How To Focus On What’s Important

How To Focus On What’s Important

A family member spent the day yesterday with a friend in palative care. The patient had a cheery outlook and encouraged us to live each day to the fullest. I know for me, each day is a gift and each day is an opportunity to create something that can inspire others. I wrote the song “Ride OF Your Life” for the Canadian Cancer Society however, the lyrics are challenge to everyone to take each hill and valley of your journey and realize how they will make you stronger.

If you haven’t heard it lately, click the play button above.

What would you do … if you knew you only had:

30 years
10 years
1 year
1 month
1 week
1 day
1 hour
1 minute … to live?

What do your answers tell you about what you should be doing today?

What are YOU going to do today?

Thanks to my friend Bobb Biehl for his wisdom. Get his newsletter at

If you enjoyed the song, consider downloading it from iTunes:
Ride of Your Life - Closer to You

Paths Of Dust and Hope

I did a gig at the Anza Club in Downtown Vancouver for a group of film producers that were fundraising for a documentary they are shooting in Zimbabwe, Africa. I think my cover music was a little dated for the crowd but when I performed my original songs they really came alive and paid attention. I infused some stories with the songs and that made all the difference. I’d  like to know if they ever finished the movie.


Closer To You – Gets Closer

Closer To You – Gets Closer

CloserToYou_CDI received a wonderful random telephone call from someone who had listened to my “Closer To You” CD while on vacation this summer. Both him and his wife played it over and over again at the lake and it’s become one of their favorites. You never know when a song is going to strike a chord and hit home to someone. I humbly thanked him and when he asked me when I would release something new, I actually had a positive answer! I’ve been in writing sessions working on new songs for my next release and will be recording some of the first tracks this week.

It’s a hectic month as I prepare to tour with Larry Branson (Roy Orbison) at the end of the month and get a new band together. It’s been a wonderful summer but it’s time to get back to business. If you are a songwriter reading this, it’s a thought to keep in the back of your mind that you never know when your music will touch someone. Keep recording it so it can be shared!

Strong Dad, Smart Dad

Yesterday was my daughters graduation ceremony.

It was a beautiful day and I contributed to the event by supplying the music. I set up a PA, while other volunteers rolled out the red carpet. It was a gorgeous day and with over 300 students graduating the event would be packed with people. The local nursery donated flowers, shrubs and plants. My friend Paul at Lawncutting Plus donated his crew to spruce up the area and over 14 moms showed up to help decorate. The event itself was stellar. My daughter and her friends looked stunningly gorgeous and the guys were “spit polished” and the sharpest I’ve ever seen them look.

The teens strutted down the red carpet to the sounds of K’naan’s “Waving Flag” and “Believe” the theme song from our Vancouver 2010 Olympics. The surrounding paparazzi of friends and family cheered and had them pause for photos. The graduating class of 2010 will experience a different world than we have normally been accustomed to. So much has changed in the last few years from advancing technology to the volatile economy. What wisdom can we offer these grads?

After the Grad 2010 group photo was taken, the event concluded and people scattered. The clean up crew were no where to be found. Parents and that had committed to helping, had simply chosen not to keep their commitment. The few of us left to clean up worked very hard. It was the manifestation of the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule. I paused to look at the remnant crew and began to match up their names with the faces of their children. These were the parents of star athletes, honour students, artists and musicians. My guess is, that like their parents, those kids were taught the values of honour, commitment and hard work.

There were two large shrubs in big plant pots that needed to be moved across the parking lot to an awaiting pick up truck. I watched as two dad’s were sent to move them. There was a hand truck sitting unused in the middle of the parking lot and the first dad walked right by it and proceeded to lift the large plant on his own. He struggled with it and staggered the distance while the second dad calmly spied the hand truck and used it to wheel the plant. When they both reached the pick up truck the dad with the hand truck smiled and said one word - “leverage”. The strong dad, perspiring from the brow, simply replied “smart”.

Could it be that only 20 percent of the graduating class of 2010 will go one to make a positive impact on society? Out of that 20 percent, a few may see opportunities and leverage them and by doing so could actually change the world. The world needs both the strong dad and the smart dad.

How To Hang Out With Celebrities

How To Hang Out With Celebrities

Do want to learn a simple strategy that can instantly elevate your status? A strategy that could radically change the growth of your business? If so, here’s an observation from my many years of touring and hanging out with celebrities.

I call this strategy “The Vanity of Ego”

So what’s The Vanity of Ego?

If you want to meet the band or a celebrity, don’t be a fan, be a reporter. You heard me, be a reporter.

It works almost every time. A speaker, author, rock star or celebrity will rarely turn down the opportunity to be interviewed. After all it’s in their best interest. They love the attention, the promotion and the chance to be heard.

The next time you plan to go to a conference or an industry event, use the vanity of ego to your advantage and plan. If you’re going to a conference or seminar:

Research the sponsors - they have the parties.

Research the presenters - they have something to promote.

Research the event coordinators - they know the gatekeepers.

You can get to the source if you know what THEY want.

It’s easy to get out of the crowd and into the green room if you think strategically and don’t come off as a fan or groupie. You want to be perceived as a peer.

So why do you want to get into the hospitality suite?

Why? Because that’s where the “trust” relationships are made.

Celebrity’s hang around together for a reason

I played keyboards for Don Felder of the Eagles at a charity fundraiser. Actor Bruce Greenwood, joined us on stage (he plays guitar and sings) and after our set Chad Kroeger from Nickleback sang some songs acoustically. Micheal Bublé and his band ended the formal part of the star studded evening.

Prior to the show the performers spent a lot of time together in the green room waiting for our rehearsal time. This is a kind of bonding time. Here’s a photo of me with actor Bruce Greenwood,

Throughout the day various reporters came in to conduct interviews.

I still remember some of them by name.

The after party was at a local club and the celebrities were escorted in to a roped off area. I got lucky and was seated at a table with Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson. The only other people allowed in the roped off area were . . . You guessed it, the media.

Kid Rock Pam Anderson & Colin Wiebe

So what if you’re not a reporter?

When I first started marketing online, I was invited to an event called Affiliate Summit and I knew no one in that industry. I researched the panelists and made a short list of people I wanted to meet and potentially build a relationship with. I brought a digital voice recorder with me and developed my credentials, by coming up with an idea for a podcast and an industry related blog. I rehearsed my pitch and made a list of questions. (If I’d had more time I would have made some business cards).

All you have to do is ask.

I interviewed everyone on my list. Yes, everyone on my list.

It was as simple as asking.

You see, I wasn’t approaching people as an attendee, or someone from out of the audience, I was viewed as someone that could further their agenda. I was invited to dinner with the presenters. I ended up at all the parties. I met top industry people that I continue to talk to regularly. Now they are friends.

Don’t be a paparazzi pest.

Celebrities like to sign autographs only if serves them. Remember, the vanity of ego suggests that if you help someone look good in front of others, they will consider you a team player. Colonel Tom Parker used to hire pretty girls to swarm Elvis in the beginning. This taught other girls how to react towards Elvis.

If you try to get an autograph or snap a photo of a famous person where there is no benefit to them, you would be considered a pest. There is a time and a place for a photo op’ usually when the celebrity is looking their best. This happens before a performance or at a scheduled “meet and greet” after a show. Here’s a little trick: If you can identify the artist’s manager or handler, identify yourself and request a photo for your blog readership. I’ve seen people who do this get escorted to the front of the line and get a priority pho If you are selfish and self-serving you will get tossed from the backstage area. Don’t be a pest.

This applies in business. For your marketing to be effective you must demonstrate ways in which you can “serve” your market. Put your customer in the limelight.

Take a cue from late night talk shows. Offer to plug their product.

Before you conduct the interview with your authority target, ask them what you can plug for them. David Letterman is a master of this technique.

“You have a book coming out don’t you?” or ” I understand you have a new movie out?”.

Duh, as if they didn’t know. That’s what those shows are for.

Elevate your status

By association you can elevate your own authority.

I met a young man at an event who was systematically setting up appointments to interview every presenter at the event. He was very soft-spoken and quite shy, however, he was determined and focused. His perceived relationships with the presenters elevated his authority which won him a book publishing deal with a hefty advance.

Depending on your business niche, your local newspaper would welcome your articles or interviews. I know a local pharmacist who interviews book authors in the health industry. He then buys radio time to air his show. He is regularly quoted in the press because of his perceived authority in the industry.

His pharmacy is one of the busiest in the city.

He has become a celebrity by association.

You’ll Get Used To Being Backstage

Once you are comfortable hanging out with the band or the people with influence, it’s hard to go back into the crowd. When you begin to see how things work behind the scenes, you’ll get closer to the action.

This is where the deals are made.

For example, if you’re at a conference, once you’ve gained the trust of the people with influence, you could be invited back to be a guest speaker. You could be invited to attend another industry event. You’ll meet others from the media that you could develop relationships with.

You’ll be part of the “in” crowd. When you eventually have your own product to plug, all those contacts will be pure gold.

What if I’m Not Confident Enough?

Start small. The “B” actors or the new “emerging artists” are much more approachable than the seasoned pros. The same applies in your business community. The up and coming players are hungry and eager to share what they have to offer. You can practice your communication skills on the lower tier folks until you have the confidence to approach the “untouchables”. Sometimes you never know who the emerging artists will turn out to be.

I was asked to help with a promotion for an unknown female country artist because her manager was a friend of a friend. I spent the day with her and we had a great time touring around our city and meeting the press. A couple of years later she had become a mega star and so when her tour came to town, I took my daughters to meet my friend Shania Twain.

How Does The Vanity Of Ego Apply To You?

Everyone wants to feel valued and significant. If you can help others get what they want, you can’t help but get what you want. Your ego will prevent you from getting backstage and your vanity will keep you in the crowd. When you become a supporter, an encourager and a promoter you increase your value.

Remember the old saying, “You get more bees with honey than vinegar. ”

You’ll get to hang out with the band if they believe you are there to promote them. Backstage passes are given to the people that work for us and serve us. Roadies, managers, media and yes, even groupies, all serve a purpose. Colonel Tom knew that all too well.

Keep On Takin Care of Business

You Rock!


Songwriting – Inspiration or Perspiration

Songwriting – Inspiration or Perspiration

When Burton Cummings told me he got his inspiration for his hit song “Break it to them gently” from a Kojak episode, I’ve never watched TV or a Movie the same way again. This is an article on this topic by Kathy Unruh that you might be interested in. She has granted permission to re-publish this.

Songwriting is one part inspiration and one part perspiration. It doesn’t matter whether you have a lot of ideas and catchy phrases floating around in your head. Unless you get them down on paper, they won’t do you any good at all. I suggest you buy yourself a small pocket notebook and keep it with you at all times. That way you can easily jot down any creative thoughts you have during the day. This should provide you with plenty of material when trying to write a new song.

Developing your listening and observational skills is another important aspect of songwriting. The gold nuggets are out there, sometimes you just need to dig a little deeper in order to find them. They are lurking in the conversations you hear, the road signs you pass, the T.V. commercials you watch, the newspapers and magazine articles you read. John Lennon wrote the Beatle’s song, “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” after seeing a gun magazine sitting on a coffee table with that headline written on it’s cover. Likewise, The first lines of Roger Miller’s song, “King of the Road”, were written after seeing the words: “Rooms To Let 50 Cents” and “Trailers For Sale Or Rent” on two separate road signs and then reversing them.
As you have probably noticed, people love to tell stories and talk about themselves. As a songwriter, you can use these tendencies to your advantage. Try putting yourself in someone else’s shoes when they’re talking to you. Listen for any repetitive statements they make. Take mental notes. What stands out? What do you remember most about the person? What impression are you left with? Write it down. Fictionalize, exaggerate or minimize the information to suit your lyric.
Real life stories offer great material too. Consider Bob Dylan’s song “Hurricane” for instance. It’s woven around the true life story of a black prize fighter by the name of Hurricane Carter. Carter was falsely accused and then sentenced to life imprisonment for a murder he did not commit. This event sparked a protest movement involving some celebrities who made several unsuccessful attempts to secure his release. Years later, when a major motion picture staring Denzel Washington was created about the story, Bob Dylan’s song “Hurricane” became a natural choice for the background theme.
Words tend to create their own rhythmical pattern according to how they are placed within a sentence or phrase. So, after you’ve collected some good ideas in your songwriting notebook, try to use the material to create a “hook” for your song. Be willing to experiment with different ways of saying something. Listen to the melodic structure as you speak. Take note of where your voice rises and falls. Try singing what you hear. Sing the lyric high, low, fast, and slow. Try it with a country twang, or a bluesy feel. All these things can help spark the intuitive side of your brain.
Even after you’ve tried all these methods however, many songwriters will tell you their best songs come when they aren’t even trying! Now why do you suppose that is? I believe it has something to do with being relaxed and open enough to receive what your subconscious mind has to offer. All your past feelings and experiences are stored in there somewhere. But these resources are often blocked from your conscious mind as a result of tension and stress. And it is commonly understood that when a person’s songwriting efforts become strictly mechanical, the results will be generally poor.To prevent this from happening to you, go for a walk, listen to music, or do something else you enjoy for a while. Taking a break can work wonders to refresh your creative spirit!
Becoming a good songwriter will require time, dedication and effort on your part. Learning to listen to others, follow your intuition, and being open to trial and error are some of the things you can do to cultivate your skills. But many gifted songwriters give up as soon as they encounter difficulties. They become discouraged when they hit a mental road block and feel their creative juices have stopped flowing. While other, less talented individuals, go on to have successful songwritng careers simply because they learn to persevere. Do you see problems as stumbling blocks or stepping stones? How you respond to obstacles will make all the difference in becoming the songwriter you dream to be.

Kathy Unruh is a singer/songwriter and webmaster of ABC Learn Guitar. She has been writing songs and providing guitar lessons to students of all ages for over 20 years. For free guitar lessons, plus tips and resources on songwriting, recording and creating a music career, please visit: