When you stop nurturing the plant (your career) it will die. When you think you know enough, you will cease to exist.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been bombarded with invitations to attend industry events from the NAACP Image Awards, AAFCA and now the Grammy’s and the Oscars. I am in no way bragging in this moment about my importance, I am simply grateful. Grateful that after 30 years I am busier now than I have ever been, business is great and I’m still growing, doing, learning, moving and being. At the end of last year, I made a decision to clean house and to only spend time with people who were bold in their approach to life and business and were making moves, creating and being IN the race instead of being silent on the sidelines and it was the best decision I ever made. I am that person (in the race) but for a long time I stopped being him when I did the opposite, surrounding myself with people who were not growing, complaining all the time, negative and always making excuses and not willing to do the work in order to succeed. (I still help those in need but in a different way).
I was asked to be in a small group of other successful entrepreneurs to meet once a month and to help each other and I’m amazed at the results not only for my business but for me as a person. I don’t want to make this about me but about you, but I will use myself and my experiences to get my point across if you don’t mind.
I have worked very hard for what I have and there is no greater blessing than when others can see the value in what you do especially when you run your own company. It’s not about you being a star, having tenure and DESERVING recognition. In this industry what you have DONE……… is not as important or as relevant as to what you are DOING, which is where a lot of people make the mistake, it’s about you CURRENTLY being of service to others and an inspiration.
Someone else is telling you that you have a perceived value when they extend an invitation to have you attend their event. That’s a compliment, not a birthright and it’s incredibly rude and self-serving not to at least respond to their request, even if you can’t make it. There is no greater testimony to your current success than someone asking for and requesting your presence. If you have to ask or beg to attend that’s a different story and at times a reflection of your efforts.
I have gone to just about every one of the events that I have been invited to (that did not conflict) over the past two weeks and I did not see any of the same people who I had been seeing years before when I made a decision to change. It was a decision I made at the end of last year after I realize I was dead tired of seeing the same people, doing the same things talking about the same things at the few events that I was going to and I treasured my newfound absence because I thought I was burnt out and the industry was stagnant. I had decided if I wasnt making any money it wasn’t worth going. I am regretfully admitting it was not the industry, it was me. I love to learn and I hate being stagnant nevertheless, when we stop learning, doing and being we stop growing, moving and living. There is no greater tragedy than being a zombie in the world of the living. Do we ever stop to think about how incredibly blessed we are when we subtract the ego and the entitlement?
Accept and go to the events otherwise, there will come a day when the invitations stop and the industry is no longer interested in you ESPECIALLY if you are not willing to participate but it doesn’t have to be that way. You never know what kind of new opportunities may present themselves. I have seen industry people well into their 70s still enjoying success because they are still relevant and they know how to separate business and personal. Remaining relevant, contrary to popular belief is NOT the industry’s decision it’s ours. The greatest reason for our inability to connect within the industry is mostly based on our OWN lack of growth, ego and refusal or inability to reinvent ourselves. I have seen MANY people who were once famous grow old and bitter because the industry threw them away. At the end of the day, it’s just not the industry’s fault. When the labels all bailed and moved back east several years ago and the label parties stopped in LA, It seemed like the industry was frozen in time but truth be told, it wasn’t. I was. I expanded RFFocus to include more than just radio and music and it was the best thing I ever did. It made more people in TV, Film, Publishing and even entertainers aware of what I was doing. There are MANY events from all aspects of the industry still taking place in LA and all over the country.
I would be misleading you if I told you I love radio from a jocks’ perspective. I don’t. I’ve done that. I don’t like consultants, I don’t like research, I have a great disdain for office politics and I don’t like greed but I love the business side of the industry. I love following the trends, decision makers, innovators and creators and I love being the voice of those who can’t speak. That’s my strength and I give it my best shot. In order to remain relevant and to keep a fresh perspective you MUST promote what you are doing, do it well and get out of your own way and attend various events. When I tell you that I have done and seen things over the last two weeks that have re-energized me, know that I have rediscovered the beauty of working in an industry that I literally dreamed of working in as a kid. I was consistently surrounded by some of the biggest DJs from radio since I was 5 years old.
When we think we know it all and there is nothing left to learn, we become a slave to our egos and ignorance and eventually shake hands with unemployment. Truth be told you NEVER know all that you need to know about the industry or life as everything consistently evolves. I love talking to people who are older than me who are still thriving and I love mentoring and learning from younger people and having lunch with them in the industry to keep my perspectives fresh. People who never progress and blame others for their lack of success bore me because I know that’s not true and it’s an excuse for laziness. If you stand still in a busy vestibule or a rotating door one thing’s for sure: While everybody else is coming in and out, you will quickly get knocked out-of-the-way, kicked, stepped on and walked over. Consider the music and radio industry a vestibule. When you stand or sit still in a revolving industry you never grow and you keep dealing with the same people who do the same things who help keep you in bondage. In any race, those who are on the sidelines never win the race but they are the ones who cheer on the participants. You have to decide which position you will be in but never forget to acknowledge those on the sidelines who cheer you on.
I have worked in the industry for 31 years, 21 of which have been as a successful entrepreneur with RFFocus and while I made some mistakes I made even more great decisions pretty much guided by divine intervention. I was hanging out last night with Ardenia Brown, one of a handful of people in the industry or from the industry I consider a true friend and we were at an all-star, invite only jam session for the Roots in Hollywood. People from all ages and all walks of life were in the audience. It was the end of a great day and I had to take that moment, look around and thank God for how blessed I truly am to work in this great new industry. Do more, See more, Live more, Help more, Love more, Learn more, Be more…Have more.
My best – Kevin