17 11, 2019

Slaying the Dragons in Your Head

2019-11-16T14:13:40-05:00

Streaks of yellow light are streaming toward me through thick purple fog and silhouetted gnarly oak trees. I shiver as I try to extend my porch time once more before winter. Warmth hits my goosebumped skin as the light increases, and the sides of my old cabin are washed with a rich red-orange glow. 

Stage Exhaustion

Last week exhausted me — being on stage, using my voice more in one day than in most months, giving and getting hugs from enthusiastic artists, wall-to-wall meetings between stage time, entertaining our VIP guests and faculty in the evenings till the wee hours. And exhausting as it was, I feel like the luckiest man alive to be able to serve others and give them a special week of high energy, learning from the best artists in the world, and time with old and new friends.

Joy and Exuberance

A recent realization has been that my art is bringing people together, and even if I have to put my ability to do paintings on hold so I have time to do things like last week’s Figurative Art Convention & Expo, it’s worth it to see the joy and exuberance in the faces at FACE. Dozens, probably hundreds, told me it was a life-changing experience, the best of anything they had attended, and that they got more than they expected. I feel like I’ve done my job.

True Purpose

Comparing notes with a friend recently, we both determined that life is better when we’re changing the lives of others. Though it used to be about the money for me, it’s now about the gold … the golden glow in people’s hearts when they experience change, when they have a revelation or an aha moment. I live for those moments, and that encourages me to find ways to give more.

Digging Deeper

And for every convention session, panel, demo, or other event people could attend, there were that many and more personal interactions where I felt I was able to coach and counsel people who had lost their way, who needed someone to point out what they could not see, to offer clarity where they had none. The two things they all had in common were self-doubt and being too hard on themselves.

Life on Override

Beating ourselves up, negative self-talk, and insecurity are the games we play in our own heads. I play them all the time, even though I was raised in a positive environment. It’s a self-preservation mechanism rooted in our reptilian brain. It’s natural for the mind to protect us, and it’s unnatural for us to override its protection. Yet overriding is the only way to escape those voices and build an awesome life.

What do the voices in your head say to you?

I wanted to understand what mine were saying, but most of the voices tend to be at an unconscious level. So I made a point of writing them down every time I noticed one. I knew I had head trash, but no idea just how much.

Then I took the list and asked myself, “Is this true?” and, “If it is true, can I change it? How?” I also asked myself, “What would be a better thought I can substitute?”

Have you ever had something come out of your mouth and you didn’t even know how or why? I also started writing down my automatic responses to others. 

The Monsters Are Hurting You

Those are the monsters lurking inside your subconscious mind, and they are blurted out, as though they were natural responses to protect you. But instead of protecting you, they are hurting and limiting you and others.

If you do both of these exercises for a week, you’ll learn more about yourself in that week than you’ve learned most of your lifetime. Just pull up a notes app on your smartphone and write down every negative thought whenever you catch yourself thinking or saying them. It’s almost better than therapy.

Mama Calling

Ever hear someone say, “I find myself sounding like my mother when dealing with my own kids, even though I swore I would never say those things”? That’s the instinctive monster inside, most of which was implanted generations earlier and passed along.

You get to be the lucky one. You can break the cycle.

The weak never break their chains — the strong break them. It starts by telling yourself you can overcome any possible obstacle, no matter how difficult, and that the ability to overcome anything lies in your head.

Are You Tired Yet?

The other good news is that the weak can become strong. All it takes is getting sick of the results you’re getting now and being determined to overcome the voices in your head.

Fantasy World

We all tell ourselves stories and lies. We all live a certain percentage of our lives in a fantasy world. Those lies cause the drama in our lives, our families, our friendships, and in our own heads, preventing the best possible life from happening.

“Oh, Eric, I don’t deserve the best possible life,” you say? That’s the first monster to slay. Of course you deserve it. Why wouldn’t you? (More monsters will come out about now.)

Slay the dragons in your mind, and you’ll live the life of a true dragon slayer.

Start today.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Words simply cannot express the gratitude I have for the people of the FACE convention. We had a faculty filled with generosity to serve others, attendees who were on fire with enthusiasm and energy, and I feel like the most hugged man on earth (one of the perks of my job, I guess). Thank you for allowing me to serve. Well over half the people attending signed up for next year, which is unheard of this early for a convention. We are very excited about seeing you in Baltimore next fall.

Tomorrow I’m off to a week in New York for our annual Radio Forecast conference at the Harvard Club, and then to Washington, D.C., where I’ve been invited to offer my opinions to the commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission. If we don’t talk, have a wonderful Thanksgiving — though I fully intend to report next weekend before the holiday. And if you have a chance, invite someone to Thanksgiving who needs a family to spend the day with. No one should be alone if they don’t want to be. It’s something my parents did every year on Thanksgiving and something we try to do.

Oh, and if you encounter someone who needs a jolt of Sunday Coffee, pass it on.

Slaying the Dragons in Your Head2019-11-16T14:13:40-05:00
10 11, 2019

How to Live Your Dream

2019-11-08T11:24:46-05:00

Flickering, crackling, and the soft smell of burning wood come from the old fireplace, tucked away in a tiny sitting room at the hotel here in Williamsburg, Virginia. The decor is Early American — pineapple-patterned wallpaper, old brown furniture, and portraits of presidents.

It’s quiet here, most guests are not yet awake, and no one has discovered this little reading nook. I hear the occasional distant ding from the service bell at the front desk, done to call the bellman like in the old days.

Going Back in Time

My morning walk brought me back to another time, a different era. This old town made up of original buildings from the Revolutionary War era is tightly closed up, but later will bustle with tourists and kids who will march alongside the red-coated soldiers. Later will be the smell of baking bread from the bakery, whose old brick oven uses real fire. The candy maker will be handing out samples, and you can go into the tin shop to see cups being made, or the print shop as they make reproductions of old Revolutionary War posters one sheet at a time, with moveable type. It’s truly a place every family should experience at least once. I came here as a kid, then once as an early married couple, and now, for my Figurative Art Convention & Expo (FACE), which starts today.

A Rockefeller Vision

Last week I mentioned that I was grateful for the wealthy who built great homes and art collections that because museums. Today I’m thankful for John D. Rockefeller, who had the vision to create Colonial Williamsburg by buying up houses in different villages and moving them here to create a living museum. Today we’ll do a plein air paint-out (outdoor painting) in the streets with costumed models before the official start of the convention at four.

The Last Year at Home

Living a life of travel has its benefits, but few things will drag me away from home next year; it is our last season with the triplets, who go off to college in the fall. Life will change for them, and for us. Though I’ll need to keep working to pay the college bills, I’d be working anyway because I love what I do. But I’ll miss feeding the kids each morning, chatting with them randomly on the couch, eating dinner together — even now a rare occasion since everyone is off to jobs and friends. Soon it will be time to reinvent, to ready ourselves for this new chapter.

The Storms of Life

Life is like a series of storms. A hurricane comes in slowly, with ample notice to get ready and get out, but a tornado comes with no notice. It just shows up. We’ve known college was coming since the kids were born, preparing little by little by setting money aside, yet like most, we don’t do all the prep we should until we get closer and closer to the event. I consider knowing in advance and being able to prepare a gift.

Storms, tornadoes, or other sudden, uncontrollable events also happen. Or, as is the case now, fires that sneak up and force you out, if you’re lucky enough to get out. It’s then we have to rebuild, often from scratch. I’ve been closer to this than I want to because of friends who are suffering through fires and losing everything, and friends who lost everything last year and the year before.

The Power of Reinvention

When storms come, we have to reinvent. One friend had enough of the fires and decided not to rebuild, but to move here to Texas (we have plenty of room, and y’all are welcome here). Another stayed in California but moved to a different community and started a life as an art gallery owner. 

Being Happier than Ever

If you live long enough and get out a lot, you start knowing people afflicted by all kinds of disasters, and almost everyone has told me that their disaster was the best thing that ever happened to them, though it was horrific at the time. Disaster or tragedy force reinvention. Most are happier and have told me that they had things in the back of their minds that they wanted to do, but never got around to doing them because of the ties or strings they had.

For your sake (and mine) I hope YOU don’t have to face storms, fire, or a tragedy that forces you to reinvention. But I do hope that if you feel the need to reinvent, you don’t wait for a disaster.

What Do You Dream?

Do you have things in the back of your mind you always wished you had done? Places you always wished you had tried living? Careers you would like to switch to?

Don’t wait for a storm.

Roving Gypsies

Laurie and I have a sense of adventure. We find it exhilarating to make new friends and try new places. Since we’ve been married we’ve moved several times to new communities. We’ve lived in Florida, the Bay Area of California in two different homes, and here in Austin in two different homes. And we’re excited about the prospect of living somewhere new once the kids are in college, or soon after if the kids stay in Texas. Though it’s hard to leave friends, we can always visit them (some we see only a couple of times a year anyway because we’re all so busy). 

The prospect of reinvention is exciting. Laurie’s big dream is to get an RV and go around to visit people we know or work with. Visiting clients and art shows. She can drive, and I can work in the back. Sounds fun to me.

I’d like to try living in Italy or Spain or France (or all three). And I think it would be fun to do the RV thing there. And I want to build a dream art studio somewhere.

Aligning Your Dreams

One thing that’s important is to get in alignment. It would not be fair for one of us to pull rank and force the other along on a dream they don’t share. Why not sit down with a sheet of paper with three columns, “My Dreams, “Your Dreams,” and “Shared Dreams.” Then you’ve communicated and can pick the shared dreams you want to pursue.

Out of Alignment

Laurie and I loved living in Northern California. One day we decided to put our dream house up for sale because we felt obligated to move back East to be with aging parents. One day one of us said, “I really love it here. I don’t want to move.” Then the other said, “I thought you wanted to move so I was going along with it. I don’t want to move either.” So we took our house off the market and stayed a few more years.

How about today you have a reinvention discussion? Ask yourself some questions. Ask your spouse or partner some questions.

What have we always wanted to do but never done?

Where have we always wanted to live but never tried?

What dreams do you have, what dreams do I have, and which do we share?

Now, when you get to the point of practicality, shove it to the side. “Yeah, but we can’t afford that dream” is a common thing that gets in the way.

Dreams Overcome Roadblocks

I’ve found that if you have big, audacious, out-of-the-world dreams, things you both want so badly, you might be willing to sacrifice an old dream that is anchoring you. For instance, if the dream is to go live in Italy, ask what’s holding you back?

Maybe it’s the house. But if the dream is so big, sell the house.

Obligation is another dream killer. “Yeah, but we have to stay and take care of Mom.” It’s the right thing to do, but have you talked to Mom about it, or your siblings? I have friends who felt they were stuck but found out a sister was dreaming of moving back and living with Mom to take care of her. So they left to pursue their dream and visited on occasion. If you can’t overcome roadblocks, you can at least build the dream, craft a plan, and pull the trigger on the dream the second the roadblock moves.

You’ll find that if a dream has enough power, you can usually find a solution.

Which person do you want to be? 

Do you want to be the person who looks back and says, “I wish I had done the things I wanted to do?”

A Final Dream

This last October when people registered for my Fall Color Week painting adventure, there was a framed photo of a beautiful lady at the registration desk, and at our announcements all week. For privacy I won’t mention her name, but she had been to every Fall Color Week since we stated it five years ago. But after our trip to Canada last year, she died unexpectedly at a fairly young age. She once told me it was her dream to attend that event, and once she went, she looked forward to coming back every year because of the friendships. What if she had kept putting it off till the time was right? At least she lived before she died.

Are you living your dreams?

Don’t wait till a storm … or worse, the point when you can’t get out of a hospital bed. If you can walk, if you can breathe, even if you can be pushed in a wheelchair, even though it might be hard, you have dreams you need to live. We both know someday will never come unless you take action.

For most of us…

There is never enough time.

There is never enough money.

There is always something getting in the way.

There will never be perfect conditions.

You can plan it, or you can wait till you’re forced into a plan. And that plan may not include any of your dreams.

Do it now.

Eric Rhoads

PS: When we’re done here at FACE this week I’ll announce where we’re going next year and some of the rock star artists who will be coming. If you could not make it, go to the website to see who we’ve announced and book for next year (there is a 12-payment plan).

Next week I fly to New York for my annual Radio Ink Forecast event, which is held at the Harvard Club. It does not get much more elegant than that. After our day of sessions, we hold our annual “40 Most Powerful People in Radio” reception with all the high rollers in radio. I get to play host and see lots of my friends. It’s a lot of fun for me.

Then, the following morning I take a 5 a.m train to Washington, DC. I’ve been honored with an invitation to speak before the commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission to share my thoughts (along with a few other broadcasters) on what they should or should not do with regulation for radio. Though I’m trying to be cool … I’m pretty excited.

Then things settle … no more trips. We’ll get to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas and reconnect. It could be our last Christmas together if the kids fall in love in college and go to someone else’s house. We have to make it special this year.

Need a great Christmas or Hanukkah gift?

The Plein Air Convention for your favorite painter, or next year’s FACE event, or Fall Color Week for next fall when we go to the White Mountains of New Hampshire (the color is on fire), or the 10-year anniversary reunion (for new and old) of my annual Publisher’s Invitational in the Adirondacks. And because next year I’ll not have to be away from home as much, I’m working on a couple of new surprises.

How to Live Your Dream2019-11-08T11:24:46-05:00
3 11, 2019

The Power of Catalysts

2019-11-08T11:25:12-05:00

“Hello, darkness, my old friend/I’ve come to talk with you again.” — Simon and Garfunkel

That tune from the 1960s is ringing in my head as the silence penetrates the darkness. The air feels soft to me; the normal sound of leaves playfully waltzing with their partners is muted, as if under a soft, thick blanket. 

Goosebumps appear on my skin as I wring my hands for warmth and await the sun, which is to be an hour late this morning, as if it slept in, cozy and comfy under the covers. She peeks through the distant branches as a muted pink, barely touching the edges of the twisted branches visible from my back porch. Her appearance has awakened a tweeting symphony as the fog lifts from my sleepy brain.

I wipe my crusty eyes as my warm coffee plays its role in bringing me peacefully into yet the gift of another day, for which I’m grateful.

Each day is a gift, each hour to be met with enthusiasm and never wasted, as one will someday be our last.

Simon and Who?

When Paul Simon wrote that that song, “The Sound of Silence,” in 1963 and 1964, it opened the door to a studio audition at Columbia Records, then to Simon and Garfunkel’s debut album in October 1964 — which was a bomb. Discouraged, Art Garfunkel went back to study at Columbia University and Paul returned to England. They had been playing together as Tom and Jerry since the late 1950s, and this blown opportunity was the end of their path. 

Accidental Magic

Yet miraculously, almost a year later, the song started to get airplay from a Boston radio station and some stations in Florida. Noticing the airplay, Columbia remixed the song by adding in electric instruments and some drums and re-released it. Simon and Garfunkel were not even aware of the re-release in September of 1965. By January 1966, the song hit number one in Billboard, and the duo were quickly brought back together to record an album to capitalize on the song’s popularity. This resulted in fame and success — the two became household names overnight and have remained so throughout their lives. 

A Moment to Remember

I still can remember the exact moment I heard the song, and the impact it had on me. I wandered into friend Bob Mausbaum’s house, where the 45 was playing on his record player. Their music drew this teen in, and the lyrics spoke feelings I could not express myself. Many years later, in my radio career, I was able to meet Paul Simon at a private concert held for a small group of radio executives. It was a big day for me.

A few things come out of this story that are worth considering:

1. Timing is everything. Everything has its right time, and sometimes no matter how good we are, how hard we try, we just have to believe that our time will come, no matter how discouraged we are and how much we’re ready to give up.

2. Sometimes you need a catalyst. In Simon and Garfunkel’s case it was some radio DJ in Boston who put the song on the air, which got the attention of the listeners, who let the station know they wanted to hear it more. That resulted in other stations getting calls, and then one DJ speaking about this hot song to a friend in Florida, who put it on the air.  (Though I was not a DJ until 1968, I “broke” songs that became national hits, including “Copacabana” and many others. I worked for a station that broke “Weekend in New England,” and Barry Manilow told me a few years ago that he was on vacation in Florida and that was the first time he heard his song on the radio anywhere. He said it was the most exciting day of his life.)

3. Never, ever give up. Simon and Garfunkel had given up, or so the story goes, but my guess is they never stopped believing and telling others about their song. One little seed they planted may have resulted in the airplay that changed their lives.

I’m not a big fan of the concept touted in the movie Field of Dreams … “If you build it, they will come.” In fact, that’s rarely true. But I do believe strongly that sometimes there is perfect timing and that if you plant seeds, water them, and never give up, they will grow into giant oaks.

Manifesting a Dream

A couple of years ago I was looking for a way to accomplish my goal of “teach a million people to paint.” My friend and mentor who wrote the foreword to my marketing book, Jay Abraham, said, “If you want to reach that many people, you need to get on TV.” I was not sure I believed it, but I started dreaming about it in specifics. Within a couple of days I knew exactly what the show would be like, where it would be filmed, and how it would work. Of course, I had no idea how to get a TV show, but I believed I could do it. Then two weeks later I was at a cocktail party I hosted at the Harvard Club in New York when I met a TV executive. I asked him how I could get the show produced, he asked about the idea (which I now knew in detail), and he made the introductions to the right people on his team. That has resulted in a deal for me to get the show on a major network.

Perfect Timing

The discouraging thing about the show is that I had to raise close to a million dollars to see this dream realized, and it’s a lot of money. I tried and tried for over a year and planted a lot of seeds with potential donors and sponsors, yet it just was not happening. I was about ready to give up. But then just last week I mentioned it to someone who then offered to put in a significant chunk of money. Then the same week, I heard from one of the sponsors I’d spoken to who told me they wanted to be in — I had assumed they were not interested. Though I’ve not raised all the money yet, I’m starting to gain momentum, and I have no doubt it will come because it’s tied to an important purpose that needs to happen. This reinforces the need for manifesting success, never giving up, and knowing that there is a perfect timing.

One Who Can Make Things Happen

The idea of a catalyst is also important. In fact, it’s a major marketing principle that I often teach in my marketing sessions, and it’s the exact reason my friend Jay said I needed to get on national TV. I could try and try, doing lots of small things, and though they would help, they would not add up to reaching millions. Yet getting the show on a major TV network will reach over 22 million people per episode (there are 13 episodes) and allow me to expose plein air painting to a giant audience, which not only will help more people change their hearts by learning to paint outside, it will draw more people to shows, draw more people to galleries, and help everyone sell more art. It will put the words plein air on the lips of America. All of this can be accomplished by one right move … being on national TV. 

You Need a Catalyst

For Simon and Garfunkel, it was one DJ in Boston playing their song that launched their careers. Sometimes a major catalyst to launch a career is an artist getting a story in a magazine like PleinAir or Fine Art Connoisseur, or being invited to be on stage at a conference. Sometimes it’s just finding a way to afford ads in those publications. A catalyst is about helping you reach the right audience at the right time, or it could be the right donor stepping up at the right time or the right introduction at the right time

In life, business, hitting goals, art, or anything … you want to ask yourself what one thing, one person, can pull a lever and change everything. 

My Career Catalysts

In my radio career, which began about this time of year in 1968, it was my meeting a local radio DJ by the name of Charlie Willer. We were both members of Sing Out Fort Wayne. I was 14, he was 16. (Sing Out Fort Wayne was a local branch of the Up with People franchise.) We were all on the St. Joe River in Fort Wayne on a community service project, breaking up the ice to prevent flooding. He looked at his watch and said, “I have to go to work.” I said, “You can’t go, we’re not done yet.” He then said words that changed my life forever … “I can’t be late. I have to be on the radio.” When I heard radio, I thought that it was cool and I’d like to learn more about it. So I said, “Can I come along? I’ve never been to a radio station.” 

A Dream for a Lost Teen

I watch him do his show that day and instantly knew what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be on the air. He taught me, I got on the air, and I launched a career in radio that has been going for 50 years — being on the radio, then becoming the guy who picks the music, then becoming the guy who hires the DJs and teaches them, then owning some radio stations, then creating some promotional products and starting a business, and then starting a radio trade magazine that is going to this day. In fact, next week I’m testifying to the commissioners at the FCC, who sought me out for my opinions on what to do next (I’m pretty honored and excited they asked).

All of that … a career launched because of a catalyst. In his case it was an accidental catalyst, yet had I not been curious and not asked to go, I’d probably have done something different with my life. 

Being on the Lookout

You see, I believe that once you understand the idea of a catalyst, you need to be constantly scanning to find them. None of us can do everything on our own. Sometimes it really does boil down to who you know, but you have to have your eyes open for those opportunities and have the guts to ask. I missed lots of opportunities because I lacked the courage to ask.

Catalysts Everywhere I Look

As I look back on my life and my successes and failures, I realize how much importance finding the right catalyst has. In some cases I failed because I did not know to look for the one person who could make things happen the fastest. In other cases, I found them but I was not prepared or ready. In still other cases I was not learning what I needed to learn and blew opportunities because I didn’t know how to succeed and didn’t try to learn what I did not know.

Angels Giving You Wings

Catalysts come in so many forms. Sometimes I think they are angels placed at the right time to give us our wings. In high school Mrs. Parsons gave me so much of a hard time that I hated her, but I was determined to prove to her that I was not a deadbeat loser, and the result is that she pulled something out of me that I did not know was there. I dedicated part of my first book to her. Catalysts can be teachers, friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers, bosses, and even competitors or enemies (I don’t believe in enemies). They may play roles to stimulate thought, or open doors to make things happen. 

That’s why it’s important to be curious, keep an open mind, never ever give up, and always be looking for people who can help. I’ve always said that if I share my goals with others, they will help me make them come true. Because I believed I had no painting talent and no ability, my wife’s belief in me changed everything. She bought me an art lesson because I doubted myself, yet she saw something in me that I did not see. She was a catalyst. And my mentor Jack Acetus Jackson convinced me I could do things I thought were impossible, showed me a way I could make paintings without drawing skill, and that changed my life. Both of those catalysts resulted in my career in art today, which includes magazines, conferences, videos, painting events, and, God willing, a TV show that will help me be the catalyst to convince others they too can learn to paint. It could change the world because people who paint are happy, fulfilled, and have purpose.

Always be on the lookout because if you’re breathing, you still have a purpose. Always be dreaming big.

Always be learning and growing.

Always be curious.

Always be on the lookout for a catalyst. (They are found when you least expect them.)

Always be manifesting your dreams (and be careful, because you can manifest bad things with the wrong thoughts).

Always continue believing in yourself even if others don’t. Never, ever give up. Never.

And always be convinced that there is special timing that will serve you. Believe that your time will come. Believe that you are a magnet for great things.

Not Woo Woo

If this all sounds all metaphysical or woo woo, I get it. I used to hear these things and wonder if the person saying them was sane. It’s easy to be critical. Yet pick one thing … focus on it, believe it, never give up or give in, believe in yourself, and believe it will happen. Dream it in exact detail and keep it in your mind constantly.

Being a Dreamer

My teachers used to accuse me of being a daydreamer. They thought it was a bad thing. I still think it’s a good idea. Yeah, we have to make a living and we have to take action toward our dreams, but with dreams + a plan + action + self-belief, you have a powerful combination.

  • What have you dreamed of that you’ve given up on?
  • What are you not believing will happen that needs to happen?
  • What catalyst can make your dreams come true? Where and how do you find it? Take action.

Eric Rhoads

PS: There is someone in your life who needs to hear this message. I’d be honored if you would pass this on so we can give them the encouragement they need, and maybe they will become a subscriber (free) and pass it to others.

This week I’m as excited as a schoolboy. A week from today my Figurative Art Convention & Expo (FACE) begins in Williamsburg, Virginia. We’ve got some of the top artists in the world on our stage teaching their techniques. It’s open to beginners and pros, and we might have some seats left (people often wait till the last minute), but, if so, probably not more than a couple. If you want to experience this art thing of painting people and portraits, this is one of the best things you could do for yourself. I’d love to meet you. Quite a few Sunday Coffee readers have registered, never having painted before. I think that is very brave and cool. FACE is being held November 10-13; more information here

If you want to be in the cast for the TV show, the producers are casting it now. You can learn about that at www.TheGreatOutdoorPaintingChallenge.com.

If you would like to give a tax-deductible donation or be a sponsor, or if you want to become an executive producer with a mega donation, please drop me a note at ([email protected]).

If you want to hear what’s happening in radio, we are gathering the biggest names in radio together at the Harvard Club on November 20, and then we have a giant, elegant party in Harvard Hall afterward. You can learn more about that at www.radioinkforecast.com.

Then … things will calm down for a while and we can all enjoy the holidays.

The Power of Catalysts2019-11-08T11:25:12-05:00