How to be the DJ of your own Life

I was a DJ during college.  I had the Tuesday night 7pm-10pm classic rock gig.  This was in the early 80s – so at that time classic rock was really anything before 1975.   And while I played many well know groups (Allman Brothers,  Grateful Dead, Yes, The Who, Zeppelin, etc.) – I followed in the footsteps of the previous owner of that time slot and placed a lot of focus on psychedelic sounds from the 60s.  Obscure groups.


Every time I went somewhere I scoured used record stores for old music.  I read books on the scene.  I knew which labels to look for.  I educated myself so that I could educate my listeners.  And it was pretty cool to find these nuggets of really great music that probably never got any airplay on a conventional radio station.  [If you are really curious – this is a great list of psychedelic groups – but even this list misses quite a few.]

So you’ve read 2 paragraphs and you want to know – where the hell is she going with this post?!

Failure is ok.  Its not trying again, or at all, that is not.

Being a DJ is about many things.  First there is a skill – at least there was in those days when we still spun vinyl on multiple turntables.  There was a special finesse required to blend tracks together – knowing when to start one while anticipating the end of the other.  Finding the right songs to follow each other.  Cultivating the mood that corresponds to the temperature of your audience on that particular day.

The same is true in life.  Starting and ending relationships, careers, hobbies, etc.  Knowing when it is time to walk away or perhaps knowing when its time to jump all in. There is a nervousness associated with the new…will it work?  will they like me?  do I have the right skills or personality?

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently – Henry Ford

And trust me – I failed…often.  Not everything worked.  But when it did – it was absolute magic.

But I keep learning…and failing sometimes…and growing.  I try.  Every. Damn. Day.

Planning yet Being Flexible – Resilience.

We’ve all seen the infamous quote:  “Failing to Plan is planning to Fail” .  Sure there are definitely times we can wing it,  but most of the time  we need to have some idea of the end game…

I always planned for my shows – especially if a theme was involved.  And even though the studio had thousands of records – I often brought my own. Imagine carrying 40 albums across campus…For a 3 hour show – I needed to plan for about 30 songs – then takes requests to fill in the holes.

However, just like life – sometimes things don’t go as planned.  Maybe a turntable was broken.  Or I left my records at home.  Nonetheless, I had to be able to adapt – get around the obstacles and keep moving forward.  Maybe it was not perfection.  But I managed and more often than not,  it was better or I did better than I thought.

Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before.

But nothing takes the place of planning or practicing to perfect what you are trying to accomplish.


I’ve always been a talker…The kid in class that was always scolded for talking too much, too often and at the wrong times.

When you are on the radio – there is a very fine line between talking too much and just enough.  Unlike Howard Stern – people are not listening to hear me.  They just want the music.

In life, communication is not always about talking.  More often, its about listening and being engaged.  I once remember a job interview for a start-up where the founder never even looked at me – he spent all is time answering emails.  Big Red Flag.  Moving on.

Although I admit to selective listening – I am working hard to stop what I am doing and give my full attention to the person speaking.  Particularly when it involves my family.  Its a work in progress….

And I am sure we all have that “friend” who can turn any conversation – good, bad or ugly – into a conversation about them. Don’t be that person.

Stay engaged.  Listen.  Only talk when necessary.

Get Creative.

Everyone is good at something.  Maybe its singing or writing or running.  Maybe you are a good cook or good at drawing.  Maybe you can sew or tap dance or build things.  Or fix things.  Or teach things.

For my radio show I liked to do “theme” shows.  Maybe it had a hour long acoustic set or  if NORML was showing Reefer Madness – I did an hour of songs about marijuana (you’d be surprised how many there are…)  Occasionally, I did a color show where all the songs had to have a color in their name.  The point is this – it could be anything that I wanted or imagined (as long as I did not violate FCC rules).

If you are passionate about something – don’t let anyone tell you no. Every great dream begins with a dreamer.  Practice your craft. Start your own business.  But do the things that make you happy.

While you might not be able to do this 24/7 – shift your mindset to remind yourself that your day job might be the means to your passion.

You Are In Control

There might be many days when you don’t feel in control.  But in reality you simply cannot control the outcome.  But you can control the inputs.

You can control how you act.  But you cant’ control how others act towards you.  You can control how well you do your job – but you can’t control whether or not you will get a raise or promotion.  You can practice and train for an event – but you can’t control the outcome.

Be the DJ of your own life.  The records and the songs are your days and your months and your years.  Decide how you want to put them together.  Decide you own playlist.  Fill it up with the people and passions you enjoy.  Focus on the things you can control and let go of the rest of it.



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