Happy New Year to you!

One more year has come and gone, so it’s time to reflect a bit. I’m going to do it for you in this email and give you some handy takeaways to make 2016 your best year yet.

I’m usually an all-over-the-place thinker, so bear with me on this. I’ll try to organize my thoughts so that this email is jam-packed with good advice and observations.

I’m also going to give you a path to freedom further along in this email (and a call-to-action, of course)!

MY BIG LEAP

Many of you know that last March I resigned from my job after nine years of blood, sweat, and tears in a very rewarding choral program, albeit with an administration that fought me every step of the way. (I’m writing the book about the full story. Just you wait.)

If you had asked me in March what I was going to do after giving up my $75k+/yr and amazing benefits, I would have told you “I have no idea, but somehow I know I’ll be okay.” And guess what? I’m ok! 🙂 I’m actually the most emotionally healthy I’ve ever been. I’m living in a new city and loving it, and I’ve gotten more opportunity to be musically fulfilled than I ever thought possible for someone without a traditional music education job!

I’d say that I’ve had more fulfilling experiences in the second half of 2015 than I did the entire time I was teaching. It’s not luck. It was a choice I made.

Since I quit teaching I’ve…

  • started the Find Your Forte podcast and interviewed 34 incredible choral directors, and produced another handful of solo episodes.
  • produced two musicals at my company, VoiceWorks, in NJ.
  • presented at multiple conferences on the topics of music entrepreneurship and creating influence online.
  • taken on the job as choirmaster for the Zelda Symphony, the official Nintendo-licensed tour, performing for thousands at each venue. Want to feel like a choral rockstar?! Hit me up next time I announce my casting call for this one!
  • been asked to perform with my high school choir, Viridis, alongside Kenny Rogers, and soon with the GRAMMY-award-winning musicians, The Chieftains (March 2016).
  • presented a four-day Christmas concert series with my Impulse Handbell Ensemble, a collaboration with the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus.
  • started coaching one-on-one in business, branding, and marketing. I have clients that are performers, conductors, and fitness experts.
  • picked up a gig as a guest conductor at a wonderful high school in New Jersey for their Christmas season.
  • *went on a 11-day trip, in the middle of November, with some of the most successful podcasters in the country (we’re talking high 6 to 7 figures/year) to Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Jamaica, Haiti, and Grand Cayman.

*Surround yourself with people you aspire to be like. If you’re not happy with yourself, look at your friends.

..all of which I would not have been able to do if I were still teaching full-time. Did I mention December 2015 was my highest earnings net month in my career?

KEEP MOVING

Every time I gave into resistance, stayed in bed for another two hours, chose to sit inside and feel sorry for myself, I had a miserable day. The days I said to myself “I have no idea what’s going to happen when I sit down and write, make a podcast, or just get out and socialize with people, but I’m going to do it anyway.” are the days my phone rang or my email inbox exploded and new opportunities arose.

LISTEN TO YOUR GUT

If it feels wrong, it probably is. God knows I’ve been there. At a certain point I felt myself getting ill at the prospect of going to work the next morning. Physically ill. I went through a Costco-sized bottle of ibuprofen in a year because I’d have a daily headache. I’m glad to say I haven’t medicated myself in months because I don’t get myself into things that make me anxious or give me headaches.

Sometimes you don’t need anti-anxiety medication, you just need an escape plan.

If you ever think to yourself, “Well, it’s good money. I’ll put up with it for a little while longer.” then you’re in it for the wrong reason. Your life is too short. Start making an escape plan ASAP. Need help? Ask me how. 😉

BE PICKY

It’s okay to be picky about…

  • the gigs you take
  • the people you hang out with
  • the women/men you date
  • the business relationships you foster
  • the clients you take on

FIGHT RESISTANCE

In any worthwhile endeavor – from your career, to your health, to your intimate relationships – you’re going to be met with resistance. It comes from inside you. It’s a little voice that says you can’t do it. I’m here to tell you it’s possible to defeat this. But resistance can be terrible. It gets stronger the closer you are to your goal, BUT if you power through it you’ll be handsomely rewarded.

If you’re scared about the prospect of your endeavor, it’s likely the right endeavor for you. That’s because it’s going to stretch you beyond your comfort zone. I’m one of the biggest self-saboteurs you’ll ever meet, because I have BIG goals. The more audacious the goal, the more you’ll have to stretch, the harder resistance with fight to snap you like a dried-out rubber band.

For example – and this is nothing – My podcast kicks my ass every week. I have to fight to eek out a Technique Tuesday. What do I say? Who really cares? Will people think I’m full of shit? Who the hell is Ryan Guth to talk about this? And every week, I have to say… “Dammit, I’m an authority in what I’m saying because I’ve been there and I know I can help people by sharing my experiences.” If you make your art about helping people, no one can fault you… not even yourself.

The BEST book on fighting resistance, by the way, is The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. You’ll read it in 90 mins. Here’s a link to the book, and here’s a link to download it on audiobook for free.

EARN YOUR FREEDOM IN 2016

As you can tell, from my earlier paragraphs, I’m not a big fan of being employed by someone else. I still want you to earn your freedom. I’m not advocating quitting your job right away – or at all for that matter. I worked for six years in order to do that, building my company, falling on my ass, launching programs that failed, writing countless emails to customers apologizing for my mismanagement, eventually able to walk away from my teaching job.

You may love your job, but feel less than free for financial reasons.

If you’re in a less-than-ideal situation, but it’s a living, I’m sure walking away scares the crap out of you! So in 2016 I’m going to help you.

Music Teacher Money School is my newest project. It will be a suite of online courses, podcasts, literature, and peer-support that will allow musicians who KNOW they can live a better life to live that better life.

I will offer expert advice on personal development, starting and running a business, building your brand, finance, and much more.

Even if you love your job, but aren’t happy with the salary, I can help you afford your second car payment or maybe just taekwondo for the kids. It’s about making enough on the side so that you can worry about other things besides money.

Music Teacher Money School is for people interested in…

  • creating a side income, without quitting your job, so you can be more comfortable IN your job.
  • creating a side income so you CAN quit your job.
  • students that want to come out of college ahead of the pack.
  • stay-at-home spouses and parents that want to be able to provide some additional cash for the family budget.
  • and anyone looking to make money doing what they love.

This will be my main focus…helping you earn your freedom in 2016.

Of course, Find Your Forte, my podcast, will still exist as a passion project, since I know it’s been a source of inspiration to Choir Nation for almost nine months.

If you’d like hop into Music Teacher Money School for free resources, I’m starting with a closed Facebook group.

CLICK HERE to request membership!

I hope to see you there!

Happy New Year!

—Ryan