Define Your Own Success in 2019

“Lately I’m feeling more successful than I have in a long time, just because you change the parameters for yourself about what that means.”

Jill Sobule at The Creative Independent

If success is only this one thing, then anyone else who doesn’t hit that mark is then… not successful? Like so many things in life, it’s not so black and white, and we need to find so much of that for ourselves.

Perhaps my current situation isn’t on par with other 40-somethings, but that’s okay, because I’m happy, the bills are paid, and well… yeah, that’s success for me. Sure, there’s countless other bullet points I could list, but why? They aren’t for you, or your life, you need to figure that out, too.

Eight years ago I was on a bike with no job and some money in the bank, and I look back, and I was having fun. That was fine for that moment, and informed who I am today, and that’s okay.

Would I have liked to “arrived” a little bit quicker than 2018? Sure, but as they say it’s the journey, not the destination. I know I wouldn’t be able to appreciate all of what I have now if it just sprang out of nowhere.

MUSIC MONDAY: Alice Ivy, ‘Charlie’

From ‘I’m Dreaming’ which came out this year.

I am an absolute sucker for the use of old-timey samples.

The horn lines of  ‘Charlie’ are a mixture of a sampled saxophone I played into Ableton and an instrumental I found online. What inspired me when beginning to produce this song is that opening radio sample. It was from the 1950s post-war America period; Stepford wives, brand new kitchen appliances, the “American dream”. Charlie is a tongue and cheek homage to that period. Those vocals are snippets of an out take recording I made of Georgia van Etten just hours before she was to board a plane to the UK to live indefinitely, the lyrics don’t actually make sense!

Alice Ivy

Not Fake

You know what’s not fake?

Coffee shops, record stores, and diners filled with wonderful people who know your name – that’s real.

Shows filled with people who paid for a ticket when they had a zillion other entertainment options at home on their couch – that’s real.

Long emails with old friends, message threads with friends far away, phone calls with best friends – those are real.

So much of our work is built on a foundation of for-real relationships, connections, and places. They’re hard to measure or quantify, but that doesn’t make them any less real.

Meanwhile, the promise of the internet and log files and Google Analytics promised us cold, hard metrics that would gauge and improve upon.

And here we are, years later, questioning if anything on the internet is real or not. Do we give up, throw away our Twitter handles, and cancel our internet service?

No.

But maybe we count metrics that matter, like actual customers, instead of “eyeballs.”
Revenue, instead of (possibly fake) likes.
Profit, instead of (possible fake) comments.

100 plus

I finally passed 100 posts, and… here we are. I’ve been keeping up with this blog a bit more, and I’ve had a handful of great conversations as a result.

These posts take a bit longer to publish than a Tweet. Email replies come a bit slower. Scheduling calls takes some effort.

But anything worth doing requires some effort. That’s why it’s called effort, and not “sitting on the couch eating Cheetos.”

Work goes into something – practicing guitar, learning how to program, how to be a better partner – and someday (probably not tomorrow) you get better.

Running a few miles a day back in 2016 led to a half-marathon just two years later. If that’s not a metaphor, I don’t know what is.

Not Knowing is Okay

Maybe we all need to leave social media and start blogging again. Then we just need to follow everyone’s blogs in an RSS feeder, and then that will fix everything.

Just replace all these apps and social media outlets with an RSS feeder loaded with 100s (or 1000s) of sites that will display a notification of all the un-read blog posts we need to get through.

If the goal is to keep investing time in knowing what everyone else is doing, then I guess that’s a solution. But maybe we can save those 7+ hours and get back to reading, making music, taking photographs, or going on walks.

Working Not Waiting

Though 2018 has been hellfire in general, it’s been pretty damn good personally for me and a handful of friends. Not perfect, sure, but damn good.

For me it came down to subtraction.

The most successful people I know have a narrow focus, protect against time-wasters, say no to almost everything, and have let go of old limiting beliefs.

Derek Sivers

After seven years I ended my beloved Skull Toaster. Over 2,000 metal trivia questions, 1,000s of emails, videos, and images. It was also never ending, a perpetual extra thing on my to-do list everyday. Sure, I ramped down from three questions per day to one, and a nightly email newsletter to weekly (and back again), but it would never stop. There was always something to do. An album anniversary to honor, the passing of a legend to acknowledge, or another time stamp worth noting. And it would never end.

I wish I knew exactly how to know when to quit, when the payoff isn’t worth the effort anymore. I recall Seth Godin’s “The Dip,” which touches on this. About the effort needed to get to where you’re going.

Investing all the hours leads to what exactly? Perhaps money, oppurtunties, new gigs? I haven’t done something in a long time that didn’t see those things as the goal. Skull Toaster’s purpose was to get me a job doing social media for some unknown media outlet, doing audience growth and community management.

And then I learned I really didn’t want to do any of that.

Was it a waste? Not one bit. But I wouldn’t have learned any of the lessons had I just sat around and waited for a sign, looking skyward for some divine guidance.

Being Friends with the World

Found this bit from ‘F You Money, & Don’t Release Your First Font,’ which on a surface level doesn’t really apply to me since I’m not a designer, but holy moly, I’m glad I kept reading (and a nod to Nina Stössinger for RT’ing it in the first place here):

No matter what you’re interested in, the world will not know how to help you unless you scream from the mountaintops what it is you like to do, and how you like to do it.

James Edmondson

In recent years I got a lot of people asking me what I do, and I’d usually inhale and list a bunch of things, from email marketing to website updates, some audio and video work, writing, transcribing, content strategy… zzzz… quite a pitch, right?

Now?

I work with independent music publicists, managing their websites, social media, and back end operations. 

Like James says, “the world will not know how to help you.” The world  didn’t know how to help me out when I just did “everything.” Now that I know what I like to do, the world and I are now good friends.

Shirley Manson has Nerve

Shirley Manson tells a story of a man from the Garbage camp, being upset with her for having the nerve to hire her own lawyer. Her realization in that moment is wonderful and you should listen to the entire interview.

Search, find, discover, rebuild… whatever you have to do, find your nerve. Know that you’re fabulous, your feelings matter, and you’ve got the right to take care of yourself.

WORKING LESS

The internet may lead you to believe that the only way to live is hustle. Do everything yourself, all the time.

“When folks ask me what I do, the answer is, ‘As little as possible.'”

Chris Glass

Now, Chris Glass isn’t doing nothing, of course, but not working all the time sure is pretty awesome.

Then, while listening to The Process podcast (done by Shannon Lee Byrne), she spoke with two guests in Ep #36 that about “how they’ve designed a life to work less.” They’re pretty frugal (give a listen), but they also own property and lead a creative and fulfilling life.

In my line of work, music publicists offload their busy work (or “digital dirty work” as I like to call it), so they get to work less. They can then use that time to meet a client, organize bigger projects, or just (GASP) not work. On the flip side, I’m not trying to work all the time, either, but I’m focused on just a few, well defined tasks each day, across a handful of clients.

It’s a wild time in 2018, for sure, and it’s bound to get even more bumpy. I think a lot of us are figuring it out as we go, but it’s always reassuring to hear about people who aspire to work less.

That this music is stuck on cartridges played on ancient video game consoles is a shame. I hope these songs never disappear.

The goal of the project is to expose listeners to the musical masterpieces that have been overlooked – mostly because of the 16bit instrumentation. 

Switched On SNES

(via Yewknee)