natural manifestation of that is love that you give to others. It just oozes out of you. So if you have people who are not expressing love then they’re not loving themselves.”

Throughout our conversation you hear a man who has come to terms with life itself, battled his own sense of identity and made some amazing discoveries in the process. We also talk about the idea of the Heart Garden, which is core to Growth Farming as a means of success.

Inside each and every one of us is a garden. The fruits that come forth out of our lives (our words, actions and attitudes) come from what we plant inside of us. Mark’s success in his business as an artist and entrepreneur illustrate his growth in building the right kind of garden.

One of the past DIY Artist Route Podcast guests, Steve Palfreyman, shares a similar ethos. There’s a lot here that pertains to emotional intelligence, which is a key point to success for any entrepreneur, business, or organization. It’s very much what Mark says here:

“I know my strengths and what I’m good at and I follow what comes natural to me, which is emotional intelligence. I’m comfortable there. I can talk about my feelings and other people’s feelings and relationships. I think those are the driving forces to any successful business.”

There’s a lot of joy that is gleaned from this podcast experience. There’s also a lot of wisdom. What does it take for you to really build success over time, cultivate strong relationships with people to open new doors, and see real fruits come forth? Adopt the method and advice that Mark Steiner illustrates in this conversation.

More On GigSalad & Growth Opportunities

On a side note, I’ve been using GigSalad as a way to get my name out for more opportunities and the system is well setup. Their support team is a group of fantastic people who are easy to work with and will help you along the way. I really believe in this marketplace, and I’m not being paid to say that.

You can get more info on Mark and get signed up for free to use GigSalad here.

Putting it all together for your artistry is also illustrated in both The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook, and the Seth Godin Growth Farming Method Ebook.

 

 

Growth Farming Tip: Get Positive Mindset

Graphic by Psychologymd

Graphic by Psychologymd

Do ever have negative thoughts about who you are and what you’re capable of? Are you positive that you’re going to win, or do you question yourself each day? Does “be positive” make you cringe a little because it’s either cliche or seemingly impossible?

I ask these questions because they’re obstacles I’m facing now, and have been facing for about 30 years or more. I just didn’t realize that the thoughts in my head that tell me I can’t do what I aspire to, or that I’m not capable of success in the goals I have are what most people deal with each and every day.

I just took those attitudes and thoughts as the way things are. In other words, I didn’t question it, or challenge it. I just believed it.

Negative thoughts can destroy our momentum, causing us to spin our wheels instead of move forward. These mindsets create negative progress, or periods where growth is so slow and we’re left to just wonder why.

DGS-StairsProfileHeadshotIf you can relate to that there is a simple solution I’m experiencing transformation with right now. It’s really just a matter of a positive mindset. Here’s the truth: what you put in your mind and in your heart creates pathways that lead you to new opportunities, or keep you from the growth you want.

Does that mean that if you’re not “thinking positive thoughts” all the time, that you can’t succeed at your goals? No, it doesn’t. However, it may mean that you’ll have to work harder, longer, and face more obstacles than you would have if you evicted the negativity from having residence in your life.

Positive thoughts and a positive mindset can work together, but they’re not always the same thing. Thoughts feed our mindset, and determine what our mindset is. If you set your mind on what is positive and affirming, you attract those things to your life. If you let negativity be present in what you think, you’ll attract negative people and closed doors. That’s been true in places in my life.

Here’s one thing I’ve struggled with for most of my life: a perpetual thought that I can’t be or have something that I want. It really has been just like that. If I talked with someone who wanted to build something new to impact people on a big scale, the first thought that has come into my head has been literally this: “You can’t do that.”

The “you” in my head is talking to me. It’s the voice that doesn’t believe in me, and will never believe in me. That voice may live in your head too. It’s not you, but it’s living in you and it’s working against you. It’s not your job or mine to convince the negativity that it’s wrong. It’s our job to instead choose to ignore or not listen, to give no credence to that thought. This was a foreign concept to me until a few months ago.

I’ve shared a bit here on this blog about facing fears, and overcoming many of them through a boxing gym. That’s a part of the journey into personal wholeness. That’s the journey I’m still on. The mindset we have determines a lot about our progress forward as people who are building something of value, whether that’s music or business, or anything else. As growth farmers, our attitude about other people and with other people is impacted by what we believe about ourselves.

Here’s a little bit of my story about overcoming fears. The mindset we have determines a lot in achieving this too.

 

I realize now that my attitude towards some people in the communities I’ve operated in over the past few years hasn’t been great, and it’s because of the internal beliefs I had about myself. I’ve felt overlooked or invisible to people, which put a little chip on my shoulder. That led to me working to prove them wrong, pushing me to succeed to beat some perceived attitude in someone else. However, the real attitude was still alive and well in me, and that negativity was what needed to be dealt with the whole time.

A friend of mine gave a kickass speech yesterday in our local Toastmasters group that talked about the power of positive beliefs over negative ones. She talked about how it’s scientifically proven that positive people live longer, have more personal happiness, and are more successful than people who foster negative attitudes. I managed to record the tail end of her speech, and wish I had gotten the whole thing because it was incredibly powerful.

One takeaway was a challenge she laid down to us to make a gratefulness journal. Every day for the next 2 months, write down 3 things you’re grateful for and thankful for. I started last night. I’m finding that the things I’m the most thankful for are relationships with specific people. Relationships are our fruit, and the more we work to grow them the more whole we can become, and the more successful we are.

Our attitudes towards ourselves plays a huge role in our ability to connect with others, and build the relationships that lead to more success. But how do we change our attitude and thoughts if we have negativity brewing inside our heads?

IMG_1333Here’s what I’m doing to change the attitude and be more positive:

I start my day with a walk. While I’m moving (activity is a great way to get out of the doldrums and create literal action that changes things), I affirm myself with new beliefs and attitudes that serve to create what I truly want. Here’s what I tell myself:

“I believe in me. My heart and mind are filled with love, joy, peace, passion, wealth, and prosperity. My life produces love, joy, peace, passion, wealth, and prosperity. What people experience from me is love, joy, peace, passion, wealth, and prosperity.”

This is the opposite of listening to a perpetual negative attitude that says “you can’t.” It’s also powerful to call out that voice and tell it to shut the hell up, and get the hell out. Do that too. It’s a stubborn attitude, but it will obey you. Then affirm yourself with positive thoughts.

I’m about a month into this part of the process and I’m already seeing results. A good friend & mentor today told me that they get more centered and balanced every time we talk. She’s mentoring me, and she’s gaining balance from our talks. That tells me this growth farming method is working.

It will work for you too. Put it into action in your life. And let me know how your garden grows. I look forward to hearing from you.

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.

How Having Your Back Leads You Forward

My high school graduation pic. People thought I was 16 until about 4 years ago (I'm in my 30s now)

My high school graduation pic. People thought I was 16 until about 4 years ago (I’m in my 30s now)

Let me shoot you straight-when it comes to height and weight I’m a little dude. I might be taller than Bruno Mars or Prince (who is apparently 5’2″) but body size and weight are actually big deals to guys as much as girls.

This can lead to confidence issues in those beloved teenage years where all of your friends, who are also going through changes in their height, weight, and other body factors, are always the most encouraging people on earth. Wait, our peers are always the most encouraging people, right?

Of course I’m being facetious there. In high school I was a little over 5 feet tall and maybe weighed 100 lbs. That is a scrawny little dude. But that was me. And some other physical attributes helped me to be the brunt of a lot of jokes and a bit of bullying in school. I hated it, as most kids do. I also didn’t know really what to do about it, so I used sarcasm as a means of deflecting pointed remarks. And I hid/avoided the 2 people I knew would give me the most hell.

What made the difference for me in that era of time wasn’t a self-help book or taking a kung-fu class. Though I really did want to take kung-fu. Bruce Lee was only 5’4″ in his day and he kicked everyone’s ass. That gave me some hope. But it wasn’t the path for me. Instead, I found some love in an unexpected place that changed everything.

As you know, I’m a radio guy and have been since the late 1990s. How and where I got my start plays a role in this story of overcoming bullying because often our work or ambition experiences play larger roles in the things that we are and who we become. While in 10th grade I was given the opportunity to work on-air at a community college radio station about 30 miles from my hometown.

The station (89.7 KACC) was in Alvin, Tx. I lived in Sugar Land. One or two times a week I would drive down to Alvin and do my radio shift. It was a ton of fun and some of the best work experience I could have ever had. That experience on-air and doing radio stuff is what opened the door for me to start my freshman year of college working on-air in Abilene (ironically on 89.7 KACU).

The professional ground isn’t the focus of my story this time, but that gives context to where I’m going. There were two main guys who took me under their wing at KACC, Eddie and Shannon. Two room-mates who made me one of their buddies. I got to hang out with them off the air, camp out on weekends and essentially be a college guy 2 years before I should have.

In school I spent a lot of time feeling intimidated and picked on, though there was only one or two people who went to great lengths to do that to me and to others. Those instances of bullying, being picked on, belittled, and chastised still had terrible consequences on my self-esteem. Being embarrassed and bullied by someone who is physically bigger and stronger doesn’t do much to make you want to show up in class. There’s a reason why most TV shows and movies that involve high school portray bullies as jocks and athletes. The aggression they have has to be channeled, but realistically they feel as fearful as anyone else. Yet their pride makes them take that fear out on others. What do fearful people with physical power do? They prey on the smaller, physically weaker people. History tells us this repeatedly.

Hanging out with big Hispanic dudes who are 22 or 23 years old while you’re a short, skinny 16 year old white kid is empowering. It was to me. And they loved me, for whatever reason. One day while we were hanging out, one of my college friends, Shannon, could tell something was on my mind. It had been a rough week and I’d been austricized at school. Shannon asked what was wrong and I said a dude was messing with me, and he was much bigger than I so what could I do about it.

“Where does he live?” Shannon asked with a straight face. I knew what his thought process was. These weren’t guys who looked for fights, but they weren’t ones who ran from them either. And they were stout enough to hold their own and then some. Shannon was also a black belt in Tae Kwan Do.

“Don’t worry about it man,” I said. “I do appreciate it though.”

“No seriously, where does he live? I used to be a little guy like you and I got picked on a lot. It sucked. I remember what it feels like to be bullied. I will gladly show this punk what it feels like for a bigger, stronger person to put him in his place,” Shannon replied.

And that changed everything.

What followed wasn’t a scene out of a revenge film where we loaded up in a car, all 4 of us and drove the 30 miles back to my hometown, knocked on a door and then made mince-meat out of a teenage bully. What changed was my attitude and confidence.

Why didn’t I give the address to Eddie and Shannon to go take care of my bullying issue? Because even then I knew it would only make things worse, especially for them as young adults. The bully folks weren’t the kids of people who wouldn’t do anything about the 20-somethings who beat up their son. There were political and social elements that would make this situation much worse. So I thanked my friends for their love and said if it ever got to a place where I couldn’t handle it, I’d call them. Fortunately it never did.

Here’s what changed that made the difference.

When someone you trust and respect tells you that they have your back, will go out of their way to tackle a problem you have so that you don’t have to worry about it anymore, you should feel empowered.

IMG_1333My confidence took a steroid shot that day, and I didn’t even know it. Looking back now it all seems so clear. I didn’t cower or hide from people (or at least the same people I’d hidden from for the past few years when this happened). There was no reason to hide. If things got bad, I had a number to call who would come to my aid. That kind of support isn’t common, but it’s highly empowering.

Knowing we’re loved gives us confidence.

When you’re a kid, and sometimes even in adulthood, when we think of love we think romance or family bonds. Love isn’t just those things. Love is valuing someone else and doing whatever is necessary to make sure they are safe and taken care of. Love is looking at someone else’s best interest and putting them before you, even if it costs you something.

“I’ve got your back” is love in its purest sense. Nothing asked in return, no favors required to be put into effect. It’s just straight “You matter to me and I won’t let anyone or anything hurt you.”

As a followup to some of the life experiences described earlier, I’ve moved on and done a good bit of forgiveness, most of which the individuals involved know nothing about. That’s the thing about forgiveness, it’s really more about you than the people who caused you pain. Holding on to past pain and grudges only stymies your growth and ability to move forward. It also keeps those same fears in place, instead of releasing them to have the freedom you want.

Every single one of us struggles with fear in some form or fashion. For me it was fears regarding self-image and body size stuff. With friends who had my back, I was able to overcome a lot of these issues at that crossroad in time and move on to pursuing my dreams. I later returned to facing those fears head on in my 20s, which I talk about and describe in this blog post.

Do you struggle with fears and want to know that someone has your back? Let’s talk about what fears are keeping you from pursuing the goals and dreams that you have. Reach out to me below and let’s tackle them together. I have your back.

The Uncommon Choice Has Real Value

Coach Rivas instructs two amateur boxers

Coach Rivas instructs two amateur boxers

Though I work in radio and with musicians, I haven’t spent all of my free time doing music related things. I used to work out at a boxing gym where my Coach kicked my ass every day. I loved it (strangely enough) when each workout session ended because we all had collectively done above and beyond what we believed we could do physically, mentally and emotionally in those workout sessions.

It was fabulous. However, I did dread those workouts before going up there each
day, because I knew they would be intense, and would require everything I had and then
some.

We were there Monday through Friday for about 1.5 hours a day and were pushed beyond
the limits of what our minds told us we could do. I remember days of doing nonstop cardio
workouts for 20-­30 minutes at a time, to switch to doing wild bag work combinations. My mind
would be saying “I can’t do anymore, please let us stop,” but Coach kept pushing us, and we
ended up being able to do more than we thought we could.

Though I didn't fight in competition, I did go to events to support the team. I'm on the far right in the back behind a few people

Though I didn’t fight in competition, I did go to events to support the team. I’m on the far right in the back behind a few people

I learned a lot from those experiences. I learned that listening to just the common thread of thought in your mind can be very limiting, because often times you won’t push yourself past your own limits unless something else is the driving force. But to get to the real results you want, you have to do uncommon things, which may mean subjecting your will to that of someone you trust to push you harder than you’ll push yourself. It was one of the first times in my adult life to have a coach who did such things. The results were amazing.

I learned a lot in those 2 years before I moved locations and the gym eventually shut down.
While I was there I got into the best physical and psychological shape of my life. Being a
relatively small person (standing 5’ 7” and weighing 110 lbs soaking wet), I’ve struggled with
insecurity and fear my entire life. This is a common thing that people feel, especially at school
with jocks and bullies. I’m no stranger to this stuff. But I backed down from challenges and
endured way too much emotional setbacks in my youth and early adulthood, all on account of
fear. Part of going to the boxing gym was to face that fear literally, and put myself in a
situation where I had to fight or flight.

I never ended up being very good at boxing, but I still enjoy the sport. Having done it on an
amateur level showed me so much about the unspoken and irregular aspects of the game,
something similar to how musicians who closely study their instrument and playing something
beyond chords or basic scales might understand. There’s music theory, there’s your
instrument, there’s your creativity, and there’s you. Isolating those things independently of
each other loses a lot of the power they have together. That’s just an observation. Back to
boxing.

I got in great shape boxing but what has stuck with me more than the exercises and the
knowledge of fighting is something that Coach said at nearly every session­ “Be uncommon.”
There were times when he was almost preaching a sermon to devoted followers in how he
spoke of being uncommon as a boxer and as a person to achieve true greatness in what you
do. As I’ve worked in business and in music, those words ring more and more true as I see
and experience well­-meaning people doing the same things everyone else is doing, the same
things that produce no positive or good result.

When I was in grade school, I wanted to fit in. Just about everyone wants this. No one really
wants to stand out, so we try and dress like our friends or the popular kids. We would follow
someone else’s leadership in what we would do, what we listened to, how we wore our hair,
and so on. Sometimes we would be followers of rebels instead of doing our own version of
rebelling, because following is easier than being a trendsetter and throwing popular opinion to
the wind. Standing out is difficult. Fitting in is desired because it’s common to blend and not
make waves.

Everyone feels that on some level. We all want to be loved for our uniqueness yet are afraid
that what makes us unique might also be what causes others to criticize, mock, or reject us.

So many of us hide our uniqueness and do what everyone else does so we can fit in. In the
process, we lose part of our hearts and a sense of self (or sometimes a sense of purpose)
because the road regularly traveled is quite dull, and so beaten into the ground.

Until the advent of social media, we didn’t (or didn’t as often) let our opinions dictate our
course of action like we do today. In music and in business, I keep seeing the majority of
people do things that don’t make sense. The only reason I can think of for some people’s
behavior is “That’s what everyone else does, so it must be what works.”

Everyone can be wrong. Everyone can fail to do what they set out to. This is why when you
look at those super­-successful people in any industry, they’re the minority of the group. A
small portion (usually 1­5%) of an industry or business type are the most successful in the
short term and long term. They’re not doing what everyone else is doing, because if they were
they wouldn’t be successful.

Values we represented as a team and values to live by

Values we represented as a team and values to live by

In boxing, an uncommon fighter is one who doesn’t make lazy decisions like dropping their
hands. An uncommon fighter looks for ways to strike at angles instead of standing directly in
front of their opponent and just throwing punches. Other traits that uncommon boxers have is they work harder, longer, and more consistently. They don’t let their bodies get out of shape between matches. There’s a reason why Roy Jones Jr and Bernard Hopkins could not only still fight in their 40s but remained champions as long as they did. Those two were always, always, always in shape. That’s not common.

Uncommon boxers put themselves through more vigorous workouts and prepare their minds
as well as they prepare their bodies. They study their opponents strengths and weaknesses to
find ways of getting an edge. Floyd Mayweather has fought much stronger fighters than
himself, but he always wins the battle of the mind. Sugar Ray Leonard did the same thing with
his mental game. Finally, uncommon boxers don’t just win. They win effectively and
consistently. They aren’t on one day and off the next. Winning seems to be an ingredient
throughout their lives.

The same is true for musicians.

Music success doesn’t depend solely on talent, though talent does help. It doesn’t depend on
popularity, though that can be a blessing. Music success depends on an artist’s ability to draw
a listener into their world using notes, beats, and words (unless they’re an instrumental
performer). One hit wonders are a form of music success but who really sets out to just create
one great or memorable thing?

I’ve seen it and experienced it firsthand, where outstanding artists craft brilliant music and
draw global fans into their realm through excellent songwriting, performance and sound
quality. But how do you get your music to a level of greatness that beckons a global
audience?

Don’t do what everyone else does.

It’s common to hope that winning the lottery is the answer to achieving the fulfillment of your
dreams so that you never take the steps and the time necessary to invest in reaching your
goals.

It’s common to think you can become an overnight success just because you have a desire
for greatness and a little talent, instead of putting patience, diligence, and hard work into
effect along with gauging your work over time and making improvements/adjustments when
necessary.

It’s common to do just enough to get by instead of giving more than is asked.

It’s common to do one thing well and expect the world to faun over you instead of being
gracious and thankful while seeking refinement and improvement.

It’s common to expect people to just open doors of opportunity for you that others have spent
their lifetimes working hard for and then having a bad attitude when things don’t just go
perfectly the first time.

It’s common to act like a complete diva (Kanye West isn’t the only one in music; most artists
have a degree of this that they showcase more often than not). Many artists demand that
their music be showcased, promoted, and talked about, then act butt-hurt when that
opportunity isn’t given to them.

It seems that everyone wants to shortcut the process of paying your dues, cutting your teeth,
and struggling through the early stages of growth to achieve something truly great that has
lasting value.

Don’t do what everyone is doing.

Don’t be common.

Common people can’t change other’s lives or become inspirational heroes because there’s
little inspiration in the life of someone who just gets by.

Common people don’t recognize the beauty and glory in the transformation process, the kind that takes time, commitment, hard work, and difficulty to reach monumental results.

                                                           Instead, be uncommon.

                                                           Be great.

                                                           Be more.

                                                           Change the world.

Expand Your Success By Making It Your Focus


I did a Youtube search for success and motivation. This is what I found. It was incredibly motivational. This same account has a great series of curated success motivation from various movies. I encourage you to look them up.

Success is what anyone with a dream has on their mind 99% of the time.

For me to say that you only need to focus on success in order to achieve sounds pretty silly then, doesn’t it?

Here’s the thing: most of us think about being successful a lot, and we want to be successful, but what are we doing about it?

I’m speaking from a little bit of experience because fluctuations in different degrees of success have been achieved over the years, but not to the extent of my deepest inner dreams. And I have to hold myself accountable for that, not anyone else.

Image by  Dimitris Kalogeropoylos

Image by Dimitris Kalogeropoylos

Do you know what the core difference is between high achievers, be it in business, music or entertainment, and everyone else? They all share very similar traits. They all want to be the best, they all dream of being great. And they focus on doing what it takes to make that happen. This last part is the difference maker because focusing on doing what it takes to succeed leads to taking action. Actions lead to results.

How often do you achieve a level of success and then sit back and take a break? I’ve made this mistake far too many times and tasted the bitter results. One success is a big win. Celebrate it. Then move forward to achieve another one and another one and another one.

For artists and musicians this can be getting a feature piece in a prominent blog or magazine that gives your work new exposure to a greater audience. Awesome! Celebrate it. Then use that momentum and go after another media feature to keep building. Share your successes with your audience so they can celebrate your win too.

Entrepreneurs and business owners, this could be landing a sale after months of long weeks and countless hours. You’ve put in overtime and then some and  you’ve finally landed the client or account you’ve been working so hard on. That’s fantastic. Celebrate it with your team, staff, and crew. Take yourself out for a night on the town and get a good night’s rest. Then get back at building on the momentum.

What happens when we only celebrate the win but not doing anything to build on it is the momentum fizzles out. The success of the achievement loses its wind and it feels like starting all over again from scratch, like trying to roll a giant stone out of the way with no one to help push. The debilitating feeling of starting all over again keeps us working harder than we should, sacrificing more than we need to for that next win.

Would you like consecutive wins and more success? Would you like to be able to build on your victories over and over again? Good. Let’s talk about what practical steps you can take today to make that happen again and again this week. Let me know what’s obstacle is standing in the way of you winning.

Master One Simple Way To Grow Your Fan Base

Image of young businessman taking pleasure in his favourite music in office

What you imagine your fans to do when they listen to your songs. Air guitar.

As musicians, our primary focus is on making music and finding ways to grow our fan base.

As entrepreneurs, our primary focus is on expanding our business and grow our revenue streams.

Other things we need to do to grow are marketing and promotion. We turn to social media like Facebook and Twitter to make this easier.

How to gain the focus we need to succeed

Like you, I get distracted by the amount of other things to do that take my time, energy, focus, and attention. Do you find yourself distracted, especially online on places like Twitter and Facebook? You’re not alone.

While trying to use these platforms to let your fans know about your next gig or product offering, you find yourself swamped with hundreds of videos, pics, and other posts that take your focus away.

What if you had just one little secret that allowed you to get the word out and grow your fan base that didn’t require a ton of time or money?

And what if I told you not just one, but a few different ways to do this, each producing their own degrees of success for you?

Sounds like a winner, so let’s cut to the chase and get you rolling!

I’m all about simplifying how you do things for growth and success. It’s easier to remember when the process is just one or two steps. And when we achieve results in a timely manner, it makes repeating those easy steps even easier to do because you know it works.

Grow your fan base with this one trick on Twitter

Here’s one way to grow your audience today: Go on Twitter and engage with just one or two of your followers. Pick someone you don’t know well and start a conversation with them. You can just ask a question or say hello.

This serves you because it starts a dialogue. Dialogue shows you how your audience engages with what you do. Make the start of your conversation about them, not about  you. Here’s why:

People are more interested in themselves than anyone else. If you want to get someone’s attention, make the focus on them instead of on you.

Here’s an example from a conversation I started on Twitter:

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 12.52.02 PM

A conversation on Twitter gets the person (fan) more engaged with you as a human and not just a musician they happen to follow. Somewhere in the ongoing chat you can mention a song  you have that you want to share with them and send them a link. Or you can ask them a question about the music they’re listening to. Once a conversation is taking place, you have a more receptive avenue to get your music in front of an engaged participant.

That’s one more engaged fan, and all it took was a focused approach instead of a blanket post sent out to no one in particular.

Grow your fan base with this one growth hacking trick with radio

Here’s one more simple way to grow your fan base and have the potential to impact a greater number of people: listen to an indie radio station online who plays music similar to yours.

Give the thing you want to receive. It’s a principle Ghandi promoted.

Spend a little time enjoying their programming and finding something about the station you really enjoy.

Then go to the station’s Contact or About Us page and find the email for the Music Director/Program Manager. Send them an email saying how much you enjoy their programming today, in particular the part you heard that really stood out. You can ask if they accept music submissions or requests and then sign off.

The purpose of this email is two fold. One, you are identifying a radio station that may be a good fit for airplay for you. Second, you’re making a direct contact with a station manager that is not built around just pitching your music. Station managers get unsolicited emails daily from artists they’ve never heard of, all wanting the same thing. The focus of the emails they receive are usually just on the artist and not on the station programming, or how the artist’s music might be a good fit for their programming.

Remember, a station has an interest in serving their audience great content, not just playing music from someone who sends in a few songs. By taking the approach of being interested in the station’s programming (and praising the people who make that happen), you’re appealing more to the interests of the station manager. It makes them more willing and interested in hearing what you have to say.

When you get a reply in your inbox, you know you’ve achieved something, potentially a response that tells you how to make a radio submission. You are now on a more first-name basis with the station manager and have a little more connection to them than just an outsider promoting their own stuff.

Do something taught in the 1930s that has tremendous impact in the modern age

Both of these tactics are organic ways of building connection. In the social media marketing of modern day, where everyone is their own evangelist, it’s uncommon for people to take a genuine interest in others. But when you do the uncommon thing, you stand out so much more than the herd that is all shouting about their latest thing. It’s a similar principle to what Napoleon Hill taught for decades in his book How To Win Friends and Influence People.

To master this simple method, all you have to do is repeat it. Try this every day for a week, then for a month. Look back and see how much you’ve gained and how connected your audience is.

Be uncommon. It’s simple to not follow the herd. This way, you avoid stepping in all the crap that gets dropped, and you make out with better connections.

Indie Music Submissions music guide diy musician radio handbookGain more insights into how to communicate with people to get them to take action in my  book The DIY Musicians Radio Handbook. While it may seem like just something for musicians and radio, there is a pervasive theme and philosophy throughout the book that anyone can use to gain better attention with real people. Pick up your copy here.

Thomas Edison, The DIY Artist Route, & You

TThomasEdisonhomas Edison was a genius. He was also one of the greatest inventors of the modern era. And he was a self-starter who didn’t let obstacles interfere with his vision or his mission.

That last part  sounds the most similar to you and your path as an artist and musician, doesn’t it? In case you were wondering how the inventor of the electric light bulb and the phonograph has anything to do with being an artist or musician, let’s dive into that.

 

Sticking with your vision is part of the finish and ALL of the journey.

Wait a minute, you’re saying Thomas Edison’s story and my story as an artist has something in common? There’s no way!

Yes way. Actually it’s only true if you are someone who doesn’t buckle to pressure and keeps your nose down in difficult times. How much perseverance do you have?

Whoa, that’s a tough one. Most people think they have a lot of perseverance until tested by the fires of life. I’m not here to scare you away but being an artist in the 21st century isn’t a walk in the park.

There are obstacles and difficulties in your path forward. Everyone has them. What you do in the face of these challenges is where your story and Edison’s come together in a similar way. Edison was ahead of his time in several areas. He achieved some incredible success before turning 30 years old (like your average tech startup CEO). Then he faced some serious trials in his inventions. He went through many years without a successful innovation, so much so that many of his once-supporters started to question whether or not he still had genius inside of him. How he stuck to his endeavors despite ongoing challenges is worth looking into. Get some great insights into the like of Thomas Edison here.

You probably know that Edison didn’t discover the way to foster light in what we call the Light Bulb until he’d failed a few times. I use “few” figuratively, because history tells us he failed many many times (something to the tune of 10,000) at trying to create the incandescent light before he finally figured it out. Had he stopped and given up, neither of us would know his name, or at least not in the same way that we know it now.

What all of this has to do with you is simple: Keep working, keep grinding, keep on keeping on. Along the path of the DIY artist are many lessons to be learned if you’re objective enough to see them.

Edison didn’t start over from scratch every time his attempt at the light bulb failed. Instead, he picked up where his last success ended and tried a different approach. He studied what other people were doing and researched what had been proven successful in his science. He surrounded himself with other people educated in the field and put them to work on one sole endeavor.

Whether or not you can employ people to help you achieve your end result is beside the point. A focused approach to success is what Edison took on, was adamant to stick to, and persevered through until the completion of his endeavor was reached.

Which brings us to this question: How focused are you on achieving success as a DIY Artist?

Let me ask a more focused question than that: What are you targeting right now to grow? How will achieving that target bring you bigger results down the road?

These are the questions to get up to in the morning and wrestle with before you go to bed.

These are the questions Edison and every innovator, entrepreneur, leader, and world changer wrestles with every day.

These are the questions anyone with a real objective and vision takes on.

Your objective may be simple, in certain terms. You want to make music and do so in a way which allows you to live off of the proceeds of your work.

Good. What are you focusing on right now to make that happen?

Need some help figuring out what to focus on, or even more, what steps to take to get you in the direction of success?

Good. Let’s talk.