I Can’t Make This Up

I Can’t Make This Up

http://a.co/7oX2pXb

I didn’t just read this book. I devoured it.

As a person with a certain level of ambition, I seek out the stories of those who “made it,” the ones who have gone on to become the best, or one of the best, in their field. The undeniable ones.

Kevin Hart is undeniable.

The man has sold out an NFL stadium, and his entire show is just him alone on stage with a single microphone, talking about his life. And people love it because he is hilarious.

Sure, he has a gift for being funny, but to be able to entertain over 50,000 people at once and succeed at it goes far beyond natural talent. It takes a team of people working together for the greater good, and it requires a certain set of core values to guide the team to make the right decisions along the way.

Persistence, patience, class, commitment, learning, passion-centered competitiveness, positivity, and discomfort; these are the eight qualities that Kevin Hart singles out as being the ingredients for his particular success recipe.

With any book I read, I have a highlighter in my hand. As I read, if something is relatable to my life or adds value to it, I highlight it. Once I finish the book, I type all of the highlighted passages into my computer and organize them to work for me. I do this to maintain a personal “commonplace book.”

From Ryan Holiday’s How and Why to Keep a Commonplace Book:

“Some of the greatest men and women in history have kept these books. Marcus Aurelius kept one — which more or less became the Meditations. Montaigne, who invented the essay, kept a handwritten compilation of sayings, maxims, and quotations from literature and history that he felt were important. Thomas Jefferson kept one. Napoleon kept one. Bill Gates keeps one.

“And if you still need a why, I’ll let this quote from Seneca answer it: ‘We should hunt out the helpful pieces of teaching and the spirited and noble-minded sayings which are capable of immediate practical application — not far-fetched or archaic expressions or extravagant metaphors and figures of speech — and learn them so well that words become works.”

After reading Kevin Hart’s words in his new book I Can’t Make This Up, co-written with one of my favorite authors — Neil Strauss — I got right to work.

The reason his story is so powerful is because it is happening right now.

This isn’t someone who waited until the end of their career to distill the secrets of their success and share their life lessons with the world. By the time most of the undeniable ones tell their stories, so many years have passed that the tools and techniques they used to succeed are no longer relevant to the era in which we live. They aren’t practical, but nostalgia.

The tools Kevin Hart used to build the foundation of his superstar career are available to most people today: our brains, our bodies, and the Internet, specifically social media.

I’m persistent — I’ve been in the game for over 25 years.

I practice patience — this one is the most difficult of all, but becoming easier.

I have class — ‘ello, Guv-nah!

I am committed to my goals.

I love to learn every day.

My competitiveness is passion-centered.

I accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.

And I have become most adept at tolerating discomfort.

More than ever before in my life, I am ready to floor it down the highway of my dreams. I’ve spent the better part of the last two years learning how to live, how to build a foundation for a career as a creative artist, how to put a team together with the right people in the right seats, and how to execute and manage the process.

The wheels are in motion: I’ve got three podcasts in the hopper ready to be finalized for release, one song almost complete and two more coming thereafter, and my excitement is boiling over into my blog.

Plus, if you recall the judge I worked for as a journalist on her winning campaign, she reached out to me about co-authoring a book. Nothing is set in stone yet, but the opportunity is there.

And after a couple of minor setbacks, the band is rehearsing and moving forward together as a unit.

We’re putting our brains, our bodies, and the Internet to work.

The future looks bright!
———
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Music: https://johnkay.bandcamp.com
Podcast: Get After It w/ John Kay on iTunes
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

The Email That Made My Day

The Email That Made My Day

Last week, I received an email from one of the Bullfighters (fan club members). Her name is Heather, and she lives in Houston, TX.

“Good morning!

“Haven’t seen a blog email in a bit, so I hope it’s because you’ve got just s***loads of irons in all kinds’a fires, and that 2017 has, so far, been kind to you. Had your music in the rotation more lately, if that means anything to you.  🙂

“Hope you and your queen are doing well, and still enjoying homeownership! 🙂 It’s not without its faults, when you realize that, when something breaks, no onsite maintenance crew is coming right away, but I think it still means more to have your very own place. 🙂

“Take care of yourself, mister, and have a great f***ing weekend! :D”

That email made my day!

First, she’s right, I hadn’t blogged in a bit. Since Inauguration Day, I haven’t been compelled to write until the shenanigans regarding the layoffs at 89X.

I’ve been doing a lot of behind the scenes grinding, but not every single thing I have been excited about came to pass. I’m tired of blogging and telling people what’s going to happen, and then having it not come to fruition, which erodes trust and credibility. I don’t want to be the king of empty promises — the world is already filled with talkers; we need more doers.

Instead of blogging about every small advancement, development, wrinkle or hurdle along my path, I’d rather wait and talk about what is actually happening.

Second, Heather in Houston must be clairvoyant, because I indeed have many irons in many fires . . .

When it comes to new music, I’ve got three songs, each in different stages of production, to share with the Bullfighters for feedback before deciding whether to release and perform them. Those will be sent out as they are finished.

Also, I’m excited to announce that band rehearsals will begin on April 13!

I spent much of the past year meeting with and interviewing potential members, and we had our first official band meeting last week, during which we clarified our long-term vision as a group. There are seven of us getting ready to rehearse, and we are all multi-instrumentalists. (It’s funny sometimes how things work out — I’ve known all but one member since they were teenagers.)

Here’s another special announcement: my podcast Get After It with John Kay is now on iTunes!

Three new episodes will be uploaded in April, including my conversations with:

– Danny Muggs — Guitarist and vocalist from acclaimed Detroit blues-rock band The Muggs
– Don Slater — Bassist of Battlecross, a fast-rising Detroit metal band on Metal Blade Records
– Rocco Ambrose — Founder of the Ambrose Academy of Wing Chun Do and Grandmaster of the Wing Chun Do system of martial arts, a system whose lineage descends straight from Bruce Lee

Available as of now are my conversations with entrepreneur and InkAddict founder Jim Doyon, and drummer Matt Puhy from Detroit hard rock band Wilson. I’ve received great responses from people about the wisdom shared on the podcast by these two gents. Please subscribe to Get After It, download the episodes, and let me know if you learned anything by listening to them talk about their journeys.

[iPhone users: open your podcasts app, select “My Podcasts”, and click the “+” at the top of the screen. Select “Add Podcast”, and enter the following URL: http://getafterit.libsyn.com/rss.]

Speaking of journeys . . .

On January 21 my queen, mother, and sister-in-law traveled to Washington D.C. for the International Women’s March.

When my queen returned home, she expressed how much she wished I could have been there. I told her that if they have another march, I’ll go with her next time, to which she said that they will be having several different marches, including a march on April 29 for climate change.

SOLD. The queen and I will be traveling to D.C. at the end of April!

The thing is . . . I don’t wanna take a trip only to the nation’s capital.

There are Bullfighters in Pittsburgh, Boston, and Portland (ME), and I want to book an intimate house show in each area on the way to D.C.!***

And that’s not all! In addition to potential house shows, I have scheduled podcast interviews along the way with two people I have huge respect for — Adam Ayan, mastering engineer at Gateway Mastering Studios in Portland, and Patrick “Seton” O’Connor, Director of Operations for The Dan Patrick Show in Milford, CTI’m very excited to connect with these two, hear their stories, and share practical wisdom.

Like Heather said, irons in all kinds’a fires!

Finally, it means everything to me that my music is in rotation in people’s lives. Now that a group is ready to rehearse, we’re that much closer to getting out on the road. Consider this update to mean the wheels are in motion!

2017 has been kind to me so far, and I hope the same for you. As I look outside right now, gray skies are clearing, and the sun is peeking through the clouds.

The best is yet to come! 😀

 

John Kay
jk@therealjohnkay.com

Music: http://johnkay.bandcamp.com
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Instagram: @TheRealJohnKay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

 

***If you’re in any of these areas, and are interested in what hosting an “intimate house show” involves (it’s easy!), email me at houseshow@therealjohnkay.com so we can discuss the simple details. The plan is to be in the area of Pittsburgh on April 25, Boston on April 26, and Portland on April 27. I’ve reached out to all of the Bullfighters in these cities already, and they are stoked!***

P.S. As far as home ownership is concerned . . . we have water coming in the basement. We thought we fixed it by sloping the grading underneath our deck, but nope. We may put in a French drain(?) this year if it’s not too expensive a task. If so, yikes. Other than that, we love our home, and may be adding a dog to the family soon. We shall see. 🙂

P.P.S. Speaking of journeys again . . . I like the shoe store Journeys, because they stock Onitsuka Tiger, my favorite brand of sneakers. But I hate the band Journey because of what Steve Perry did to my mom back in the day. He’s a jerk. And there is no “South Detroit” — that’s Canada.

10 Things I Didn’t Know About Kurt Cobain

10 Things I Didn’t Know About Kurt Cobain

We weren’t allowed to have MTV on in the house when I was a kid — MTV didn’t play country music or classical or oldies; it was forbidden.

Nirvana changed that. They were our Beatles on Ed Sullivan.

I brought home Nirvana’s Nevermind and Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger on the same day. My dad allowed me to play them each in full, back-to-back, on the home stereo while I did homework. Afterward, I asked him which he preferred, and he said “I like the Nirvana album better.”

That became my permission to watch MTV when Mom protested: Nirvana was undeniable.

But they weren’t that way before Dave Grohl joined the band.

Beyond being a powerhouse drummer, his backup vocal harmonies added more colors to the band’s sonic palette. Plus, Krist Novaselic finally had a drummer who understood groove, the rhythm section was locked in. Kurt, from what I could tell at the time, only enjoyed being a brat and was a drug addict.

My love affair with Nirvana began and ended with Dave Grohl, and continues with Foo Fighters.

With that, I have to admit, as much as I keep my finger on the pulse of what’s going on in our current cultural zeitgeist, I’m late to the party on some things. One of these things was Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck.

I watched it a couple of weeks ago, and while my first impressions of Cobain were validated, I made a list of ten things I learned from the documentary. They each resonated with me.

1. Divorce irrevocably changed his life.

Touré, in his book I Would Die 4 U: How Prince Became an Icon, explains that divorce was the cultural zeitgeist of Gen X, and even people whose parents remain married feel fallout from the divorce of relatives, friends, et al. Cobain would not have become an icon if he, much like Prince, didn’t experience being a child of divorced parents.

2. His girlfriend before Courtney Love supported him 100% while he lived an artist’s life.

How does anyone make it in our current culture without a support system? Anyone who says they became successful through their own hard work alone is deluded.

It’s true, hard work is the first requirement when it comes to achieving goals, and using time and resources wisely is important, too. But without a support system of people who believe in you, who see how hard you’re working, who help pick you up when you’re down, who have your best interests at heart, who know you appreciate them…you are doomed.

3. There is still bad blood when it comes to Dave Grohl.

Although I gained respect for Cobain while watching MOH, there is obviously still a grudge with Dave Grohl.

He wasn’t featured as Novaselic and Love were, and it was not acknowledged that the band got better when he joined, or how Kurt felt about him joining. Seems weird to me, considering his post-Nirvana success and celebrity.

4. He was constantly studying and learning and experimenting.

Cobain would sit alone in his room, playing his guitar, reading, writing lyrics and poetry, performing audio engineering experiments with his tape recorder, and more, all day long. He became what James Altucher refers to as an “idea machine”, filling notebook after notebook with his thoughts.

5. Marijuana expanded his mind and artistic capabilities.

DUH!

6. He kept his super-ambitiousness hidden.

I heard Dave Grohl say in an interview once that when the Nirvana was in their first meeting at Geffen Records, a label rep asked “What do you guys want?”

Cobain replied, “We want to be the biggest band in the world.”

That’s the only occasion I can think of when Kurt said anything about wanting fame. I assumed he was trying to be flippant.

Nope. He wanted to be the biggest band in the world. He just didn’t know what fame (and heroin) was going to do him.

7. He sacrificed everything for his band.

His band and his music were his top priorities. Everything else was dismissible — relationships, material things (except music equipment), etc. If it didn’t help his band get to the next level, it didn’t matter.

8. He was incredibly self-conscious, and thin-skinned when it came to critics.

As most true artists feel about their creative output, Kurt’s songs were like his babies. When critics were negative about his music, Kurt took it personally. His songs were him, he poured his soul out. His soul was under attack.

9. He was much better-looking than I gave him credit for.

Handsome dude, when not on drugs.

10. He thought a band needed to practice five times a week.

I found this fascinating because it revealed the true intensity of his drive and discipline.

Also, it showed that he was willing to grind, to hone, to perfect the performance, getting it down to a science, where the rules are known, and can therefore be broken at will. All musicians and entrepreneurs can learn from his example.

 

John Kay
blog@therealjohnkay.com

Music: johnkay.bandcamp.com
Twitter: @therealjohnkay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /therealjohnkay

What I’ll Bring Up at Therapy Today

What I’ll Bring Up at Therapy Today

I am very confused right now.

A band that I gave my blood sweat and tears to is calling it quits. I found out on Facebook when I saw a post from one of the members about a farewell show.

I put a great deal of trust and faith in this band. We made great music together for a few years, then we had a falling out. We reconnected nearly ten years later, and we started making new music, and it was well received.

But then I told them I wanted the band to grow, and they said, ‘No, we’re not trying to grow, we’re just trying to have fun,’ and I said ‘Well, I can’t be a part of that. I’m trying to always grow. Growing is fun to me.’

That’s actually the same reason that things didn’t work out with Koffin Kats. I wanted to grow more than they wanted to grow. Our ambitions did not align. That’s been the story of every band I’ve been in. I’m tired of it.

I’ve been seeing a therapist for the last 10 months. I started seeing a therapist because I wanted someone in my life who I knew was intelligent and would ask me questions that no one else in my life would think to ask me, who is professionally certified to ask me these questions, and has my best interests totally at heart. A stranger, someone unbiased, to whom I can talk about the things that concern me most and get to the root of the issue.

Frankly, what concerns me most are my relationships with other people.

If it isn’t obvious by listening to my songs, I care about people. I care about making them happy. I care about being and doing my best.

When I first joined the band which is now having a farewell show, I knew that I was going to make them happy with my drumming. But I also looked at where they were at and asked ‘How can this band be better?’ and instantly it was obvious that the quality of their recordings needed to be better. The songwriting was on point, it always was, but they needed a better presentation of those songs.

So I talk everyone into driving to Indiana to record at a legitimate recording studio, with a producer who had worked on albums that we all loved.

Out of that recording experience came opportunities for pretty much everyone in the band: I got offered (and turned down) the drumming job for Rise Against, who at the time was first forming. Our guitarist went on to be guitar technician for bands like Queens Of The Stone Age. Our other guitarist ended up touring in a band with the producer. Our singer ended up joining a band and touring with them, and this particular band was the reason we recorded with this particular producer.

We all got to see our dreams starting to come true, and then we had the falling out, and we didn’t talk for years.

We reconnected in 2011 and recorded in my home studio an EP of songs that we had played live but had never recorded, plus a brand-new song that summed up our journey as a band. Things looked promising. It seemed as though we were going to start doing it again for real. We all seemed excited.

But everyone in the band had wives and children and lives and responsibilities, like we all do (well, I have an ex-wife and no kids, but definitely a life and responsibilities). For the other guys, the band was more about having fun and letting loose and relieving pressure from their lives than it was about moving forward, creating new things, picking up where we left off.

But we could have.

It’s easy to write new music. I do it often. And I know that one of the guitarists of the band does it often as well. He even formed another band which performs from time to time, and he’s the principal songwriter for the band, but he’s complained to me and shared with me his frustrations about working with that band. He wants more from them.

I think he wants, deep down, what I want. But I don’t think he believes that he is allowed. I wanted him to be part of the new band that I’ve been putting together, a band that is excited about where we’re going to be in 10 years, not just in 10 days or in 10 hours.

There’s part of me that regrets certain things that were said or done within the context of the dissolving band, but ultimately we are all where we are today because of the decisions that we made yesterday. It really pains me to see that a band that I put so much faith in is calling it quits, and not only am I not a part of the last hurrah, it’s not even a conversation that the rest of the band felt needed to happen with me, and that makes me sad, because some of the best memories I have as a musician involve being in this band.

I love these guys like brothers. I’m very confused.

 

John Kay
blog@therealjohnkay.com

Twitter: @therealjohnkay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /therealjohnkay

89X

89X

I woke up today to the news that 89X, Detroit’s alternative rock radio station, owned by a Canadian company, has axed its American operations.

That means that a dear friend of mine is now out of a job.

I remember when he was still in school learning about audio engineering and the inner workings of radio. My band was one of his guinea pigs as he honed his recording chops. He was concerned with taking care of us, and making sure to do things right. As always happens when doing anything creative, there were some technical issues which slowed the session, so we weren’t able to finish the recording. But what did get recorded, he mixed and sent to me a few weeks later.

He sees his job through to the end, no matter what.

While at college he hosted his own radio show, and interned at 89X, reporting to program director Jay Hudson. Together they ran a weekly program which showcased independent artists and put a spotlight on the local music community. They held events and shows around the metro Detroit/Windsor area, and chose artists to perform with large touring acts.  (Hudson resigned in July 2016 after 10 years of working at the station.)

A year or so later, my friend and I were hanging out in my studio. He had nearly completed his internship, and was concerned that the station wouldn’t be able to hire him. He felt the pressure, worked even harder, and turned out to be hired and become a regular on-air for years to come.

And yesterday, he was laid off, along with around a dozen others affiliated with the American side of 89X.

The layoffs were part of a larger restructuring at Bell Media, the corporation who owns 89X and three other stations. According to Bell Media news director Matthew Garrow, “The restructuring is a response to the challenges we and other Canadian media companies are facing on multiple fronts: changing broadcast technologies and growing international competition, a tough advertising market, and ongoing regulatory pressure.”

That is all business-speak for “radio isn’t as profitable as it used to be.”

But that’s because nothing is what it used to be. Everything is changing. Before we know it we’ll be able to use our devices to request the car of our choice on demand, and it will show up with no driver inside. Commuting to work? Get a small hatchback. Going out for a fancy date? Get a Mercedes.

Abundance rules.

It’s already happened in music. It used to be that radio was the only way to hear music, unless you bought the record. Now, with cloud-based streaming services and customized playlists, not only do you not need to own any music, you can create your own personalized radio station! Why would you listen to terrestrial radio, waiting for them to play the song you want to hear, when you can reach into your pocket, pull out your device, and hear it right now??

And most people tell me that terrestrial radio sucks, that they play the same songs over and over and over, that the music is homogenized and pasteurized for the masses, that there’s no there there.

But that’s because terrestrial radio is run by large corporations.

The DJs used to rule when they had autonomy over their shows, were able to spin the tunes they wanted, not just the company-approved playlist. They would scrounge record stores and listen at home for songs that resonated with them, with the current culture, not just what was blowing up the charts. The great DJs took risks, they helped push music forward, they captivated their audience.

That’s what made Howard Stern so popular, he takes risks, says what others are too scared to say. And he knows the world is much cruder than it used to be, which is why he knew that satellite radio was the future, a place where he could be his authentic self without fear of the controlling corporation bringing down the hammer. (When Jay Hudson resigned from 89X, he took a job at Sirius XM.)

Corporations don’t like free-thinkers or risk-takers.

And Bell Media, rather than taking a risk and truly shaking up the format and pivoting into the Now, decided on the impossible task of figuring out how to continue doing what they’ve been doing, because it’s what they know. They looked at their profit margins, and they cut the first thing companies always cut when their profit margins are low — payroll.

Payroll is generally the biggest expense of any company, and the first line item to receive cuts when the company wants to tighten its belt. That’s the reason the car you’re going to call won’t have a driver: it will cost less. (The trucking industry is going to experience a revolution soon, as will many other industries due to automation and robotics. If a human can be replaced, they will be replaced. Humans cost too much.)

My heart breaks for my friend. He sacrificed to get where he is, he said no to a lot of things that other people would not in order to become successful in his industry. From day one, he put in the hours and the sweat equity to do his best for the station. He learned from his mistakes and his mentors, and applied his knowledge on a daily basis. And now the station says they’re moving in a different direction, without him.

But I’m not really surprised — I’ve seen this before.

My dad worked for a radio station in Detroit — W4 Country — for 13 years, ultimately becoming the station’s creative director. He was laid off in July 1995 by the parent corporation which owned the station. W4 Country was part of a 19 radio stations group owned by Shamrock Broadcasting, a division of Shamrock Holdings, which was founded in 1978 as an investment company by Roy E. Disney (yes, that Disney).

Shamrock Holdings bought a bunch of television and radio stations in the 1980s and early 1990s, and sold Shamrock Broadcasting to Chancellor Broadcasting in August 1995, right after the layoffs at W4. Chancellor Broadcasting restructured and became known as AMFM Inc. in 1999. In 2000, AMFM Inc. merged with Clear Channel Communications. After the merger, Clear Channel owned 830 radio stations, 19 television stations, and over 425,000 outdoor displays in 32 countries. In 2005, Clear Channel Communications split into three separate companies; Clear Channel Communications for radio, Clear Channel Outdoor for out-of-home advertising, and Live Nation for live events. Clear Channel has since become iHeart Media, and 89xRadio.com redirects to iheartradio.ca.

So when I saw the news this morning that Bell Media decided to lay off my friend and his co-workers as part of “restructuring”, I shook my head in disgust, but I wasn’t shocked. When it comes to corporations, it’s only a matter of time before the rug gets pulled out from under you. They are always buying and selling and merging and splitting, and they only care about profit, not people.

I believe my friend isn’t going to have a problem finding work. He’s talented, and emotionally intelligent. If anything, I’m happy for him. At least for now, he’s no longer under the yoke of a corporation.

He’s free.

 

John Kay
blog@therealjohnkay.com

Twitter – @therealjohnkay
Instagram – @therealjohnkay

Be Aware, Opportunity Knocks

Be Aware, Opportunity Knocks

https://youtu.be/sfmQvc6tB1o

I don’t cry often, but I have sensitive spots, and this commercial hits a spot.

A creature — an idea — is born, “scary and messy and fragile”.  It walks the streets, receiving looks of disgust from passersby, its fur and tail matted with filth.  An outcast everywhere it goes, it seems it doesn’t have a home.  The creature appears quite sad.

And then a person puts their arm around the creature and guides it into the GE building, smiling and talking and laughing, the creature’s fur and tail becoming cleaner and prettier with each passing moment.

In the final scene, the creature, now clean and colorful, walks alone onto a stage in front of a large audience — they are giving a standing ovation.  The scene fades out as the creature steps behind a microphone to address the audience.

The tagline is “Yes, ideas are scary, and messy, and fragile…but under the proper care, they become something beautiful.”

Gets me every time.

The point is, we’ve all got something to say, and even the scariest and messiest and most fragile of us need love in order to become our best, to bring our ideas to fruition.

Everything and everyone contains a unique opportunity.

Back in June 2016, I read my local paper and saw a bunch of errors, so I found out who the publisher was and scheduled a meeting to discuss how I could assist in making their paper better.  This meeting led to me being hired to do some editing and also to rewrite a political ad.

Rewriting that ad was the experience which led to working with a candidate for Wayne County Third Circuit Court Judge.  I crafted a 14,000-word story about her life and career, and used it as the centerpiece of a grassroots social media mobilization, which, according to her social media marketing manager, was the crucial ingredient in her being elected to a seat on the bench.

When the judge and I first met, she asked me how I came to write political ads for the Redford Connection.  I explained to her that I looked at the paper, saw the errors, and instead of seeing a problem, I saw…

She finished the sentence for me, “You saw opportunity.”

She nailed it.  I heard opportunity knocking, and I opened the door.

It was an opportunity to help my community by assisting the local newspaper, which is run by two gentlemen who place great value on engagement, growth, humility, integrity, and a servant mentality.  They love the community of Redford, and they love its citizens.  They want to be the best they can be.

But the opportunity to help these gentlemen would never have been discovered if I wasn’t already in the habit of cultivating awareness.  If I wasn’t so focused on details, the little things that most others dismiss as unimportant in the grand scheme of life, I wouldn’t have noticed any errors to begin with.

The judge’s social media marketing manager was impressed with my skill set, and has since introduced me to several business owners in the hopes of engaging my talents to help them write their stories and create content which will add value for their customers and (ultimately) profits to their business.

I had a meeting yesterday with one of these business owners.  We spoke for less than an hour, then he shook my hand and told me that, from here on out, I am his go-to premium content creator.  This was after he asked what he could do to help me get further along my path, how I preferred to work, what my schedule is like, and what my rates are.

After that meeting, I went to the office of the publisher of the newspaper which started this journey, and discussed working together to transition the paper into a formidable source of Redford news, information, journalism, and community outreach, with a strong online presence via a website and social media.  I’m now formulating an overall strategy, and coordinating the team which will implement it.

None of these things would be possible, I would not know any of these people, if when I picked up the paper from my porch seven months ago I didn’t notice any errors, or saw the errors and threw the paper away, dismissing it as an amateur rag.  None of these opportunities would have come to be if I didn’t recognize an opportunity in the first place.

Understand: a heightened sense of awareness helps in all areas of life.

You need to be aware of the opportunities around you, especially if you are already somehow at a disadvantage.  Take advantage of all opportunities that are available to you, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for doing so.

There may already be an opportunity that you know is right for you, an opportunity that completely aligns with your value system and who you are, and what you really want to do.  But that opportunity may challenge the beliefs of people who are close to you, people who you love, or who you associate with regularly.  They may say it’s too risky, or too difficult, or too expensive, or too selfish, or too different, too radical, too scary.

I’m telling you now, go get that opportunity.  Go take that opportunity and make it the best opportunity for you.

Be warned, some opportunities will present themselves to you that may seem like good opportunities, but in fact are not, and rob you of precious time and resources which would otherwise be used for better opportunities.  The key is to be aware of the path that you’re on and what values you hold within yourself, and adhere to those values, letting them guide your decision-making.  Let your experience and your values be your map and compass.

Remember: you are where you are today because of the decisions you made yesterday.  Likewise, tomorrow is the result of the decisions you make today.  Hold yourself accountable to making better decisions today, and you’ll wake up with a better tomorrow.

If someone whose values align with yours is willing to offer their help, take it.  If there’s a tool that will help you become more effective at your job, get it and use it.  If there’s a person who supports your endeavors, love that person and champion them.

A lot of people don’t answer when opportunity knocks.  A lot of people can’t recognize when opportunity knocks, or they’re not prepared when it does.  A lot of people are unaware of all of the opportunities available to them.  Knowing all of this puts you at an advantage.

So be prepared and be aware, because opportunity is always knocking.  You just have to know how to listen.

John Kay
blog@therealjohnkay.com

Music: johnkay.bandcamp.com
Twitter: @therealjohnkay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

P.S. Episode 003 of my podcast Get After It!, with my guest Jim Doyon, is now live!  Jim is the founder and co-owner of InkAddict, a tattoo lifestyle apparel company, and he hates doing interviews, so I’m grateful to have the opportunity to share with you his insight and wisdom on life and business.  Click the link and get after it!  http://getafterit.libsyn.com/get-after-it-w-john-kay-003-jim-doyon

P.P.S.  I’m working on a new song, and plan to have the recording process wrapped up this week.  😀

P.P.P.S.  If you haven’t given me your feedback on my newest song, I’d love to hear it.  Feedback is the breakfast of champions, and based on what I’m being told, this may be my best song yet.  What do YOU think?  Check it out here, then let me know: https://johnkay.bandcamp.com/track/we-know-were-gonna-die

Meryl Streep and Undeniable Authenticity

Meryl Streep and Undeniable Authenticity

As an actress, Meryl Streep is undeniable.  As a human being, so was her speech.

And yet, less than eight hours after delivering that powerful and empathic speech straight from her heart, it was denied, on Twitter, by the man who will be leading our country for the next four years…or more.

According to him, she’s ‘overrated’.

Has he ever seen one of her movies??

What kind of country are we living in, where facts are deniable?  Where what we see with our own eyes is inadmissible?  Where truth depends on beliefs and biases, not reality and rationality?

Where the vast majority of Americans want to say YES! to progressive change, but religious fundamentalists shout so loud and the one-percent spend so much, that they get to tell us no, we’re going backward instead?

For the record, I’m not against religious people.  My mom is an ordained minister, and her wedding ceremonies bring everyone in the congregation to tears.  She is an authentic Christian.

So on a random Saturday, when I get a knock on my door from folks who have come to spread the good word, I tell them “Thanks, but I already have a private relationship with God, and I prefer to keep it that way.”

And I’m not against wealthy people, either.  I think it would be disingenuous to say I don’t want to someday be wealthy.  It’s the ‘American Dream’.

But that dream is evaporating before our eyes.

Today, a college degree is as good as a high school diploma, and decreasing in value semester after semester.  No longer can the proverbial college carrot be dangled in front of a high school graduate, the path to a job and steady income all but guaranteed.

Because the educational system put in place by the Greatest and Silent Generations — the system which set the Baby Boomers up for nearly-sure success — has been bogged in bureaucracy, monetized, and privatized to the detriment of generations afterward.  Sold out for football TV revenue.

(Don’t believe me???  Listen to this three-part series from Malcolm Gladwell’s fantastic podcast Revisionist Historyhttp://revisionisthistory.com/episodes/04-carlos-doesnt-remember.  It will blow you away.)

Let’s also not forget about technology and its ability to disrupt entire industries, ending careers and ruining lives, creating economic chaos.

To that point, self-driving vehicles will be ubiquitous before we know it, and once ‘selfies’ are legislated to be on the roads, our country’s truckers had better have a skill set which offers value beyond the capabilities of a robot.

Understand: Most businesses’ biggest expense is payroll, and payroll is the first line item companies tend to look at when it comes to cutting costs.  Is your job in jeopardy due to technology?  If you don’t know the answer to that question, do your research.  If your answer is no, I hope you’ve done your research!

Technological progress and industry upheaval are undeniable.  The ‘American Dream’ of the Boomer Generation is dying.  Even if you’re comfortable today, chances are something’s going to happen that will make you uncomfortable in the future.

This is a good thing.  It means we have entered the Age of Authenticity.

The internet’s level playing field allows anyone with a connection to participate, but that means there’s a lot of noise out there, everyone competing for the same thing — our attention.  What grabs our attention is something undeniable, something real, visceral.  Something authentic.

If the past year has taught me anything, it’s that people will respond to authenticity.  What is authentic wins.

Our future president won the election because of his authenticity.

He resonated with so many Americans because he’s been the same person since they first saw him thirty years ago or more.  He’s remained in the media spotlight, a familiar face, a celebrity.

The same could be said of Hillary Clinton.  She’s been involved in our government for almost as long as I’ve been alive.

Yet her inability to exude authenticity was her undoing.  I mean, how many different versions of her have we seen over the last thirty years?  Nine?  Ten??  She navigates the political jungle as if a chameleon, blending into whatever environment necessary, concentrating on survival above all, living to fight another day.

After she lost the election, she went for a long walk in the woods, disappeared.  (Funny that she ventured into the woods, because during the months leading up to the election, it seemed she and her team couldn’t see the forest for the trees…)

The case I’m making for the president-elect’s authenticity can also be made for Bernie Sanders.  Though not in the limelight for three decades, he has been working behind the scenes just as long, in the trenches with real warriors, people who roll up their sleeves and get things done.  People who sometimes have to decide between going without water or electricity for a month because they can only pay for one, people who are facing real hardship and struggle, unlike those in power.

And even though Bernie lost the primary — which we now know that (thanks to Russian hackers) the Democratic National Committee colluded with the Clinton campaign to undermine Sanders’s — he never abandoned his people, he didn’t retreat to the woods.  He stills campaigns for progressive reform across the country, addressing his supporters in live streams and via email and Twitter and more.

Make no mistake, Bernie is still in the game.  He’s authentic in his passion for our country, and in his efforts to enact real progressive policy.

That’s what connected with so many Americans, the idea of positive and transformative change, not just “free shit”!

But here we are today, and our country’s future leader tweets — tweets! — that the incomparable Meryl Streep is ‘one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood…a Hillary flunky who lost big…’

Well, sir, here are examples of where she won big over the last four decades: Kramer vs. Kramer, The French Lieutenant, Sophie’s Choice, Adaptation, Angels In America, The Devil Wears Prada, Julie & Julia, The Iron Lady…

And last night, the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Much like Bernie and the soon-to-be commander-in-chief, Meryl Streep resonates because of her undeniable authenticity.

When the president-elect makes comments such as he does, whether about Streep, or a disabled person, or a protestor at one of his rallies, or a member of the press, or to Billy Bush about what he does to women, or about Carly Fiorina, or former Miss Universe Alicia Machado…

Those types of comments attempt to deny others of their authenticity, one of the worst things to do to another human being.  It evidences a fragile ego, a lack of empathy.

“Wrong…”

“Dishonest media…”

“[They] attacked me…”

“Get him out of here…”

“Loser…”

“I have all the best words…”

“Grab ‘em by the pussy…”

I’ve never heard this man say “I’m sorry.”  I’ve never heard him say “I made a mistake,” or “I was wrong.”

From what I can see, it appears he’s never sorry.  And from what I can I tell, as far as he’s concerned, he’s never wrong.

That’s unbelievable.  His supporters could tell him that even Jesus got things wrong from time to time…

Jesus lived a life that was full of joy and contradictions and fights, you know?  If they were to paint a picture of Jesus without contradictions, the gospels would be fake, but the contradictions are a sign of authenticity. – Paulo Coelho

What we see from our future leader is what we get.  Yet there’s a growing chasm between what this man told us we were going to see, and what we’re actually witnessing in these transition weeks before he assumes the Oval Office.

But I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised.  It’s been reported that he’s done the same thing to the people he’s hired to build his buildings over the past thirty years.

In his own way, he’s undeniably authentic.  We’ll see what he does after Inauguration Day.  The suspense is killing me.

Steel your resolve, folks.  And please, make more art.

On a brighter note…it’s Monday, which means it’s time for the next episode of my new podcast, Get After It!.  This week I talk with Mike Gamble, the director of US business development and marketing for Media Science International, a company which handles digital watermarking for major label recordings and releases.

Mike cut his teeth in punk and hardcore bands as a teenager, and has since produced several albums, started his own record label, thrown big warehouse parties at which he DJed, and designed and built his own recording studio, where he worked with Eminem, Dr. Dre, Jadakiss, and many others…including a convicted murderer named Slim the Mobster.

You can download and listen to my conversation with Mike here: http://getafterit.libsyn.com/get-after-it-w-john-kay-002-mike-gamble

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this blog post, whether you agree with my thoughts or otherwise.  It’s time for people to start talking TO each other one-on-one, instead of AT each other on social media.

John Kay
Email: blog@therealjohnkay.com
Music: johnkay.bandcamp.com
Twitter: @therealjohnkay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay

 

P.S. Thanks to everyone who has downloaded and listened to the first episode of my new podcast with Emily Schaller, and those who emailed me with their thoughts and stories.  I appreciate hearing from each and every one of you, and I’m glad you learned something from her experience.  If you haven’t downloaded my conversation with Emily, please do so ASAP because the episode will be deleted to make room for next week’s interview.  File space is limited, and I don’t want to compromise on quality in order to fit more quantity.  😉

P.P.S. I got a bunch of emails from people asking if they can subscribe to Get After It! via iTunes — it’s being worked on as of now, and I will let you know once it goes live!