Posts Tagged ‘success’

What Is Success?

July 9, 2014

Tuesday July 8th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

The mystery of the way life works never ceases to fascinate me. On one hand, I’m having all of my dreams come true with my family after a lifetime of utter hopelessness and loneliness. But on the other, I’m seeing my career go absolutely nowhere after a lifetime of unbelievable sacrifice.

Which would I rather have? Why can’t I have both? Does anyone have a tight family bond and career success? I have to believe a lot of people do, and I want to be one of them. But if I have to choose one, I’ll take it exactly how it’s playing out. It’s giving me a power I’ve never had before.

There is a major healing process taking place inside me, and I’ve never felt better. It’s building on itself and creating a steady flow of positive energy, just as it was a constant source of pain and suffering before. Chasing the show business dream was a substitute for this, but it never worked.

It’s like the difference between the best tanning booth there is vs. an actual sunny beach. There is absolutely no comparison. The tanning booth is a substitute for the real thing, and quite often a career in show business serves the same purpose. I know it did for me, but this is so much better.

Would I have jumped head first into the rusty meat grinder of the entertainment business like I did had I had a tight bond with a family? I honestly can’t say. Usually having weak family ties is what keeps a person from turning back when the business gets tough. There are no alternatives.

That was definitely the case with me. I look back at all the dues I paid and the crap I swallowed from bully bar owners and slimy bookers, and had I had a loving family support structure I doubt I’d have lasted close to this long. This can be a brutal business, and I don’t know how I survived.

Now it’s to the point where I’m not surviving, even though that’s not my fault. It’s that way for just about everybody these days, and there are a lot of miserable people out there that have paid a lifetime of dues just like I have. There were never any guarantees anyone would be ‘successful’.

And what exactly is ‘success’? It’s different for everybody, and after a lifetime of thinking I’ve been a lowly bum I totally haven’t. I’ve accomplished a hell of a lot considering the place I came from, and I should be extremely proud of myself. But am I done? I don’t see why I have to be.

I’ll be the first to admit I have made some gargantuan goofs career wise. I’ve managed to piss off some people with power, but only on a certain level. I’m not a bad person, and the minute I’d get any heat whatsoever I know those people would come running to kiss my ass and book me.

I used to really want to please those people and get bookings so I could ‘show’ others – mainly my family – that I was indeed worth something after all. Well, now I don’t need to show anyone anything anymore and that has changed my whole viewpoint on life. Now I’m doing it for all the right reasons, and I have to believe the results will be better. And if they aren’t, that’s fine too.

‘Getting famous’ can be a motivator for a lot of people because they want to use it as a tool for revenge. That never has a happy ending. I want to use it as a tool to help people however I can or to help raise awareness for worthy causes. It’s taken a lifetime, but I’m finally starting to get it.

What is success? Everyone's definition is different.

What is success? Everyone’s definition is different.

I wonder what hers is?

I wonder what hers is?

John Ridley Kudos

March 4, 2014

Sunday March 2nd, 2014 – Kenosha, WI

Just when I thought I had seen everything, along comes a fresh twist or wrinkle to remind me I am not in control of anything nor have I ever been. I am just a tourist. To directly quote Gomer Pyle from the storage shed area of my memory bank – “SURPRISE! SURPRISE! SURPRISE!”

While watching the Academy Awards tonight – something I rarely if ever do – from out of the deepest part of left field popped a complete shocker that literally made my jaw drop. One of the winners was a gentleman named John Ridley, and we had crossed paths several times years ago.

I was and still am delighted for his outstanding achievement, but I had no idea he was even up for an award. They announced his name which I recognized immediately, but there could be a lot of people by that name. There are infinitely more possible John Ridleys than there are ‘Dobies’.

Then I saw his face and realized it was indeed the same person I remembered. How impressive. And I thought Facebook was a good way to keep up with people from the past. This is far better – especially for anyone that might have the least bit of desire to break it off in anyone’s fanny.

Everyone has someone they’d like to get back at from the past, and this is the absolute ultimate way to do it. Ah, what sweet revenge! To the ex girlfriend that left a heart in shambles or former boss that made life miserable, here you go. Feel free to kiss any part of my ass that you can find.

John Ridley got to live that fantasy, and I’m thrilled for him. He got his revenge with anybody he needed to worldwide, but I highly doubt that was his motivation. He worked hard – and smart – and he figured out the combination to the safe. Not many ever do that in any field, but he did.

Major kudos to Mr. Ridley. I obviously haven’t taken that route, and those results are painfully obvious. I’m not even up for a third place bowling trophy anywhere, and this guy is standing on the stage making an acceptance speech for his Oscar. It’s proof all men are NOT created equal.

Some of us are born achievers, and others are not. Some have long term vision, others live life from minute to minute. We’re all individuals with different qualities, and it produces individual results. It makes life interesting in one way, but in another it’s frustrating to the point of torture.

John is originally from the Milwaukee area, and did standup comedy for years. We’ve shared a stage quite a few times, and always got along very well. He’s a super bright guy, and I never had a cross word with him. But I can say that about literally hundreds of people. Nothing would have caused me to predict he would eventually win an Academy Award. How often does that happen?

As we sat backstage between shows like comedians do, nothing would have indicated that he’d climb the showbiz ladder to the pinnacle – but he did. Part of me is jazzed for him, but another is embarrassed to have gone so far off course on my own journey. If there was a map, I missed it.

Unfortunately, I probably won’t be crossing paths with John again anytime soon after this. If I do, I’ll say hello and congratulate him for his achievements. He did his home town proud, and he deserves it. But I’ll likely end up saying it from the front seat of his limo. And I’ll be driving it.

It's not often one turns on the Academy Awards and says "I know that guy!" I worked with John Ridley several times in comedy clubs, and was delighted to see him win. Congrats!

It’s not often one turns on the Academy Awards and says “I know that guy!” I worked with John Ridley several times in comedy clubs, and was delighted to see him win. Congrats!

A Personal Victory

January 22, 2014

Tuesday January 21st, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Success! Ah, the taste is so sweet. It’s a small taste, but that’s ok. One bite of the highest grade of chocolate or finest cut of steak not only is still delicious – it makes one want more. After quite a few glitches to the point of completely starting over with a different company my new monthly “Maxwell’s Silver Humor Newsletter” has finally been sent out to a handpicked list of recipients.

In the big scheme of life I know it means less than nothing, but to me personally it’s as big of a victory as I’ve had in quite a while. When my business partner embezzled from me a while back it really rocked my world to the core. I totally didn’t expect it, and it jarred my business to a halt.

I had stupidly allowed him free reign of just about everything off stage, and when he pulled his little stunt and I had to fire him it set me back tremendously. We had a nice flow going, and I had a monthly newsletter that was very well received. This was before I started writing a daily diary.

Allegedly we had it up to 2500 recipients, but I can’t confirm that because I never saw any list. I took his word for it, but I have no reason to think he’d lie about that number. On the other hand I had no reason to think he’d steal from me either, but that’s a different story. I think it was right.

When we parted ways, not only did he not give me the mailing list he used it to try and start his own comedy classes using another teacher. I was shocked, hurt and infuriated all at once, and the whole situation degenerated into a big ugly mess. Many of the people on that list were friends of mine outside of comedy and weren’t students at all. I had to explain the situation over and over.

What a nightmare it all turned out to be, and quite honestly I seethed about it for years. I’m not the first person to get scorched by a business partner, but that was personal, messy and took a lot of inner discipline to not track him down and pound a tune on his skull with a monkey wrench.

After dragging everything through the mud for a few years he eventually moved to Australia -which still isn’t far enough away for my tastes but will have to do. I don’t know what he’s into now, and I really don’t care as long as it’s not comedy or comedy classes. The damage is done.

Once in a while I’ll have somebody out of the blue ask “Hey, whatever happened to your old newsletter? I used to really look forward to it.” It makes me cringe inside, but I always tell them I’ll make sure I add their name to the list when I start it up again. Today I fulfilled my promise.

I’ve been compiling email addresses for several years now, and our initial mailing had almost 2000 entries. I know a lot of those will bounce back, and that’s fine. We knew it would take lots of tweaking to get it going smoothly, but we just wanted to get it going. The glitches weren’t fun, and ended up delaying everything by eight days. Our target was the 13th, but we got it out today.

Kudos to my one man pit crew Eric Feinendegen for hanging in there and seeing it through. He knows the situation with the last guy embezzling, and we’ve got a different agreement altogether. Actually, it was almost a good thing I experienced all that because now it’s a much better system and I won’t have that happen ever again. It was a painful lesson, but one well learned. I received all kinds of responses today from people I hadn’t heard from in years. That’s just what I wanted.

This was a long, hard painful road back, but I’m here and it feels ecstatic. I wasn’t sure that I’d ever be able to pull it off, but I hung in there and kept pecking away for years until I could get all the ducks in a row to try again. Today is that day and the sweet taste of victory is extra delicious.

But I know that’s all it is, a taste – and a tiny one at that. This was just the very beginning of an ongoing process that needs to last the rest of my business life. I need to establish a track record to those that don’t know me but could potentially hire me, and there are too many of those to count.

Of the 2000 or so names I have on the list now, a lot of those are personal friends and/or people that aren’t ever going to hire me. There are several hundred comedians for example, and I’m glad to be in contact from a friendship angle but for business they’re not going to do me much good.

I might get an occasional referral or get thought of for a fallout, but that’s not where my target is. I want to get my name in front of bookers of the best paying work available. That’s the reason to do this at all, and that’s why I’m making it such a priority. It’s basically an ad for my services.

Sending out one email is fine, but it’s surely not the end all be all. I heard from several bookers I hadn’t had contact with in a while, and that’s exactly what I was looking to have happen. I have been pathetic at staying in contact consistently, but that ends as of today. I’m already a winner.

I’m sure it will lead to a few bookings at some point, and that’s fantastic. It’s money directly in my pocket just for reminding people I’m still here. Now I have to grow this list and find EVERY person that could possibly book me and get in front of them every month. That will take a while.

I don’t have a clue who books what in the corporate world, and I also need to delve into media as well. Jimmy Fallon is taking over The Tonight Show in a few weeks. Who is the talent booker for comedians? Jimmy Kimmel? Conan O’Brien? David Letterman? I should know all the names and have all the contact info of these people but I totally don’t. And that doesn’t include radio.

Who are the producers of the top national, regionally syndicated and local radio shows all over North America? What about The U.K. or Australia or even the Armed Forces Network? There is a LOT of work to do, and this is just the tip of the tip of a gigantic iceberg. This is where money will come from, and I need to treat this list like the gold mine it will be. It’s my ticket to success.

I know it will take time to get it really humming like I picture, but today was a terrific start and I’m thrilled to be back in the game. Eric did a phenomenal job, and I’m grateful to be teamed up with him. He’s been great to work with, but if he embezzles he’s going to have to work harder to make it happen than the last guy. I’m a lot more wary now, and that’s good. I think we’ll be ok.

It feels tremendous to finally be getting my business chops in gear. I’m going to add all kinds of valuable contacts to my list as the year progresses, and I’m finally going to be smart enough to grow them into relationships. I’m also going to reconnect with people I shouldn’t have let lapse.

The work on this project is only beginning, but today was a major step. To fight back from the lowest point I can imagine feels extra satisfying, and any bitterness I had toward Mr. Embezzler is all gone. He actually did me a favor. Without that experience, I wouldn’t be as ready as I am.

'Maxwell's Silver Humor Newsletter' is now a reality. If you'd like to get on the list, send a valid email address to bookdobie@gmail.com.

‘Maxwell’s Silver Humor Newsletter’ is now a reality. If you would like to receive it each month, send a valid email address to bookdobie@gmail.com.

Hopefully chicks will dig it.

Hopefully chicks will dig it.

Even if they don't, it should  be good for business.

Even if they don’t, it should be good for business.

Breathing Room

November 2, 2013

Friday November 1st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

I said at the beginning of the year I wanted this to be my best year ever. I don’t know if I made it, but I’m pretty close. Yes there were some disappointments, but for the most part I had a stellar 2013. A lot of exciting things happened this year, some of which have never happened before.

Off the top of my head, I made the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show a reality and performed it several times in a fantastic venue, appeared on local, regional and cable television, had a speaking role in a legitimate Hollywood movie and got to meet and hang out with one of my heroes Bob Uecker.

Those are all highlights in my book, and I enjoyed every one of them. I also went to Atlanta to participate in the Laughing Skull Festival and got to hang out with the great James Gregory at his home there. James is also a hero of mine for how he has built his career, and getting to hang with him for an afternoon was a privilege. He treated me like a peer, and I’m an even bigger fan now.

Another feather in my cap this year was getting to be ‘The King of Uranus’ on March 13th at the Milwaukee Admirals hockey game. That was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had, and it went over extremely well. I know there’s something there, and I want to keep working on it.

I got to host some talk radio shows at WNTA in Rockford, IL and I really grew as a host in that format. It was a great opportunity to practice. I took full advantage of it as often as I could. I also hosted ‘The Mothership Connection’ paranormal talk show on WLIP in Kenosha, WI for half the year, and at some point I’d love to get that back on the air somewhere though I need to get paid.

Money was tight again this year, but it is for almost everyone. Summer was a complete disaster financially, but I’ve had a nice run of late and at least have a bit of breathing room. I’ve worked a lot of fun places in the last month and November and December look solid. The money I make is spent before I receive it, but at least my rent is paid with a few bucks left over for the other bills.

Living week to week is SO not what I want to be doing anymore. It’s hectic and a huge energy drain I’d rather not have in my life. Robbing Peter is bad enough, but then not paying Paul makes life a constant shell game. I don’t want to be dodging anybody, I just want to pay up what I owe.

For a while there, I was really in a tizzy. I don’t know how I scraped by this summer, but I sure don’t want that to happen in 2014. The key is to plan ahead, but that’s a lot easier said than done when it’s the end of the month and there’s goose eggs in the bank account. Money is the cushion.

If I can find a way to get some legitimate steady income, it won’t take that long to turn my life completely around in a very short time. I’ve put in my time, and I’m ready for a break. I have no idea what that break will be, but I know I’m ready for something. Nobody I know works as hard as I do for as little a payoff, but I can’t give up now. If anything, I’m going to work even harder.

I know the year’s not over yet, but I’m already planning for 2014 and even beyond. That’s just smart business, and I have to make at least some long term plans even though nothing is going to be guaranteed. I have a much better chance of success if I’m planning for it months or even years ahead, and that’s what I need to do. Money gives me some breathing room to look at my options.

2014 will be here sooner than later. Time to plan ahead.

2014 will be here sooner than later. Time to plan ahead.

Blockbuster Needed

October 2, 2013

Monday September 30th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

I read an article years ago about Mario Puzo, author of “The Godfather”. What I found to be of interest was that he had intentionally set out to write a blockbuster, something he’d be known for to the masses and would bring him money. He’d written some other books that had received high critical praise but hadn’t gotten him anywhere, and he had a wife and five kids he needed to feed.

I also remember seeing an interview with Gene Simmons of KISS, and he talked about both he and Paul Stanley setting out to create the ultimate band they had never seen or heard but wanted to as fans. They wanted to create an ultimate fan experience that would turn them into superstars.

Both Mario Puzo and KISS have done more than well, but I also recall listening to an interview with Quincy Jones not too long ago talking about the creative process behind Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. He said everybody who ever sets out to make a record thinks they’re going to change the world, but there are factors beyond anyone’s control and if it happens it’s entirely by chance.

I think Quincy Jones is one of the most brilliantly creative minds of our time and what he says has validity, but I’ll bet Michael didn’t look at it that way. He was coming off a wildly successful “Off The Wall” album, and was firing on all cylinders. He was looking to rule the music world.

All of these examples swirl in my head as I sit and think about what I can do to create a similar sensation in the comedy world. I don’t know exactly what that is, but I sure know what it isn’t – plain white males telling randomly assembled jokes and routines. That’s not the way to make an impact these days, even though it worked for many years. Those days are gone and won’t return.

The world has simply changed too much for that model to remain relevant. It used to be if one could manage to get on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson or maybe David Letterman, there would be a large enough audience where it could make enough of an impact to launch a career. If Johnny happened to think an act was funny, he or she became the golden child of show business.

It’s no longer that way, as there isn’t any single outlet that can make anyone that quickly – with the possible exception of You Tube. Something can still go globally viral in a short time, but that doesn’t guarantee anyone stardom. Recognition and stardom are not at all the same. Any frat boy can light a bottle rocket out of his poop shoot and film it, but how does that translate into money?

There used to be a circle of industry people that would watch The Tonight Show, and they’d be fighting the next day to get a piece of any new meat that made an impression the night before. In this new setup, it’s everyone for him or herself and no one path is the right one to take anymore.

The good news is, I realize the pickle I’m in and am looking to do something about it. The bad news is I have to survive month to month doing what I’ve done my entire adult life. I might have made a living doing it, but it wasn’t the recipe to be a superstar. I need to revamp my approach.

I don’t think my ego needs to be a superstar, but my wallet could sure use it. I would be able to help so many others, and that would be my ultimate end focus. Mario Puzo and KISS succeeded, why couldn’t I pull it off too? My gut feeling is that my secret of success emanates from Uranus.

Mario Puzo set out to make money first. And he did.

Mario Puzo set out to make money first. And he did.

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley wanted to create "the band they never heard or saw", and they did!

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley wanted to create “the band they never heard or saw”, and they did!

Was it luck? Some, but there was a LOT of talent there too.

Was it luck? Some, but there was a LOT of talent there too.

It's always FUNNY, when it comes from URANUS!

It’s always FUNNY, when it comes from URANUS!

No Leakers

May 17, 2013

Thursday May 16th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   My grandfather told me the hardest challenge of all in life is to be both a success and a quality person. He said successful people often become corrupt and quality people often fail to become a success. It was basically an elongated version of “Nice guys finish last”, but Gramps was correct.

   Only a very special few ever manage to do both – but that’s my goal and always has been. I am well aware I just might fail miserably in the end, and at the moment I appear to be headed in that direction – but the game isn’t over yet, and every day above ground I still have a fighting chance.

   It may only be a teeny weeny chance that’s getting teenier and weenier by the minute, but until there’s a click of my coffin lid I technically still have a shot at the grand prize. I wouldn’t want it if I had to screw someone over to attain it, but many times that’s part of the deal. It can get ugly.

   On the other hand, I don’t want to live the rest of my days like a vagrant either. There has to be some kind of happy medium, doesn’t there? There is a sweet spot located somewhere in between ‘nice guy’ and ‘success’, but it’s kind of like the sweet spot surfers look for inside a huge wave.

   There’s a lot of effort required to find that giant wave in the first place, and then there’s danger thrown into the mix by choosing to maneuver the surf board into that little space so precious few ever reach. One could wipe out in an instant, and it’s all over. But riding that wave is a big thrill.

   I’m not going to lie; I want to ride the big wave. I want to be able to feel that thrill of achieving something rare and special that nobody can ever take away. But I also want to be a generous soul and known for being ethical to the bone. There’s an extra amount of effort required to get there.

   The hardest pill to swallow is nobody really cares. Donald Trump is known for being a success but it doesn’t matter how he got there. He inherited a few million and turned it into a quite a few more, but does it matter if he’s a nice person or not? Not really, and especially not during a deal.

   There are all kinds of nice people that haven’t achieved a damn thing, but nobody thinks less of them for it. They’re known for being generous, and quite often those are the ones that successful people exploit the most. They’re willing to go the extra mile, and they do get taken advantage of.

   I don’t know why any of this matters so much to me, but it totally does. I want to be both good at what I do and a good person on top of that, and I don’t care how much extra effort it takes. I’m not going to be satisfied doing anything less, and even if I fail I think it’s a worthwhile pursuit.

   One of the most important parts of attaining this status is surrounding myself with both decent and successful people and learning from both. There can be a different mindset involved, and it’s easy to get lost in one or the other. Maintaining a healthy balance is the goal, but man is it hard.

   I’m not trying to paint myself as a saint, and I have more faults than anyone. I screw up all the time, and am nowhere near attaining the status I seem to seek so badly. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still on my mind every single day, and it also doesn’t mean I won’t get what I’m going for.

   Every day is another chance to inch closer to where I want to be. I’m getting a lot of good done of late, but I also know I have a lot more to do. Sometimes I think I’m over my head, but I won’t ever lower my standards. I know myself, and if I did that I’d be unfulfilled and miserable. If I’m going to do it, I want to do it on my terms surrounded by the highest quality people. NO leakers.