I was doing a finance workshop for a group of musicians last week, and half way into a rant about cashflow basics and the importance of financial technique… I realized that I was doing this all wrong.
It’s still frustrating to me when I think about it.
The thought process was sound. I wanted to start at ‘step one’. I didn’t want to leave anyone behind. I wanted to give them the tools they needed to get started.
The things is, that’s not how people usually start things, and since we were all musicians… that should have been abundantly clear.
No one wants to do scales
Anyone who was forced to do piano lessons as a child will remember the scales.
I can hear them in my head.
Painfully pecked out notes. Up and down.
I’m sure someone in the world finds them thrilling, but to most of us… they suck.
No one fell in love with music because they heard a scale and couldn’t wait to get home and start playing.
And yet they’re a key part of music. They help in a hundred different ways.
They’re a great step one…. but they’re a terrible starting place.
Where people actually start
I fell in love with music watching a production of Oliver. I sang those songs for years while mowing the lawn around the farm.
I fell in love with songs and stories. I fell in love with the performances of the greats.
I wanted to do what they did, and I didn’t particularly want to wait.
This is the want that has driven thousands of children to terrible recordings of some of the world’s best music. Music that they’re not nearly ready for, or equipped to sing.
But if someone would have sat me down on that first day and told me to do scales for three years before I could sing a song, I probably would have quit.
Technique matters, but it rarely comes first
The need for the basics usually comes after.
In music it came when I realized that I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do. When I realized that I wasn’t nearly as good as the people I idolized.
And if I wanted to get better, I needed to do the work.
But now the work was connected to something I really wanted. It wasn’t ‘work in a vaccum’… it was a tool to get me where I knew I wanted to be.
And that’s the mistake that I was making last week.
Non linear financial methodology
I need to learn to start with the questions and issues that are really present for people.
I need to help people get excited about the end goal, which often has nothing to do with money.
A life full of travel, and family, and success.
I need to tell stories of people who are using whatever money they have to tremendous effect.
I need to help artists remember that money doesn’t have to be a barrier… it can be a tool that helps you build a spectacular life.
And then we can talk about a budget.
But from now on… it’s not going to be where I start.
Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator
Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.
She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.
Email Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org