11 Questions from Tribe of Mentors (Tim Ferriss)
– Brendan Buckley –
1. What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
– The Inner Game of Tennis (Timothy Gallwey)
– Effortless Mastery (Kenny Werner)
– The Agony and The Ecstasy (Irving Stone)
* These book were seminal in my early 20’s. I used to be heavily influenced by books about either psychology or starving artists.
2. What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? My readers love specifics like brand and model, where you found it, etc.
Beats Solo3 bluetooth headphones. They allow me to shut out the world around me. Also, I can move freely from my car to the gym, or a jog, or a coffee shop without having to worry about unplugging or replugging my phone into various listening devices and formats.
3. How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?
There was an instance where I was playing drums on a huge television show. The performance was only 4 songs in length. I was actually filling in for a friend on this show (it was his band). We rehearsed for a week prior. Everything was dandy. I felt happy and confident. When it came time for the performance, my in-ear headphone monitors stopped working midway through the very first song. This meant that I could not hear anything; not the other band members, not the singer, not the electronic drum loops, not the metronome. We were being televised live. Without panicking, I had to make a quick decision whether to trudge on even though I might not be in sync with the rest of the group (a.k.a. train wreck), or to subtlety stop playing and just do ambiguous cymbal rolls hoping that the problem would be fixed shortly. I chose the second option, while simultaneously attempting to signal to the other band members that I had a serious audio problem. Due to the overcrowded stage and set design, I could not see my drum tech, nor the monitor engineer, nor anyone else on the side of the stage. The band and I somehow made it through the first song. And before the second song began, someone from the local crew got me a replacement set of headphones, and I continued on to finish the mini-set. Afterwards, I was mortified. “What a disaster!”, I thought. Anyone-who-was-anyone was at this event watching us. I felt like I had let everyone down. Honestly, I was near suicidal. Later, I learned that it turned out to be dead batteries in my headphone pack that caused the problem. It is normally the job of either the monitor engineer or the drum tech to change all batteries prior to any performance, but in this case they accidentally skipped mine. On my own gigs, I always request two sets of headphone packs just for this very reason. However, because I was filling in, I thought I would just go along with their flow so as not to ruffle any feathers. When I found out the cause of the problem, I felt like going to the artist and the band members and throwing the drum tech and monitor engineer under the bus, making sure to place all blame on them. But after some reflection, I decided to frame it differently in my mind. Much like in Jocko Willink’s “Extreme Ownership”, I thought “What could I have done differently to prevent this?” And, “What can I do in the future to prevent this from happening again?” 1. Make sure to always have one or more backup plans on stage. Check your lines of sight. 2. Have duplicates of backup gear on stage during all live performances. 3. Routinely check my equipment prior to starting a performance. Don’t assume everything is fine. 4. Don’t be shy about demanding a certain level of accountability from yourself and the people with whom you are working. You don’t have to be rude or unreasonable. Just set out a list of requirements to achieve a successful performance.
4. If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)
“You can practice something until you get it right. Or, you can practice it until you cannot get it wrong”.
* Just because you “think” you’ve got it, doesn’t mean you have it. Work, practice, drill, rehearse, memorize until you would have a difficult time ever getting it wrong under even the toughest of circumstances.
5. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)
As a drummer, having a soundproofed home studio in which to practice, teach, and record drums has been essential to my routine and creative process. I would probably be far less productive without this “play room”.
6. What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
I love preparing for my upcoming day the night before. I set out my clothes, my meals, my gear, my lists, my errands. It allows me to sleep better, and to hop out of bed with a game plan.
7. In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
No matter what you do, someone in the world will not dig it. So don’t worry about pleasing everyone. It’s not possible.
8. What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?
Start saving money immediately. Just put a tiny percentage away regularly (a.k.a. automatic withdrawal), and hide that money from yourself. Let it grow over the next 40 or so years. Also, do your best to keep your “overhead” low while you are still single and childless. Life only gets more expensive.
My mother used to talk about getting a steady, dependable job. But I feel as though, for most of us, those days are over. I imagine that, in the future, we will have to adjust our lives and careers several times throughout our adulthood.
9. What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
“You should do what that guy does.” We can look towards role models for a source of inspiration. But we do not need to copy another person’s life, and we should not be expected to have the same results. Everyone is on their own individual journey.
10. In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?
I have gotten better at saying “No” to the inner voice telling me that I need to be doing all things at the same time. When I was younger, I was inspired and motivated enough to put as much as possible on my plate; to enjoy life to its fullest, to learn and grow. But nowadays, I feel as though my time is precious, and I need to focus on the most important things in my life. Family, drumming, fitness, mental health, community. Most other interests, hobbies, and so-called commitments are now taking a back seat.
11. When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)
I normally go for a walk or a drive. I stop at a coffee shop, read a book for a bit, and then write in a journal. I take a couple of deep breaths. I add something to your mental “gratitude box”. And last but not least, I organize my list of Things To Do in the Notes app of my iPhone. After doing any or all of that, I am usually ready to take on the world again.