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Snare Drum Clock

It’s February, aka “Time Management” month so, with that in mind, what better time could there be to talk about…well, “TIME”?

When it comes to TIME management and being efficient, there is a basic life rhythm concept that is essential. Not surprisingly, it has everything to do with how you use the first hour of your day. Study after study shows that to consistently generate clarity, leadership, innovation, collaboration and be successful, your best chance to truly scOre and hit your goals dramatically increase when you get up early.

Benjamin Franklin got it right when he wrote his legendary quote: 

”Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealth and wise.” There was also the brilliant Archbishop of Dublin, Richard Whately who wrote: “Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.” That’s right!! Getting your rhythm going early in the morning puts you in sync with the world’s most successful leaders. Now I am not suggesting that you have to be up at 3:45 am like Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook but Oprah, Michelle Obama and Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi are all up at the crack of dawn. 

On a personal note, I rise at dawn and have a practice that I have stuck to for over two decades. It involves yoga, breathing exercises and a specific meditation that I learned directly from Dr. Deepak Chopra while we were writing music and presenting workshops together. All this to prepare our mind, heart and body for the day ahead. This preparation applies to that important meeting, travel day, job interview, public speech or simply being present with your team, family or business partner later in the day. It is within my meditation state that I think about how best I will use that finite, precious and precise amount of time that we each have – the next 24 hours – to make a difference, be relevant, be productive and hopefully, in joy.

While I was pursuing my music degree in college, my band professor would always exclaim to the musicians who were either rushing or dragging their performances, “TIME is not a magazine!” He did this so often that it became the mantra of my class and we were not going to be allowed to graduate unless we honored the master rhythm – the tempo and pacing that served the higher good of everyone around us – aka the “Band”. Needless to say, the value of TIME was relentlessly drilled into my musical training and I find myself implementing those lessons to this very day. 

Every musical artist I had the honor to work with were masters of TIME. Earth, Wind and Fire at one point had five bona fide drummers in the band. Sergio Mendes filled his sound with the driving and intoxicating rhythms of Brazil and Carlos Santana insisted that there were always a triage of a drummer, timbalero and conger at the heartbeat of the rhythm section. On stage this meant drums in the center, timbales on the left and congas on the right. I must also admit that my deepest feeling of TIME come from a guitar in the hands of Prince strumming and picking it a foot away from my head… Oh yeah, rhythm and TIME is king! 

Getting things done in the real world uses the same principles and in my trainings and presentations I use T.I.M.E. to teach my team, meeting and event professionals and my clients about TASK, IMPLEMENT, MINDFUL and EASE.

For every task you undertake to become a piece of cake, you have to have prioritize your TASK, IMPLEMENT it while being MINDFUL to take breaks as needed and if moved, meditation as a natural extension to keep you clear. Finally, there is EASE – that moment when your task is complete and you have released it to it’s highest outcome.

Rise early, prioritize and plan ahead. Surely, your rhythm and T.I.M.E. will tame the time bandits of stress, worry and resistance so that you not only manage TIME, you THRIVE.
Shutdown Madonna

From day one of this new year, the term that continues to dominate our headlines is “shutdown”. But what if we put on our contrarian thinking caps and take the conflict that’s smoldering in the current Dissonance of our news cycle and flip “shut” to “open” and “down” to “up”? This way, every time we hear the term “shutdown” we could instead think, “open up” ? Try it …stay with me now…flipping a point of view is much like the classic “is the glass half empty or half full?

Perspective, Point of View and finding ways to create harmony are not just between you and those around you, it’s also finding new ways to create harmony in your mindset. So “Open Up” suddenly becomes a great opportunity and reminder that the Rhythm you choose to live by is ultimately in your hands.

For example, in these early weeks of 2019 when resolutions are at the top of everyone’s mind, must all of your resolutions begin precisely on Jan 1? Think about it, is your personal timeline bound by the Gregorian calendar? Perhaps your Rhythm has it’s own date to activate a new goal or project? In the end, it’s your rhythm and THAT’s all the REALLY matters.

Consider some “Open Up” options. For example, you might launch your dream on January 21, the birthday of the great Dr. Martin Luther King…after all, he did gift us “I have a dream” …just sayin’ …Thinking patriotic? There’s President’s Day on February 18 honoring both Lincoln and Washington. Perhaps nature and the environment are your passion – if so, Earth Day’s on April 22…….you get the idea. Don’t be bound to the notion that your rhythm of Day 1 MUST be the first day of any calendar – more often than not, there’s an even better day to launch a new phase for your business, your goals, your rhythm, your tempo, your timing and your synchronicity to what matters most.

When I accompanied Madonna to record and film the Andrew Lloyd Weber song “You Must Love Me” for the movie “EVITA”, something totally unexpected happened midway. Now in virtually any other situation or with any other person, what happened would have caused the entire production to shutdown. In this case, the potential shutdown was the timing and ramifications of Madonna getting pregnant in the middle of shooting the film. Of course, this meant that her body, the clothes she wore and the angles in which the cameras would shoot would constantly be changing by the day. On top of this, we had the schedules of the talent, crew, and lots of filming in Argentina with hundreds of extras were being directed by the great and highly meticulous Alan Parker. In the midst of what could have easily become a “shutdown” there was an “open up” ….a new way of thinking….a flip.

The decision was made to have Madonna rest her elbows on the piano and stand right in the curve of the piano lid while she sang. As I played the piano, I got the same front row view as the cameras that focused on her face. With great power and beauty, Madonna’s face took on a new level of radiance with the “glow” of pregnancy and the potential “shutdown” was averted! In the end, the results were stunning:

Never let the appearance of Dissonance stop you. To always scOre, and scOre big, turn your “Shut Down” into an the “Open Up” for your gifts to shine….the world is waiting.

Golden handbells ready to play close up

The holidays are the time when we look to not only celebrate with friends and loved ones but also to reminisce at the scOre that we have just lived through the past year.

So I invite you to take this precious period of rest and reflection and allow your mind to slow down and get tranquil.

Can you recall any specific moments these past twelve months when an idea, memory or thought “rang a bell”?

Any “aha moments” when you caught an insight, a lesson or perhaps, were even struck by an epiphany? 

Those are the times when the “bells go off” in your mind and heart and if you’re in tune, the desire to capture these precious moments that truly touched you are worth recording, writing down, and journaling. After all, the holidays, aka “holy” days, are here and it is time to recall and embrace those seemingly “little” things that matter in a BIG way! Why? Because these are the events, people and memories that make you and the quality of your life “whole”.

One of my favorite moments when the “bell” in my mind rang this past year would include the gift of health renewal from my amazing daughter, Jasmine. Back in February she said: “Dad, time to get you really swimming on a regular basis”. She then went on to re-teach me the proper way to swim, breathe and kick and now, thanks to her, I swim four to five times a week! This has truly transformed my exercise regiment for the better….and she never stops pushing me to swim farther and faster….This has been a game changer for me and is just one of many “bells” that rang true that I am grateful for this past year.

The great Charles Dickens, creator of the classic “A Christmas Carol” , also heard is own “Call of the Bells” when he wrote this scOre regarding Christmas:
“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were
fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys …  Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days;  that can recall to the old man
the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveler, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!”

With this my dear friends, readers and kids from one to ninety two, my family sends you and your family, wishes of joy, abundance and blessings – MERRY CHRISTMAS and Happy New Year !

FR w:Jim Kwik:Nov 2011
Last week we lost the SUPER visionary who literally delivered us SUPER scOres of inspiration, wonderment and AWE, the great American Comic Book writer Stan Lee, who died at age 95. He gave his characters extraordinary powers and everyday headaches – a formula which transformed comics by dealing with subject matter that was at once both sublime and truly SUPER. His vivid, striking and compelling characters like the Hulk, Iron Man, the Avengers and the Fantastic Four all sprang from his fertile imagination and spilled onto the page.
Back in 2011, my good friend and colleague, the great Jim Kwik, invited me to speak at his “SuperHero You” event where we illuminated the “super” powers we as humans each possess in our own unique way. Jim’s vision was inspired by his direct friendship with the great Stan Lee and Jim, as a brilliant speaker, thought leader and master of sharpening the mind and memory was the perfect person to bring forth this concept.
With great parallels to a music composer scOring a dramatic composition,  Stan would begin with a Melody of inspiration, think  of the harmonic ways to compliment that Melody and then unleash the rhythm of his characters with super powers that could instantaneously transport them through portals to other worlds, burn through anything with a mere gaze or fly faster than the speed of light!
He also understood the space between the notes: those moments that invited us into the psyches of his characters’ personas and exposed that they too, like us, have their weaknesses and vulnerabilities – at least for a moment. But while his career may have started in pen and ink, it grew and evolved into much more than even he could imagine.
Got your super hero YOU? It’s inside of you, ready to scOre…exercise it regularly and you’ll find that your true powers will astound you. 
When the Rhythm of music is feeling good, we commonly refer to it as the “groove”. It is that synergy inside the music where the pulse, tempo and syncopation it generates settles into your body, gets your toes tapping and puts a big smile on your face.
At midnight last night, our whole country reset the national clock and fell back an hour in the interest of having an “extra” hour of light in the mornings.  Of course, we pay the price at the end of the day with sunset arriving an “extra” hour earlier and making our days feel one hour shorter.  Personally I am not a fan – I would prefer that we, as human beings,  linked to the rhythms of the earth, would simply allow our body clock to adapt  to the natural timing and sunlight of the fall season.
There are many techniques to deal with lesser and lesser daylight as winter approaches; but for the sake of this article, let’s focus on one item that creates GIANT disruptions of your body’s RHYTHM. In fact, it does this  regularly and you may be surprised that this one item, something we cling to as an extension of our own body, is the “smart” phone and can disrupt your sleep patterns far more than you might imagine.
Studies of smartphone usage show that 68% of it occurs at home and that a vast amount of owners sleep either holding their smartphone, having it in bed with them, or on their nightstand… sound familiar? Many even use smartphones as their alarm clocks.  While this makes sense if you want your phone within arm’s reach you expose your body’s rhythm to a potential hijack! Not only can an unimportant late night call or notification chime in, but the temptation to check social media, email or catch the latest news is often too strong to resist. As a result, you might feel energized from interacting with others or totally stressed by reading something that is downright upsetting when you should actually be resting, relaxing and slowing down your RHYTHM to the gentleness of musical ballad.  This partly explains why people who consume electronic media in bed are at a higher risk for insomnia. To quell the culprit, simply keep your phone in another room and set an old school alarm to wake up instead. You’ll sleep better, navigate the rhythmic twist of daylight “savings” and start your days with a newfound energy to scOre higher and set your own RHTYHM on your terms.

When Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” came out in Nov 1982, there had never been a Halloween song like it. The catalog of creepy party songs up to that point consisted of much lighter tunes like “Monster Mash” , “The Addams Family” and “Ghostbusters”. These are all fun to be sure but let’s face it, no spooky songs released prior to 1982 ever possessed the funky, kinetic and relentless sparse bass and drum tracks that drive the epic groove of “THRILLER”! With the Melody being delivered by the King of Pop, haunting harmonies laid down by my friend and keyboard colleague, Greg Phillinganes and a crew of LA’s top studio players, “THRILLER’ emerged as the title track of the second-best-selling album in the USA exceeding an astounding 33 million in sales!

If you are a reader of my blogs, I’m always talking about Melody, Harmony and Rhythm as the essential elements to get to your “scOre” – your desired outcome…however, in this particular instance, especially as I am writing these very words on the eve of Halloween, DISSONANCE, along with Dastardly DISRUPTION, have to take front and center and needed to find it’s KING. The call went out and with thanks to Peggy Lipton – Quincy Jones’ wife at the time – who knew the great “master of horror”, Vincent Price – he answered the call with a haunting YES.

He didn’t just narrate it he wrote the lyrics:

“Darkness falls across the land, The midnite hour is close at hand

Creatures crawl in search of blood, To terrorize yawls neighbourhood

And whosoever shall be found, Without the soul for getting down

Must stand and face the hounds of hell, And rot inside a corpses shell

The demons squeal in sheer delight, It’s you they spy, so plump, so right

For although the groove is hard to beat, It’s still you stand with frozen feet

You try to run, you try to scream, But no more sun you’ll ever see

For evil reached from the crypt, To crush you in it’s icy grip

The foulest stench is in the air, The funk of forty thousand years

And grizzy ghouls from every tomb, Are closing in to seal your doom

And though you fight to stay alive, Your body starts to shiver

For no mere mortal can resist, The evil of the thriller…… Can you dig it?”

To this day, a fresh listen of this incredible track will make you jump out of your seat – cause you’re either creeped out or simply because you gotta dance….Fun Fact: “Sol to Soul” – my 2nd solo release, was also recorded at the same studio as “Thriller” – Westlake Studios in LA.

WBENC Ladies

As we leap into Fall at a time when the scOre of our nation’s women are uniting in voice, spirit and purpose, I am reminded of the joy and inspiration I was so privileged to deliver and receive from our nation’s largest certifier of women-owned businesses, the “Women’s Business Enterprise National Council” also known as “WBENC”. In presenting the Keynote Speech and Concert to WBENC’s annual convention in Orlando, FL, I had the honor to get to know a few of those 4,000 remarkable ladies who came from all parts of our great nation. We clapped, we listened, we learned and worked together to further drive the innovation, determination and creativity that women-owned businesses continually bring to America’s economic growth. WBENC – one of our nation’s great treasures.

#WBENC, #Diversity, #Inclusion #StrongWoman #Strength #Beauty



Back in 1967, when terms like #MeToo and #DiversityandInclusion were virtually non-existent, Aretha Franklin released this Otis Redding classic that focused on a brilliantly simple request and concept: “RESPECT”. An utterly groundbreaking musical anthem on female freedom and empowerment, it’s the ultimate example of a leader singing her very own “Melody” to a culture that rarely ever heeded respect to minority women. After all, respect is at the root of all success and is central to making society, commerce and prosperity work together. If Aretha were singing this Melody in a business setting, she’d be the CEO expressing WHO she is and WHAT she stands for! Before you read the following, please take a few seconds to Continue reading

Dr Michio Kaku

In addition to Music’s benefits to education, organizational dynamics, health and our day-to-day interactions, Music can now be viewed as the application of leading edge Theoretical Physics.

The great Astronomer Johannes Kepler, who discovered the Laws of Planetary Motion just over 400 years ago, thought that there was something very musical about planetary orbits. He called this “The Music of the Spheres”. A half century ago, his notion was thought to be a quaint, leftover aspect of medieval thinking. We now learn that he was just ahead of his time. Continue reading