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Jim talks about what Sting and The Police can teach us about finding your voice when blogging or podcasting.

Download the podcast from iTunes, or play it below:


Millions of teachers, authors, parents, friends, clergy, poets, and musicians have tried to help others find their passions. But I’ll tell you where you can find yours.

In your voice.

When you’re speaking about something you’re truly passionate about, there’s a change in your tone. Your heart beats a little faster, your eyes get a little wider, and sometimes the thoughts and ideas cascade from your brain so quickly that they trip over themselves in a rush to exit your mouth.

Lord knows any regular listener to the podcast, or someone that has seen one of my presentations, knows that I get really excited and talk super fast when I’m fired up about a topic.

But I want to go back to that first sentence. Millions of teachers, authors, parents, friends, clergy, poets, and musicians have tried to help others find their passions.

Who are the people in your life that have led you to take up one of your passions?

– Maybe your dad was a huge sports fan, so you became one as well.
– Maybe an author wrote a book so compelling, that you instantly started a hobby based around their words.
– Or maybe your best friend turned you on to wine or yoga or mountain biking.

But what about music?
I had an interesting conversation with my mom this past weekend. She asked me about my little nephew. He is a little young for his age compared to his peers, and my sister is thinking of enrolling him in a cultural school program for a year before he goes to kindergarten.

My mom asked me what I thought. I told her I think it is probably a little better to be a bit older than your friends in class than a bit younger. And I also thought that maybe the teachers there could steer him in a direction that could really bring out his strengths. Maybe they have amazing, experienced teachers that would be able to read him and see if he was introverted, or analytic-minded, or broad-thinking, and this might translate specifically to writing songs or playing a specific instrument.

I’m no pro, but I’m going to guess that a certain type of mindset would lend itself to playing the violin vs the drums.

I’ll also tell you the way NOT to do it.

In one of my earliest memories – man, I hadn’t thought of this in 20 years – I specifically remember “band day.” They asked if anyone wanted to be in a band, and they sent us home with a sheet of paper with all the instruments. They had little outlines, and the words next to them.

You know how I picked mine?

I don’t either! I looked at this list, pointed at one, and said “How about that?” You know what it was?

The clarinet! How freaking useless is the clarinet!!!

Flash forward a year and I was terrible at it, not to mention that one of the most important and time consuming activities to playing it was not learning notes or reading music, but cleaning the spit out of it! There was an entire process and set of tools simply for cleaning spit! I’m serious!

In college I picked up guitar, but was equally as bad. It was only when I randomly sat down at a party at a friends drum kit at age twenty-three – – 23! – – and simply ‘knew’ how to play, that I had finally found my instrument. Don’t get me wrong, I am still pretty bad, but I was good enough to be in bands that played live in Boston and New York City.

I tease my mom because when she and my dad finally came to see me live, she told me, “I always knew you had rhythm. You were always banging on pots and pans as a toddler and always had great rhythm.”

So I’d yell, “Why the heck didn’t you tell me to play the drums when I was 5 then??? By the time I was 23 I’d have been a rock star and we’d have houses in Boston, New York, LA, and Tahiti!”

But I digress. See, I got excited right there. I’m pretty passionate about music.

Which gets me back to that first line, which is very close to a 20th Century British philosopher named Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner. Although you might know him as Sting.

And the timeless words that he uttered were

De do do do, De da da da

No, actually, the words are:

Poets priests and politicians
Have words to thank for their positions

If you phrase that in terms of social media, maybe the three categories are bloggers, podcasters, and marketing/public relations.

These are truly people that rely on their words. They need to be crafted just right, and the proper ones can motivate and inspire to action, but also get you into trouble.

But then it goes on.

Words that scream for your submission
And no-one’s jamming their transmission

Well, maybe that should translate to “words that scream for your engagement.” Listen to me. Buy my book. Follow me on Twitter. Listen to what I have to say. Look over here at my Facebook page.

And like I’ve mentioned in the podcast before, no-one’s jamming their transmission. You don’t need to work for a newspaper or radio station anymore. Anyone can start their own blog or podcast and begin transmitting.

I had an idea that I was going to do my entire presentation based on songs from The Police. The problem is, they might have been Driven To Tears. You see, the first rule of presentations is to know your audience, and I found out that the majority of people in the room would be people aged 22-26. Considering that The Police broke up in 1984, the same year the oldest person in the room was born, I probably would have lost my audience pretty quickly.

But hey, I’m pretty sure my podcast audience is a little bit older than that, so let me end the podcast with a few quotes from Sting and The Police. And listen you kids, if you haven’t sat down and really listened to them, give ‘em a try.

The number one way to find your voice is to dig deep about what your passionate about. What do you get excited about? Where do you find the drama in your life? If you’re in a relationship, and it vacillates between I Can’t Stand Losing You and The Bed’s Too Big Without You, then maybe you should talk about the interconnection between men and women, or companies and products.

Or if you’re more about finding Spirits in the Material World that we live in, religion is a massive area that you could write or speak about.

If you start out with a podcast, remember that Every Breath You Take is important. While I do tend to speed up while I talk, I feel that I’m still in control of my speech and never out of breath. Grab yourself one of those pop shields as well so that you’re not spitting into the mic.

One thing to get down right away has to do with Synchronicity. Podcasts generate a lot of files, from original recordings, to word docs, to images, to MP3 files. I have a pretty locked in system for recording on my home laptop, backing up to an external drive, transferring to a thumb drive, copying it again at my work computer.

Lastly, don’t worry if you don’t have much of an audience when you’re starting out. Just get going, find your voice and be consistent. You might feel that you’re So Lonely, that it’s as if you’re sending out a tiny Message in a Bottle. But if you keep it up, the audience will come and soon you’ll be Walking on the Moon.

PS… I refrained from crooning Roxanne during the podcast outtro, but c’mon, you know right now you’re singing it in your head in that really really high voice. Aha. I thought so.

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