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4 Lessons I learned as an Entrepreneur from Rocky Balboa

4 Lessons I learned as an Entrepreneur from Rocky Balboa

“Yo’ Adrian, I did it!

Rocky Balboa

I grew up watching Rocky films on TV in Telemundo. I would always get mesmerized and excited with the training sequences, the jabbing, the fights, and overcoming the opponents.

Rocky IV was the most watched in my household. I loved this movie because, to me, it has the best soundtrack, even thought it doesn’t haven Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.” But it does have “No Easy Way Out.” Which in my opinion has a deeper meaning and hits home every time I hear it.

Entrepreneurs need to deal with many things throughout their plans, projects, tasks, habits and such. Accounting, legal, human behavior, marketing, sales, technology, public speaking, time management, relationship building, public relations, customer relations, interpersonal skills, fitness, diets, etc. But the one thing that we all need to continuously work and fight with is thyself.

The Shadow of Doubt

Many entrepreneurs battle with depression, impostor syndrome or struggle with other things. I am not an expert of those subjects and I have had my share of struggles with some of them. I have learned to recognized and pivot from the train of thought that they can lead or take you on. I have decided to stay healthy as much as possible and part of that start with mindsets and habits. But, it is not easy for everyone and it does take effort and commitment.

The main thing is whether we decided to stay in the shadow of doubt, which is the coined term I have given for comfort zone, or we move towards the light, the discomfort zone.

Moving towards the goals, the light at the end of the tunnel is exciting and more than often challenging. Takes a toll on us and it certainly does drains energies if we surely don’t have the proper training or the right mentality.

Rocky Mindset

Rocky always had a way of just being the optimistic and charming guy who wanted to stay with his wife, family and fight. His life was led by his passion and his passion was the physical representation of what entrepreneurs endure.

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

Rocky Balboa

While the quote above may sound harsh, it is quite real. Life is hard, only if we decided to allow things to get out of control and not face the things, challenges, opportunities, and possibilities that present ourselves to make us better, to help us.

New projects, goals, habits, business ventures create tension, friction and definitely a pressure upon ourselves that no matter how hard we try, we have to face it. It is only by facing this hard discomfort, these fears, that we are able to learn and grow. They serve as catalysts, helping us go up the ladder to a new level so we can grow as individuals, professionals and as that role we are executing whether it is as a business owner, team leader, parent, brother, minister, community manager, project manager, entrepreneur, marketer.

The Rounds

“Going in one more round when you don’t think you can. That’s what makes all the difference in your life.” 

Rocky Balboa

There are 12 rounds in boxing. There are 12 weeks in a quarter. There are 12 grades from elementary, junior high, and high school. Each Round, week, and grade get tougher but every round prepares you for the next.

You have your winter, summer, and perhaps depending on where you live, other types of breaks to enjoy life somehow. But, when you go out to the world where you are building your career, facing the bosses, the clients, the pressure sometimes it can definitely feel like you are taking the biggest beating and can only catch a break when the bell rings. But that round took everything out of you.

Sometimes we are about to throw the towel, and just admit we can’t pull it off. We are not made for this. We decide to just stay put and not do anything else. In all seriousness, sometimes we get ourselves into fights/projects that are tough, complicated, and will take strong wills, commitment and most importantly, the correct mindset and the most solid self-esteem. These are the key elements into making sure an entrepreneur can carry on with their mission, their vision, task, project, and make it happen.

Ali was a fierce fighter. Both physically but even deadlier when it came to psychology. He would disrupt his opponent’s focus by shaking his very core, beliefs, and mindset. Anyone can fight. But being able to maintain the calm, control the emotions, and still be able to focus on delivering while being in the heat of the moment – Cue Asia’s song – facing your opponent and as cliché, as it may sound, seeing the eye of the tiger, if you’re able to control yourself you can go round after round and finish the fight.

Winning

I’ve learn that winning is all about mentality. You can either let other things define your success, or you can just define yours. When you read Seth Godin’s amazing blog, you stumble on gold-nuggets such as Don’t Steal Metrics where he expresses:

It’s worth finding your metrics.

Seth Godin

In the end what we do and how we do it, is up to us. Listen to advice. Learn from the best. Face your opponents and challenges head on. But mainly, look in the mirror and tell yourself you are out to get it. Motivate the motivator. Turn the engine on and keep that passion alive.

Mikel

How to Start a Podcast: Technical Specs

How to Start a Podcast: Technical Specs

As you are aware I am a Full Sail Grad from the Recording Arts Program from 2006 – 2007. I was fortunate enough to have parents that wanted to give their all to send me to college and family that invested themselves in seeing me succeed. Some of them are no longer with me and I am dedicating this blog post to them – Thank you Uncle Ralph.

I quickly fell in love with Podcast as it was a quick way to mix many passions of mine. Music, audio, radio, production, and my own creativity. I also fell in love with microphones and my mother noticed this, so she gifted me one of the best and most used microphones in the industry: the Shure SM57.

Little by little I learned of the many different microphones, dynamic, condensers, ribbon and their patterns: omni-directional, bi-directional, cardioid, hyper-cardioid.

Later I learned that just like every single person has their own unique voice, timbre, there is an ideal application or microphone in this case for the purpose which will be used. See if I will be singing in a live environment, a club, I will be playing guitar as well, and the genre of music is Rock, please give me a Shure SM58 or a Shure Super 55, mainly because my voice is rough and raw. But if I am singing a ballad I will ask for the Beta SM58A Supercardioid. Each microphone has a different use for a different purpose and voice.

In the case of podcast and recording audio in digital format or mainly computers, a lot of people tend to use and recommend microphones that connect directly to USB ports. In my very own personal AND PROFESSIONAL opinion I am against USB microphones. The reason is simple: the converters are not good and the decay in quality is too much, losing the audio dynamics that is precious when editing audio or that makes the sound quality rich.

Microphones

Here is a list of the best microphones that I recommend and the uses for.

Zoom H1N

I have used Zoom devices since 2002. From Guitar Distortion pedals, microphones, tuners, multi effects, and so on. Zoom is a great company when it comes to quality and has always delivered mainly in microphones. I owned a Zoom H4 in 2006 while in Full Sail and loved it.

My mentor bought this H1n and it is a great compact and amazing portable recorder that can help a podcaster that wants to record anywhere and simply dump that into the computer and send it to the audio editor or to their own digital audio workstation (DAW) so they can work on the file and make make their own episode.

Journalist, podcaster, author, you are interviewing another person, or just yourself, this little recorder works wonders and records in stereo because of the two microphones in it. This bundle brings everything you need. I recommend using the headphones as reference and mainly those type of headphones and not the ones from like a cellphone as you need to lear to reduce the sound from outside and listen to what is being captured from the microphone itself so you know what will the listener hear in your final product as you can reduce but you can not remove from audio, that only works in sci-fi and spy movies…or with Jack Bauer.

Something important here, this is not designed to be used used WITH your computer. This is a field recorded. If you are an on the go, always on the move person starting out or don’t want to have a lot of hassle, this is a good solution. If you will be interviewing people across the internet, read along, many more suggestions your way.

Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

This microphone is taking the podcasting, music, and radio world by storm. It is one of the best microphones I have experience and seen so far. Friends who are recording their records have used it for vocals, acoustic guitars, percussion, some plena drums, and choir vocals, and the results have been amazing. By the way, a shout out to great talented friends from Baba Gris, mainly Carlos Dimas who referred me to this microphone and blew me away!

The beautiful thing about this microphone is that it’s already made for consumer, prosumer or profesional applications. You want to use this for a hobby. Good! You want to make this podcast and take it to another level. You are set. So you will be doing the podcast and will be recording a record or was asked to record at another podcast, radio show, interview? Bring your microphone and shine bright!

One of the simple but big things it has that comes with which to me is important is the windscreen. In most cases, people don’t think too much of the windscreen, but it is a big deal for individuals such as myself that over pronounce the “s” or the “p” because being bilingual. Accents and enunciations, dictations and slurs can be reduced thanks to pop-up stoppers and windscreens as well as the breathings. So that in itself is a big one.

This microphone picks up 50 – 20khz. We listen from 20 – 20kHz the more range the better the microphone. Of course, the voice pitch doesn’t cover that but it is good that it covers a wide range because it picks up details in our timbre that makes us sound nice, rich, full. Could you imagine Barry White sounding like Alvin & The Chipmunks? If he was only given a microphone that was 8k – 20khz, that would’ve been the result. These ranges are the same thing we do when we get in the car and we go to the settings of the radio and we turn up the bass and the treble. Hence why this microphone is really great and an amazing deal for this price. 10 years ago, a microphone like this, would’ve been over $1,200 and still not have all the feature it has.

As my ultimate nail in the coffin to prove my point, this the microphone Joe Rogan uses. I think that, in itself, says enough.

Audio Technica 2020

Audio Technica is one of my favorite companies when it comes to making solid products at affordable prices while respecting the customer’s pocket, needs and wants. Their microphones and headphones are great and can be used for a variety of things. Guitar, voice, piano, bass, backing vocals, live performance, and yes, podcast!

This bundle brings you everything you need if you have your own little desk and corner. As I mentioned, I always recommend while recording you get used to using the headphones, not earphones, and certainly do not use Bluetooth, creates latency, Beats headphones or any noise cancelling headphones as these tend to alter what you hear.

This microphone states 20-20kHz, it’s cardioid, and it is a condenser microphone. Dynamic microphones are great for live environment, i.e. performances just like my first example, but for recording such as podcasting or radio, condensers are the best. At this price, it is an excellent starting point.

Rodes Procaster Dynamic

I know I just said Condensers are better than Dynamic, and for the most part, it is true, but there is always that one microphone that comes along to surprise everyone and sets a standard. That is the case for Rodes Procaster.

The radio industry used Rodes microphones and you can actually see in many movies the RE20 as the usual microphone for Disc Jockeys. But in this iteration, the Procraster Dynamic is a solid Dynamic microphone that will give you a full, rich sound, and as it says: “tailored-for-voice frequency response.” What these last means is that it is for voice and not for every application. So if you are set that this is the only thing you will be using for, and you are the next Don Lafontaine, you can feel confident this is a great microphone.

Mini Home Studio

“But Mikel, how do I plug in my microphone to the computer? Is there an adapter? You said USB microphones are no good. I saw an XLR to USB cable and the reviews were…okay =/. “

First thing is first: Those cables are no bueno. Now here is the piece of equipment that I personally recommend as I have used it in many occasions for simple and professionals things whether it’s been recording vocals, transmitting a radio show from Caimito San Juan, Puerto Rico across the internet to the broadcast it to the radio in Puerto Rico and the state of Florida, record a 12 string guitar, record a synthesizer, or even my own podcast show Rock ‘n’ Block.

This USB audio interface comes with a lot of free software such as a free version of ProTools, the world leading DAW, even though its a simple version you are able to scale up at any point in time if you want. If you are in a PC or a MAC you are able to download this software and record, edit and Bounce, which is the term for Publish, Save, Export in the Audio Recording world, and use the audio file for your podcast.

You have two inputs. You are able to use line inputs, such as guitar line, or XLR which are the balanced inputs, and these are the best kind. They also have the 48V phantom power, which is mainly used for condenser microphones. You have the option to plug in a pair of headphones, which in this bundle it comes with a pair of headphones, not the best but some, and you can monitor them independently from the computer right from the interface, which is the best option.

Back in 2007 I paid $249.99 for the Mbox Mini 2. In all honesty, looking back now, it was not worth it. This is much better as the pre-amps in this audio interface, another subject for another blog post, are pretty decent and provide a nice warm sound for your recordings, mainly when it comes to vocals.

Going Live

How do I get the thing on iTunes? On Spotify? On the Google Podcast? On that platform that nobody cares but helps SEO…I think?

Random guys in some SEO Facebook Group

In the past, you almost needed rocket science to start a Podcast. A website, know about RSS/XML. Have a hosting. Then the domain. Then submitting manually to iTunes and creating the feeds and such. Add the fact that you needed, artwork, music, and the whole nine yards.

In today’s world, I recommend one place that enables you to do it the most simple and straight-forward way possible. Anchor.fm. All you need is your email, the idea, and that’s it. You can record right from the app, or upload the audio from your computer to the webpage, or using your mobile device. You can also use the application to interview other people. Your listeners can use the app to leave voice messages and participate in your podcast.

They have the option to submit your podcast to iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcast, and many other platforms. This is great because without doing so much you can be in the major ones and now since the Google Home Hub is taking the household by storm, people can tune in to your podcast as part as their routines as I do with some of my favorite shows while enjoying my morning coffee.

They have royalty-free music, images for those who just want to get started with their content and build things as they go along and you can even schedule the episodes for later times so they are released as you understand they are better. All these, free.

Heck, I would value this at $9.99/month for some extra services and still think it’s a great service.

Usually once you publish the episode it will take a couple of days for the episodes and podcasts to be submitted to the other platforms. Be patient. In the meantime, continue creating content, and sharing it to social media and other places.

I hope this How to Guide is helpful. If you have any question, leave a comment or you can go on twitter and reach out to me. I’ll help the best I can. If you’d like a mentoring session, feel free to book some time.

See you all in the blockchain!

Mikel

Top 7 Must Read Books for Leaders & Entrepreneurs

Top 7 Must Read Books for Leaders & Entrepreneurs

Recently I decided to take the plunge and take a certification I had been putting off for 6 years. Today was my first day of class. Throughout the day many terms and lessons from many books were mentioned and it felt great to know that I had read the books and was familiar with the terms, concepts, and practices of thought leaders and experts in the industries of marketing, business, copywriting, and other areas. Here are my top 10 choices and what I believe are books that would make a great gift for this holiday season for a loved one.

Atomic Habits

Improvement and quitting old habits is difficult. But making changes even when they are just a 1% increment each day are great. This book has made me realize things that are so simple but crucial and I’ve been missing them for years. It’s time I get good rest and eat healthily.

Company of One

Paul Jarvis is a great source of knowledge and I have mentioned him on a previous blog post on 3 Reasons to Build Community. His upcoming book, Company of One is about business success and if that means growth of efficiency. Check out his website for more details about his giveaway ofone.co  

Start with Why

Before you start doing anything, ask yourself: why are you doing it. Why would you do it? Why would it matter? Why? Start with Why by Simon Sinek is such a powerful book. It not only takes you from point a to z on how to find the reason to make things happen in your company, teams, divisions, but it also puts in perspective that everything in the world has to have a reason that connects and resonates with people emotionally so it succeeds. From Martin Luther King Jr., The Dwight Brothers, Apple, and even Project Management. We need to have a clear why we are doing the things we are. If we do not, more than likely, we are setting ourselves, to stumble, lose time, energy, resources, and perhaps, fail. This is an excellent book for leaders and entrepreneurs alike.  

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity

How many times you would like to shoot straight and give feedback to people? Tell someone that they are not doing things the right way and need to pull their weight. Radical Candor is the term used when you want to be honest, straightforward but with that professional TLC that enables development and provide actionable plan to make people become accountable to their own growth as well as yourself because you are leading them.  

Disrupters: Success Strategies from Women Who Break the Mold

Women in the workforce have marked the difference in so many ways. But still, there is a vast difference in how we treat, promote, support, train, invest, lead, pay and most of all, respect them. Dr. Fletcher goes very in-depth into this and many other subjects that I had never thought of. I caught myself with what I call “toxic thoughts” that would not add value to the workforce and mainly are not the ones I would like to bestow upon my daughter. I personally recommend this book so we all start creating awareness in ourselves and in our workplaces and communities that we need to have equal treatment, respect and pay to all workers, no matter their gender.  

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

Becoming a Navy Seal is the hardest and most difficult thing any human being in this plant can do. It’s not about physical training. Although that will help. It’s not about survival but that will help. It’s not about combat skills, shooting, strength, or recommendations. None of that. It’s about owning the task, the moment, the unit, the project, the mission, the wins, the losses, victories, mistakes. Extreme Ownership taught me that in order to be a good leader, you must own the tools, teams, and resources you have been given and deal with them. No matter what. Do you have the losing team? Turn them to a winning team? Do you have the winning team? Turn them to the champion team. Do you have the champion team? Turn them into the two-time back to back winning champions. Did you make a mistake that cost dearly to the company, the team, the unit? Did it cost a life? Own it. Does it hurt? Yes, it does. But it is the right thing to do and shows one of the greatest strength most people will not do but true leaders show and their followers will respect: courage. This book inspired me and it is one of the best reads for any leader and entrepreneur or project manager out there.

The Art of Work

Author Jeff Goins portrays in a very eloquent and simple manner that we need to bridge our current state and work towards the goal of where we want to be and develop our true self. Our work should be our craft and not just a job that we do to get a paycheck but something that is as meaningful as that song that when it plays makes us feel like we are 17 years old all over again. Taking leaps of faith, jumping or quitting your job and running into the arms of destiny because it feels right, while irresponsible, is also not the right way. If a bridge is not built, you’re gonna fall. Bridging the gap is the correct way. Finding your calling is the one most important thing that we can do. Hence, the art of work. Hope this blog post inspires you to pick up one of this books, or re-read them if you have any of them. Gift one to a family member or someone in your community that is starting a business and you would like to invest in them.  
Blockchain: Movement or Technology?

Blockchain: Movement or Technology?

New technological advancements happen every day. Smartphones, chips, tablets, cameras, lenses, processors. Ever since the print was invented we have been creating machines that have created an impact on our society, changing industries, working conditions, economies, and jobs.

While productivity and efficiency is in most cases beneficial for companies, it is not so for the workforce as it reduces the need for man labor. Thus impacting the need manpower.

But this time around with Blockchain technology it is different. Society is the one making the changes in technology and not the way around. Instead of creating devices that enable and facilitates the same behaviors from the past, it looks to reward participants, ambassadors, trustees, validators, stakeholders through sets of rules defined by a governance define in a democratic whitepaper than when needed will be vote on so it can be upgraded for the better of the community as an overall.

This in itself is a movement more than just a technology as expressed by Consensys CEO Joseph Lubin on his Tweet from December 1st:

Not only because he says so but because in the year and a half that I have been participating, engaging, learning and working in this space, there’s been many people that have moved away from the conversations from price and just tech development, although yes they are building technology, and have begun talking about the improvement and the impact that it could have in communities, the economy in third world countries. The transparency could bring to industries such as pharmaceutical, entertainment, healthcare, food distribution and manufacturing among many others as well as save millions of dollars in energy consumption by maintaining the efficiency of correct usage.


Accountability and ownership would be something that companies would have to exercise every day and on the blockchain, a permanent record would be public and the incentive instead of competing would be to produce the best possible outcome. Quality instead of gain. The way it should have always been. They way it was.

I have written about community, leadership, engagement, development, entrepreneurship, and blockchain before. This time I mentioned one of the thought leaders in the subject of blockchain and the fact that this is a movement more than just technology, investment, price, Lambos, moon, or any other combination of words that reflect “money.”

If you don’t know about Blockchain I suggest you visit Consensys Academy to learn more. If you want to learn about law and blockchain check Open Law where they a Building the Future of Law.

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‘Til next time. See you all in the blockchain.

Mikel

National Electric Guitar Day

National Electric Guitar Day

The electric guitar has been the one key instrument to influence people, genres and industries.

The electric guitars allowed companies to create amplifiers which in turn allowed live performances to be louder and reach more people in a single location.

This created tours, managers, live sessions and inspired genres such as blues, jazz, funk, rock and roll.

Les Paul was inspired to see if he could record his guitar over again. So he created the multi-track. This impacted the music industry by allowing multi-track recording, and audio engineering and audio consoles became the thing that now people were working so hard to create. The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Jimi Hendrix pushed the limits and boundaries of the available tracks in the consoles and the walls of sounds they could create.

The electric guitar inspired many to create riffs, sounds, noises, orchestras, bands, solo acts, guitar solos, and video games!

So on November 27th, join me celebrate #NationalElectricGuitarDay and listen to this week’s episode of Rock ‘n’ Block

Also, please leave a review and like the podcast in iTunes.

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