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TEM Blog

The Entrepreneurial Musician Blog by Andrew Hitz featuring articles on being an entrepreneur in the music business. Show notes for The Entrepreneurial Musician Podcast.

Filtering by Category: Inspiration

Waiting for perfect

Andrew Hitz

“Waiting for perfect is a never-ending game.”

—Seth Godin from his blog post “More right”

Your website will never be perfect.

(Amazon has the most successful website in terms of sales conversions in history and are constantly tweaking it which means it’s not perfect.)

Your blog post will never be perfect.

(You can always run it by one more person you respect for meaningful and helpful feedback.)

Your presentation will never be perfect.

(Oprah has never given a perfect speech. She has too much self-awareness to ever think something couldn’t be improved somehow.)

Your pitch will never be perfect.

(You can always tighten things up or add one more contextual detail that will resonate just a little more with your target audience.)

Your recital will never be perfect.

Even if you “hit” every note and make no “mistakes”, the interpretation could always be a little better or more informed.

Waiting for “perfect”, whatever the hell that even means, is simply a form of hiding. Possibly the best advice I ever received was either do the thing as well as you can at that moment in time and then share it with the world or don’t do the thing at all.

Because waiting for perfect is a never-ending game.

A photo of my dog for no reason other than it makes me happy.

A photo of my dog for no reason other than it makes me happy.

A truth bomb from Henry Winkler

Andrew Hitz

Tenacity + Courage + Honesty About Your Ability + Gratitude = Accomplishing What's On Your Mind


Oh man if I were the tattoo type and I was looking for a really long tattoo this would be a good candidate! I love how one good quote can fire me the hell up!

(You can listen to the entire Henry Winkler interview with James Altucher from which that quote is taken plus read a summary of the best points he makes here.)

Investing in yourself

Andrew Hitz

What a beautiful way of thinking about this. Every time I read a nonfiction book, I am investing in my business skills, musicianship or teaching abilities. Any time I read a fiction book, I am investing in my imagination.

I have taken plenty of online courses, attended conferences and master classes, and done any number of other things to invest in myself over the years. I had just never really thought of it that way.

But Ramit's framing of it will only help to ensure that I'll keep plugging away on my current book (Gary Vaynerchuk's Crushing It!) so I can get on to the next investment.

You're behind. So what?

Andrew Hitz

"Quitting merely because you’re behind is a trap, a form of hiding that feels safe, but isn’t. The math is simple: whatever you switch to because you quit is another place you’re going to be behind as well."
—Seth Godin

Yet another truth bomb from Seth Godin.

You are always behind so using that as the primary reason to bail on something is just an excuse. Try to get to the heart of why you don't want to continue so you can decide if that is in fact the best thing for you moving forward.

Don't fall for the trap.

Godin: How far behind?

Your actions are far more telling than your thoughts

Andrew Hitz

A mentor once taught me to evaluate my belief systems by observing my actions and not by examining my thoughts.

If you are an entrepreneur and you only work on your business a couple of days a week and yet you find time to watch Netflix every day, you believe you can succeed while prioritizing Netflix over your business.

If you don't have enough money to properly market your entrepreneurial endeavor and yet you go out for drinks every weekend, you believe that going out for drinks is more important than getting the news about your product or service to the very people it could help.

If you are always tired and don't get enough sleep and yet you spend a full hour on your phone at night before you go to bed, you believe that scrolling through Instagram or Snapchat is more important than that extra hour of sleep and the productivity boost it will bring.

If you hope to win a major orchestral audition someday and your first notes of the day tend to be at 1:00 pm, you believe that you don't need to play all morning long and can still beat all of the people who start practicing hours earlier than that.

If you are learning to improvise but you transcribe one solo a year rather than one solo a week, you believe you can learn how to play jazz by transcribing far fewer solos than just about anyone who came before you and successfully learned the language of jazz.

Let me make one thing very clear: It is very much okay to prioritize going out with friends every weekend over having a marketing budget.

The problem occurs when our actions don't align with our goals. And especially when we don't realize it.

So what can you do about it? Here are some steps I propose to make sure you are the same page with yourself.

Action Steps:

  1. Write down your 1-year, 2-year and 3-year goals. Be specific. Only specific goals are measurable and only measurable goals can get you into the feedback loop that is essential for success.
  2. Take a week to document your actions. How long are you spending doing each activity? Which activity are you doing during your most productive hours? Write it down. Consider this an audit of your behavior. Be brutally honest about it.
  3. Figure out exactly where your actions are not 100% aligned with you achieving your 1-year, 2-year and 3-year goals and write down what changes will help get them perfectly aligned.

I once heard someone say that when setting goals, people frequently commit to doing way too much when making one-year goals and don't commit to nearly enough when making five-year goals. That's why I suggest one-year, two-year and three-year.

But do whatever works for you!

And remember, a goal that's not written down is just a wish.

So stop thinking about what you should be doing and examine what you actually are doing and make sure those actions are aligned with your clearly defined goals. If you do all of the above steps regularly the sky is the limit!


Begin in the Middle

Andrew Hitz

"Begin in the middle."

—Seth Godin

That's from yet another concise and to the point blog post from my spirit animal, Seth Godin.

How many times have you started watching a YouTube video, Instagram story or Facebook video and you end up clicking 'next' within 10 seconds.

There is lots of data that a whole lot of us do this most of the time. There is way too much content out there to consume for us to stick with a video, podcast episode, blog post, ebook or Netflix series that doesn't immediately grab our attention.

So when creating content we've got two options:

  1. Complain to anyone who will listen about how technology is ruining attention spans and yearn for the glory days when things used to be so much better and blah blah blah
  2. We can begin in the middle

As Seth challenges us to do in that blog post, begin in the middle. Begin with the good part. Provide value to your listener/viewer/reader as soon as you have their attention. They will always be happy you did.

As a side note, that is exactly what I love about Seth Godin's blog posts. They are "high protein" as I like to call them. He gets right to the point. Like, every single day.

And that is precisely why of all the blogs in the world, his is the only one I have delivered to my inbox every day of every week. I can't imagine life without his blog and a big part of that is because I don't have to sift through the pleasantries to get to the good stuff.

If beginning in the middle works for Seth, it can work for the rest of us, too.

Her Best Work is Behind Her

Andrew Hitz

I highly recommend Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Big Magic. It is a wonderful read that really helped my perspective on my art, my career and my life.

One of my favorite things in the book is her recognizing out loud that her best work is almost certainly behind her.

What does she mean by that? She is the author of the blockbuster best-seller turned into a movie starring Julia Roberts, Eat, Pray, Love.

She is right. There is almost no chance she will write another book that will sell that many copies, that will affect that many lives. Big Magic has been hugely successful and it hasn't been a drop in a bucket compared to Eat, Pray, Love. And they aren't turning into a movie starring Julia Roberts or Meryl Streep any time soon.

But so what? The only person in the world who can let that almost certainly accurate observation affect or even grind to a screeching halt her creative output is her.

She's the only one with that power.

All of us throw up roadblocks all the time. And its always for one reason and one reason only: fear.

The only surefire way to guarantee no one thinks the book after your blockbuster didn't live up to its predecessor is by never writing it! But that sure seems like a silly decision to make out of fear.

You might be saying, "If only I had the privilege of worrying about people being disappointed with the book (or album or movie or whatever) after my global smash hit!" Yeah, I don't have that problem either.

But we all can sell ourselves from time to time on narratives that are very similar. We would never say these things out loud to friends or colleagues because they would instantly point out that we were being ridiculous. But the crazy and terrifying thing is that we totally buy this bullshit when it is just a one-sided conversation in our head! Some possible examples:

"My performance of the Bach Goldberg Variations will never be as good as Glenn Gould's so why bother."

Here's the problem. No one wants another version of Glenn Gould's Goldberg Variations. (Full disclosure: His 1981 recording of that might be my single desert island recording of any piece of music in any genre ever.) But he already played that. Who gives a shit if some tuba playing podcast host thinks that's the gold standard? If you have a version inside of you, for the love of all things holy share it with us!

"I've always composed for choir in the past and really don't know anything about wind ensemble so even though I'm interested in learning, I know my writing won't ever be as good as John Mackey's or even my choral writing so I'll just drag my feet and never start, or at the very least never share it with anyone."

No, you won't speak with as clear a voice as John Mackey does when you first start writing for wind ensemble. But here's the problem with this one: Nor did John Mackey when he first started out! You know how John Mackey got to be "John Mackey" and Dale Trumbore got to be "Dale Trumbore" in the choral world: By composing their first piece and then composing another one. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Everyone has to start somewhere.

"I could never produce an album that sounds as good Dark Side of the Moon so I'll just stick to playing bass (even though my shifting passions really are leaning strongly towards producing.)

And you may already know what I'm going to say here, but Alan Parsons, who produced the Pink Floyd masterpiece Dark Side of the Moon, didn't start at that level. He was an assistant at Abbey Road when the Beatles recorded their album by that name and then went on to work on many albums in a variety of capacities. The point is he learned from some of the best in the business and wasn't intimidated that he wasn't a finished product the day he first walked into Abbey Road.

So take the road that Elizabeth Gilbert has and tell those internal voices that are always trying to derail you to go screw. Like any other skill, you get better at it with practice.

The world needs your art. So don't talk yourself into selfishly hiding it from the world.

Perspective is Everything

Andrew Hitz

As Seth Godin points out in this spot on blog post, perspective is absolutely everything.

Four different people will experience the exact same thing in completely different ways based on their professions and world views.

Recognizing this fact is very powerful because it enables us to recognize our own bias and intentionally attempt to view something from a different perspective when that is helpful (which it almost always is.)

When trying to provide goods or services to someone (in or out of the music business), it is imperative that we forget everything we know about the product, service or situation and think like the customer.

Of course we think what we are providing is important, but have we made that case to our customers?

Practicing the ability to change one's perspective is one of the common traits that the insanely successful people I've interviewed for TEM all share. Might be good for the rest of us to that skill as well.

Processing Negative Reviews

Andrew Hitz

No matter how convenient it would be for our egos, nothing you could ever produce for the world is going to be for everyone. Literally nothing.

Most Americans have never stepped foot in a Starbucks. Hard to believe if there are five within 10 miles of your residence, but it's true.

Most of us know that trying to please everyone is a fool's errand, yet we all bristle at negative reviews or feedback. 

But that's a waste of time.

Follow the link for a great (and as always, short) post by Seth Godin on processing negative reviews in a constructive manner.

Godin: Processing Negative Reviews

Godin: New Habits

Andrew Hitz

"You can live on old habits for a while, but the future depends on investing in finding and building some new ones with (and for) your customers."

How many schools of music, orchestras, publishers, record companies and music stores should have realized this over a decade ago?

And how many of them either continue to not notice or are standing there with their fingers in their ears, their eyes closed and screaming "LA LA LA" at the top of their lungs?

It's easy to spot the blind spot in other people or other organizations. But can you spot your own in time?

Seth's Blog: New Habits

Beware Schools That Only Make You Better at Following a Path

Andrew Hitz

“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

99% of all college music degrees in the world today have curriculums which are designed to help you follow a path better than the next woman or man. And there's a reason for this.

They were all designed many, many decades ago when it was close to impossible for anyone to blaze a trail for themselves.

There were gatekeepers everywhere you looked deciding who was allowed to make an album, who got to write a book and who got to do just about any other artistic endeavor you can think of.

But those people are all gone.

To make matters worse, there are thousands upon thousands of students graduating every single year with music degrees in the United States and all over the world who are being taught these same "just follow the path better than the next person" skills. And they're all competing for the exact same jobs. (A number that is getting smaller with every year that goes by.)

What you have there is a math issue.

What are the odds that you are going to one of the incredibly lucky few who will find a path that's already been cleared and will make a great living, both financially and artistically, as a result? They are not good.

Of course it happens. But you have a shockingly better chance of finding success in the music business (whatever success means to you) by taking Emerson's advice above and leaving your own trail.

Look around at all of the people who are making their own go of it. They are everywhere.

And you certainly have the best chance of success by getting an education that provides you skills for both the "path" and the "trail" approaches to a career.

Once you get out into The Real World™, literally no one gives a crap that you went to Northwestern or that you studied with (insert famous teacher here.) No one.

So if you're looking for a school to attend to be a music major, consider what skills they are offering you as a major factor rather than just going to the famous place or to study with the famous person.

You'll be happy you did.

© 2017 Andrew Hitz   Sunrise in The Berkshires which has nothing to do with anything in this post but it's pretty so I threw it in!

© 2017 Andrew Hitz

Sunrise in The Berkshires which has nothing to do with anything in this post but it's pretty so I threw it in!

We Don't Have a Talent Problem. We Have a Shipping Problem.

Andrew Hitz

"We don't have a talent problem. We have a shipping problem."
—Seth Godin from "Linchpin"

First of all, if you are the skimming type, at the bottom of this post there is a link to a book that Seth Godin has been generous enough to let me offer to my audience for free. Follow the link to get your free copy.

First of all, if you have not read Seth Godin's book "Linchpin" you should immediately stop reading my little blog here and go purchase it immediately. No seriously. Go do it right now. (And for the record that is not an affiliate link. I would of course let you know if it was. You just need to read the book because there is some life changing stuff in it.)

I just finished reading (actually listening since I am an Audible junky) "Linchpin" it for the second time and there will be a third time through it very soon.

The title of this post is a quote from the book and it is a blatant call to action.

Have you been "in the process" of writing a book for the last 18 months? I dare you to look in the mirror and say out loud that the reason you haven't published it (whether that means self-published or with a publisher) is because you are waiting to become a better writer.

Even if you might quietly think to yourself that that is a factor, I bet that if you say it out loud your bs detector is going to go off. In fact I guarantee it will.

(And you can substitute performing a recital, composing a symphony, opening a teaching studio, booking a tour for your band or anything else for writing a book.)

Because what's the way to get better as a writer? IT'S TO PUBLISH MORE DAMN BOOKS.

It's not to think about becoming a better a writer. It's not to read blog posts like this. And at some point (which is a lot earlier than a lot of us like to admit) it is not to read books, listen to podcasts, or watch videos telling us how to be a better writer.

You can accumulate all the information and inspiration in the world and if you don't actually write (and ship!) anything then what the hell are you really doing? Not much is the answer.

The first iteration of my second book is a lot better than the first iteration of my first book (even though they are two volumes from the same series.)

The launch of my second podcast was a lot better than the launch of my first podcast.

That's because the only way to truly learn anything is by shipping.

I used the word "you" in this post over and over again. And obviously I have shipped albums, podcasts, books, websites (all plural) over the years. But I promise you I am writing this post as a reminder to myself.

What the hell am I waiting to acquire more "talent" (whatever the hell that even means) or more knowledge or more financial support before I ship? Avoidance and fear never lead to learning. But shipping does.

So go ship.

Through the incredible generosity of Seth Godin I can offer you a copy an ebook copy of "Seth Godin: Live at Carnegie Hall" for free. You can click on the cover or click here to get your free copy.