“You try harder and harder to kind of fit into a mold, and I think what they don’t realize is that you’re the only one that’s you.”
“I tend to overthink things until the idea becomes pointless.”
“If you feel like what you’re doing is becoming a formula, break the formula.”
Evan: He’s an American singer, actor, and producer.
He was the USA’s best selling recording artist in 2007.
To date, he’s sold over 25 million records.
He’s Josh Groban, and here’s my take on his top 10 rules of success.
Rule number one is my personal favorite, and I’d love to know which one you guys like the best, and as always, guys, as your watching the videos, if you hear something that really resonates with you, please leave it down the comments below and put quotes around it so other people can be inspired as well. Also, as you are writing something down, it’s much more likely to stick in your head, too. Enjoy!
Rule #1: Embrace Yourself
People that I really look up to are those people that kind of did it their own way. Kind of people that let people come to them and ignored the hype, and just went ahead and tried to come up with their own personality musically.
It’s a little bit of a harder path, especially with the way that the industry is now, but I think that ultimately, if I can be looked at not as a genre, but as, oh I just like, it’s just Josh, I like Josh, you know? Then, that would be a great goal for me.
“If you just embrace that 100%, you’d be the most unique thing out there, because there’s nothing else like that.” – Josh Groban
If I can look back, and hopefully have a long career and look back and say that I did everything the way I wanted to, and just kind of stayed true to myself. That’s the one thing I think most new artists need to realize.
That you try harder and harder to kind of fit into a mold, and I think that what they don’t realize is that you’re the only one that’s you, you know? If you just embrace that 100%, you’d be the most unique thing out there, because there’s nothing else like that. So, it’s hard to do, but if you can keep that mentality, I’d like to try to do that.
Rule #2: Take Risks
Anybody that says that they had their big break, you know? It winds up being because you’re in the right place at the right time, but it’s the preparation meets the opportunity. So, in a lot of times, that opportunity, you don’t know that that’s the opportunity when it happens, you know? For me, meeting David, singing with Celine that night, I originally said, “I don’t think I can do this. “Thank you, but no thank you.”, ’cause you know.
Interviewer: You were scared.
I was scared, I was terrified. I was 17 years old, and I had to fill in the shoes of a 45 year-old opera superstar, you know, and I was thinkin’ to myself, well, I just don’t want to mess up, so. He called me back and he said, “No, you don’t understand, “I’m not asking you. “You’re not going to let me down, get your butt over here.”, and so I went, and that was one of the first things that really taught me that it’s about really throwing yourself in the fire and taking those risks. So, to a certain extent, it’s been a huge rise, but at the same time, I still very much feel like a student of it, and I’m learning every step of the way.
Rule #3: Persevere
Interviewer: So, the album was out there, and it started to gain some momentum, or what started to change?
I don’t know, because I was going to Virgin Megastores when they still existed, and putting on sunglasses, not that I needed them at the time, and kind of say, “Do you have that Josh Groban CD?”. You know, “I’m looking for it everywhere, “I just can’t find it, what a lovely young voice he has.”, and they’re like, “Who’s that, Josh Brolin? “I didn’t know he sang!”. And so, they would have to pull, I’d keep finding that they would have to pull it out of storage from way, way down in the depths of-
Interviewer: Right on the corner.
Yeah, exactly, yeah.
It was Bed, Bath & Beyond.
I was in the beyond section, I was like way down, this will never sell section, you know? So, they would pull one out for me, and I was like, “Oh, excellent, you really should put these out in front.”, and so it went from that to, and I had done a number of different things.
I’d sung in the Olympics, I’d been on the Rosie O’Donnell show, who was very supportive early on. It wasn’t until 20/20 wound up doing a story about me. I think primarily based on a wonderful New York Times piece, actually, that came out, where you guys kind of wrote a really wonderful article on, and they said we want to do a story, want to interview you, we want to connect the dots.
So what they did was they basically said to that 20/20 audience, you’ve seen him here, here, here, and here. Here’s where you can ask for his CD, and here’s his name and here’s his face, and here’s his hair. That was the lightbulb that the country kind of turned on, and I went from being 148 on the charts the week prior to being number eight the next week. It was that fast. And Oprah followed, and it was all she wrote.
Rule #4: Let Things Go
“I tend to overthink things until the idea becomes pointless.” – Josh Groban
Female Interviewer: Are you critical about your music?
I’m pretty hypercritical. I’m really hypercritical about it. I tend to overthink things until the idea becomes pointless. So, one of the other things that I’ve learned in my three album career,
Female Interviewer: A long career.
Yeah, exactly, right. Is to let things go. Sometimes, we just need to let them, let the child out into the world.
Rule #5: Don’t Be Dishonest
[Australian Interviewer] When you go in to write tracks, is it a process where it just flows naturally, or do you sit down, well this is the type of song I want, this is the type of people I want it to connect to.
“The only time when you miss the mark is when you sing stuff that’s dishonest for you” – Josh Groban
Yeah, I think it’s kind of hard, it’s very hard to generalize what type of audience I’d want to connect with. I can only only write music, and find music that affects me in some way, or triggers a memory or story in my own head.
Being as we’re all human, you like to assume that if you’ve been there, and you’ve gone through it, other people will too. I think the only time when you miss the mark is when you sing stuff that’s dishonest for you, thinking that, oh, you know what, I’m not really feeling it, but I’m sure a whole lot of other people will, and they’re onto you, you know. It’s one of those things where if I find a song or write a song, even if it feels like it’s more of a general message or universal message, sometimes those are the songs that need to be sung.
Rule #6: Seek Fear
Interviewer: It’s been said many times, perhaps first by a Roman philosopher. That where preparation meets opportunity is what some people call luck
Is luck, yeah. And, what’s interesting is that I definitely had the opportunities. I didn’t think the preparation part was ready. Like I said, when I started junior high, I was a late bloomer. I was 13 going on nine, you know?
When I think about the fact that I was really given my first push by that first teacher, that’s wonderful. That was at 13, and I was signed to a major record deal at 17. That’s not a lot of time to figure it all out, and to all of a sudden be thrust on a world stage.
“Sometimes, when you’re in this business for long enough, and it starts to feel like another day at the office, you actually need to actively search out where the fear came from and find it again. That’s where the risk-taking happens.” – Josh Groban
From first solo to first album. So, I had to kind of be a professional and a student at the same time, and I would say that my first, if my fans go back and YouTube any of those promo clips from my first record, you can see behind the eyes that I am absolutely terrified. There is a major fake it till you make it psychology going on there.
Interviewer: Well, but fear can be a great motivator.
It can, it absolutely can, and I think that sometimes, when you’re in this business for long enough, and it starts to feel like another day at the office, you actually need to actively search out where the fear came from and find it again. That’s where the risk-taking happens. That’s where deciding to do a Broadway record out of nowhere happens. Is what can I do to make me scared again? And it can be good.
Rule #7: Create What You Like
When that first record came out, we weren’t writing it for radio. We weren’t producing it, really for any, even for our label at the time. You know, we didn’t know what, if we could break even, if we could sell maybe 50, 60,000 copies, we will have had a nice run, and in some ways, that vision hasn’t changed at all in the making of the next six records. It was really simple, which was that David and I had a really great connection.
He knew what my voice did best at the time, and I wanted to move people with singing. I just wanted to find music, or write music, which I didn’t wind up doing till later, that made me feel, made other people feel the way I felt when I listened to great singers that I really appreciated, and listened to music that I appreciated.
“I wanted to move people with singing.” – Josh Groban
I grew up going to the LA Music Center. My parents brought me to a lot of great things, and I would walk out of there with chills, just feeling very different than the ordinary fan. I wasn’t just humming it and wearing the hat. I was, I wanted to be that vessel at some point.
Rule #8: Break The Formula
When things start being handed to you. When you start getting mass media, and things start becoming a little easier, in terms of getting attention. The risk factor involved, and the thing that you have to really watch out for, and I think it’s the reason why there’s a lot of music out there.
“If you feel like what you’re doing is becoming a formula, break the formula.” – Josh Groban
After a while, but just for whatever reason, you can’t put your finger on it, but it’s just not as inspiring to you anymore is when it started. It’s just that it’s easy to kind of rest on that, and one of the things that I’ve really wanted to pay homage to the success with is to not keep the security blanket around you.
If you feel like what you’re doing is becoming a formula, break the formula. Try something that hasn’t been done before, and work with people and try new things that really put the opportunity out there for failure, and I think that when you do that, that’s when the most exciting things happen.
Rule #9: Find Your Inner Strength
When I lost my voice, ]it had nothing to do with those things. It had nothing to do with having had a bit too much to drink or anything like that. I had an allergic reaction to something that I ate beforehand, and my warmups were perfect, my soundcheck was flawless. I went out there, and after my third song, half of my voice was a whisper.
Interviewer: Where was this, and when was it?
Milwaukee. I’ll never forget it. Probably 2005, maybe?
Interviewer: So, you’re on stage-
I’m on stage in front of 18,000 people, and I remember there’s no worse feeling than just, this wasn’t just, oh you’ve worked your voice too much, oh, you’re having trouble hittin’ that note, you’re just a little tired. This was la la la la la, la la la la la la la la la la la la la la, and went, oh, okay, somethin’s up. Something is wrong here, because the rest of the day, it was just fine.
So, it was probably the scariest, one of the scariest things I ever had to do was level with 18,000 people, and say, “Alright, here’s what’s up. “I’ve got a frog in my throat tonight, “I think I’m catching something, “and, “I’m going to take 15.”. I said, “I’ve got a couple of options here tonight. “I can lipsynch the rest of the show.”. “No, boo!” “Okay, alright, we won’t do that, alright. “I can cancel the show after three songs.”, “Boo, no, no”, “Okay, alright, well I don’t want to do that either. “Or I could take few minutes, “figure out what the heck is going on, “and come back and finish the show for you guys.” “Yay!” “Alright, thanks, Milwaukee, we’ll be back.”, and I walked offstage, and I worked with my voice coach a little bit, who thankfully was on the road with me at that time, and flushed my system out with water, and just had tea and water.
“It really is about having the inner-strength, and that just comes from experience, to regain your own momentum.” – Josh Groban
Interviewer: Hydrate your body.
Hydrated like crazy, and through really slow scales, and lots and lots of water, I was able to tightrope-walk those notes back into my throat that night. Then, the thing that really was the struggle, more than the vocal, was getting my head back that night. Having the confidence, because once it’s not there for you, there’s so many similarities in singing psychology to sports psychology when I watch a figure skater who’s just fallen, for instance, and then they have to go and do a triple axel five seconds later.
How do you have the confidence to land on that knife edge after you’ve just fallen down? It’s the same kind of thing. And I went out there, and the voice got stronger, and stronger, and stronger. People were singing along, and by the end of the night, I was hittin’ the high notes again, and I thought, oh god, this review is just going to be the worst review of all time.
This is just, this is going to be the worst thing anybody’s ever read. Barely a mention. Ah, he felt a little sick, he left the stage, came back, blew everybody away. Bullet dodged, but that was a great learning experience, and something that I would like never to have happen again. It really is about having the inner-strength, and that just comes from experience, to regain your own momentum.
Rule #10: Interact With Your Audience
It’s a really nice thing. If somebody wants to shake your hands, tell you a story about a song that meant something to them, or in one case, there was a cardiac anesthesiologist on the express train, and she just comes to New York for fun. She’s in DC, and said that I was the number one requested CD for patients who needed to relax before they’re put under for surgery.
Interviewer: That is lovely.
I mean, that was almost a compliment, you know?
Interviewer: I think that qualifies.
I think it does too. Yes, it totally does.
Interviewer: I don’t the Ramones ever got that.
It puts me right out. Let me tell ya. So, it’s fascinating. I was sad that it was her stop, ’cause I wanted to talk to her more, you know? But it’s cool, I always meet interesting fans, and I would never want to lose my ability to interact with the city.
Man: You look like the son that the mother, who receives the CD for Christmas, wants to have.
Man: I think it’s bad for families, because they then see their own sons as less good than you. I wish my son was a pop slash opera crossover artist rather than working in a call center. Anyway, what I’m asking you, all I’m asking is that you look into camera five now, and say to sons thinking about buying their mothers Josh Groban albums, say don’t do it. Just talk to your mother and let her know that you’re a good person, too.
Sons and daughters of England, I urge you not to purchase my record. Do something nice, make a card, buy a puppy for her. Chocolates, there are really so many things that you can do to make your mother happy than buy a Josh Groban CD, so please, from Josh Groban, stay away.
Evan: Thank you guys so much for watching. I made this video because YouTuber Peter Hollins asked me to. So, if there’s a famous entrepreneur that you want me to profile next, leave it down in the comments below, and I’ll see what I can do. I’d also love to know what did Josh say that had the biggest impact on you and why? What are you going to take from this video and immediately apply to your life or to your business? Leave it in the comments. I’m going to join in the discussion.
Finally, I want to give a quick shout out to Zeno Nieuwenhuis. Thank you so much for picking up a copy of my book, Your One Word. I really, really, really appreciate the support, and everything you’ve done for Believe Nation, as well. So, thank you guys again for watching. I believe in you. I hope you continue to believe in yourself, and whatever your one word is, much love. I’ll see you soon.
Find Your Identity
You know, I was a little bit not prepared for the edge, I think, that high school would bring at the beginning of that period, and so, yeah. And when you’re a sensitive kid. When you’re interested in starting an improve class and not joining the football team, you know, there’s some bullying, too, and also, just the workload gets different. I wasn’t prepared for the difference in academic work. It was a lot to take on at once.
Interviewer: Well, looking back on it, did that have a lasting affect on you?
Well, sure, I mean you have to develop a thick skin. You have to find what you’re defenses are. In my case, back then, it was humor. I think that the class clowns are always the ones that are feeling a little lost and need to build that shield. So, I think that any comedy that I do now certainly stems from having to fight back in my own way back then, and having to deal with my own insecurities back then. I think comedy comes in to defend that a little bit.
“I can’t rely on throwing the long pass. I’ve got to find that thing that is going to make me tick. It was a music teacher that finally did it for me.” – Josh Groban
And also, when looking back on it, I wouldn’t want to repeat that time in my life for anything in the world, but I also know that I learned so much during that time, and I’m glad I didn’t peak in high school or junior high school. I’m glad that I needed to take the time to be awkward, to figure out that the things that were considered the cool thing, wasn’t what I was up to. So, okay, what is it that I’m going to do? I’ve got to find my own identity. I’ve got to find what makes me tick.
I can’t rely on throwing the long pass. I’ve got to find that thing that is going to make me tick. It was a music teacher that finally did it for me. It was somebody that said, “You’ve got a voice.”, pulled me out from the back of the choir. I was terrified. Said, “You’re going to sing this song.”, and after I sang my first solo, half of the kids that were at that thing, they came up to me and said, “Man, that was good. “Man, that was really good.”.
Interviewer: You remember what it was, that solo?
Yeah, it was ‘S Wonderful, Gershwin’s ‘S Wonderful.
♫ ‘S wonderful ♫ ‘S marvelous
Interviewer: Yeah, I like that. Would you mind doing that again acapella and give me a little more of it?
♫ You should care for me ♫ ‘S awful nice ♫ ‘S paradise ♫ What I long to see ♫ You’ve made my life so glamorous ♫ You can’t
Oh, what is it? ♫ Me for feeling amorous ♫ ‘S wonderful, ♫ ‘S marvelous ♫ That you should care for me
Interviewer: Oh, well done.
And you know. I mean, I love Gershwin. I love those songs, and it was fun. My parents hadn’t heard me sing before, and they were crying. It was my first feeling of, okay, this is, yeah, you could do this. This is your communication.
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