Two words to define the year: Positivity & Fearlessness

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A very good friend and colleague recently shared that she would be choosing two words to define the year. These would be words that represented what she hoped to make 2016—words to cling to in the face of struggle, adversity, and challenge. Words to motivate and encourage, and to keep her on track.

When I decided to take on the same mission I found my own words come to mind almost immediately: Positivity and Fearlessness. These would be the words that made up my 2016. Positive thinking would dominate my days, and every time I felt an “I can’t do this” or “I’m not good enough” creep into my head, I’d crush it with positivity, telling myself that in fact I can do this and I am good enough, and not only that, but I have all the tools I need to achieve my goals–it’s just a matter of making it happen. And each time I felt the crushing weight of stress, a head overwhelmed with too many “to-dos” and not enough balance, I would fight the cloudiness with a vision for my future, and move head first towards every single thing I wanted. I would not let fear of the unknown stop me, nor would I let the fear of becoming a failure get in my way. The imagined obstacles of my mind’s creation would no longer stand between me and my dreams.

Only a few days into this exercise and I can already feel a shift. Slowly but surely I can feel my outlook and in turn, my outcomes changing. I encourage you to find two words to define your 2016—the kind of year, the kind of life that you want to lead. What would those two words be?

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“To days to come. All my love to long ago”

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On this last day of 2015, it seems only right to reflect on the year which brought me so much personal growth.

2015 dealt me a lot of blows, but it also provided me a lot of opportunities. In only my second year running Muddy Paw PR, and really the first year doing it full-time, we acquired over 30 new clients, several returning, and found them homes on many wonderful blogs and podcasts. But as cool as it is to think in numbers, I’m not sure my accomplishments this year can be measured in any way other than true self-reflection.

2015 was the year I started to find myself again. To understand who I am as an individual. Not who I am as someone’s girlfriend, or someone’s best friend, but who I am 100% on my own. And I won’t lie, it wasn’t always pretty. I spent four months traveling the US and Canada, which as amazing as it sounds, posed a lot of unexpected challenges. For weeks at a time I found myself completely alone— I was shocked at how lonely I felt. There were times I felt guilty for not being happier. This was the kind of thing people longed for. Here I was living so many people’s dreams, yet still unhappy.

But when I found myself at my breaking point, I also found out what I’m made of. Who I am at my core, and where I need to make changes and what matters most to me. I gained a new appreciation for family, and for my home, Boston. In this way, my struggles became my biggest asset.

With 2016, I’m going to grow myself, and my company to be stronger than ever. I’m going to develop the confidence needed to take things to the next level—whatever that may be, to take more risks and trust in my own gut instincts. We will begin to expand in a way that makes sense for the company and our clients, starting with Boston.

There is a beautiful quote in The Alchemist which attests that when you want something bad enough, the universe conspires in helping you achieve it. You just need to learn to trust yourself, see the omens, and follow your heart. I hope all of you follow your heart in the coming year and settle for nothing less than true happiness. I hope you go after your dreams with true ferocity, and that you learn to be happy with what you have. Here’s to a magical 2016.

“If you keep living your life exactly as it is now, will you like your life in two years?”

“If the question makes you uneasy or anxious, you need to own that. You need to claim that thing you want. That’s how you create change.” -Dr. Meg Jay, The Defining Decade

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time. Every time I see it, I feel a little uneasy, a little anxious, and very motivated. It’s the kind of question that makes you reflect and forces you to think about your circumstances. 

 But with each new year, I find myself in a position of opportunity. After all, what better time is there to start fresh? To organize new goals and milestones and to instil changes that can gently push us towards our stretch goals? 

One great way to see how we’ve grown or where we might need some practice is to evaluate goals we set for ourselves during the previous year. What did we accomplish and what slipped away? Nothing is ever really a failure if we learn from it, and as they say, failures provide the best learning and growth opportunities.

As Dr. Jay says, you need to claim what you want. Change doesn’t happen  by silently wishing it into existence, and in the end regret is a much more difficult feeling to live with than the initial push you need to get motivated. Think about what you want, and then work backwards to figure out what steps you need to take to get there. It may be something that takes a month to accomplish, or it may take 5 years. But either way, the time is going to pass. So why not make it memorable?

The Messy Truth About Starting Your Career

Earlier today I read a fascinating and eye opening article by the licensing company MusicBed. If you have the time, I highly recommend a full read, but in summary, the article discusses the fear that so many of us are often paralyzed with. That we can’t take that initial leap until we’ve sorted out every single detail of our adventure. It’s a fear that I’m sure many of you know all too well, and that I myself have struggled with.

The article poses the question: “Are you the type of person who carefully checks the temperature of a swimming pool before slowly, over the course of an hour or so, working your way into the water? Or are you someone who dives into the deep end headfirst like a lunatic?” While there’s something to be said for careful planning and decision making, there’s also a lot of value in going with your gut when time is of the essence, and making a leap based entirely off intuition, and the desire to get the job done. It’s trusting your vision, and somewhere along the way figuring out what tools you need to make it a reality.

The truth is that none of us really know what we’re doing most of the time. We have a faint idea, sure, but the getting there is oftentimes messy. It’s filled with little mistakes and mishaps, and a few embarrassments—but it’s also how we learn best. We can’t expect to innately know things or for our schools to teach us the things that we ourselves don’t even know we want to learn yet.  When the occasion strikes we have to find that confidence in ourselves to get up, get out there, and learn by doing. Not just by reading, and not just by asking questions (though those are certainly valuable tools), but by taking the initiative to really do the things we’re curious about. After all, this is our only life and the world doesn’t really owe us anything. If we want things to change in our own lives, we have to make it happen. You have all the tools you need to be successful—you just have to find the confidence to make it happen.

The Importance of Community in the Music Industry (IE My Love Letter to Balanced Breakfast)

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Balanced Breakfast San Francisco. Photo credit: Jared Swanson

You know what this industry is lacking? Community. A true community spirit where people want to help each other because they genuinely care, because they want to see one another succeed, and because they recognize that we all need each other. We need more people willing to help out because it’s the right thing to do, because we all need help sometimes. And we need less people who are only out for themselves, and who can’t see the value in helping others, unless it feeds directly into their own gain. Luckily, something like this exists. It’s called Balanced Breakfast, and it will change your life.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I could talk incessantly about Balanced Breakfast. But what is BB? In short, it’s a community of musicians and industry professionals that meet regularly to talk shop. Originating in San Francisco, but now operating in over 7 cities in the US and Canada, BB is a safe space to ask questions, share knowledge, and most importantly, support one another. It is the most beautiful community I’ve ever been part of.

When I first moved to San Francisco in December of 2013, I have to admit that I was really struggling. I was far from home, just starting my own business in the music industry, and I didn’t know anyone. I came across Balanced Breakfast on a whim, and almost immediately it became my anchor. I no longer felt alone. In fact, with each new meeting, I made new friends, some of whom eventually became artists of mine under Muddy Paw PR. But that’s the thing. These people were always friends before clients. In fact, even during and after our time working together, they remained friends first. They were people I looked up to, people I could grab a coffee with, people whose shows I genuinely wanted to see, not just because I liked their music but because I liked who they were as people. Because I wanted to support them and likewise, they wanted to support me.

That’s the thing that’s always been so magical about Breakfast. It’s a community first, and a networking group second. It’s a safe place to ask questions and get industry insight from people who genuinely care about you. And let’s face it, we need more of that in the music industry. We need less of this childish, cuththroat behavior that we’ve all faced, and more willingness to help one another and thrive together, not separately. Because when we all come together, we can get a whole lot more done than when we strike out on our own.

 

Creativity > Mediocrity in the Music Biz

I always say creativity over the mediocre. For artists, this idea is more than just a  suggestion—it’s a necessity. With hundreds of thousands of artists vying for the same press, same fans, same licensing deals, getting noticed isn’t what it used to be. That’s why when you have the opportunity to get a little creative, you have to take it. And more than that, you have to learn to recognize the opportunity even when it isn’t spelled out for you.

I’m a member of the music industry meet up (I like to call it a movement) called Balanced Breakfast. We’re a group of passionate artists and industry professionals who meet regularly to talk shop. Just a few weeks ago we got on the topic of music videos, when one of the members of San Francisco psychedelic rock band Battlehooch piped up with mention of their Desolation Series.

One look and it’s pretty easy to see how creative these guys got with their approach. I mean, they’re playing their instruments in the water! It has a total southern, swampy, bayou feel to it from the band’s attire to their setting. It’s a brilliant use of their surroundings and best of all? It didn’t cost them a dime.

So how did this come to be? During their tour in the south a few years back, the band had some downtime and instead of sitting around and wasting the opportunity, they decided to make their own luck. With the help of director Gabriel Armstrong, the idea for this series was born.

How many people probably walk by that same body of water every day, never even thinking of the uses it could have? But Battlehooch did. Because they’ve taught themselves to be creative, open minded, and think outside the box, every now and again these opportunities seem to present themselves almost serendipitously.

What opportunities might you gain, if only you opened yourself up to them? To the idea that everything might not look exactly like you planned, might not be as polished as you once thought—but that the real gems lie in the opportunities you stumble upon. In the slightly rugged, so crazy-it-just-might-work situations? What could you achieve if you opened yourself up to the unknown?

On Being Thankful

As the Black Friday sales come to an end, and we begin to finish off our leftovers from Thursday’s Thanksgiving feast, I’m finding time to be thankful. And while it’s true that we should be thankful everyday, and in small ways I suppose we are, the truth is that we get lost in the day to day of life, and the whirlwind of responsibilities and chaos that we face on a daily basis. We get sucked into surviving and we forget to enjoy the living. Of this, I am most certainly guilty.

This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for a few things. I’m thankful for all the normal things like a loving family, good friends, health, and a roof over my head. But I’m also thankful for the things that I don’t give nearly enough credence. I’m thankful for the passion that burns in my soul, that drives me forward each day, getting me closer and closer to my goals. I’m thankful for the artists I work with, who allow me to live my dream each day, and welcome me to be a part of theirs. I’m thankful for crisp fall air, and warm summer days, and that I got to spend 4 months out of my year traveling the US and Canada. That I had the fortune to see cities I never imagined I’d see, have experiences I never dreamed I would, and meet people from all walks of life. I have met people who will never know how much they’ve impacted me, and people who I try to tell every day. Yet it will never be enough.

This time of year, I want you to all be thankful for whatever it is you have, be it large or small. I want you to cherish it and know that none of us are owed anything and that everything we have means something. And then I want you to turn to those people, to those things that make you most thankful and make sure they’re acknowledged. In the spirt of giving thanks, let’s make sure our voices are heard and our potentials realized.