In Conversation with Jim Messina, Musician, Songwriter, Singer, Guitarist, Recording Engineer and Record Producer

I recently interviewed Jim Messina on All Access Radio and what a terrific conversation we had! Jim’s legacy spans five decades, three acclaimed rock groups, a vibrant solo career and an array of producing and engineering credits. He’s one of those guys who can do it all.  We spent the time reflecting on his dynamic career, collaborations and his current tour. (more…)

In Conversation with Shep Gordon — Supermensch

I had the pleasure of interviewing “supermensch” and artist manager extraordinaire Shep Gordon a short while ago on All Access Radio.  Shep’s been a real inspiration throughout my career, and it’s been fascinating to follow his journey over the years — and a real pleasure to a catch up with him for our fireside chat on my podcast.

Shep is truly a visionary Hollywood manager, agent and producer responsible for building some of the biggest careers in entertainment. He’s worked with many incredible artists over the years — including Alice Cooper, whom he continues to manage today after nearly 50 years (!). He’s also the subject of the acclaimed Mike Myers-produced documentary “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon.”

What I enjoyed most about our conversation was learning more about how he approaches life – how he manages the challenges, successes, failures – the ups and downs in life and career. (more…)

Gathering of the Tribe: A Reunion of the Visionaries Who Launched the Digital Music Revolution

Last week I was honored to join an invite-only gathering of my peers at the City Vineyard in NYC (owned and run by one of my colleagues, Michael Dorf and one of the hosts of this reunion event).

The gathering was meant to honor us crazy visionaries who saw the future of the convergence of music and tech over 20 years ago…and who lived in a crystal ball waiting for the world to catch up with our visions for what would be possible. In my case the future started at the beginning of 1988 when I was part of a small team who birthed the music and entertainment focus at Apple. (more…)

Taking Care of Business (cash flows & taxes)

City-columnDo you ever notice how one day can flow into the next, as can the weeks/months/years if you’re not careful? If we’re not mindful, we can get into the drift and ‘check out’ as a slave to a routine and habits we’ve created that may at one time have worked for us but no longer do. As responsible adults who seek to go beyond ‘getting by’ and instead ‘thriving’ in our lives, it makes sense to stop and re-assess what’s working for us and what isn’t periodically. This applies to our own personal health and well being, and that of our business as well. I’ve been running my small business for nearly two decades now.

There are plenty of joys in running your own business — and I can tell you without a doubt that the most challenging aspect of it, in my experience, is managing cash flows and working capital. What do you do when clients make commitments (or suggest that they intend to), but either don’t come through as you had planned or are delayed (sometimes for extended periods)? (more…)

The True Meaning of Freedom (at least for me)

For many of us here in the US, we’re celebrating our country’s Independence Day this week (on the 4th). A lot of people gloss over the real meaning of the day…how many lost their lives to ensure we have the many freedoms most in this country take for granted, but which are responsible for us being a global leader. I think it’s worth taking a few minutes to pause and reflect on that as we’re spending time with family and friends this week.

That’s an external orientation. There’s an internal view as well, and that is we’re halfway through the year. It’s a great chance to pause and take stock of whether your year is on track, and whether you’re making progress towards the key goals you outlined at the beginning of the year. (more…)

A Conversation with Ken Kragen, Legendary Organizer of “We Are the World”

City-columnAmong his many other achievements, Ken Kragen is the legendary organizer behind “We are the World”, with an illustrious career that transcends the music and entertainment industries where he has managed several notable entertainers including Kenny Rogers, Lionel Richie, Olivia Newton-John, The Bee Gees and Burt Reynolds. Ken was a recent guest on my podcast show, All Access Radio, and I thought I’d share some of my favorite parts of our talk. (more…)

Thought Leadership as a Differentiator

City-columnFirst of all, what is a thought leader and why does it matter in the business world?

A thought leader often refers to an individual (or sometimes a firm) that is recognized as an authority in their unique business niche and whose expertise is often highly valued and sought out within that business niche.

The reason this matters is that it’s important from a branding and repute standpoint to be stand out as a credible industry expert with rich knowledge and curated opinions of value on select topics to contribute. This allows us as entrepreneurs to stand out, differentiate ourselves in an otherwise crowded marketplace, and to be sought after as experts and authorities with value to offer clients, the media, and our peers. You don’t typically call yourself a thought leader; it’s an acknowledgement that others grant you. Bottom line: someone who rises above the din and is probably worth listening to. (more…)

Beatles Fans Rejoice — Plenty of Reasons to Celebrate!

beatles-fans-2Many people in my world know that the Beatles are far and away my favorite group of all time; in fact, I’m known as a “Beatle-ologist” given my vast knowledge of far too much trivia having to do with the band. Like so many others, they inspired me to pursue my career in music from a very young age (I can recall being very deliberate about that choice as early as when I was 8 years old as a direct result of the Beatles).

The Beatles have never really gone away (well their music hasn’t anyway), and to that end Beatle fans have a couple of reasons to celebrate of late including the following: (more…)

Serendipity at Airports and on Flights

Boing 747 London - BangkokThose of us who fly often have learned that it pays to stay observant and opportunistic when you’re on flights and in airports. Most people are in their own little world — focused on their laptops, Kindles or iPads, or immersed in their smartphones. I enjoy looking around and experiencing what’s going on around me — you never know who you may bump into. (more…)

Observations from the set of “The Voice”

the-voice-setUnless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several years (or just don’t watch network TV), you’ve probably heard about or watched the wildly popular TV show, “The Voice” on NBC; where aspiring singers compete for a recording contract with the help of four successful artists as coaches. Having been an A&R exec at EMI Music in my past, my role was to scout, sign and develop artists for the label — so I’m intimately familiar with the process that these aspiring artists are going through in an attempt to become a star in the music industry For awhile, we had “American Idol” and “The Voice” on air at the same time — but since Idol wound down, “The Voice” has reigned supreme in this category. The current celeb coaches are Blake Shelton, Alicia Keys, Gwen Stefani and Adam Levine.

Recently I was invited to take a tour of the set and watch a taping of the show as a member of the studio audience. I’ll admit right upfront that I’m a bit jaded as I’m in the industry, and it wasn’t my first taping of a show; whereas nearly everyone else participating was a tourist where this was a first time event and a really big deal for them.

Having been a talent producer as well for decades, honestly I couldn’t stop myself from wearing my ‘behind the scenes’ glasses. (more…)

Get Out of Your Own Way — Allow Things to Flow Easier

letting-go-balloonsHave you ever noticed how we can make things more difficult than they need to be? Either by overthinking something, making it more complicated than it needs to be, getting worked up in a way that doesn’t serve us, or otherwise being fixed on things having to be a certain way in our lives? That’s how we sabotage the good things that want to come our way. We can actually stop our good from getting to us because we don’t allow it in when it shows up on our front doorstep! Conversely, when we take time to ‘pause’ and reflect on a situation (and what we most want to have happen), when we trust our hearts over our heads to make the choice that will serve us best, and trust that the Universe is doing its best to deliver us what we say we want — things can flow to us more readily and with much less struggle and strife. (more…)

Slow Down to Speed Up

450px-slow_down_sign_reed_college_portland_oregon_2013Many of us move, work and live at breakneck speeds, often to our detriment. We create or participate in accidents, we make mistakes, we create stress in ourselves and others, we create tension and illness in our bodies, and we simply don’t do our best work in that state. It’s true that my favorite business magazine ironically is “Fast Company”, but I’m also a fan of the Slow Food movement which started over 30 years ago now.

The truth is we do have enough time and we can get everything done (more…)

The Power of Collaboration

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

One of my mentors, Alan Weiss, is about to come out with a terrific new book called “Lifestorming” co-authored with Marshall Goldsmith who is himself one of the most sought after executive coaches on the planet. This veteran author duo have collectively published nearly 100 books on human behavior. Neither needs the other, but they opted to come together to create something of value to their shared audience. This collaboration between two very successful juggernauts in the business world should produce a pretty powerful result given what each of them has achieved on his own. We’ll find out when the book comes out on May 1st!

I’ve always been a big believer in the power of collaboration — to harness and leverage the gifts of two (or more) talented individuals to create an outcome that’s even more valuable and impactful than if each was crafting something on their own.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney are another great example of this; there would have been no Beatles (or arguably they wouldn’t have been nearly as successful) if those two hadn’t come together — pun intended. (more…)

Embracing Serendipity: Seizing Opportunities as they Arise

forest-path-238887_960_720Have you ever stopped to notice how things are always working in our favor? It may be time to start doing so. A chance encounter turns into the creation of a new friend or collaborator, a flight delay turns into creating a client, and a flash of intuition can even save our life by avoiding an accident or some other mishap. Maybe you’ve experienced some of this for yourself, and almost certainly you’ve heard of others who have.

In my own case, a dramatic example is that I avoided getting on Flight 93 on 9-11 (the one that crashed over PA) simply because I had a very strong intuition that led me to abort my trip to NYC to participate in producing a big Michael Jackson event — and I’d been booked on that flight to return home afterwards. (more…)

Honoring the 48-year “Marriage” of Shep Gordon and Alice Cooper

pollstar-live-17-keynote-image-with-captionEarlier this month the annual Pollstar Live event took place in LA; if you’re not familiar with it, this is the largest gathering of concert industry professionals in the world. It’s a chance for colleagues to come together and exchange best practices, get current on the latest goings-on and network with each other. I’ve been co-producing the annual Awards Show that caps it off for over 15 years. The Keynote at Pollstar Live is typically one of the highlights of the whole event and this year was no exception. It was Shep Gordon (aka “SuperMensch”) and his longest client, Alice Cooper, coming together to share stories about their 48 years of working together.  (more…)

Talking with Uber Drivers

driver-and-dashboardYou know how when we used to take cabs and you’d never make eye contact with the driver let alone have a conversation with them. I’m not sure what’s changed in the transition to Uber, but I’ve noticed that in virtually every ride I’ve taken via Uber, I find myself having fascinating conversations with the drivers. Maybe it’s just me, but the ones I’ve had rides with inevitably have surprisingly interesting stories and backgrounds. It’s easy enough to hide behind your smartphone and detach, but I’ve come to enjoy engaging with my driver more often than not.  (more…)

Add Accountability to Adopt New (Improved!) Habits

habitsThis is a time of year when many decide to shift habits with the best of intentions, but unfortunately good intentions alone won’t do the job. Ingrained habits need more than a nudge to bust through in favor of replacing them with those that will support us with where we want to go. One powerful tool that will help you go the distance is accountability. The acronym SMART comes to mind — Specific, Measurable, Action, Relevant, and Time-based; and all that is true. A way to manage all of that is by creating a simple accountability matrix that you review and track daily; it only takes a few minutes. (more…)

A Conversation with Beth Harrington, Producer, Director, Writer

beth-harringtonI met Beth Harrington at the Portland Creative conference last year where we were both honored to be speakers, and we clicked immediately. I knew she would make a great guest for my podcast, and last week I had the pleasure of interviewing her on All Access Radio.

Beth is an independent producer, director, writer, singer, and guitarist. Her love for American history, music and culture has led to a series of award-winning and critically acclaimed films including her most recent film, The Winding Stream, The Carters, The Cashes and the Course of Country Music. (more…)

Resolutions — Time for a Different Approach?

new-year_resolutions_listEach year at this time many of us sit down to make a list of resolutions for the new year. And then that list gets filed somewhere, not to be re-visited, and we go about our lives throughout the year mostly status quo. By February the gym returns to its normal flow of truly committed fitness mavens vs those who are merely well intentioned. The thing is, resolutions require new habits to be adopted; taken on with commitment and consistency. And that takes a little rigor and grit, especially during the first 30 days — after which science shows the new habit has taken hold. So this year, what can you do to ensure that by the end of the year your intentions are in alignment with your results? (more…)