Self Help – Hmmmmm

People have been exposed to so much self-help crap that they believe they’re entitled to be successful. They think it’s a math problem. If I rehearse this much and have this many Twitter followers, I should be rich and famous. Hogwash. Not only is there luck involved, there’s a killer instinct, a monomania, that those who’ve never made it have never been exposed to.

Kind of like at the corporation…

If you think the best and the brightest make it to the top, you work at home, alone. No, making it within the Fortune 500 is all about the politics, the ass-kissing, the gifts, the sucking up. Oh, you’ve got to have the goods, that’s a given.

In other words, the Harvard degree and the powerful parents will get you in the door, but they won’t move you up the ladder.

It’s even worse in entertainment, because education and family lineage have almost nothing to do with it. Everybody’s beginning from the same starting line. And those who don’t make it always have excuses.


Advertising and Harlem Shake

For years we heard that advertising would make your numbers online. That you could get rid of your real world product, put it on the Internet, and with all the eyeballs attracted, you could charge a fortune for ads and end up rich. Only this didn’t turn out to be true. Just ask the “New York Times,” which went to a porous paywall. Turns out the numbers don’t add up.

Was the Harlem Shake a fake?

Google’s trend charts of the phrase “Harlem Shake” are seismic. Almost no one looked for the words until Feb. 7, then searches surged faster than any term Google ever had, except for “Whitney Houston” after her death. A few weeks later, they fell close to zero.


Cap and Gown……

‘Tis the season for glorious life advice dispensed by cap-and-gown-clad elders to cap-and-gown-clad youngsters, emanating a halo effect of timeless wisdom the rest of us can absorb any day, at any stage of life. On May 20, 1990, Bill Watterson, creator of the beloved Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, took the podium at Kenyon College.



Chuck Close (“Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work.”),

Isabel Allende (“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”),

E. B. White (“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”),

Tchaikovsky (“A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.”)


Being Creative

Everybody who does creative work has figured out how to deal with their own demons to get their work done. There is no evidence that setting up your easel like Van Gogh makes you paint better. Tactics are idiosyncratic. But strategies are universal, and there are a lot of talented folks who are not succeeding the way they want to because their strategies are broken.

The strategy is simple, I think. The strategy is to have a practice, and what it means to have a practice is to regularly and reliably do the work in a habitual way.

There are many ways you can signify to yourself that you are doing your practice. For example, some people wear a white lab coat or a particular pair of glasses, or always work in a specific place – in doing these things, they are professionalizing their art.

Hooked on Phonics

From the diary of a Preschool Teacher:

My five-year old students are learning to read.
Yesterday one of them pointed at a picture in a zoo book and said,”Look at this! It’s a frickin‘ elephant!”
I took a deep breath, then asked…”What did you call it?”
“It’s a frickin‘ elephant! It says so on the picture!”

And so it does…


” A f r i c a n Elephant ”

Hooked on phonics! Ain’t it wonderful?



What music needs is trusted human filters. That’s called “The deejays of yore”.

But there’s no money in that. Technology scales, human beings do not.

And these deejays must realize the music they promote can have no tune-outs. Imagine that! That’s what today’s music recommenders don’t get. Just because you like it, that does not mean I will!

I know, I know, this plethora of information is not limited to music.

Hell, it’s fascinating to see the mainstream press be lost on everything but disasters. We’ve all got our niche news sites focusing on what interests us and when we see the same story a day or a week later in the newspaper, we laugh.

And we’re not going back to the old days. Music is never going to be scarce again. But any solution to our problems has to take into account the new realities:

1. There’s tons of music.
2. It’s all free at everyone’s fingertips.
3. People like to feel like they belong. Even if something is great, if it gains no traction, they want to move on to something that has steam.
4. With everything equally available, people only want the best.
5. Time. They’re not making more of it. To expect people to waste it on substandard stuff is delusional. Videos only go viral if they hook you the very first time through, it’s no different in music.

There is too much music

I’m sick and tired of techies with VC money believing they can solve the music industry’s problems via algorithms and data. It’s a people business. The day human beings are no longer necessary to create memorable tunes is the day I’ll believe these wankers have come up with a reasonable solution to music recommendation.

That’s a problem, what to listen to.

But even more, it’s that there’s SO MUCH MUSIC!

In the dark ages, and that refers to any time in the last century, when you had to buy music to hear it, most people had very little of it. Some, casual users, had essentially none at all. They just listened to the radio. Now everybody with an Internet connection has the history of recorded music at his fingertips. Many are so overloaded that they’ve abandoned new music entirely. It’s kind of like being at an endless 24/7 buffet, with both McDonald’s and every three star Michelin restaurant.

It’s hard to distinguish between the good and the bad and you get so stuffed tasting and testing that your main goal is to escape. (THINK the boffo touring numbers) Everybody who made it in the last century, i.e. the classic rock acts, didn’t have MTV to blow them up, but had to slog it out city by city, station by station.

Yesterday I downloaded one of the most hyped, most prestigious recent albums. It’s interesting that all I looked at were British, where it’s less about flash than substance, but if you check the UK charts, they’re peopled with the same drivel insiders decry in the U.S.

We rally around what’s popular, and the chart hits mean less than ever before, but they’re discussion points, water cooler fodder, and we all want to belong. That’s the yin and yang of today’s culture. You want to know what everybody else does, but you’re also deep into your own niche, and you wonder why the two never cross paths…why the popular isn’t better and the obscure isn’t more popular, but the fluidity in music is akin to the fluidity of wealth in America. Everybody believes it’s easy to go from poor to rich, but statistics tell us otherwise. Furthermore, with the rich taxed at such low rates, they remain rich, like the classic rock artists.

-more- (tomorrow)

Business Plans are just……..

If you want to become an entrepreneur, don’t start with a business plan. You don’t need experience or money either. What you need is an open mind.

We have to leave behind the model that says money and experience are the preconditions to being an entrepreneur. Look at Bill Gates or Michael Dell or Father Godfrey Nzamujo in Benin or Paolo Lugari in Colombia; these are all people who started without money or experience. … Why did they succeed? Because they were able not to take a given for a fact. With the crisis we live in, we’re in need of people who say, I have no experience, and so I can make a great contribution.

First of all, the greatest missing link in an entrepreneur today is that it’s someone who focuses on doing things. My concept is simple; you are not permitted to write a business plan. When you write business plans, you kill the idea. You are only permitted to write one when you have your first invoice paid. Don’t make a risk analysis. If you have no experience or money, then what’s the risk? Zero! The only thing you can do is win. When people write business plans, they don’t come up with the real innovations we need. Real innovations are done by doing. You have an idea? Do it. Don’t talk about it, don’t analyze it. Get your hands dirty; that’s the first rule.


Stay in school. (too)

We’ve got a schism in society. The clued-in and the clueless. And you don’t want to be one of the latter. For all the hogwash about the entitled millennials, you’ll find there’s a huge subset who know the score, that it’s every man for himself, and you’ve got to get yourself every advantage in order to get ahead. If you’re skipping school and not bothering to apply yourself, the joke is on you.

Once upon a time, music was a viable career for the best and the brightest. But no longer. Because the best and the brightest don’t only realize the odds of success are low, but that all the money goes to the business people, and no matter how successful you are, you’re not in the league of the bankers, of the truly rich. Art has power, but in an era where everybody thinks it’s a badge of honor to sell out, money has power. Think about that. By looking to the Fortune 500, by making yourself subservient to the corporation, you’re sacrificing all your power. If you truly want to be an artist, you must go it alone, follow your own muse, put money in a secondary position, play for all the marbles. Instead, we’ve got a bunch of uneducated whiners wondering where to line up for the handouts. But the U.S. government doesn’t subsidize recording artists, that’s Canada, move there if you want free money.

I know, I know, I sound like my parents.

Then again, they had immigrant mothers and fathers, whose biggest challenge was speaking the language. All they knew was they wanted their children to have a better life than their own.

I’m not sure that’s happened. My dad worked ’round the clock. In an era where such effort could make you upper middle class without winning the lottery or playing the market, which my father refused to do.

Stay in school.

If you think Bieber is forever, than you probably think, like he does, the Pope prays in the Sixteenth Chapel. I grew up wanting to be Jay North, Jerry Mathers, to be on TV was my goal. Thank god I never went that route. Most of those people are famous for a minute and then go on to do drugs and rob 7-11’s, they’re prepared for nothing.
And I’m not saying you can’t beat the system doing none of the above.

I’m just saying the odds are damn low.

Some people are Steve Jobs, some people are geniuses.

And although Mark Zuckerberg dropped out, the institution he was attending was Harvard.

And most of the stories about people you see in the mainstream press were placed there by publicity agents. They have no underpinnings.

It’s your goal to gain underpinnings and worldliness. To both practice hard and leave your comfortable environment. You’d be stunned to find out how ignorant you truly are.

And one final tip. Reading is the key to success. If you don’t know how to read, you’re never going to make it in today’s world. Just like baby boomers who don’t know how to type are behind the curve.

It’s all about fundamentals I tell you. And fundamentals, like the multiplication table, are rarely fun.

But there’s always time for fun. Life is long. If you’re not prepared for delayed gratification, you’re going to have a very rough ride.

Help yourself out.

Stop being sour grapes, stop complaining and APPLY YOURSELF!