#PROGRESS

How To Find The Confidence To Go For Your Dreams

Do you shake a little in your boots when thinking about your dreams? Do you wonder where you’ll find the confidence to take that first leap and go for what you want?

Confidence, or lack of it, seems to be a common strength that people are looking for. I get it, I really do, but let me give you my personal take on it.

If you want something, go get it, period! Confidence has nothing to do with it.

In some ways, confidence and self-esteem are overrated. You don’t need it when you first start. But what you do need is to take action anyway and not procrastinate.

The mind is strong and it can play these tricks with you, but don’t let it paralyze you. Don’t let it stop you from going after your dreams and what you really want.

Having a little fear and insecurity is just a good thing. It’s our mind’s way of signaling you, telling you that this is something you care about, something that’s important to you. In some ways it is a warning and that you’re about to step out of your comfort zone. It triggers your adrenaline and helps get you pumped up! And that’s a good thing.

Just deal with those feelings as a great indicator, a guide, or GPS if you will, showing you where to go. Superstars, top athletes and billionaires all had to push through fear to get where they are. My guess is that most of them were not so confident when they first started.

It is the same thing with you when you first learned to swim, ride a bicycle, or maybe when you had your first day at school or at your first job.

Confidence is something you build and grow over time, and it builds with experience and training. We don’t have it when we do something for the first time. But it is there, underneath, waiting to emerge. And it will!

When you get more used to a situation, or when you get better at it, your confidence level grows and it often evolves to the point where you can challenge yourself even more.

Look at insecurity and self-doubt as your ally, and get used to it. It’ll show up again and again if you constantly push yourself to grow. It is the difference between top performers and the rest. This ability to merely push through the insecurity and self-doubt and take action regardless.

So how do you find the confidence to go for your what you really want? Start with persistence, and a little drive. You’ll find it on the path to where you want to go, but first you’ll need to take action.

Face situations in spite of fear. And by attacking and defeating fear you’ll be victorious.

What you’re looking for is not confidence. It’s courage.

Let’s move forward…

– Casper Stang

My Top 5 Methods for Finding Inspiration

If you are lucky enough, and your mind is always open, creative ideas will often come to you like a strike of lightning. But if they don’t, then having some go-to methods for finding inspiration in the world around you can be really helpful.

Whenever I feel uninspired or experience any form of writer’s block, I have to actively seek and chase inspiration and creative ideas. Here I’ve put together a handy little list of my top 5 methods that you can implement right now to boost your creativity:

Take in a good piece of art

Looking at a painting like a Picasso can help me spark a creative idea. A great painting can be full of contrast. It can have strong colors or rough shapes. It can be complex with a clear meaning, or simple with an indistinct and not-so-easy-to-grasp meaning.

By just looking at a beautiful art piece, I can often hear melodies, chord progressions, or come up with new and interesting design ideas. Usually they’re very out-of-the-box, and the better the work of art, the better the idea.

Just think about it, humans have created and stared at images drawn onto walls for thousands of years, longer than we’ve had the written word. It clearly has an effect on us.

Provide limitations

Less tools often means more creativity.

Not having a lot of resources at your disposal, and being limited to only a few tools, forces and challenges the brain to think of new and creative ways of working.

So instead of thinking: “I have to buy this” or get this new equipment that everyone is using, try “I can just be creative with what I have here and now”. Or “I can even remove some tools that I have and try to accomplish the task”.

By using this method, you’ll come up with magical and innovative ideas that you perhaps wouldn’t have thought of otherwise, and the ideas will be more unique. More you, and more real!

Daymond John, the entrepreneur and founder of Fubu, has a book called: “The Power Of Broke” which is kind of about this principle of dealing without.

Limitations

Steal from the greats

Yes, it’s allowed to copy the greats, and you should!

Steve Jobs stated that when he and his team developed the Macintosh, he kept in mind a quote from Pablo Picasso: “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”

It comes down to exposing yourself to the best things ever created, and bringing those things into what you’re doing. Think about it – when we are learning the piano, we play compositions of other composers, not our own. When we play sports, we follow the game others invented, not our own creations. When we dress ourselves, we choose fashions created by others before we design our own. Copying builds expertise.

I’m not suggesting straight duplicating or being a lazy thief, but adding a twist, a great idea here and there, and turning it into something greater. This method can spark new and interesting ideas that you most likely wouldn’t have thought of from only using your own mind’s imagination.

We’ve seen it again and again where great masters have found inspiration in their predecessors, and taken what was good about them, and by doing this, they themselves became great.

Search out new surroundings

Stepping out of the normal way of doing things and into new surroundings can often inspire the brain to think of new thoughts.

Maybe you’ll see things you haven’t seen before which can lead the brain into new creative wanderings. Ever tried walking through your supermarket backwards to the way you normally do? You’ll see products you’ve never seen before. Try a different route home from work, or a TV channel you’ve never looked at.

You can journey to new places, maybe to other countries, cultures, or just spend time outdoors and immerse yourself in nature. New scents, people, sceneries and things that are uncommon to you can expand your vision. It can boost your inventiveness and get you thinking creatively.

New perspective

Taking a shower

Many great ideas happened in the shower.

The combination of having a relaxed state of mind, alpha waves rippling through the brain, and the water distracting you from other thoughts, is perfect for coming up with the best and most creative ideas. Pharrell Williams has even stated in an interview that one of his favorite places to work is in the shower!

Our subconscious mind is often working hard throughout the day to develop an idea, or solve a problem, to work on a project, but we’re not able to hear these insights or voices when our analytical brain is operating at full speed.

It’s not until we relax, get in the shower and remove ourselves from email and social media that we’re able to hear these voices in the back of our head.

Similar to the shower are: exercising, driving home and cooking  …if you’re good at that.

Now, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Which of these 5 methods will you take into practice or use more often? Do you have other methods you want to share?

Now let’s move forward…

– Casper Stang

How To Get The Midas Touch With One Simple Mind Shift

Ah … what if you could turn everything you touch into gold. If you could make life work in your favor and have people talk about you in the best of ways. Is it possible? Yes! it is, and you can turn things around with just one simple mind shift.

Consider for a moment … Have you ever ordered food to your house and the person delivering the food just can’t find your house? Even with all of today’s technology; GPS and Google Maps, the delivery person just can’t figure it out?

Or better yet, maybe you have experienced the delivery guy/gal who comes straight to your house and gives you an extra treat as a thank you for ordering with them? What impression do each of these scenarios leave you with?

Underperformance or overperformance? The difference is critical.

The truth is, most people just live up to our expectations and that’s it. But then there are some people who are just phenomenal and totally awesome. They are the type of person who makes others say: “Damn, he or she was really good and better than I thought!”

These “overperformers” have figured out the Midas touch and how to optimize it! If you learn this simple trick, you too can be the Alchemist in your own life. You’ll want to be part of this rare breed, the type of person who always overdelivers.

Make people impressed and they’ll do word-of-mouth marketing for you. For example, if you promise work done in three days, deliver it in two! If you commit to producing a ten minute video, make the ten minute video, but then add a little bonus video as a second option. It works! It impresses and makes people remember you, recommend you, and WANT you.

Use this tool, not only in business, but also in your social life and with your relationships.

People will want to do business with you, hang out with you and all types of good things will start to happen. Only because of a simple mind shift, by being aware of this rule and going that extra mile.

Most people are just average, and that’s what they expect. So when they meet somebody who’s better than what’s typical, you leave a lasting impression.

You should try to be extra passionate, extra interesting, extra interested and extra skilled.

If you have a store, leave a handwritten thank you note in the bag for the customer. Or send out a Christmas card to your clients. It doesn’t have to cost you much. Just give a little chocolate to your client or something that’s unique.

If you’re used to the status quo, you probably know that it will keep you in business, but you will never really prosper or make the serious gains you desire. If you underperform you should really be careful, but if you overdeliver, then you’ll start to attract some amazing opportunities.

It’s hard to do this right all the time, but it should be the general vibe that you give off. Make people’s experience with you a pleasurable one. It works like magic!

I hope this inspires you to be awesome, and if you have something you want to share, or any questions, leave them right here in the comments.

Let’s move forward…

– Casper Stang

Valuable Business Lessons From The Greatest Music Producers

The great producers of music can teach you some valuable lessons that are highly applicable to business and entrepreneurship. From Quincy Jones, Timbaland to Dr. Dre, the truly great producers are masters at having a vision, aiming for nothing but greatness, and bringing something extraordinary and unique to the world.

My background in the music industry, and working with creative teams, has taught me some valuable lessons. I have learned the most especially from my biggest idols in music. Their work ethic is impeccable and they are phenomenal at assembling the best team for the job to execute their ideas.

Master producers are visionaries, leaders, business owners and entrepreneurs. Their unique philosophy and mindset have created some of the best music ever made, and a legacy that will last for decades.

Dr. Dre in particular, is known for his knack for business and is sitting pretty with approximately $710 million in net worth according to Forbes. His mindset has served him well.

What can we learn from individuals such as him that we can apply to our own businesses, when creating new products, trying to shake up the industry, or working with teams?

1. Be an orchestrator and organizer.

The greatest music producers are known for bringing in an explosive room full of talent and the best collaborators for the job. Then, they create an environment that encourages these creative minds to do their thing. They let these individuals and their individuality shine and bless the project.

They’re like orchestrators and they don’t try to do everything themselves. Think of the conductor of a symphony. They don’t play each instrument. They focus on what’s best for the project, and they leave ego at the door. They are open to many ideas and they latch on to the really great ones. The final product is a unique mix, well blended together into a final product before they put their stamp and name on it.

If something is missing, if the project is lacking that extra spice, they look at how or who can add that in.

Music studio

2. See the greatness in others.

Great music producers excel at seeing the strengths in different people, having high standards, and strive for perfection. They are effective at bringing out the best of the personality of each person on the team. For that to happen they have to create the right atmosphere for success. They also don’t try to force anyone to be something that they’re not.

For example, Dr. Dre never tried to change Eminem to fit more in with what was popular at the time. Instead, he brought the uniqueness out, and that’s what made him and his art so great. Together, they created something new.

3. Set out to create a hit.

Why would you start any project if you were not aiming for the crème de la crème?

The great music producers start a project with extremely high standards for what the project can truly be. The objective is always to make sure every endeavor becomes a true success. They’re interested in raising the bar, creating something that can cause reactions, that can provoke, entertain or make a huge impact on people. They learn from what’s not working, and they make sure that the final outcome sits perfectly.

When it feels right they release it to the world.

4. Dare to be different.

For something to be truly great, a classic, it has to be unique. This is what all successful and influential music producers know. Certainly, you can follow the patterns of a hit, but when you add your special uniqueness to the mix, it changes, evolves and becomes something new and special. Put your own spin on it and dare to be different.

You can start with what everyone else is using, but strive for a different and exciting way. Trust your vision, intuition and personal taste, and don’t be influenced by politics or current trends that are hot for a short fleeting time.

This is also true in business in general. You need to stand out and get attention to be able to dominate a marketplace. You have to dare to be different. Just look at Pharrell Williams and “Happy”.

Pharrell Williams

5. Have a finger on the pulse of what’s going on.

True masters are pioneers. A pioneer delves in uncharted territory. Pioneers question what’s currently going on. In order to do that, they stay up-to-date with where the trends are going. They are very competitive. Consider the famous words of Gordon Gekko: “The most valuable commodity I know of is information”.

Smart producers know what’s hot at the time, what’s working and what’s not working. They know what the norm is, and then they put their unique spin on it.

6. Be consistent.

The great masters that have been able to stay relevant over time have always been consistent. They stay true to who they are, what they like and for what they have a passion. They don’t just jump on the latest fad, or suddenly change their style, and so their brand remains intact. This is part of their branding, and their reputation. A Timbaland production is recognizable the same way a Disney movie is distinctive.

Great producers keep working diligently, even when they have success. They stay consistent with their work ethic. If they decide to launch something new, something outside of for what they’re known, they are sure to make it feel natural and organic … to their brand. Dr. Dre is a clear example with his successful headset line. This is very close to what we know him for: exceptional sound quality, and so the transition felt natural. There is a degree of trust with his product.

These traits are key to extraordinary success in any field. You can see the same qualities in movie directors, clothing designers, fashion icons and the list goes on and on. Perhaps you have to check your ego when taking this approach, but learn these skills and you’ll be able to take your game further. It’s the successful route for any entrepreneur, CEO, business owner, leader, visionary or creator.

If you want longevity, instead of chasing a quick buck, this is the way to go. Work like a great music producer!

Now let’s move forward…

– Casper Stang

How To Build A Business Around Your Creative Passion

Just imagine …  the ultimate dream. Waking up, having the most perfect cup of coffee, taking a deep breath of fresh air, and then starting your workday creating or building something that you’re truly passionate about. Even better is being able to do this every single day of the week. Is it possible? Of course it is!

Oh, I love this topic. If you’re a creative person and you’re not living out that passion, because you “need” to have another job to pay the bills, then something inside of you is slowly dying. There is no need for you to put yourself through such frustration, unhappiness and a lack of fulfillment.

Perhaps we tend to complicate matters … when it’s really not that hard. Think differently. You can turn that creative passion into a business and make a great living doing what you love!

But first, let’s get this one thing straight…

We’re all familiar with the concept of the “starving artist”. Creative people tend to not like the business side of pursuing their passion, and just want to be creative. In order for you to turn your creativity into a business you’ll have to get yourself some business skills.

Sure, you can outsource. Maybe you can let your manager, agent or assistant take care of your business, but if you want to thrive long-term, you will need to have a good foundational understanding of business yourself.

This might sound harsh to some at first, but we live in a world based on trade and commerce. It’s all a business in every society. Stop playing this “game” thinking it’s not important, or not for you. The sooner you realize this fact, the sooner you’ll be able to thrive. Become interested in business and then you’ll be on your way to turning your creative passion into a career.

Get used to wearing two different hats. Put the business hat on when you negotiate your fees, contracts and deadlines. You will need to act more like your own manager when you’re in this type of role. Put the creative hat on when you’re in your modem creating. To function well, learn to really separate the two. Don’t think about finances while you’re creating.

To be successful as a freelancer or business owner, you’ll need to know how to position yourself, sell and close deals, write up contracts and price your offerings in such a way that makes it profitable and sustainable long-term.

“So how do I get started?”

There are so many ways you can go about it. You can either package your creativity into a service that you provide, you can create a product, and you can teach or sell coaching. It’s all about supply and demand. How can you help, solve problems, or give value to other people or companies with your creative endeavors? It’s likely you can do many things in several different ways.

Let me give you an example…

If you’re a photographer, you can sell typical photoshoots. But you can also package your services more niche as a wedding photographer, baby photographer, real-estate photographer or a school portrait photographer. You can turn your best shots into prints that you sell online, you can sell some photographs through stock libraries, you can have monthly/yearly recurring contracts with magazines or fashion brands. Taking it one step further, you can turn your skills into online courses teaching other aspiring photographers about lighting, lenses and editing. The possibilities are endless!

You just need to think “outside the box”, which means the normal parameters of where your skill is typically used. Brainstorm all the different ways you can make money from your creative passion. Write down everything you can think of and do some research online. From there just figure out what you want to focus on and build your business around. Think long-term and how you want to position yourself in the marketplace. How can you stand out and be different?

Back to the photographer example … As a wedding photographer, there are usually lovely professional pictures done at the bride’s home as she gets ready with her entourage. At the same time, the groom and his group are getting ready, but the photographer is tied up. Perhaps you could be a photographer who specializes in “the guy’s’ story”. Your style could make a great addition to the final wedding memories.

My advice to you is to just get started. Nike said it best – “Just do it!” Don’t spend too much time thinking or creating your business plan before you take that first leap. Get your first client, and some quick wins to build momentum and experience. Tweak and polish your business from there, test and learn through trial and error.

It doesn’t take a lot of clients before you can make the transition from your current job, and to be able to work on your creative passion full-time. Be prepared to put in the actual work and be dedicated to making your dreams come true.

“But I don’t have an idea.”

You don’t have to come up with this brilliant idea that has never been done before. If it’s been done, there’s a market, which is a good indication that your passion can be profitable. You can however, put your own angle on it to make yourself stand out.

“What if my work isn’t good enough?”

I’m pretty sure your work is good enough for something. You may not be the best in the world, and you can work on that, but it’s likely you can help someone with your current skills. To use the photographer analogy, you may not be the best fashion photographer yet, but you can easily be a wedding photographer while you’re learning, or help companies with taking photographs for social media updates or website content. You can change your business as you go along and that’s totally fine. It’s called growing!

I hope this has given you some motivating ideas. It’s a big topic and I’m pretty sure that I’ll write more posts on this subject. Just know that today is a great time for you to start a business. With the Internet and social media, there’s really no boundaries and you can serve people all over the world. With 7.4 billion people on the planet, there’s a market for what you do. You just have to find the right angle and a clever way to position yourself.

I recently launched a free email course in Norwegian about this very subject! Head on over to casperstang.com/gratiskurs/ and check it out!

Now let me hear from you…

Any questions, thoughts or ideas? Leave a comment and let’s discuss it right here.

Remember to share this with any creative person who’d love to have the freedom and be his or her own boss.

Let’s move forward…

– Casper Stang