Hate U Back

Hate U Back

https://youtu.be/LunHybOKIjU

Our culture right now is all about attention (as I wrote last week), and Eminem got everyone’s attention for a good 24 hours and more. Whether or not that was his intent, who’s to say? The point is, he succeeded.

Why???

First off, like it or not, Eminem is a thought leader. He has a gift for using the English language in a visceral, commanding fashion, and he uses this gift to express himself in a way that is simultaneously vulnerable, honest, succinct, and powerful. His fans appreciate his candor and his willingness to draw a line in the sand and take a position, especially at a time when most musicians are scared to take a position on anything.

Second, the quality of his content. He wasn’t rapping about getting laid, or being drunk in da club, he was speaking out on the current state of our country in a way most artists are afraid to do for fear of alienating fans or, more to the point, losing their corporate deals.

Finally, he was authentic! He straight up bodied a freestyle in a parking structure, in an age where most superstars use backing tracks and lavish productions. He didn’t need a beat. He didn’t even need a microphone. He simply looked down the barrel of the camera, at US, and spoke truth to power.

It was what we’ve all been waiting for — an undeniable musician willing to speak out against the current administration, and put their name on it!

Speaking truth to power…hey, that’s what real artists are supposed to do!!

And I’m probably going to have people give me the whole “he should stick to rapping” bullshit like they did when I wrote about Meryl Streep last year (“stick to acting”). But that just shines a spotlight on their ignorance…

Understand: rap and hip-hop began as a way to give a voice to the powerless, to reveal the injustices in the African-American community, to preach positivity in the face of hopelessness, and help the disadvantaged find the strength and courage to stand up for themselves and demand what’s right in the name of humanity.

Over time it morphed into a fluid art form which would come to be criticized for its derogatory lyrics about women, its glorification of violence, and its promotion of drug dealing/use. And yes, Eminem is guilty of including those subjects in his oeuvre.

But this past Tuesday night, his freestyle about Orange 45 was about giving the rest of America a voice, fulfilling hip-hop’s foundational intentions.

You see, Eminem may not be putting out music as often as he used to, but in America, hip-hop rules, and Eminem is rap royalty. He’s on the Mount Rushmore of rap with Tupac, Kendrick Lamar, and Dr. Dre, as far as I’m concerned. He can go away for 10 years, come back, and sound just as fresh.

Yet, CNN commentator Matt Lewis says “he’s an aging guy who is clinging to relevance.”

Hardly. Eminem isn’t worried about relevance.

Because Eminem knows he has INFLUENCE.

Plus, he’s white! And he champions black culture and has a deep appreciation for it, unlike our leader.

And now my inbox is gonna blow up with those of you who think race isn’t a large component of what’s going on in this country right now.

But notice how the president has yet to fire back at Eminem on Twitter??

If he does, it will be a Pyrrhic victory: As Touré wrote, Eminem has pitted “whiteness against itself,” and now a good portion of his fans have to go to the bathroom…because that’s where the mirror is…and take a long, hard look and decide in which tribe they truly want to be…

“And any fan of mine, who’s a supporter of his, I’m drawing in the sand a line: You’re either for or against.

“And if you can’t decide who you like more, and you’re split on who should stand beside, I’ll do it for you with this: FUCK you!”

I feel the same way about my fans. And friends. And family members.

It seems as though people think that at a certain point, depending on what type of career you have, how much money you do or don’t make, and how big or small of a celebrity you are, you don’t have the right to speak your mind on the politics and the goings-on of our country and culture.

Where is this sliding scale?? The truth is, it doesn’t exist — every one of us has the right to speak our mind.

We are living in a crazy time right now, and we need more people of true influence to speak out against injustice, racism, sexism, and the lot.

Influence is the key word here — anyone can be concerned about what’s going on, but if one doesn’t have the means or the resources to actually influence a change in what they’re upset about, they’re like Sisyphus and his boulder, forever exerting energy in an effort doomed to fail.

Focus on your circle of influence, not your circle of concern, as the late Stephen Covey wrote in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Find out what you can do to make a positive impact in the world, based on your particular circumstances, and do it. We need you!

Don’t just sit at the computer or peck at your phone with complaints on social media about they way things are or how they should, take real action in the real world and make them so.

I choose to make my impact through my art, regardless of medium.

To that point…

Back in April, I released “Don’t Mess With My Routine,” which was written from the perspective of the folks in the red hats.

“Hate U Back” is written from the opposite perspective, and I am happy to announce that it is streaming on Spotify and the other major streaming services as of today!

If you’re like me, you’ll have a puff, put on your best headphones, and turn the volume up to 70% (protect your ears!).

I hope you dig it. 🙂

“Hate U Back”: https://open.spotify.com/album/62Cs1prjQ2mVYcDNY1kHP2

P.S. Since we’re living in an attention economy, I appreciate you taking time to listen to my music. Thank you in advance.

P.P.S. That said, I’d rather hear “I hate it” than nothing at all, so feel free to let me know what you think of “Hate U Back” by emailing me at jk [at] therealjohnkay [dot] com.

P.P.P.S. In order to make the most impact possible, I’m asking that everyone listen to “Hate U Back” on Spotify three times in a row in order to help get it included on some of Spotify’s playlists. Do this, and I’ll love you even more than I already do! 😀

———
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.comWebsite: https://therealjohnkay.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

Copyright © 2017 John Kay, All rights reserved.

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10 Things to Keep in Mind When It Comes to Getting in Shape

10 Things to Keep in Mind When It Comes to Getting in Shape

Within the past couple of weeks, I reached out to a few of my dear friends and readers just to reconnect and see how things are in their world.

There were many subjects discussed, and a frequent topic of correspondence was fitness, namely, what we’re all doing or not doing about our own. Since I’ve learned that so many of you are interested in the subject, I figured I’d take the answers I gave to different people’s questions and combine them into an easy list to share.

Here it is. 🙂

1. You can do it. 

You don’t need anyone’s permission or support. The only thing stopping you is yourself. You can decide right this very instant to make a positive change in your life, for yourself, and no one else. You don’t need a partner, or a trainer — if you see someone in a shape you’d like to be, ask them for pointers. (This applies to more than just diet and exercise.)

My journey into fitness started ten years ago. I was in a band with a guy who was in great physical shape, and I asked him if he would teach me how to exercise properly. He was happy to do so. Simple as that. It’s only hard in your mind (see #9), and it gets easier over time, through consistency.

2. Consistency is the key to success. 

There has to be some sort of physical activity every single day. It doesn’t always have to be cardio, or heavy lifting, but the body requires movement on a daily basis. The body wants to exert itself. Your body wants to exercise. You don’t. You have to honor your body’s request every 24 hours somehow.

How do I get my physical activity in? I do these exercises 25 minutes each: kettlebell workout and jump rope at home (Sundays and Wednesdays); jump rope at home and shoulder exercises at the gym (Mondays and Fridays); jump rope at home then train for 90 minutes at Ambrose Academy (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays).

3. Sleep has to be the top priority. 

So much growth and recovery happens during sleep. And different ages require different amounts — i.e. a 3-month-old baby needs at least 12 hours a day, whereas a 35-year-old requires 7-8 hours at a minimum. By neglecting your sleep, you are impairing your ability to function in many ways beyond simply being “a little tired” — decision-making, emotional balance, qualitative results, interpersonal communication, and more are all impacted by lack of sleep.

I used to believe sleeping fewer hours and working longer hours was a badge of honor. I now know it’s a badge of ignorance. Sleep was the first commitment I made to myself: get seven hours of sleep minimum per night, no matter what. I also do my best to adhere to my circadian rhythm — I dim and turn off lights in the house once the sun goes down, stop looking at screens by 11:00pm, sleep in darkness, and wake at 7:00am daily. I feel refreshed and focused at the beginning of every day, and adhering to a consistent sleep schedule has radically changed my energy levels, along with the benefits of making better decisions, being more emotionally balanced, getting great results, and nurturing more relationships.

4. Diet is more important than exercise.

Consuming nothing but water for an hour after waking up; a 2:00pm caffeine curfew; staying away from sugar and grains as best as possible; eating organic, free-range, cage-free, grass-fed and -finished meats and dairy products; consuming fresh, organic vegetables and fruits; supplementing with important vitamins, oils, herbs, roots, and minerals; …these are my new ways of eating.

Input dictates output, and what we consume directly informs what we see in the mirror, far beyond anything exercise can accomplish alone. If you keep eating the same food as you begin your journey toward achieving your fitness goals, you’ll become frustrated when you see minimal results even though you exercise consistently. In fact, you may even appear to have gained weight, because in addition to the inflammation already in your body from eating inflammation-causing foods, you’re causing inflammation through exercise. What you eat, and when you eat it (see #6), is much more critical than how much you can bench press or squat, or how many calories you burn on the treadmill. Garbage in, garbage out.

5. Sugar is the enemy.

The first piece of trash most Americans need to take out? SUGAR. Fat is not the problem. Sugar is. It’s terrible for you, and it’s incredibly addictive — the same spots in the brain light up in sugar eaters as do cocaine users. And when sugar is combined with saturated fats, it wreaks havoc on the whole body, causing all sorts of fallout from cortisol-cycle deregulation to insulin production issues, storing excess fat, diseases, sleep problems, emotional imbalance, etc.

My guideline is no more than 25 grams of sugar in a day, if I even have sugar. Most days, I don’t. It’s tough, because I love sweets, and sugar is in a lot of things you wouldn’t expect. But bottom line, sugar screws with your mind and makes you fat. Eat healthy fats, stay away from sugar.

6. Intermittent fasting promotes quicker results.

If you want to get faster results, fast. Too many people think that “fasting” means “anorexia,” or “hunger strike.” Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m not saying go for days with nothing but water, though that is a good thing to do perhaps once a year to hit the body’s reset button, according to studies I’ve read. I’m talking about intermittent fasting: By shortening the time period within which you eat each day — that is, anywhere from a 9- to 12-hour window — you can kick your metabolism into high gear.

I get up at 7:00 each day and do my morning thing, then at 8:00 I sit down with my cup of coffee to work. If I eat breakfast, it’s at 10:30, and my dinner will be at 8:30, giving me a 10-hour window; if I’m not going to eat breakfast, I blend my coffee with a tablespoon each of butter, MCT oil, and grass-fed beef collagen protein powder, which gives me fuel and energy for 6-8 hours, and tricks the body into thinking I still haven’t eaten. I’ll have lunch somewhere around 2-3:30, and I don’t eat past 10:00pm, which gives me a 6 1/2- to 8-hour window, like hitting a turbo boost.

7. A jump rope is the best piece of fitness equipment.

“I’ve never seen a boxer who didn’t jump rope,” my mom once told me. I bought a jump rope the next day.

A jump rope works your upper body, lower body, and core, and strengthens your skeletal and muscular system. It’s an aerobic exercise, so you’re getting cardio, and it increases your hand/eye/foot/ear coordination. It’s lightweight, portable, and can fit in most purses or shaving kits, so you can take it anywhere  (my last one went to Europe with me on tour). It’s safe, doesn’t break easily, and is simple to use, no instructions necessary. And it works, regardless of gender.

You don’t need a gym membership to start working out, or buy an expensive piece of equipment or a few dumbbells, or get a pricey Blu-Ray set, or hire a personal trainer. At first, just buy a jump rope. It’s the best. One final thought: Most runners run heel-toe, because running shoes are designed to absorb shock in the heel. That’s because we’re not meant to run on our heels, but on our toes. I’ve found that by jumping rope, I’m getting the cardio benefits of running without the knee pain, and I’m jumping on the pads of my feet, which is strengthening my knees (or so I think).

8. If it doesn’t work for you, it’s pure entertainment. 

Speaking of “or so I think,” that’s the real question — what is actually going to work for you? It depends. I’m not a doctor by any means, but I have intimate experience with my body (gross). Through trial and error and research and study, I’ve found what works and doesn’t work for me. This list is based on my personal experience.

You have to do the same for yourself. Don’t jump on every exercise or health food fad that comes around, but do look into what makes most sense to you and try it out. Does the Atkins diet work? Should you become a pescatarian? Should you do the butter coffee as I do? Perhaps. I don’t know. Take what you know, apply it to what you don’t know, and figure it out. It’s about whatever works for you, because as Sijo says, if it doesn’t work for you, it’s pure entertainment.

9. It’s a mental game. 

The folks who achieve their fitness goals do so by getting their minds right first. This isn’t just about positive self-talk — which is important, too — it’s about everything I’ve already listed above.

Knowing you can do it hits the brain’s delete button on the old program; being consistent reprograms the brain’s subconscious to run the new software you’re installing; getting a good night’s sleep improves the brain’s cognitive function; consuming the right foods promotes a healthy brain; staying away from sugar vastly reduces brain inflammation; fasting causes the brain to adapt and become more efficient; exercise improves memory and thinking skills.

And finally, if something isn’t working for you — a relationship, a job, a particular situation — it usually results in a certain amount of anxiety, however great or small, which can damage the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for emotions, survival instincts, and memory.

Get the mental game right, and you’re halfway there before you lift a single weight. Find out what doesn’t work for you — don’t let the tooth rot; extract it.

10. The benefits exceed physical health. 

Beyond keeping your body healthy, it helps your sleep, sharpens your mind, and improves your sex life. Case closed.

That’s what works for me. What works for you??

P.S. Good news! Spotify finally got me my own Artist Page! 😀 You can follow me on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/artist/7Lx9QDuqrvKCyr1jr1Q324

P.P.S. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the books Fitness Confidential and The Bulletproof Diet, as they are two major influences on my views above.

———
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Website: https://therealjohnkay.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

Copyright © 2017 John Kay, All rights reserved.

Bob Lefsetz’s Tom Petty Playlist

Bob Lefsetz’s Tom Petty Playlist

I LOVED Tom Petty, but you wouldn’t know it by my music collection.

I’m still really upset and puzzled over his passing. He was just here in Detroit back in July, and instead of going to see him perform, we had band rehearsal.

We debated skipping rehearsal and going to the show, and reasoned that we’d catch him the next time he came to town.

But he’s never coming back…

The weight of that last sentence hit me the moment I typed it. It birthed a sinking feeling in my gut, a hot sensation rising up and throughout my entire body, finally exiting out the extremities and filling the room with a stagnant energy I can only describe as blanketing.

Yeah, I talk about mortality a lot, but didn’t Benjamin Franklin say nothing is certain except death and taxes??

We all have mortality in common. And when someone dies whom we care about, we each grieve in our own way. The way I grieve is to reflect on their life, and learn from the impact they made on the world.

But I didn’t know how to start to do that with Tom Petty.

Of course I know the hits, and I own Hard Promises and Damn The Torpedoes on vinyl, so there are a few non-radio cuts I appreciate. (“What Are You Doin’ In My Life?” and “Letting You Go” are two of my favorites.)

Still, when I heard the news, I wanted to dive into an ocean of his music and listen to the tunes that spoke to the essence of a human who lived a life! Where to begin?

Thankfully, since I subscribe to the Lefsetz Letter, I received a link to a Spotify playlist of 40 songs which cover Petty’s entire recording career, showcasing his growth and range as an artist. It’s missing my all-time favorite Petty song, You Don’t Know How It Feels, but all in all, it’s a soothing ride from top to bottom.

If you’re mourning the loss of one of the great songwriters of our time, give this playlist a listen. Even though it made me miss him all the more, it helped.

May it help you.

P.S. I highly recommend subscribing to the Lefsetz Letter if you’re a rabid music fan. His analysis and missives are relevant, insightful, poignant, and from time to time, comical.

———
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Website: https://therealjohnkay.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

Copyright © 2017 John Kay, All rights reserved.

Spotify, Las Vegas, and Tom Petty: Welcome to the Attention Economy

Spotify, Las Vegas, and Tom Petty: Welcome to the Attention Economy
How do you pay attention these days?

It’s worth asking because…we can access anything we deem more interesting than whomever or whatever is in front of us by simply reaching into our pocket and pulling out our smartphone.

You see it all around you, always. Whether at home, with friends, at work, at the bar, at sporting events, at concerts.

Even at the movies, which I don’t understand; people will spend over ten bucks to sit in front of a screen but would rather look at the one they brought with them??

There are even certain groups of people who, when out to eat, have unwritten rules regarding their devices, even if they don’t realize it. (For example, I learned last year that it’s silently understood that if a group of five people are out together and conversation is happening, devices are a no-no unless at least three people are actively engaged in conversation. In a group of seven, at least four people have to be engaged.)

On that note, I’ve seen many couples out to eat and each of them are on their phones, not talking to the other, for almost the entire meal.

It’s become almost compulsory as soon as there is a lull or awkward pause in a conversation — the moment we begin to feel the s-l-i-g-h-t-e-s-t hint of boredom, we go online.

What are we all paying attention to??

Whatever we want, whenever we want — each individual has the ability to create his or her own bubble, and it’s harder each day to pierce the surface and make an impact.

And Big Business knows this, which makes getting your attention, and keeping it, their top priority.

To that point…

At a recent event in London, Drew Lam, who works in Spotify’s Artists and Management Resources in the UK, told an audience that the music industry is now a world of “attention economics.”

The music industry, Lam said, was “no longer in a retail model. We work on attention economics. The more attention you can get, the more streams, the more consumption.”

He’s right. But it’s not just music. It’s everything.

Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy,” Louis CK opined on Conan this week in 2008.
Fast forward to October 2017, and the world has become even more amazing. The opportunities are boundless.

Yet, people are much more unhappy, angry even, some are downright vicious. We’re more polarized.

Maybe it’s because we’re retreating within our respective bubbles, paying too much attention to ourselves, and not focusing our attention on creating value for others and making a lasting, positive impact in the world.

I don’t know. Just a thought.

One thing is for sure, though. Today, it’s far easier to get attention by spraying bullets from an assault rifle into a crowd of country music fans from a Las Vegas hotel, than it is to follow one’s Muse and work hard at a craft, to create something of actual value to the world, something that resonates beyond simply dominating the news cycle for a mere week or less, something that stands the test of time.

Like Tom Petty’s music.

You see, true greatness compels our attention, it doesn’t demand it.  True greatness is undeniable because it speaks to a deeper part of who we are meant to be. It resonates with the core of who we are.

I tell people all the time, Millennials and Plurals don’t have short attention spans, or “ADD,” they just have highly-developed antennae for greatness!

Think about it: a large portion of our culture has never known a life without a broadband internet connection.

This means they’ve had access to the greatest films, literature, music, paintings, novels, photography, comedy, even food recipes…for their entire lives. They know within 5-7 seconds whether or not something cuts the mustard, whether it will resonate with them or not.

Bottom line, if it doesn’t have the lingering scent of greatness, they move on quick.

Unless, of course, trickery is involved.

And that’s why mainstream music and commercial radio “all sounds the same,” why it’s being written, recorded, and produced by the same major players using proven formulas: they purposely manufacture earworms — sugar-filled, candy-coated, hook-laden productions designed to “grab a listener by the throat” (as one music exec told me in 2016) and hold them captive for the duration of the song, preying upon and exploiting the human brain’s most natural tendencies.

But is that what stands the test of time? Earworms?? Songs that get stuck in your head not because you love them, because they speak to your soul, but because they are mathematically and scientifically designed to infect your mind???

Well, we’ll see in 20 years if people are still listening to Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do.”

But I’m not trying to be in the earworm business.

When one of my songs impacts another, I hope it’s due to the quality of the content, the meaning of the message, the depth of it all, not because I used some formulaic brain hack or blindly followed trends or wrote for a particular market. That’s how Petty did it.

Sure, the Bullfighters do collaborate in my creative process, and they play a special role in helping shape and inform my work.

But they don’t dictate it! Most importantly, they don’t presume to! They respect the craft and my Muse when offering their feedback, and although my music doesn’t have Taylor Swift-like numbers of streams, the future looks quite bright.

“When we talk about music at Spotify now,” Lam went on to say, “We need to think about the artist. How do you go from idea to pen to paper, to the studio — how does that then go to market? How do we help you find your listeners, and turn them into fans? They’re the ones who’ll buy your vinyl, your T-shirts, come to your shows.”

Lam went on to outline some of Spotify’s functionality. With its Spotify playlists, he said, “we wanted to get music to listeners as quickly as possible without any human curation.”

But at least as important, he said, was Spotify for Artists, which provides in-depth analytics to artists on how their music is being listened to, potentially helping them to plan tours, reach their most hardcore fans, and understand contexts in which people listen to their music.

How ironic: people were screaming for years that streaming was going to kill the music industry, and today it’s heralded as being responsible for the industry’s resurgence, all while its leading company is innovating new ways to help artists truly connect with their fans.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Spotify for Artists recently, and they are currently creating my own Spotify page so that when someone searches for me, they will find me, not the guy from Steppenwolf.

And it’s good to know that Spotify has my back, because I’ll be working with them to include my music on some playlists, because…

We live in an attention economy…

And it just so happens that playlists are getting the most attention…

So it goes without saying that to increase the impact of my music, it needs to be on playlists.

But for me, at the end of the day, it’s not about attention…

It’s about connection!

P.S. My newest song, “Hate U Back” is officially Bullfighter-approved, and will be streaming on Spotify and the other major streaming services beginning next Friday, 10/13. The song is part two of a two-song set; click here to listen to part one.

P.P.S. I’m currently rehearsing a band to perform my music, and will begin booking intimate house shows within the next couple of months. If you’re interested in attending (or hosting!) a house show, or simply want to know if we’ll be performing in your area, send an email to shows [at] therealjohnkay [dot] com.

P.P.P.S. I had many people reach out to me after my last blog post to tell me they don’t view my missives as being negative, just honest, and to reassure me to keep doing what I’m doing and not worry. Thanks again for all of your kind words. I appreciate you very much. 🙂

P.P.P.P.S. Interested in becoming a Bullfighter?? The fan club is being migrated to a new online hosting service — Patreon — and will go fully live on November 1. In the meantime, you can send an email to fanclub [at] therealjohnkay [dot] com to get signed up ahead of time. Bullfighters get everything! 😀

———
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Website: https://therealjohnkay.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

Copyright © 2017 John Kay, All rights reserved.

Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative

Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative

According to the last person who unsubscribed from my mailing list, I have a problem: I’m too negative.

I don’t normally follow up with those who unsubscribe, but this was an exception. This particular person is someone I met during my Koffin Kats days, a wonderful human being who is kind, generous, and supportive of my endeavors. They joined my mailing list just before my days with KK were over, and interacted with me regularly.

And then, just after I sent my last blog, they unsubscribed. So I had to reach out and ask why.

They informed me that “it all started back when you made a few comments on FB about your time/feelings towards/experiences with the Koffin Kats. I was really disappointed to read some of the disparaging things you wrote. I unfollowed you on FB at that time because I felt like it there was a lot of needless negativity there and I just didn’t want to see any more of it. You are totally entitled to your feelings, they are yours and therefore they ARE valid. I would never say otherwise. It just wasn’t something I was interested in seeing.

“More recently, your email/blog post about Nelson Ellis’s passing felt like a platform that you used to complain about sensing your own mortality. There was so much negativity in it. As well as the previous email regarding the band mates who abruptly severed ties with you.

“Please understand John, I’m not here to say that any of this was wrong on your part. You have an incredible way of expressing yourself, and you are entitled to your feelings and opinions. It’s not my place to say that any of it is ‘wrong’ or ‘not valid’ because they are your thoughts and opinions. You own that shit and no one can take your freedom of expression away. There’s just a LOT of negativity saturating these emails and I have a really hard time digesting it.

“I desperately need to be surrounded by uplifting things. Music, listening to my kid laughing at the crab in Moana for the THOUSANDTH time, stupid memes.. anything!!! And lately (because their frequency has picked up) your emails are more of a source of frustration. I know I could just NOT read them.. but I like knowing what’s been new with you and what you’ve been doing. I truly hope things are better with you than how they are often sounding.

“I sincerely hope you understand that I mean no ill towards you whatsoever. I’m just doing everything I can to keep my eyes fixed on the lighter side of life… cuz there’s a huge scary dark side to it all, and it’s suffocating…”

This hit me like a ton of bricks.

I thought that showing my warts and being honest about the hurdles on my path was the way to truly connect with others, but it seems to be driving people away.

The fact is…my life is great. Yes, I experience setbacks from time to time, but for the most part, everything is fine.

But in a strange way, I’ve always felt that I should play down how good things are, because they can end at any moment, be ruined by some unforeseen event or situation.

I haven’t written anything since receiving that email because I knew that the next thing I wrote would absolutely have to be about that email, and I’ve been scared to let it out.

Well, here it is. I’m afraid.

I’m afraid that when I mention something good that’s happening, it will end or be ruined somehow.

I’m afraid that if I communicate my vision for the next ten years, it won’t come to fruition.

I’m afraid to introduce the people on my team, lest they end up leaving.

I’m afraid to say how happy I am, because the pattern of my life is such that when I talk about something good, it ends.

I don’t want what’s happening in my life right now to end.

And I feel that if I speak publicly about the good things, then the evil part of the universe — It, if you will, dear friends and neighbors — will conspire to eradicate them all.

But I must, because my “negativity” is driving people away.

Fine.

(deep breath)

I have a great house in a wonderful neighborhood, with a backyard I can mow.

I have a beautiful woman in my life, and we have designs on getting a dog soon.

I have a growing family, and have begun to reconnect with family members I haven’t seen in years.

I have been training in Wing Chun Do for just over a year, and am a few months away from being an “advanced” student.

I’ve got two new songs in production, and one being mastered right now for public release.

I’ve got a great group of people learning, practicing, and rehearsing my music in order to perform and tour.

I have amazing fans all over the United States from Portland, Maine, to Los Angeles, California, who love my music and can’t wait for me to come to town and play for them.

I have a clear vision of where I want to be in ten years, and I am making the necessary sacrifices and taking the calculated risks to get there.

Guys and gals, I want you to know that if you’re still reading this, or any of my musings, I appreciate you. I get dozens of emails after sending these out, and though I don’t respond to all of them, I read every one. I love hearing from all of you, and staying up to date on your happenings.

Whatever your opinion of my music, writing, podcast, etc., I want to hear it — I’m not just creating for the sake of creation, I’m creating to make an impact on others, to improve people’s lives.

So if you feel my content is focused too much on the negative, say so. I’ll listen.

But I promise, from here on out, I will endeavor to “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative,” as my mother always says.

Is that cool with YOU?

P.S. Downplaying my strengths has been a pattern of mine for as long as I can recall, and I had an epiphany regarding this subject in my latest podcast with Cody Hawken.

P.P.S. If you met me during my Koffin Kats days and want to know the REAL story of why I’m no longer in the group, message me privately.

P.P.P.S. Everything’s fine.
———
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Website: https://therealjohnkay.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

Copyright © 2017 John Kay, All rights reserved.

Dan Patrick and Mike Valenti: Unsung Heroes of Radio

Dan Patrick and Mike Valenti: Unsung Heroes of Radio

I don’t really listen to music when I’m driving in my car — I like to learn while I drive, and I prefer podcasts related to my industry and life.

But if I’m not listening to a podcast, it’s sports-talk radio.

Recently, I wrote a piece on the demise of the American-based operations of 89X, the alternative radio station in Detroit. And if you’ve known me for a while, you know my dad worked in radio for 25 years, and my musical aspirations were inspired at an early age by being with him at concerts and at his radio station.

Needless to say, radio and music, and the production of each, has been a part of my life for decades.

And at a time when streaming is taking over, and terrestrial radio is dying, I’ve found two reasons for fans of great radio to tune in daily: Dan Patrick and Mike Valenti.

Patrick and Valenti are two guys in the sports-talk radio world who I believe are doing radio the right way, two gentlemen who, in my opinion, are unsung heroes in the radio industry today.

Content is King

Think about it: How often these days are you watching TV or listening to the radio, and there is a filler topic, or something which is obviously intended to provoke a reaction (or simply be controversial) instead of educate?

Most sports-talk radio hosts are infamous for filling time with silly, catch-all topics — “Hey, gang! What’s your favorite soup in the wintertime?? We’ve got open lines, people!!”

Instead, Patrick and Valenti look for ways to move a current story forward.

If there are multiple ways a story can unfold, they want the result that gives them the most beneficial content for their audience. They are rooting for radio. If a story is dead, they find the next best story which will resonate with the majority of their audience.

Rather than grab for the low-hanging fruit, Patrick and Valenti choose to elevate the conversation.

That’s not to say they don’t joke around like kids on a school bus from time to time. But they pick their spots. They know that simply being goofy for goofy’s sake isn’t what great radio is about.

Great radio is about CONTENT!

Authenticity Resonates

Both The Dan Patrick Show and The Mike Valenti Show are well-produced, and the show’s producers are part of the on-air (and on-screen) activity. The whole crew knows that content is the name of the game, and they work within their unique abilities to deliver the goods again and again.

And everyone’s personality is encouraged, rather than tamped down and made to fit into a corporate mold. Over time, you get to know their individual personalities. (Even Katy Perry has her favorites on The Dan Patrick Show.)

Dan and Mike are the bosses, and they set the tone. They’ve earned their clout by being their authentic selves, standing by their team, and being inclusive of all of their listeners, save trolls.

Most importantly, they tell the truth to their audience, no matter how painful.

Valenti is the first one to tell a Detroiter that any of their teams stinks. For example, even though he went to Michigan State, he’s not a “Sparty Slappy” — when MSU is garbage (which they’re going to be for a while), he lets you know, with no regret in his heart.

As a result of being forthcoming with the truth and delivering great content on a consistent basis, Valenti’s show has been the highest-rated sports-talk show in Metro Detroit for years, amassing among the best local ratings of any show in the country.

Thought Leadership

In this Age of Spin, so many talking heads maintain a contrarian position in order to sustain attention (I’m looking at you, Skip Bayless).

Patrick and Valenti keep our ears (and eyes) glued by way of their authenticity, their encyclopedic sports minds, their ability to ask the right questions to get to the right answers, their standards of radio excellence, their nods to relevant pop culture, and their depth of knowledge of the human condition.

In my view, sports are the ultimate reality TV. It doesn’t get more real than sports.

Anyone can analyze what’s going to possibly happen to Rick Grimes in the next episode of The Walking Dead all they want, but they must acknowledge that they’re analyzing a fiction which has already been written — the next episode is already produced!

Sports are, for the most part, unpredictable, and athletes are real people, making real money, in a real industry, affected by the real culture we live in. They’re not following a script (unless you count the WWE).

The Dan Patrick Show and The Mike Valenti Show are my Talking Dead.

The greatest athletes in sports are human beings who: made personal sacrifices to pursue their dreams; set goals to achieve measurable growth to take their careers to the next level; remain accountable to themselves, their coaches, and their teammates; built a reputation for excellence at their craft; spent countless hours of time learning, training, and practicing to be one of the best; operate with a high level of intensity; respect the game they play, and the players involved, including their opponents.

The same can be said of Dan Patrick and Mike Valenti and their respective crews. They are thought leaders in their industry. They’re at the top of their game right now, and they deserve your attention.

Because they may not be around much longer.

An article in last week’s Detroit News says Mike Valenti is being courted in New York City to take over for Mike Francesa at WFAN. This makes sense, considering Valenti’s on-air partner of nearly two decades left the show in April for medical reasons; the only team with immediate impact potential in town — the Detroit Lions — severed broadcasting ties with the station due to Valenti’s criticism; and Valenti isn’t renewing his MSU football season tickets due to their level of suck.

As for Dan Patrick, he has had several surgeries in recent years, and often jokes about retirement.

My point is, these guys aren’t going to be operating in the same capacity at some point, and I don’t know if anyone is going to be able to fill their shoes.

They are unique personalities. And they are true radio men, with values concerning much more than just their show’s ratings.

If you’re not into sports, that’s cool. My girlfriend isn’t into sports at all, and even she watches The Dan Patrick Show with me. Mind you, I don’t force her! She just likes the show and is entertained by it, and I’m grateful she prefers it to the network morning shows with their fake glee.

But the bottom line is, whether you like sports or not: If you want to be entertained but not pandered to, all while enjoying two radio titans riding the crest of the wave of their industry, tune in!

The Dan Patrick Show (9am-12pm EST)

The Mike Valenti Show (2pm-6pm EST)

#DanPatrick #DPShow #MikeValenti #radio

———
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Website: https://therealjohnkay.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

Copyright © 2017 John Kay, All rights reserved.

10 Reasons Your Uber or Lyft Driver Hates You (and 10 Pro Tips to Fix It)

10 Reasons Your Uber or Lyft Driver Hates You (and 10 Pro Tips to Fix It)

Ridesharing has become the preferred method of transportation for many people living in and around major cities, which has created the opportunity for others to become their own boss and earn a modest living by transporting those folks.

I’m proof: I’ve been driving for Uber (and Lyft) since December 2015, and have given over 2,200 rides in the metro Detroit area. Doing so has allowed me pay all of my household expenses, so that the money I earn with my musical endeavors can be used to further those efforts.

Because of ridesharing, I have total agency and autonomy over my time and energy, and in our current economy, I wouldn’t ask for anything more.

Overall, most of my riders are polite, grateful, and socially aware. And many of those same riders are knowledgable about how drivers earn, and what the pros and cons are when it comes to the gig.

But too many are not. This list is for them.

When it comes to fixing a problem, the first step is to become aware that a problem exists. By being aware of the key habits and behaviors that Uber and Lyft drivers loathe, and consciously avoiding them, anyone can be a 5-Star Rider.

Based on my personal experience of giving over 2,200 rides in the last two years, here are the top ten things riders are doing wrong which either annoys drivers or screws them out of our earning potential.


1. You make us wait. 

Uber and Lyft drivers are technically supposed to wait up to five minutes after arriving at the pickup destination. Riders and drivers are both aware of this.

But unless we arrive less than five minutes from the time you request the ride, why are we waiting?? I’ve had someone make me wait seven minutes for them to get into the car, after it took me 12 minutes to come pick them up. Their ride was three minutes long, and I made $2.88 for 22 minutes worth of my time.

You know the car is coming. You asked for it. You were told how long it would take to get there. There is a clock on your phone, and you are notified as soon as the vehicle arrives. Why aren’t you ready?

And if you have multiple stops, that’s fine, but we are only supposed to wait up to five minutes. Taking you to a restaurant to pick up your carry-out order? No problem. Taking you to a restaurant so you can place an order and wait for it to be prepared? Big problem.

Please be aware, we earn five times less for every minute of the trip than we do for every mile we drive. What do you think we’d rather be doing, driving or waiting??

PRO TIP: Don’t request a ride until five minutes before you are ready to walk out the door, and don’t make us wait more than five minutes anywhere.


2. You touch our radio/temperature controls. 

Part of the joy of driving for Uber/Lyft is having your own traveling office in which to work, and be able to listen to anything or nothing as you wish. I prefer to learn while I earn, so I listen to podcasts and take notes in between riders. It’s my way of maximizing my time.

So when you touch my cockpit controls without permission, it infuriates me.

How dare you?? You’re not in your car — you’re in MY car. And just because Lyft encourages riders to sit in the front doesn’t mean you have the right to fiddle with anything in the cockpit. It’s rude, and reeks of entitlement.

If the radio is too loud or you want to listen to something different, ask your driver to change it. If it’s too hot, or cold, or breezy…again, ask your driver to change it.

PRO TIP: Don’t touch the cockpit controls without permission. 


3. You cancel the trip when we are already on our way to pick you up, and then request again (sometimes via the other app). 

This is incredibly frustrating.

Many times this happens when we are on a freeway heading in one direction, and receive a request which causes us to take the next exit and turn around — riders assume that we’re going the wrong way and cancel after we’ve already exited the freeway and turned around. This is annoying.

OR, you’re simply seeing what the rates are, and you cancel the trip once you find out what it’s going to cost on one app, and then request a ride on the other app.

We know what you’re doing — you’re hedging your bets. Stop it.

Instead, make it easy on yourself and just stick with one app. I recommend Lyft because it is a much more altruistic rideshare platform; it’s better for riders and drivers, hands-down; and over time, even after tipping, using Lyft exclusively will save you money.

PRO TIP: Don’t hedge your bets — pick an app, request a ride, and stick with it. 


4. Your trip is less than a mile.

Understand: The base fare of your trip is mostly absorbed by the rideshare company — the driver makes around 51 cents per mile and 11 cents per minute (Uber), and does not get compensated for the drive to come pick you up.

So, if it takes us 10 minutes to get to you, and you make us wait 5 minutes for you to get in the vehicle, and your trip is less than a mile…we just made $2.88 (taxable) for close to 20 minutes of our time and gas and vehicle wear — a terrible return on investment for us in order to spare you a few extra minutes of exercise you’re probably not already getting.

Just because you can afford to take an Uber doesn’t always mean you should.

If you’re not disabled, why do you need me to drive you a half a mile? Did you forget your umbrella? Can your kids really not walk the short distance home from school? Is this a hey-look-at-me status thing, or a way you flex your dollar for yourself? Are you dying of exhaustion, or otherwise being set upon by the universe??

It’s not all about you — other people have much longer distances to travel, and you are making them late.

PRO TIP: If your trip is less than a mile…WALK. 


5. You eat in our vehicles. 

Yes, I know, people have been eating in cabs for forever.

But Uber and Lyft drivers don’t pick you up in a cab owned by some company who hoses them down every night after the proletariat abuses them. We pick you up in our everyday cars!

For those who pay their bills by driving their cars are their second home. I wouldn’t come into your home and open up whatever random food I brought with me and start eating it, not caring about crumbs getting on your floor, and leaving the wrapper under a chair. Don’t come into our cars and do the same.

I’m not saying don’t bring food into our vehicles. If you’re coming from the grocery store or a restaurant, and you’ve got your bags or leftovers, that’s fine. No sweat.

But to open your food and eat it in our car, especially without asking first?? What’s that about? You’re not going to die in our car from lack of food, so do you simply have no self-control or no respect for others? Either is gross.

PRO TIP: Eat your food at home. 


6. You don’t control your children.

Speaking of food being left in cars, part of the reason that happens is because parents are more involved with their mobile devices than they are their children. The kid is eating some snack or candy of some sort, and the parent is on social media, paying little to no attention to their child’s behavior.

I make a point to compliment my riders who are attentive, engaging parents with well-behaved kids, because I see it so rarely. And most of the time, if the kid is of speaking age, they will be attempting to engage the parent in conversation, but the parent only responds with a couple of words or a sentence, immersed in their technology.

Parents, I’m sure there are times when you just want your kid to be quiet so you can do your own thing. But I’ve seen this so often that I think it’s an epidemic that is happening across the country.

If I have to step in and tell a child to stop kicking my seat, or to not get their messy hands all over my car, then you are not fully present as a parent.

PRO TIP: Disengage with your mobile device and engage with your child; reign in their bad behavior — or we will.


7. You’re too drunk.

For the record, I love white women in their 20s — so much so that I’ve been living with one for the past two years!

But I’ve given over 2,200 rides to-date, and by a landslide, my most ungrateful, disrespectful, condescending, self-important, and socially unaware riders are white women in their 20s who are day drunk.

Ladies, I know you enjoy your Sunday Fundays. But please, don’t party so much that you don’t realize how drunk and annoying and rude you are.

The same goes for the guys and any other people who know they’re drunk but are still trying to play it cool. To borrow from the late George Carlin, “You’re not cool. You’re fuckin’ chilly.”

Please believe, I don’t mind picking up drunk people. I actually enjoy that part of the job; it makes me feel like a civil servant of sorts. And many of my riders have revoked or suspended licenses because of DUIs, so I appreciate the folks who decide to open their wallet instead of crashing their car. That’s a good look as a human being.

But if you’re so drunk that you’re experiencing short-term memory loss during our brief conversation, and acting like you’re on top of the world, it’s ugly.

I know you’re not that ugly when you’re sober. You’re better than that, people. have some respect for yourselves.

PRO TIP: Know — and mind — your alcohol limits, and above all, be respectful.


8. You have awful body odor.

One thing that separates Lyft from Uber is their stringent vetting process for their drivers.

I was approved to drive for Uber in less than 48 hours by submitting my picture, driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance; it took Lyft almost a month to approve me to drive, during which time they sent a seasoned Lyft driver out to have me drive them around.

Lyft guarantees that your driver is friendly; speaks English; doesn’t drive like a jackass; and more than likely has a newer and/or nicer vehicle — with Uber, you never know who or what you’re going to get.

Another thing that Lyft guarantees riders is that their drivers do not have awful body odor. Unfortunately, the same guarantee doesn’t apply to riders.

I know, you can’t smell yourself. I get it. But before you request a ride, ask yourself, “When was the last time I bathed??” you may be surprised.

PRO TIP: Bathe regularly! (This should be obvious.)


9. You’re ungrateful. 

One benefit of using Lyft as a driver is that when we rate our riders, if we choose to give someone three stars or less, Lyft guarantees that we will never see that rider again. This comes in handy after an ungrateful — or smelly —rider exits our vehicles.

Most of my riders thank me at the end of their trip. The ones who don’t, I never care to see again.

Even if we didn’t have a conversation, a simple thank-you goes a long way. It means you are aware that you are a member of a civilized society which values being polite to one another and showing gratitude for services rendered.

Sure, you’re technically paying us, so you are technically the customer. I respect that.

But before you’re a customer, you’re a human being, just as I am, and as we all are. You should make your mother proud and act like one.

And if you’re not going to be nice in the way our culture and society has collectively agreed, then I choose to interpret your behavior as being self-important, self-absorbed, and therefore, false — you are lost inside yourself, and I am sorry for you.

PRO TIP: Even if it’s the only interaction you have with your driver, thank them at the end of the trip.


10. You don’t tip.

I saved the best for last…

During my first four months driving for Uber and Lyft, I rarely received a tip.

That may not shock you, but I couldn’t believe it, because for the most part, ridesharing has effectively replaced cabs.

Cabs take longer to come pick you up, they drive under the speed limit to exhaust as much money out of the fare as possible, you feel like you’re in a cop car, the driver isn’t always friendly, the car isn’t always clean…

But when you pay the cab driver, you tip them! Why not us??

I understand that part of the convenience of using a rideshare app is that you don’t have to carry cash on you, and that we are moving toward a cashless society. These are facts.

But here are two more facts: you are saving money and time by using ridesharing instead of a cab (or your own vehicle), and, generally, having a much better overall experience; and, Lyft allows you to tip in the app immediately following the trip (Uber will have this feature as of August).

The biggest reason that tips are so appreciated by drivers is that 10% of every dollar we earn goes toward vehicle maintenance and repairs. That doesn’t even include gasoline or oil changes, which — for whatever reason — many riders believe Uber or Lyft pays for. HAHA! (Yes, we can write these things off on our taxes, but that’s not the point here.)

Most puzzling to me is that I’ve had this exact conversation with riders, who agree with me in lock-step…and then don’t tip!! People are complicated.

Not having cash isn’t the issue. Tipping your driver is easy. You’re being cheap.

Don’t be cheap. You’re better than that.

PRO TIP: TIP YOUR DRIVER!!!


Bonus: The 5-Star Rider Cheat Sheet

Self-driving Uber and Lyft vehicles will be here before we know it. But until then, you have to rely on us.

Use the cheat sheet below to be a 5-Star Rider, and feel free to forward this to your friends and family because…someone you know probably does one or more of these things!


5-Star Rider Cheat Sheet

  1. Don’t request a ride until five minutes before you are ready to walk out the door, and don’t make us wait more than five minutes anywhere.
  2. Don’t touch the cockpit controls without permission.
  3. Don’t hedge your bets — pick an app, request a ride, and stick with it.
  4. If your trip is less than a mile…WALK.
  5. Eat your food at home.
  6. Disengage with your mobile device and engage with your child; reign in their bad behavior — or we will.
  7. Know — and mind — your alcohol limits, and above all, be respectful.
  8. Bathe regularly! (This should be obvious.)
  9. Even if it’s the only interaction you have with your driver, thank them at the end of the trip.
  10. TIP YOUR DRIVER!!!

 

#Uber #Lyft #rideshare

 

———
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Website: https://therealjohnkay.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

Copyright © 2017 John Kay, All rights reserved.