Classic Jabber Podcast Episode 18 “Compassion”

Classic Jabber
May 3, 2019

Some people are more compassionate than others, but we seem to find people who are more compassionate as more attractive than those who are not! Why is that, and how do classical musicians come across in society? Click the link above to hear SPB in conversation with his friends and learn more about this.

Nurture Your Music and Watch Your Audience

Nurturing brings to mind images of mothers and gardeners – people who feed and care for living things, helping them grow and develop with attention and compassion. And while it’s obvious that a nurturing attitude is attractive in these people, it can be hard to imagine how one would nurture music. Nonetheless, nurturing your music is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that you and your performances make an impact on the world around you.

To nurture means simply to encourage, protect, and cherish something (or someone) as it grows. We’re big proponents of cherishing your audience – without them, you have no career. But how exactly can you nurture that audience or the music they come to hear?

Nurturing - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Caring for music

Fundamentally, music is a language – a communication tool. In fact, music is the only universal language. Every culture in the world incorporates music in some way, and every human being can experience it. If you can speak, you can sing. If you have a pulse, you have rhythm. Music speaks of emotion, and it steps in when words no longer suffice. It’s extremely valuable, even indispensable, and as such, it deserves care and respect.

However, unlike a plant or a child, which exist regardless of whether anyone notices, music only exists when it is experienced. Yes, music is represented by notes on a page – but that isn’t actually music – that’s merely the instructions for creating music. Music is an experience and to nurture it you must cultivate the experience – give it value, allow it to have reach, impact, and touch lives. This is what we mean by nurturing music.

It’s about attitude

When we nurture something, we care for it beyond and before ourselves. We do what we can to help it thrive for its own sake – not just to serve our needs. Nurturing music is no different.

If you are using music as a way to gain fame or accolades, if every performance you give is really just a way of saying, “Look at me! Aren’t I amazing?” you are not nurturing music. You are nurturing your ego. Most of us have egos that need no nurturing – they are doing just fine on their own.

To nurture music, you must respect it for what it is and what it does. Music is a way of communicating something that cannot be expressed any other way. It’s a conversation with an audience. To nurture your music, you must nurture your audience – create an environment that allows them to experience the conversation and grow from it.

As performing musicians, we diligently practice pieces so that there are no breaks in our audience’s experience of the music – so that the piece can communicate without us getting in the way. We carefully craft performances designed to offer a particular experience. But it’s important to remember that what we are really nurturing is a moment in time. A very special moment, but a finite moment. Once we’ve delivered that moment to the best of our ability we have to let it go and do what it will like a pebble in a pond. It’s time to move on to the next pebble – to creating the next moment.

If you view music as all about you, it’s impossible to craft these moments or let them go. However, if you recognize that music is a language that has been around since the first heartbeat, and will be around long after you are gone, it becomes possible to see that you are but a piece of the puzzle, a little expression of this language of emotions.

And though all people are capable of making music, professional performers are the experts. You’ve been given special stewardship over this gift of language. If you take care of this gift – if you nurture it – you are nurturing the lives of the people listening, and they will grow in both heart and number.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Be Adventurous & Be Attractive

When we think of traits we find attractive in others, some characteristics spring immediately to mind: kindness, reliability, humor.  At first glance, adventurousness might not be an obvious choice.

We tend to think of adventurous as a word to describe mountain climbers, world-travelers, dare-devils. But adventurousness is actually defined as the ability to cope with the new and unknown. In other words, an adventurous person is someone willing to step out and try something new.

Adventurous - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Steve Jobs and Willie Nelson?

Steve Jobs changed the face of personal computing (and made a tidy fortune) by walking out to the edge of technology. He decided to build a different computer, in a different way, and became a lone journeyman in a new land. Of course, today, millions of people carry around souvenirs of his adventure in their pockets.

Similarly, in 1960, when Willie Nelson, quite possibly the best-known country songwriter of the last century, arrived in Nashville, he struggled to have his songs recorded. The country music establishment considered his work too off-beat and artsy to be commercially successful. Even Patsy Cline was less than enthusiastic about recording one of Nelson’s songs, Crazy. Of course, that song would go on to become a country standard recorded by dozens of artists, and ironically, held up today as an example of “true country” by people bemoaning the new direction of the genre.

There is NO BOX!

Both Jobs and Nelson pushed the limits of what was considered expected at the time. Some would say they were “thinking outside the box.” That cliché might be the most aggravating and misinformed use of language in popular culture. Why?

Because – to think outside the box assumes the existence of a box, and there is NO BOX.

If there is a box, what is it? Where is it? Who put it there?

Perhaps by box, they simply mean tradition. In other words, the way things have always been done by the people who have always done them. In which case, of course, that “box” is something we should all aim to avoid.

Cultivating a Spirit of Adventure

You aren’t Steve Jobs or Willie Nelson. So how can you, as a performing classical musician, be more adventurous?

Seek opportunities for spontaneity. These can be small – stop at a different grocery store, drive down a strange road just to see where it goes – anything you haven’t planned to do or thought too much about counts. Spontaneity sets you up to recognize possibilities in unlikely places.

Try new things, both in your personal and professional life. Experiment with a new piece of repertoire. Set up a performance room differently, or abandon the stage entirely and walk through the audience (if possible) while playing.

Not everything will be a success. You may try something new only to discover that the traditional way does, in fact, work better. At least now you know. And you’ll find something else surprising: people love to watch others take risks. Humans love to root for the underdog. If you allow yourself to take small risks and be vulnerable, especially if those around you know that you are pushing your limits, you’ll generate all kinds of enthusiasm, compassion and connection.

And when your adventures do lead to success? Well, you’ll be surrounded by an audience who feels genuinely excited to say that they were there at the beginning.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Classic Jabber Podcast Episode 16 “Nurturing”

Classic Jabber
April 5, 2019

Some people are more nurturing than others, but we seem to find people who are more nurturing as more attractive than those who are not! Why is that, and how do classical musicians come across in society? Click the link above to hear SPB in conversation with his friends and learn more about this.

Want to Win Friends and Influence People? Get Resourceful.

For many, the word resourceful brings images of Depression Era women making clothing out of flour sacks, but resourcefulness has less to do with frugality than it does with creativity. However, it’s important to remember (though few of us do) that resourcefulness is also based on time.

Resourcefulness - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Resourcefulness and Decisiveness

Resourcefulness is closely related to decisiveness – another attractive characteristic that we covered in a recent blog post. To be resourceful, we look at what is available to us and make a quick decision about how best to use those things to solve the problem at hand.

Identifying our resources can require a fair amount of creativity. It’s easy to look around and take stock of what you have (a stack of flour sacks in the Depression-era example), but it can take more doing to think of what might be available based on what you have (a friendship with the local baker).

Resourcefulness and Relationships

Relationships (Human Resources) are vital to any successful business, but they are particularly valuable resources for performing musicians. We are in the business of providing experiences, and there is no experience without experiencers. Our entire careers are predicated on being in relationship with other musicians and our audience.

Does this mean we should exploit those relationships – use them as resources to get what we want? Yes. And no.

You never want to take advantage of anyone – that’s a sure way to lose the relationship and the resources that go along with it. However, it’s critical to remember that nothing happens without an initial action, and that initial action almost always requires you giving something (time, money, ideas, direction, etc.) to someone else in return for what you need. Your human resources are the people you can offer something to in order to get that ball rolling. 

Practice Makes Progress

So how do we get fast at finding creative solutions? Practice. Resourcefulness is based on behavior, and like all behavior, it can be learned.

Brainstorm the resources currently available to you, as well as those that might be available based on what you already have, or who you already know. Practice putting those pieces together in creative ways to discover new possibilities for meeting a current challenge.

If you do this often enough, making those connections will become second nature, and you just may become someone else’s most valuable human resource. People love problem solvers.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Classic Jabber Podcast Episode 15 “Adventurous”

Classic Jabber
April 5, 2019

Some of us seek adventure while others seek repetition, but we seem to find people who are more adventurous as more attractive than those who are not! Why is that, and how do classical musicians come across in society? Click the link above to hear SPB in conversation with his friends and learn more about this.

Do or Do Not, But Decide

There’s no doubt about it – we live in a world that values decisiveness. Just consider the words we use to describe indecisive people: wishy-washy, iffy, waffling. These do not paint a pretty picture, my friends.

What’s so great about being decisive, and why can it be so hard to just make up our minds?

Decisivines - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Decisive People Are Dynamic

We admire perfection, but we are impressed by improvement.

As an example, think of the musicians you’ve known from school or the beginning of your career. We all know someone who has always been a star player. She was great ten years ago, and she’s equally great today. No surprise.

On the other hand, there’s the player you haven’t heard in a while that is suddenly so much better than the last time. In fact, he seems to get better every time you hear him perform. He’s constantly improving, and we are all constantly impressed.

That kind of improvement doesn’t come from practice alone. Constant improvement comes from making decisions and moving forward, course-correcting when necessary (which requires making another decision) and moving forward again. There is no improvement without movement, and there’s no movement until you decide to move.

Decisive People Share the Burden

We typically think of leaders as the decision makers. However, a good leader not only allows others to make decisions but actively encourages them to do so. After all, leaders should be in the business of helping others grow and lead.

Being the sole decision maker in a group is exhausting. Regardless of whether the group is trying to figure out where to go for lunch, or which venue to book, making the final call (especially without adequate input from everyone else) can feel like a burden. There is responsibility inherent in decision making. When people take turns shouldering that responsibility, it reduces the load – and we all like to work with people who lighten our load.

Why Deciding is Difficult

Typically, people struggle to make a decision for one of two reasons:

1. They don’t know where they are going.

In an ideal world, we’d measure the possible outcome of any decision against our overarching goal. Theoretically, this should be easy. No matter how many options there are, you simply choose the most effective: Choice #4 has the highest chance of getting me closest to my goal – dilemma solved.

Unfortunately, choosing the goal itself can feel overwhelming. We live in a world of near-endless possibilities – it’s a paralyzing embarrassment of riches. What’s the best choice? What should we do?

Answer: Do SOMETHING. Even if it turns out to be the wrong thing. Which brings us to the other reason people avoid decisions:

2. They are scared to be wrong

“A good decision now is better than the best decision later.”
-General Patton  

Being decisive doesn’t mean you have to cling unwaveringly to the decisions that you make. Often, people put off making a choice until they “have all the facts.” Classical musicians in particular often fall prey to this kind of perfectionism. We can get bogged down in research and never move forward for fear we may take the wrong step. We may spend so much energy trying to find the perfect venue to reach out to that we never book a performance.

You will NEVER have ALL the facts. Not every situation is ideal, and almost every situation comes with unknown quantities. So what do we do?

We weigh the information we do have and make a choice. If different information comes along later, we can simply make a different choice. There is no need to feel guilty or ashamed about changing your mind.

But what about all the time we’ve wasted?

It is better to spend time learning lessons on a wrong path than it is to waste time standing at the crossroads going nowhere and learning nothing for fear of making a mistake. Time waits for no man, and refusing to decide becomes a decision in and of itself – a decision based on fear – and fear is rarely a good guide. So take control. Be brave, be inspiring, and decide.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Classic Jabber Podcast Episode 14 “Resourcefulness”

Classic Jabber
April 5, 2019

Some people are able to find resources everywhere while others cannot, but we seem to find people who are generally more resourceful as more attractive than those who are not! Why is that, and how do classical musicians come across in society? Click the link above to hear SPB in conversation with his friends and learn more about this.

Want to Attract Attention? Work Smarter, Not Harder

The adage, “Work smarter, not harder,” is so ubiquitous in professional development materials that it now seems nothing more than a cliché. However, all clichés are rooted in truth, and it turns out this one can do as much for your popularity as it can for your productivity.

Working Smarter: A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Why we like smart workers

You see them in every field: people who move gracefully through their tasks, ticking every box without drama or panic. They aren’t only doing all the things; they seem to be doing the right things.  Regardless of whether they’re working behind a reception desk or making their way through an international tour, just watching them work makes us calm. Yes, they impress us, but they also make us, dare we say, happy.

Why?

We live in a complicated, crazy-making world, my friends. Being around people who know how to navigate that world and have their stuff together brings us a sense of security and optimism. When we see people who know where they are going and how they are going to get there, we suddenly feel as if everything is going to be okay. Who doesn’t want more of that?

Working Smarter is Still Hard Work

Working smart doesn’t mean hardly working. It means working hard on the right things – the high-leverage actions that give the most bang for your buck.

1. Define your destination

To decide which tasks move you most quickly towards your goal, you obviously have to have a goal in mind.

A clearly defined target makes it much easier to say yes to the right things and no to things that miss the mark. The question is no longer, is this a good opportunity? (let’s be honest, as a professional musician, any performance opportunity can seem like a good opportunity), but instead, does this opportunity get me closer to where I’m headed?

You can’t do everything. A large part of working smart is learning to say no. If it doesn’t relate to the goal, no matter how lovely it is, it’s off the table.

2. Let your actions multi-task

Once you’ve got a goal, look for high-leverage actions. These are the things that check several boxes at once. If there’s a non-negotiable task you have to do, look for ways to do it that bring a secondary benefit. For example, if you have to hang posters to promote a performance, use that opportunity to introduce yourself to potential venues in person.

Clearly, killing five birds with one stone is efficient. However, it’s only working smart if all of those outcomes get you closer to your ultimate goal. It’s better to do something that delivers one goal-related outcome than something that delivers five results, none of which are moving you further down the path.

3. Preplan (a little)

Figuring out your goal and determining which actions will get you there fastest requires planning. This is the “work” part of working smarter. Before things can run smoothly down the track, you have to build the track.

However, a little preplanning goes a long way. Too much preplanning goes nowhere. Don’t get lured into the idea that you have to know everything to make something happen. Yes, you need to know where to start, but then, you need to make something happen. You can figure out what to fix as you go along.

In the business world, this is called frequent iteration. Basically, it means you take action as quickly as possible, examine the results, adjust course if necessary, and immediately take another action.

It’s Okay to be a Virgin

As classical musicians, we tend to be perfectionists. We want to get it right the first time. But the absolute best way to learn to do something is to do it.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records (and a slew of other businesses), knew nothing about airlines when he founded Virgin Air. He was stuck in an airport with a crowd of people who all needed to get home. He chartered a plane and wandered the terminal hocking tickets to anyone who wanted a ride. Thus Virgin Air was born. He had no experience, but he was comfortable with that – it’s the reason he named his company Virgin, after all.

So, set a goal. Look for actions that move you quickly towards that target, and make a little plan.

Then try, fail, learn. Again and again.

Soon you will be one of those calm, collected and successful people we all want to be around.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.