Some of my best lessons in life come from the most unexpected places. I had an opportunity this past summer to take virtual lessons from Caleb Davis, one the best guitarists, musicians, and instructors in the Southeast. Although I learned a lot of new guitar techniques, Caleb also taught me a lot about business through an “Artist’s lens.” The following are the three things Caleb taught me about business

1. Most People Aren’t Tone Deaf, they are Just Lazy. For years, I was convinced that most musicians are born with innate talent that enables them to create their art and I just was not born with it. Nope… It turns out that they put in their 10,000+ hours like everyone else that wants to master a skill. I am certain that Caleb wakes-up and goes to bed with a guitar in His hands. In fact, when I asked How many hours He spent mastering guitar, He estimated it to be North of 30,000 hours! The more I study other artists, the more I realize that they all spend hundreds and thousands of hours mastering their craft. The part that we see on Social Media is the result with a beautiful filter. You rarely see a picture of the Artist playing the same scale repeatedly for hours at a time getting ready to toss their instrument out of the second story window.

2. Your Job is to Make Music. You just happen to pick the guitar as your instrument. I have heard this advice in different forms twice before. Musician John Mayer stated in an interview that He was a Musician first and a Guitarist second. I didn’t understand it then. When asked years ago, I told my Business Coach that I was in the computer business. I was puzzled when He told me that I was in the business of providing cool tools and it just so happened that my current tool was a computer. I did not get it then either. The point is subtle, but very important. If you look at the bigger picture of what you are providing the world, you become much less attached to the tools and more focused on the result.

3. Make Something You Want to Make. Then find out if there is an audience. This is completely back@sswards to the way most of us have been taught to do business. We spend days in meetings trying to figure out what the ideal customer wants, and we attempt to craft a product or service around their needs. The reality is that people buy for their own reasons and its nearly impossible to quantify why they would want to buy your art from the start. I am not suggesting that you build something in a vacuum, but we should all probably launch a lot quicker and find out who really wants what we have to offer. As a side note, it is much more fun to build what you want to make then to try to appease an audience.

Conclusion

“Natural talent” comes in the form of spending many hours mastering your craft, recognizing the bigger picture of what you are providing, and finding an audience for something you truly enjoy making. And why not learn a little guitar along the way.