So often we get stuck with an idea because we are waiting for someone else to give us permission to move forward. Having defined goals and a plan to get there can be your permission.
This passage is the introduction to the title track You Know My Steez on Gang Starr’s Moment Of Truth album and it perfectly summarizes how I’m feeling after the journey to put my idea into action -- the idea of building a personal financial advisory brand providing indie artists and creatives with palpable financial solutions. Receiving confirmation from the relationships that I’ve built lets me know that I had the right idea in the beginning.
You may be asking yourself: Why?
First of all, I want to continue to bring light to this album. The combination of GURU on the mic and DJ Premier on production is, in my opinion, the best duo to ever do it. The Moment of Truth is a timeless piece of art, which continues to provide me insight into my own life and this intro track lays out GURU’s WHY quite clearly for the album.
I’m also using this introduction as a way to introduce or re-introduce myself and my company, Elemental Financial and the Why behind the business.
I believe that when artists prosper, they can deliver more of their message to the world. So, I founded Elemental Financial to empower musicians and creatives to take ownership of their wealth potential through one-on-one financial coaching and customized financial planning and investment advice.
In February 2006 I stepped off of the stage at the Southgate House and felt an exhilaration like I had never felt before in my life. I had just performed a 30 minute set of spoken word poetry. I remember a father and his daughter approach me soon after and ask me where they could get a copy of my CD, and this was the first time I realized that my words had power -- that my words caused emotion in strangers. I had hosted poetry slams and performed single pieces on stage before but this was my first opportunity to showcase multiple pieces and put on a show. I remember writing with more fervor over the following weeks and realizing that this was what I was supposed to be doing. This was my calling.I performed only one other time after that evening. What happened?
While my passion was being exposed, my logical side was concentrated on starting a career, paying off debt, and taking care of bills. This onstage performance coincided with a promotion at a large asset management company that I started working for 6 months prior. The new role would lead me to tour across the country -- but instead of delivering poetry, I was conducting educational seminars for 401(k) participants and talking about asset allocation and preparing for retirement.
My notebooks changed drastically over this time. Notes from studying for multiple securities’ exams, the Level 1 CFA exam, CFP coursework and finally the CFP Exam took over my rhyme books.
For almost 10 years I navigated corporate wealth management. The birth of my oldest son was the push I needed to exit life on the road and start fresh. I became a stay at home dad and began to map out my plan to start an independent financial planning company that would serve younger generations.
We were living in Nashville, TN at this time and as I began to do market research and have conversations about my idea common themes presented themselves. Everyone I talked to was in some way associated with the music industry or was a creative, and they all had similar challenges: cash flow, variable income, tax planning, and having financial security so they could do more of what they loved. My light went off again - this is what I am supposed to be doing.
I didn’t grow up in a musical family but in a literary family. My mom was a children’s librarian so I was always fascinated with stories and once I heard the stories of the likes of Chuck D, KRS ONE, and GURU my love for Hip Hop was sparked.
I want to help you use money as a tool so you can do more of what you love and spend more time getting your message out to the world! You Know My Steez.
Let’s be real. It’s a long way to go whether you know where you’re going or not. ALONGWAYTOGO is the funky introduction to Hard To Earn, the third studio album by Gang Starr and it’s with this song that I’m beginning multiple posts that delve into the messages delivered by GURU and DJ Premier.
GURU stands for Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal and in this song he provides insight on the importance of having a vision and setting goals to get where you want to go.
Here’s the deal like Shaquille O’Neal if you don’t know what you’re doing how the hell can you be real?
What’s your vision? Put it down on paper, create a mind map, tell someone that will help you on your path. Get it out of your head and put it into physical format so you can see it. If you don’t know what to look for the odds are that you won’t find it. Create attainable goals towards this vision. With a vision and defined goals to reach this vision you will start to see the universe working to assist you along the path to reach your vision.
Now in '93, realistically you should be
Well aware of all the evils out there
It's like a jungle sometimes. You get the message?
You got to rumble sometimes, it's gettin hectic
Emotions run deep as times run out
Solutions, it's time to find some out
Turn off all the outside noise (social media, tv, any negativity) and make progress on YOUR goals. Now in 2018, we are well aware of the evils out there and I’m not saying don’t care, but you need to take control of how much you let the news cycle or your twitter feed suck your energy. Feed your mind with knowledge and make some type of progress on what matters, everyday. Consistency is key, and while you won’t see immediate results stay dedicated to making progress on the goals and the vision that you have laid out and your time will come.
A law giver, 'cause you shiver when I quiz ya
All about the real necessities of life
All about the game and all about the name
G to the A to the N to the G Starr
We know who we are, but do you know who you are?
Be yourself. Set a vision that makes you feel the most alive. People in your life won’t understand your vision because it isn’t theirs. They will doubt you, because they see life through their eyes and not yours. Uncover your “Why” and deliver it to the world and it is bound to resonate.
When you stay focused and pay your dues you will be prepared to face your Moment of Truth…
DJ Premier remarked on a tweet that I posted on the anniversary of the Hard To Earn album regarding the song ALONGWAYTOGO. As you can see things don’t always work exactly planned but your dedication and determination will be your poetic justice.
“What one word would you use to describe the music scene in Winston-Salem?”
Think about that question — what would your word be? It’s a question that has been asked and answered many times, especially recently as the scene continues to rebuild itself during a quiet phase. Think about these questions, too: How can we support its growth and the members of our community who are growing it? What resources can we provide to musicians to help build their art and their hyperlocal presence? Why is it even important to help this industry thrive in the first place?
Finding (actionable) answers to these questions — and so many more — was the goal of a recent focus hosted by Alec Robinette, a fiduciary and founder of Elemental Financial. After Alec moved to Winston-Salem from Nashville, he realized that while the landscape was not the same he could serve as a music economy advocate. Elemental works primarily with musicians and other creatives providing a value-driven approach towards understanding personal finances and empowering them to take ownership of their wealth potential.
The focus group consisted of area musicians and performing artists that span genres and journeys. Some are just starting to define their voice while others have been in the game for decades. While their styles may be vastly different, the general consensus came together and decided on a few certainties.
Most importantly, everyone agreed that the problem in town isn’t a lack of musicians. There is talent everywhere as long as you’re looking hard enough; but several issues impact artists’ access to tools they need for success. There is also no shortage of community members who are local music supporters. The key, however, is finding ways to connect the two demographics.
The group cited several obstacles standing in the way of growth, including a shortage of venues, a lack of inclusion and diversity, attracting audiences to go out and pay for live music, and sparse funding from non-corporate sources. One group member also pointed out that poor planning and lack of motivation (“slackness” was the word used) are both something he sees as problematic among musicians who aren’t finding opportunities for exposure.
So what about solutions? The most common suggestion among group members was a different business model for venue owners. While alcohol revenue is a major source of income for live music venues, it limits the target audience. Minors and those who may not be into the “drinking scene” have a hard time finding venues, and the venues that do exist tend to be homogenized in regards to audiences. The idea of crowdfunding and cooperative venue strategies was also addressed, with the merit of this approach being that it would put the power in the hands of community members who are also stakeholders.
There is one thing that everyone overwhelmingly agreed upon: the industry needs more support. Rebuilding — or creating — the Sound of Winston Salem is going to take a systematic approach, with plenty of planning and pivoting along the way.
Are you a musician living in Winston-Salem? We are compiling data to better understand our music economy. We would appreciate 5 minutes of your time to fill out the following survey.
The Earth's rotation never alters
In different placements we see different faces
They all look the same
Recognizing people I don't know and haven't met, yet
I approach to find out why our paths have crossed again
and what insight our conversations can provide
for either us or the universe
Discussion on time, evolution, love, and war
Part on our own way
Continuing the exploration of ourselves
and that which surrounds our being
Natural or artificial
Everything is here for a reason
and has a story of its very own
In the end a story is all that we own
Told by those we touched and those we taught
Continual existence through others spoken word
or written thought
Breath, Walk, Listen, Look, Be
Be someone that you've been struggling to become
Someone that has stepped outside the boundaries
Someone that has looked fear dead its face
Someone that sits between the two pillars of
wisdom and pain
Someone that constantly extends an open hand
Someone that admits I am only man
Someone that want to uplift and expand
the greater good
Conducting from cyberstations
my mind’s integration into words happens more than occasionally
but doesn’t always get observed
could be misunderstood since a screen does the relaying
may not be punctuated correctly
it’s up to the reader to make distinctions
thoughts proceed one by one taking turns around corners and blocks
that to most would be concerns
not now, no time to be uncertain
i’m standing center stage when it opens
the curtains of my life revealing the naked truth
can see the outside but within lies the proof
the inseparable matter the organs organized
to function with the data proceeding with the processed
the body needs some feeding
nutritional values, energizing spirits
everything becomes one here and now or in the near after
elements and components to keep me filled up with laughter,
joy, and a smile on my face is the only thing that i’m after
To breathe in what's out there, and breathe out what's in here. Life is an immeasurable amount of breaths. Let's make everyone of them count. Be mindful of what we are breathing, be mindful of what we are leaving behind.