A life, business and marketing lesson I learned from my first voice lesson with an OPERA SINGING teacher. Yes, really! Oh, and James Brown. Make it funky!

What happened? Singing!

  • I went and got my first singing lesson
  • The first, most basic thing he taught me was to hold your head up and keep your mouth open really wide.
  • It was really uncomfortable! 
  • It was just me and the voice teacher in the room- but people who don’t even exist are making fun of me… There’s no one there making fun of me but in my head people are criticizing me.
  • He’s trying to teach me to create this ideal singing sound in my vocal cords… to get those cords to vibrate freely. There’s a certain tone a really good singer has. It’s very open it’s joyous.
  • When people sing with that natural, free, open tone, a joy comes through that listeners resonate with. It emotionally impacts them, the way that one tuning fork will cause another one to vibrate to the same frequency.
  • He says “stop that.” Stop what? “You’re bringing your head down and constricting your vocal cords.” I’m closing off my voice making it harder for myself to sing! 
  • I’m muting myself. Why am I muting myself? Why am I automatically subconsciously choosing to turn off my own voice?! Isn’t that the ultimate self-criticism? It’s creative suicide. It’s personality suicide. why am I making it harder to express myself and why is it so hard for me to open up and not want to make fun of that?

What did I learn? Express yourself!

  • I’m a marketer with an ad agency. I write books. I’m a keynote speaker. I do some comedy with that. There’s a lot of creativity in my life. I’ve done music. I’ve done a little bit of visual art.
  • But I shut off a lot of that creativity. I’ve been in business focused on profits, results, analytics and all that left-brain, practical stuff.
  • The way that I showed up trying to sing said something about where I was at expressing myself in other areas. The way that I tried to sing says something about how I’ve been showing up in business.
  • I muted my singing voice and I’ve been muting myself in business. I haven’t been writing books. I haven’t been putting blog posts out. I have been doing videos or podcasting.
  • I’ve been conflicted about how I should show up and how much of myself should I let out.
  • What I learned in marketing is that to affect people psychologically, to get those business results we all want, you need creativity. You need creative people. You need to express yourself.
  • If I want to achieve full impact in business, I have to express myself and ship it without worrying about how it’s going to be received.
  • I’ve also learned that as an author and speaker trying to brand and promote myself that, when I hide my light under a bushel, when I don’t put myself out there, when I’m afraid to be myself, I’m less powerful. I’m blah, I’m like everybody else. I don’t stand out.
  • Plus being more creative and expressing yourself is essential to achieving your full potential.
  • I was just watching a James Brown documentary and he talked about you know be yourself put yourself out there being you, being weird, being unique, loud and proud. 
  • There’s only one you. One of the most valuable things you have is who you are… that’s your gut instinct, what your heart says. Even when it’s different, express it. Speak your peace.
  • The right people will hear your honest, confidence expression and respond to you positively. Who cares about the other people?
  • If I want to really sing and really express who I am, stand out and find the people who wrote resonate like a tuning fork with my particular expression then I have to sing out.
  • Ignore the critics. There are a lot of people out there when we’re growing up or even now as adults who seem to want us to conform. To be normal. To be like them. To be mediocre. To stay quiet. They may not intend to suppress personal expression. It may be a kneejerk subconscious reactions sometimes to be critical or sarcastic or judgmental. If it’s subconscious, who cares? They may not really mean it. If they do mean it, why would you care what a mean person thinks? Don’t take critics personally.  And don’t let fake or past critics live in your head. They aren’t real.
  • I learned I need to hold my head up and express myself. I can’t mute myself or turn myself off.
  • Keep your head up and keep your mouth open expressing who you are.

How is that a change for me? I’ve done it before but I got stuck!

  • I’ve been really stuck. I’ve been overthinking it. I’ve been trying to figure out systems. I’ve been learning a lot of stuff and working with clients and keynoting but
  • I haven’t been creating a lot of business content. I haven’t been finishing blog posts. I haven’t been finishing the editing of videos. I haven’t been diligent in finishing my book ideas.
  • This isn’t who I am. I wrote 5 books in four years. I’ve a written hundreds of blog posts. I’ve created tons of videos. I’ve written thousands of stand-up comedy jokes and routines since 2006.
  • Somewhere in the last few years, I became afraid to be myself- afraid that, if I express myself, I will lose business.
  • Looking back, it was just time to reach a new level of expression.
  • I had compartmentalized business. I thought business was different from creativity or that personal development should be separate from from business. I’m finding I can’t live that way. I can’t keep business creativity and personal development separate, because they’re not. I also think that it might be helpful to other people if I combined them too and showed how my creativity and my personal development helps my business and my marketing.

What I’m committed to doing:

  • What’s brought me out of that- I’ve been on this path… I read The Artist’s Way (highly recommended- one of my top 100 non-fiction books of all time) and I started doing “Morning Pages” which is writing 3 pages every morning in my composition book. Sometimes it’s less, sometimes it’s more, sometimes creative, sometimes it’s journaling, sometimes I’m learning things… and it’s it’s helping me evolve. I’m building a creative studio. I’m taking these voice lessons. I’m making music.
  • All that stuff doesn’t seem directly related to marketing or business but it is really related…
    • It’s about who I am- knowing and expressing that instead of being a frustrated, unconscious drone.
    • It’s about Expression, about creativity and inspiration and feeling motivated.
    • How I show up as a marketer with ideas and energy for clients and my team.
    • The skills I bring for that work to get the business results they need.
    • The presence, power and confidence I can bring to a keynote speech.
  • I’m a learner. I need to be stimulated. I need to go out find new things.
  • I’m going to continue to take the singing lessons and see how that affects my expression.
  • I’m writing music and discovering what I have to say the world and how that affects what I want to write in a nonfiction book.
  • I’m committed to doing these videos and expressing what’s going on in my real life and how that relates to business…
  • I’m showing up as a real person to express, to not be afraid to show you who I really am, to not be afraid of judgement or of losing business as a result of that.
  • I’m holding my head up, opening my voice and singing my heart out.

My Challenge for You Is…

Take a look at how this relates to you:

  • Is there some other thing in your life like this- a limitation holding you back?
  • A stuckness that might be hurting your business as well? 
  • Is there is there something in your golf game that you have trouble with it that relates to your business or your marketing?
  • Is there something about how you go to the gym and work out- where you overdo it or under do it or your challenges there that relate to the way you do business?
  • Is there a problem you have with your your spouse or your significant other- with the way that you approach that relationship that shows up the same way in your business?
  • Take a look. It may be there for you. It may not be.
  • You may find inside there you may find there’s a block. Something you’re doing that you’ve always done that way, and if you can break through that you’ll get to the next level. You’ll get what you really want, whether it’s profits or more freedom or a more enjoyable experience of your work…
  • Don’t be afraid to to look at yourself and face these challenges.
  • If you’re like me you have always been growing. You’re always daring. You want more… and that has to come from inside- not just out there in business.
  • Find that inner limitation that’s limiting your business so you can take it to the next level

I hope that was helpful to you!

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