Engagement

People are always caught up in numbers.  How many fans, followers, likes.

These are important stats, but I don’t think they are as important as one thing:

Engagement.

Are you people engaging with your music and what you post?

Are they commenting and sharing?

Sure 50,000 views for a video looks good.  You may glance at the stat and think Wow, this person is doing well, but stick around longer and notice that they only have a few comments and you start to wonder.

Likes and views can be purchased.

I’m not even saying that this is a necessarily a bad thing.

It’s human nature for us to look at stats and make a correlation.

But in this digital world where we can be manipulated by targeted ads and fake views, there is one thing that remains authentic – real world connections.  You can’t fake that funk.

Effective social media is a conversation.

When posting, we need to ask ourselves – is this engaging?  How can I make it engaging.

How do you do this?

Sometimes its by asking questions.

I posted a picture on Instagram of a pot of chili I was making.

I could have just posted the image and hashtagged #chili , instead I wrote:

“Who likes chili?”  By asking this question it prompted people to take a second to engage.

Getting a response to what you post is great, but that doesn’t mean that it was successful and that your job was done.

Make it a conversation by responding to your comments.

That’s the way to convert a passive follower into a dedicated fan.

 

 

 

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Jordan Played For The Wizards

Sometimes I have trouble believing it even though I know it happened –  Michael Jordan played for the Wizards.

He emerged out of retirement for the second time and instead of playing with the Bulls – the team he built his legacy with – he laced up for the Washington professional basketball team formally known as the Bullets.  A team that didn’t have a storied history, a team that wasn’t poised to win a championship, a team whose building block was Kwame Brown – drafted straight out of high school that would later turn out to be a bust.

Of course there was a reason.  He was president of basketball operations and minority owner.  He wanted to make money off of his investment.  But still… the Wizards?

Michael will always be known for the last second shot.  I can hear the Jay-Z lyric from N*ggas in Paris as I write this.

Jordan, Game Six.

The game clinching shot over a frustrated Byron Russell.  The perfect way to go out.  On top.  A  champion.

But that isn’t how the story ended.

It ended like it does for 99% of athletes – his skills eroded while playing on a poor team looking a shadow of his former dominant self.

Happened to Willie Mays.  Happened to Muhammad Ali.  Most recently it happened to Peyton Manning.  While he went out on a top with a championship, it was painful to watch him struggle throughout the season.

Enjoy your time in the game – it isn’t going to last.

We all want to go out on our own terms, but even the greatest don’t always get that chance.

 

 

Coolness of an entrepreneur

Gary Vee just came out with a shoe.  Used to be shoes were only for athlete’s.  It was that way through the 80’s and 90’s.  Then the 2000’s struck and Jay-Z came out with a shoe.  50 cent did the same.  They were hits, but the trend didn’t continue.  Recently Drake has helped collaborate on Air Jordan shoes.

But Gary Vee has changed the game.  He recently released a new shoe with K Swiss.  He sees it as a move that has a huge upside and limited downside.  If the shoe is successful he is the first entrepreneur to have a signature shoe.  If he fails, he will have a good story to tell his grand children and it will be something that his friends will tease him for – which he is cool with.

That’s something I like about Gary Vee – something I think that we all envy in successful people – the ability to laugh at yourself.  If you fail, don’t dwell on it, but laugh at yourself.

How can Gary Vee get a signature shoe?

Nowadays being an entrepreneur is a cool thing.

This is only a recent phenomenon.  Shows like Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank and the rise of apps that have disrupted huge corporations such as Uber and Airbnb have changed the game.  Entrepreneurship is now a seen as something desirable and an option for high school and college kids.

I’m fortunate that they had an entrepreneurship class in highschool.  I took it in grade 12.  Its where I discovered people like Stephen Covey and his 7 habits of highly successful people.  I devoured success literature.  I started looking at music as a business.  It’s a big reason why I was able to carve out a path to success.

Entrepreneurship may look cool, but entrepreneurs know its about hard work.  Long hours.  Demanding work.  I think one of the hardest things is self discipline.  Being your own boss also means you don’t have someone telling you what to do.  You need to motivate yourself.

It’s easy when the product is selling and you are on regular hours like others.

It’s a lot more challenging when boring business work comes up when your partner wants you to go on a date, or be with the kids, or your friends invite you out to a party.

Cool or not, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

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.

 

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.

 

One Hour Job

I finished my show at the school and the teacher said to me, “Where are you headed to this afternoon?”

I replied that it was the only show I had today.

He responded, “Must be nice, all done work for the day!”

Well, not really.  I planned on stopping by the music store to pick up a new mic cable, then respond to a few booking requests, update my blog, work on a new website, write a song, do some accounting work, and the list goes on.

I was just getting started.

Hearing this is nothing new.  I heard it often from the time I was a child.  Not about me, but about my dad.

He was a minister.  As a minister, people assumed he only worked one hour a week.

After all, church was an hour.

But growing up my dad was always working.  There was preparation for the sermon, there was hospital visits, or funerals, or meetings, the list went on.  I knew there was a lot more to it.

I’m a big fan of Tim Ferris.  I’ve read all of his books and listen to his podcast.  He’s been successful at branding his “4 Hour” concept.  The first book was the 4 hour workweek which talked about how importance of outsourcing and that you could be successful working just 4 hours a week.  He went on to write the 4 Hour body and chef on the same concept – minimal time to achieve maximum results.

I agree with Tim.  I think that when you implement systems or improve your learning techniques you can improve efficiency.

But I also know that to be successful you have to put the work in.  There is no way around it.

People often look at the finished product, but don’t realize the hard work.

Leadership is about what you do when no one is watching.

 

The Most Powerful Button On The Internet

The most powerful button on the internet is… the share button.

It’s the ultimate co-sign.

Attention is a valuable commodity in this attention deficit culture.

The share button means that someone has taken the time to check out what you are posting.

They have listened to your song.  They have watched your video.  They didn’t just scroll past it.  They didn’t just watch or listen for a second or two and maybe most importantly – they didn’t respond passively.

They want other people to check it out.

When someone shares your post they are saying that it is worth being on their precious timeline.

For you, it means exposure.  It means more eyeballs – attention.

Some people try to “hack” the share button.  They tag you in their posts so that it will show up on your wall.  That can work – I guess.  But it isn’t the same thing.

If it’s a friend or someone that you are a fan of, then maybe you don’t mind that they tagged you.

But most of the time it is annoying.

Not only have they occupied your precious territory without asking for permission, but now you get annoying notifications when people comment on the post.

At first you think people are responding to something you posted.  Nope.  Its about someone else.

Some people ask you to share.  They recognize the value from your organic share.

That’s fair game, but its not as authentic as the genuine share.

Get enough of those, and that is how you go viral.