I just started a new job in a hotel kitchen. It's fine, I guess, but part of what comes with being the "new guy" (despite possessing nearly 10 years of working in kitchens to supplement my gigging/teaching income--a fact, it seems, of which the management is completely unaware although they had a copy of my resume *ugh*) is that I am prescribed the most menial and brainless tasks one can possibly imagine.
About a week ago, I found myself bored as hell, plucking 10 quarts of basil and parsley leaves (approximately 3 hours of "work"), and in my mind I began to hear bebop. This was weird to me; I hadn't had such musical ideations in quite some time. For a few days, the menial tasks persisted and the bebop grew louder and louder and more present in my mind's ear. I decided it was time to play the saxophone again.
I have a good friend in the city who was willing to let me borrow her horn, and since I have been busking in the subway on a regular basis. I have decided that, for the most part, my repertoire shall be dictated by passers-by. I currently have two songs in my solo saxophone repertoire: "Zombie" by the Cranberries and "Careless Whisper" by George Michael. "My Heart Will Go On" is currently in the bullpen. This pays so I'm going to keep doing it. My face is mostly numb most of the time and I can't play for but an hour or so without being entirely fatigued, but I'm sticking with it, and in time I imagine it will be incorporated into The Pizza Bats' music and may serve as some component of other people's projects as well.
So how does this relate to this oddly titled book, OPM: Other People's Money? In OPM: Other People's Money, Lechter talks about other people's money, but also talks about something called OPR, and it's changing the way I look at possibility. OPR stands for Other People's Resources:
"With OPR, you build your business by using resources paid for by other people--indirectly using the OPM that went to develop or acquire the resource."
The flipside of this is that other people's money is essentially a tool, and that if an individual trusts you to give it back having put it to good use and looking better than it was when it was lent to you, then you can borrow capital for whatever your idea is. Like, hey I need to dig a hole can I borrow your shovel? Sure. Just clean it before you give it back to me. K. Done.
Saxophone is here. Catch me at the Morgan L stop.
K love you bye,
Why Your Idea is a Good One, and Knowing Where to Start: OPM: Other People's Money by Michael Lechter
We often think "business" and our minds travel to selling things: selling a product (cars), selling a service (working on cars), or selling content (books, online courses). Since businesses do, indeed, need some sort of trade by nature, these things are one aspect of business. However, I've learned two surprising things in the year-or-so that I've been researching what I'll call this overarching umbrella of entrepreneurship. One, that business is mostly about people: the relationships you have with them, whether they are strangers or strategists, and two, that just as important as the product is the idea and the inner strength you've built to act upon it.
In Michael A. Lechter's book OPM: Other People's Money, he writes that "We all have ideas. They become valuable assets when we protect them, define them, and leverage them. Some of the very best ideas, I'd venture, never see the light of day-- let alone the true potential for million-dollar returns-- because the individual who though of them didn't know where to begin in terms of capitalizing upon them."
An idea doesn't have to be a business idea. An idea is often a song or a way to express yourself. When we learn how to capitalize on our expression, our own unique expression, then we can survive doing what we want to do with our time. I know things change when we start to bring observers into the process, but things also bloom, and surprises come our way in the form of people and opportunities.
The idea itself is enough because it's unique and it couldn't have come from anyone else. This is why we need to act on good ideas because once we take action, we have a starting point which we can optimize and leverage.
I want to eliminate the stereotype that artists can't make a living making art. It's not true. The question is just how?
When we think about people who totally rule at their craft, I think there is a general belief that they got there by discipline. In billionaire Gary Keller(of Keller Williams Realty)'s book, The ONE Thing, Keller demystifies the illusion of discipline. It's actually quite simple. Discipline is only necessary for a temporary period of time (averaging 66 days). After that period, the discipline that a person is trying to establish turns into a HABIT, and
"Once a new behavior becomes a habit, it takes less discipline to maintain."
The other really revealing thing I got from today's reading was that habits must be built individually. Keller says, "success is sequential, not simultaneous". This hit me really deeply. I've recently attempted to establish a bunch of habits (stuff I really wanna do all the time: songwriting, blogging, reading from three different books, practicing guitar, learning to type faster, studying Spanish, calling old friends), but the results were not what I wanted. I basically just ended up with a bunch of sort-of habits--though I somehow managed to work studying Spanish into my daily life.
So I'm going to try this. One habit. Once a day. Everyday for 66 days. I'll try to resist the urge to add 2 or whatever, and I'll get back with y'all about what's working and what's not.
That's all for now. Love you lots,
Passive aggression gets a bad wrap. And it should. No one likes an underhanded comment intending to toss blame, "I would have taken out the trash if so and so hadn't blocked the doorway with their stupid stack of amazon boxes," or something.
When we're struggling with people disrespecting our methods it's hard to know how to address the issue without a) hurting someone's feelings by coming on too strong or b) approaching the situation too lightly and having our requests invalidated. Dale Carnegie has an answer for scenarios like this: if you feel you need to criticize, here's how to "not be hated for it... call attention to people's mistakes indirectly."
This could mean that you set an example of how you would like something to be done, and then congratulate the person on doing it so well. Try using the word "and" in stead of "but." (It was very gracious of you to take out the garbage last week, and it has inspired me to be even better with taking out the recycling.) We can call attention to details which need improvement without casting blame or doubt on anyone.
We all live in our own little worlds. We can make daily life steady like a river, we just need to help each other to go with the flow in stead of work against the current.
Today's reading from Dr. David Buss’s book, Evolutionary Psychology, is on the topic of dudes who show off. Where does this come from? Buss explains why this (sometimes super obnoxious to other, perhaps less secure bros) phenomenon may have come to be, and how “the show-off hypothesis” has concrete supporting evidence from nomadic hunter/gatherers still in existence today.
An anthropologist named Kristen Hawkes proposed this hypothesis in 1991 and:
“[Hawkes] suggests that women would prefer to have neighbors who are show-offs--men who go for the rare but valuable bonanza of meat--because they benefit by gaining a portion of it.”
The showoff may risk losing big, but it has been found in hunting/gathering cultures around the world (the Ache of Paraguay, the Hazda of the East African savanna, the !Kung of Botswana and Namibia, the Lamalera of the Indonesian island of Lembata, and the Meriam of Australia) that these guys aren't all that bad; that in general they share the abundance that they rake in in abnormally high proportions.
Because they take major risks, showoffs often fail. But, because they share what they get when they win big (the takedown of a huge animal for food, for example), they are valued within the society, become the subject of legend (bro, remember that one time homeboy killed that bison), and are favored sexually by females. “My girlfriend cheated on me with that dude, but he does always take everybody out to TGI Friday’s so I’m like kinda okay with it.”
So uh... yeah,
We need each other to reach any sort of success. It all just keeps coming back to this with me lately. There are so many of us on this planet, and so often we avoid strangers. Especially if they seem different from us.
"It is well to respect the leader. Learn from him. Observe him. Study him. But don't worship him. Believe you can surpass. Believe you can go beyond. Those who harbor the second-best attitude are invariably second-best doers." (The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Shwartz, Ph.D.)
But I learned to worship people from an early age. I learned to idolize others through the boy bands (Bryan Litrell from Backstreet Boys) or by watching movies (Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones: wanted to be him). Mostly I idolized love stories: someone thinking highly enough of you to give up everything to be with you. That was how I saw it. Luckily I've reconstructed my idea of healthy relationships a little bit, although I still consider myself a romantic.
But now where am I? I idolize stars like Thom Yorke and Bob Dylan. They're put on display to entertain. Really they are just folks who specialized in something and they must have picked something they really enjoyed because both of them have been doing it for decades now. And now they're leaders in their tribes. They lead people and people trust them.
So with studying success, I start to learn what sorts of questions I can ask to get to where they are. What sorts of trials did they go through? Did they ever want to give up? Did they know they wanted to be successful or did they just believe they would?
I'll take any leader though. Show me someone who has a tribe of people supporting them and working for them, and I'll pick his or her brain. Are there ever times in your life when you consider reaching out to someone who you envision as important, but you convince yourself it's not worth the trouble? What would happen if you did it?
This is my right hand. On my wrist, about a year ago, I had this tattoo done. It's a rest (a musical notation symbol for silence), and from my perspective it's a whole rest (four beats of silence), but from someone else's person's perspective--unless my hand is raised--it's a half rest (two beats of silence). It serves as a reminder to myself that 1) everybody talks too much, but! 2) I should talk less and listen more. Every time I pull out Carnegie's book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, it reinforces this ideal.
"Most people trying to win others to their way of thinking do too much talking themselves. Let the other people talk themselves out."
I'm bad at this. That's why I got the tattoo (that, and I noodle way too much). But, according to Carnegie, it's the only way to connect. We've got to be comfortable with the discomfort of not saying what we think when someone else is speaking or else we will never be able to understand them. And if we can't understand them, they will never in a million years bother trying to understand us.
It sucks because, for the most part, everybody has brilliant ideas that they want to share. The problem is that listening to somebody else's [what could be perceived as lame or "wrong" or whatever] perspective puts our egos in this weird position of feeling denied. The ego cries out! But, if we are sensitive and remind ourselves that our ego is generally wrong, we can get that inner voice to calm down, start listening, learn something, and gain some influence in the process.
I'm still trying. I over-speak a lot, and it's kind of annoying I know, but with books like this one I'm reminded that it's usually not necessary, and you'll gain a lot more than you'll ever realize just by listening.
Now that The Pizza Bats have overcome certain hurdles that come with moving to NYC with no money and no housing and no jobs, I'm getting more out of my research and out of hearing other people's stories. I'm able to relate better to people who have overcome uncertainty in the name of doing what they want to with their lives.
Randy Poe, the current President at Leiber Stoller Songs Inc. and the author of Stalking the Red Headed Stranger, has a similar story to The Pizza Bats'. When he moved to New York, he only had enough to pay his friend one month of rent, so he took the first job which came along. He handed out fliers to tourists in high traffic areas. One day he got called in to talk to management, where they told him they'd been watching him, and that he was one of the few people who actually handed out the fliers and didn't throw them in the trashcan in the middle of the day. They promoted him to be one of the guys who spied on the people to see if they actually did their job. They also gave him a raise.
Poe states after this story that there are some key lessons he learned from the fliering job which also apply to song plugging. Song plugging, although a somewhat antiquated term, is still done today especially in the mainstream pop world and in the Nashville country music scene, and is a term which refers to the act of pairing songs written by songwriters with performers whose attitudes or tones are a good fit. It directly correlates with my interest in songwriting since often a writer will pitch to a publisher directly for an artist that they represent.
"First of all, to do your job right, you've got to be where the people are that you're trying to reach. Secondly, most of those people are going to reject you because they don't want what you're trying to give them. Thirdly, it's a great feeling when somebody actually reaches our their hand and accepts what you're offering. Fourthly, you can't get depressed if they take a quick glance at what you've handed them and then throw it away. And fifthly, if you turn out to be really good at your job, you'll end up in management and get paid more money -- to not do the very things you were so good at in the first place."
It's a great pleasure to hear the lessons learned from a person who's worked to do what he loves with his life, especially when my interests are so closely related. I look forward to much rejection and to the rare exceptions which turn into valuable relationships.
THE PIZZA BATS
THE PIZZA BATS
THE PIZZA BATS
And then nothing happened. Isn't that interesting? Well, maybe not at first. But, according to my most recent reading of Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman's book Thinking, Fast and Slow, when you read the words "THE PIZZA BATS", and then nothing happened, I sneakily slipped the words "THE PIZZA BATS" into your subconscious as a signal of safety. (Maybe you can be pissed now, some of you may).
This is based on studies by famed psychologist Robert Zajonc--whose last name, according to the book, will likely be ignored, cause mental strain, and be forgotten forever by most readers on account of its unfamiliarity and unapparent pronunciation--about what is called the mere exposure effect. This is how you can take your brand (or whatever propaganda you're peddling) and get people to associate it with safety and goodness.
"The mere exposure effect occurs, Zajonc claimed, because the repeated exposure of a stimulus is followed by nothing bad. Such a stimulus will eventually become a safety signal, and safety is good."
As long as we don't follow the words THE PIZZA BATS with something hurtful or insulting, it will be recorded by the mind as being innocuous. Innocuous -> the belief that something is more or less safe -> the idea that something is more or less good in general. We want to put your mind at ease (well, we might make you think a little but that doesn't hurt you none) that you may see THE PIZZA BATS, not feel threatened, and record our name subconsciously as being a sign of the good thing.
Keep on propagatin', fam
I picked Eric Ries's The Lean Startup back up over the past couple days because something interesting has happened with my point of view on The Pizza Bats since I accepted more hours at ye olde hourly job.
Lately I've been pushing a lot of papers. I like it, it's meditative in a way if the conditions are right, but my success at this endeavor is measured in my mind at how many folders I move from one filing cabinet to the next one. This sort of visual result has always been gratifying to me.
When you're starting a business, and such is the approach we are taking with The Pizza Bats, there is a lot of mental unraveling in regards to getting started, forming a foundation, and deciding on a product. Most people agree that CDs are not viable products in the current day market place, but, I mean... as far as I know, nobody's written the book on how to start an entrepreneurial band in the year 2016. Wow, please tell me if that exists.
The result has been that I feel a real pull on The Pizza Bats side for real world action. Certain things feel real and are real steps towards documentation of the band's progression (our Instagram, this blog, the weekly e-mail, our recently launched Patreon acount [official announcement to follow]) but other things are entirely necessary but more passive (keeping up with the news in the music industry, educating myself through reading books, researching what other bands are doing in the area). The acts of execution happen in a moment. The foundational learning is a ceaseless, although enjoyable, obligation.
I wrote a little bit about feedback in the last post I made on Sunday. Eric Ries does this in the setting of a start-up, but I love to cross-contaminate the logical mind with the creative mind, so let's see where we get here. He's not picky about what defines a start-up: "an organization designed to create new products and services under conditions of extreme uncertainty." So in my case: I am creating new music but I don't know exactly what appeals to a wide audience, how to get it to them, or how to get myself in front of the people who can get me a wider spread. When we think of businesses, we think that as a rule their role is to create a product which people will then buy. This is the model I've been trying to put on top of The Pizza Bats, and thinking in my head, why is our product so difficult to define? I think it's because a band fits less under the wing of a business and more under the wing of a start-up. "In the Lean Startup model, every product, every feature, every marketing campaign -- everything a startup does -- is understood to be an experiment designed to achieve validated learning." Validated learning is a definition that Eric Ries uses to mean tested, measurable feedback.
So, I gotta find a way to get people engaged. I gotta ask everybody I meet to listen to the songs on the SoundCloud and give me feedback. Jake and I have tossed around ideas on how to do this... I think anonymity would be a valuable feature because although it could breed spam or trolling, I think honest, well-intentioned people would be more willing to provide their honest critique of what they're hearing.