John Tesh: Intelligence For Your Life

Passion and Action

In order to become consistently passionate about your life, you must do more than merely “dream” your passion. This world is full of people who have dreams of playing Carnegie Hall, of

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running a marathon, of owning their own business. The difference between the people who make it across the finish line and everyone else is one simple thing: an action plan.

You can pray all you want. You can dream day and night. But if you don’t come up with a plan, you’re dead in the water. I remember how excited I was when I decided to record my first album. I worked for hours on all the songs and hired musicians to fill out the tracks. I even found a graphic artist to create a compelling piece of cover art. The work, Music from the Tour de France, was a soundtrack I composed for CBS-TV.

And I had what I thought was a brilliant plan. I would finish the project, then take it to a record company to get signed as a recording artist. Then the records would go into stores and I would sell thousands. Since twenty million people saw me every night cohosting Entertainment Tonight, the record companies would see a wonderful opportunity for free promotion and staggering record sales.

I still have the rejection letters on my wall. Warner Brothers. Arista (Clive Davis himself). Columbia. They all said it different ways, but they all said the same thing: “Sorry, not interested.” What went wrong? Getting excited about an idea is not much of a plan. I was a victim of my own feelings of entitlement. Plus, my plan was based on a flawed formula: CD recording + John Tesh = cover of Rolling Stone. Not much “action” in the plan.

I hope this retelling of my mistakes might save you some time and pain. But the story doesn’t end there. I went to David Michaels, the producer of the Tour de France and a believer in the music, and asked for his advice. Instead of giving me advice, he began to ask me some tough questions:

David: Why did you create this album?
Me: Because I am passionate about this race and the music.
David: Who could you see wanting to own this soundtrack?
Me: Viewers of the Tour de France coverage, people who ride bikes, and people who like intense workout music in their Walkman.
David: Where are these people?
Me: At home watching the tour, in bike stores, reading cycling magazines, and perhaps in health clubs.

Within an hour we had come up with a plan that included everything except being signed to a record company or having my soundtrack in record stores. This action plan included direct response (infomercial) TV advertising on the CBS race coverage (I put it on my credit card), placement in bike stores (on consignment), videotapes of bike-racing footage set to my music sent to key stores, revenue-sharing deals with two bike magazines in return for interviewing me, and hundreds of personal visits by yours truly to local bike races with just a card table, albums, and flyers. There was no MTV video, no radio play, and no Grammy nomination. This was a true action plan: it included hand-to-hand combat. There was nothing very glamorous here.

For the next three months I fulfilled requests for ten thousand CDs and cassettes out of my Los Angeles apartment and collected $122,000 in net profits. Through the process, I harvested the names and addresses of about six thousand fans who were ready for album number two when it came out. It took hard work, risk, and action.

In my office is a framed poster of that first Tour de France cover. Next to it are posters of CDs and DVDs that became Public Television specials and gold albums that were all created and marketed with that same basic plan: Dream + Passion + Action Plan = SUCCESS.

Now it’s up to you. I have no business degree. I have no marketing background . . . just the belief that out there somewhere are people who will catch the joy that I have for my music or our radio show or this book. And I have finally come to the end of ego and realized that I actually have to put my own shoe leather to the ground and do the work.

I’ve met enough people at my concerts and read enough letters and e-mails to know that there are millions of you out there right now who are sitting on a dream. Perhaps you’ve already created something incredible. I know, it’s a unique idea for a restaurant chain, a new way to bring music into nursing homes, a hip-hop dance troupe that will tour the world, a new small group at your church that will feed the homeless, an extra four hours in your day to homeschool your children, a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon, or a record night of fund-raising at your kid’s school.

Stop sitting on it. It ain’t gonna hatch on its own.

And let me leave you with a secret. Whatever you are about to do, whatever action you will next take to realize your dream, it’s been done before. Maybe not exactly what you’re about to do, but close. Do your research. Ask experienced people what they would do. Get passionate, and then take action.