Capturing the magic.


There’s a great 4-part series now playing on Showtime (subscription required):


It centers around Rick Rubin, an icon in contemporary music, especially since the early 1980s, and his studio in California, Shangri-La.

At one point in episode 1, Rubin, walking on the bluffs above the beach of Malibu, says: “There’s something about places where people make good things over a long period of time. It just takes on a certain energy.

And then, “Part of it is creating the environment to allow (artists) to be themselves and feel safe to be themselves without any judgment.”

At another point in episode 1 famed film director, David Lynch, says: “Negativity is the enemy to creativity.”

He’s right of course.

Later, Rubin is asked, “But what is it you do that makes so many different, disparate people have that experience?

His answer? “I don’t know. It’s only instinctive.

It made me think of some of the legendary great radio stations I’ve known, how you could feel their special energy the minute you walked inside the building.

It wasn’t about fancy equipment and flashy studios. Some of the best radio I ever heard came out of dumps that looked like they were held together by scotch tape and prayers.

I’m not sure any current owners understand what I’m trying to talk about, just as NFL and Major League Baseball and NBA basketball owners don’t understand that some stadiums have magic, even if they don’t have luxury boxes. And both the teams that play there and the fans that go there feel it. And miss it when the old stadium is replaced with something shiny and new.

I have been so lucky in my career. I fully acknowledge it. It’s why Rubin’s comment about what he does feels so true to me.

I’ve been asked countless times what exactly I do, and those of you who work with me know I’ve always said, “I don’t know.”

That’s not false modesty. It’s the truth, because like Rubin, anything I manage to bring to the success of those with whom I work is purely instinctive.

Coaches and critics don’t have anything at all to do with your talent.

That talent is something you were born with and it is unique to you. The task, more and more often today, is creating an environment where you feel safe to free that talent in your own unique and authentic voice.

Be skeptical of anyone who wants to diminish and control your talent.

The stuff that moves us, that creates emotion within us, that brings emotion out of us, all of that stuff is magical.

It’s not an algorithm. It’s not research. It’s instinct and art.

And it’s the only way to greatness. There is no substitute.

I hope you have at least one instinctive voice whispering in your ear.

I hope you have at least one voice fighting the judgment and negativity that kills the creative spirit inside your building.

If that can’t be your voice, hire someone who will be that voice for you.

You still want to be part of something great, right?