5 Things I Learned From The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice by Todd Henry

I’ll be honest. When I opened to the first chapter of this book and Todd started talking about organizations, creative teams, managers and CEOs, I started having doubts as to whether or not it held any value for me personally.

This is in spite of the fact that I’ve been a long-time listener of the Accidental Creative podcast, which I initially discovered because of Henry’s interview with Seth Godin. After hearing that interview, I promptly subscribed to the podcast, and have been listening to it ever since. I’m sure that speaks to how much the show resonates with me.

In any case, the reason I wasn’t connecting with the first part of the book is because I’m not a creative in a corporate environment. I’m more of a freelancer, and I also consider myself an entrepreneur.

This doesn’t mean that I always work alone, nor does it mean that I’m not interested in building a team over the long haul. I guess the setup of the book just felt wrong somehow. It wasn’t quite resonating with me.

But Todd himself says that your inclination might be to skip over the first three chapters, so I pushed on in spite of my doubt. And yes, I did read the whole book.

As I got to part two (chapter four and onwards), sure enough, everything started falling into place. This was the content I’d been expecting and looking forward to! This book was for me after all.

The book is packed with a lot of great tidbits for creatives in any industry, but here were some of my main takeaways from The Accidental Creative.

1. The Big 3

Todd encourages us to define our individual “Big 3”. What are they exactly?

The Big 3 are things you’re trying to gain creative traction on right now. Though your Big 3 could definitely be considered priorities, they aren’t so much projects to be completed as they are open loops. They are questions you are looking to gain more clarity on.

Just as an example, my current Big 3 are as follows:

  1. What is the problem I’m solving?
  2. How do I add more value to the world?
  3. How do I unify my efforts?

Todd says that when he reads books, watches movies or engages in some kind of stimuli, he’s deliberately looking for insights into his Big 3. This practice definitely sets us up for more intentionality in how we consume content.

By keeping your Big 3 in front of you, you can draw meaningful connections between the information you consume and the open loops you’re trying to understand better. This has a way of helping us be more purposeful in the stimuli we choose to engage in.

2. Buffer

Todd Henry

Todd Henry himself, a brilliant mind in the creative field.

In a sense, we all know that we need more buffer time in our lives. Things come up. We can’t plan everything down to the last minute, no matter how much we’d like to.

But buffer time isn’t just about that. It’s about making sure that we’re getting rest, reading books, going for walks, listening to music, and doing things that add to our wellbeing. If this were Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I think what Todd is referring to is essentially quadrant two activities.

Todd gets into some reasons why buffer in your schedule is so important later on in the book, but the key point he drives home is that we can be far more effective creatively by regularly stepping away from our work and coming back to it refreshed.

Us creatives are known to book up our schedules and commit ourselves to a lot of different projects (don’t I know it). However, it doesn’t do us much good to keep pushing when we’re already burned out. By implementing buffer time into our daily lives, we can be more effective as opposed to merely efficient.

3. Ideation

Ideation is something I already do, mainly because I took James Altucher’s suggestion to generate 10 new ideas every single day seriously. These days, I usually end up doing it right before I go to bed, though that may not actually be the best time for it.

The difference between James and Todd is that Todd talks about doing it in a more structured manner. He gives us guidelines for ideation that allow us to put disparate concepts together and come away with unique insights.

Clearly, ideas are important to our work as creatives, and we should be sitting down regularly to come up with more. I’m glad that this is already something I do, but I think I should give The Accidental Creative method a try as well.

4. Unnecessary Creative Time

Todd suggests booking an hour a week (one hour every two weeks at minimum) for unnecessary creative time. The reasons are quite simple. When you take the time to engage in something that you’re passionate about, you feel invigorated, and you start to bring more of that energy back to your other creative work.

If you have a running project list (like I do), it’s pretty easy to select from that queue and begin to work on a project in that weekly 60 minute time slot.

This is not a current habit of mine, but one I’m definitely looking to adopt. Building the right practices into our lives can support the long-term effectiveness we desire to achieve. If working on something you love can bring more joy and passion to your day job, it’s a win for everyone involved.

I really love this idea.

5. The Quarterly Dream List

This is something Todd talked a little bit about towards the end of the book. In effect, it’s where you sit down every quarter to write down the things that would blow your mind if they actually became a reality.

Todd shares that these dreams have a way of coming to fruition when we take the time to think about them and put them down on paper.

I guess this is a lot like goal-setting or making up to-do lists. Brian Tracy says that when you make your to-do lists, 80% of them will be completed every single time. It’s amazing what putting a pen to paper can do for you.

I think making a quarterly dream list is definitely something I want to be doing. I want to be thinking about the things I would love to see happen, and who I would love to be collaborating with.

Final Thoughts on The Accidental Creative

So, is The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice (affiliate link) worth the price of entry? Yes, if you are a creative, this book is a must-read. Even if the concepts discussed only serve as reminders (and that would be a fairly conservative and narrow assessment of the book), chances are they are the very reminders you need to start building practices that enable your creativity to be more sustainable over the long haul.

By the way, Todd was actually on my old podcast. I would encourage you to check out that episode out, but you can’t access it right now (I’m working on that).

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TQP 001: We Plan to Disrupt by Encouraging a Culture of Questions Rather Than Conclusions

The Question Podcast

It’s like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. – E.L. Doctorow

The first ever TQ podcast features highlights from our first gathering. You’ll hear clips from our presenter Frederick Tamagi, as well as music from our arts and music host Carla Olive, who offered insights into several songs she wrote and what compelled her to write them.

Thank you for listening!

What questions will be taking with you?

We encourage you to connect with us via social media:

We look forward to interacting with you.

Using Google Image Search to Find New Practice Ideas for Guitar

Using Google Image Search to Find New Practice Ideas for Guitar

Summary: As it turns out, Google Image Search is one of the most powerful tools for finding guitar tabs online. Whether you’re looking for practice and lesson ideas, riffs by your favorite guitarists, or something outside the box, you might be surprised by what you can find on Image Search.

As a fellow guitarist, I’m sure you have your favorite sites where you go to learn new songs or riffs. For me, my go-to is Ultimate Guitar, although I’m coming to appreciate Songsterr as well.

As long as I’m a guitar teacher, there will probably never come a time when I don’t access the vast resources that are online. I do use my creativity to come up with unique exercises for my students, but I also like to show them how to play well-known songs, since that’s one of the main draws of learning the guitar.

(Update: in summer 2016, I stepped away from teaching guitar. I don’t spend as much time learning new riffs or looking for tabs, but I still like to use Image Search, especially if I’m looking to learn something quick).

Recently, I’ve come to discover that Google Image Search is also a handy tool for finding songs, riffs, scales, and exercises.

Really? Google Image Search?

I know, I was a little surprised myself, but you never know when it might come in handy.

I think I first came to this realization when I searched for a specific song on Google, and then clicked on the “Images” tab. More than likely, there was a song I couldn’t find on any guitar site, so I happened to try something different.

Interestingly enough, I found what I was looking for. Since then, I’ve found that even if you can’t necessarily find the tab for the song you’re looking for, oftentimes you can still find the sheet music, which is better than nothing. If you can sight read, then you’re off to the races.

So, if you just can’t find the song you’re looking for on your favorite guitar site, it might be worth trying Google Image Search.

You Can Also Use it to Find New Practice Ideas

Us guitarists tend to watch a lot of instructional or demonstration videos, especially early in our development. I’ve watched my fair share of Joe Satriani videos myself, because he always has great tips to share (it might have something to do with the fact that he used to be a guitar teacher).

Anyway, in one video I remembered that he was talking about a Joe Pass book one of his teachers had him work through. One day, I entered “Joe Pass chords” into Google Image Search, and sure enough, it turned up a few examples.

Joe Pass Chords

The kinds of results you can find using Google Image Search.

I don’t typically play a lot of jazz, so studying these examples brought me outside of my comfort zone. It didn’t take long before I figured out how to play several riffs, but it gave me something new to work on.

By the way, if you aren’t regularly playing riffs and chords outside of your comfort zone, your growth could stagnate. I know it might seem weird, but I’ve found a lot of value in learning musical ideas that are outside of my primary genre. I think it has contributed a lot to my growth as a guitarist. I can clearly recall a time when I was working on a classical piece. Interestingly, that contributed to me becoming a better blues player.

Similarly, I recently searched for “guitar arpeggio tabs” (there aren’t too many guitarists out there that love working on their arpeggios, are there?), and that turned up multiple examples that I could immediately learn from.

It’s important for us guitarists to address our problem areas instead of constantly going back to the things we already know well, so this simple method could help you find new and different things to work on in your playing.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to learning guitar, there isn’t a shortage of resources you can take advantage of, from books and DVDs to magazines and blogs. Early on in my development, I delved into whatever I could get my hands on.

But it’s always nice to add another tool to your toolbox, right?

Did you find this tip helpful? Will you be giving it a try? What other sites do you like to use?

Let me know in the comments section below!

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5 Tips For Promoting Your Music On Facebook

Do you use Facebook to promote your music? If so, good on you!

Even though Facebook keeps on changing, it’s a really good place to create an online presence.

Now don’t get me wrong, you should probably still build yourself a website, but Facebook (and social media in general) is fairly complementary to that.

So here are five tips for promoting your music on Facebook.

1. Advertise

The great thing about Facebook advertising is that you can set your own budget. It’s really easy to target specific demographics too.

There are 10 different types of campaigns you can run, and I think it’s pretty obvious which ones are going to prove most worthwhile for musicians. Just take a look at the screenshot below:

Facebook Ad Campaign

You can choose from 10 different campaign types for your ad.

You can run ongoing campaigns if you want to, or you can do shorter campaigns to promote your album or upcoming show.

You’ve probably heard it said that you’ll be paying for the same amount of exposure you used to get without having to pay for it, but I’m inclined to disagree. You can really boost your presence on Facebook using ads, even if you only spend a couple of dollars per day.

Interested in learning about boosted posts? Check out this video: How to Boost Your Post on Facebook for Musicians

2. Use Facebook As: Your Page

This is pretty basic stuff, but if you didn’t know that you could go around acting on Facebook as your fan page, now you do.

Facebook page

I’m a manager over entirely too many pages (this is just a small sample), but you get the idea.

You can like other pages, like/comment/share their posts, and generally engage on places other than your own fan page.

If you want to increase your page’s visibility on Facebook, this is a good way to do it. Plus, sharing other people’s stuff is a way of adding value to them. You can even build new connections this way.

You don’t have to go too crazy; just take a few minutes out of your day to follow pages you’re interested in and participate in conversations.

3. Tease, Tease, Tease

You know us musicians… we sometimes tend to forget to do the important stuff, like promotion.

But you do know how critical marketing is to your success, right?

So when it comes to teasing, the best time to do it is before you do something big, like before a show or an album release. Stands to reason, yes?

In other words, don’t just go AWOL when you’re in the studio. Start sharing photos, videos, lyric snippets, riffs and other stuff along the way. Fans like that stuff.

4. Start & Join Groups

You’re not stuck in a mold!

What? Well, here’s the thing. We have a tendency of setting up our website, setting up our Facebook page and then we rush into… waiting around for others to engage us.

We need to take a different approach, don’t you think? Don’t forget; there are already people on Facebook that have the same interests as you do! Weird, right?

Facebook Groups

I frequently forget how many groups I’m a part of.

You can target interests either within the music niche, or without, be it fishing, Christianity, or Mustangs (yes, really).

You don’t have to limit yourself; you can experiment with a variety of different categories, start groups, join groups, and build friendships with people that like the same things you do.

5. Cross-Promote

When it comes to cross-promotion, really the sky’s the limit.

For example, you can approach a popular Facebook page with the idea of posting about your music. What’s in it for them? You’ll offer a link to their website, or you’ll pay them $20 to share the post (a pretty small cost if you know you’re going to sell a few albums this way). You’re an entrepreneur, you can figure this out.

You can also acquire popular pages or groups on Facebook and begin to use them as your own. The sale would probably be done privately, and you would want to do your due diligence in making sure you know what you’re paying for.

On a more basic level, you could make a deal with a few of your friends to promote each other’s music at least once per week.

See what I mean? There are so many options!

Final Thoughts: Getting Your Facebook On

So there you have it; five tips for promoting your music on Facebook.

It can be a really powerful tool if you use it right, so experiment, try different things, and see what works for you.

What do you think? Do you use Facebook to market your music?

Feel free to leave a comment below!

6 Reasons I’m Thoroughly Impressed With The Band, The Middle Coast

6 Reasons I’m Thoroughly Impressed With The Band, The Middle Coast

On September 26, 2015, I performed with Long Jon Lev at Wine-Ohs in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We shared the bill with The Middle Coast, a power trio from Manitoba, Canada.

As is often the case with bands we get paired up with, we had no idea who they were or what they sounded like.

Of course, having now seen their show and what they’re capable of, I would be surprised if they didn’t build a lot of momentum coming out of their current touring efforts.

I was quite impressed with the band, and I wanted to share with you what they’re doing right. Here are six reasons I’m thoroughly impressed with The Middle Coast, formerly Until Red.

1. They Sound Great!

Sounding great should probably be a prerequisite for any band looking to head out on the road. It leaves a better impression with the audience as well as the venues you play at (as long as you remember to conduct yourself professionally).

The Middle Coast performed many crowd-pleasers like “Cecilia”, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” and “I Won’t Back Down”, but they also weaved in their own original material pretty seamlessly.

Their three-part harmonies immediately drew people in, and their overall tightness as a unit kept people engaged throughout their two-set performance. By the end, they had a bunch of people up and dancing in front of the stage.

2. Their Unusual Band Configuration

Until Red in the studioWhen you think of power trios, you generally think guitar, bass, and drums. The number of singers in a band like that largely depends on its members, but one or two is generally the norm. If you happen to be the Winery Dogs, then every member sings.

Not only does every member in The Middle Coast sing (and actually sing well), their band is made up of guitar, keyboards and drums. It has often been quipped that the role of a bass player could be handled by a keyboard player’s left hand, but this is one of those cases where it’s literally true, as keyboardist Liam Duncan plays bass on a Korg keyboard, and covers piano, organ, and electronic keyboard sounds with his right hand on a Nord Electro.

Achieving a big sound with a three-piece is no easy feat. The Middle Coast not only show that it’s possible, they totally own it.

3. They Actively Collected Email Addresses From Concert Attendees

Not a strategy for the faint of heart. Each band member carried clipboards with them during breaks, went up to the people sitting at the tables in the venue, introduced themselves, and collected email addresses.

These days, people don’t just give up their email addresses – at least not like they used to – but how can you resist a band that makes the effort to talk to you?

Rest assured they will see some unsubscribes from this approach (and so will you if you try it), but I love that they are so proactive.

4. They Have A Great Sense Of Humor

This was readily apparent from their stage banter. As cliché as it probably sounds, engaging your fans at shows is extremely important. It doesn’t have to be with humor, but you need some way of interacting with your audiences to keep them engaged.

Just to give you an example, The Middle Coast briefly segued into Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” at the end of “I Won’t Back Down”. You might be aware of some of the recent controversy around that.

Timely? Relevant? Controversial? Humorous? Indeed. This has all the makings of something that could go viral.

5. They Followed Up With Me

They didn’t just take my email address; they actually emailed me a day after the performance (on a Sunday no less!), along with the note, “you are an absolutely monster acoustic guitar player (probably electric too)!”

Okay, okay, enough with the boasting. But seriously, it’s awesome that they decided to send me a personalized message. Want to get on my good side? That’s all you have to do! I wouldn’t be surprised if their fans feel the same way.

Whether you’re returning from a weekend conference or networking event, it’s always a good idea to follow up with the people you meet and exchange contact information with.

6. They Have A Website

I’ve gone on and on about the importance of having a website as a musician. I don’t think I need to repeat myself here.

The Middle Coast’s website is sparse and simple, but it gets the job done. There are more things I would like to see up there, but they have the beginnings of a great web presence (836 Instagram followers, 2,140 Facebook ‘likes’, and 1,039 Twitter followers).

If you take yourself seriously as a musician (but not too seriously), then follow their example and get a domain name immediately.

Oh yeah, and they have a call to action to subscribe to their email list on every page of their website. I always like to see that.

Until Red Contact Forms

I also like the fact that they have defined roles for each member.

Final Thoughts

I’m sure you can draw your own lessons from the points I’ve covered here.

Even if your band is small, you can divvy up and share in the important responsibilities as a team. You can approach your marketing in a proactive manner, and prove your worth everywhere you go by putting on a killer live performance.

What do you think? What did you learn from what The Middle Coast is doing to build their music career?

Leave a comment below!