What inspired you to write Be Who You Are, A Song For My Children?
I was grabbed by the gut, by what turned out to be the tip of a message, which expanded as I wrote. The book started out as a song that took on a life of its own. Each line grew into a separate topic. The lyric spun like a thread that wove into the prose that unfolded into Be Who You Are: A Song for My Children.
I wanted my three daughters to hold on to their authenticity—to the unrepeatable sparkle in their eyes—no matter what.I thought the right words could protect them; shelter them from the inner and outer storms of life. I didn’t want life suck the life out of them. And I wanted to leave them something they could lean on, long after I’m gone.
But it wasn’t until reaching the end the book that I fully understood what the book was about—what it really means to, Be Who You Are. That unexpected message has unfolded into an unexpected life mission, one that I believe will cut through confusion, worry and want, and help lead people to perfect happiness,no matter what happens.
Who is your target reader?
I wrote Be Who You Are,for my three college age daughters, as they were trying to figure out, what they wanted, why they wanted it, and the bottom line question of life—what’s the point?
But even declaring a major, graduating from college, or landing the perfect job, doesn’t mean these questions have been answered. They nudge us through life, like a compass whispering the way, until the answers unfold,to anyone still open enough to hear. The thirst for authenticity—for perfect happiness—is ageless.
So whether you’re a multi-passionate Millennial determined to bypass the brainwashing and stoke the sparkle in your eye, a forty-something who’s sick and tired of limping through life, or a perfect success whose life is devoid of perfect happiness, this book guides you, like only a loving Father can, home to who you are—inside and out—no matter how what, no matter how far.
Why should a reader choose your book out of so many competing titles?
Many wonderful books tell us how to do what we love, find passion, lose weight, think big, start small, get rich, get ripped and manifest any life we can imagine.Be Who You Arealso shows readers how to blow through their fears and explode into their dreams. But unlike Be Who You Are, many self-help books miss the point.The underlying assumption is flawed. When I achieve this or that, life will be great, and I’ll be happy. Not true.
Happiness is not an external event. Your inside life “is” life.
Most self-help books push you half way there. Be Who You Arepulls you all the way home.
You mean achieving our dreams of wealth and fame, won’t make us happy?
Singer John Mayer’s dreams came true, yet he lamented, “Something’s missing and I don’t know what it is at all.” Comedian Jim Carrey says, “I wish people could realize all of their dreams of wealth and fame so they could see that it’s not where you’ll find your sense of completion.” After actor Matt Damon won an Academy Award, he went back to his hotel room and threw it on the bed thinking, “Glad I didn’t kill anybody for that.”
You talk about perfect happiness and staying happy no matter what happens. Explain.
Fun Fact: Happiness level = Consciousness Level.
If your consciousness level is high, life is great, no matter what happens.
If your consciousness level is low, life sucks, no matter what happens.
But the word consciousness sounds so ambiguous and new-agey. Consciousness is just energy. I like the word MOJO. Like the Muddy Waters song . . . “Got my mojo workin, got my mojo workin”C’mon and sing along, Be Who You Are,will get your mojo workin!
Doesn’t being who you are mean, doing what you love?
Doing what you love is a beautiful part of life’s big picture, and partof the overarching message of my book. Doing what you love can also be partof the curriculum in the course of authenticity. It can fade the façade of appearance, into an opening for your essence to shine through like the sun.
Lose your self (ego) in what you love, and you’ll find your Self (Essence) through what you love.
But doing what you love is only a portal to the point, which in a nutshell is—perfect happiness—being who you are, inside and out.And finding happiness on the outer road only—no matter how much you love it, is an impossibility.
You worked in the music industry with some famous people. Please tell us what you’ve learned from them—and why you warn your kids about the dangers of fame in your book.
I wanted to spare my children from the delusions of fame and glamour, so I wrote about it. Fame is a drug. People who need to be famous for the sake of being famous are drug addicts.
I’ve worked with people whose fame was a by-product of their artistry and excellence. Wonderful! I’ve worked with people whose mega-fame created a lifetime of suffering, confusion and craving fame like a crack addict. Not so wonderful. Per your question, here’s an example of the former.
We were recording an album with singer songwriter, Stephen Bishop at Capital Records in LA. The CD was a Brazilian remake of some of his greatest hits, like On & On and Separate Lives, as well as brand new songs. Stephen called Eric Clapton to come in and solo on his hit song, Save It For A Rainy Day.
Clapton came in with humility and respect for the challenges of the music. He wanted to make sure he got it right—took nothing for granted. Oscar Castro Neves—a guitarist from Brazil was also there. Clapton the “guitar god” was asking Oscar for tips and direction. Still learning. Still curious. Still passionate about the craft. (not the fame) He had no ego whatsoever. At one point he wanted to try the solo on a nylon string guitar, which we didn’t have. So, I popped into a session in Studio B and asked the guitarist, if Eric Clapton could borrow his guitar. At first, he didn’t believe me. Ha! And when the red light went on. Clapton’s solo soared over those changes.
The lesson: Always be a beginner. Forget the fame. Focus on your craft. Humility is the recognition that we are only the channel; God, by whatever name God is known, is the source. Humility opens up a tideway through which the current of creativity can flow, flinging open the floodgates to unlimited possibilities. Clinging to the ego—the rock of control—dams it shut. Try it! It works for Clapton.
What is important to keep in mind when writing a self-help/inspirational book?
Authenticity.You’ve got to feel it deeply. The urge to teach what life has taught, is something that takes hold, and emerges, naturally. You can’t write with marketing in mind. That comes later. You must know,verses knowing about, what you are saying. Knowing about, is an intellectual understanding of truth. Knowing,is being truth. The reader can smell the difference.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
As a musician, I’ve been immersed in writing songs, jingles, scores, music beds and anything else the client of the moment asked for. What comes first—words or music? Answer—the phone call.But certain truths for mastering the mechanics of writing—in order to free the soul of writing—are universal. The most powerful and least glamourous tool of all . . . butt in chair.
Habit is a hammer that builds virtuosity. Consistency activates a creative force in the universe sending us insights impossible to come up with sporadically, on our own. As Julia Cameron, author of The Artist Way, says, “were not thinking something up, were taking something down.” As I point out in my book, “world class dreams, require world class routines. Your goals and dreams must match your habits and routines.” What’s the difference between an artist and an amateur? According to Malcom Gladwell author of Outliers,about 8000 hours. Amateurs put in 2000 hours, by age 20, artists who’ve mastered their craft, put in 10,000. Talent is not enough.
I’ve met aspiring authors who do not read. If you want to be a better writer, be a better reader.
Read! Read! Read!
Creativity—at least the non-contrived, unexpected, happy accidents kind of creativity—originates almost entirely in the sub-conscious. You can program the sub-conscious with cable news and video games, or inspiring books, that shake the soul and expand your consciousness. Either way it’s going to come out in your writing.
Tell us about your writing process.
I write most often in a quiet place, in my home. The challenge is . . . it’s not always quiet. In a crazy household filled with three wonderful daughters, (for whom I wrote the book), a fantastic wife, dogs, cats and pet rats, its necessary to escape to a coffee shop to get in the zone.
But for me it’s more about “time” than “place.” I’m most creative and tapped into the muse, early in the morning. I set up my “writing chair” the night before—wake up at 3AM, meditate, pray, visualize and sip that first magical cup of coffee. After saying hello to my writing partner—a great big Evergreen tree outside my window—I get to work. (I know. Weird! Kind of like Tom Hanks talking to his soccer ball in the movie The Cast Away), But hey, me and the tree have been through a lot of writing together. J
It is easier to slip behind the veil of ego, and the white noise of world early in the morning. The wee small hours of the morning opens the channel, for insights to flow through me, (not from me) with ease. I call it a dialog with divinity. Call it the force, the source, the muse, the universe; It doesn’t matter—it’s all the same reservoir of creation to me.
On average, I write for 90 minutes and take a break, then write another 60 to 90 minutes. I walk away after that, and deliberately quit thinking about writing. It’s part of the creative process, as described by Graham Wallace in the book, The Art of Thought. Know it or not, whether you’re writing a book or baking cupcakes, the same 4 stages are happening.
- Questions, what does the story want, what do I want to say etc.
- Incubation: Quit writing let the mind/universe process questions and problems.
- Illumination: Aha! The answer/idea/insight comes when you least expect it.
- Verification: Plug the answer and verify how it works. Adjust accordingly.
When I’m done with my morning, preparation stage, I work out, wake the kids, do errands in order to let the writing, incubate.Because the initial creative heavy lifting is over in the morning, total quiet isn’t necessary. I can write at a coffee shop for the next session. When I come back for round two, everything flows much easier.
And one more writing, place:I love to walk my writing. Walking frees the mind. I’ll go on long 2-3-hour walks and record insights, ideas and paragraphs on my iPhone. I’ve written full songs without touching an instrument. When I get back to my desk and enter the verification stage, the ideas I’ve walked out of me generally stand up.
Where do you see the book industry heading?
Formats and distribution may have changed, but the love of books and music, is bigger than ever. And there’s more opportunity than ever for any author who takes responsibility for marketing, and thinks differently.Here’s the greatest marketing tool of all—one that will never change no not matter what the future trends, formats and distribution may be.
Write A Great Book . . . ! One written with the ink of your unrepeatable spiritual DNA.
Great marketing is “attraction not promotion.” Once the marketing pump is primed—which it must be—a great book attracts. A contrived book melds away into the white noise of the market.
Record labels are like Book Publishers. When an artist signs with a record label 99.9% of the marketing needs to be generated by the artist (or in the book world, the author), or there won’t be enough thrust to propel the book into the “attraction” phase. When it comes to marketing, your resourcefulness is more important than your resources, and resourcefulness should abound in anyone creative enough to write a book.
The chief value of a Publisher, like the record labels of the past is distribution. An independent author may be able to by-pass the publisher and deal directly with the distributor and/or create private label deals directly with a brand or corporation. This is what the “special markets” division at a record label does. They repurpose their products with the corporation’s brand and sell them direct. They also use the brands data base, to spread the word online. This in essence creates a new marketing and distribution channel. Its an OPD strategy. (Other people’s data)
But unlike traditional distribution deals that have “wheels,” (if no one buys books, they send them back) private label deals are a one-way sale. And the sale funds the productions of the books. In other words, if you get Corporation X to buy 50,000 books, and you don’t pay for production until the order is closed.
This is just one of the ways, to use your resourcefulness to sell books. Any other ideas?
You come from a family of creative people. Your brother is being inducted into the National Radio Hall Of Fame this fall. How did your family get so much talent?
I’ve been very blessed and lucky, to grow up in a family that not only applauded creativity, but supported each other in growing creatively. To this day, my family is my sounding board.
My brother Johnny, is one of the most original, funny and hardest working radio personalities ever, which is why the industry is inducting him into the National Radio Hall of fame, in New York this fall. My brother Michael is one the best singer songwriters I know. He’s been placing his music in TV & Movies forever. My brother Joey, is an Emmy Award winning director/producer, and his wife Joan is not only an Emmy Award winning TV host, she’s the author of two amazing books.
We help each other. We feed off of each other. We commiserate the tough times and celebrate the good. We’ve worked on various projects on and off in the past and will continue to do so in the future. I trust their creative gut instincts probably more than anyone. I urge everyone to find a team of confidants, that can tell it like it is, and help cheer you on with all of the above.
What is the meaning of your book’s cover illustration—two separate puzzle pieces, that when aligned, transform into birds soaring free?
The two puzzle pieces represent the inner and outer roads moving into alignment. When the amazing outer roadof our talents, dreams, passions, career, finances, relationships, achievements, accolades, adventures, and motivationsmerge with the spiritual purpose of the inner road—the ultimate and only point of life. When heart and heaven beat as one, as the song lyric says—you’ll be happy, no matter what happens. You’ll be fearless. You’ll be free . . .
Shouldn’t you say . . . Thee Point!
Ha! Now you’re getting it!
I guess that’s all folks.
That’s all folks!? Is there anything more? Anything better? Anything else than perfect happiness?
Be Who You Are, A Song For My Children
Be Who You Are: Author’s song, upon which the book is based.
Full Song: http://www.jimmybrandmeier.com/jimmy-jams/