You don’t have to be from Nashville to appreciate country music or its rich history—and you certainly don’t have to be from there to understand the impact of the Man in Black on music and American culture.
Of the many things that I learned in studying the life of Johnny Cash, I want to share three that had an impact on me well beyond his music:
1. Pursue your dream.
When he was about four years old, he heard a song on a Victrola. Immediately, he knew that singing on the radio was his goal. Nothing could stop his determination to make that dream a reality.
Lesson: Make sure your dream is big enough to inspire you through difficulties.
“Success is having to worry about every damn thing in the world, except money.” –Johnny Cash
He was the master of style. Almost always appearing in black, he communicated a style and a message with consistency and power. Everything about him from his voice, his music, his personality and his dress communicated a unique brand.
Lesson: Imitating others may help you get started, but real power comes from cultivating your own unique giftedness.
“My arms are too short to box with God.” –Johnny Cash
Evan Carmichael is passionate about helping entrepreneurs. He built and sold a biotech software company at 19. He raised millions as a venture capitalist at 22. And then, he started EvanCarmichael.com as a website to help entrepreneurs. He is, by his own admission, “obsessed” with this passion.
His YouTube channel has millions of views and is the leading channel for entrepreneurs. You may have seen during one of his numerous media interviews or his many keynote speeches.
Recently, I caught up with Evan in Madrid, Spain. Having followed his career online, I wanted to learn more about the entrepreneurial mindset.
Even if we don’t own a business, what can we all learn from entrepreneurs? Here are a few lessons from Evan that inspired me. Since I am all about encouragement and empowerment, I wanted to share some of his most inspiring words.
6 Lessons from Entrepreneurs
All of us should:
Embrace the entrepreneurial mindset.
This is a mindset of dissatisfaction with the status quo, of solutions, of challenge, and of driving to a more sustainable, successful place.
“Entrepreneurs have a dissatisfaction of the world around us.” –Evan Carmichael
Some entrepreneurs bet everything, but you can be pragmatic. You can take measured bets. Evan’s take on risk was eye opening. He thinks it’s “crazy risky” to assume you will have your job for 25 years and that your company will still be around. “Why not bet on you?” is a challenge we should all learn from.
“Betting on yourself is one of the best bets you can make.” –Evan Carmichael
Last year, I was reading the dramatic account of a hard-charging executive who suffered a heart attack. The post was about the need for balance, but it was more than a wake-up call. What struck me about this post, however, was not the lessons he taught us from his painful experience, not the, “Oh, I hope this doesn’t happen to me” feeling we have when reading these posts, but the name of the hospital he went to. It was here in Dublin, Ohio!
“A leader’s job is to help people move to a position of improved performance.” –Figliuolo / Prince
That meant that one of the people who regularly shares my posts and vice versa lived in my town. Social media amazes me. A quickly dashed off email and the two of us found ourselves in Starbucks where I heard more about his compelling story. I’m still amazed at how Twitter and blogging create opportunities like this one.
“Great leaders think about talent management every day.”–Figliuolo/Prince
Let me introduce you to Mike Figliuolo. Mike is the founder of thoughtLEADERS, LLC, a leadership development firm. He is also the author of One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership. His latest book was just released and was co-written with Victor Prince, former COO of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and now a strategy consultant.
Mike and Victor have built a powerful framework designed to help leaders be more efficient and more effective at the same time. It starts with the recognition that we, as leaders, are often overworked and not as effective as we could be.
Where am I spending my time?
Am I treating each person the same when different approaches would create better results?
“Your leadership success hinges upon your ability to get people to perform well.” –Figliuolo/Prince
One of the most innovative people I have ever met is my friend Diana Gabaldon. Last year, her wildly popular Outlander novels became even more popular as the new television series was released. Whether you are reading her Outlander series or her Lord John novels, you will be hard pressed to categorize her writing. Most critics give up and classify her work with a list of descriptive words ranging from historical fiction and romance to mystery and adventure.
However you describe her novels, you may find it even more challenging to describe the author. Diana is equal parts scholar, writer and historian. Mix in a bit of archivist; stir in comic book writing, and the unique recipe begins to take shape.
When I first met Diana, I had not read any of her books. She captivated me by the way she told a story. How she went from college professor to best-selling author was a story I will never forget.
Here are a few lessons I learned from the impossible-to-describe creative force named Diana Gabaldon:
Lessons from A Creative Mind
1. Try….why not take a chance?
It seems that most people have an idea, think they should do something, and then push that dream into a drawer. They never really give it a go.
Years ago, Diana read comic books. She felt the writing quality was declining and that she could do it herself. Have you ever felt that way? You see something and think, “I can do better.” Most of us have. What sets Diana apart is that she didn’t stop there. She investigated. She found out who was in charge and then turned in a submission.
Years later, Diana would take a different chance. She thought that she would like to try writing a novel. That try, what she calls the novel she was writing for “practice,” became Outlander.
What idea have you had that you have left in that drawer? What could you do to give birth to something new?
2. Study…for the love of creating.
Long before her mega success as an author, Diana spent years as a university professor. She has a PhD in Quantitative Behavioral Ecology. She also holds degrees in marine biology and zoology. That type of academic success shows an underlying love of learning.
And it’s that same love of learning she uses in the meticulous research for her books. Her fiction books are known for their accuracy, and it is no wonder. Her personal library includes thousands of books. Her Arizona home alone contains over 1500 reference works on topics such as warfare techniques, poisons and history. Some of the topics are very specific, such as the art of passementarie (the knotted tassels on 18th century furnishings) or the 126 books on herbals. If you have been searching for Sam Johnson’s Dictionary (1755) or Captain Francis Grose’s A Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1811), look no further.
Often people look for the shortcuts to success. You may hear that Diana decided to write a book and then found herself on the NYT list. The truth is that great public success is almost always the result of planting, tilling and working in private.
You Can, You Will: 8 Undeniable Qualities of a Winner is the latest book by Joel Osteen. Fans of Joel Osteen’s positive message will enjoy the stories throughout the book of inspiration and encouragement.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to talk with Joel, who is the pastor of Lakewood, the largest church in the U.S. He’s immediately recognizable from his television ministry, bestselling books and stadium appearances. Not too long ago, I noticed he has his own SiriusXM station.
As I look back on my earliest interviews for this website, I laugh. My first three in-person interviews included Pastor Joel Osteen, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and writer and producer John Carter Cash, the son of Johnny and June Carter Cash.
Let me be frank: I didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t a professional interviewer. My colleague, Drew Bordas, had vast video and audio experience. At that point, I think his total experience was that he occasionally videotaped his kids at home. Looking at this interview, I am thankful that Joel was so kind, so encouraging, and so forgiving to allow us to stumble through it. What makes it more remarkable is if you know Joel Osteen’s backstory. Joel is a true pro when it comes to production. Before he stepped up to minister after his father passed away, he worked behind the scenes and became a video and audio expert.
Here are some lessons I learned from that visit.
6 Leadership Lessons
1. Don’t condemn and judge others.
He says it, but my visit proves he lives it, too.
How often we waste time condemning, criticizing and complaining. It wastes time, drains energy, and is counterproductive.
Whatever you do, you want it to be in line with your life purpose. Observing Joel, I can see that he knows his own gifts and his purpose. He focuses his energy and talent on it. He genuinely wants everyone to have a blessed life, and he believes in the positive nature of people.
An organization with a unifying purpose will galvanize everyone to achieve.
As he says, “Whatever challenges you may face, whatever circumstances are weighing you down, you can choose your response. How you live your life is totally up to you.” His books are full of strategies on how to live a happier, more abundant life.