Mike Posner's Self-Discovery beyond Music

Audio Description

Singer-songwriter Mike Posner is best known for his unique voice and his many chart-topping hits, but he's also a poet, a mountaineer, and a deeply inspiring individual. Listen to the full episode to learn about his 2,851 miles walk across America, a poisonous snake bite, his climb up Mount Everest, and a transformative meeting with Jay-Z.

Transcript

00:09 - 00:31

Hi, everyone, and welcome to The Big Stage where we talk to athletes, artists and entertainers about their legacy and impact. I'm your host, Adam Sansiveri, managing director and co-lead of Sports and Entertainment at Bernstein. Back with me today is one of our all-time favorites, Grammy nominee, former music manager, and Bernstein advisor Dan Weisman. Thanks for being here again, Dan. Thanks, Adam.

00:40 - 01:22

I'm really excited about our final guest in 2021. He is a singer, songwriter, producer, poet, mountaineer, and much more. As an artist, he is known for his own hits, Cooler than me, Please don't go, and of course, the famed I took a pill in Ibiza, which reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100, earning a 2017Song of the year. Grammy nomination, has over one billion streams, and is still seven years later one of the most-streamed songs in the world. As a writer-producer, he is known for crafting Sugar for Maroon 5 and Boyfriend for Justin Bieber, just to name a few. I'm excited to welcome Mike Posner to The Big Stage. Thanks for being here, Mike.

01:22 - 01:25

Thank you so much for having me, Adam. Looking at your life of late,

01:25 - 02:23

it's easy to say that you have to be one of the most interesting people I've interviewed. Unbelievably, on June 1st of this year, you summited Mount Everest. You did it to honor your late father and your hometown by supporting the Detroit Justice Center. This followed in 2019 your six-month solo journey across America on foot when you walked 2851 miles from Asbury Park, New Jersey, to Venice Beach, California, surviving a rattlesnake bite along the way. To state the obvious, life is more than just music to you. So let's get right down to it. You studied sociology at Duke University and graduated a semester early with a high GPA of 3.6 and a record deal. In 2010, you were twenty two years old and you released your debut album, Thirty One Minutes to Take-Off, which was a big commercial success. Now I know you started making music in high school, but when did you realize it was going to be your full time pursuit in life?

02:23 - 03:20

I realized that music was something I could do as not just a hobby, but a livelihood when I met Big Sean. Big Sean is a rapper, very, very successful emcee from Detroit and I'm from Detroit as well. We met after senior year in high school, we are the same age, and I was just sort of a guy in his entourage that produced songs for him. And at that time in my life, you know, a record deal or working on music professionally, that seemed like a million miles away and borderline impossible. But Sean, as he does, led by example, and he met Kanye West and ended up getting a record deal, and once he did so, something switched in my mind. I realized that was not only possible for me, but inevitable for me as well, and it became this 90 minute belief just in knowing that, you know, I'm next.

03:20 - 03:45

It was really only about eight months from when this internal shift in my mind, in the way I thought about music from sort of a hobby I'd be lucky to have, you know, sort of just any job in the music industry to, hey, I'm going to get a record deal also. And knowing it, it's only about eight months from that shift to it actually happening. And Dan knows really well, because Dan and I were working together. He was my manager at the time, but it was interesting time in my

03:45 - 04:27

I was a junior at Duke University and we were taking meetings with all the record labels. We had a pretty amazing meeting with Jay-Z and meanwhile, I'm trying to finish finals and that was, it was really big Sean and I owe a lot of my life to him because if he didn't show me, Hey, you know, you can really do anything, and the key is, yeah, working hard, that's important. But also having this internal belief and knowing you can do whatever. And so that's a, you know, kind of a segue into the other parts of my life where I transformed ideas like, Hey, what if I did this walk, to beliefs, which is a thought repeated over time, into knowings that this is going to happen and then doing it in real life.

04:28 - 04:28

Oh, that's amazing.

04:28 - 04:38

Before we jump into some of that, the details of these great things that you've accomplished, I'm actually curious, Dan, I want to hear from you. How did you and Mike first connect?

04:38 - 05:11

A good friend of mine from Emory, who's my little brother in fraternity, who's now a very successful music executive, Matt Graham. He sent me an email one day at the time I was managing Walee, a hip hop artist, and he said, I have some beats from this kid who's in my friend's fraternity at Duke. You've got to check these out. And so he sent me a download folder of some beats and I listened to them, and one of the songs in there was Cooler than me. And I heard Mike's voice and Mike's got, you know, one of the most unique voices I've ever heard. And then finding out he not only sang on this, he wrote it. He produced it.

05:11 - 05:47

I hit Matt back and I was like, Hey, I need to get in touch with him. And so he put Mike and I on an email and Mike and I started instant messaging back when instant message was still a thing. We would instant message between classes and we talked on the phone a bunch two, but Mike's AOL handle was Posner9. I can say that now because instant messages don't exist anymore, and I'd have these random messages pop up from time to time on my computer, and we started brainstorming and I suggested that he make a mixtape, which at the time was pretty novel for a singer. To make a mixtape and, you know, our relationship just developed and then developed into a working relationship, Mike, do I remember that correctly?

05:47 - 06:16

Yes, absolutely right. That detail on doing the mixtape. You know, I had released one song and it was well-received on some niche music blogs. But Dan making that suggestion and do a whole project in that vein? That was really when my life changed and people really started to invest in me as an artist and I started getting attention from major record labels and that kind of thing. So I owe a lot to the boss, Dan Weisman as well. So thank you, really.

06:16 - 06:48

Thank you for believing in me. I vividly remember this conversation we had when we were talking about marketing your music, and I said, Hey, you go to this really unique schoo, school, it it's a private attracts people from all over the world. If you just tell 10 people to tell 10 people, you'll have a thousand fans in no time. And it was in the nascent days of Facebook, and it actually worked out that way. And then you found that loophole and iTunes University, where you got your mixtape up on iTunes illegally, and they created a Posner rule after that to close that loophole. That's right.

06:48 - 07:06

So Mike, you share a lot about yourself in your lyrics and you talk about things you're working through in life, you know, beliefs that your hold, dreams that you have. Why is it so important to be vulnerable in your music? And when did that vulnerability, you know, really crystallized for you in terms of how to sort of relay that into your music?

07:06 - 07:34

There's a great quote from Werner Herzog, the filmmaker, the acclaimed documentarian, and he says the poet must not avert his eyes. The poet must not avert his eyes. What's that mean? To me it means that in an artist's job is to help other people see the beauty in life, the divinity and the normalcy, but also look at life really honestly, you know, and when things aren't perfect, let's be honest about that, too.

07:34 - 08:09

So I don't know when that crystallized for me. I think just as I was getting older and the things I listened to, I gravitated towards other songwriters and artists that did that, sort of look at myself, as in a lineage of some songwriters, you know, it goes back to Woody Guthrie and Dylan and then spreads out as a lot of tentacles with Springsteen and, you know, Conor Oberst and Taylor Goldsmith, kind of one generation above me, and I'm really inspired and influenced by those guys in their writing and influences my stuff a lot as well.

08:09 - 08:25

You said that your walk across America was about finding yourself, but you wanted your climb to be about others. I remember having this conversation with you about are you going to raise money in your walk. You know, are you going to get sponsors, whatever, and you said, you know, I just really want to make this about me. And I think that's good of you to know yourself to do that.

08:25 - 09:03

It was just honest. I was really walking across America because I wanted to do it. I wasn't walking across America to show people who I was. I was walking to find out who I'd become. At that time, I thought, is inauthentic to say, Hey, I'm walking for this cause when I'm not. That was the reason. When it came down to my climb, I was looking at it, looked at a little bit different. I thought, Hey, this is something I want to do for kind of the same reason, you know, I'm going to do this because I want to. But if I can raise money and do some good at the same time, I should. Why not? So that was sort of the impetus of... my angle, the way I looked at, that change between those two projects.

09:03 - 09:28

So let's talk about the walk for a second. You lost your father to brain cancer in 2017 and your friend and collaborator Beachie in 2019. And these losses brought about a revelation in your own life and in your song Live Before I Die, you repeat the line. I just want to live before I die. Is this why you decided to walk? Is this why you decided to climb? What did the walk really reveal about, you know, knowing yourself?

09:29 - 10:17

We can probably do a three-hour podcast on that, but really, I'm hearing two questions, which is, you know, why did I do it? And then what did it reveal? And the why is, I think a lot of people that have achieved some level of success or, you know, even just caught in the normalcy of their own lives. I felt like I was playing in a very small sandbox. My life had become, you know, these windowless rooms in West Hollywood where I go and make music. And I just had this inkling like there was more inside me, is going to be... gotta be more to my life. And so I felt like I was stuck under the weight of my own life. And I remember feeling like there's just not a really...when I woke up in the morning, there is not really a compelling reason to get out of bed. I'm no stranger to that feeling. That's my default mode.

10:17 - 10:38

So I decide to do something that gave me a compelling reason to get out of bed and made my life exciting. You know, and Adam said, gave me a very sweet compliment at the beginning of the show, and it's the most interesting something, probably not true. But I wanted to be that for myself. I wanted to be that for myself. I wanted my life to be interesting to me. That's why I

10:39 - 11:30

do this, this wild idea to walk across America, and there's something about the solitude of it and the scope of it. I knew it would do something beautiful from the inside out for me and boy, did it ever. You know, I walked across 13 American states, two thousand eight hundred miles, and it changed everything, changed everything. And so, you know, now I'll answer your second question is what I get out of it. And one thing I got out of it, I mean, there are many. But one thing I got out of it was just the complete obliteration of whoever I thought I was before. You know, I thought I was this guy that did these specific things. And really, I was in a really small box without knowing it. You know, and after I did the walk, it just exploded that I never, ever would have thought I could climb Mount Everest if I hadn't done the walk.

11:31 - 11:56

You know, so these things, when I hear them back, when he's doing the intro and he's saying, you know, I did this music and then I walked across America, I climbed Everest. It's insane to me to hear back, you know, I'm just this Jewish kid from the suburbs of Detroit. I somehow pulled that off and there's a momentum to it. You know, like I did one and then I had the courage to do the other because I did that one and so on. That's one thing I got out of the walk for sure.

11:56 - 12:18

There are many others., Mike no person who has had a high level of success has had success without hitting some major roadblocks. Continuing on this theme of your walk and what you've done here, eight hundred miles in, you got bit by a rattlesnake. That's a pretty big hurdle for the success you were trying to have of finishing that walk. So just tell us quickly about that moment.

12:18 - 13:04

That's right. You know, I started New Jersey. I walked across the green fields in Jersey. I can cross coal country in Pennsylvania, where I shared the road with Amish buggies. I saw a double rainbow in Ohio. I walked across Indiana in eight days, I walked across Illinois. I walked across Missouri in a heatwave, walked across Kansas, walked into Colorado, could see the Rocky Mountains on the horizon, and had completed 1,797 miles. Was getting ready to work on 1,798 and just felt this. It was pain shooting up my leg and I thought, What the fuck was that? Then I heard a sound that I didn't want to hear, and then I realized a poisonous rattlesnake had just sunk its fangs into my left ankle.

13:04 - 14:02

And I looked around and there were two fans there walking with me that day that showed up and as well as my walk manager Colin. But besides that, there wasn't much anything, no gas stations, no houses, no barns, not even any cows. This is bad. One of the fans called 9-1-1, and they let me speak to dispatch and dispatch said, Listen, we sent an ambulance from two different towns, from two different directions, and a helicopter and whatever gets their first, get in. And I say, Am I going to die? And a voice on the other line said, Oh no, sir. So I just sitting there and darkness start to creep in from the edges of my awareness. And I don't know if you've ever seen Looney Tunes, but at the end, the colorful circles converge on the center of the screen, says, that's all, folks. That's what it felt like, except instead of colorful circles, it was darkness, is black and I can feel myself fading

14:02 - 14:41

And an hour later, I was in the back of an ambulance and came to and realized, you know, this is me in the last day of my life. And surprisingly, interestingly, what followed was extreme peace, as decide, you know, if this is indeed the end of my life, I'm not going to waste my last more precious moments worrying or dwelling on a panic, I'm just going to enjoy it. And I remember seeing the paint on the back of the ambulance door and appreciating how beautiful and vibrant the green color was, and there were some red as well. The poignancy and immediacy of that moment was actually very beautiful and very, very peaceful.

14:41 - 15:12

If you get bitten by a rattlesnake, basically you must, you must receive medicine called antivenom. And if you don't receive this medicine, you die. That's just 100 percent. If you receive the medicine too late, you risk, you know, if the bite's on your ankle, you list losing your foot or your leg and necrosis and this kind of stuff. So getting to the hospital someplace where they have this antivenom is imperative.

15:12 - 15:55

So I got to the hospital in La Hunter, Colorado, and they're taking all these tests. And what they do is they send the results of the test to poison control and that person deciding how much antivenom I get. So I received ten vials of antivenom. They take more tests and they say you should get 10 more. The doctor walks in and he goes, Look, we gave you 10. You're supposed to get 10 more, but that's all we have here. So in the event that you need more after that, you can't be here. We got to get you to a bigger hospital. So what I'm going to do is put you into an ambulance and they'll administer the antivenom while you drive, transfer to Pueblo Colorado to Parkview Hospital.

15:55 - 16:52

And I said, sure. And I waited about an hour. And these these strapping young men that, you know, connected with like a younger fraternity part of myself come in and they say, Mike, you know we are your ambulance team are going to take you to Parkview in Pueblo. And I said, great, you know, I was supposed to get 10 more vials as we drive. They said, No, no, no, we don't have the equipment to give you that. So you'll just get it there. I said, no, you no, no, no. I said, you know, it's a three hour drive. I needed 10 more vials. As a doctor, I start hitting the nurse call button, you know, and you know, thank God I was coherent. The doctor comes back and he goes, It's my mistake. I didn't realize they didn't have that their equipment in ambulance, so I already called the chopper and we're going to helivac you to the bigger hospital and they have the proper IV equipment. You can get the antivenom as you go. So I transferred. Long story short, I thought the word antivenom sounds like it just takes care of it. It doesn't work like that.

16:52 - 17:17

I was in the hospital five days in the ICU, three, my left leg swelled the size of a frigging elephant trunk. I went from walking 24 miles a day to I can walk to the bathroom without help, I was on a walker and crutches. And, you know, thanks to great medical care, I started to heal, and then actually came the hardest part of the snake bite. You guys want to guess what the hardest part of the snake bite was? Start walking again?

17:18 - 17:51

That's exactly right, Adam. While I was injured, everyone was calling me, cooking for me, you know, giving me sympathy. John Mayer's DMing me in my Instagram wishing me well. I'm on the news, and after three weeks, I just couldn't deny it any longer. My foot was healed. You know, my ankle, everything was better and I had 1000 hot, horrible miles left to walk. I had an out, you know, I could quit now. And actually, nobody would think I'm a quitter. You know, I got bit by a poisonous rattlesnake, could have died. And maybe it wasn't meant to be, but I would know.

17:51 - 18:19

So I had a decision. You know, I'm going to either live life according to my reasons, aka excuses, you know, a reason nine times out of 10 is just an excuse, you know, in fancy clothes. Or I'm going to live my life according to my commitments. So it was not easy to go back to that place. I was afraid and I knew I had sweltering heat, excruciating foot pain, snake riddled shoulders at Colorado 10 waiting for me. I could say like I kind of had hell waiting for me, had hell waiting for me.

18:19 - 19:16

Walk across America's hard, is beautiful and life changing, but it's freaking hard. And to go back out there, you know, I had to decide I wanted meet hell too. Let's do this and finish what I started. So three weeks after that snake bite, I went back to the exact spot that it bit me. I started walking again, took a step and I kept taking steps, kept taking steps till I went up and over the Rockies, kept taking steps until I walked across Colorado, walked across a smidge in New Mexico, kept taking steps till I walked across Arizona, kept taking steps until across the Mojave Desert, kept taking steps until California, kept taking steps til I get to Los Angeles. I see the Hollywood sign on my right, kept taking steps until, you know, the pavement turning to sand on Venice Beach, kept taking steps, my walk escalates to a run. And, you know, October 18, 2019, I dove after, you know, six months, three days, two thousand eight hundred miles, thirteen American states. I dove into the Pacific Ocean.

19:16 - 19:39

Mike, I think back to working together when you got famous. And I remember this one day vividly where you got recognized and you said, I get recognized just enough to stroke my ego. But like, that's good enough. I don't know if you remember saying that. I don't. I think it was when like a paparazzi was following you on Melrose Avenue or something like that.

19:39 - 19:45

Any time someone says they remember something I said from when I'm twenty three, I'm a little nervous.

19:46 - 20:14

I don't think I don't think it it was.. was. that crazy. But your relationship to notoriety is complicated. I mean, you've told me that personally and you talk about it in your music, you took a little bit of a break from being an artist and you went on to write songs for Bieber and Maroon 5 before Ibiza became a massive, massive hit. And I would say arguably after the snake bite and Everest, you are maybe more famous than you've ever been. But how do you navigate the sort of pendulum swings of fame and notoriety?

20:14 - 20:52

Well, first of all, as far as you know, recognition in my daily life, I sort of have it perfect. I've sported a lot of different styles over my 11-year career or, you know, giant beard or green hair. And you know, I think one nice byproduct of that is I don't get recognized that much. If I do get recognized it's a few people and I can actually spend some time with them. Whereas, you know, some of those more famous, you know, it's just overwhelming, you know, if there's crowds, you know, interaction there actually is a giant burden. And that's not the case for me. So I think I'm really lucky and blessed in that regard.

20:52 - 21:28

You know, I think the spirit of your question is like is more universal. We all experience the Buddha called the eight worldly winds. I'm not going to forget some; gain, loss, pleasure, pain, fame and disrepute. You know, this is a part of all of our lives and it's definitely a part of mine. You have periods of wild, extreme success and periods of not, you know, just not a lot going on. And I think our job as humans, the artists of our own lives, you know, whatever job you have, you need to cultivate a part of yourself that lives outside those eight worldly winds, and I can only

21:28 - 21:53

only So at any point in your life, you're going to be in a period of gain, loss, fame, disrepute, pain, pleasure. You've got to find a part of yourself that's not tied to those because that's just part of life. You are not going to live a life on this planet as a human being and escape those cycles. That's part of the deal. So how do we cultivate a part of ourselves that lies outside of that, that we can relate to one, you know,

21:53 - 22:28

So you know, for me, yeah, I had these periods where I got to, you know, number one song on pop radio, playing concerts in arenas and stadiums. And then I got, I got, you know, times where I'm alone on a meditation retreat, literally myself in a cabin for three weeks. You know, I'm a big meditator. And that for me has helped create a place, you know, a relationship to the present moment that lies outside or maybe underneath, behind these eight worldly winds, behind gain, loss, pain, pleasure, fame, disrepute. Praise, blame is the last two. Praise, blame. Thank you.

22:28 - 22:29

Yeah, yeah.

22:29 - 22:45

Well, I feel like this conversation is one we could have a three-hour episode on two, Mike. Let's have some fun and move forward, and I want to do a quick, rapid-fire round. So I'm going to ask you a question and really quickly you answer with the first thing that pops to your mind. All right, here we go. What's one food that you hate that everyone else seems to love?

22:45 - 23:00

I can't think of one that everyone else seems to love. I don't have one of those. But what's that? Like if you get sushi like the urchin? Oh, uni. I don't think uni is that popular overall, but I'm not in the movie fan club. All right.

23:00 - 23:03

How about station wagon or convertible?

23:03 - 23:07

Oh, that's got to be climate dependent.

23:09 - 23:12

Spoken like a true thinker. How about cat or dog? Dog.

23:13 - 23:16

I actually just got a dog, my first dog.

23:16 - 23:18

What's the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

23:19 - 23:19

I drink water.

23:20 - 23:23

Last question. Name an item in your house that brings you joy.

23:23 - 24:01

I have a singing bowl, and when I start a meditation session, I ring it. When I finish, I ring it. And that's a reminder to come back to the present moment, you know. And what do we mean by the present moment? Being present. For me when I use that word, I mean, I'm alive. I'm being without thinking so that voice in our head, we have going, you know, listening right now might even not be listening to what we're saying, but listening to it, the voice in their head is saying about what we're saying. That's the thinking mind. We can create an existence without thinking mind. We can start to put gaps between our thoughts, and that's presence. That's no thinking, no mind.

24:01 - 24:51

The bowl is a reminder. It's a crutch for me to quiet the thinking. I call my thinking mind Charlie. Cuz Charlie says all sorts of crazy stuff. I'm like, Dude, really that, you need to tell me that right now? So it's a reminder to, you know, I'm going to be without you for a while. If you really spend some time in quiet, in quietude, which you know is becoming more and more rare and sacred in our society with the phones, for myself included, you know, and just as a metric like, you know, I remember when we started working, Dan, and I go to studio sessions like, if someone you know, was on their phone, that was kind of rude. Now in the studio session, we write on our phones, we have Google Docs between, so we're writing on the same, that is in some ways more efficient. But as everyone knows, we're more on our devices now, myself included.

24:51 - 25:35

So if you carve out some space, you know, whether it's on a retreat or just, you know, 20, 40 minutes a day and you really just start listening to that voice, you'll notice A, a lot of it, what it says quite negative, and B, a lot of what it says is unbelievably repetitive. You don't need it to live most of your life. I say thinking about reality is like putting on a really, really dark sunglasses, it dulls reality. Looking at reality through this veil of concepts and judgment and analyzing and categorizing, all this stuff, you don't need to do it. You can just be without Charlie. You know, the meditation is a way to cultivate that. And you know, that's the most important part of my life. Now, when I think about success, now is how much of my day am I there?

25:35 - 25:36

And that's it.

25:36 - 25:54

Mike, you mentioned a great story from the beginning of your career when we were working together and your parents not wanting you to miss school, to go meet with Jay-Z, you know, you alluded to the story at the beginning. But do you mind sharing this sort of like timeline and the details of that story? Because I think it's pretty hilarious.

25:54 - 26:41

Sure. So, you know, I'm making this music in my dorm room, Cooler than me, which is a song that listeners maybe don't remember. But if they hear it, they'll probably recognize it, you know? Oh, yeah, I remember that was one of those songs. Came out of my sophomore year, into my junior year. We started working together. I create this mix tape. And the thing started catching on. Like you said, 10 friends told 10 friends told 10 friends told 10 friends. And all of a sudden you know like, I had a career and we sort of garnered attention from some major record labels. And so you and I, you know, I was still in school and you and I, we would fly to New York. I was just trying to like balance it and not fail out of school because, you know, the kids at Duke are pretty darn smart, you know, and I'm on a curve with them.

26:42 - 27:27

And so, you know, we finish all these New York trips and I come back to school and I'm working on a sociology paper, a term paper, and you call me and you go, Hey, we got to go back to New York. I said, Can't go back to New York, man, like, it's finals week, what I need to do a study. You said we got to go back to New York. Jay-Z wants to meet you. I was like, I guess, I'm going back to New York. You know, I call my parents and I told them the situation. And my dad, bless his heart. You know, like, his musical memory probably stopped in 1969. The last time he took a psychedelic or something, you know, like. And you can't go to New York during finals week. I'm like, I got to go. Jay-Z wants to meet me. He goes, I don't care. You can't go.

27:28 - 28:06

I just, I said, Dad, Do you know who Jay-Z is? No, I don't know who Jay-Z is. But you can't go. I'm like, OK, that's all the information I needed. I'm definitely going, you know? And we went, and you know, I didn't tell a soul besides my parents because I didn't think, actually, it was going to happen. You know, I thought we would get there and they would tell us, Hey, you know, he got busy, but here's so-and-so, he works at the company, and I thought, that's what's going to happen. I didn't think I was going to actually meet Jay-Z, you know? So I just left, you know, I just went to the airport, ain't telling my friends, you know, or to anyone in the dorm or whatever, just went up there.

28:06 - 28:41

And Dan and I, you know, I remember we met with Rich Kleiman and there were Mark Ronson and we're in the building. And I thought, Yeah, this deal is going to happen and they're like, OK, he's ready to see you. And I was like, So nervous, we walked in this, you know, beautiful office and this amazing view. And Jay-Z was sitting there, man, we had this great meetin, is probably about two-hour meeting. I played him Cooler than me and I felt like he really heard behind my music. He heard inspirations, you know, he heard who I listened to and who I aspire to be like.

28:41 - 29:15

And we just had this great meeting and sat there for an hour and a half. And John McNeely was there, said, What do we do now? And I think Jay-Z said, What do we do now? And John McNeely said, we do a deal, Jay-Z said, OK. And I left, I flew back to Duke, I'm in the library working on this paper, and in a moment of procrastination, I opened my email and there was an offer for a record deal from Proud Nation. So needless to say, I was a little distracted on the rest of that paper and didn't get my best grade on that one. But yeah, that was that story, it's a wild time in my life.

29:15 - 29:33

If you remember they put a performance kicker in the offer where if you graduated, you got an extra bonus. That's right. I don't know if you remember that, yeah. Yeah. And I remember talking to your parents on a conference call walking them through all that stuff. And 13 years ago, it seemed like only yesterday.

29:33 - 29:41

And then I remember our attorney saying they should just give you that bonus now.

29:41 - 29:51

Well, Mike, we're coming to the end of our episode here, and I got two more questions for you. To quote one of your song lyrics, beginnings always hide themselves in the ends. Can you give us an inkling of what's next for you?

29:51 - 30:49

You know, one of the realizations I had on Everest and I alluded to it a little bit right after I got home from Nepal after summoning Everest, I spent three weeks in meditation retreat, and there's really no next. There is no next, it's only now. You know, this, you know, it's whoever's listening like this is it. This is your life. You know, if we can't be happy in this moment, we can never be happy. And Buddha said, You have to make this moment the most wonderful moment of your life. So then you might say, what about productivity? About goal setting? Sure. You know, I got goals, things I'm working on, but that gives direction to kind of like the external part of our lives that... the part that's.., you. praise blame, know, fame, disrepute, pain, pleasure and whatever other one I'm forgetting. That's the external plane where we have goals. And on that plane, you know, I'm writing music, I'm focused on music right now, to answer your question, but on the internal plane, there's no goal. I'm just here enjoying this moment, you know, and trying to remember to enjoy this moment.

30:49 - 30:50

Thank you for that.

30:50 - 31:05

It almost feels like a crime to ask you one more question after a great answer like that. But I have one question that I ask all my guests, and I think it's rather pertinent to you since you were a multimillionaire before you were 30. What's the best piece of financial advice you've ever received?

31:05 - 31:55

, I feel like Dan gives me some pretty much every time I talk to him. On a more macro level, I don't have a direct quote that anyone's giving me. Just really figuring out my real situation. You know, let's say something happens. I never make another dollar. How long can I last with, on what budget? Once I figured that out, it's a number. You know, say, Hey, Mike, if you never meet another dollar, you'd have to survive on this budget. And that changed me as an artist because I thought, Wow, well, you know, heaven forbid I never did make another dollar. I could survive, you know, and I could be on no private planes or nothing like that. You know that, you know, but I don't really need more. I don't need more. If we make more, great, man, great. But if not, I'm okay, so I need to chase.

31:55 - 32:29

And that made me such a deeper, more authentic artist because I thought I should never, ever again in my life walk into a studio or saying anything in the microphone that I don't love for its own sake. That's all I do. I create from the heart now. And if the stuff is successful, that's great. That's great. If not, that's great. I love it. Whatever I made, if I put it out, I love it. I don't put out anything I don't like, and I won't walk into rooms anymore with people I'm not big fans of, you know? So that sort of changed my psychology of how I approach my art.

32:29 - 32:53

You certainly did not disappoint. Mike, Thank you so much for joining us. And Dan, thank you two for being here today again. And thank you all for listening. This has been The Big Stage. If you enjoyed this episode and you'd like to subscribe, please go to Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Please e-mail us with your thoughts, questions, and feedback to insights@Bernstein.com and be sure to find us on Twitter and Instagram at BernsteinPWM.

Host
Adam Sansiveri
Managing Director —Head of the Nashville Private Client Group and Co-Lead Sports and Entertainment Group

The views expressed herein do not constitute research, investment advice or trade recommendations and do not necessarily represent the views of all AB portfolio-management teams.

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