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.



I was at an industry event and this guy told me that it was time to give up.

“Your never going to make it,” he said.

“Come on, its a young mans game – we’re old now,” he continued.

He was – he is – someone I respect, but I wasn’t that phased.

We’d both been drinking – him a lot more than me, and I knew that part of his argument was fueled by alcohol.

He ended up apologizing the next day.

It’s funny when people tell you what you should be doing.

Funny because many times they do notw know the full story.

In this case, the guy knew me from being at industry events “no one can schmooze better than you” he says.  I’m good at networking.

But he doesn’t know about the 100 shows I do a year.

He doesn’t know that everyday I perform and have kids ask for my autograph.

As an artist gets older many make the transition into management.

I’ve managed artists.  The problem was I wasn’t making any money from him it.

My biggest artist was and is myself.

So I should give up my top money earning stream and the thing I enjoy doing because I won’tmake it”?

In fairness, he had some good points.  And most people do when they are giving advice.

I may not make it to Superstardom – and even may not could be a stretch as the chances get lower the older I get.

But that’s no longer my goal.  I enjoy what I’m doing and I make a living from it.

So it made me dig deeper.

I realized that his advice was also about projecting.

People often project their experiences onto others.

He gave up his career as a musician and thinks that I should as well because he sees similarities in our lives.

It goes back to another common saying in the music industry – critics and music business people are failed musicians.

I don’t agree with that statement, I think its too simplistic and to general. What I do think is that you need to be aware of someones advice.  Need to take it for what it is – advice – not authority.

And most of all you just need to do you.





One of the greatest challenges in achieving success is finding the focus to hone in on a task or goal that needs to be completed.

But focus alone won’t get it done.

You need to focus on the right things.

Stephen Covey does a great job of talking about this in his book 7 Habits Of Highly Successful People.

Some people focus on putting out fires – urgent tasks that may or may not be important down the road.

Some people spend their time getting things done, but they work on tasks that aren’t important, and aren’t urgent.

In order to win the day you have to make sure you are focusing on the right things.

It’s a challenge, because the right things can also be the things that have been put off.

Difficult tasks often get procrastinated.

Instead of checking them off, they stay on the list.

One way I’ve found to get around this is to spend time in the morning planning and scheduling the key tasks for the day.  I write them down to further put it in my mind.

Its amazing how much more productive you can be when you focus on the right things.


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.



Work vs Art


I had the chance to see Seth Godin live recently.  He didn’t disappoint.  I’m a fan of his books and speaking and this is one of his sayings that has stuck with me – especially as an entrepreneur.

Being a full time artist or running your own business sounds like fun – you are your own boss.  That means you are in control.  But it also means trying to complete a never ending to do list.

One thing I’ve implemented over the last few years is more systems to handle work that I have to do repeatedly.  I’m often sent messages asking for the exact same thing so creating a standard email response has saved me an incredible amount of time.  I can still personalize the response, but the bulk of the work is done for me.

As a result, it frees up more time to focus on what I want to – my art… my rapping, my speaking, my writing, my dreaming.

Take this morning.  It’s 8:42 and I’ve already completed five key tasks of the day.  Without these systems, I would be spending the whole morning.  But now its looking like I’ll be able to work on some music all afternoon.

Ah yeah.