Four times I didn't ask for your permission

Happy December, friends.

I have done absolutely nothing today. Well, I got a massage. But other than that, I napped and rested and drank some lemon-ginger juice. The sun has just set, it's 4:05PM, and I'm headed into the studio in two little hours to finally, really, seriously lay down some toonage for The Human Jukebox Project.

We've gone in a very curiously avant-garde direction for one particular Jack Johnson tune, so everybody please look forward to that.

I've recently joined forces on a couple of projects with the very brilliant Hanna Lisa, a former COO and new addition to the wonderful world of freelancing. While working on bits and bobs, we've talked a lot about the concept of permission.

It's tricky. In school, you have to ask for permission for everything. And in some jobs, you have to ask for permission for quite a bit, too. But in order to move up quickly in a company, apply for the really cool dream jobs, you must reject the idea of permission all together and at once.

I'll illustrate with four points.

(1) When I first began copywriting, I was really nervous about my portfolio. I didn't have any big fancy international clients--and while my work was good, I felt like it didn't really express my full potential.

During one informational interview with an ad agency, I had a chance to meet with an art director who gave me some advice: "Make it up. Pick a big brand--Absolut Vodka or The Ritz Carlton, whatever--and write down some ideas. Make it up, and show us what you can do."

Lesson: There is no copywriting police who was going to come after me and tell me I wasn't allowed. If I wanted to get a new client, I could just create my own portfolio out of thin air.

(2) I had a musician friend in town recently and he said he wished he could quit his day job. He said, "But to do that, people need to start paying me a lot more money for my music. A LOT more."

Lesson: No. You have to start CHARGING a lot more for your music. Why on earth would you let someone else set the price for your own stuff?

(3) I've been toying around with a certain project recently that would require me to own a building. I've actually made a couple calls and emails to architects and business contacts that I know, asking if they have recommendations for commercial real estate agents in Berlin. They've all told me the same thing: "Ooh. That's really expensive, and they probably won't talk to you unless you have X amount of money, and the building would be really hard to find."

Lesson: I didn't ask you for your permission. I asked you for a phone number.

(4) Yesterday I had another business idea. A really good one. So good, in fact, that I wrote my dad and said, "Take a look at these numbers and tell me what you think. I'm not crazy, right? I could totally do this." He did, and he asked me a couple of questions.

There's a competitor, he said.
And I said yep, but here's why I'm better.
Why would this be disruptive, he asked.
Doesn't need to be disruptive, I told him. Just needs to be better than the alternative.
And he said, Okay. I think you're right. How can I help?

And that's where I got thrown. Because that's the real question, isn't it?

It's not about asking for permission. It's about saying, I'm going to do this and I need your help.

And by help, I do not mean: "I need your help to do this because I actually want you to do it for me and I don't think I could really do it on my own, so will you please think of what you can help me with and save me."

I mean: "Thank you for offering. I'm asking you to do A, B, and C so that I can go out and do X, Y, and Z.

A little food for thought, eh? Now then, I'm off. Gotta get ready to sing some songs.


PS: In order to get ready for the early 2016 release of The Human Jukebox Project, I made some sweet t-shirts. I mostly made them for me, and also for my mom--but if you'd like to get one, they are on sale until December 9. Check them out on Teespring.

PPS: I am revving up for Christmas on Instagram with... drumroll... Alexa's Instasong Advent Calendar. Send me your favorite tunes, and I may just put them on the list.

PPS: Are you in San Diego on December 26? Remember to come to my final concert of the year.