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Lessons Learned from Classical Music

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

I used to hate practicing. At 12, there is nothing worse than being forced to sit at the piano for thirty minutes on a summer day, when the rest of your friends are outside playing in the sun. I think that playing solo piano is one of the loneliest instruments a child can play. However, those thirty minutes a day taught me something invaluable.

1. Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
If you continuously practice something incorrectly, that’s how you will remember it for the rest of your life. Always strive for perfection when you’re practicing. It is truly the only way to get better.
2. Someone will always be better than you, and someone will always be worse.
There was nothing more terrifying that playing right after someone who was great. But it was even worse if you performed right after someone who was horrible. Surround yourself with great people who continuously challenge you. If you ever feel like you are the best at something, chances are you’re just becoming lazy.
3. Small bites finish the sandwich.
I always hated this expression, but usually because I was gorging myself on something delicious in huge mouthfuls. However, this is definitely true in business and in life. Whenever I find myself struggling with a daunting project, I find people or the time to break the project into its’ simplest tasks. I typically do the easy stuff first, so I can spend the most time getting through the hard stuff. If you knock one or two easy items off your list, you will feel more accomplished and more motivated to get through the tough stuff.
4. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.
Don’t do something simply because it sounds easy. I watch many friends and colleagues maintain the status quo and complain about how little they’re getting paid, or how bored they are. Don’t be that person. Companies can always be improved, and when you feel overwhelmed with the challenge you gave yourself, see #3.
5. Seek advice of others.
If you don’t know how to do something, no one is going to fault you for asking questions on how to achieve your goal. I learned that by listening to recordings of pieces I was to perform, I better understood the piece that just by sight reading it. Emulating something that works, but adding your own personal touch to it works.

6. Go for it.
Never do anything half-assed. Everyone can see right through it. Trust me. When you don’t give it 110%, conductors, instructors, teachers, colleagues will remember it. You truly get to make a first impression every day, because every day is a new day.
7. You can’t be everything to everyone.
I have small hands, so Rachmaninov and I do not get along. I had to learn the hard way that there was no way I could play most of his pieces. If you simply can’t do it all, it’s okay. Learning to say “no” is one of the most powerful tools a person can have in his or her arsenal.
What is a life lesson you learned early that’s stuck with you?

Posted in Advice, Classical, Music | 4 Comments »

Sticking it to the Man

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Occasionally a good challenge comes up that’s just too darn good to pass up. Here’s the deal. My boss’s boss’s boss issued a challenge to me and my team: get 10,000 Twitter followers on the @NaxosRecords account by the end of March. Will we stick it to the man? Can we do it?

I think so. The intent is obviously the more people we have in our community, the higher the raw numbers of click-throughs and retweets become. Right now, we average about a 7% click-through rate and a 12% retweet rate, with roughly 3300 followers. I’d love to see all 3 numbers increase! Thankfully, the challenge is just to get our numbers up, and not interactions. One of the great things about Twitter is that the average age of Twitter users falls in the 25-54 range (marketingcharts.com, 04/2009), which is our target audience. It stands to reason that there are at least 10,000 classical music fans in the Twittersphere. The big key is how to motivate them to follow us.


This probably needs a separate post, but Janet and I recently attended SocialFresh, a great conference for social media geeks. Definitely check it out – the guy that runs it is a BAMF and deserves mad kudos for putting it all together.

Anyway, Paula Berg (@PaulaBerg) formerly of Southwest Airlines, gave an incredible talk about the power of social media, specifically Twitter, to help propel @SouthwestAir into 2 of the largest grossing days of sales in the history of SWA in 2009. It took her from the beginning of 2007 to 2009 to connect with over 1M Twitter fans with her team. Those two years focused on bringing the employees passion and love for SWA to Twitter, building trust, and adding value to the Twitter community. Her team tweeted about everything from delays, weather, and news, to funny/inspiring stories about SWA, passenger’s pictures and videos, and crazy tales from employees. It was and continues to be a pretty solid mix of corporate/business information and feel-good human stories.

I bring this up because this is the ultimate test of whether or not social media marketing will have longevity with companies: ROI. At the end of the day, we are all in business to inspire people to spend their money with us. If we can’t prove ROI with our social media efforts, then what the hell are we doing?

Posted in Classical, goals, Music, social media, Social Networks, Twitter, writing | 1 Comment »