Necessary GaGa Mentor, Masterclass comes to American Idol

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CLEVELAND – How do you feel about getting a little psycho? 

Summary of this nasty, insatiable spectacle that continues to define and transcend into the timeless:

  • Give them a little Edith Piaf. Fabulous. If you have not watched Inception’s Marion Cotillard joie de vivre; visceral interpretation of La Vie en Rose, you’re probably not reading this to begin with…
  • There’s nothing wrong with Ginger Rogers.
  • Elvis was moving his hips.
  • Little known fact: GaGa’s mentor used to tie her wrists together during scales, arpeggios, runs, warmups etc .

I remember my tutor, Howard Spindler at the Eastman School of Music and alumni of Oberlin College (another school I originally auditioned with), used to make me cut my nails if I came to sessions unprepared. It was like nails (pun intended) on a chalkboard for him:

Click. Click. Slide. C-LICK.

Not conducive to flying fingers. Other tactics Spindler would use with me was putting a ruler or piece of paper in front of the sheet music when I began to rely too heavily on the notes and not the story, the pathos/ethos/logos of Bartók, Chopin, Rachmaninoff (damn his gargantuan hands!), Mozart, Beethoven, Shostakovich or Schumann’s Stories for Children.

But perhaps my favorite of his methods: literally slapping my wrists from underneath if I began to push them downward (which leads to carpal tunnel), as if I’d touched boiling, lava-hot magma: Reflex. Get your wrists (or in little monster’s case: Paws) up!!!!


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Lou Holtz, Hendrix and the Prince of Egypt on Attitude: Just Believe

Admonitions from Lou Holtz in my Twitter stream jarred me out of a summer haze (not that kind, deviants…) this morning:

Ability is what you are capable of.

Motivation determines what you do.

Attitude determines how well you do it.

Admittedly, I’ve had a chip on my shoulder lately. Too often it’s easy to gripe about perceived injustice, lack of appreciation or acknowledgement from friends, family and in the workplace.

Even if said sentiments are valid, I’ve come to realize it’s just wasted time, space and energy.

As with forgiveness, happiness is a choice. It’s a gift we give ourselves.

Again, as mentioned in previous posts: the world doesn’t care if you have a degree, nor how hard you may have worked for it.

The world doesn’t care if you’re grossly underpaid, overqualified, under-qualified or entitled. If you have a dissertation, 14K grill like Lil Wayne, 10-foot spoiler on a tiny sedan or more bling than the polar ice caps.

But the world might care if you care. Might believe if you believe. 

How many times, mornings…

Days.

Weeks.

Months does it get increasingly harder to wake up ready and willing to face whatever’s next?

To extricate ourselves from our own self-pity, helpless-complex or demoralizing slumps and quietly say:

I’ll try again.

I’ll be better.

And not for anyone else but me.

And with that perspective the nerve and renewed desire to lighten someone else’s load, too…

That’s commitment. That’s selflessness from selfishness. Cynics might dismiss as antiquated, but experience seems to say that forgiving yourself usually precedes forgiving others.

As Daniel Deronda said, it’s about using your unhappiness to help you see other peoples’ pain. 

One of my favorite flicks is the story of John Nash, the mathematics savant from West Virginia played by Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, which garnered 4 Academy awards (including Best Picture) in 2001.  

One scene that particularly resonated with me depicts a young, salient and blisteringly impatient Nash witnessing a “pen ceremony” (where faculty present their pens in honoring and welcoming a distinguished member).

Though not an official rite of passage at Princeton, the reel goes on to Nash’s professor asking, ‘What do you see?’ Nash replies, “Recognition.”

Shaking his head, the professor elucidates him: Accomplishment.

So often we miss the mark because we’re too focused on the mark, rather than our motives and the process of getting there. Perhaps the hardest part is recognizing when perspective’s lost, where we might have veered off-course in our attempts to control where we’re headed.

The notion of a journey, not a destination. The notion of being present, and slowing down to embrace the moment for what it is.

Granted, nothing worthwhile comes without a cost. I’ve learned that the most rewarding and enriching experiences have also stretched me the most.

Have hurt the most. Have disappointed the most. But man you stretch — and that’s what truly matters.

My first annual review post-college is this month, a part-time gig at a humble, locally-owned business in the town where I attended university. Perhaps the title and the prestige aren’t there, but at some point the world doesn’t seem to care a whole lot about that either.

Rather than dwelling on the fact that friends, family and loved ones are thousands of miles away out West and scattered across the globe, I’ve learned in the past few years to focus on making the best of the people, places and time that are in front of me.

To check my attitude, and willingness to make someone’s life a little easier. To accept the only guarantee I know so far: change is consistent.

Upcoming Footloose ( ahem — remake) dude Kenny Wormald‘s onto something:

If you’re true to yourself and you work hard, and treat people with respect you will Grow… 

RELATED LINKS

Dan Waldschmidt >> Why Believing is the New Selling

Spin Sucks >> Seven Habits to Change the Perception of PR

Anthony Iannarino (new site looks great) >> Unlearning Learned Helplessness

Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute >> PR and Fighting the Content Marketing Battle Within

 

 

Global Reflection: Finding Value from Facebook Insights and Bit.ly

So far the greatest value I’ve gleaned from having a Facebook page and using bit.ly (a link shortening application) across channels has been through the insights both provide in terms of statistics, metrics and demographics. 

Though Facebook is a bit more linear, with mainly X, Y tables and bar graphs, I love how visual bit.ly is, with its pie charts and use of color palettes to represent different metrics.

Here are some of the most revealing stats so far, beginning with Facebook page Insights:

  • Of the 1,023 users who “Like” (formerly “fanned”) the page, 52% are women
  • Of that 52%, 47% comprise women ages 18-34 
  • Of the remaining 38% male population, 92% comprise men ages 18-34
  • The rate of monthly active users has reached 2,660 — an increase of 241% 

My favorite metric? The countries section, where Insights breaks down my sphere of influence with users across the globe.

According to Facebook and bit.ly, I reach users in 69 countries including the United States (pre-Google+) :

Canada, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Finland, Hong Kong, Columbia, Italy, Mexico, Australia, Spain, Macedonia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Dominican Republic, Israel, South Korea, the Republic of Korea, Brazil, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, Kyrgyzstan, New Zealand, India, Aruba, the Bahamas, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, Denmark, Czech Republic, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Portugal, Serbia, Paraguay, Peru, the Phillipines, Costa Rica, Ireland, Russia, Indonesia, Egypt, South Africa and Singapore.

Fathered or fatherless (some of us both), we are all connected. Experience precedes belief.

Though most of you may not be over for a beer and bedtime story, or to help move my couch anytime soon, I’m encouraged and humbled by the idea that we’re all here.

Alive.

Able to live in such a way that others are better for having known us, no matter how brief or seemingly trivial.

That’s powerful.  

Fresh-off a whirlwind month of Google+, Spotify, tweetups, the finale of Harry Potter (does an early screening and seeing it twice since the weekend make me a geek? Lol)

and finishing the book Joe Pulizzi gave me at the last Cleveland social media workshop, I’ve mulled around  two lessons.  Though not particularly profound, from the most basic, human element I can only err in potential:

1) Love

The overarching theme of the Harry Potter series and Pulizzi’s Get Content, Get Customers is love. 

To summarize, remember it is not the biggest, fastest, smartest or strongest that wins in the end.

It’s the one with the most heart. 

2) Motive: As John Maxwell (I momentarily had to recover from a schoolboy, star-struck moment when he followed me on Twitter) said in the Journey from Success to Significance, the right motive keeps you from manipulating others. 

Essentially: Power, fame/notoriety and all the glitz or glamour wealth can buy means nothing if you are not led by Love.

If at the end of the day, your heart and mind has no sanctuary, no one else to share in your joy (and grief), what was the point?

For whom, how — why did you get out of bed every morning? If you have nothing left to fight for other than yourself, you’re not really living yet — least of all flourishing.

Some are content to survive. Others will work hard and give their all, and with enough commitment, persistence, faith and a wee-bit of fortune earn the privilege to thrive.  

It is not a right, not a guarantee. Once again, we are not entitled to anything apart from a good attitude, hefty dose of humility, accountability to ourselves (and others)…and hard work.

On a consistent basis.

I’m beginning to see what Tim Ferriss and Guy Kawasaki mean when they say to Give so much that it feels uncomfortable.

I’d add hurts or awkward to those sentiments, too. Pride doesn’t mix well with love or compassion.

And as Forrest said so well in his endearingly glib way:

That’s all I have to say about that.