Decide To Start

Decide To Start

Deborah Johnson

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs


Decide To Start

You have to decide to start and actually start because I have heard people that have had this plan. I've known people that have been on these albums. They have been working on the album and never finished them. So you have to decide to start. Then right along with that is to put some sort of date on finishing and actually launching.


The Inventive Journey

Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.

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 you have to decide to start because and actually start because i've heard people that have they've had this plan i've known people that have been on these albums and they've been working on the album they've never finished them so you have to just decide to start and then right along with that is to put some sort of date on finishing and actually launching [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host evan miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups and uh seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need help with yours just go to and grab some time with us to chat now today we have another great guest on the podcast uh deborah johnson and there's a quick introduction to deborah so she always thought she was going to go into music um i think started teaching music at the age of 13 talk to piano to kids and then to their parents went into college majoring in voice and piano and got and then went into education i think for a period of time taught for a couple years and then went uh and did some graduate work um also went did i think some touring if i remember right with the musically related married a professional or baseball player had a family did or did the tours off and on um went and did some work with disney and then expanded into speaking and does uh did that for a part of the business also got into set up systems for marketing and promotions and other things um and that kind of leaves us where where she's at today so with that much as an introduction welcome on the podcast deborah oh thank you devon that was quite an introduction i don't know if i could have done my life that fast that was you know it's great i just condensed your journey into 30 seconds so now let's unpack that a bit so why don't you kind of tell us how your journey got started and let's hear a little bit about that well if we want to start way back you know of course yet at the age of 13 i did not want to uh watch the five kids next door or pull weeds so i thought i could start teaching piano and this is going to date me a bit because it was 50 cents that i charged for teaching uh one of the neighbor kids piano and then her mom wanted to start taking so okay i was teaching adults at the age of 13 and it pretty much took me all the way through high school and even my college uh it was a great way to earn extra income pay my all my bills that was great um and that was you know fun and yeah i always did think you know i'm gonna go into music and of course i did i've worked as a professional musician for you know 25 to 30 years at least and done international touring done touring all over the united states done a lot of headline um concert work as well so um yeah that's uh it's what i love go ahead over touring so you went and i think after you went to college you went into teaching for a couple years now is that musical teaching uh high school elementary kind of what teaching did you go into before going back to do graduate work yes and actually um i um i was majoring kind of in performance but i got pushed a bit into education because it's a sweet spot for me as well so i got the top award coming out of cal state northridge for the top student teacher of the year you know and it was kind of a surprise you know i was show up at these meetings or these you know events and then you know i had no idea that was coming so um and i i was offered contracts when a time that contracts were not being offered and i thought you know i just really don't want to teach i don't want to be in a classroom and i could have taught high school right out and didn't want to do so i said no one question just when you were making that decision deciding hey i don't want to teach what was it was it more of hey this isn't enjoyable to me or i want to you know go in a different direction or kind of because you know a couple years got it you obviously good at it got a reward got an offer so what was that what was the motivation or saying i want to do something different kind of how did you figure that out well part of that was you know i liked the freelance lifestyle i didn't want to really be in a classroom and some of the offers i got were in inner city schools that really needed somebody like me you know like high schools but i knew how intense that was and i thought you know i don't know if i want to lock myself into any sort of contract like that so you know i didn't accept those but i ended up accepting one uh because i was living at home and you know it was like okay going to the beach every day and just doing my freelance stuff was not working at that point i had a college degree so um i was i was after this contract locally taught junior high um music and drama and so uh which i was really not totally prepared for teaching drama i will just tell you that they put me in that spot and it was not easy but but i made it through that year and decided okay after that year i am never doing this again i quit and then the next year came around and i was offered another contract at my old junior high school and i could not say no to my old principal who was still there and that was a telling sign that people stay there forever so again but i said i will do this part time i will do all your music groups and i recruited a boys chorus i will still never forget i did not have a boys course so i thought oh this i love boys choruses so i went out on the football field and this is junior high school okay and went out there and i recruited 25 guys and i got the top player first and i looked i looked like a junior higher still coming out of college i just looked really young so i went out there i recruited 25 guys and i tell you what we had a great little year i had him doing this is gonna date me i had them doing saturday night fever and they did it i cannot even believe they did it they did movements and everything for me but again i started doing my graduate work then i thought this is not where i want to be forever i don't want to be you know this principal here forever in this school i feel like i just have there's more there's more for me to do and what do you do at that point you just go back to school like what do you do i didn't really know i kind of you know i wasn't in a a strong relationship yet uh that i felt like was a serious one so i had the freedom to do that and i could still tour if i'd like to and so uh that's what i did i did that part-time and then i really quit for sure at the end of that uh and i ended up teaching college later i taught at the graduate even graduate schools and all of that later but that was a different level that was fine uh with the graduate work but um at this point you know i just didn't see i just appreciate the people that stay in those positions for a long time and they're meant for it i just didn't feel like i was really meant for you know staying in in that place it was more just because of that creative juice i had i guess you know that's what it is this is all about the inventive journey so so now you you so you stayed in you know in one form of teaching for quite a for a good period of time you know in different forms or fashion as well as going back to school now you finish up the graduate you know graduate school and invention of that program and coming out of that what was kind of that next step or where to just decide to go from there well i did marry a professional baseball player he was in the minor leagues and i had one more semester of graduate school left and they gave me a break to be able to finish it and uh because we i wanted to go off with him to spring training so we did that and it was his last um spring training his heart he had heard his arm he was a pitcher uh he'd worked with uh what now is they've called him a different team of course now but he was with the indians so uh we went there and i think i had probably watched one baseball game in my whole life i mean i was not in tune with the sports i did not come from a sports family but i was in entertainment and i knew entertainment and both of us knew entertainment so um we got along great and uh so yeah we had we met and married i would not suggest this to our kids uh in four and a half months and so we we were there and i took yeah i took that time he was released but then we traveled around the country we knew a lot of people so both of us did so we did that and then uh finished graduate work after that and started a family how about that but i continued to teach privately and did some touring some fly-outs but a lot fewer because we had three sons back-to-back and so that was you know it's pretty consuming at that point of life and so the creative juices kept going kept writing kept doing all of that i was performing all along here uh different uh my sisters and i performed together we did a lot of uh work we did a lot of it um performing in churches a lot of area and fairs and all that sort of thing so we did a lot of that and so i kept writing for that and arranging so music was still a big big part of my life definitely so now and i i think that's amicable you know that's great that you know you you're all you're putting your focus on the family you're wanting to make sure you're there for the kids and as they're growing because you know i'm a father of four my wife stays at home full time she was a nurse before that um but i think that there is definitely a benefit you know if you in circumstances you're allowed to be able to be there as your kids are growing up now as your kids grow up and they're now kind of coming out of that you know getting out of the house and you're you know they're they're raised so to speak and now that they're you know still you know certainly there for them but you have a bit more time on your hands and you're seeing it okay now what do i want to do next kind of how did you re-engage or what did you do after that well i started doing club work i was still teaching a lot um privately and it's something i could do while my kids were growing and i wanted that freedom because i wanted to be around somebody has to raise your kids period and so we made that sort of choice um and so i did some fly outs a fly out is where you go someplace you can yeah it's not a big tour it's it's a fly out so i did some of that work but i didn't really start concentrating more on my solo shows until the kids were a little bit older and we had three sons they were four years apart so it's like rough and tumble it's constant you know with their sports their activities they're all you know and now they're all launched very very thankful believe me i'm very thankful when you get to that stage um and but i've always loved you know i wrote a song called you can't buy back the years you you can't buy back the years period with your kids with your parents with uh any of your um people that are close to you so you know i didn't want to waste those years and go and look back with regret and so the the decisions i made creatively and with my career and my inventive journey um were to make sure that um i was able to you know enjoy those and my husband made some of those same we're still together same choices as well to um make sure that he was around enough so good for you that's great i think that's definitely sounds like a fun place and so now kind of bringing us towards today so i think as you mentioned we talked four kids are raised you've now got into a bit more of you know public speaking and doing other things and you're uh we also i think had a stint in disney so kind of catch us up now kind of where that or where that takes you to today yeah it's just kind of interesting kind of looking at this path um so much of life is and business is who you know and your relationships and i was starting to do this club work and now you're calling for subs around and there's a there's a certain group of us in los angeles in la area that we are piano vocalists we can do both so and we're women and so we have worked we work um we're hired for a lot of at private parties and and events and and of course i was doing my solo shows at that point too so i was uh doing some fly-outs and doing some stage work because um i did i put some shows together and so that was a lot of fun all over the country so um but in getting in disney it was one of the one of my very best friends she's become a very best friend um that i had asked her to sub for me in a job because we suffer each other and she ended up i had been trying to get in with disney you know and you send stuff sometimes to these companies over and over and over and you never hear anything back and she says you know what i have this this gig with disney would you like to do it for would you like to sub for me and that was it sure and i've worked for them 25 30 i mean it's you know with with an organization like that and it's you know and some of these are they're not my highest paying gigs they're not my type of but i love working for the organization so you show up on time you're prepared you look good and you you know you don't take advantage of you know what the freedoms that you have there and you're good and they're not gonna do a lot of different changes unless they have to have to cut back in areas but i've been an independent contractor so you know i just signed a different contract a new contract where you feel like you sign your life away pretty much with those big organizations but you know they they have to cover themselves too legally so yeah but that's that was it devin and it's so um interesting how we can just try to push our way so much into areas and sometimes it's just this relationship and and it's like ah that that was easy and if you're prepared you need to be prepared and that that's a big point too because some people they they try and try to get in and they're not prepared so that's now so now you work you know so you get it you finally get in with disney after trying for a while and and having the the connection in your network to help you get in there do that for a while now are you still doing disney and then how did you get into kind of public speaking and engaging that as well that's a great question because i had worked so hard putting those solo shows together and i was doing another headline act with two pianos like a dueling piano but it was a stage show and a headline act so we did a lot of video we did a lot and just wonderful a wonderful colleague uh waylon picard and we were doing this all over the country huge arenas we were having so much fun um but what happened was with the great recession and with corporations and some of those conferences they weren't hiring us and they weren't hiring my show either and so i started studying the market what were they hiring and what way what i found is that they were acting they were hiring mostly like tribute acts or older acts uh name acts pretty much but not the newer acts and more you know kind of niched acts like mine and our act but what they really were hiring was speakers it's like oh well i could do that i i could take it all you know what do you speak about what is this business so i contacted one of my agents and i knew that she had hired speakers and went and visited her and um we went to arizona and kind of sat in her living room and i said tell me about this speaking thing is this really a business what is this what what what do you do so i started learning about that and started writing books and i have absolutely loved it because i can combine the inventive journey of what i've done in media and music and now i've turned it into more of a media company because i've i've got videos i've got songs like hundreds of songs i've got musicals all of this stuff i've written but i can turn that experience and all of that into an overarch and also and combine that with speaking with a message which is the hero inside because we all have that creative place inside of us that just needs to come out no i mean that's definitely sounds like you know definitely a lot of fun things that you're able to accomplish a lot of opportunities a lot of fun along the way so i think that brings us kind of uh to where you're at today so now kind of looking excuse me a bit into the future you know the next six to 12 months where do you see uh things heading for you what's the next part of the journey well um i've been working extremely hard in uh putting a new book out and so i kind of use that covent time and i'm an introvert anyway but i really did miss people believe me i'm an i'm an intentional extrovert and so i get on a stage i have so much money but but you know i use that time to really really focus and to finish projects it just takes that i tell people it's seat discipline you have to focus to finish these projects um so i had had this idea for kind of a different type of book and so i really really used that that time to be able to finish the book but it's really a message of what i speak about as well so and i've kind of written a new keynote which is my here the hero inside to really bump that up with a message i think the world really needs to hear today because you know whether you're at mid-career at the halftime of life that's my audience um to maximize your skills your experience and your talents and your resources and so many people are afraid to move on and especially now they're afraid to like there's so much fear like okay what do we do can i travel can i get what what do i do should i where's my business at or what if my business is closed or you know all of those things there's a lot of those things that are keeping people circling in that endless roundabout and so that's part of the message of this at the summit of the book i wrote and how to be able to emerge from that because i've had to make my own decisions and how to emerge from my roundabout and in my life if i could have stayed where i was at and tried to do the the gig after gig after gig and not develop more of the business and that's the big one of the biggest things too devon that i've learned from the speaking business and being a part of nsa which is the national speaking association is how to run a business i was an entrepreneur i i knew how to book gigs and i would just do another album and i'd get booked and so i i didn't understand the business part oh my gosh i'm an artist and i tell you what there's a lot of artists like that out there that are going they're pan i get the emails i they're panicked they said i had all this tour i had everything planned i had i had this new album and everything shut down and i what do i do you've got to develop those multiple streams of income you've got to develop the residuals you've all of that stuff needs to happen and that's what you're all about i know with your business which is wonderful but but that's so necessary for artists definitely oh and i i definitely agree with all that i think that's that's really necessary for all businesses is yeah when you're hit with something unexpected you first of all you have to figure out how to pivot or how to adjust it and then building in those different streams of incomes and different sources of revenues and and expanding the business i think you're all great at piece of advice so well with that now as we're kind of wrapping towards the end of the podcast i always have two questions that i'd love to ask at the end of each podcast we're going to jump to those now so first question i always ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it that is a that's a a really good question because when i think about my worst business decisions i usually try to turn them into positive decisions and and what can come out of it um i think some of my worst business decisions have happened because i've rushed into the project or i've rushed getting it done and not spending enough time um really developing like the marketing plan when i when i taught music business at a college course i told them um you know you're doing your project is this much and it's a lot of work but your marketing and your plan for putting that out it is huge it is huge and i think some of my worst business decisions have been in doing um a particularly you know i did this christmas album that was an amazing it's it's a great album i had live streams on it a lot of brass it's just a beautiful album fun arrangements and um but the marketing aspect i i just thought ah people are just gonna book this show and it just doesn't happen like that you have to put that in place and there's so much i was just asked the other day well do you have a marketing team and i said oh there's a lot you can do right now you don't have i i might be against some of these people watching they're going but i'm a marketing team i could do that for you but there's so much that entrepreneurs can do now by yourself you can hire you can hire those independent contractors you can um use some of that social media you can use the ads you can get people to write reviews and not um but you they write reviews when you ask when they read your stuff actually read your stuff you do not ask people to say oh just write me a review they don't i don't i never do that but but it's important for people to honestly i like getting reviews that just come that i don't that are totally organic i just got another one the other day and i was like that was so i mean i just appreciate that so much so because that was unwarranted and i didn't i don't ask for them so um so all of that was some of my worst of just not planning enough and having the insight because i think i could have helped more people through that process as well so that's a good really good question but you have to try to turn those into a positive and what you're going to do different the next time so and i think that that's definitely a great lessons to learn and a great piece of advice so now to jump to the second question which is if you're talking to somebody that's just getting to a startup or a small business what be the one piece of advice you'd give them i would say you have to decide to start because and actually start because i've heard people that have they've had this plan i've known people that have been on these albums and they've been working on the album they've never finished them so you have to just decide to start and then right along with that is to put some sort of date on finishing and actually launching so i think that's a mindset and but you have to get the right help as well and some people are afraid to ask for help or to spend the resources it takes to get the type of help they need and when i talk to them a year later they're still in the same place so at deciding to start get the right help you that you need find that you know there are so many programs out there and there's a lot of scams too by the way and there's a lot of a lot of just stuff out there you gotta wade through it it's all about trust i talk about that in my new book talk about trust as well and how important that is but in the journey but just to actually with that mindset to actually start and and part of doing that you just need to develop some sort of routine whether it's journaling i i love i have a little program called the 90 day challenge that you just write a line or two every day i tell you it helps that sort of thing but to starting and then put an actual launch date on it that you will do it and i think that's a bit that's a big mindset some people they're just afraid right now to get beyond the fear no and i think that's definitely a great piece you know it's interesting i think we're either coming up under or just past 300 episodes and i you know asked the same question we get different or different responses and different great pieces of advice so probably the number one answer we get more from more entrepreneurs than anything else is just get started or i wish i got started earlier you know get started as quick as you can and so you'll never regret it and i think that there's you know good takeaway there is it everybody no matter their journey no matter what they're doing no matter the business or anywhere else anywhere else they're at within their journey and so they always are glad they got started and so i think that that's a great piece of advice of just getting started and getting started now because you'll you know even if it doesn't work out or you decide you don't like it you'll very seldom look back and regret i regret that you got started because you chased that dream you found out that you loved it and it's the thing you want to do or you found out you want to do something else but i think getting started now is a great piece of advice well as we wrap up and as if people want to reach out to you they want to get to know you they want to be a they want to hire you for speaking they want to be a customer they want to be a client they want to be an employee they want to be an investor they want to be your next best friend any role give up what's the best way to reach out to you contact you and find out more oh you can always contact me through i have a number of websites um but i have my speaking website is you can get me there um i have a lot of my online courses and all of that and their goals for your and uh one of the original websites i've had for years and years probably i don't know maybe 30 years 25 years i'm gonna date myself but it's you can also reach me through any of those sites uh you can email me through that deborah goals for your life dot com that always works and um i would love to hear from you and mention that you heard me here that would be so great and devin this has been a wonderful interview i love the focus of your business and i have worked with um intellectual property attorneys before and they've saved me a couple times with some of my projects and i really appreciate what you do and it's a very important for a creative any creatives uh listening to this uh just to make sure that you've you know you got your uh your ducks in a row well i appreciate the cotton words i appreciate you coming on it's been a fun it's a blast to have you on now for all of you listeners if you have uh your own journey tell and you'd like to be a guest on the podcast we'd love to share your journey um you can just go to and apply to be on the show two more things as listeners one make sure to click subscribe in your podcast place you know when all of our awesome episodes come out and two leave us a review so other people can find out about all of our awesome episodes and last but not least if you ever need help with patents trademarks or anything else just go to and grab some time with us to chat well thank you again deborah for coming on it's been a fun it's been a pleasure and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thank you so much it was an absolute pleasure devon thanks for having me

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