From the time my son, Toby, was 10 years old, he knew he wanted to be an Irish folk musician.
Being a young man from Essex, this was rather a niche ambition.
He had been taken to a Kate Rusby concert in London by his dad and a neighbour. After the performance, Glen took Toby backstage to meet the band. Neither his dad nor I would ever have done that!
The band members welcomed Toby with open arms and let him try all their instruments. His hands were so small that he couldn’t reach the holes on any of the Irish low whistles but he loved the sound.
He returned home with a DVD of a live concert and we bought him a penny whistle. Within a day he had taught himself to play all the tunes on the whistle and was adopting the mannerisms of the whistle player, John McCusker.
His dad bought him the smallest low whistle it was possible to get. It was a different key and Toby taught himself to play all the tunes on the DVD. His sister’s violin had sat abandoned in the corner of the room after she had had a few lessons. Toby commandeered it and taught himself to play all the tunes on the DVD on the violin.
It was the same with every instrument he could find in the house. Even blocks of wood were turned into percussion to play along with the DVD.
Glen and his Dad continued to take him to folk concerts and festivals and he often saw John, who was always happy to say hello and give encouragement.
Facebook for connecting with the right people
When Toby was 13, he was legally allowed to sign up to Facebook. He went and followed John’s Page and began interacting with him on a regular basis. He sent videos of the new band he had formed that was playing John’s tunes.
Watching all his video performances regularly, he had turned into a mini-me of John – right down to the mannerisms and stagecraft.
As all his friends were playing on computer games, Toby was practising or listening to his music.
At one of John’s concerts, not long after his 17th birthday, Toby asked if a spare whistler was required. The next thing he knew he was up on stage being introduced as the next bright star of the folk scene.
And John was as good as his word – he gave Toby his big chance as a band member for his 25th anniversary tour. And Toby also toured with John’s wife, Heidi Talbot.
Using Facebook he had been connecting with other famous and upcoming folk legends from his own generation.
And so a dream was realised, he was a professional Irish folk musician, travelling the world doing something that he truly loved.
So what relevance does this have to business owners?
Well, one reason is that this is one of the case studies that I feature when someone asks me if social media works to grow your business – Facebook played a huge role in Toby’s ability to connect regularly with other musicians from across the country.
You too can find your target customers, suppliers and future joint ventures on social media.
But the main point that I want to make here is about focus and goals.
Michael Gerber’s E Myth puts this front and centre. If you don’t know where you are heading with your business, how will you know when you get there?
And how will you know what it takes to get you there?
People often tell Toby how lucky he is!
And yet, as Henry Ford once said: “it’s funny how the harder I work, the luckier I become.”
Yes, there was some luck involved – if Glen hadn’t taken him backstage…
But if Toby had not
- practised relentlessly to polish what was clearly a great talent; and
- built and nurtured these relationships.
He would not have been invited to play with these amazing people.
Everything he did was aimed at his goal of being a professional Irish folk musician as fast as possible.
So what is your one goal for your business?
Have you spent today doing things that are not moving you towards it?