Born This Way

Do you feel like you have to have it all together all the time?
Do you feel stressed out by the pressures of being seen?

Do you find yourself thinking,
What will they think?
Is this good enough?

In an industry where you are constantly evaluated and criticized, this can be deeply challenging.

And you may find yourself stuck in a perfectionist loop, where you get paralyzed because you are so afraid your work will be rejected.  Or you may find it takes you hours, days, even weeks to complete projects because it has to be JUST right.

Either way, I imagine you feel exhausted, and that can feel pretty frustrating when you came to this work because you love it.

Where is the joy?
Why is doing what you love creating so much stress?

I remember auditioning for a Broadway choreographer and feeling so strong.  I walked in with a smile, and danced my best.

When the choreographer went to make the cut, he looked right at me and said to his assistant,
NOT her.

His look went through me, as if my insides turned to ice. It felt violent, the look on his face, as if he was so disgusted by my dancing, that he felt absolutely repulsed by the very notion of having me stay and dance and sing some more.

I could understand being cut.
I could understand not being what he was looking for.
But, I couldn’t get over HOW he did, and the WAY he looked right at me.

It felt so MEAN.

And because this was years ago, I internalized his reaction and the look on his face.  I didn’t know what else to do with it.

I walked out of the room feeling completely dejected, and my conclusion was,
I’m not good enough.

Have you every felt this?

How do we deal with our overactive inner critic, and all the feedback we get?

Two weeks ago, I went to Las Vegas to see Lady Gaga in her Jazz & Piano show at the MGM Park Theater. It was my first time seeing her in concert, and I was so excited!

The energy was incredible.  Everywhere I looked was another fabulous outfit, glitter, and even a woman who had put a blond wig on her dog and was posing in pictures with other fans.

There was adoration and anticipation in the air.  5200 people had gathered to see this show, and I was pinching myself I was one of them.

After buying a sweatshirt, I was approached by a young man who asked if I wanted to make a button for the Born This Way Foundation.  Not knowing what that was, I eagerly walked over to the booth.

Led by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, Born This Way Foundation was founded in 2012 with the goal of creating a kinder and braver world.

Their mission:

We seek to support the mental and emotional wellness of young people by putting their needs, ideas, and voices first.

We celebrate the individuality of those we serve and we revere the bravery it takes to reach out and start the conversation. Together, we’re building a community that provides approachable resources, fosters genuine connection, and drives action.

I was handed a blank circle with the opportunity to create a button.  The paper read,
This Way ________________.

Taking a moment to connect to how I believed I was born, I wrote three words,
You are Love

The button now read,
This Way You are Love.

Attaching the button to my jacket, I walked into the theater feeling more than excitement, but inspired and grounded.

Lady Gaga exploded onto the stage, her voice filling the huge arena.  In between numbers, she shared the many challenges she has faced, and the importance of mental health.  She shared how lonely she feels, and all the pressures of her work and felt there was really only one answer,
Kindness.

This was why she created the Foundation.

This resonated deeply with me, and for a moment I imagined hugging that younger dancer who walked out feeling so dejected.

I imagined hugging her in that moment when she wanted to make herself small and be equally damaging to herself.

How amazing that would have felt.
Something so simple, and yet deeply powerful.

In moments of criticism, it can be so easy to just take on what that person, or your audience is saying and believe it is true.

Their anger, their unhappiness can seep in so FAST and rob us of our confidence.

The truth is, you can’t control another person, so how do you keep your power and not be taken out by someone else’s harsh words?

Kindness.

And I’m not talking about outward kindness, but inward.  When you feel that negative energy, approach your  FEELINGS with kindness.

The shock?  Allowed.
The feeling of being unsettled?  Allowed
The feeling of dejection?  Allowed.

You are allowed to FEEL what you feel.  This is ultimate kindness.  This is compassion, and really, this is the core of mental health.

When we make an enemy of our feelings, we are in constant conflict.  Allow your feelings to arise from the criticism, and then instead of fanning the flames with your own self criticism, and letting your inner critic go crazy, connect to your feelings with kindness.

Even though I feel dejected, I deeply love and accept myself.

In fact, it was when I started to approach myself with kindness that I stopped caring so much what other people thought. When I received criticism, it didn’t take me out, and I felt free to be me and take risks.

This WAY you are love.

Because the truth is, you ARE love.  This is your nature. It’s inherent to your humanity.

And as they say in the This Way Foundation,
“Where individuality is encouraged.”

There is only one you, and the way you bring your work to the world is beautifully unique.  Bringing kindness to yourself in these moments is what grounds you in the journey and allows you to drop what other people think.

Because who you are is far more interesting than who you are trying to be.

What a relief:)

You were born this way.

How to Attract a Super Fan

Do you have an artist you LOVE?

Is there an Artist you would wait on line for hours, or buy tickets for days, weeks, even months ahead of time?

Who do you GEEK out over?

We tend to talk about wanting to create and build super fans, but if you are anything like me, you are probably a super fan yourself!

I remember going to my very first concert when I was 14 years old, to see Richard Marx.  My best friend and I screamed through the whole thing and I sang along to every song.  At one point in the concert, I was thoroughly convinced he looked right at ME, and that was enough for me to buy a poster and sing along to his songs in my bedroom daily, holding my hairbrush with fervor.

Did you ever do this?
Maybe you do this now!

Months ago, my husband bought us tickets to see Lady Gaga in her Jazz and Piano show in Las Vegas, and the day finally arrived. We saw the show last weekend and I was completely blown away.

Lady Gaga is completely sold out.  She has even extended her residency at the Park MGM through next year because the show is doing so well.

And after seeing the show, I can understand why.

So many of you come to me asking how you can build your audience, and it can be so easy to get caught in the mystery of how successful Artists do it. You may feel lost or frustrated.  I get it!

But the recipe is actually far easier than you think, and Lady Gaga hit all the points.  There’s many reasons she has raving fans who will fly across the country to see her, and these are the core pieces you want to incorporate.

So, grab you pencil and pen, because we are going to take the mystery right out of it.

1) Acknowledge and include your audience: Lady Gaga was overflowing with gratitude for all of us who gathered to see her.  She spoke directly to us, as if we were having a conversation.  In between songs, she had stories to share, and many times thanked us for being there. She was very intentional to say how much the audience meant to her. 

Why this mattered for ME as a fan: I felt appreciated.

2) Be real: It wasn’t just that Lady Gaga had stories to share, it was WHAT she shared.  She was very real, speaking into how lonely she feels, and the deep challenges around mental health with fame.  At one point she even looked at us and said, “I want you to understand me”.  She wasn’t putting on a persona, she was stepping forward with ALL of her to the stage, sharing how she is looking for love.

Why this mattered for ME as a fan: I trusted her.  I felt closer to her as a person, not just a performer.

3) Acknowledge your journey and the people who have helped you: We are stronger together.  Lady Gaga was up on that stage with a full jazz orchestra who was AMAZING, and she took every opportunity she could to acknowledge them, to highlight them, and to speak about the work they do together.  She spoke about Tony Bennett and how he was instrumental in giving her the confidence to do her own jazz show. She even gave a plug for everyone to go see her bandleader Brian Newman’s show later that night.  The industry has enough challenges, so it’s your team that matters most.  She really understands and speaks about her relationships and how they have helped her to this stage.

Why this mattered to ME as a fan: I felt included, and inspired.  I believe the same thing and agree with her.

4) Create solid work: This show was rock solid.  From the costumes to the music, to the video interludes, it was seamless.  There was enormous thought and CARE taken with this show, and I felt it.  Almost three hours in length, Lady Gaga delivered.  And it was was even more than I could have hoped for.  The musicians were on it, Lady Gaga was on it, and the tech was seamless.  There are a LOT of elements that go into sharing your work with your audience.  Be sure to take the time to practice, and create work that is solid and flows.

Why this mattered to ME as a fan: I was amazed, I was blown away! This was my first time seeing her in concert and now I know what to expect, and it’s incredible!

5) Be YOU: It wasn’t just Lady Gaga’s rawness that resonated with me, it was also how unique she was in her interpretations of the Great American Songbook, and I loved that!  Here she was in 6 inch heels, in a sparkly dress, and flashing us her underwear and dancing gleefully around the stage.  She really put her own spin on these songs, and performed them the way SHE wanted to.  While inspired by the greats, she had a clear vision of what she wanted to bring to the material, and to the audience.  She was raunchy, real, raw, silly, deep, and allowed her interpretation to shine through. 

Why this mattered to ME as a fan: I was inspired. I found my greatest success as a performer when I trusted myself and my own interpretations of material and released my perfectionism. 

We get really caught up in thinking we have to “have it all together”, but when we are actually grounded in our confidence and work, we end up creating the greatest connection WITH our audience.

Look at all the ways I was affected and moved by Lady Gaga:
I felt appreciated
I trusted her
I felt closer to her
I felt included
I felt inspired
I was blown away!

Creating super fans is really creating an amazing relationship, and you have all the tools within you.  Think of who inspires you..come back to the question at the top….who are you a super fan of?

Why?

What do they do and how does that make you FEEL?

Connection is the key, and it begins with knowing yourself and what makes you come back again and again to the artists you LOVE.

How can you incorporate these aspects for your work?

How can you
Acknowledge your audience
Be real
Acknowledge your journey and your team
Create solid work
Be YOU

Place your focus there, because the rest just flows.

From your heart to theirs, a beautiful energetic loop.