Teenage Entrepreneurship

Teenage Entrepreneurship

One thing I realized, and put into a few great words by the late great Jim Rohn is that, “profits are better than wages.” If I was going to make the kind of money that would afford me to live freely, travel, and take care of my family on my terms, it would have to consist mostly of passive income and active income doing things I’m passionate about and earn a lot of money in little time.

One Trick I Use To Lose Weight, Increase Focus & Master The Guitar

One Trick I Use To Lose Weight, Increase Focus & Master The Guitar

Just as a precursor, anything written here is just something that I did based on my own research. please use professional advice and common sense before trying anything written below.

Warning: This post is a bit deep and gives very specific guidelines, prepare for a bit of a technical discussion.

For over a decade, I have studied and experimented with different practices and techniques to become more efficient, productive, creative, and a goal achieving machine. Some practices proved to be much more beneficial across the board than others and I try to keep those in my daily routine. 

A few years ago, I did an 8 part YouTube series called S.O.W. & R.E.A.P. in which I outlined 7 practices that will exponentially better your life. One thing that I did not speak about much there was fasting, a practice not studied in humans extensively until relatively recently.

I have been doing intermittent fasting for half of a decade for weight maintenance and loss. After learning of the myriad benefits of alternate day and longer periods of fasting, I was intrigued to challenge myself and taking it on. The benefits were profound and far-reaching!

Fasting is not only one of the most misunderstood multi-beneficial practices, but is one as old as mankind itself! Before you stop reading at this point, thinking that I am trying to convince you to starve yourself, let us consider our cave-dwelling ancestors whom we share the same biology with...

For the majority of human existence, people have been nomadic, traveling great distances and at times going for days without food, until an animal was hunted down which we then feasted upon. Let us consider why we store fat at all. Fat is simply stored energy for times of famine and hunger. When you fully get that, you'll realize it isn't more evil than simple leftovers from last night's meal in your fridge. 

When we forgo eating for a period of over about 12 or 14 hours, the body does some amazing stuff... It part takes in a process called autophagy, metabolizing old broken cells, that if left cause aging and disease. Another thing that occurs is the blood that is constantly around your digestive system finally is freed up for whole body use and is directed elsewhere for healing and repair. The result is improved skin, hair, nails, and internal organs. It is one of the only confirmed life-extension interventions that we know of! Did I mention you can lose 1/2 a pound a day of fat while doing it?

So how does all this let you improve your focus and help you get better as a musician? After you eat, your body's main priority becomes digestion, at the expense of alertness, since you caught the big kill after all, and you won't be needing your keen focusing hunting brain... at least for now. The brain, when in the fasted state, becomes more alert and focused because it is gearing you to survive! (what it does best)

Suddenly, you get an increased sense of awareness that translates into more focus, wherever you apply it. Not only does it improve focus and help you get stuff done, but you can develop a momentous practice session without worrying about being distracted to eat. A few health complications might limit your ability to do this, such as diabetes, but most people should be fine to practice fasting in some capacity. Do your homework!

Won't I be hungry if I fast?

The feeling experienced after a few hours of not eating is a reflex, not hunger. It comes and goes, and you learn to ignore it, or better yet, associate the feelings with healing and weight loss. Real hunger ensues after days of not eating food. 

How long should I fast?

Fasting can be split into 3 general categories: Intermittent (up to about 22 hours), alternate day (skipping a day), and extended (Usually 3+ days). I would experiment first with Intermittent fasting by eating 1-2 meals in a span of less than 8 hours of your day. Most people find it easier to forgo eating until lunchtime and subsist on a morning coffee, (black or with stevia) followed up with a smaller dinner a few hours later and not eating until lunch the next day. I would start with this kind of protocol, and eventually experiment with a whole day without eating. (such as taking Monday off for example) Many of the top bio-hackers out there and health conscious people do a 5-7 day fast once a year, which is said to prevent cancer!  

But if I don't eat, won't I be tired?

During short periods of fasting, unless you are pretty physically active and have a fast metabolism, you will be able to run purely on the stored glycogen in your liver until you eat 16-22 hours later. When fasting for a day or two, there will come a point where your body may run out of blood sugar levels and you will feel a bit of a crash. Don't fret though, evolution to the rescue! At this point your body will undergo a series of chemical adjustments and miraculously enter into a state called ketosis! In ketosis, your body will take stored fat and convert it to energy for general bodily processes and all other needs. Yes, that means you will burn fat just by being alive! :D

What can I consume during the fast?

The idea is to take a full break from digestion and having your body process any foods or calories. Besides water, coffee and tea, sweetened only by stevia, (technically you can use other non-nutritive sweeteners but I found this one to be best and not harmful), and diet drinks. (best if they are stevia based, MAYBE monk fruit) Some weirdos chew ice... It has also been commonplace to have broths/stocks or even oils/other pure fats, as they promote the ketogenic state and apparently don't break your fast. I sometimes have bulletproof coffee (coffee blended with butter and mct oil) for this purpose, and because its delicious and awesome. (look it up)

What if I exercise?

If you plan to work out, if possible, do it right before breaking your fast, or between meals. Fasted training is pretty beneficial hormonally and otherwise, just don't go too hard without at least supplementing with some BCAA's. When I have a big strength workout and I fasted leading up to it, I'll make sure to have a protein or green shake or simply a banana before I get into it.

So I have been recording guitar for Infinite Spectrum's upcoming album and have been fasting a good amount doing so. Having years of experience with diet experimentation, I can get pretty intense at times with my protocols.

Bonus Superdiet: Back in January, after coming back from my month-long asian voyage, I had a few pounds which I had put on from indulging in the myriad awesome street foods. This is how I ate: (DON'T DO THIS UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING)

Training: M, T, TH, F - powerlifting/dynamic workouts.

Diet: M, T, TH, F - only eating one big meal after each workout. W, SU - full day fasts. Saturday - be a normal person.

I did not eat super clean or count calories or restrict much at all. I didn't eat like a total pig either and made sure I got in adequate nutritious foods in those limited meals. 

Results: I lost the weight accumulated during my trip and put on more muscle. Lost about 6-8 lbs in 2 weeks. Big claims, I know... Is this a perfect protocol? No. I'm just experimenting and actually enjoy this kind of stuff!

Cheers,

Alex 

 

what motivated me to become an artist health coach

what motivated me to become an artist health coach

I started teaching guitar and musicianship to people when I was 16 years old. Back then, I was just getting the gist of teaching, really concentrating on just having the students practice basic exercises and return the next week having mastered, or at least improved on them somewhat. As my patience, personal musicianship, and teaching ability improved, I began seeing patterns in people’s issues that I was addressing. The problems ranged from poor motivation or self esteem, writers block, to physical issues that caused the students pain, discomfort or the need to stop playing altogether…

As I went through a personal transformation physically, mentally, psychologically and spiritually after discovering and studying self development since my early 20’s, I had begun seeing many of the same issues in my students that I was overcoming. I had noticed from general conversations with my students that their beliefs about their own ability to succeed was perhaps the biggest factor in their success, and the speed of their development. I further found correlations between the physical health of the individual, and the rate and level of their advancement on the guitar and as creative professionals; leaner students simply performed better!

3 years ago, after 10 years of teaching I had started to think about the students’ long term development, not only in the moment, but how the rest of their career would play out. I realized for an artist to keep on their craft for life, there needs to be certain habits, practices and rituals in place that most of us don’t take too seriously or even into consideration. Furthermore, many of these artists are so consumed by their muse, by their vocations and avocations, that implementing a holistic artist health regimen themselves would be a pretty daunting task.

It was at the end of 2013 that I had heard someone say that its easier to be one of the best at something no one else is really doing. So I thought to myself… “What can I teach that is unique to my knowledge?” And it hit me! I can help (teach, as I now have experience doing) creative people (rather than just guitar players) improve and maximize the longevity of their creative output and support a healthy life behind the scenes. Thats where “Artist Health Coaching” was born. I now help creative people design a life of abundance with a specialized diet & exercise program, and train habits to improve relationships, finances, and overall well-being and longevity—ultimately becoming the purest vessel for their art form to express itself to the world.

As for purpose, I believe we are at a crossroads of a health consciousness movement. I want to take an active role in representing the creative professional in that movement. Now I have pursued certification as a health coach and I'm practicing professionally. I feel like having learned what I have, as well as being passionate toward music and other artforms, I have a responsibility to contribute to the world in a way that informs, and transforms the sickly “Starving Artist” into the abundant “Thriving Artist”. 

getting out of your own way

getting out of your own way

One of the biggest ways artists get hung up, is by comparing themselves to similar artists and concluding they are in some way inferior to them. These comparisons, or more often self criticisms can be, and are a major impediment to your success and health. Criteria often used in such self abuse are age, skill, luck, personality, style, and an infinite array of others.

To hold the attitude that you are in some way “not enough” is to completely misunderstand whoyou really are. You are more than just another musician, more than yet another disposable actor or random graphic designer. What you create, or as I like to say, channel through your particular artform, is a 100% unique and one-of-a-kind creation! There has never been anything like it before… Sure, it might resemble a work by a blend of artists you adore, but it is nonetheless your personal expression and reordering of the elements.

Any predicament you find yourself in, someone has likely overcome before. Remember this truth, find your particular example and role model, and let that free you from the bounds this belief has held over your creative and personal life. We should always ask ourselves one special question whenever we experience such self defeating thoughts: Does this belief serve me? 

Before giving you the following example, let me mention that you have full control over just one thing in your life, and through that one thing, you will lead yourself into momentous success or crashing failure in every regard.  That is your thoughts. You choose them. When you think a thought that does not serve you, and you follow it into a feeling, and eventually into action and belief through observing the world through the paradigm it has created within you, you will eventually get a mirror reflection of them in the experiences and circumstances of your life. If you instead think hopeful and brighter thoughts consistently, they will ultimately end you up in a happier, and sunnier lifestyle.

Let me give you an example of when age is used as an excuse to postpone action. Many musicians who are advancing into their 30′s and 40′s that have not yet reached the level of success they had envisioned for themselves when they were younger get envious and anxious when their younger colleagues are “competing” for similar positions. Is this a productive way of thinking? In this case, no. The person self identifies with striving for something that they believe is not likely or possible for them. They will harbor feelings that will cause their demise in many areas of their life. This descent can include emotional displacement such as mistreating loved ones, overindulgence with food and drink, various substance abuse, ill health effects such as chronic diseases and disorders resulting in an early grave. Grim much? Yeah… A bit extreme there, but evidence* shows that is what such conflicting beliefs can cause. The same ailments can be attributed to someone who knows what they want to do in life, but puts it off indefinitely.

Heres a few examples of people who didn’t let age get in their way:

  • Harlan Sanders – Better known as Kernel Sanders began to market and create his huge brand and cooking style until age 66
  • Stan Lee – Created “Spider-Man” at age 43
  • Henry Ford – Introduced the first Model-T car at 45 and created the first car assembly line at 60!

Hopefully you can apply this kind of evidence for what you feel you lack in. Do you have a certain disability? If you can’t find someone who specifically overcame the hurdle that you face, then find someone who overcame something just as tough or worse. Let it fuel your efforts! Replenish your inspiration often, even daily! If you are unique in your struggle, become an icon and represent an idea; make your success into your personal mission to be the example and role model for future generations!

What you can do, you must do. Repressing a long held desire can only lead to pain. So what if it takes you longer to succeed? So what if you will not be “better” than the others? Who’s keeping score anyway? Many great achievers have mirrored very similar philosophies concerning their efforts. This can be seen when asking Michael Jordan, or Tiger Woods what they felt about their competition. They would always tell you, they had only one opponent… Themselves. Even when double the score ahead of 2nd place, they would continue to flow 110% effort to beat their previous records. Even though sports are competitive, they were more concerned with self development. Art on the other hand is not really a competitive endeavor, although it may seem that way sometimes. At the end of the day, every artist brings a unique flavor to the table that is palatable to a particular group. So get out of your own way, and do what you were put here to do!

*Here is one of many sources that show how putting things off can cause health issues

earning money as an artist

earning money as an artist

Many artists and musicians throughout history have struggled with making ends meet. The subject of money was never one that many of us are comfortable speaking about. So why is this the case? Why is it so hard for us to ask for money in return for providing the services or products that we produce in our industry? This boils down to one thing: What do we believe the true value of our product or rendered services really is?

We have all complained at one time or another when we seen others in our field getting paid exorbitantly for what we feel is undeserving to them. They write cliche music, or do one thing or another that we feel is the “easy way out”. Being a progressive metal artist, I can completely empathize with people who feel like they are underpaid/under-appreciated for the amount of work they put in.

Lets take a wider scope on things and ask ourselves if we pushed away our own success when it was knocking at our door. After studying many successful people, you can safely conclude that all it takes to reach great heights is a profound focusing on your strengths, like a laser beam. Now lets dive into that idea for a minute…

Rather than thinking what aspects of your particular art you excel at, lets take a step back and analyze your strengths as a person. What character traits do you possess? How have you acted around other people? Are you good at convincing someone of your way of thinking? Do you have an engineer’s mind? Do you have a great sense of intuition? I will suggest something here that you may not want to hear. What if you realized your strengths would be very conducive to a field or industry you had never consider before, or perhaps had shrugged off at one point? What if perhaps you naturally shied away from doing business, when you actually possessed skills that could make you an amazing leader? Steve Jobs is a great example of this.

As it states in his biography, Jobs was anything but a ‘businessman’ in the earlier part of his life. He was more of an acid dropping, veggie eating hippie who even went to India trying to find himself through Buddhism. Although in his dealings with people, Jobs had a way of getting what he wanted. He also suspended reality often, and had ideas way beyond what was possible at the time. An example of this his vision of a “computer you can hold in your hand like a book” around 1980… Many thought he was nuts! Was he? Sure, but what true visionary isn’t? Steve had a long hard road before he had the epiphany to start “Apple computer company”. If its not clear, I’ve grown to be a bit of an apple fanboy in the past 2 years and am writing this blog on a 27″ iMac.

If you guys are not aware, engineer types are not usually very social people. Most people like Steve would go on to work for a big corporation with a mediocre to decent salary. Steve, instead, became an entrepreneur. So back to those qualities that make us who we are. Do you define yourself as a musician? An artist? How can you use that to supercharge your current art form, or if you are willing, go into a whole new field?

Since this is my first blog here, let me tell you how I arrived at “Artist Health Coaching”. For years, I simply taught guitar lessons for a living. Over a decade of teaching, I’ve encountered hundreds of different forms of “resistance” to quick and healthy musical development in children and adults. Some were physical, others were a matter of life management, such as time commitments, family, etc.

Certain students had all the time and drive to learn but were inhibited by ADHD and other cognitive ailments. Meanwhile I had been getting into self-development books, and had been improving aspects of my body, character and mind and found that many of my students would benefit from what I was currently learning. So as I read and applied more of these principles to my life, from diet & fitness, to meditation, affirmations and visualization, I started to find solutions to problems students didn’t even know they had! Suddenly, my ADHD students were able to concentrate for extended practice sessions. I teach a student currently who was a very quiet guy that almost started gaining his “freshman 40″. He was effectively “skinny fat” and had no luck with girls, since he wouldn’t even speak to them… Fast forward to now, I’ve helped him structure a strength training program, and this guy is moving in leaps and bounds in other areas in his life now. (I read some NASM material for personal trainer certification, but am not licensed yet)

Late one evening at the beginning of this year, after feeling a bit torn between many things I enjoy doing, it had dawned on me… I should be an Artist.. Health.. Coach….? I had made the profession up, I admit it! Google confirmed this. (side note: I have these deep introspective moments from time to time since I do a lot of productivity lists, scheduling, etc.) At this point, the self development route has had me deep dive into meditation and various new sciences of the mind, quantum physics, financial education, business and marketing practices, bodybuilding and strongman, nutrition, and little dabbling in photography, video editing, and I just finished a license course for real estate salespersons.

I’m rambling here a bit, but the reason I expounded upon all that, is to show you that your single art form is perhaps not your only asset. What else do you find interesting? As much as you may find them boring or even repulsive, there are skills that a modern creative cannot neglect. That would include:

  • marketing
  • networking
  • time management
  • financial management
  • healthy eating & fitness
  • relationship management

These are some of what separates the “bedroom guitarist” from having a lucrative touring career or even being fully financially free. They can be running a few passive income businesses that generate income so he or she can be faithful to their art without compromising it for a prettier paycheck.

So what are your “not so artistic” strengths? Cultivate them, and before long, money may not be an issue anymore.