Don’t Know Who They Are…

Really enjoyed reading Charlagamagne Tha God’s new book.

One piece of advice he offers is about how to treat everyone with respect – you never know who they are going to be.

It’s not new advice.  It’s part of the old business axiom of treating people with respect as you go up because you never know who you will see on the way down.

The unique part of the music industry is that it’s not the same as the traditional corporate ladder where you work your way up.

Some artists go from unknown to Superstar overnight, or in a relatively short time.

Charlamagne’s story is about how you may have been lucky enough to go to the studio and see Jay-Z work on The Blueprint – one of his classic albums.  You could have been focused on getting access to Jay-Z.  If you’re a rapper, you may want to freestyle or showcase your music in hopes that he would sign you to his label Roccafella.  But if you only focused on Jay-Z you might have missed out on a couple of young producers: Kanye West and Just Blaze – unknown at the time, but now legendary.

As someone that has been in the music business for close to twenty years I know that this advice is true.

It’s part of the reason I always look to lend an ear to an upcoming rapper or listen to a beat that a young kid will send me.  I will connect with music business students and listen to their plans.

I’ve seen these young upstarts turn into buzzing acts and business professionals.

You stay at the top longer when you treat people with respect because others will hold you up.



You don’t have enough bad ideas…

Heard this from Seth Godin while attending the Arch Angel summit last year in Toronto.

For Seth, success isn’t about having good ideas its more about not having enough bad ideas

 “You don’t have enough good ideas…no, you don’t have enough bad ideas.”

It’s counter intuitive.  Why are bad ideas important?

I think it comes down to the left and right parts of the brain.

The right part is creative.  It brainstorms.  It thinks of possibilities of why it will be successful.

The left part analyzes.  It criticizes.  It thinks of why it won’t work.

We need both parts, but in the creative process we need the right part the most.

We need to think of possibilities.  We can hone those possibilities in later.

I’m glad that I learned this lesson in creative writing class in high school.  I learned the power of stream of consciousness writing.  Each morning our teacher would have us write for ten minutes without editing or stopping.  As a rapper, I do this when I freestyle.  My best freestyles aren’t at the beginning of the rap when I’m thinking about things, but rather half way thru the rap.

As a songwriter it means acknowledging that you have to write bad songs to get to the good ones.

As a comedian it means working out bad jokes in order to find the ones that get the big laughs.

In either case its about generating ideas, not evaluating.  That comes later.

But its not just generating ideas.  It’s about acting on them.  Its about accepting that you will make mistakes, and that these missteps are necessary on the way to success.

Sometimes you have to take an “L” to get to a “W”

First Day Of School

Nothing like the first day of school.

It can be nerve-racking and exciting at the same time.

One thing that its not? Boring.

You don’t have be in school to feel the impact of the first day.  It signifies a changing of the seasons.  Summer to Fall.  Or in business, second quarter to third quarter.

Time to begin again.

It’s been years since I went to school so nowadays I live vicariously through my kids experiences.

As I see them get ready in the morning, it makes me think back to going through similar routine, but more than that I recall those same emotions.

One sticks out more than anything – nervous excitement.  Nervous because its something new and you don’t know what to expect.  Excitement for those same reasons.

Even when you aren’t in school, the first day of school can sharpen your focus on your goals.

First, it can be reinvigorating and help you to push thru and finish the year on a high note.

Second, it can get you thinking ahead and to focus on the goals that you want to achieve in the new year.  The next six months take you into the first couple months of the year so you realize its coming soon.

One thing that never changes – always making sure you look fresh on the first day.

Shark Tank Rejection

One of my favorite shows is Shark Tank.

As an entrepreneur, I enjoy seeing fellow entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to self-made business people.

But there is one thing that happens every episode that always gets me.

It happens after a Shark says the words “I’m out.”  It means that they are no longer in the running for investing in the company.

Nearly everytime the person pitching will say “Thank you.”

They may say “Thank you for your time,” or “Thank you for listening,” but it always starts with “Thank you” – not the first thing that comes to mind when you get turned down.

Smiling in front of rejection is tough, but it shows character.

It shows the commitment to your idea and that one persons lack of interest isn’t going to get you down.

It shows an ability to move ahead to the next, as there are other “sharks” and potential investors still available.

Even if none of the sharks commit, saying “thank you” shows that you are bigger than the moment.  There will be millions of people watching the show.  It’s best to use the moment as an advertisement instead of revealing disappointment.

It’s the right move to make every time.



I get at least 100 emails a day.

Oftentimes more.

I’m not alone.  Many people, especially those in business receive over 100 emails a day.

It can be intimidating opening your browser to find hundreds of unread emails.

What makes it worst is when you take a day off.  Suddenly 100 emails turns into 200 which can quickly turn into 300.

When I take a business trip for a couple of days and am away from my computer most of the time it isn’t uncommon for me to amass over 1000 emails.

Are they all important?

Of course not.  Out of that 100 maybe 20 are.  Another 20 are quick responses.  But at least half of them are junk.  Some are blatant junk, others are emails being sent because I am on a list.  Half of the time I don’t know how I got on the list, but I’m on the list.

That’s when I realized a powerful button – unsubscribe.

I began to unsubscribe to these sites that send me emails a few times a week.  They aren’t important, they aren’t urgent.  They are barely relevant.

I like a good deal, but I don’t need Groupon and Buytopia emails in my inbox everyday.  I rarely – if ever – purchase anything from them.

I’ve only started doing this but I’ve already seen a change.  My emails are down each day.  I look forward to hitting the unsubscribe button so that I can lower that amount.

By removing the clutter you can get more done in less time.  And solve (well at least partially) the challenge of staring at the inbox.


Meant To Be…

It was twenty minutes before show time and I was setting up the equipment for my show.

The principal walked into the gym and we started talking.

One of the questions I asked her is something I always ask – how did you hear about the show?

She said: “It’s funny, because I received a copy of your brochure in the mail and then the next day a teacher told me she saw your video on facebook.  It was synergy.  See – you were meant to be here!”

Now I’m a positive guy.  After all, I’m a motivational speaker.  I’ve watched The Secret and I’ve read plenty of “success” literature.  On top of that, I’m a spiritual person.

With that said, it always makes me laugh when someone says it was meant to be.

I don’t know if it was as much of a coincidence as it was effective marketing.

There is so much noise out there that you have to use multiple strategies to target your contacts, customers and clients.

One of my most effective ways to reach schools has been sending an email.  It’s direct.  It’s often the preferred method of communication.

But sometimes an email can be overlooked as junk mail.

So I will also send a brochure.  Which can also be overlooked as junk mail or can be flagged and discarded by the gatekeeper – the secretary.

Another marketing tool I use is video.  I created a short video compilation of my school show and posted it on Facebook asking my friends to share.  In this case, a friend of a friend saw it and asked more about the program and then reached out to their principal.

When two or more forms of marketing connect it can be called “synergy” but I like to think of it as  effective marketing because it reminds the potential customer that they should take action.  It develops the story,  provides more information and makes it more likely that they buy.

Marketing using one method is okay.

But chances are, the more methods you use, the more successful you will be, and the more that you will hear the magic words…

It was meant to be.



I’m Canceling My Gym Membership

I’m heading to the gym today.

I’m going to workout, but I’m also going to cancel my membership.

I’ve been going to this gym for a year.  I chose it because its the closet gym to my house and one of the main barriers/excuses/procrastinations to not working out is when your gym is too far.

I make use of my membership.  I go.  Well, I try to go as much as I can but I’ve been on the road a lot the last few months so I may only go a couple of times a week or ten times a month.

But that’s not the reason why I’m canceling the membership.

I’m doing it because I don’t like the vibe there.

It’s sloppy.

Sure, usually I am greeted with a hello by the person behind the desk as I wave my fob and sign in.

But then I see the management.  Two managers that have not so much as said ‘hi’ let alone give me a head nod and smile.  It’s almost like they purposefully avoid eye contact.

That’s not like how it was supposed to be.  When I joined I met Joe.  He convinced me to sign up, but I didn’t need much convincing.  His energy was infectious.  Why wouldn’t I sign up?

I’d see him when I was working out and we’d talk.  Not a long talk – we were working out, but the quick just-the-right-time-in-between-sets kind of talk that makes you push thru the next set.

The other problem is the promotions.

There are posters on the wall offering deals if you sign up by March 31st.  It’s June 27th as I write this.


Then there are the weights.  There is a sign that says “If you aren’t strong enough to put back your weights after you are done, please ask one of the ladies and they will assist you.”  The first time I read that I laughed a little.  Maybe a little inappropriate, but they were making their point.  But then I didn’t see people put their weights back, more so than any other gym I’d been to.

When the members, and the staff don’t value keeping it organized – how can I?

Maybe the final straw was when I asked the manager about the personal training program.

I was interested in a personal training package that could give me a new workout plan.

He took down my name and number.  Didn’t get a call.

I followed up on it, still never heard from anyone.


So I’m cancelling my membership.

It doesn’t mean I’ll stop working out.

I have a suitable home gym.  I like to jog outdoors.  I like my P90X and T25 videos.

I may have watched them countless times, but one thing never changes:

They always are hype and full of positive energy.

One thing that I’ve learned is that for me – being surrounded by hype people that are full of energy is one of the top qualities of a gym.

Harder to give it your best when you aren’t surrounded by good energy.