Gone

I was working on a report when all of a sudden I the beachball wouldn’t stop spinning.

Mac owners know what I’m talking about.  The beachball means that the computer is thinking.  Mac owners love to brag about how much better their system is than a PC but there are still problems on a Mac – like the ones I experienced today when writing this business report.  I hoped it would snap out of it.  I hadn’t saved the document.  But after waiting a couple of minutes I came to the realization it wasn’t going to stop.  I had to shut the program down.  I was hoping it would start back up with the recovered file.  It did that for another file I had open.  But no.  Nothing.

I would have to start from scratch.

At first I was really frustrated.  Almost defeated.  I’d spent so long and now this!

But then I thought to myself – I’d really only spent 10 minutes.  I had some of the info from an email that I could import.  For me to start the report again would probably only mean losing five to ten minutes of time.

Then I also had a more powerful thought… I remembered how much this used to happen.

People who grew up using computers in the 80’s and 90’s know what I’m talking about.

Back then this would happen all the time.  Except it would be higher stakes.  You could work on a school project, a ten page paper, or major assignment and when you went to load it up the file wouldn’t work.  For some reason the floppy disk didn’t want to load.

This would happen in music too.  I would work on a song for a couple of hours and then the program would crash.

Or a whole hard drive would crash and you would lose months of info.

Now there is the cloud.  Its automatically saved.  Its so good that even if you delete something it keeps a copy.

I run multiple backups.  I have two cloud accounts, but then I also have a time capsule which automatically backs up my files.

Ain’t technology great.

 

 

 

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Defense to Offense

In one of my old raps I say that D.O. stands for “Defense to Offense.”

This was before I came up with Defy the Odds standing for D.O.

It started from video games.  It’s what I would say when I’d steal the ball and go in for a dunk while playing NBA Live back in the day on Playstation.  A good defense can lead to scoring opportunities – not only in a basketball video game but life as well.

The problem is a lot of people only play defense.

They are cautious, on the fence, and even worse, they guard what they have because they are scared that someone will take it.

Gary Vee talks about this a lot on his daily podcasts.  They are all defense, I’m all offense he often says.

The point is – you need to be on the attack, you need to be trying, doing, and implementing.

When you are on offense you aren’t always going to score.  You will get blocked.  You will miss the shot.  You will fail.

But you have to keep shooting.

It reminds me of how Mike D’Antoni has changed the NBA.  In the late 90’s basketball scores were 80-68 – lowest they’d ever been.  Then he was hired as a coach and instructed his players to shoot every chance they had.  Don’t let the shot clock get to the last few seconds, put the shot up.  Players like Steve Nash thrived as he became a two time MVP.  Their team, the Phoenix Suns started putting up high scores every night.

But it won’t work in the playoffs naysayers said.

While the Suns never won a championship, the Warriors have won two of the last three and have continued to revolutionize basketball with their approach.

Basketball scoring has gone up across the league as teams look to duplicate the success the Warriors have had.

Fan interest has gone up as well.  People want to see offense.

Music wise its the same thing.  Some artists play defense and want to protect their music.

Don’t let it leak, I want it to roll it out when everything is in place.

Don’t let it leak, its not polished.

I want to release my album and that’s it I don’t want to do more releases.

That was the old way.  Work on an album for years, spend big bucks to get it mixed and mastered and push it for a few years.

Look at the new way.

I recently read about how an unexpected event led to Lil Uzi Vert’s popularity.

He was stage diving at a show.  He lost his phone.  It contained his new album.

If you played defense you’d think – how do I erase the phone or how do I pay the person off so that the music doesn’t leak.  You’d be in a panic.  The label would be especially worried.

But if you are on offense? You are proactive.  Lets get ahead of it.  Lets just put it out.  Lil Uzi Vert released the music on his Soundcloud.  It was rough.  It was unfinished.  But it connected.

XO Tour Life became one of the biggest songs of the year.

Offense.

Don’t worry about the L’s.  Keep attacking.

 

Not So Fast

It’s always great to get a quick response.  At least that’s how I usually think of it.

When you send someone a message and hear back right away, it is great.  Your question has been answered.  You feel important that the person took the time to drop everything and respond right away.

But then I started thinking – maybe it’s not so great.   When you are responding to someone instantly, you were switching from what you are currently focused on.  It can break up your concentration.

I think that happens a lot nowadays in this phone connected culture.

When I’m in the studio working on music I don’t want to drop my concentration to respond to a non urgent text.

When I’m at the gym, I don’t want to take a longer time in between sets to send an email response.

When I’m working on business accounting, I do want to take a break to respond to an email but I know that I shouldn’t.

By the time that I jump back in to the task – whether the studio, the gym, or the accounting, I have to get back into the groove.  It’s broken my concentration.

I can imagine it is like this for others as well.

I try to take a break from email on Sundays.  Its rare that I will respond to messages.  I want to spend time with the fam, or watch football, or hit the gym, and I come back refreshed on Monday morning.

Maybe your sweet spot is responding to messages at 1 am.  I think its important to find a time that works best, but I also think its about finding the right time.

Sometimes its good not being so fast.

 

Sweat

This one came out over a decade ago but I still think of it from time to time.  I can picture myself in my parents basement watching it on Muchvibe.  Wishing the phone would ring a little more.

I was good, why isn’t it ringing more?

So when Jully sung “Even when the phone don’t ring” it spoke to me.

But then she sings:

And even when it ain’t going on
You gotta still keep being strong…

And finally the hook:

“By the sweat of your brow…”

In other words, focus on the process.  Focus on the hard work and on what you can control.

Valuable lessons for an entrepreneur.

We want the calls and emails to come in.  We want the sales.  But how do you get them?

Not by complaining.  Not by saying “whoa is me” but rather, by putting our heads down and getting down to work.

Reminds me of something I heard Jerry Seinfeld say when he was feeling down on himself.  He was in his apartment and having trouble coming up with jokes so he went for a walk.  He saw construction workers working as he walked by.  He stopped feeling sorry for himself.  Not like they needed inspiration.  They were were just working.

He started approaching comedy with the same blue collar lunch pail mentality.

Just like working out, you aren’t working hard if you aren’t working up a sweat.

 

Laptop Speakers

I was in the Nike store the other day and overheard someone saying how they were buying a full set of gear and new shoes because they were going to start jogging.

Jogging is one of the most inexpensive forms of exercise.  You just need a pair of shoes.  Most people already have some kind of shorts or jogging pants.  It certainly isn’t like playing goalie in hockey where you have to buy skates, pads, helmet and more.

But people, such as this guy in the Nike store will spend a few hundred bucks on jogging gear even though he isn’t a jogger.

I see this all the time in the music business.

People will spend thousands of dollars on studio equipment.  If you have the money – great, it will certainly make the music sound better if you know what you are doing with it.  Because if you don’t know how to use or maximize the use of the equipment it may not make that significant of a change.

But the biggest tragedy comes when you don’t start something because you don’t have the equipment.

The jogger doesn’t start running because he doesn’t have $200 Nikes.

The musician doesn’t start making music because he doesn’t have the right microphone or mixing software.

Musicians pride themselves on getting the best mix they can get.

We wish that consumers would listen to music in ideal settings.  With great speakers or monitors, with top of the line headphones, and course without distractions.

But this rarely happens.

Most people listen to music on there laptop speakers.

Or their phone speaker.

That’s why when I’m listening to a mix of a song that a producer has sent me I won’t only listen to it on my studio monitors I’ll play it on my laptop speakers.  If it doesn’t sound right there, then I know it needs more work.

In the early 2000’s I remember thinking I needed 20,000 to record an album.  However, I had recorded an album for nothing in 1999.  Before home computer studios became trendy I recorded an album on a cheap mic on a old laptop using Cool Edit Pro.

My friends couldn’t tell the difference.

Equipment is meant to enhance, it isn’t meant to do the job.

Sometimes when we think we need better equipment its just an excuse.

It’s about the art, not the tools.

 

The Big Rocks

Somethings you just remember.

I remember in grade 12 when I took an entrepreneurship class and the teacher played a video of a talk from Stephen Covey.  It was so long ago that the video was played on a VHS tape on a 26 inchish screen on a cart that was dragged class to class – no fancy smart boards like my kids have today.  More importantly, I remember the lesson that Covey was illustrating when he talked about how you need to put first things first.

It’s a powerful lesson about procrastination and priorities.

In the demonstration, an audience member has to put rocks into a big jar and then fill it with sand.  The person puts them in randomly and then adds the sand but there is a problem – they have trouble filling it up.  There is still big rocks that didn’t make it into the jar.

Then Covey asks another audience member to fill up the jar, but this time he encourages them to put the biggest rocks in first.  This time all the rocks go in.  The sand fits in smoothly around the rocks.

The message: start with the biggest tasks and the rest will take care of itself.

It’s a lesson that I’ve applied to business.

When I start my day I look to take on the biggest, most important task.  Not just the small urgent one.

I find that when I do the most important task I create momentum that can take me through the workday.

But when I settle for the small inconsequential tasks I may feel good about crossing a few things off my to-do list, but I know that I’m not doing the things I need to be doing.

It’s all about the big rocks.

Can I ask you a question?

If there is anything that makes me cringe more than the saying “We should talk” it is “Can I ask you a question?”

Go ahead ask it.

Don’t ask me for permission.  You are already asking a question by saying that you want to ask a question.

It’s an unnecessary step.  “Sure, shoot” is my response.  Now I have to wait until you ask that question.

Now a conversation that could have been a 1 minute interaction gets spread out over the course of a couple of days – for nothing.

Of course there are times where it is perfectly good and normal to ask a question.

These times are when someone provides some context.  More background.  Maybe explaining what is going on in their situation, or life, or business.  That adds content and value.  Of course that means its more work, but then it makes the other person want to give a response longer than one line.

But when your message is just asking if you should a question…

Then maybe you shouldn’t ask it at all.