I Will Not Lose

I think one of the reasons that Jay-Z is one of my favorite rappers is because alot of his music is motivational.  It is based in business and competition.

It’s perfect workout music.  And the gym or jogging is where I listen to music the most.

Some people workout to heavy metal or hard rock because of the aggressive sound.

I love hip-hop because of the aggressive rhymes… the aggressive words.

Jay-Z’s mantra is “I Will Not Lose”.

It’s not “I will win”.

The thought of losing is more urgent and important than the satisfaction of winning.

To me it speaks of perseverance.  Of hanging in there.  Even when the going gets tough not giving up.

Jay-Z didn’t give up when labels didn’t sign him.  He created an independent label with his partners.

When the conventional rules of the music business didn’t fit, he wrote his own rules.

Case in point – when CD sales continued to dwindle because of new media forms, he forged a partnership with Samsung for his album which resulted in him going “platinum” overnight.

He hit the top of the charts, made money and his fans were able to access his music.

In the end he won.

By choosing not to lose.



We Should Talk

I don’t get out much.

Well I do, because I travel monthly, but when I’m at home, I’m at home.  My priority is my family and with two young children I stick to a routine during the week.

I also live in the suburbs.  Toronto is a big city and getting anywhere usually takes a minimum of an hour.

When I see someone at a conference, a show or the odd time when I’m out in the city I look forward to catching up with them.  But it always amazes me when someone says:

“We should talk.”

I get it.  There is something that we could discuss.  Usually its a business opportunity that would be mutually beneficial.

But why not talk about it right now?

I know that the chances of setting up a meeting and then following through and making it happen are rare.

The best opportunity is right now.

Delaying usually leads to the idea being lost in the business of life.

It’s always best to take advantage of the present.


Hands in the air like you just don’t care

I consider myself pretty fortunate.  I do hundreds of performances and speeches and most of them go well.  But there is always ones that don’t go as smooth.  And its hard to tell when they are going to come.  I can wake up on the right side of the bed, arrive and feel great… I can even do a great performance – at least one that is similar to ones that go really well.  But sometimes the crowd just doesn’t respond.  They don’t laugh at the jokes, they don’t applaud at the punchlines, and they don’t put their hands in the air like you just don’t care.  It’s more like – they just don’t care.

I remember that it used to bother me.  If the crowd wasn’t responding, I would react.  My energy level would come down.  I might not try things that I would usually do.  But nowadays I consider myself a veteran.  I’ve been in the position before.  So I think of a few things…

When the audience doesn’t respond as they usually do, it makes me want to go harder.  Be better.  Not in a way that I have to force it, but I feel like – time to really step my game up.  I look at it as an opportunity.

I say to myself – It’s not me, its them.  I’m not criticizing the audience, but I know that I have enough experience to know that my material is good, sometimes people just don’t connect.  Just like a talented comedian might do a show that he has done hundreds of times and people don’t laugh.  That’s not to say you don’t have to self-evaluate.  I do, but I just don’t take it like its the end of the World.

And finally, I realize its not as bad as I think.  People respond in different ways.  Just because they aren’t outwardly showing their appreciation, it doesn’t mean that its not connecting.  After the show, I had students come up and tell me that they enjoyed it.

But it also made me realize, sometimes its selfish to expect an outward showing of appreciation.

I’m trying to connect with high school students.  I’m trying to connect with the ones that have some issues and things going on in their lives.

It’s easy to get response from the youth that are feeling good.

I remind myself that someone like a teacher doesn’t always get that response.  Oftentimes they don’t.  They might be appreciated years later, and they may never hear those words of appreciation.

Bottom line, don’t search outside for validation – look inwards.


Process People

Anyone that has gone on a fitness routine has likely heard the saying “trust the process.”

The scale might not reflect the commitment you have put in.  You are trying to lose weight but the scale doesn’t show it.

You might not be lifting heavier weights either.

But you have to trust the process.  You have to stick with it and eventually you will see the benefits.

Colin Cowherd – one of my favorite radio broadcasters – takes it a step further.  He believes in process people.  For him, it’s a way of life and as a professional athlete – either you get it or you don’t.  Either you put the work in, or you don’t.  After all, a professional athlete can often coast on their natural abilities.

A process person is the quarterback that spends hours watching film in order to gameplan and improve their game.  It’s the person that is training during the off season so that they come to training camp in shape – not working to get in shape in camp.

Process people are about habits.  They have schedules and plans and rely on a daily commitment to achieve their goals.

I’m with Colin on this one.  Process people are nearly always successful.  And if not, they may be disappointed, but they can rest with the satisfaction that they’ve put the work in.


Show Must Go On

The show was going fine… great even.

Then I noticed more people were looking at the screen than at me.

I turned around and saw that the Powerpoint wasn’t working correctly.  Instead of showing just one slide, it was showing the presenter view – a combination of a few different and upcoming slides on the screen.

I tried to fix it.  I switched displays, I closed the presentation and opened again – didn’t work.  Then I closed the program and tried again.  Still didn’t work.

So I turned it off and went on with the show.

At first I tried to gain my footing.  I’d been knocked off my game.

It had been my first show in a couple of months – my longest break of the year with the school break, so coming back to where I was wasn’t as natural as it normally was.  But I didn’t stumble, I kept the show going and finished strong.

During my freestyle part of the show I made a joke.  The topics were banana, money and cookie monster, before I started I said, “Couldn’t have given me something easy? today is already challenging day.”  The teachers laughed.

I apologized once for the technical difficulties but I didn’t come back to it.  Didn’t dwell on it.  The show must go on.

I thought about it after – I know that teachers could empathize.  I’ve seen countless teachers get stuck trying to get their presentations working correctly.  The kids?  They didn’t care.

At least the music still worked.

And really that’s the thing, when something goes wrong people only notice when you notice it.  If you forget a line most people don’t notice.  They don’t really care.

Some people have their head in the clouds.

It doesn’t matter what you say, or how you do, it matters how you make them feel.

You’re Gonna Die

Heard this gem from Gary Vee when he was on the Jim Rome show.

He was was talking about a question he received from a woman during one of his talks.

The question was something like: “Can you offer me motivation? I’m stuck.”

His answer: “You’re Gonna Die.”

Jarring, but it worked.

It’s something that makes me think of motivational speaking guru Tony Robbins.

He talks about how change comes when you change someones state.  One of the most effective ways to do this is to shock them.  A statement like this is shocking.  But its also true.

When you realize that life is going to end, you drop the trivial, insignificant things and start focusing on the important.

You realize that time is short and that you need to hustle.

You realize that it doesn’t matter what others think or say about you, all that stands in the way of you and your goal is YOU.

We won’t be able to do this forever.


Four Magic Words

Over the last year, I’ve become a Gary Vee fan.

I’ve listened to his audio books and saw him speak in person.

But the one thing that stuck out is his recent appearance on a sports talk show.

He was a featured guest on the Jim Rome show.  One of my favorite shows.

It sounds like an odd pairing, Gary isn’t an athlete or involved in sports.

He’s an entrepreneur.

However, one of his lifetime goals is to own the New York Jets football team.

The host, Jim Rome, hadn’t met Gary before, but he had done his homework.  He asked great questions.

One of my favorite parts of the interview is when he said to Gary: “Can you tell the audience about the four words of advice that you gave to the woman in the crowd?”

Without pause, Gary responded:

“You’re going to die.”

Four powerful words.  Not the ones she was expecting.

But the impact of those words is immediate.

It forces one to stop thinking about the little things.

Oftentimes its the little things that prevent us from taking action on our big goals.

Being reminded that we only have one life creates urgency.

It makes us realize that we should spend less time worrying on what we can’t do, and more time focused on what we can.