Hello and good day!
A young man readies his keyboard and keyboard stand. He puts a microphone in his guitar case, buckles the case shut, and then lays the case on top of his amp. He slings the straps of his black nylon keyboard case onto his shoulders so that he can carry the keyboard on his back. With one hand he grabs the handle on the side of his keyboard stand and with the other he grabs the handle on top of his amp.
He carries the stand and the amp with the guitar case laying on it to the hallway where he sets them down on the floor for a moment so that he can turn around to lock his apartment door.
He makes his way with his gear to the elevator. When the elevator arrives at the ground floor, the young man walks out of his building into the city streets among the skyscrapers, the bustling crowds, the voices, and the traffic. Onlookers glance at the young man as he trudges through the city carrying gear.
Forty-five minutes later, he arrives at a park with a manmade lake. There is a wide dirt path around the lake and there is decent foot traffic of people walking laps. The park is in the middle of the city and there are tall buildings all around, on every side.
It is early afternoon when the young man shows up and almost nobody notices his arrival. Many people walk by while he is setting up. Some look over at him. Some don't. Those who do look over don't give it a second thought. The benches in the park have power outlets so that people can charge phones or plug in laptops.
The young man plugs into a bench near the park's entrance. He puts his keyboard on the stand. He plugs in the amp and the microphone. He lays out the guitar case on the dirt path and seeds it with a five. He stands behind the keyboard and begins to play. He plays and he sings into the mic.
Nobody invited him. Nobody gave him permission. He just showed up. He wants to play and sing for an audience, but nobody has offered him a gig. So, he does what he has to do. He plays all afternoon and into the evening without taking a break.
He sings pop music. He sings oldies. He takes requests, learning melodies and lyrics from his phone on the fly for songs he doesn't know. Walkers stop and shoot videos with their phones and then keep walking. Some stand and watch for a few minutes. They toss a dollar in his case before continuing on.
When the sun goes down, lamplights in the park shine on the park's dirt path and throw thin white streaks spreading diagonally on the dark lake. Yellow office lights from the city's high-rises float in the black sky. The foot traffic has slowed to a trickle.
The young man keeps playing. He plays until there is hardly anybody left to play for. When he decides to go home, he counts his money. Ninety dollars. Ninety dollars for eight hours work.
There are better ways to make money. But he's not out there just for the money. Not yet anyways. He's out there because he knows he can play. And he knows he can sing. he world doesn't know it yet. But he knows.
He packs up his gear and makes the long walk home through the dark city. His feet and hips are throbbing from standing and walking all day.
The next day, he will work as a parking garage attendant in the morning and as a waiter at night. He doesn't have a car so that he can save money on gas and insurance. By working two jobs and forgoing a car, he only has to work four days a week to make ends meet. That gives him three days a week to play and sing. Every time he goes out, he improves and becomes more confident in his ability.
If you were to ask him why he does it, why he persists when nobody knows him and nobody seems to care about what he's doing, he'd tell you that he does it because he deserves to be heard.
He knows deep down that he deserves his place in the world. His pitch is true. He plays without missing a note. When listeners gather around, his music touches them. They close their eyes, he whisks them away, wrapped up in sound, their lives transcendent, even if only for a brief minute or two.He deserves to be heard.
I can't even guess at how many days I spent calling on restaurants for hours, trying to sell them our chocolate, only to go zero for one hundred. I'd call a hundred establishments, and none would be interested. I did that work for roughly ten years. Believe me, writing an email like this is a lot easier than making hours' worth of sales calls with no results.
When I could see that it was going to be one of those days, I always made sure to have a plate of our 68% dark chocolate, cut up into pieces, on my desk. If I felt myself becoming demoralized,
I ate chocolate. I didn't do it to drown my sorrows, although that was a pleasant side effect. Chocolate causes your brain to release endorphins. Rather, I did it to remind myself that our chocolate deserved to exist, and it would only continue in existence if I kept picking up the phone no matter how I felt.
Reminding yourself that whatever you are pursuing deserves its place in the world is a powerful motivator.
Love your neighbor as you love yourself is an idea that deserves to exist. It should be preached. I have friends who are in the throes of launching a new hot fudge business. They brought samples by yesterday for me to taste. It was extraordinary.
They're using our chocolate in the recipe, so I'm partial, but still, objectively speaking, their product deserves its place in the world. They'll have to solve all the problems that new businesses have to solve.
How to manufacture.
How to ship.
Where to find customers.
What products to focus on.
How to source ingredients.
How to do customer service
There will be times when it all seems impossible, and they'll think they ought to throw in the towel and move onto something else. I know we felt that way quite often in the beginning.
When those times come around, eat the product. Say your idea out loud. Ask yourself, does this thing deserve to exist?
If the answer is yes, keep on going!
Thank you so much for your time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!