Something You Bring to the Table

Something You Bring to the Table

I can still recall returning to Canada as a teenager after living in Japan for eight and a half years.

I had a brief stint as a student in Barrhead, AB before moving to Calgary, AB.

I always got along with my cousin, and I was glad he was around. I was also introduced to some of his friends.

At one point, I observed a bit of a dynamic developing.

I thought of myself as being athletic and physically capable, but my cousin was more so.

I thought of myself as a nice guy, but my cousin’s friend was more so.

So, it wasn’t long before I felt like a third wheel. I felt extraneous, like my presence didn’t even matter.

It’s funny what we make things mean.

I had no scientific basis for this thought. It wasn’t even pointed out by anyone else. There was no consensus. It was a personal observation, no more.

But in that moment, I made up something about my identity. And from that day forward, there have been plenty of opportunities for me to feel like the third wheel, like I’m extraneous and don’t matter.

How about you?

Have you ever felt like there’s nothing redeeming about who you are?

There must be something you bring to the table, though, right?

Quality of Life

Quality of Life

It has been my observation that people mostly choose where to live based on:

  • The availability of lucrative jobs
  • Cost of living

Essentially, the issue of where to live comes down to one’s financial situation.

In Canada, people seem to move between Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto every few years like it was going out of style. Find a new job. Go back to school. Move. Find a new job. Go back to school. Move. Rinse, repeat.

Don’t get me wrong – we’ve all got to problem solve at times. Financial resources aren’t always available in abundance.

But I can’t imagine living this way. I can’t imagine making all my decisions based on the availability of work and the cost of living. I care too much about quality of life to leave my decisions up to my financial situation.

I want to live somewhere where I can drive, in the rain, and for no reason feel a sense of euphoria (which has literally happened to me multiple times in Lower Mainland).

I’ve had several people try to convince me how great it is to live in Alberta versus Lower Mainland (they’re just trying to convince themselves). Look, I lived in Alberta for over 20 years. It may be hard to believe, but I’m quite familiar with the Albertan lifestyle.

Calgary is like a blackhole that sucks you in and won’t let go. I had to scrape and claw my way out. It wasn’t easy.

If quality of life matters to you, then you’ve got to take the following into consideration:

  • It’s winter roughly eight months out of the year in Alberta. Better get used to sitting indoors and watching Netflix, because that’s what most of your downtime is going to consist of. Unless you’re in Canmore or Banff, living in Alberta not at all like the cozy mountain resorts you see in the movies. Colorado and Utah are much more picturesque.
  • You’re landlocked. Say goodbye to swimming in the oceans. Say goodbye to the lush vegetation of the west coast. Get used to the ever-expansive flatness of the windy, treeless Albertan highways.
  • The food does not even compare. Alberta is making some strides, and I’ve seen firsthand evidence of this on my current journey, but don’t expect to find delicious Korean BBQ, authentic ramen, or mouth-watering Indian curries on any given night of the week. Settle for mediocre, because save for about 20 to 30 restaurants province wide, that’s what you’re going to get.
  • Albertans are weird. They’re friendly, but they basically keep to themselves. They’re not looking to make friends. But it isn’t as cut-throat as Lower Mainland, so settle in for an easier ride in that regard.
  • You can cover most of Lower Mainland in two to three hours of driving. You can even get to Kelowna from Lower Mainland in less than three hours. In Alberta, it takes three hours just to travel from Calgary to Edmonton. Both cities, by the way, suffer from out-of-control urban sprawl, so if you ever need to drive from one end of the city to the other (which you will), expect it to take an hour or more depending on road conditions and traffic.

If you’re going to live in Alberta, live in Alberta because you love it. Many people do. And if you are one of those people, don’t take any offense to what I’m saying.

But making your decisions based on lucrative job opportunities and cost of living isn’t going to do you any favors. Because you’re not present to the sacrifices you’ll be making.

Quality of life, to me, is the critical decision-making factor.



There are traditions you enjoy and those you don’t.

I’ve been living nomadically since June, and that has basically meant I’ve been surfing from couch to hotel to Airbnb for nearly seven months.

Today, I left yet another Airbnb, in Calgary, behind. A month was supposed to be a long time – certainly longer than some of my stays. Time enough to contemplate my next steps. And, while I’ve figured out a few things, I certainly wouldn’t say I can see miles ahead yet, especially in terms of work and income.

Either way, when I’m between couches, hotels, or Airbnbs, I usually find myself sitting at a Starbucks doing my work until it’s time to check in at my next destination. For a long time, I’ve enjoyed doing some of my work from a Starbucks or Tim Horton’s. I’ve even tried to work it in into my schedule at times, because I see a noticeable boost in energy or productivity.

But this is a tradition, it seems, that’s growing a little stale.

It could be because I don’t enjoy leaving one place for another. Not that I don’t like travel. It’s just that, at this point, waking up, packing up, cleaning up, and departing to another destination is becoming rote.

It could be because the novel is always more interesting than the ordinary.

It could also be because I’ve been under the weather since Monday, so even though I’m lucid enough to produce good work, I’d much rather be laying in bed than coaching, writing, attending meetings, or otherwise engaging in my leadership program. It could be that I’m simply not finding joy in what would otherwise be a welcome change of scenery. Flues have a way of doing that to you.

For the next month or so, I’ll be lodging in Okotoks at my parent’s.

Today, I suggested to my parents that we create a new tradition where we go to the mountains for Christmas. They seemed open to the idea.

But I digress. More and more I’m hearing the urging to find a more stable living situation, even if it’s not entirely permanent. There will be a more permanent home in my future, I just don’t think it’s going to be in the immediate future. I think it will show up around May or June 2023. And I have some idea of what I’m going to be doing in the meantime.

But what I’m getting at is that even though they say, “the grass is greener on the other side,” the more you venture out and try things, the more you realize the messiness of life maintains the license to intrude whenever and wherever it wants, even if that “whenever and wherever” is some permutation of your dream life.

I’ve heard wealthy people say money is not all its cracked up to be. I’ve heard famous people say it gets old. In a way, I think I get what they mean. It’s about traditions. And while we tend to think of traditions as annual getaways or visits to places emblazoned on our memories, traditions are playing out at a micro level too. It’s worth paying attention to the micro traditions you have in your life, because as they say, success is hidden in your daily habits.

Creating Simplicity in Your Music Career

Creating Simplicity in Your Music Career

In 2019, I decided to begin living nomadically. My adventures were ultimately cut short by the pandemic (I’d managed to explore some of western Canada and northwestern States), but I still ended up leaving Calgary, where I had lived for over 20 years, and ended up moving to Abbotsford, BC.

This move did not go smoothly. But if I wanted to live nomadically, I knew I needed to make certain sacrifices.

So, I bagged up the closet full of clothes I had collected over the years, keeping only what I considered “essential” and would fit in my suitcase.

To my surprise, I ended up filling five garbage bags with clothes I barely used or didn’t need anymore, and I donated them.

And I followed a similar process with all my belongings, some of which ended up in storage at my parent’s house.

I had already minimized my belongings during the previous move, but this time I had to be even more selective, because I knew would be driving to BC with only what would fit in my car.

And this is not merely about minimalism or optimization. The key is really that:

The less you have, the less encumbered you are.

Sounds obvious, I know. But we sometimes forget just how burdened we can become in the endless pursuit of stuff and all the trappings that are supposed to go along with success.

What I’m really pointing to is simplicity.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have complex systems, marketing strategies, or songs.

But when it comes to execution, optimizing our work environment, even setting up our workflow inside our Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), simplicity creates performance, performance creates traction, and traction creates momentum.

Simplicity creates performance, performance creates traction, and traction creates momentum. Click To Tweet

Simplicity minimizes confusion. It creates clarity, predictability, and consistency. It allows you to get to your desk at 8:01 AM and have your blog post done by 9:13 AM on the dot.

And when you’ve optimized to that point, you can bet that more opportunities will show up at your doorstep. Your phone will start ringing.

For a proven, step-by-step framework in cracking the code to independent music career success, and additional in-depth insights into making your passion sustainable and profitable, be sure to pick up my best-selling guide, The Music Entrepreneur Code.

Going All In on Your Music Career

Going All In on Your Music Career

What backdoors have you yet to close? What escape hatches have you left open? What backup plans are you keeping in play just in case things don’t go well in your music career?

I’m all for being practical. I’ve benefited greatly from prioritizing work that was the meeting place of what I was good at, what I enjoyed, and what I could get paid for.

And it’s good to identify “what if” scenarios too. Because the biggest thing you realize about the worst-case scenario is that a) it’s unlikely to happen, and b) it’s not as bad as you think it is.

But oftentimes, we hold back. Just in case things don’t work out, we keep doors open and prepare for emergency scenarios.

(I could swear this is what happened with one of my ex-girlfriends. Just in case things didn’t work out with me, she’d identified someone else who was single, had a similar temperament, and played guitar).

Until we go all in, though, we’ll never get to experience what it feels like to be fully sold out to our passion and purpose.

In summer 2019, I made the decision to start traveling the world. Things weren’t going well with my relationship, and I felt the next critical step to my growth would be experiencing different cultures, languages, people, and food.

In October of the same year, I left Calgary, AB behind and moved to Abbotsford, BC. A week before my move, I didn’t even know whether I’d have a place to stay. I was just committed to making a change. It was only a few days before my move that I had finally confirmed a basement suite.

To get to Abbotsford, BC, I needed to drive through the Coquihalla Highway, which reaches an elevation of 4,081 feet. My car started exhibiting unusual behavior on the highway and by the time I’d reached Hope, BC, roughly an hour away from my destination, my car broke down.

I thought the car could be repaired, but the mechanics told me that it was irreparable.

With all the trials and tribulations, I’d experienced up to that point in completing the move, I wanted to give up. But I knew there was no turning back. I was only an hour from my destination, and I had to keep moving forward.

I burned the ships and just kept going.

Have you burned the ships?

For a proven, step-by-step framework in cracking the code to independent music career success, and additional in-depth insights into making your passion sustainable and profitable, be sure to pick up my best-selling guide, The Music Entrepreneur Code.