Getting a late start

In 2001, the song I Wanna Talk About Me came out.

It was the first time I had heard of Toby Keith.

The song was huge for him. It’s safe to say this was the song that solidified him on the Country Music map.

He was 40.

Now, he had been around and had a few smaller hits through the 90s, but this particular hit was huge.

He had released his first country album less than a decade earlier.

It came out in his early 30s.

In music, to have your first album come out in your 30s, and to have the hit that finally solidifies you on the music scene at 40, is not common.

In reality, you’re ancient.

You’re not going to make a 30 under 30 list. And you narrowly missed the 40 under 40 list.

While Toby Keith got a late start, which I admire, he also became quite prolific after that release in 2001.

He released 5 albums prior to 2001, excluding a Christmas album.

After his 2001 album release, excluding greatest hits and Christmas albums, Toby Keith has released 13 albums. All of those came in the 15 years since the 2001 release.

Almost double the rate he was releasing prior.

That’s what makes Toby Keith impressive.

It’s not that he had a groundbreaking musical breakthrough in his late teens or early 20s, it’s that he has continued to be creative over decades.

30 under 30 lists are overrated and they’re a fairly useless measure of success.

Can you sustain your work for 3 decades?

That question, and measuring your endurance, is far more interesting.

Your organizations culture matters

If you went to an Oakland A’s game in the mid-2010s, when Coco Crisp came up to bat you would be doing the Bernie Lean.

You and everyone else in the stadium.

Then, if the A’s were down in the bottom of the 9th, you would be waiting for the walk-off. The A’s would bat last, make a comeback, and win the game.

They won so many games this way, it was a known thing throughout the league. It made other teams nervous.

The player who hit the walk-off would get a pie to the face during their post-game interview.

The A’s have not won a World Series since the 80s. And, they continually trade away the players you love, creating what may seem to a non-fan like a revolving door.

What the A’s do have is culture.

That culture, whether you’re a fan or a player, is what bonds the organization.

You would think that players coming to the A’s, knowing a World Series is a long shot and the likelihood of being traded is high, would create a toxic environment.

You would think fans are dissatisfied with their team.

What you find though, is the A’s culture is so strong, the players seemingly have a blast and the small but loyal fan base shows up in roughly the same numbers whether the A’s are winning or losing.

The A’s culture is things like:

The Bernie Lean.

Pies to the face after a walk-off.

It’s knowing you’re the underdogs, with one of the lowest budgets in baseball, yet you still make it to the playoffs.

It’s knowing your team changed the way baseball is played.

These are things that make the A’s culture work.

Culture is important. It’s likely more important than you think.

When times are tough. When difficult decisions are made. When the odds are stacked against you.

The culture an organization has built might be the only thing that holds it together.

The A’s may not have much, but at least they have culture.

Consistently showing up like Sammy Hagar

My first concert was at the Concord Pavilion to see Sammy Hagar.

I probably saw him almost every year for 10 years after that.

If you haven’t followed his career, which it’s likely you haven’t, he’s played in many different bands and worked on many different projects.

Some of his bands and projects include:

  • Montrose
  • Sammy Hagar
  • Van Halen
  • A Mountain Bike Shop
  • Cabo Wabo Cantina
  • Cabo Wabo Tequila
  • Sammy Hagar and the Wabos
  • Chickenfoot
  • Sammy Hagar Beach Bar Rum, the rum
  • Sammy Hagar Beach Bar Rum, the restaurant
  • The Circle
  • Rock and Roll Road Trip with Sammy Hagar
  • Sammy Hagar’s Top Rock Countdown

These are just the projects I know about, which I’m sure I’ve missed some.

I’ve tried to put this list in roughly chronological order. I find two things interesting about this list.

First, he joined Van Halen – third on the list – at 38. This is basically ancient in rock and roll.

Second, the sheer volume of projects he started and was involved in after that.

While his early music career probably got him the contacts and money to do some of his later projects, the fact is he did them.

They didn’t get him on a 30 under 30 list, because he was well into his 40s by the time he started them.

He’s the kind of hustler that consistently does work over the long term.

Through his 40s, 50s, 60s, and now into his 70s, he’s continuing to do projects.

While not at the scale of the largest rock band in the world – Van Halen in the early 90s – they are projects I’m sure he’s proud of.

Like Sammy Hagar, good things can come from consistently showing up and doing our work over the long term.

Getting your second wind

There’s a concept athletes are familiar with called the “second wind”.

You may be familiar with this through experience, or have heard some athletic friends discuss it.

Mostly, it’s a feeling.

But, a powerful one.

What is the “second wind”?

If you’re swimming a long-distance event – like the mile, which is 1,650 yards and 66 laps – you will start the event feeling fresh and rested. Then, as the event wears on, you will get progressively tired. This makes sense.

When you get tired, you have two options:

  1. Let the tired feeling consume you and win.
  2. Push through and overcome that feeling.

If you’re able to push hard enough when you begin to get tired, you can unlock your second wind. It only happens after you overcome being tired.

If you can overcome, you will feel better than when you started the race. It’s like a weight being lifted. Like you’re dropping shackles. It’s as if you could go at top speed forever.

The reality is, with this feeling you can continue at top performance for a period. This period allows you to effectively get in the zone. You want to use the second wind to your advantage.

In the mile, you hope this happens around the 500-yard mark. That gives you plenty of time to be in the zone and meet your goal.

The second wind isn’t exclusively available to athletes. It’s an idea. Anyone can get them and use them to their advantage.

You can get a second wind during a single day. A week, month, year, or sometime over your career.

The goal is to recognize it and lean into it.

Once you can recognize them, you want to be able to manufacture them. Time them such you can regularly leverage them.

Let it be your hidden overdrive button used for a burst of productivity or creativity.

Just like getting in the zone while swimming the mile.

When you’re tired, it may mean it’s time to stop or move on.

It could also be right before your second win.

P.S. This is not an endorsement for hustle porn. A second wind can only happen when you’re well trained and well rested.

Look for a back door

Look for a back door

The warehouse building was open to the street. It had a lobby, but that’s where the receptionist sits.

That is an immediate rejection.

My chance is driving around back. Where the shipping trucks pull up to the building and load, or unload, the shipments from places unknown. The back, which is where I sell my services, is relatively unsecured. I could probably rob the place.

I won’t. I’m just trying to make a living.

What occurs next is me walking through the back door of the warehouse. I think I look like I know where I’m going.

You shouldn’t tell my manager because the account might throw me out.

But, this tends to be the fastest way to speak to my preferred call point. The maintenance manager.

Yes, there is a way I am supposed to do things. Call the front desk, ask for an appointment, and get rejected. The process, which does not work in my favor, needs to be circumvented.

Thus, I walk in the back door. Like I know where I am going. Like I’m on a mission. When you act like you belong, the likelihood of being thrown out goes down. I understand people hate being dropped in on. But, if I wait for a call back, I will never make quota. I’d get fired.

So, I trained myself to look for the back door. The path with the least resistance. It’s not glamorous, and it is likely to upset prospects. Though at times, it is very effective.

There’s a process and a way of doing things. Unfortunately, the way of doing things may not get us what we want. A sale, a promotion, or a new client.

Thus, we have to look for a back door.

Look for a back door

The idea of looking for the back door is not my own. It actually came from a James Altucher Podcast. One where the interviewee worked at HBO in the HR department. Then, began managing comedians.

Working in the HR department as an assistant filing papers was the interviewees back door. She wanted to work in comedy. She knew HBO was the right place. Rather than enter through the front door, which was the comedy department, or whatever department comedians are in, she entered in HR.

Interesting choice. I thought about it, and at times, I had done something similar. I think we all have.

The best path forward might not be straight ahead. It could be circling the building, and arriving in the back. We have to look for a back door.

When I finally found the maintenance manager, he asked me to leave. Not politely. I guess when I went looking for the back door I didn’t end up managing a comedian. Or making a sale.

I hope you find a back door that has stairs leading to the executive suite, pot of gold, or a lifestyle that makes you proud.

Don’t worry, I’m still looking too.