Guest Blog Post: The Shopping Annuity by Jeremy Slate

From time to time I like to spotlight a post from a fellow blogger.  This is one of my favorite recent posts from a great businessman, entrepreneur, personal trainer, and overall awesome guy Jeremy Slate.  If you enjoy this post, you can check out more of his work at www.jrslate.com. Enjoy! Turn Spending Into Earning? … Read more

What the film “Kill Bill” teaches us about goal setting and change

To say life can be unpredictable is an understatement. The unexpected can happen and often does, hopefully not in the same fashion as the opening scene of the film Kill Bill, as shown above nevertheless we can learn how to readjust and re-purpose ourselves after being thrown off course.

What I learned in 2014

Like everyone, I use New Years as a point to start my goals for the upcoming calendar year.  Notice I said goals and not resolutions, I make a clear distinction between the two as goals have dates and smaller steps attached to them whereas resolutions have often struck me as dreams or wishes.  I find … Read more

Why is Everyone Mad at U2 ? – Part 2 – an update! Sharon and Ozzy Clarify Their Stance.

A few months ago I posted a blog entitled,”Why is Everyone Mad at U2?”;- discussing the surprising blow back from Apple gifting digital copies of the bands latest release,”Songs of Innocence.”  In the piece I noted Sharon Osbourne was particularly vocal, and in my opinion hypocritical, in her criticism of the band on Twitter stating .  “U2 you are business moguls not musicians anymore. No wonder you have to give your mediocre music away for free cause no one wants to buy it.”  For my full blog post go to:     http://wp.me/p4kPiy-69

Last week both Sharon and Ozzy appeared on the Sirium XM’s “Opie and Jimmy Show” to discuss upcoming projects including Ozzfiesta, a possible special to commemorate the anniversary of their realty show, and the future of Black Sabbath.  During the interview the subject of Sharon’s recent thoughts on U2 came up, although Sharon noted after she made her initial remarks, the members of U2 sent Ozzy a “lovely” hand written note.  Her issue was not with the band but she felt calling the album a “gift to the world” deceptive because the band was paid by Apple, rather than recording the album for free.

A video of the interview is below, U2 question is around the 22 min mark. 

Sharon’s issue is more of a business issue, making it sound when massive artists like U2 give away their music for free it does a disservice for new struggling artists to be heard. With all due respect to Sharon, who is a savvy businesswoman and mogul in the recording industry, as a consumer I strongly disagree.  To reiterate my point in my first post on this subject, record labels gouged customers by overcharging on albums (in all forms) for years and still do.  Record labels devalued their own product by creating an inflated market for it and then trying to over saturate their target market. The advent of MP3s and digital music dealt a significant blow to the industry in a way corporate music labels still haven’t recovered from.  Case in point, the new AC/DC album debuted as the best selling rock album last week,but sales were a third of their prior release. Record labels profit more off of licensing the music to movies, commercials, video games, and other mediums then to the actual music sales.  I surmise this is why its’ so damn expensive to purchase an actual concert ticket these days.

Consumers themselves have become apathetic to music as well.  High School and College students, who were once the top customer for record labels, are now opting for services like Spotify or Pandora rather than owning an actual album.  Music is no longer a valuable piece of cultural currency rather it is a disposable commodity used to sell cars and life insurance.  This is why as a consumer and music appreciator I will gladly download a free album by one of my favorite artists just as I won’t for an artist I don’t care for.  In a case like this, where Apple, pre-loaded the next release of IOS with the album, I can understand if someone feels something is being forced on them but you can either quietly delete it or hit the skip button.  This is hardly the first time a mp3 player or phone came pre-loaded with an album or track.  Rather than cause a stir, I would like to see how other artists of the same magnitude promote their music in new ways.

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In closing, let me make special mention Sharon and Ozzy have been trail blazers in introducing new artists to the public, often using Ozzfest as a way to expose upcoming bands to music fans around the world.  If anyone in this business knows how to bring new artists to the forefront it’s Sharon Osbourne.

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists.  Not only does he love the new U2 Album, he is very excited to see them live this summer at Madison Square Garden!

There is No Morocco: What the Film Almost Famous Can Teach Us About Goal Setting

As many regular readers to my blog know, I am a film fanatic and believe motion pictures, as with any art form, have the ability to educate the viewer about the human condition and about them self in a way no scientific material  or textbook can.  The Cameron Crowe film Almost Famous is my favorite picture and one I hold close to my heart for this very reason. For those who haven’t seen it, be warned I will most definitely spoil the story of the film in this post.  If you were planning on Netflixing the film tonight, its OK to close this screen for now (I forgive you) as long as you promise to come back here later when you’re done.  The movie has several layers; it’s a coming of age drama, a love story, and a love letter to classic rock based loosely on Crowe’s youth.   I’m not writing about a nearly fifth-teen year old film to give you a review, rather I had a thought recently regarding the characters in the film I feel we can all use to reach our own goals.

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”
― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

The characters in the film are dreamers, to one extent or another. William’s mother dreams of her son growing up as a respectful grounded and intelligent gentleman.  His sister dreams of freedom away from her mother’s over bearing behavior. The fictional band, Still Water, dreams of the fame, and Penny Lane dreams of visiting exotic locations.  The film’s main character, William, however, is a different kind of dreamer.  While everyone else in the film treats their dreams like a fantasy world they can close their eyes and think about with no real aim in to make it a reality William is actively working towards his goal of becoming a professional music journalist.  So what makes William different than all the others in the film?

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First and foremost, he’s tenacious. We learn early on the film he has been submitting articles he’s written in his spare time for years to his idol, Lester Bangs.  This connection prepares William for his big break, writing an article for Rolling Stone on his new favorite band Still Water.  William is intent on getting the article completed, so much in fact he misses his high school graduation while attempting to get interviews with all the members of the band.

Second, he’s not afraid to ask for help.  William wrote the aforementioned articles not only to get his work published in Bangs’ periodical, Cream Magazine, but to recruit the journalist as a mentor. This not only led William to start this life changing journey on tour with an up and coming rock band but also served as a support system when he ran into trouble with the piece, later in the film.  He also recruits Penny Lane, played by Kate Hudson who received an Oscar nomination for her performance, to assist him in getting an interview with the elusive guitar player, Russell Hammond.

He’s willing to endure criticism.  William is very much an outsider and always has been in his life.  He’s too young, too smart, and at times too naive to embrace the world around him and its limitations.  Does he have tough mental armor made of steel and Kevlar?   Not at all, he is driven by his goal, amazement with creativity, and passion for music.

He’s not afraid to tell it like it is.  Throughout the film William gets distracted by the trappings of touring with rock stars, as I’m sure we all would.  The biggest and most charming scene in the film, typifies this perfectly.

At this exact moment, William realizes he is trapped.  He’s having a great time, feels like he’s one of the band, and even has the object of his affection, Penny Lane, leaning on his shoulder.  It’s a great, feel good scene, one that would probably trap any of us but William is focused on his goal. Several times during the film, when discussions with Penny Lane get a little too serious for her liking, she talks about her dream, going to Morocco.  What will she wear ? How will she speak? Until she meets William, however, she has no intention of actually going to Morocco, she just likes to daydream about it.  Towards the end of the film, William confront her about her diversionary tactics by loudly proclaiming, “There is no Morocco!”

It’s ironic in a film with characters who seem to be daydreaming about a life better than the one they have, the most grounded person is the kid who has the most impractical sounding goal.  The one major point of contention I have about William’s attitude toward his goals is hes too serious.  It’s been my experience if one takes their passion too seriously and doesn’t have any fun, they wind up hating it.  This seems to be something Penny Lane understood when she said, ” I always tell the girls, never take it seriously, if ya never take it seriously, ya never get hurt, ya never get hurt, ya always have fun, and if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends.” Lucking, it seem like Crowe picked up this lesson sometime after the events depicted in this film.  To recap, here’s what we can learn from Almost Famous and reaching our goals:

  1. Be tenacious, don’t give up. If it’s important you’ll find a way to do it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a mentor or a college.  Everyone needs a leg up sometimes.
  3. You’re going to have critics.  They’re not living your life or paying your bills, you are.
  4. Tell it like it is- in my experience people often appreciate it when you’re blunt and find your honesty refreshing.

Remember these simple guidelines and work hard towards them every day.  Make each interaction and action prove to be one step closer in reaching the finish line.  Most importantly, never stop dreaming .  This can be easier said than done at times but dreams and ambition are the fuel that drives us towards our future.  These ideals will dramatically increase your chances of reaching your goals, whether they be visiting Morocco, losing weight, finding (or forgetting) love, or just being a better overall person.

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What are your tips for staying focused on you goals? Let me know in the comments and I’ll gladly respond and reply.

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists.  Oh, and like Russell Hammond, I am a Golden God. 

How Yoga Has Made Me a Better Entrepreneur

” Yoga is the cessation of the movements of the mind” – Patanjali  I’ve been practicing Vinyasa Flow yoga at my gym for close to three years now.  I initially started my practice at a personal low point.  I had just gone through a bad breakup leaving me depressed, stressed, overweight, and out of shape. … Read more