5 Things I Wish They Taught Me in School

5 Things I Wish They Taught Me in School

The school system is fine for getting started in the world. But to me, traditional education is not the be-all end-all of higher learning.

I ended up choosing an unconventional path a year out of college, which meant I had to blaze my own trail before I even had a sense of my own identity.

In my formative years, if I’d had mentors or coaches who recognized my gifts and helped me foster them, that, to me, would have been a more valuable education than schooling could have ever provided.

Which is why I wish they taught these skills in school:

1. Guitar

Music is taught in school, sure, but there’s a serious problem with the system, namely that the “talented” kids get to play all the fun instruments, and the less talented kids end up on boring instruments like the triangle or tambourine – which is exactly what happened to me.

Although I did demonstrate a lot of interest in music (no one noticed), I didn’t seem to have a knack for it – that is, until I discovered the guitar, and surpassed my teacher in a matter of a few lessons.

I have been playing guitar since I was 17, and I’ve written hundreds of riffs and songs (it’s probably closer to 1,000 by now). I’ve recorded and published multiple singles, EPs, and albums, and also have experience as a session player.

If only someone had helped me discover this passion sooner.

2. Personal Development

I started my personal development journey in 2007 and although it has been a bumpy road, nothing has had a greater impact on my ongoing growth and learning than personal development.

I’ve interviewed many of my heroes – Derek Sivers, Tommy Tallarico, Pete Lesperance, David Hooper, James Schramko, Bob Barker, and others.

I’ve started a dozen or more businesses, published over 300 podcast episodes, wrote over 2,000 articles and blog posts, and self-published five books.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but looking back, I’m not sure any of this would have happened if I hadn’t taken self-improvement seriously.

Much of what I needed to know, I didn’t learn in school – I learned in books and audio programs.

3. Entrepreneurship

I didn’t come into this world knowing that I would become a freelancer or entrepreneur.

If there was anything that tipped me off, it was my unwavering interest in homespun, DIY projects, be it music, audiobooks, blogs, podcasts, videos, or otherwise.

Even as I was offered multiple employment opportunities (some very lucrative and promising), I kept finding myself drawn back to my various personal projects. At first, I thought there was something wrong with me. Turns out creating my own job was of greater interest to me than being gainfully employed in any capacity, even if it meant sacrificing income short-term.

I know that entrepreneurship can’t really be taught. I’ve seen the way universities approach it, and it’s kind of backwards. But I certainly wouldn’t be where I’m at today without countless mentors and coaches, which just goes to show that, even if it’s just building awareness for opportunities outside of jobs, the education system is failing people who don’t fit into the system.

4. Leadership

I spent about four years in network marketing discovering the importance of leadership, that if something wasn’t quite right with a community, business, or organization, it could usually be traced back to the leader.

Then, in 2019, I engaged in a three-month leadership program that transformed my life. Starting later this month, I’m headed into an intensive, yearlong leadership and management program to further hone my skills.

It’s safe to say I don’t have leadership figured out yet. But I do know how critical it is, and I also know that I want to build structures and a team around me so that I can be more effective in my business and community efforts.

5. Communication

I know full well that there are programs based around communication. But that’s different. What I’m talking about here is the ability to connect with others, no matter who they might be, hold a conversation with them, and build a true connection.

Some people are naturals in this area, but the reality is, most of us learned what we needed to know about making friends and connecting with others through books like How to Win Friend and Influence People and Influence (affiliate links).

I’ve picked up a lot of skills in this area by attempting to build a network marketing business, listening to podcasts, and observing mentors. But knowing how to communicate with others earlier would have made a big difference for me in the areas of friendships, relationships, partnerships, and more.

Having lived in Japan and observed firsthand how the culture is more community minded, I can honestly say we’ve got a lot to learn in this area in North America. Not to say Japan can’t learn a few things from us, too, though.

Final Thoughts

I certainly can’t discount the notion that because of school, I discovered what I didn’t want, and didn’t like. There’s a lot of value in knowing that, because it can help you move in the direction of what you do want and do like.

And I’m certainly not saying that the education system is all bad. I believe the teachers of the world should be some of the highest paid individuals, given that they hold the future in their hands. If they were equipped with the right tools, and empowered with the right skills, they could do so much more to impact generations.

But remember – if school didn’t prepare you for everything in this life, it’s because it was never meant to. What you truly need, especially if you’re on an unconventional path, is ongoing self-education and personal development.

For more inspiration, be sure to sign up for my email list.

4 Myths That Stop Musicians from Building Their Team

4 Myths That Stop Musicians from Building Their Team

People frequently ask me:

“How in the world do you do it all?”

“You wouldn’t expect a musician to do all of THIS, would you?”

The blunt answer is “yes”, especially if you’re serious about making your musical dreams a reality.

But what I realized is there’s a bit of a mindset gap…

And once you’ve bridged this gap, you’ll be able to see this problem from a different angle, which will make it easier to solve.

Here’s what you need to know:

Myth #1: You’ve Got to Know it All

False.

I think it’s easy to feel that way as an artist. Because when you think about it, even if you’re just the drummer in a band, you end up taking on a lot.

From personal practice and rehearsals, to shows and load-in/load-out, your responsibilities are more extensive than you might be inclined to think about.

And then, of course, there’s the whole issue of recording in the studio, playing to a click, keeping the beat tight, and so forth.

There’s nothing wrong with learning, and I’m a big believer in ongoing self-education.

I even covered it in episode 55 of my podcast:

But trying to gain competency in every area of your career – be it booking, marketing, publicity, admin, business, or otherwise – is a long road, and it’s probably not the best use of your time.

If you’re a drummer, you should be spending most of your time drumming.

If you’re a songwriter, you should be pumping out song ideas.

You want to be spending most of your time in your genius zone, even if you’re occasionally pulled away to handle whatever tasks you’ve agreed to take on.

You want to be spending most of your time in your genius zone, even if you’re occasionally pulled away to handle whatever tasks you’ve agreed to take on. Click To Tweet

And, by the way, if you’re in a band, you should be divvying up tasks based on the strengths of each member.

Myth #2: You’ve Got to do it All

Wrong.

You should never get too good at what you hate, because then you’ll be stuck with the task.

You should never get too good at what you hate because you’ll get stuck with the task. Click To Tweet

I’m not saying it’s always going to be smooth sailing. There are going to be days you don’t want to get up to do what you need to do.

But that doesn’t mean you need to shoulder all the responsibility.

There’s an African proverb you may have heard:

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

What it means is that while you can achieve big results quickly working all by your lonesome, you can ultimately achieve more with the help of a team.

Entrepreneurs have many early regrets. Some say they wished they had started building their email list sooner.

Others say they wish they had known about X book, Y system, or Z resource.

But the overwhelming majority say their number one regret was not hiring sooner.

You don’t need to be the one completing all the tasks, especially if the tasks are low impact, low priority, and tedious grunt work you’re not even good at and don’t enjoy.

Myth #3: You’ve Got to Spend a Fortune on Your Team

By now you should be starting to see how all these myths are interconnected. And by un-collapsing the pieces, you can begin to see the forest for the trees.

So, the insane part about this most musicians don’t realize is…

If they sign to a label, in many cases, they will instantly give up 70 to 95% of their gross revenue.

We’ll say the ratio is 80/20 just to make it easier to understand – the label keeps 80%, you keep 20%.

But you can easily flip these numbers upside down by taking ownership of your career and doing your own hiring, firing, outsourcing and so on.

And there are some incredible tools that make this process simple. Sites like:

Are all great examples.

Whether you’re looking to get some graphic design work done, or you want your next lyric video created, guaranteed you can find someone with the skills, knowledge, and experience to be able to help you in the capacity you need.

Sure, it might take some digging. You might make a few mistakes.

But when you consider the alternative, of handing over 80% of your career versus keeping 80% of it,  you can begin to shift your mindset around your spending, such that you’re actively reinvesting in your career instead of holding tightly onto your financial resources, which will just sit there and do nothing for you.

You can actively invest or reinvest in your career and grow faster. Or you can sit on your financial resources and stay stagnant. Click To Tweet

Myth #4: You’ve Got to be the Smartest Person in the Room

Not so.

An entrepreneur typically wants to be the dumbest person in the room, so they can be a sponge, learn from others and allow the people around them to shine in their strengths.

Again, this goes back to knowing it all and doing it all, which is incredibly inefficient.

You do want to be a good leader. But being a good leader begins with self. If you lead yourself well, and ask good questions, you can lead a team no problem.

One of my mentors is an expert at this. When there’s a project he wants to bring to life, he gathers like-minded people who are committed to the cause.

And slowly, over time, he begins to move the team in the right direction. Remember the African proverb from earlier? He might not get anywhere fast using this approach, but he will go far.

Although he leads his people, he never tells them what to do!

He asks questions, guides the discussion, and helps his team arrive at the answer that makes the most sense for all involved.

Now, he’s willing to have as many conversations as necessary, getting to know the people around him, assessing their suitability to the project, understanding their motivations and desires, ensuring their level of commitment…

But besides teaching his team how to think, having conversations and sending emails, he doesn’t lift a finger. Incredible!

You may not have the same level of patience to lead people in this manner. That’s okay – you’re going to have your own way of going about things.

But the example is certainly one worth learning from.

Building Your Team, Summary

When you’ve got big goals and dreams for your career and your life, you’re going to be tempted to ask “how?”

This question, unfortunately, stops us dead in our tracks. The question we should train ourselves to ask instead is “who?”

There is always someone that can help us build a bridge from one canyon to the next. They might be a freelancer or a full-time assistant. They might offer short-term help, or they might become a permanent member of the team. That part will basically sort itself out, and you need not worry about it.

So, whenever you’re stuck, don’t ask yourself “how?”

Instead ask:

“What conversation am I NOT having?”

Because THAT conversation is the one you need to have next.

The Music Entrepreneur Code paperback

The Music Entrepreneur Code is my latest best-selling book, and it’s available here as well as on Amazon.