By Kathryn Cloward
When I started my career 21 years ago, I worked for a corporate recruiting firm with a 100% compensation plan. The risk/reward factor was high. No deals closed meant no money earned. Some people looked at this “opportunity” as completely insane and felt their time was worth more.
However, I looked at it on the other side of the spectrum. I was super inspired by the unlimited, uncapped potential of it all. I was energized by the feeling of what could be. To follow a more traditional path of earning a confined salary that slowly grew over time wasn’t me.
I was motivated to see what results my own efforts could achieve. When I saw plenty of other people consistently closing deals and earning money, making it happen for themselves, I thought to myself, “If they can do, I can do it, too.”
It took me nine months to earn my first commission check, but once I acquired the skills and awareness to close one deal, I was able to keep it going. I rose to tremendous heights. I was earning my own way. I felt proud of myself. I was able to help others do the same. I took the time to help people elevate themselves, and together we rose, encouraging each other. It was magical.
The tools I acquired for my career eventually helped me buy my first house before I turned 27. I was proud of myself for earning my own way, achieving my personal and professional goals, and not giving up when things were bleak. And I took what I learned with me into every opportunity I created for myself the past 20 years — through many peaks and valleys.
One thing I could always count on was myself. I knew I could do it, if I just kept at it.
That’s what I want for you — to know you can do what you desire and handle the peaks and valleys of life because they do and will happen!
The tools I acquired in sales and business development are what helped me trust the process for the long road ahead when I launched myself into the music world. While writing and creating songs is fun, and performing is pure joy, we’re in a business. The more you think about yourself as your own brand — your own business — the more you’ll empower yourself to achieve your goals for the short and long term.
Here are business tips/tools I want to share with you:
- Mindset is everything! Cultivate a positive, will-do attitude. Think good thoughts about yourself and others. Believe you can and you will. Visualize what you want, visualize your goals and trust in your own power to manifest them. Your mind is like a magnet. If you feel the industry is bleak and there’s no opportunity for you, you’ll magnetize that into your life experience. Similarly, if you believe this is the best industry you could be in and there’s plenty for you and everyone else, that will be the truth of your experience.
- Hang out with positive, opportunity energizing people! There are plenty of negative people everywhere — those who are energy-sucking drains, doubters who think there is no opportunity in music anymore. I totally disagree. There’s no better time to be in the music business. I think it’s a gold rush right now. I only surround myself with people who are positive and believe in possibilities. I seek the unlimited and enjoy figuring out this business each step of the way. I’ve achieved some wonderful goals so far and have many more I’m working toward. I’m optimistic and love meeting new, inspiring people every day. To test out if you’re around positive mindset people, ask yourself this each time you’re around someone else: How do I feel right now? Do I feel energized and inspired? Do I feel drained and doubtful? If it feels good, nurture that relationship. If it doesn’t, back up and shift away.
- Your experience builds your worth. Be willing to do the work! This is so important. I often encounter people who have very little practical work experience, who haven’t put the consistent time yet to build their resume, but believe they’re worth more than they actually are — effectively demonstrating an attitude that repels opportunities. Worth is determined by how much someone’s willing to pay. You become more and more valuable when decision-makers feel they need you on their team — in their band, in the studio, etc. Do the work. Seize opportunities. Gain experience.
- Your reputation follows you everywhere you go. Developing your craft and being the best you can be at what you do is a key component to building a long-term career. But talent alone isn’t enough. Being someone others want to work with is key. My parents always told me everyone is replaceable. It was a tough lesson, but it’s the truth. I had to learn to be good at my craft, but also learn how to work well with others. I’ve met many talented people who have bad attitudes, aren’t reliable and aren’t professional; they’re not easy to work with — so I don’t. Talent will open doors and your reputation for being someone decision-makers can count on will create a ripple effect of “I need to work with her,” building your career for the long haul — and raising your worth!
- Have fun every step of the way! Our lives are meant to be fun. What better way to have fun than by playing music and helping others enjoy music. This is the best industry to be in, so enjoy it! While you may not have achieved the biggest goals on your list, you’re on your way. Have fun on your joyful adventure. I used to say “hard work” all the time. I was raised to value hard work. I promoted hard work. But what I was telling the universe was that my work was — hard. Last year, I made a simple mindset and language shift to saying “fun work” every day; it’s been an incredibly small thing that’s had huge impact.
Have fun doing your work! Enjoy this magical life you’re living. Believe in the unlimited possibilities available to us all. Peace to you for the journey.