Something happens to me as the season of Fall begins to emerge...
I have a creative burst of energy and I get into a mode where I want to create all the time, but I, like many of you, have other day-to-day responsibilities and priorities that seem to stifle that creative impulse.
However, I'm realizing that I simply need to produce writing, drawings, song ideas, business strategies, anything that exercises my creative muscle.
It doesn't matter really what the output is, it's the process of doing it and knowing that consistent effort will lead to improvement in my writing, drawing, songwriting, business strategies, etc.
So, consistent volume of action will improve the overall quality of actions over time. Hence, I need to create and publish something, anything...however, understand why you're doing it.
What inspires you about those you admire?
I was thinking about this, and I think it has something to do with being aspirational.
In other words, you aspire to be more like the person that inspires you.
But, what is it that inspires you about that person?
If you can’t pinpoint one, two, three, or more specifics things then how can you aspire to be more like them?
Just like you, I’ve had some bad bosses and work experiences in my career, but I’ve also had the pleasure of working for some really great bosses who made my work experience at that organization more than worthwhile.
Those good bosses were inspirational, and I aspire to be more like them. They genuinely valued my work. They had real interest in me as a person, and as a result, I wanted to give them my best effort.
Meanwhile, the effect of the inspiration / aspiration continuum is helping me give myself my best effort, which serves me and my own career well.
So, it made me realize that I wanted to aspire to genuinely value the work of those around me and have real interest in what’s going on in their lives, and by doing so, perhaps I can inspire others to be aspirational in a positive way that showcases their best version of themselves...for themselves and others around them.
it’s easy to get frustrated with all of the little things that seem to wrong throughout the day.
When things don’t go exactly as planned the slippery slope of negative self-talk ensues.
So the coffee spilled in the car because you were in too big of a hurry. That doesn’t mean you need to tell yourself how dumb you are for allowing that to happen.
Negative emotions and experiences tend to be remembered far longer than positive ones. However, the positive ones hold the most power to improve your mood, outlook, and mindset, which is why it takes consistent practice to stay in a positive mindset.
Regularly examining the positive things in your life helps build the “positivity habit” (aka: gratitude). This habit can help you feel confident and competent to take on whatever life throws at you.
For every negative thing you can list on a sheet of paper today think hard and list two things you’re grateful for. Then see how you feel afterwards.
Never stop learning.
One way to continually inspire yourself with new ideas is to read.
I like to always have a book or two that I'm reading (or listening to on Audible).
The following list are the books I read in 2018. Not as many as I would have hoped to have read, but hey, 2019 is a new year. The list is not in any particular order.
The list below does contain links to each of the books on Amazon if you're interested in them. No, they are not affiliate links.
Posted by, Nick Venturella
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I'm sitting at The Steaming Cup in Waukesha, WI just chilling waiting to start performing my music set here this evening.
It's about 6pm on a gorgeous summer evening. The sun is still out but beginning it's decent. I was fortunate to spend most of the earlier part of today with my two little boys at the beach.
I sit with my cappuccino looking out at downtown Waukesha, which has been revitalized since I grew up here into a great little Arts scene full of art galleries, eateries, wine and traditional bars, and coffee shops, and many establishments host live music at least sometime each week.
I had some realizations as I sat and pondered my thoughts...
When I grew up in Waukesha I used to come downtown here to the original Sprizzo coffeehouse location to play open mic night every week. It's one of the first places I got my music performing start.
Side note...in my opinion the original Sprizzo was the first Arts-related coffeehouse in downtown Waukesha when it opened in the '90's. It changed owners a few times and eventually moved across the street into a newer space before ceasing to exist in 2015. There is a positive arts vibe here in downtown Waukesha that I realize now was really just getting going when I was in my formidable years here. At the time I didn't even know what I was a part of. Now it's a thriving Arts community for other generations.
It used to be I couldn't wait to get out of Waukesha, but I do wish I could have grown up starting my music career with the downtown as Arts focused as it is today. However, I am humbled to have had the good fortune to really start my music and Arts career here. Just by having the opportunity to be a musician, book gigs, promote those shows and sell tapes (yes, tapes) and then CDs, and do so among friends who were doing similar things -- we all learned a ton about being entrepreneurial artists and marketers. That experience has been invaluable.
I guess what I'm most proud to see in Waukesha's downtown is that the Arts are winning there, economically. It's still tough to make a living making music, but in downtown Waukesha it's embraced a little more than in other places. Knowing I have contributed to, and continue to have the opportunity to participate in, the Waukesha Arts scene puts a smile on my face.
These days Madison, WI is truly home with an unmatched vibe and music community, but I'm thankful for having the Arts experiences and exposure I had growing up in Waukesha.
Posted by: Nick Venturella
There is something very vulnerable and invigorating about being naked in front of a crowd.
I don't mean that kind of naked. I'm talking about busking as a musician.
In this case it was just me and my acoustic guitar -- no microphone or PA system to amplify the sound for the outdoors. Totally stripped down and naked...at least as naked as I prefer to be in public.
I had a great experience busking recently at the Hilldale Farmers Market this past Saturday morning. It was a rather hot summer day, but worth enduring the heat.
I played my tunes in a stripped down fashion without any amplification for those milling about to each vendor's booth buying fresh produce and baked goods.
As a musician, busking feels a little awkward at first because you're not really the main attraction, it's not necessarily your show like at a club venue where people come specifically to see you perform. In some ways you feel like you're interrupting the market attendees' shopping experience.
However, as soon as you start playing that feeling subsides and it's replaced with a feeling that you're actually enhancing their experience. It's kind of like going to a store to shop and they have music playing over the speakers while you browse the shelves for items you want to purchase. Only, in this case, it's a live musician, which is more engaging.
Busking is fun as a musician because you can quickly tell if people have interest in your music. When they're interested they typical stop to listen for a while or you can see people bobbing their head to the rhythm of the song you're playing. A really nice indication that they like your music is when people drop a few bucks into your tip jar.
When this happens, as a musician, it's important to thank people for giving you a tip even in the middle of the song you're playing, or at least give them a nod to indicate that you saw them give you a tip and that you appreciate it.
In college I used to busk regularly downtown especially in the fall when the new school year started and there was a lot of people around (I live in the college town of Madison, WI).
As a young college student coming into my own as a singer/songwriter, busking was a great time to work out the kinks in new songs. It's like practice with a live audience, and because people are going about their business most are only partially listening so if you make some mistakes as you play no one but you would likely notice.
If you're a musician working on your chops I recommend busking somewhat regularly as a method of practicing. If you pay attention you'll be able to spot which of your songs resonate well with audiences, you can work out set list orders and simply practice your songs. You'll probably even make a few bucks too. I remember as a poor college student busking was always a way to make some quick cash.
Busking for a musician is like conducting market research or utilizing a focus group to perfect your product -- your music and performance -- for your audience. Busking falls into the "honing" portion of honing one's craft. Truth be told, you have to put in the work to get better and better, and if you do, it will be obvious to others.
Thanks for the great experience Hilldale Farmers Market! I hope to be back soon.
Next stop on my summer of shows, I'll be performing at The Steaming Cup coffeehouse in my old stomping grounds of Waukesha, WI. Sat. Aug. 11, 2018, beginning at 7pm. Be sure to come on out.
posted by Nick Venturella
"Do what you love and the money will follow," they say.
"Find your bliss and just do that for a living," they say.
They make it sound so simple.
I wonder how many of them actually work as if it's play with any consistency?
I consider myself fortunate to have several creative, strategic and entrepreneurial interests and paid work that often infuses those interests.
I mean, not everyday does work feel like play. In fact, most days it's just a grind. But the small victories, and larger victories over time, really do make it worth the effort.
However, I do get to be creative everyday, I do get to be strategic everyday and my mindset is always entrepreneurial, so I have that going for me.
So, even though I don't make my entire living as singer/songwriter, I do have the good fortune of having periodic paid performances.
And, I also have the good fortune of being gainfully employed where I can use my writing and graphic design skills strategically toward real business outcomes, which is appealing to me.
Plus, I have a great newsletter following that helps create community for me and others like me who subscribe, which brings those fun, thought-provoking aspects of what I do, and what all my subscribers do, to one another in a way that resonates in our lives.
All this is to say, that while I don't have one profession that simply and easily encapsulates my 'doing what I love for a living,' I'm making a good living and infusing what I love into the work I do, consistently.
This is, perhaps, a more realistic approach anyway.
This Month, in May, if you find yourself in Verona, WI or Wales, WI come check out one of my music performances:
Feel free to check out some free streaming/downloadable music at NickVmusic.net
Have you ever recommended a good movie you saw to a friend?
Then, after your friend saw the movie she thanked you for recommending it?
That’s customer advocacy on a basic level.
You, the customer who saw the movie and liked it, advocated on behalf of the movie by recommending it to a friend you knew would likely enjoy it too.
That customer advocacy can scale too…
Say the movie was part of the Star Wars series of movies. There is an entire fan ecosystem around those movies. The producer of those movies (Disney) interacts and engages its fans with special events, fan websites and communities, contests and even opportunities for fans to share their thought leadership on various Stars Wars-related topics. It’s true, you can check it out at StarWars.com.
What ends up happening is that the Star Wars franchise has helped individual Star Wars fans feel valued for their interest and participation in the Star Wars community. Fans have even been rewarded and recognized for their Star Wars thought-leadership contributions to the community.
In this example, Star Wars/Disney makes their franchise about the fans, and as a result those fans continue to advocate on behalf of Star Wars providing that franchise with more promotional power than Disney alone could produce.
What’s the ROI of Disney putting their Star Wars fans first?
According to a Fortune Magazine article from a few years back, it was nearly $42 billion. That’s billion, with a B. Not bad for a few sci-fi fantasy movies.
Here’s the thing, these same Star Wars advocacy fundamentals can be applied to B2B Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tech businesses, and it just so happens that I personally know the Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi who can share the ways of the Customer Advocacy Force...
Join the webinar - Customer Success + Marketing: How to Team Up to Boost Advocacy. February 22, 2018 @ 10 am (PT) / 1 pm (ET)
Join Howard Tarnoff (Founder & Managing Director of Customer Success LLC) and Carlos Gonzalez (Vice President of Customer Success Operations at Ceridian) as they reveal the advocacy playbooks they respectively use to:
Post by: Nick Venturella
When you’re working with customers, or your audience on social media or even your email distribution list, remember those you’re trying to reach with your message, opportunity or solution will only continue to give you their attention if you continue to provide them value.
A harsh truth is, your audience likely doesn’t care too much about what you want them to hear/read as much as they care about whether or not that content actually provides them solutions to problems they have, or stops them in their tracks to change their perspective about your solution to a problem you’ve helped them finally identify that they have (an aha moment, if you will).
You can continually provide your audience value if you stop trying to be the hero of their story and guide them, so they can be the hero of their story (notice the italics for emphasis).
Recently, I was introduced to Donald Miller’s Building a Storybrand blog and podcast (thanks Beky, co-owner of Montae Creative), and I like the way he describes things. Miller’s approach, which I agree with, is that your audience, or your customer, is the hero in their journey toward a solution and success. You are not.
Here’s one reason why you are not the hero in your customer’s story…
Your customer, let’s call her Janey, has her own job in the company she works for, and if she brings you and/or your solution in to help the company she works for and you steal the glory of being the hero, then why does the company need her anymore?
Now that’s an extreme example that doesn’t necessarily take into account other factors, but the emotional response is the same in practical application, and if higher ups at Janey’s company think you’re the hero and they can minimize Janey’s role to save a few bucks now that your solution is in place, what’s really stopping them from doing so?
However, if you come in with your solution and you position Janey as the thought leader who helped drive the decision to seek and implement this solution – and you partner with Janey to ensure she can maximize your solution and show positive results – then you’ve just helped Janey become indispensable.
Yes, your solution helps Janey realize success, but so many things that Janey and her company are in control of are what will make them successful or not. As for your solution, it likely only helps them to reach that success more easily, quickly and efficiently.
In other words, they may have reached success without your solution, but by partnering with Janey and her company your guidance helped accelerate their success.
And…this isn’t a one-sided scenario. You and your solution or brand or company benefit too.
Actually, you will benefit more than any success you might have achieved if you were trying to be the hero because you’ve fostered a positive relationship with Janey and her company. You’ve built trust by proving their success is paramount.
When you do that, your success is inevitable because you have created a positive advocate on your behalf.
Janey advocates on your behalf because she is someone who has gone through the work it takes to be successful under your guidance. Then, as Janey tells her industry colleagues about her success and your solution, the perceived value of your solution goes up. Even more importantly though, the true value of your guidance skyrockets, and that, will attract more Janeys.
posted by: Nick Venturella
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"What do you do when you're just feeling like you're in a funk?"
"What do you mean?"
"I'm just not feeling excited about much in life right now. I'm actually feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed. I feel like I can't get past the obligations in my life to reach the goals I really want to pursue. I'm just down and irritable."
"Ahh, I get it. That's no fun. I can tell you though, you're not alone. In fact, I often feel those things too."
"So then what do you do to push through it? You seem like you have your stuff together."
" I address it. Specifically, I write about it in a daily journal."
"Journaling!? Like keeping a diary?"
"If you want to call it that, then sure. It's just an opportunity to spend some time gaining some personal self-awareness by putting pen to paper and writing out what's on your mind. The simple act of writing out what's on your mind makes you feel better because you've gotten it off your chest, so to speak. Although, the benefits go far beyond that, and you can actually alter your mindset and positive outlook by doing it daily and identifying things you're grateful for in your life."
"I'm not convinced. I don't have time to even eat lunch every day let alone write in a daily journal ."
"Yeah, but I would argue that if you try it for two weeks and only spend 10 to 15 minutes writing per day, you'll notice a positive difference in your mood, outlook, energy and productivity."
Have you heard anything about the benefits of daily journal writing like that depicted in the scenario above?
Well, there is actually proven science that says that daily journal writing can not only improve your mindset, but it can promote other physical health benefits too. Here's an article that explains some of those benefits.
As a musician/artist/writer I tend to journal a lot to foster my creative process, but lately I've been more cognoscente about my journaling.
Specifically, I've been identifying things that bother me or cause me anxiety as well as things I'm grateful for and actions I know I need to take to reach goals of mine.
In doing so, I've noticed my mood and energy level has increased and I'm more present, engaged and productive with whatever I'm working on in any given moment.
So, I built a specific journaling system help others use daily journaling to meet goals and improve their mood and mindset over time.
The idea is to nourish the mind, body and soul through daily writing that gives you brief guides related to how you can make this work for you and measure your progress/mood over time.
It's called the Provision Journal, which is a proactive daily journaling system for achieving a better vision and version of one's self.
If that sounds like something of interest to you, here's how you can get it.
Posted by: Nick Venturella
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