“RC: I did the best that I could which was I typed the whole thing out. So I had like six pages and I had rehearsed it, I did a lot of things wrong and that’s how I’m able to do what I do now very powerfully because I did so many things wrong the first time. Through that, kind of failing in that first one, a lot of good things happened.”
[0:00:25.1] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Fail on Podcast where we explore the hardships and obstacles today’s industry leaders face on their journey to the top of their fields, through careful insight and thoughtful conversation. By embracing failure, we’ll show you how to build momentum without being consumed by the result.
Now please welcome your host, Rob Nunnery.
[0:00:51.9] RN: Hey there and welcome to the show that knows publicly sharing your failures is not only the fastest way to learn but is also the fastest way to grow your business and live a life of absolute freedom in a world that only likes to share successes, we dissect the struggle by talking to honest and real entrepreneurs, not the overnight success stories we tend to hear about.
And this is a platform for their stories and today’s story is of Roddy Chong. Roddy is an accomplished Asian American violinist and speaker known for his high energy performances with many of the music industry’s most recognized acts.
Roddy has toured with The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Shania Twain and Celine Dion and he has performed for audiences all around the world including the President of the United States, the Queen of England, The Pope, Oprah and countless other notable figures and Rob Nunnery of course, actually he performed in San Diego and Todd Herman’s 90 Day Year event and he was amazing. We’ll be discussing why Roddy wanted to quit the violin at the age of 11 after pressure from his parents and how he didn’t see himself doing it professionally.
He discusses the importance of following a passion and networking in order to find opportunity and he also goes into the steps that he took to land an audition and play with Shania Twain and Celine Dion. Really cool stories and really powerful. But first, if you’d like to stay up to date on all the fail on podcast interviews and key takeaways from each guest, simply go to failon.com and signup for our newsletter at the bottom of the page. failon.com.
[0:02:30.5] RN: There’s a lot I want to dig in to because your story’s incredibly inspiring but just to take it back and to give everybody some context, why the violin, what got you into playing the violin?
[0:02:41.6] RC: You know, I think that’s something that is very common in Asian families and my family growing up was Chinese American and you know, I think my dad was into a – really the pushing for the violin was from my mom. I’ve talked with her about it here and there, she says that I chose the instrument at age two.
I have a hard time believing that, I don’t remember choosing it, I have a hard time believing it, I think that I did choose it somehow and I did see my two year old niece also choose the instrument at age two but I think that’s because she saw me playing it.
It was kind of something that as a family, an Asian family, that’s something that is very typical, that’s why in my speaking event where we met, people laugh when I say that you have two choices, piano or violin and people laugh, either they knew that nerdy Asian guy in school that had to carry around the violin or even Cello or something.
Or Asians in the audience are laughing because either they had that torture done to them or they’re doing it to their kids. I don’t have any kids but if I ever have kids, they are also going to play piano or violin and the idea that my mom said was, if I can get the right side of your brain going, hopefully the left side of your brain will also kind of grow.
I think it was good, I think the best thing that happened was just discipline, just the constant practice and having to do it because I know a lot of kids grow up having to go to the piano lesson or having to go to the violin lesson.
[0:04:14.9] RN: Back then, it’s like, as a kid, you’re like, for most kids, I want to go outside and play, I want to hang out with my friends.
[0:04:19.4] RC: Exactly.
[0:04:20.3] RN: is that how you felt as well?
[0:04:21.4] RC: Exactly, yeah. They let me do that. But before I could catch fireflies or go fishing or those things, play freebie with my friends, I had to practice and it was about 20 minutes. Any ideas of a tiger mom or six hours or you can’t eat until you’re done practicing, that was not what was going on in my family.
I thought it was very good, actually pretty healthy when I was a kid, I thought I was totally wrong because I could see my kids could just play ball right away. I had to practice first and sometimes they were waiting for me to play. Of course now I am thankful for that and my mom did – I talked to her, these are her words. She said, “I did push you but I didn’t force you.”
I didn’t like it growing up, there was just more something I had to do, kind of like take out the garbage or brush my teeth. These are things that you do, I did notice the other kids in my neighborhood, didn’t have to do that. But at the same time, there was a feeling, I don’t know if we actually had a conversation but there’s a feeling that they kind of envied that, that I could play an instrument, I still thought it was dorky.
That was my lot and life as a two year old, seven year old, 11 year old and I did want to quit, right around 11 years old, I think that’s very common with all kids and the difference with my parents and other parents is that my parents did not let me quit, they never said it but the vibe was you kind of don’t have a choice, maybe later but for now, as any 11 year old, you’re going to keep playing this violin.
[0:05:44.9] RN: What did your parents hope to – did they just want you to have that skill because they knew it would serve you? They probably didn’t know you’d go on to be like a rock star, you know what I mean?
[0:05:52.2] RC: Correct, they didn’t know I’d go on in either, did I. I think that they were good parent in exposing me to a lot of things. They allowed me to get involved with sports and things with friends, things with photography, stuff with the park district. I liked animals so things with animals, they exposed me to a lot of things and the violin and music, they knew that it was something that would be important for the development of my brain and especially that character quality of discipline.
Again, it’s just something that’s very culturally normal for Asian cultures and it’s a developmental thing and then also just that character quality of discipline. I think that’s why they did it, we weren’t really into sports, we watched it but it wasn’t like okay, you’re going to play soccer, I remember most of the kids in my area played soccer and it wasn’t something that was going to be for me.
It was more music that was going to be my way and it wasn’t like I had a huge passion for it, it was just something that I did. I’m kind of repeating myself now but that’s how it was.
[0:06:59.7] RN: In terms of – in your childhood, skill wise, were you just heads and shoulders above other kids or were you just kind of average but you just kept going, kept getting better and better?
[0:07:13.9] RC: Well, I was part of a violin academy so this violin academy was in the suburbs of Chicago and it was called The Haigh Levitan Academy of Performing Arts. This woman Betty Haigh is actually still alive. She taught me and she taught my niece and nephew and she just is instilling fear into these kids to play well and she’s really good actually at making kids play advanced pieces at a very young age.
In that school, there were a lot of us that were doing really well, that were playing well. I wasn’t at the top, I was probably right in the middle. My sister and my parents say that I was actually pretty good but I didn’t know that. I could see Carissa or these different people that could play better than me, they could play pieces that were more difficult than me.
I did practice and I felt like I couldn’t do what they were doing. I was not the best, I didn’t feel. I could definitely play better than most people at my public school though, I did not go through the public orchestra program, I did go through the band program though in junior high and high school. Played trumpet and that was great and I was – I’m glad I was put in that academy though because it made me work harder and it was normal to be a little bit better at this instrument and not just an average training, it was an above average kind of training.
[0:08:38.4] RN: Did you have a competitive nature like in that advanced school? You saw people doing better than you, did that drive you to –
[0:08:44.1] RC: That’s a good point. I think that it got instilled into me and I wasn’t the most competitive but yes, in classical music, there is a competitive element placed in there where there’s kind of two types of playing, there’s the soloist where you’re playing a solo piece or you’re in the part – you’re part of an orchestra and in the orchestra, you audition to get to the seat ahead of you and there was a youth orchestra I was a part of.
The best people were in the best seats. You’re in the system so you have to try to get better and you try to move forward and get into the better seats but as far as being super competitive and killer instinct, there are players that are like that. That wasn’t me, I was really wanting harmony, socially and getting along with people and so I would maybe be first chair in the second violins or kind of maybe in the back of the first violins but I was never number one, first chair and the main soloist.
I really didn’t think that this was going to be a thing for me and I stopped playing at age 17. Right after my junior year, I kind of stopped playing, I thought that I’m not going to do this professionally and it was kind of sad because I didn’t really know what to do but I was active with a lot of things, I was very active in high school so I just kind of poured my energies into other things.
[0:10:06.6] RN: From there went to college?
[0:10:09.2] RC: Went to Indiana University which has a great music school so people assume that I did musical performance but I did not. I really didn’t know what I was doing, I got a bachelor’s in telecommunications and African American studies.
[0:10:24.4] RN: This whole time, violin’s not even on the mind?
[0:10:26.9] RC: Correct.
[0:10:27.6] RN: Just total on the back burner.
[0:10:29.6] RC: It’s actually under my bed collecting dust.
[0:10:31.7] RN: Got it.
[0:10:32.4] RC: But I was involved with a lot of things with performing arts so I explored playing guitar, singing, dancing and then production things such as staging or lighting and audio and I did a lot of that in college and I mean, I thought of – with my imagination, dreamed of things and wanting to be a part of bands and stuff, it would always be kind of more towards music or performing in the context of music because that’s I saw, MTV was playing music videos back then and so I kind of wanted to be a part of that somehow.
I did okay academically but academics wasn’t my forte, I just got through as much as I could so that I could socially do things in college and then work in my little projects that I was doing in college. I would say, you know, sometimes people ask me, what is your biggest regret or something in life. I mean, I have a few but one of them is that I took five years at college and I really wish, now, looking back that I would have just pushed and done it in four.
[0:11:39.4] RN: Why is that a regret?
[0:11:41.2] RC: Because once I got out of college, I wasn’t able to excel in college. Whether it’s socially or academically with tests, I was kind of just getting by, but once I got out of college, I had a lot of character qualities that I read about and I would try to do and those were instilled in me from my family and also from the influence of church, do what you say, there’s this saying that says, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” Which means kind of do what you say, finish what you start. I had these kinds of sayings and I would actually do them.
Do you remember a store called Successories? Yeah, they would have this saying, something like the – success, the journey is the success, the destination and it would have a picture of a boat or something. These sold a lot, I loved Successories. I would have these –
[0:12:41.5] RN: Motivational quotes all over?
[0:12:43.3] RC: now they’re kind of cheesy actually. Actually back then, people thought it was cheesy but I drank it like water. One of my first jobs out of college was painting houses and I was not a good painter but I did show up early and I did finish the job and I was really slow but I was always there. This boss that had hired me to paint houses, he liked – he simply liked that.
That I showed up a little early and I stayed a little late. I noticed that those types of things gave me a chance whereas what people were telling me or what I thought I was supposed to do in college didn’t really – I couldn’t find the success there.
[0:13:26.5] RN: You just went back to the roots of how you were raised and who you were.
[0:13:31.1] RC: I found that people liked that.
[0:13:32.9] RN: That was your unique quality that kind of made you stand apart from other people.
[0:13:36.3] RC: I found that bosses and people that had money liked that. They wanted me to be around. I think I also was naïvely positive and smiling all the time and they liked – I noticed a number of people liked that. My jobs that I was getting had nothing to do with my major.
I do advise young people to go to college unless you really know what you want to do but if you don’t know what you want to do, I do suggest going to college because you can figure that out, it’s kind of like a holding area but to take five or six years, those are years that could be used in the real world.
That’s why I wish I would have finished in four years and that fifth year, I just took some extra classes and kind of hung out on campus because I was very familiar with it and I loved the campus, I still had friends there and looking back now that I could have got a jump a little bit more and the creative arts, that performing arts industry, you want to be younger.
That’s why some people actually start in their teens where as I really got started more – a little bit in college but really more like 24 is when I got my real first job.
[0:14:49.8] RN: You mentioned the whole Asian American culture thing and upbringing and being raised, choosing the violin or the piano. Was it – did your parents also have the mindset of okay, you have to get all ‘A’s, you have to go to college, you have to get a good job, you have to get married, start a family, buy a house.
Because a lot of my Asian friends, that’s their parent’s view, they didn’t want you to do anything other than the status quo. Don’t go start this business, it’s risky, you might lose all your money.
[0:15:19.0] RC: I would agree with that, there was not massive pressure. I’ve heard of Asians having massive pressure, the young people. I had pressure and sometimes my mother and I clashed, I mean, we love each other, they’re still alive, my parents, we get along fabulously great but there was some difficult things going on in my young 20’s because I was certainly not getting into any trouble as kind of typical. I was reading books, hanging out with good people and trying to do things.
A lot of them had to do with dance projects. You know from my speaking event, besides painting houses, I was teaching Aerobics, I was really into fitness. My parents were concerned though that I had a bachelor’s and I was going for jobs that really didn’t require a higher degree but I was like, this is really what I want to do. These types of things that dealt with, not the painting part but I kind of gravitated towards physical movement and music.
Those things put together which ended up being the career that I have now. I just kind of made boundaries even with my parents, I wouldn’t necessarily tell them which projects I was doing. I knew this was what I wanted to do and I was listening to some of the personal development, material that was out there at that time and one of the typical themes that was going through all the books was to do what you love and what you’re passionate about.
Nowadays, people actually throw water on that idea but it was a direction for me and I was like, I really enjoy music and dance and physical movement with music and I want to get involved with that somehow and it was the right move for me because I’ll be able to build upon that and –
[0:17:00.7] RN: What was the transition from. Okay, you had these jobs after college, your first one sounded like it’s a painting job. How did that transition into picking up the violin again?
[0:17:10.7] RC: Yeah, one of the – like I said, one of my first jobs was actually teaching aerobics and a friend of mine who was really involved in the music side, creating all these music for aerobic classes, she had moved to Nashville, there’s a lot of recording and some music stuff going on and right at this time, I was just hitting the seek button on the radio and then came across a rock song that had a violin in it. The rock song was called flood by the band Jars of Clay.
This was a band that was kind of on the rise, they were on MTV and there was a violin in there. My friends, we all liked this music, it was alternative music, that genre in the 90’s. Started playing Jars of Clay songs just by ear.
There were a number of things that happened there that I was trained in a Suzuki way growing up with music and I typically played with music or memorized, when I say music, sheet music. I memorized what I saw in the sheet music and then I would play it.
There was no sheet music for alternative rock music. I just copied what I heard and during that time, my friend Becca had moved down to Nashville and we were talking simply as friends and she told me that she enjoyed Nashville but there was someone who was being very persistent in asking her out.
This person was a producer of this Jars of Clay CD. Saying it to you here in a podcast is you know, just like us having a cup of coffee or a glass of water and saying it. You saw the live audience, people think this is so hilarious because I just told her, go out with him, talk to him, I want to tour with Jars of Clay.
I definitely – I was naively positive. Anything that could possibly work, I was like all in, this is going to work. I still am like that a little bit and –
[0:19:12.6] RN: I think that’s a very positive trait because you have kind of the mindset of like anything’s possible.
[0:19:18.5] RC: Definitely.
[0:19:18.8] RN: You know what I mean? You don’t put up this mental roadblocks saying, this can’t be done because of this and this and this.
[0:19:23.8] RC: No, those types of things were so terrifying to me, they would make me cry, they would upset me so much that I would just block them out, I’d be like, I’d be talking, I don’t want to hear that stuff, whether it’s in my own head or a friend might just innocently say, well that’s not going to work.
They’re not even meaning to be like, they’re actually kind of trying to just protect me or something and I’d be like, “No. I’m also a little crazy you know.” They’d be like, “Jeez, not a big deal.” “It is a big deal, this is what I’m trying to do.” I mean –
[0:19:55.3] RN: That’s interesting because –
[0:19:55.8] RC: Yeah, we would still be friends but they were just like, well that’s just Roddy, Roddy’s like that and he is a positive guy, he gets a little intense if you say that he can’t do something or whatever. The strange thing is that, Becca did go out on a date with this guy and he did like her so much that he setup the meetings where I would meetup with the Jars of Clay guys and the timing and everything was quite perfect that they hired me to play with them on their first tour.
That’s how the violin came back out of the dust from under my bed and I just saw somewhere where I could perform and have that passion going on and get paid a little bit.
[0:20:36.9] RN: Do you think everything would have unfolded like it did, had she not dated that guy and introduced you? Do you think playing the violin was still in the cards for you?
[0:20:47.0] RC: I think maybe, because you know what? Time flies by really quickly but that era of your 20’s, kind of does last a long time. It does last a long time and it was really the one skill that I had that was kind of better than other people in auditions.
You know, in my speaking event I don’t’ talk too much about acting and these other things because then my message becomes diluted but here I can go in to details but I was doing other things in the choreography world, the dancing world and the acting world and auditioning and doing anything that was creative and landing jobs but the only thing that I saw that – let’s say there was an audition for – something with dance. There’d be like a hundred people, hundred guys even for this Disney job or a Britney Spears tour or something like that.
But, if there was a violin job that wasn’t classical that was like, violin, that was with pop music, in Chicago, there were only like three of us.
[0:21:53.1] RN: Odds are way better.
[0:21:53.7] RC: Yeah, the odds are way better. I think that I was trying all those things including the violin and the violin things, people seemed to hire me. I did not understand why back then, I just was so –
[0:22:13.0] RN: Take the job and run, right? And excited to try to do whatever they said.
[0:22:17.5] RC: I look back now and I think I know a little bit more why is that – there’s that proficiency there but just that energy without being overbearing, it wasn’t too much but there was a lot of it. They know that okay, well that’s lively, that will draw attention and we can associate that with my product or service, you know, whatever.
I didn’t know, I thought that’s how everyone was performing and little did I know that a lot of people would audition with a lot of fear. I did that kind of audition with other things but with the violin, I was more confident, I knew what I was doing and I had a rock influence so I’d allow these things that were influenced by Van Halen or something that would be outlandish for most violinists but for me, people would just be like – He’s kind of like this rock violinist, David Lee Roth, Bruce Lee, they would kind of try to figure out what I am. Well, we like it. He’s positive and smiling all the time. Let’s just use that.
[0:23:18.9] RN: Were you one of the – were there other violinist kind of doing that same thing? That took rock influences and could really do what you were doing or were you one of the –
[0:23:28.5] RC: It was a lot more now but there’s a guy named Boyd Tinsley.
[0:23:32.8] RN: Yeah, Dave Matthews right?
[0:23:33.4] RC: Dave Matthews. A lot of people knew him, he had this cool vibe to him with his dreads and sunglasses and stuff. I didn’t have that, I was very jeans and T-shirt.
[0:23:44.8] RN: Right.
[0:23:45.1] RC: There was that. Charlie Daniels, Devil Went Down in Georgia is still very loved, he was seemingly an older gentleman but he’d shred his bow and –
[0:23:55.6] RN: I’m from Georgia so I know all about it.
[0:23:57.4] RC: Yeah, that guy from Kansas, you know, the band Kansas. No, there weren’t that many. I think violinists are trained in classical music. Some do Jazz, they still have that music stand and it’s still stay in one place or be in an orchestra. I didn’t have a music stand, I just – again, I had a lot of energy but not so much that it was like, this is too much.
They’re like, okay, well this is very lively what he’s doing.
[0:24:28.1] RN: You got the job with Jars of Clay, how long were you with those guys?
[0:24:32.4] RC: It wasn’t really that long, it was for a tour in a certain year. That’s where you and I, our stories as far as failing to, that’s where one of my big failures in life happened was that I ended up getting fired from the job, Jars of Clay.
Now, I knew back then and it’s still is true today that it’s difficult to get a job where some larger organization is simply paying you in the creative arts or the performing arts space. It was very devastating for me. When I share this in my speaking events, you know, I share that I wrote a letter which is true, I wanted to document things, I was trying to do things the right way.
It was perceived as being unruly or disruptive in a bad way and that’s not where my heart was, I was trying to communicate and things got miscommunicated. That’s the real story which again, I hope that I’m able to share some nuanced things in this podcast where as in a speaking event, just more clear, I just basically blame myself which is true and better to blame yourself because then you still have some control and you can recover or –
[0:25:47.8] RN: Let it go eventually, right?
[0:25:49.8] RC: Or even let it go but you have control but if it’s someone else’s fault, something else out there has control over you for the rest of your life really.
[0:25:58.1] RN: When that happened, what was your hope? Was your hope to continue touring with keeping that job, this is awesome, it’s my new career, I want to be a rock and roll violin -
[0:26:09.6] RC: Correct, for this band that was on the rise.
[0:26:11.7] RN: Yeah, exactly.
[0:26:13.5] RC: Everywhere we went, we were interacting with famous people so I enjoyed that also because they were a respected band and they still are because they were making real music and – but I was a bit young and naïve so my hope was that I would get paid a little more.
I look back and I’m glad it happened because I’ve never done anything like that ever again and now I’ve had a 20 year career of touring with so many different people, I’m still touring now and then, the speaking career came out and I just don’t want to be misinterpreted in that way by letting an email or a letter speak for me.
That’s all I was hoping to get a little bump in pay and I thought that I was bringing a lot of value to the band and it came off wrong, it came off like I was thinking I was hot stuff.
[0:27:07.0] RN: Who was it that actually let you go? Was it the other band members or was it a studio or –
[0:27:11.9] RC: It’s tough to say because I got a letter that had the guys in the band, their name on it and – but it was from management. When I look back on it, if I was in the position of the band, I would have probably let me go also. It did come off wrong, I have all the letters and everything in an envelope and I haven’t looked at it in a long time because it would just upset me at my own immaturity, my dad had told me not to send the original letter and –
[0:27:40.5] RN: You ran it by him first?
[0:27:41.9] RC: I did. I’m glad that I had him in my – he’s still alive, I still do, I still bounce things off of him and he’s very wise, he told me not to send the letter and I thought I was right, I really did, I really felt that I was right, this was the way to do it and that kind of energy comes off badly to higher ups. Very common with musicians though, I think it’s very common with people.
[0:28:06.6] RN: Of course.
[0:28:07.2] RC: With young people, you know, you think you’re right and this is the way and this is the way to fight it but there should be no fight. I really didn’t have the wisdom to see their perspective and their perspective was – we’re trying new things as a band, we’re kind of losing money and you know, this musician –
[0:28:26.2] RN: New guy’s asking for more money, that kind of thing?
[0:28:28.5] RC: Yeah.
[0:28:30.6] RN: What was your mindset once that happened. Were you like, what am I going to do now? Did you have connections to where you could you know, find somewhere else to tour or somebody else to tour with?
[0:28:42.4] RC: Yeah, you and I communicated a little bit on email before this and this is where I don’t really have a strong definition for failure but I know the vibe. And the vibe of failure is all those negative feelings and you are just existing in them.
You know, just the embarrassment, regret, you wish to go back in time and either redo the letter or not send the letter at all, you know, upset and again, blaming yourself is good because it’s related to taking responsibility but some people, like myself, blame – I blame myself too harshly so you’re just beating yourself up.
[0:29:23.8] RN: I could tell because I feel like you’re still looking at the younger version of you like why did you do that? I still get that kind of feeling.
[0:29:31.7] RC: It was a very big thing in my life and so yeah, I can kind of get into that space again, other negative things, symptoms of depression, you feel depressed, you don’t want to get out of bed, you feel like a failure. Maybe not exactly but some things I want to end my life kind of or is my life over?
That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to do this podcast too, you know that there’s someone out there that’s really barely hanging on and I’ve definitely been in that spot and that was one of my failures, just as an experience that I went through also, there are others but they’re so awful in my head that I don’t even think about them.
I’m like, they’re not there but they did happen and when you audition for something and you don’t get it or let’s say that you were running late and you’re stumbling in there and you’re fumbling through this audition of whatever you're trying to audition for.
Those are mini-failures and it’s a horrible feeling. Of course when you prepare like crazy and then you go in there and you rock it and the people that are judging or making those decisions are giving you major feedback of positive words then that’s the opposite that’s like a huge win. I do the opposite too, I literally throwing my hands up, I’m pumping my fist in front of them and when I leave, I mean.
I’m willing to ride that roller coaster but this story with the Jars of Clay thing, it was the first time I had come across something pretty big and it was something that came out of my own mind and hustling and driving back and forth from Nashville to Illinois, Chicago to Nashville and trying to make this thing happen so it did happen and then I kind of feel like I blew it up.
It was something that really got me down for a year and a half, a long time.
[0:31:38.0] RN: That is a long time. How are you able to – at the end of that year and a half, what was it that – was it time that was able to help you heal a little bit and get out of that or what was it? Did you do anything differently?
[0:31:51.8] RC: I think that time helped a little bit. I have and had a lot of good friends, I did not totally isolate myself, I still spent time with people and especially then, I still do, I prayed a lot and –
[0:32:08.4] RN: Were you at Nashville at the time or –
[0:32:10.0] RC: Chicago. I would visit Nashville a lot but I didn’t live there.
[0:32:15.6] RN: That year and a half, were you actively trying to get other roles or were you just like, “Okay, I just need a minute here?”
[0:32:21.3] RC: I did hunker down and just like – I need a minute here to recover here but I still tried a few things and one thing that happened was, yeah, I don’t really get to share this part because it’s so sideways. During that time, I had sent a headshot to some casting directors, one of them was, just random casting directors, it wasn’t even for a specific purpose but they were casting for this movie with Mel Gibson.
It was called Payback and I had longer hair in the headshot and they kind of needed an Asian, Chinese thug with longer hair and they booked me on that. That was one thing. You had asked earlier, were there little jobs that I did go for some things and I did still have these experiences that were very cool. I ended up touring with another young lady named Rebecca Saint James and I did some spot dates with another band, these bands are from the Christian music industry out of Nashville.
It was called DC Talk. I did work with some of these things. Things were still happening and through all that, especially with this – with just a couple of spot dates with DC Talk did I come across a guitar player named Brent Barkus who was one of the band members for Shania Twain. He called me and asked if I would be interested I auditioning.
That’s kind of where by hanging in there, just long enough, I mean, let’s just say someone’s fishing, you know, just having that patience and just sitting there and not giving up. During that time, I was at the library a lot, reading all these books, you know, I read the whole Stallone story about Rocky and in that story, he literally talks about going to the library and reading.
I’m in the library reading this story about Stallone being in a library. I still felt like I was very alive and that I’m still going for it and this is how things happened for – this is how the career is supposed to go a little bit.
I think that now that I know, you’ve seen me speaking more and I’ve played with a lot of larger acts and now that the financial thing in my life is really more squared away, it’s just like success, success, success and you know, Ferrari and nice watch and all the stuff. I mean, I have some of those things and I think it’s very interesting and a bit silly.
But it is interesting just to take some time to talk with you about this time of failure vibe. It’s hard for me to define it but I definitely had that vibe and it was still there and it was – I hated it but it was still there and I was still trying to be scrappy and try to get a job here or there. Just to live.
[0:35:10.9] RN: I think it’s an interesting conversation with you especially because – you’ve done a lot of self-development where personal growth type works. Like you said, when even your friends would say something like you can’t do that, you’d be like – can’t hear that.
I’m sure it’s not like very fun going back to these failure moments because it seems that you put all positivity in your life and that’s what you focus on which is awesome. Is this a conversation you haven’t had very often then?
[0:35:38.2] RC: No, I haven’t had this conversation very often, a lot of people just want to hear what’s going on now especially with my speaking, a lot of people want to know you know, how I got the results that I get and so we’ll get to that part of my career but one of the books that helped me was called What You Say When You Talk to Yourself by Dr. Shad Helmstetter.
It’s a classic, it’s older and it basic – I love this book, they had a program at the end where I think it was $80 and they would send you these CD’s of this guy, Dr. Chad Helmstudder talking and it would literally say things like, “You can do it, you know, you’re a great person, you are doing great things.” It sounds a little silly but I listened to those a lot, I made my own that I’m on the right path, I’m doing you know, this and things are working out well for me.
I think people would hear that kind of a technique and go, that is dumb. That’s something from 1970 you know? We’ve got the internet now, we’ve got way better technology and I’m sitting here kind of going, that is what worked for me.
[0:36:47.1] RN: It’s all that matters.
[0:36:49.1] RC: Yeah, it’s a classic – would say classic technique of talking to yourself.
[0:36:53.3] RN: Like Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill, it’s a kind of the same concept.
[0:36:56.5] RC: Those things, I read all those you know? I would say this one thing, what you say when you talk to yourself, no on hears about the book, I’ll bring it up and you know, people heard about Blink by Malcolm Gladwell but they don’t know – it’s because it’s a silly title even, you know, the font on the front of this book is very outdated and stuff.
But it helped me and even now, if I catch any gossipy or bad talk or just kind of general complaining. I have a visceral, I have some vibes in me that want to fight or get away from the situation because I’ve spent so much time literally like brainwashing myself towards a solution oriented thoughts and problem solving and helping and serving kinds of thoughts and I feel sometimes, you know, alone with that a little bit but –
[0:37:47.6] RN: Is it something your parents did as well? Did they instill that positive energy into you or is that something like you stumbled over a book in college?
[0:37:57.1] RC: it’s something I stumbled upon. They were doing things that was from their era of growing up which was you, you know, go to a good college and you get a good job that has insurance and a good pension and all that and I actually have never had a real job.
I mean, I’ve had bosses you know? I’ve had people that –
[0:38:17.8] RN: never gone and sat in the office for nine hours a day?
[0:38:19.8] RC: No, it was something that I was running from, it was something that I was – I felt – some listeners are going to be in cubicles and stuff but for me, it felt like a type of jail.
I remember just seeing people, again, I don’t want to insult anybody but this is just me –
[0:38:35.9] RN: If they’re listening to this, there’s probably some part of them that doesn’t want to be sitting in that cubicle, to be honest with you. For that person, what would you recommend? Knowing that everybody’s different and everybody has different skills and passions or purposes but –
[0:38:51.7] RC: Well, if they’re young enough and in my opinion that’s – you got to kind of be under 40, you got to go crazy you know? We know the information, especially now, the Information on what to do is just all there and now, the challenge is executing or actually doing things.
There are many ways to do that, there are many ways to burn the boats and go for your passion and stuff like that. It’s not like you just quit and then you know, there’s - whatever that way is, you know, do it with wisdom but, yeah, like you said.
[0:39:27.7] RN: Don’t put your family at risk but start something on the side.
[0:39:31.4] RC: At least, you know? I would say that, like you said, our life is short so there is plenty of work that is done well that is done in a cubicle or in an office. For me, at that time, khaki’s and a blue shirt and a cubicle felt like a type of jail to me, at that time.
It was something that I was running from and I wanted to be a part of creative things and I wanted to tour. That’s something that was specifically custom made for me and I encourage listeners to do what’s custom made for them. I don’t surf at all, I tried it once and I was like, I was horrible, you know? I can use the analogy of that, I wanted to be out there in the ocean and whenever the right wave came along and wanted to be able to ride that wave for a while and then go back out there and try to find another wave.
I don’t’ think I’m an entrepreneur, I think that I have entrepreneurial parts of me but I do have a few bosses and so I do work for other people, I’m an employee but I wanted to do things differently and if I wasn’t able to, then I was going to at least be able to say, look, in my 20’s, I really went for it and I was leaning towards being in sales, of some sort, because I was interested in that.
Also, I do have a proclivity to do things that I’m not comfortable with and sales I was not comfortable with. That same guy that I did painting for, he also had a window washing business so he and I would go to like the rich areas and we would knock on doors and hang these leaflets on their doors and sometimes these people would answer the door and he told me the little sales pitch to say and I was scared every time but I did know – to do things that are scary like this that would possibly help this guy get more window washing jobs. I like that. I knew that was character building, that there was going to be results. My backup plan was to be in sales of some sort and I don’t know if you’re going to delete this part out or whatever but I wanted to actually work for Successories.
[0:41:42.1] RN: That’s awesome, no, I’m definitely not deleting, I’m not taking this out now.
[0:41:45.5] RC: Yeah, I wanted to sell those lithographs and stuff. They’re kind of cheesy now but that’s how much I was into the positive and that personal development world. It totally definitely helped me and still does.
[0:41:57.6] RN: I want to get into it obviously with they’re speaking. I heard you speak in San Diego at Todd Hermans event and it was an amazing standing ovation and I want to get more into that but I think it’s too interesting to leave us on a cliff hanger of talking to Shania Twain’s guitarist and then what happened from there?
[0:42:13.9] RC: Yeah, you know I share from the stage in a very humorous and colorful way but here sitting here with you and moving things along is that basically because of a cold call, I called this guy Brent. The timing was really interesting too, that there was a fiddle player, there’s three fiddle players for Shania and this one guy quit and also was let go. So they were in a position where they needed somebody and Brent was like, “There is this guy calling me, he plays violin-fiddle and you know let’s just try him,” and so when he told me about this country music thing I definitely felt it was not right for me because I associated country music with –
[0:42:58.2] RN: Like Garth Brooks, like slower?
[0:43:00.5] RC: Garth Brooks is good, but as far as like this stuff, I mean it just wasn’t my thing. If I was to watch CMT which plays country music videos, they’d show these beautiful people but it wasn’t a bunch of Chinese people, right?
[0:43:16.9] RN: No it was not.
[0:43:18.1] RC: So you know even just the twang and everything, look I understand that as if it was like from a different planet but I was like, “You put a Chinese guy in there,” and literary I thought the guy is going to get made fun off. You put that Chinese guy there on CMT and you know I’d understand or I’d try to see things from other people’s perspective and I am like I actually wouldn’t blame some of these folks from whatever states –
[0:43:43.0] RN: Georgia?
[0:43:43.4] RC: Yeah, whatever states to make fun of this guy and I didn’t want to be made fun of. I wanted to be liked but I wasn’t working that much and so I knew that it wasn’t a small endeavor. Everyone goes, “Oh yeah well it was Shania Twain,” well obviously it was huge not at that time. It wasn’t that huge at that time.
[0:44:02.3] RN: And you weren’t jumping at the opportunity per se? You know it was a good opportunity but?
[0:44:06.2] RC: I did. I did jump at it eventually but not jumping at it like you know that I also worked with Celine Dion. That one I went after like crazy but the Shania thing, again country music wasn’t my favorite thing. I didn’t see where I would fit into this thing but yeah, it was an opportunity and I didn’t have that many opportunities. I did respect Brent Barcus a lot and Brent was there. So I was like, “Oh maybe I could work with Brent,” so I am not one to say no to things.
And so I did this audition, they asked me to prepare a few things and I ended up doing the audition and some interesting things happened during that audition. Her husband at the time was Matt Lange who was running the whole show and she and him basically said, “You’re the guy,” so I was so surprised like, “Really? I mean…” But I knew it was a big deal. Once I saw even just the personnel, even the equipment in the room I was like, “This is huge,” and we rehearsed - they had already rehearsed for like five months and I came in on the middle of that and we rehearsed for another five months. I mean typically a band rehearses for three weeks and then they tour for like four months. Shania at that time would rehearse for a year and tour for two years and go around the world like twice. So yep, I knew that it was big and I was glad to join in and I’ll just say this as an aside not trying to point fingers or name any names but I just performed with Shania last weekend at the Stage Coach Festival. And we were talking about how some of the other band members were saying, you know reflecting upon how I had gotten there and like I said somebody kind of quit. But there was another factor in there was that he didn’t handle his alcohol well. I’ve gotten four major jobs, all six figure things that are just simply forget the money, just great tours because the person before me –
[0:46:16.3] RN: Had alcohol issues.
[0:46:17.5] RC: Had an alcohol problem or drank too much at one point and hit on someone’s wife or just couldn’t wake up and make it to the bus call, didn’t make it to the plane and these organizations, I mean people think is like rock and roll and fun and stuff. No, it’s business and a lot of fun. So you know I actually really don’t drink at all. So I just thought I’d say that. I mean there are opportunities out there. If someone right now is listening and going through a big failure, I am here to tell you hang in there long enough and you’re doing things right that people are looking for reliable people.
There are people that are in positions that are amazing and they might trip up or mess up, you’re not hoping that that happens but it does happen in all industries you know?
[0:47:07.7] RN: It has happened four times for you.
[0:47:08.6] RC: For me, yep.
[0:47:10.8] RN: Yeah that’s amazing and when the people you replaced, when they sobered up or got their act together, would they be able to get that job back or are you a staple pretty much? Like you weren’t a fill in, you’re the guy.
[0:47:23.8] RC: I paused right there because I went through all four acts and I know these guys and they never got to something that big. They are still playing music, all of them but no. I mean obviously alcohol is an okay thing but I also think that it can mess things up and it is very amazing how this alcohol think is so normal yet it does cause problems but no one talks about that, you know? No one talks about that at the same time I do know that beer is what makes a lot of music business happen.
A lot of sports happen and so it is what it is and I think that people need to be wise with it. I mean I am not here to bring a downer to the podcast but I just wanted to say that that’s where something opened up for me. A lane opened up for me and if you’re in a place where it’s just like dark clouds and that’s how I felt. It was dark clouds and when it opened, the clouds parted and there was sunlight and I was able to run towards it and when it’s all –
Like the planets are aligning it happens and that’s what happened with me. So I want to be encouraging and inspiring to people. So that’s what happened.
[0:48:36.8] RN: How long did you tour with Shania? Obviously you still do some gigs with her right?
[0:48:40.0] RC: Yep, I did two, two-year world tours with her. So it was ’98 through ’99 and then it was 2002 through 2004. I ended up working with Celine Dion and then a lot of other country acts, believe it or not because they saw me working with Shania and then I auditioned for Trans-Siberian Orchestra when I moved to Los Angeles here 10 years ago and then Trans-Siberian Orchestra has become my main thing but spot days with Shania recently and that’s been awesome like full circle story.
And it’s hard to believe that so much time has gone by but at the same time, that is just the nature of life and I am glad that all that I was striving for happened like when I wrote that letter and got fired from my job, a lot of that was from the letter, it stopped me from ever doing anything with the letter or even the way I talked. That vibe of, “Hey I’m right, you’re wrong. This is what happened and this is what you should do.” Like that whole thing, I am just never coming off with that vibe to anyone.
[0:49:51.2] RN: So you’re saying that at the end of the first world tour with Shania you didn’t write her a letter asking her for money?
[0:49:56.1] RC: Correct. Knowing that there is always more work, there’s always things to do and just stay in play whereas what I did with Jars of Clay, I took a stand and then I wasn’t an employee anymore. It was over and it was just bad business and that’s what my dad knew that and most people would have wiser would have seen the young attitude that I had and the best attitude to have is just an open attitude and if you’re complaining and it is very easy to do and a lot of people do it.
So you just join in. But it you are complaining that means that you are not solving a problem. So I’d rather you solve problems or wait to solve the problem later but just to blow stuff up which was my attitude, I’m like, “Well this is wrong so I don’t care,” that’s a very young attitude and I had it.
[0:50:48.8] RN: This is a very good – I think it is serendipitous that we are sitting here together talking because everything you just said like I am going through something, like I told you, I was exiting one business and in the middle of the fire storm right now just disputes and all this other stuff that’s just a nightmare but like you said, it’s more – I have started to see this myself, having an open attitude it takes less of a hold on me and I am just like, “Okay it will be resolved, how it needs to be resolved, I’ll move on, that will be done, we’ll move forward.”
Rather than holding like this resentment and this anger and letting it consume me. So I think one, thank you for sharing that because that is something I needed to hear right now to be honest with you.
[0:51:30.7] RC: Yeah and you are trying your best also while having that open attitude and yeah, I think people need to know that all of us that are doing these entrepreneurial things have gone through these things and we hate it but sometimes we still need to go through it. So it’s interesting because typically with podcasts all I talk about are all my successes so that I could promote and all that stuff but at the same time, I am totally fine talking like this and encouraging people that are perhaps going through a dark time.
It definitely happens, it happened with me and I didn’t like it and I persevered and there are some – and I was failing on but I also wanted to fight on. I wanted to try and –
[0:52:11.2] RN: I do – I am just thinking to myself, somebody listening is going to be like, “Oh I don’t want to go and hear this guy talk about all of these failures all the time.” But just on a side, you’re incredible life, the performance, the speaking I want to go into kind of how you’ve taken the whole positivity side, the self-grow self-development side and kind of mixed it together with your performing because it was a performance like none I have ever seen where it was a mix between an inspirational message talking about your story as well as listening to amazing music.
So how did you eventually get to the point where you wanted to take that message and mix it with the music?
[0:52:49.1] RC: It just happened one day where someone was doing an arts conference and knew my story about going from a bit of a failure into touring with Shania and Celine at the same time and so those are big household names and they asked me to speak at an art conference in San Diego actually and it was 12 years ago now, and I told the guy I don’t speak because in my mind speaking is for like –
[0:53:13.8] RN: Put a suit on and yeah.
[0:53:15.3] RC: A suit, number one, authors or politicians or pastors and I am just like, “Look I’m a musician. I’m a cool guy. So I’ll play at your thing,” and he goes, “No, we really want you to speak. We think you have a great story. Here’s $2,000, we are going to fly you,” and I was like, “That’s pretty good to just go visit San Diego” so –
[0:53:36.4] RN: Were you nervous, was that the first?
[0:53:37.4] RC: Very nervous.
[0:53:37.9] RN: First time you have actually spoken, yeah.
[0:53:39.4] RC: First time and I didn’t think it was for me so I did the best that I could which was I typed the whole thing out. So I had six pages and I had rehearsed it. I did a lot of things wrong and that’s how I am able to do what I do now very powerfully because I did so many things wrong the first time but through that kind of failing in that first one, a lot of good things happened. So I was up there and sharing my story and I was shaking so the papers are shaking.
So that is probably one of the reasons why you shouldn’t hold papers. It’s just this thing that is almost like a white flag like you are vibrating, you are shaking this paper. What I noticed though was that people are super engaged and when I talked about being fired from my first job especially guys were getting misty eyed and they’re understanding what I felt by losing a job and how that affected myself esteem and so I continued with doing the whole story and I did have some music in there and I got a standing ovation.
So the guy said, “Okay well all that beginning stuff that you did cut that out and get right to the part where you got fired because that’s where people were really into,” and he was helping shape this thing. So I got rid of that and I had to do the talk four times and after the second time he said, “Okay now I want to get rid of the paper because it’s in the way and you will remember it,” and I was so attached to this paper, my notes and he got rid of it.
And there was some stumbling around but yes, I did remember most of it and there was more engagement. So there was great success there and then afterwards people were just like, “Where’s your stuff? Your product?” And I was like, “I don’t have any,” so that’s what I learned I had to have something, somewhat of a product and that same host had the talk on a DVD and actually just took it upon himself to send it to a couple of speaker’s bureaus.
But it has gotten to a point now that I just book myself and that there is a whole thing, I don’t know if you know about speaker’s bureaus and how they work. I can tell you about it later but it took me a long time to learn that they don’t really market you. They will book you but –
[0:55:50.6] RN: They are not promoting you.
[0:55:51.7] RC: No and you might learn this from Rob Kosberg, neither do publishers but I always thought people did. So that you could get your 20%. But the host of the event in San Diego got me connected to with some speaker’s bureaus and I ended up getting on a speaker’s circuit that there was a need for what I do as an Asian guy, as a musician that’s the opposite of boring. I was marketed as this tour the force, high energy person.
So I spoke all over the place and I learned this message that I have of performing effectively works with left brained engineers are Boeing or NASA or government agencies and then at the big sales conferences or like the conference that that was with you, with the entrepreneurs. They all love it and so I am actually on the grow right now. I am learning a lot right now.
[0:56:48.6] RN: How often are you speaking right now?
[0:56:50.9] RC: I speak about once a week.
[0:56:52.6] RN: Wow, you’re speaking more than I thought.
[0:56:54.8] RC: Yeah, like I said –
[0:56:56.2] RN: So you are hustling?
[0:56:56.9] RC: I am a little exhausted actually, you know I am still learning a lot. You know what?
[0:57:00.5] RN: Having fun with it?
[0:57:01.8] RC: Yeah, I don’t use the word fun very much but I do like working. So I am enjoying the hard work and the reward of doing a job well done.
[0:57:11.9] RN: Why don’t you use the word fun? Is it a weird connotation? Do you associate it with something?
[0:57:16.4] RC: Let’s see, it’s not very powerful so it is not very effective. So I coach people on speaking sometimes and they’ll get this advice like one, “Just be yourself.” That’s terrible you know? Because if yourself is very nervous and not prepared, you are getting up in front of a crowd of people and you have to captivate them from second one.
[0:57:39.1] RN: The performance right?
[0:57:40.1] RC: Essentially speaking is a performance. People don’t realize that and when they get up in front of people and you’ve got hundreds of people looking to you to be a leader and to be a great performer as a speaker and you don’t got the goods, people are frustrated and the other thing is that people will say is like, “Just have fun out there,” and I am like, “That is a really bad advice.” I would say prepare and prepare well and get good coaching.
One of the tips I give is a lot of people just for some reason will rehearse their things in front of a mirror and that is very bad because you are analyzing yourself as your expressing and you might even analyze like I don’t like the way my lip moves in that thing and that has nothing to do with anything and it puts you in your head. So you are judging yourself and that is the worst thing that can be happening when you’re performing and or speaking but one of the things that people will say is just have fun out there and that’s –
[0:58:31.1] RN: Yeah you go have fun out there but you might suck, right?
[0:58:33.7] RC: Yeah, I think that’s something that maybe makes the person feel good for a moment but when you’re out there, to me it’s more like a war. That’s why let’s just go to different industry which is like comedians, they have the phrase of kill or die because they are alone there with the mic, they’ve got their bits, they’ve got their preparation and they’re either going to kill this audience or they are going to die. So for them the stakes are a lot higher and for me as a speaker, the stakes are very high so –
[0:59:03.7] RN: Is that how you approach performances? Kill or die?
[0:59:06.8] RC: Yeah, I raise the stakes and that’s why people are basically either uproarious laughter, a lot of applause or standing ovations or cursing even. People are just like, “Holy crap who is this guy?” Because from the very second it is a ton of energy because I have made a lot of mistakes. I have seen other speakers, I’ve studied the performing arts for a couple of decades with great coaching here in Los Angeles, that a lot of people aren’t able to take off the time from work to go get.
If you are going to be a professional speaker you are basically saying, “Hey I am going to be a surgeon,” but you don’t want a surgeon saying, “Hey I am just going to have some fun. I am going to have some fun operating on your knee.” I’d be like, “Not this surgeon” I want to have a surgeon that has operated on a thousand knees and has great confidence and was trained by the best other surgeons so that he can go in there with great confidence and make his incision.
You are in good hands with that surgeon. With me as a speaker, I want that client to feel like I am in good hands with this guy because this guy is going to have the vibe of the room be so uplifted that when I have to say what I have to say as CEO of this company that the vibe in the room is already so high that I can just basically ride this wave and have a great gathering and that is my job is to have these conferences, get that huge lift.
So that’s why people put me at the end or they put me right after the launch. They put me at those challenging times so that people feel that they got a lot out of that conference and I tell the decision makers exactly what am I going to do and they know that I know what I am talking about because we have all been through so many of these conferences where the speaker was unprepared or late or something like that and it ends up –
It is quite amazing actually on how much money is flying around with these events and sometimes some of these things tank and I am just like, “I am the opposite. I guarantee a standing ovation.” That’s not out of arrogance, I am saying this is an actual response that I want you to be able to use for your message and for your company or for you gathering.
[1:01:15.4] RN: And you take it seriously, right? It’s not like, “I am going to collect this cheque, go stand on stage for a few minutes, pull up my violin and then be done with it and take my money and run.”
[1:01:23.8] RC: Correct and that is from just the work ethic of a musician, so yeah. I don’t know, you might have seen me at the conference and I will stay to the bitter end and a lot of speakers, they just take off. So because I was that person that wanted to meet the speaker and ask a couple of questions and maybe my question wasn’t so great but if somebody was kind to me and encouraged me, I could run with that and I try to do that and yes, I’m spent.
You know, I am so spent but I wanted to do that for my client at the conference where you and I met. I wanted to do that for Todd. I would have not met Todd if not for our mutual friend, Rob Kosberg. So that’s a whole different story but on the other end of failing is that on the non-failing side that there are a lot of opportunities and different opportunities bleed into other things.
[1:02:15.5] RN: And with Rob, are you working on a book with Rob?
[1:02:18.2] RC: That’s right. I met Rob because I brought my car to a car meet and his son, Cole, liked my car.
[1:02:25.8] RN: Cool, small world.
[1:02:28.3] RC: Yeah, crazy and then so this guy says to me, “So what have you done to afford this car?” And I said, “Well I have been touring for 20 years with different artists.” But then I said, “But I would probably say really helped me was that I have used some of the techniques from Grant Cardone,” have you heard of this person?
[1:02:51.0] RN: Oh yeah, I know Grant Cardone.
[1:02:52.6] RC: So he goes, “I know Grant Cardone,” and Grant Cardone is so polarizing right? You will love him or hate him. So I was waiting to see where he is going to go because he could be like, “I hate that guy,” and I would be like, “Oh no big deal,” but he goes, “I am actually getting dinner tonight with Kevin Harrington.” So right there he and I were just like okay, I mentioned Grant Cardone and I said, “Well I am actually speaking at a conference with Kevin Harrington next week.”
So Rob and I knew we could see eye to eye with just some of the people that we are interacting with. So it is interesting how one thing leads to the next and then Rob had been talking with Todd Herman and Todd was trying to come up with something different for this conference as opposed to the last conference and Robb has already been helping me speak at some pretty big conferences and he said that, “Roddy would be good for you” and that’s how you and I met.
I hope that story is encouraging to people, that’s very interesting, that this car that I have how something – that kind of a story is not seen on YouTube where Cole, Rob’s son, is liking my car. I am very friendly especially when young people like my car and then Rob and I get in a quick conversation. One thing can lead to the next and I am able to help his business and he is helping my business already without even the book being written yet. He has helped me quite a bit so.
[1:04:19.7] RN: Simple conversation goes a long way sometimes.
[1:04:22.2] RC: Yeah. You know one of the things that we were talking about was what’s something that I did recently that had the risk of failure is that what you said?
[1:04:30.6] RN: Yeah, exactly. So what’s the last thing that you did to get outside your comfort zone?
[1:04:36.1] RC: Well last weekend I did the Stage Coach Festival with Shania Twain and I was in a grocery store. So this guy in flip-flops, shorts, he had a golf hat on. I mean we are talking to this guy’s totally on vacation was pushing a cart with a Golden Retriever in the cart. I love animals. I mean I don’t even think, I just go over. I ask first “is your dog friendly?” and I am totally petting this dog and if I may say, I am pretty influenced by Grant Cardone and he makes a sale out of anything, right?
So he asked me what I was doing and I provided some value. I am in Shania Twain’s band and he’s like, “Oh it’s interesting and what do you do,” and he was talking about real estate and solar and I said, “Well you know I do actually do speaking for groups,” and he’s like, “Oh what do you speak about?” So I talked about performing effectively and we are in the middle of this grocery store petting his Golden Retriever. So we had a nice talk but he wasn’t super interested.
He was a bit aloof and I looked at him and this is like, “Who knows what this is?” So I was going to leave and I still need to give him my card. So it was awkward, turned right back out and said, “Hey here’s my card, look me up.” I actually have two kinds of cards. One is an expensive VIP card that has my personal details on it. Another is a cheaper card that has my social media stuff on it. I gave him the social media one. So he went home and he told his family.
He’s like, “I met this guy,” and then his niece knew who I was and who I worked with. They have an event coming up and so that’s why I was a little late to talk with you today is that I got on this sales call with his niece and they’re actually going to put – they are putting an event together and they are going to have me come out and speak and perform. So that, if you have known the feelings that I had, I definitely had feelings like this is silly like this isn’t going to work.
[1:06:39.1] RN: Yes, I was going to ask what made you go back and give them your card?
[1:06:42.5] RC: Principle. Just based on principle. We interacted, exchanged some value, it petered out but he didn’t offend me. There was nothing bad that happened so based on principle, you have to exchange for information. I also asked him for his business card he said he didn’t have one. So in the business card exchange thing that still happens people. I think people should have business cards if they are listening, you should have a business card.
You need to make sure that you need to get their information. So I actually didn’t do that with this guy but at least they had my information. His niece went very ballistic about it and has been emailing me a lot about it and they have this sales event coming up and they’re going to probably book me. I will update you on what happened but I was ready to walk out the door and I was also in flip flops and was sunburnt and so to have a sale happen because of a Golden Retriever, definitely can happen.
But when you look back, you’re like, “Oh that worked out,” but when it’s happening you don’t see how that worked out. You don’t see that that’s going to work out. So based on principle you have to follow up and to do it right, I probably should have gotten his information. It didn’t feel right, he said ‘no’ when I asked if he had a business card but I said, “Here’s mine,” he saw enough value there that he mentioned it to his wife and his niece so there was a reward.
I do stuff like that all the time, every day and a lot of times nothing comes out of it but I also don’t remember it. I block out any negatives.
[1:08:21.1] RN: It’s an interesting thing because I actually think about this a lot, like my wife and I’ve done quite a bit of traveling through Southeast Asia, through Europe, all over and we’ll do this little excursions and we’ll be sitting with another 10 people for the entire day. Get to know them a little bit and then at the end you say, “Okay bye,” and you don’t even exchange information. It’s such a missed opportunity. So I think everybody that you interact with give them your information. Keep in touch, who knows what could happen down the road.
[1:08:53.6] RC: Yeah for my life, my career has all been relationships and my first speaking agent, I met in a casino in Australia. Didn’t even talk to him later but he heard about me that I was trying to get into speaking and he was the one that kind of promoted me to be speaking for my first speaking agent like speaker’s bureau, he was the agent there over a decade later. So it’s all been through relationships. So I think people don’t see that. They are a little short sighted. I definitely see the long view of relationships especially-
[1:09:32.1] RN: What can I get from this guy today. I think a lot of people think like that.
[1:09:36.3] RC: I think a lot of people think like that and I think a lot of normal cool people go, “Well what does it matter? I don’t want to come off as somebody that’s being salesy or something so let’s just let this go and let it be nice.” But no one is looking at me as being, “This guy is pushy and desperate” they’re just like, “That was a really cool guy”. Now there are ways of increasing the good times or the return on this thing.
Like if you are flying first class, you have to say, “Look you’ve got to talk to a couple of people in first class because there’s a reason why they’re there.” So I push myself to open up the conversation. If that person thinks that I am a little bit whatever, so be it, because if you are in first class you are flying there usually it’s because somebody is bringing me to go speak or something, they’ve got connections you know? And I got that from a book, What They Don’t Teach You in Harvard Business School by Mark H. McCormick.
So the classic books, I love those. So if you are at a networking meeting somewhere and then you are just handing out business cards all over the place, I think you and I maybe had done that. I have definitely done that and that doesn’t work. It does not work because there was no barrier to entry in that situation.
[1:10:49.0] RN: No connection, no value exchange.
[1:10:50.6] RC: But when I was backstage at Stage Coach with Shania Twain, there’s me, there’s Nick Jonas, there’s these Cindy Crawford, I am just saying the names that are familiar but you know the people that are next to them that they’ve got connections and stuff and if you present yourself well, you can possibly make something happen and not just for yourself but you can provide a service or a product for them and so you want to get in those areas that has some barrier of entry.
And the people that you are there yes, are normal. They’re just very normal people and they are also very open to a conversation and so it’s really up to me to provide that conversation and get it going. It’s a little awkward but I don’t spend enough time judging myself. Typically things work out well and sometimes people stay in touch and sometimes people don’t but at least in that moment, I provided a positive spirit and a lot of times people want to keep in touch just based on that.
But sometimes it just doesn’t work out because maybe they are thinking about their own selfish things and that is fine too but I want to be at least give the opportunity for us to exchange information and if I can help them or they can help me then let’s do it. So a lot of people help each other out and I think that is something that people don’t know that people that are kind of have more money and more power and more influence, they are all helping each other out so much.
And people that are middle class or lower don’t realize that because they’re just protecting what they have and they look suspiciously at people. I used to train as a cyclist in college. There was this race called Little 500 and if you do any racing in cycling which I have never did after college, this is this thing in college only, there is four levels. There is category four, category three, two and one is professional like you are doing the Tour de France.
I either did category four or there is actually a wreck league that is even worse than that and everyone is totally elbowing each other and vibing each other out and cursing each other. It is just a huge fight. People that are in category two and one, they’re drafting off each other, helping each other, pointing out the pot holes and they are getting themselves in position so that near the end they can all sprint and someone is going to win.
[1:13:11.1] RN: That’s a good analogy.
[1:13:13.1] RC: That’s definitely what happens in business and you’ve got to get into that thinking of how the rich people think. They are helping each other out.
[1:13:21.5] RN: Totally. So obviously this is the Fail On Podcast with the whole idea of getting people outside of their comfort zone to push themselves a little bit. If you had to name a challenge to give to the listeners or myself, what would that be?
[1:13:32.5] RC: Well this is Los Angeles where we are right now and I would say and this kind of thing is for one directly but I think it is for everyone. If there is a famous person that you admire for whatever reason, you don’t have to justify it. Perhaps come up with a reason to contact that person whether you can serve them, whether you need to ask them something for a charity, for it to be auctioned off for something and pick up the phone.
You can do other ways, LinkedIn, Instagram message, email, but at the end of the day you’ve got to pick up that phone and keep on doing it beyond the point where you feel you’re being annoying because you are not being annoying. If someone wants – I asked somebody once I said, “Am I being annoying?” They said, “You’re not being annoying. You are being persistent.” And I didn’t really know that there was a difference. Well the difference is annoying is that you’re simply being annoying.
But if you call ten times that’s not annoying automatically. If you are always providing value in that positive vibe, you’re just simple being persistent. So I would say contact that famous person somehow until you reach that famous person and all famous people are reachable. After this I am actually going to do some training with krav maga which is a fighting thing and he is training Sean Penn for a movie. So not that I am going to do anything there.
But there are connections that you would never really know. You know a lot of people don’t know that I toured with Kevin Costner, that Kevin Costner even has a band. That he has become a friend and a mentor of mine. I don’t want a bunch of people are messaging me about how to get something from Kevin Costner but those people are hard to get to but they are also usually very open if you come to them presenting some value and presenting a positive vibe with that.
So I encourage people to reach out to those people and tell me the story or tell us the story of what happened. It will be scary but there’ll definitely be a reward and there is that person, they’re there.
[1:15:46.4] RN: I guarantee you something – somebody listening to this at least down the road at least something will come out of this.
[1:15:51.2] RC: Yeah.
[1:15:52.3] RN: I feel it. The vibes are too positive. Awesome so what are you most excited about moving forward? Obviously doing a lot of speaking, are you still playing much?
[1:16:01.4] RC: Well I will always do Trans-Siberian Orchestra every winter as long as they’ll have me and as long as we are going to tour. So that takes care of winter but I am writing a book with Rob Kosberg’s group and then I am also coming up with a training program and that’s what I have learned that I am very low on – I have basically been selling my service of speaking. I will still be speaking and teaching on performing effectively and sharing my inspiring story.
So my speaking will never become a sales pitch not that that’s bad. It’s just two different types of speaking. I am always going to be the one that is more inspiring and teaching but there is a training program that I have on how to speak more effectively and how to perform more effectively in front of an audience of one or audience of many and –
[1:16:54.2] RN: It just allows you to impact more people right? Because it is just not you anymore. Now it’s a program that you can get out to the masses.
[1:17:00.3] RC: Correct and the book will be an entry to that but the training program will have actual exercises and I do have a very unique ways of getting ready for things. So those are the things that are coming out, but yes, I am speaking quite a bit and we’ll continue to do so at least through this year, next year. I am already booking things next year so -
[1:17:21.2] RN: Love it. Well I don’t want to take too much more of your time but thanks so much for joining me today and thanks for being flexible. I know we had to switch locations a couple of times so I appreciate that.
[1:17:29.2] RC: Yeah, I appreciate you and thank you for having me on your podcast.
[1:17:32.1] RN: Awesome, thanks Roddy.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[1:17:36.6] RN: All right, so you can find Roddy at Roddy Chong on Twitter. That’s @roddychong and of course for that spelling along with all the links and resources Roddy and I discussed including more information on his business and performances, it can all be found on the page we’ve created especially for this episode. That will be at failon.com/042 and as mentioned at the beginning of this episode, this closes out the end of season one for the Fail On Podcast.
Next, we’re going to be shifting gears a bit. We’ll move away from all interview episodes and explore some new formats. I’ll be sharing my journey and process as I build out my Fail To Freedom coaching program and if you do want more freedom in your life and you know you are destined for more than your current path, the program might be a great fit for you. The only requirement – actually there is two requirements but the main requirement is that you can’t be an asshole, number one.
And two, you must have an expertise that provides a life or business transformation for someone and if you’re not sure if you qualify or if you have that expertise, I’d love to chat and discuss. Just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can grab a few minutes to see if it might be a fit for you. That’s it for now, see you in season two.
[1:18:43.1] ANNOUNCER: That’s all for this episode of The Fail On Podcast. For more resources, show notes and action items to help you find success in your failures, sign up for our mailing list at failon.com.
For more actionable inspiration, we’ll catch you next time right here on The Fail On Podcast.