Mike Rayburn is a keynote artist using guitar and comedy to inspire people to become their own personal best. In this podcast, we talk about how he engages his audience (thousands of strangers at a time) and how one simple challenge from a friend has led him on a quest to become a self-made virtuoso in multiple parts of his life.
Love this mantra by @MikeRayburn: Do what you do, and do it the best you know how. Click To Tweet
Mike Rayburn is not just any keynote artist. He uses his professional guitar skills and natural comedic timing to impassion and inspire thousands of non-musicans in a room representing their various corporations and associations.
Mike studied classical guitar and music business at James Madison University. He lived in Nashville, TN as a performer and staff songwriter for Sony. He was doing a set at Zanies Comedy Club and, after a set, was approached by songwriter, keynote artist, and friend Jana Stanfield. She said Mike’s act was clean, funny, and carried a message. She told him “You’re a speaker and you don’t even know it.” That set Mike off to re-examine his goals and achieve a life of being a keynote artist.
Mike talks about his art forms to writing, comedy, speaking, and connecting with an audience. “It has always been my goal to connect with an audience and take them somewhere.” He includes a wow factor (his guitar) and disarms the audience and prepares them to listen by allowing them to laugh first.
Exercise for engaging with your audience: Separate a piece of paper into to columns. On the left, make a header of “Entertainment.” On the right, make a header of “Personal Development (or Engagement).” List all of your ideas on the left and goals on the right. Then connect the dots between what you have in your set and what can help you tell a richer story.
Stick with the things you know work. Go crazy with initial writing and performing of something. But then pay attention to how your audience responds and use that feedback to hone and tighten your product.
Mike has 2 points about being a virtuoso:
Being a virtuoso means being your personal best at what you do. Anything that makes you better, bring it on. As an entrepreneur/business, you need to be dedicated to doing what works best. As a musician, if you find a single that sells better, always perform that and 2 bring more just like that.
Gear a show to what WORKS. Stay away from “I do what I do” out of arrogance. If you say that because what you do is different and sets you apart and gets a great response, then stick with it. But if what you do doesn’t change anything around you, then consider trying what others have done for a while until you find what works. It’s ok if you say “This isn’t who we thought we were, but this is what people want and this is the direction it’s going.” Once you’ve hit that, you have the right to go back to what you WANT to do.
Find the difference between what is urgent and what is important.
The opposite of ‘virtuoso’ isn’t ‘failure.’ In fact, failure is a crucial part of becoming a virtuoso. The opposite is competence. Complacency, mediocrity, average,etc… Most people feel they deserve more than the lowest, but certainly not the best. Fight against that.
Mike hit a stride when he was younger and was doing ok in his life. He had won awards, was playing live gigs, he was living the dream. A friend asked him if he’d resolved to being his own personal best. Mike realized he was happy where he was so he was coasting. Here’s the problem with coasting… it only happens downhill. When you make the choice to be your best, that’s how you will start to move into the upper eschlans.
Mike’s personal mantra: Do what you do, do it the best you know how.
Allow yourself to ask ‘What if…?’ Even if something seems impossible, allow yourself to ask the question and follow it down the rabbit hole so you know exactly what would have to happen for it to be possible. This trains your brain to attack larger goals head on and stop being limited before you’ve had the chance to take action.
Ask yourself ‘What can I do to make this better?’ At first, it starts in your head and will make you self-aware while you’re creating but eventually it will get absorbed into the way you create, engage, and add value.
If artists will think entrepreneurly, it is not counter-artistic to think of it as a business. Just think of the business of as an art form.
Join a community of songwriters helping each other reach their goals.
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