Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Magic of Shaquille O'Neal: Daring to Dream Big

Shaquille O'Neal has always been larger than life. First of all, he stands at 7'1" and boasts a size 23 shoe. Then there is that grin. An almost ear-to-ear smile that let's you know immediately he's having fun. From the moment he entered the NBA, Shaq was the stuff mythology was made of, a basketball God of sorts who shattered backboards with thunderous power.

Today, Shaq is retired from the game of basketball but his presence and influence continues to be felt around the world. In addition to continuing to leverage his celebrity as a spokesperson for various brands, Shaq has managed to become quite the entrepreneur himself. He has a real estate firm, The O'Neal Group, was a pre-IPO investor in Google, holds stakes in Muscle Milk, Vitamin Water and social media start-up Tout, and owns 55 Five Guys restaurants, as well as multiple car washes and fitness centers.

The reason for Shaq's success? He's a dreamer.

When speaking about entrepreneurship at a South by Southwest conference, Shaq told the crowd, "I look for big dreamers, people like me," and that he is interested in people and companies who "help people, inspire people and change the world." In other words, Shaq, like so many other successful entrepreneurs, looks to the value that an opportunity can bring to the world first, understanding fully such an opportunity will inevitably bring value back to him.

Read more about Shaq's businesses here:

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Get Inspired, and Be Crazy Enough to Think You Can Change the World!

Ever wonder why so many successful artists, athletes and entrepreneurs say the same thing? Well, maybe that's because what they are saying is actually true and works!

Check out Sir Richard Branson leading with a quote from Steve Jobs in the link below:

"The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the one who do."

Time and time again, you will hear the most successful people talk about believing in yourself and never giving up as two keys to success. If this is true, and I think the many success stories are proof that it is true, then there are only two reasons you have not achieved your own success, either: (1) you do not truly believe in yourself and your ability to accomplish what you have set out to do, or (2) it's just a matter of time (which if you don't have doubt and truly believe in yourself, you already know).

How do you come to believe in yourself to this degree? How do you become crazy enough to think you can change the world? While I doubt there is a simple answer that will satisfy everyone out there, I certainly believe that it has very much to do with finding out what it is you are most passionate about and what inspires you. When you are involved in something that you love and are passionate about, you will be better able and willing to complete immerse yourself in whatever it is, to learn everything you need to know and become an expert, maybe the best, at whatever it is. This will naturally give you confidence and lessen any doubt you may have about yourself. However, and perhaps more importantly, if you love what you do and enjoy the process of doing it, then you become less focused on an end goal. And if you are not focused on an end goal then you will not be consumed with doubt that you can actually achieve that end goal. This goes back to building a wall ( If you love building the wall and the process of laying each brick, then you are not focused on the goal of completing the wall. The idea of building a wall may seem impossible, in which case you may doubt that you can ever achieve such a grand feat.

So what does this all mean, and how does it relate to being crazy enough to think you can change the world? Being crazy enough to think you can change the world is knowing that when you do what you love and are passionate about, when you give the best you have to offer to the world, then you are in fact having an impact and changing the world already. There is no doubt. There is no fear. Because there is no goal to be afraid you cannot achieve. You are already achieving it, one brick at a time. So go, get inspired, and be crazy enough to know you can change the world. 

Read about what inspires Sir Richard Branson here:

Friday, July 26, 2013

Find Your Truth of the Moment, and Don't Give Up

There is nothing in the world that you are better at then simply being you. And having the discipline and confidence to be yourself is the key that will unlock your door to happiness and success. Just ask Grammy award winning rapper, producer and entrepreneur Shawn Carter (better known as "Jay-Z" or "Jay Z"). When asked about his continued success in music, where most artists eventually fade away, Hova explains that "it is the discipline to not get caught up in the moment" or "jump on the next hot thing" that has made him successful, whereas other artists "don't stick to what they know."

"Just having the discipline and having the confidence in who I am and if I go into a studio and I find my truth of the moment, there are a number of peope in the world that can relate to what I'm saying and are going to buy into what I am doing, not because it's the new thing of the moment but because it's my genuine emotions."

Not only is being yourself what you are best at, it is also the most unique gift you have to offer the world. After all, there is only one you. If you want to do something great, or bring some small change to the world, take Mr. Carter's advice: find your truth of the moment, and share it with the world. There will be enough people interested in what you have to give, so long as it is geniune.    

The second piece to this puzzle, and perhaps the one that requires the most discipline, is that once you discover who you are and what you have to give to the world, you have to never give up. In reflecting on his own success, Jay-Z's states, "The genius thing we did was we didn't give up." Whether you are an artist, athlete, entrepreneur, band, brand, company, etc., you will hear the word "no" many, many times. Doors will be shut, and you will almost definitely feel at some point like you should just give up. This is a right of passage that every sucessful person must endure: finding the will and drive to insist on following your dream no matter what, to essentially be willing to die trying to achieve what you believe in. Get to that point, find yourself at that place, and you will have already succeeded. 

Here is a YouTube clip of Jay-Z discussing his success:

Friday, July 5, 2013

Pearl Jam: Doing the Evolution

Pearl Jam is about to make a major announcement on Monday, July 8th, at 1:00pm. The band's website currently has a countdown clock leading up to the big event. What could it be? A new album? A new single? A world tour? Like any jammer, I wait with bated breath.

Like many Pearl Jam fans, I have grown up with the band. A once plaid shirt-wearing, angst-ridden kid, who would get motivated for school by singing such Pearl Jam songs as "Leash" ("Drop the leash/drop the leash, get out of my f'ing face"), I have matured over the past 23 years right along with many of Pearl Jam's themes. Today, now a father of two young boys, I continue to take solace in Pearl Jam's songs, which have grown to reflect the sort of awareness about life that only comes with age and experience. You see, like its fans, Pearl Jam has grown up too. And rather than fight change and try to continue being what they once were, Pearl Jam has not only embraced its own evolution, it has become defined by it. It is precisely this evolution that I find most facinating about Pearl Jam, and most relevant to their staying power. And their story in this regard is one that many other artists and entrepreneurs can learn from.

The all-too-often used phrase for today's modern world is "adapt or die." I think I would like to replace that with one simple word: evolve. Pearl Jam never adapted to the idea of having to make music videos, or doing extensive interviews, or pushing a radio-friendly single, or really any traditional method of music marketing. Yet, they did not die. Instead, Pearl Jam consistently made honest music, toured the world, fought for causes they believed in, and were genuinely appreciative of their fans. In fact, Pearl Jam did not "adapt" at all.  But they did evolve, and continue to do so (Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready has gone so far as to call the new album that the band has been working on "experimental," something few 23-year musical acts would dare set out for).

The problem with adapting is that you run the risk of becoming something that you are not, and following the flavor of the month. Long-term success is rooted in authenticity. Staying genuine to your brand and allowing yourself to grow naturally over time just may end up being your greatest strength.

Here's a link to Pearl Jam's last music video, "Do the Evolution", released some 15 years ago -

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

You Don't Set Out to Build A Wall

"You don't set out to build a wall. You say, I'm going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid. And you do that every single day, and soon you have a wall." ~ Will Smith

When Will Smith was 12 years old, his father tore down a wall in front of his business and told Will and his 9-year old brother to rebuild it, which they thought was impossible. When they finished the wall a year and a half later, Will's father said, "Now don’t you ever tell me there's something you can't do."

I have given this story and the above quote a lot of thought, and there are at least three lessons that aspiring artists, athletes and entrepreneurs (or anyone, really) can learn from this story. That is, there are at least three reasons why you do not set out to build a wall.

1. Do Not Overwhelm Yourself by Thinking About Achieving Some Grand Outcome. The idea of building a wall, especially to a 12-year and his younger brother, can be overwhelming or, as Will said, even impossible. So too can the idea of pursuing your dreams. Rather than thinking about achieving an end result, which may seem very far off or unrealistic, instead focus on the first step that needs to be taken, and then the next step and the step, etc. Too often, if you spend too much time thinking about how far off an ultimate end result may be, then you never start in the first place because of how overwhelming or impossible the tasks seems. You think, "I can't possibly do that." Ironically, the only way you for sure cannot possibly do something is if you never try. The key is to take that first step, lay your first brick, and continue moving forward.

2. Strive for Perfection in the Little Things. Everything you do is a reflection of who you are. You have a gift, something of value to give to the world. Why would you ever want to give half of yourself? Allow yourself to shine. Everything you do in life, every brick that you lay, you should care about and give it everything you can. Try to make it perfect. Not for perfections sake, but because that brick and how it is laid represents you. In addition, if you lay each brick perfectly, then when you are all finished you will have built the strongest, most perfect wall. The quality of an end result is only as good as the steps you took to get there. Otherwise said, there are no shortcuts to success.

3. Life is Not About the Wall; Life is About Laying Bricks. Whatever brick you lay, whatever journey you start out on by taking that first step, you’d better love and be extremely passionate about. The worst thing you can do is to put yourself in a day-in-day-out situation where you are unhappy because you think the end result, your wall, will be what you want. Most often for people, that wall is mistakenly money. The reality is that it could take years or a lifetime to build your wall. And let's face it, many walls are never finished. Success is a journey, not a destination. And life is not a means to an end. So make every day count by finding bricks that you love, and laying each one perfectly.

Check out some inspirational clips of Will Smith here (the wall story appears at 3:02):

Thursday, May 23, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Michele Clark & the Rise of New Music at Sunset Sessions

There is a quote that hangs on Michele Clark's wall that reads: "There are no limitations to the self except those you believe in." That one simple sentence, which hangs as a daily reminder and reflection for Michele, captures the inspiration and spirit that fills so many entrepreneurs, artists and athletes. In all of us there is a burning passion, something we love and would love to do. The problem is that all too often we do not listen to that voice, we do not follow that passion, mostly because we do not believe in ourselves.

Michele's passion was, and still is, music. Born in New Jersey, Michele began to explore the Asbury Park music scene at the tender age of 15 years. She was immediately hooked and knew that music would be her life. In 1990, Michele started Michele Clark Promotion, which quickly became the leading independent radio promotion firm for the Triple A format. Prior to selling the company (which had changed its name to M:M Music), Michele had collected numerous awards and was instrumental in the radio campaigns for Matchbox Twenty, Coldplay, David Gray, Maroon 5, Train, Norah Jones, Jewel, Edwin McCain, Hootie and the Blowfish, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, the Dave Matthews Band, Lenny Kravitz, and countless others, including such rock legends as the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Neil Young and Van Morrison.

About 17 years ago, Michele saw a problem with music conventions: all of the artists were there, but few (if any) radio folks were in attendance. How could new music be discovered and break through if those responsible for getting airplay were not in attendance? As Michele puts it, "if you see something being done wrong, do it right." So Michele took out her credit card and flew a bunch of artists, radio professionals and others in the music industry to beautiful St. Thomas island for a weekend of an intimate music discovery experience. And like that, Sunset Sessions was born.

Over the years, Sunset Sessions have hosted the likes of The Black Keys, Fun, Jack Johnson, Stevie Nicks, Carlos Santana, Jason Mraz, James Blunt, The Zac Brown Band, Colbie Caillat, Melissa Etheridge, Nickelcreek, Chris Isaak, Billy Corgan, Steve Stills, Jewel, and many more. Today, Sunset Sessions has evolved into a destination where anyone passionate about music who can assist in breaking new artists and getting new music and bands discovered (including radio programmers, music supervisors, music managers, television bookers, etc.) can come together and find the next big thing. In Michele's words, it's a "new music adventure."

Michele Clark listened to her inner voice and followed her passion. As a result, she has been living the dream for many years. For Michele, success is not about money or fame. It's about doing what she loves and being happy. In her own words: "If you follow your passion, if you do what you love, the rest takes care of itself." Truer words cannot be spoken. The trick is, they need to be believed.

The next Sunset Session will take place this June 6th, 7th and 8th in Carlsbad, California. For more information, go to

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Quotes for the Artist, Athlete and Entrepreneur recently published "Top 32 Quotes Every Entrepreneur Should Live By." What immediately struck me is that the quotes not only pertain to entrepreneurs but also artists and athletes. The themes that consistently surface are simple:

     • Do what makes you happy.

     • Follow your dreams, no matter how seemingly impractical.

     • Surround yourself with people who uplift and inspire you.

     • Trust your intuition.

     • And never give up.

Here are a few of my favorites:

"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful." – Albert Schweitzer

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." – Mark Twain

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." – Steve Jobs

"Logic will get your from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." – Albert Einstein

"Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." – Winston Churchill

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." – Mark Twain

To read the entire list, click here:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Creating an Epicenter of Innovation: Welcome to Eden

After only five short years of being in existence, the progressive organization founded in 2008 by entrepreneur Elliot Bisnow (Bisnow Media) and know as Summit Series has found a permanent home in a place all too appropriately named "Eden." 

Eden, Utah is home to Snow Mountain, the largest ski resort in the United States. The plan is to build 500 single family homes, a small mountain village with a recording studio, art galleries and bohemian retail shops, a few boutique hotels, a members-only lodge and a mountain-top activity center. In addition, plans for home shares, need-based lodging and subsidized cabins are in the works for those who cannot otherwise afford the lavish resort. Rather than taking a traditional real estate developer's approach, they are applying the "disruptive ethos" of Silicon Valley to the project, building local partnerships and integrating with the local community, while trying to preserve the mountain's natural beauty.

The idea behind Summit Series is simple: if you bring creative, innovator, influential people from all walks (e.g., entrepreneurs, artists, politicians, thought leaders, activists, etc.) together, then amazing things will happen. Since its inception, Summit Series has hosted the likes of Sir Richard Branson, President Bill Clinton, Mark Cuban, rapper Jazzy Jeff, John Legend and Russell Simmons, just to name a few.  Summit Series has managed to capture and cultivate the creative spirit, and there is no telling where having a permanent home will take the group.  As stated on their website:

"Summit's mission is to catalyze entrepreneurship, address global issues, support artistic achievement, and build community in an effort to make our world a more joyful place."

Or as co-founder Jeff Rosenthal puts it, Summit is about "great people doing great things." What better place to do that than, well, Eden?

Read more about Summit's purchase of Powder Mountain here:

For more information, visit their website:

Friday, April 19, 2013

Be Great, or Be Gone (and Listen to the Muse)

I love Neil Young. In addition to writing and performing music for nearly 50 years, Neil Young has quietly made several films, designed technologies for Lionel Trains, and developed a fuel-efficient hybrid concept car called the Lincvolt (using a 1959 Lincoln Continental) "to inspire a generation by creating a clean automobile propulsion technology that serves the needs of the 21st Century and delivers performance that is a reflection of the driver's spirit." His latest venture is a start-up company called Pono (which means "righteous" in Hawaiian), which "aims to rescue [his] art form, music, from the degradation in quality that [he] think[s] is at the heart of music sales and ultimately music itself in popular culture." Simply put, Pono is supposed to bring master quality sound to the digital world.

Neil Young is a consummate artist. He also epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit. In his memoir, Waging Heavy Peace (which I encourage everyone to ready), Neil Young expounds on his many passions and the entrepreneur that lives inside him:

"None of these things would have happened if I hadn't done them myself. No one believes in my ideas until I actually do them….and I don't do them to make money. I am entrepreneurial. I can see it happen before it happens."

Passion. Having an idea and having to see it come to fruition, even though no one may believe in you. That is the entrepreneurial spirit. To create something that will somehow change the world, if even in the smallest way. The most successful entrepreneurs do not do what they do to make money. They are listening to an inner voice, a muse, which has inspired and compelled them to forge ahead and create their idea, and most importantly to do it right. Here is Neil's take:

"It hurts to be honest, but the muse has no conscience. If you do it for the music, you do it for the music, and everything else is secondary. Although that has been hard for me to learn, it is the best and really the only to live through a life dedicated to the muse."

Listening to the muse as an entrepreneur is no different. If you are developing an idea or a company, your devotion must be unyielding. "Be great or be gone," Neil Young recounts his long-time friend and producer, David Briggs, as saying. "Quality whether you want it or not," Larry Johnson, another long-time friend of Neil Young, would say. To me, these simple phrases speak to the heart of the artistic and entrepreneurial spirit.

Being an entrepreneur and being inspired with new ideas is a lot like being a songwriter. At their core, each shares in the majestic creative process. While one may pick up an instrument, the other may pick up a pen or open a laptop. But each starts with a feeling, a sensation. An inexplicable moment of inspiration. Follow that feeling. Listen to the muse. I leave you with Neil Young's description of the song-writing process:

When I write a song, it starts with a feeling. I can hear something in my head or feel it in my heart. It may be that I just picked up the guitar and mindlessly started playing. That's the way a lot of songs begin. When you do that, you are not thinking. Thinking is the worst thing for writing a song. So you just start playing and something comes out. Where does it come from? Who cares? Just keep it and go with it. That's what I do. I never judge it. I believe it. It came as a gift when I picked up my musical instrument and it came through me playing with the instrument. The chords and melody just appeared. Now is not the time for interrogation or analysis. Now is the time to get to know the song, not change it before you even know it. It is like a wild animal, a living thing. Be careful not to scare it away.

You can also check out a clip of Neil discussing songwriting and the responsibility to the muse here:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Movers and Shakers: Russell Simmons, Ne-Yo, Cher Lloyd & Emilio Estefan

Consummate entrepreneur Russell Simmons has just launched Narrative, a digital marketing, entertainment and technology company. But let's be clear, this is not an ad agency and Uncle Rush does not want agencies to view Narrative as a competitor, reports AdvertisingAge. "We're not trying to be agency of record for different brands and clients. We believe we have a level of expertise that's really rooted in creating immersive brand experiences across platforms," said Tricia Clarke-Stone, Simmons' long-time business partner.  You can read more here:

Ne-Yo and Cher Lloyd are partnering up with packaged foods giant Unilever and will write and perform an original song together inspired by lyrics submitted on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook around Unilever's new product, Fruttare Fruit Bars. Click on the below link for more information:

Finally, 19-time Grammy Award winning musician and producer Emilio Estefan (Gloria's husband) is extending and expanding his "Emilio Estefan's Picks" program at Target for another year.  Estefan is also partnering up with Monster Headphones to launch a new Estefan-branded Sound Machine headphones, which will be carried in select Target stores. Check out more here:

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Build a Good Name. Do What You Love. Be Happy.

"Don't worry about making a bunch of money or being successful. Be concerned with doing good work and make the right choices, and protect your work. And if you build a good name eventually that name will be its own currency." - Patti Smith

Patti Smith is a true artist. The above quote is Patti explaining advice she got from William Burroughs, another acclaimed American artist, when times were hard and she did not have a lot of money. It acknowledges the difficulty of being and artist, and a human being, in today's age. It also acknowledges the importance and value of your reputation. Whether an artist or a company, your reputation and name are everything.  

She goes on to say that what matters is "knowing what you want and pursing it," whatever that may be. To me, this embodies the artistic and entrepreneurial spirit. That passion that drives you to insist on following your dreams, no matter how unrealistic that may seem.    

Success is not a destination, it's a journey. And you have to enjoy that journey through the perfect moments and the not so perfect moments. Do what you love, and simply love doing it. Be happy. The rest will follow.

You can watch the full clip here:

Kid Rock Rebels, and You Should Too

When was the last time you bought a ticket to a concert to a major performer like Kid Rock for $25, including the service charges? And when was the last time you went to a concert and bought a beer for $4 or a t-shirt for $25? Maybe 20 years ago (around the same time Pearl Jam was battling Ticketmaster)? Well buckle your seat belts and make sure your flux capacitor is fluxing, because Kid Rock is taking us all back to the future.

What's brilliant about this move is that the deal is not only good for fans, it also potentially very good for Kid Rock. That's because Kid Rock is partnering up with Live Nation and will share in all the profits. From ticket sales, parking, merchandising, beverages, etc., Kid Rock will get a percentage of every dollar made. Sure there is risk involved – if sales are down, Kid Rock will not make any money – but he is willing to put his money where his mouth is. And the payoff could be huge. It shows Kid Rock's commitment and confidence in what he has to offer as a performer, a lessen many can learn from. In the entrepreneurial world, you cannot be afraid of having some skin in the game. If you are, maybe that particular venture is wrong for you. Companies that succeed do so because they absolutely know they are going to succeed. Who knew Kid Rock was such the consummate entrepreneur?
In addition to potentially being a lucrative venture for Kid Rock, there is a more important component to this deal: what it means to his fans and his reputation. Let's face it, what Kid Rock is doing is just plain cool. Sticking up for the fans, being a man of the people, fighting the system. That is something that resonates tremendously with fans around the world. And that reputation is going to give Kid Rock even greater staying power. If you want to grow a lucrative business, you have to have staying power. Longevity is the name of the game. Kid Rock may only be getting a fraction of a $25 ticket, but he is earning (and working hard for, mind you) more cool points than you can possibly imagine. Win or lose, he will be able to cash those points in down the road and be able to continuing playing shows and finding other business opportunities because Kid Rock will still be relevant, and his reputation will still be remembered and revered.
The lesson here is: don't play the short game. Building a company or brand is something that takes quality and integrity. Doing the right thing matters deeply to consumers, especially in the ever growing socially conscious world we live in today. And be creative. Think outside the box and find new ways of making deals. Partner up with other companies, and get some skin in the game. Remember, consumers need to feel they are getting value for what they paid for. In Kid Rock's case, he is providing a concert experience at a price that fans will be happy to pay for, and he has found a way of making it very profitable, provided fans show up and like what he is doing. I'd say that's pretty fair.

Monday, April 8, 2013

What is the Artist, Athlete & Entrepreneur Connection?

What is the artist, athlete and entrepreneur connection? That is, what is it they all have in common? One word: Passion.
Artists, athletes and entrepreneurs are intrinsically linked by their passion. Artists spend their entire lives devoted to a craft and mastering those skills. Athletes spend their lives preparing mentally and physically for competition. Entrepreneurs devote their time, energy and resources to developing new ideas and building companies. Each is driven by a burning passion to succeed, an unwillingness to give up, and the unwavering faith that what they are doing is what they were born to do.
And there is another connection: they need each other. Artists and athletes need to prepare for what will most likely be a relatively short career. They need to become entrepreneurial early on and start looking for other business opportunities. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, can use artists and entertainers for their celebrity, to raise the profiles of their companies and give that extra "push" when bringing a new idea or product to the public. Artists and athletes also have a unique expertise in their respective fields that can be used by entrepreneurs involved in sports or media-entertainment (e.g., who better to serve on the board of a new cutting-edge digital music company than a cutting-edge musician?).
Simply put, there is this very natural synergy between artists, athletes and entrepreneurs that needs to be better utilized. The mission of this blog will be to bring you news and opinions relating to the artist, entertainer and entrepreneur connection in hopes of enhancing that synergy. Stay tuned.