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.

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Bring This Guy Back, He’s So…

Bring this guy back he’s so…

Prepared.

I was doing a show at a highschool and arrived at 7:45.  An early time to be preparing to rap, but also an early start time for a highschool that was beginning at 8:15 am.

I couldn’t imagine starting school at 8:15 as a highschool student.  I remember how tired I was in the morning.

Of course my day didn’t begin at 7:45.

I was on the road at 6:45 and punched the address into my phone.  I know it should take between 40-45 minutes but its the morning, its Toronto traffic, and I was set to be on three busy highways.

My alternative was taking the 407 – the toll highway.  My Iphone showed that the 407 wasn’t going to save me time.  It was 40 minutes on both routes.  As I jumped on the first highway, I noticed the traffic was getting heavier.  I could trust the Iphone but what happened if things changed half way through my journey?

So I jumped on the 407 and ensured that I’d arrive on time.  And I did.

I walked into the schools gym and they were setting up.

The main equipment that I need is a projector – which I cleared that the school had prior to my arrival.  I let them know that I use a sound system and if they had one that would be great.  They did – but it was on the same cart as the projector and looked like a small system that was better set for plugging in a video game system for playing in the living room rather than for rapping and speaking in front of a few hundred students.

But the vice principal assured me it should be okay and that the microphone was being plugged into the main system.  I went over to the teacher that was setting it up.  He passed me the lapel mic that I could clip on.  “Do you have a handheld?” I said.  As a rapper, I always prefer having a microphone in my hand.

He said they did, but then remembered that it had been misplaced so he connected a corded mic while he went to look for it.

After seeing that he hadn’t returned for a few minutes, I took out my own mic and replaced it with the corded one.

When the teacher came back in he was about to apologize that he couldn’t find the cordless when he smiled and said “Wow, you are really prepared.”

He didn’t even know about the sound system that was in my trunk, just in case this one wasn’t sufficient.

The vice principal came back.  She asked the teacher if he had his Macbook here because the presenter working in a separate room forgot his power cord.

I reached in my bag and pulled one out.  I had purchased a new computer a couple months ago but still bring my old one out to shows… Just in case.

That’s when the teacher said “You’ve got to bring this guy back.  He’s so prepared.”

I could have just relied on their equipment.  I used to do that.  Most times it would go well.  I’d say 95% of the time it would be fine.  But that’s also when I was just getting started.  Not a rookie, but less than 100 shows under my belt.  Now I have over one thousand.

I remember the times when the corded mic was connected to an antiquated PA system and it was scratchy and nearly inaudible.   I remember how the “sound system” was a small boombox equivalent to what I had in my bedroom as a teenager.  I remember how I didn’t regulate crowd size and now there was six hundred students listening to me and how I could hear that I didn’t have full command due to the sound limitations and felt powerless to do anything about it.

That’s why I also remember how buying the sound system was one of the best purchases I’ve made.

I’ve had it for over eight years now.  There is duck tape around it from dropping a couple times.  Sometimes I have to adjust the cord a little to make sure one of the channels works.  But other than that its fine.  And if it ever becomes a problem I won’t hesitate to buy another.

But back to the show.

Since I was prepared I had time to chill before the show started.  I was talking to the teacher and vice principal and surprised how I was only speaking in front of one grade.  They had two other speakers in to talk to other grades.

It’s something they did every year.

That’s when the bell went off.

My preparation could lead to coming back next year… and maybe the year after that.

I’m prepared for that email.

 

 

 

Cheating Yourself

I used to love it when we were able to mark our own tests.  Doesn’t matter the which teacher, they would always say the same thing “When you cheat, you are only cheating yourself.”

Sure, I thought.  I just wanted to get a good mark.

But as I’ve gotten older I’ve seen the wisdom in that statement.

I keep track of my gym workouts by putting them into a spreadsheet.  I always aim for four workouts a week.  If I do three – that’s decent.  If I do five or six – that’s great.  But four is solid.

I could fudge the numbers.  But whats the point?

When I only have a two workout week, it doesn’t look good but it reminds me that I’ve got to step my game up.

Accountability leads to greater results in the future.

 

Kyle Lowry

KyleLowry

I was watching my Raptors and couldn’t help but think… wow Kyle Lowry has come a long way.

It was only a couple of years ago when they tried to trade him to the Knicks.  The deal was almost done when the Knicks owner stepped in to cancel it.  He was tired of getting ripped off in trades.  I’m sure he regrets it now.

Lowry has blossomed into one of the best point guards in the league.  He’s a main reason why the Raptors – perennially a team in the middle to low-end of the pack in the standings – have become one of the top five teams in the game.

The failed Knicks trade wasn’t the only time he was disrespected.  He had grown into a solid player on the Houston Rockets, but was traded to the Raptors for a future first round draft pick.  Usually a cornerstone of a franchise isn’t discarded so easily unless he has some other issues going on – which wasn’t the case for Lowry, he just hadn’t recognized his full potential.

In 2015, it looked like Lowry had reached his peak.  He became a starting guard on the All Star team.  The Raptors were a surprise contender.  But then he suffered an injury and the team was swept out of the playoffs.

The setback only made him stronger.  He came back stronger in 2016, the media nicknamed his “Skinny Lowry” as he now looked noticeably slimmer.  His game stepped up too.  He returned as an all-star starter proving the previous year was no fluke.

Now the Raptors are off to a great start to the season and with it being a contract year I think Lowry is about to get even better.

 

Attitude is Everything

I’m usually early to everything so you can imagine how I felt when I missed a flight.

I had taken the 407 – the toll highway – just to ensure that I was at the airport in time.  I wasn’t even running behind, I just wanted to take what is normally a stress free drive.   I normally would have arrived at least an hour ahead.   But as soon as I got on the highway I knew there was a problem – an accident.  I was confused.  I just listened to a traffic report – it means the accident must just have happened.

Fortunately the traffic wasn’t at a stand still, it was moving – though very slowly… but I still had hope.  And, I had left early.  I should be fine I was telling myself.

When I made it to the check-in counter they sent me to the express lane.  I thought I was good.  But the express lane was taking forever even though there was only one person in front of me!

Then I received the news: “We can’t put you on this flight,”  followed by, “The next flight is five hours later and it will cost you $150.”

I made a last ditch effort to try and make my flight – I still had 35 minutes before take off – but because I had luggage, she wouldn’t let me do it.

I took out the credit card and paid the fee.

As I did so, I was reminded of a story I’d heard from a man who inspired me.

It comes from Keith Harrell – author of Attitude is Everything.  Harrell was an author and a motivational speaker, and he is someone I studied when I got into the speaking business.

One time his flight was delayed and he was in line to get another flight.  As he waited he could hear people in a similar position venting their frustrations to the attendants at the counter.  One person was yelling, screaming, and cursing at the attendant.  She was calm in her response, repeating “I’m sorry sir, that’s the best we can do.”

When it was Harrell’s turn, he was informed that the next fllight was several hours away.

“Super fantastic!” He replied.  The attendant was confused.  “I said, I’m sorry sir, but the next flight won’t be for several hours.”

“Super fantastic!” – which is Harrell’s trademark saying.

He knew he didn’t have a choice, so he decided to be positive.

His message – We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control our attitude and how we respond…

The bright side was that I was going to make it my destination – just a little later than planned.

Truth is, I don’t mind spending time at an airport.  I have a laptop and I have an internet connection.  I’m able to send emails, write, blog, plan, etc.

The other thing I said to myself is… “I wonder who I might run into?”

You realize how small of a world it is when you are at an airport.

Sometimes I will see someone I know – usually someone I haven’t seen in a long time… I remember as a teenager running into my childhood neighbour.   Nowadays I often run into musicians that are on flights heading to a show.

An hour into my delay I ran into an old friend.  Hadn’t seen her for ten years.

I checked into an airport lounge – one of the best things I’ve discovered about airports – so I got a chance to enjoy a buffet, complete with an endless supply of coffee and juice, while typing this on the comfort of a desk, as opposed to the usual a cramped airport seat.

Sure I could be upset that I missed my flight, but I’m grateful it happened on a day such as today where I didn’t have any appointments that I would have to reschedule.  It is just a slight inconvenience.

A few months ago I did a Google search on Keith Harrell to see what he had been up to.  I was saddened to see that he had passed away.  He was young – only 54.  He died of cancer.

While Keith is no longer here, his message lives on…

Attitude is Everything.

 

 

 

The Price of Discipline

“Price of discipline is always more than the pain of regret”

When I felt the raindrops it could have been so easy to write it off as a good reason to give up on my morning jog.  But the jog wasn’t the hardest part.  The harder part was getting out of bed before 7 am when there wasn’t an urgency to do so.

But thats discipline.

I had a busy day.  I knew that if I didn’t jog in the morning then I wasn’t likely to do it.

The funny thing about discipline is that when you commit to one task it can translate into other areas.

For me, doing that morning jog meant that I already conquered a goal.

I was on the right track.

“The Pain Of Regret”

Regret happens when you choose to forego discipline.  One excuse turns into a two and the dominoes are set in motion.

What are you putting off in your life?

Seems easy to let it slip for a few days but that can turn into months and then years.
Sometimes you’ve got to get back on track.  Maybe its just a small action, but the results will grow over time.  And when you build up a streak, you don’t want to break it so you keep going.

Stay Driven.

Miami

Chilling in the air on the way to Miami.

Got to love Internet on the plane.

Also happens to be my birthday.

So I’m extra hype.

It will be my first time in Miami in five years.  Don’t know if that one fully counts though.  I was only there for one day.  We had an Art of Fresh show in New York one night and then flew to Miami to perform at Barry University.  Back on a plane home the next day.  My son was just a few weeks old so wasn’t getting away with staying longer than I needed to.

Miami is a place that has always been a part of the dream…

In 2003, I came down with several of my friends to check out the Source Awards.

As soon as we landed, my boy had us on scooters and we were riding through the city.  Seemed like everyone had a scooter.  A few nights later we were in a cab and I see Method Man on one beside us at the intersection.

Back then I had a stack of CD’s and took them along the beach to sell.  Made out pretty good too.

I bumped into DMC and I remember him being cool – just in the sense that he gave us the time of day and when he took the CD he looked like he genuinely meant it when he said he was going to listen to it.

I had a pocket recorder – no Iphone back then – and I got drops from Trina and Dead Prez and Wyclef.  It was a great trip.

The awards were on a Monday and we would be flying back on Tuesday morning.

I was scheduled for work on Tuesday afternoon.  Teaching/tutoring kids in Scarborough.

But on Monday I picked up my phone and placed the call to my boss.  Told him the news.  I could come in tomorrow if he needed me, but I was quitting my job.

He wasn’t surprised.  He was more interested in finding out what was happening in Miami that made me go through with it.

I loved how I had people rooting for me back then… and how they still do.

I felt a weight off my chest after I hung up.  Been on that path ever since.

Miami is also a memory for an Art of Fresh show we did in 2010.  We played at the Clevelender one of the famous hotels in the city.  It felt good to have the crew down there.  Slaks, Nana, G, Wil.    I even wrote about it in my book when talking about surrounding yourself with good people.

And now I’m back to go check out a conference.  Revolt  Put on by Diddy and company.

A couple friends on the plane with me…

A couple of friends picking me up when I touchdown…

Still living the dream.

Wonder what memories will be created this weekend…