Take My Advice, I’m Not Using It


Some of the advice I give but fail to heed.

A Workshop for Songwriters/Musicians

Tonight I’m speaking for SongNet, Jimi Yamagishi’s organization aimed at helping songwriters improve their craft and know more about the business.

It’s not my first time there. I speak there about once a year or so. Tonight will be a bit of a free-wheeling affair. I’ll cover DIY content marketing ideas, some technology tools (social media and others), a little bit about house concerts, and I’ll likely address songwriting & performance.

And I’ll give advice… good advice. But, advice I often fail to heed myself. 

I often utter the above phrase, “Take my advice, I’m not using it!” And it is a funny little phrase… until it isn’t! #truthhurts

This is both a personal call-out and, hopefully, a call-out for you, the songwriter, performer, poet, artist, entrepreneur, employee… okay, human, who also fails to heed their own advice.

I know I’m not alone because I’ve spoken to you. No.. not you.. you, over there, sheepishly looking at your feet. Remember? We talked about your ability to dole out advice to your friends and peers and then fail to live that advice in your own life.

So as I jot a few notes down for tonight’s presentation, I’m going to tell on myself and let you know the things I tell myself (and other songwriters) to do, that I am failing at.

A quick note about failure

Someone out there is going to read this and try want to save me, to spin the word “fail” out of the conversation. They’re well-meaning. They’ll say things like, “You haven’t failed, you are simply finding your way.” And, “There are no mistakes, simply opportunities to improve.”

Thank you… thank you… and thank you… but, you’re wrong. It’s cool. I know where you are coming from. You don’t want me (well, mostly you) to feel badly. I get it. 

But, please understand, similar to the phrase, “You did the best you could.” that I wrote about awhile back, I believe in calling things what they are. It doesn’t stop me in my tracks. It doesn’t make me feel particularly bad about myself. I do, however, get frustrated with myself. I get frustrated when the gap between what I KNOW I’m capable of and what I am producing is too great!

Call it what it is, make a plan to change it, and change it! Voila! 

“… the best piece of writing you never finish
is always inferior to the worst piece of writing that you did.”
Chuck Wendig, The Kick-Ass Writer

Please note, Chuck’s advice above works in almost all areas of life.

The Advice I’d give myself

So here it is, advice I’d give myself and that I’d do well to accept and act on.

Make Your Newsletter Enticing & Valuable

I did better at this in the past. I always had something entertaining and something that added value. So, a song recorded or interesting blog and a tutorial on simple and accessible technology for almost anyone.

I want it to be pithy, funny, creative, and catch my audiences attention. I can do that.

I feel extra guilty here because my friend and client, Lauren, at Chizel.Mind.Body. took my advice to heart. I get her newsletter EVERY STINKING MONDAY. I’m so annoyed/proud by/of her!

Create Regular Content for Social Media

I have more than 150 or so songs. Those are the ones I like. I have poetry, lyrics, and other content I can create. But I go weeks between doing so. 

Add to this making my “S is for Song” live streams a more regular event. 

I’ve outlined a podcast, Throw Away The Box – about creativity in all areas of life: songwriting, technology, parenting, writing, relationships, etc. And the funny thing is, during my recent visit to Chicago, my son, his wife, and his friend all asked me why I didn’t have a podcast.

My answer: I don’t know? but that’s a lie… I do know why, because I’m not doing it. Simple, eh?

Between video, music, podcast, images, lyrics, essays, blogs, etc. creating content should not be so difficult for me.


I have a problem… I can do everything! Well, that’s what I tell myself. I’m pretty handy with all the technologies I need to track venues & contact them, create marketing materials, record songs, shoot and edit video, update my website, etc. 

But just because I can do those things does not mean doing all of those things is a good idea. Why? Well, I do have other work I do – consulting work plus, I might try having a social life too. 

I just interviewed seven people for a booking assistant/band assistant role. I think I’ve found the person I want to try out. They exude confidence that borders on arrogance! I like that. My band’s name is Arrogant Sage for a reason.

Calendar my Time and Guard It!

I often say that my calendar is my benevolent dictator. And it is… it knows far better than I what I should be doing. 

But I often leave too many gaps in my calendar and fail to put some of the above items (delegating, creating content, etc.) onto it. And then I can, just as easily as the next person, jump onto Facebook and *poof!* – an hour gone.

Ze Frank refers to Facebook as a crack pipe. “Keep the browser closed,” he admonishes himself. 

Of course, that can be anything that you allow to take time away from you. Television – binge watching Orange is the New Black. It’s all good – but if you are failing to move your dream forward, maybe it isn’t so good. Oh..  I don’t binge watch. I’m still on season 2 of Breaking Bad. I love the show but not enough to give it my time.

In any case, I need to do better at allowing that benevolent dictator to control me.

Sleep More

This is just a health related reality. I work out – I lift weights, I hike, I cycle, etc. But, for any number of reasons (see calendar and failing to delegate above), I fail to sleep as long or as thoroughly as I’d recommend others do.

Part of it is driven by an anxiety and desire to “do more.” But the “do more” is wrapped up in more diligent and realistic calendaring.


This one goes back to my divorce and prior. My ex-wife handled most of the social calendar. And while I am a social person, I dropped out of circulation after my divorce. Licking my wounds, shame, out of practice, feeling like a third wheel, etc. And I was busy with things.

Over time, when you say “no” enough times or fail to respond, people stop inviting you. They assume you are not interested in getting together. And, perhaps, they were right. During that time, I certainly lacked the motivation to maintain those connections.

Your Turn

I’ve shared with the class. How about you? What advice would you give yourself that you are NOT taking? Be honest.

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