Coffee with Glen, CEO of Brazzlebox
The topic of determination is one of the the reasons why I am a successful entrepreneur. I was always a very determined individual and that determination ultimately leads to confidence. I have a great non-business related personal example that I always find myself telling people and thought I would share it.
BACKSTAGE WITH STYX
I am a big fan of all kinds of music, especially classic rock, and one of my favorite bands of all time Styx, was performing locally. So I got some tickets and headed to go see a great show. I was also a big fan of Tommy Shaw, one of their guitar and vocalists, and he (as well as Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin) were a big influence on me wanting to learn to play the guitar. Not only did I appreciate listening to good music growing up, but I also appreciated creating it myself. I was a self-taught musician and learned to play many instruments by ear over the years, such as guitar, piano, trumpet and drums. I played in local bands, wrote songs, and even wrote a musical—that is ironically still cluttering my desk.
So we went and saw the show. Needless to say, the show was incredible. But the adrenaline rush didn’t end that night with just seeing Tommy Shaw onstage. As my wife, our friends and I were leaving the venue, we noticed a crowd of people gathered by a door. It turns out that—with all of their proper identification, tags, and passes—they were gathered by that door to be admitted backstage.
That’s when I knew that seeing Tommy Shaw onstage just wasn’t enough. I had to get backstage. There was no other option.
Leaving my wife and friends behind as they witnessed (and somewhat mocked) my seemingly futile attempt, I approached the group of 15-20 individuals—who were facing the security guard that was blocking the door—with undeniable confidence. It was in this moment that I realized I needed a plan. I couldn’t just aimlessly and ignorantly hope that my success would come without a vision for how to make it achievable. If I was going to make my goal of getting backstage a success, then each step along the way needed to be thoughtfully and strategically executed. And with confidence. Such confidence that no one would have reason to doubt my motives or to doubt the credibility of my presence.
I started chatting with a group of individuals who appeared to all be together. It turned out that one of them went to music school with Styx’s current drummer—who I found to be a great technical and talented musician. He was there with his family. I also knew some individuals who attended his school of music, so our conversation took off easily from there. As the conversation with him and his family continued effortlessly, I never gave the impression that I wasn’t supposed to be there. I never even hinted or showed a slight glance of insecurity that being in that group of people who were about to go backstage was anything out of the ordinary. I only revealed confidence and appeared as though I was exactly where I was supposed to be, even without my backstage tag draped around my neck like everyone else.
After some time, the security guards announced that they would be taking the first group back. It just so happened that the group I was with was the first group. And without a doubt in my mind, I continued along with them, glancing back at my wife and friends who were shaking their heads in disbelief as I disappeared through the doors.
At this point, I had been talking with this family for so long that they didn’t think twice about me walking with them. They didn’t have reason to believe that I didn’t belong there and that I wasn’t part of the group. Elated that I had actually succeeded so far, I continued with confidence walking through a hall to a room where we were to wait. The room looked like it could have been a trailer home from the ‘70s. Beat-up chairs were scattered around a couch that resembled one of those old restaurant booths with padded seats filled with air rather than stuffing material so that when you sit on one side, the person on the other end bounces up like a teeter-totter.
We were told to wait and that the band would be out in a few minutes, so I continued to chat away whoever was near and did my best to look like I belonged. The drummer—who my new acquaintance knew—came into the room. They started catching up and reacquainting as my excitement continued to build. I couldn’t believe I was about to meet Tommy Shaw. Here was the drummer of Styx, talking to us like buddies, and Tommy Shaw, THE Tommy Shaw, was about to join us in the same room.
As my excitement continued to balloon, so did my anxiety. I found myself telling the drummer how awesome the show was, going on and on about it, unable to repress my (now visible) elation. In the meantime, the drummer proceeded to sit down on the restaurant booth-like couch as someone announced that Tommy Shaw was going to be out in a minute. (Tommy Shaw!) My excitement had grown to levels I could no longer hide.
This is when I decided to launch—yes, launch—myself onto the couch that the drummer was sitting on. And by launching myself onto the teeter-totter , I also launched the 5-foot-nothing, 140 pound drummer off of the couch and onto the ground. I was speechless. I had just launched the drummer of Styx, my favorite band of all time, off of a couch to land painfully on the hard floor moments before Tommy Shaw was about to make his presence. Awesome.
Part of me wanted to laugh. Partly because it really was just a funny scene—but mostly because I was terrified that my own anxious actions had drawn the attention to me and my unauthorized attendance that I had been trying to avoid all along.
As expected, I was soon thereafter tapped on the shoulder by a security guard asking if I was really supposed to be there. Still desperate to preserve the opportunity to meet Tommy Shaw, I maintained that I was indeed supposed to be there. I looked to what had become my group for reassurance, but of course they didn’t want to ruin their opportunity by defending a stranger.
It didn’t take long for the security guard to realize what was going on. All he said was that I had to go with him, and within moments I was pulled out of the room. As I looked back, I partly remember seeing the other door open where Tommy Shaw would have been entering the room. I was that close. I was just moments away from meeting Tommy Shaw, and my overaggressive enthusiasm ruined the opportunity. If I had just remained calm and confident—as I had all along until that point—then I’d have a picture of me and Tommy framed on my basement wall today.
…But I WILL Succeed
So, why take the time to reminisce about a time I almost met Tommy Shaw? Well, the truth is that even though I cannot claim to have shaken his hand, I did achieve the initial goal that I set out to accomplish and defined for myself: getting backstage. Of course if I had just remained calm and relaxed, rather than allowing my overaggressive enthusiasm to take over, I would have achieved even more than what I had set out to pursue. But in reality, I succeeded.
What was it that ultimately led me to succeed in reaching my goal? What decisions were made on the path that actually resulted in reaching the end? And what traits and approaches enabled me to make my seemingly futile goal attainable?
Determination. I never once accepted the prospect of failure. Thoughts of not succeeding in reaching my goal never crossed my mind. Seeing the end (the goal) and accomplishing the tasks that eventually lead me to that end while also weathering storms and unexpected challenges along the way, is all driven by the desire to achieve that goal. It’s driven by determination.
Have a dynamic day!