I have a fond appreciation of that. My grandfather served in World War II. He was a torpedo bomber, and he got shot down in the Pacific. Drifted on a raft for two weeks and found himself inside of an island, a toll called Han, Island Han and lived there with the natives for six months. I can remember when he first started being able to talk about it with the kids, and the family, he couldn’t sleep, and so he ended up writing the book. That really allowed him to get that message out and share his experience and it really helped him heal some of those wounds that he had from the trauma that he experienced then.
I connect. I really, really connect with that song, and I know for myself personally, I just want to thank you for writing it because you captured it so beautifully.
Well, thanks. It’s important, and my hope when we wrote it was that it would be a catalyst for these kinds of conversations that might help other people that are looking for a way to say, “This is how I feel. Somebody understands me.”
That’s important. What I love about what you’re doing, we were talking about this before the show as well is that you have found a way to use your artistry in country music to move people, and that is so important. And ultimately, I think at the end the day whether it be music or business, I think ultimately that is all we’re striving to do. It is what kind of impact we have on the world, and you’ve got a very unique skill, a very unique art that has impacts on millions of people, millions of listeners. But you also carry that over to business. Tell me a little bit about what you’re doing in the business world.
One of the things that I’m really committed to, and I’ve come to this slowly over time, was that old saying about experience, you make a lot of mistakes. But those experiences, they don’t come from good judgment. They come from bad judgment.
Good judgment comes from … I can’t remember the quote exactly, but what I’m getting at is that we all make a lot of mistakes along the way and those mistakes are what teach us the right way to do things. I’ll be 59 in August, and the last dozen years or so, I’ve started to really get a hold of this idea that I’ve really become committed to, that it doesn’t matter what we’re trying to accomplish in our business. Ultimately, at the end of the day, we’re dealing with people.
If the people that we’re dealing with have a positive emotional experience with us, that’s uplifting, and enriching, and nurturing in their lives, that will sustain that relationship regardless of whether or not that person wants what you are selling right now. But when they want what you’re selling, or what you’re offering, it sure helps a lot if they have established a rapport with you, and you’ve established a rapport with them that is attractive, because ultimately there’s 100 places, or 1000 places, or a million places depending with what you sell, where you can go to buy something or acquire something. But there are also a few places in our lives where we have personal interactions on a business sense that feel enriching to our lives.
I’m really committed. Over the years, I … Years ago, probably, I don’t know, 2003 or 2004, I guess, I started to just make myself available to serve people that called and said they needed help, so here been an example. Somebody would call and say, “Hey, we’re doing a fund … We want to raise money for a children’s charity.” I would ask them what it is about their charity. And I’d let them know if I knew much about it, how can I learn more about it? Develop relationship, and then, of course, I would say, “Well, do you have a budget?”
Early on, and even to this day, there’s a lot of people that don’t have much of a budget to work with. Prior to that time in my life, I would have probably said, “If you don’t have a budget, you call me when you do.” But there was a shift in my thinking at that point in my life, and what I began to say was, “Tell me about your mission. Tell me about your goal. Tell me about what it is you’re trying to accomplish.” And if they didn’t have a budget, there were many, many, many times, I would say for years, probably 50 to 60% of what I did from 2005 really to the present, I ended up doing pro bono.
You say to yourself, “How does that make business sense?” Well, I guess it depends on what your intended outcomes are. But for me, what I discovered in my commitment to saying yes, when I could, regardless of the money. What I discovered about a dozen times in those dozen years was that saying yes to helping someone who didn’t have money led always, every single time, it led to a new relationship of substance. It didn’t always lead to money, in fact, more and more often than not it didn’t, but the few times that it did, it was astounding deals. Let me give you an example.
I got called by a middle school principal in Huntsville Alabama who said an 11 year old student had shot and killed another student. She’d heard about my school Assembly Program and she said, “Can you come to our school and do Assembly Program?” We had the conversation and it turned out that they didn’t have any budget. My wife and I looked at each other and said, “Hey, we have time in our calendar. If we can drive there, let’s go do it.”
We went down, we did two assemblies there at the school. We had a great day together and at the end of the assemblies that day, there was a gentleman who was … I could see him out of the corner of my eyes standing by the door. He was in a suit and tie and looked like a businessman. He waited till all the students were gone, we’d shaken hands with all the kids. He came up to me and he handed me his card and he said, “Man, I’m really impressed with your assembly program.” He said, “I want to take you to lunch.”
Well, he was a county commissioner for Madison County there in Huntsville Alabama. He basically said, “I’ve never seen anybody do an Assembly Program as powerful as what I saw today and have such an impact on the kids.” And he said, “More importantly …” He says, “I’ve never seen anybody keep all the adults at bay until those that had their handshake, and their autograph, and their photo, or whatever, that basically was trying to put the kids first.” Long story short is he said, “I would like to give you a half a million dollar grant to come and develop programs for our schools for four years.”
Wow. That’s absolutely, absolutely amazing.
I went to serve for free and it turned into six-figure contracts.
Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. It’s like it on paper. You don’t look and say, well, that’s the way to do business. But the thing is you always make friends when you go to serve. And if you go to serve, even if people can’t afford it, if you can afford it, and you care about what they’re doing, many times what it does is it allows people to experience your gift. Where if you say, “No, I can’t show you my gift unless you give me money.” Many times people don’t ever get to your gift. They don’t know what you have.
Yeah, and it’s very, very, very eliminating. Real quick.
That’s an example of what for me has been a different approach towards how I apply the way that I think about that, how I apply it to business. I could give you a half a dozen to a dozen other examples, specific examples, of where I went to serve for free and it turned into six-figure, and on two occasions, seven-figure contracts.
Wow. Well, I tell you what, let’s dive a little bit more into that right after the break. If you’re just joining us, we are talking with Michael Peterson about moving people through business and country music. Stand by. Real quick before we go on break Michael, where can people go to find out more about you?
Fantastic. When we get back, we’re going to continue this conversation about how to move people and how to use business to move people as well. Stand by.