A story about the importance of the relationship between creative exploration and business incubation.
My whole life, I’ve gone through school with the feeling of never being able to pay attention to anything for more than a few minutes. Obviously, this was an ongoing thing that reflected my grades, and my parents would always just blame it on my laziness, saying that I could focus if I just tried, or how I enjoyed going out more than doing schoolwork, etc. Now that I’ve gone through just about every profession there is to go through, and operate two cafes’ a burger shop, a business incubator, and have a team of 14 people with a seamless operation in a high traffic location, I’ve come to realize that my attention deficit throughout my whole life was more than just a lazy attitude, it was the single most important asset of my unique skillset.
Highschool graduation brought me into the USAF as an Air Traffic Controller, the first real world experience I got to have as an 18-year-old who skimmed his way through school. It wasn’t until bootcamp, where all from the outside world is cut off, did I realize how important music was for the creative mind. Some people are diagnosed with ADHD at a young age and taught to live a certain way to control the effects of an attention deficit. Some people, like myself, live with it our whole lives without being “diagnosed” but forced to live and adapt your mind to your surroundings. Sitting in a dark hallway of an Air Force dorm, with no connection to the outside world, a Black Eyed Peas song plays quietly through our TI’s office, and I closed my eyes and it took my back to my New Years Eve party where I remember people and smiles and dancing and nothing but good feels. After hearing that song, anytime anyone asked me what did I miss the most, my answer became, “Music.”
Fast forwarding 8 years to 2022, I write this story, with hopes that when someone who is in between a rock and a hard place, and have nowhere to look, sometimes all you need is a play button on the right album.
I’m Mike, owner of the Creative Compound, Anatomy Craft Coffee Bar, Smash Squared Slider Bar, Anatomy On The Lake, AgentZ, Suburban Farmers, Live Mic Music, and Cavallino Capital Inc, and this is my story on how music helps a creative mind develop ideas into reality.
Everyone has their “thing” that is kind of like a secret, but more of like a fun fact. My fun fact is that I love instrumental mixes of popular albums or playlists that are heavily beat focused. I believe one of the best remedies for a sporadic mind is listening to a good album. It gives you a beat to follow, a structure that someone with creative skill composed for listeners enjoyment. I’m not a reader, I’ve never read a book cover to cover, I’ve never done a book report on my own, I’ve never even studied for a test. Why? Probably because I used to get so frustrated without being able to pay attention to anything except my minds next thought.
My first full scale business venture was Live Mic Music & Records. We were a one stop shop for artists to start and complete an entire EPK with content ranging from studio recordings, music videos, to copyright management. We launched our label in January of 2020, and had our first track, Don’t Fridge Ian” by Nonstop To Cairo, a Long Island funk / ska group that was highly respected across the industry. We had our release planned, we had photoshoots scheduled, we were a team ready to take Long Island musicians to new levels. A Friday music release was followed by a tragic phone call on Saturday morning from one of the lead vocalists. One of the band members, the man behind 3 instruments simultaneously, one of the most creative minds in the industry, sadly took his own life. I write this with chills down my spine remembering the wake for the loved musician, where his band members did an acoustic rendition of a Stone Temple Pilots song – Miles Away, which happened to be released the same day as Nonstop’s newest track. The two bandmates felt that this song dropping silently on the same day, held lyrics that made them feel as if it was their passed bandmate speaking right to them. The community behind creatives is tied together with passion and dreams, and music can cure a broken heart at the worst time. Even under the worst circumstances, the right story being told through beats and rhythm can be the most beautiful experience with the most powerful messages.
Entrepeneur’s are artists that tell their stories through business, and my specialty was placing people in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. Our Live Mic team ran right through 2020 facing new obstacles every day, getting ourselves into an industry that was crumbling in front of our eyes as corporate America was destroyed. We fought through it, we continued business as normal, took an in-person industry into remote festivals and shows within weeks or a global shutdown. It was at that time, when artists needed each other most, a time when all we had was art and no business, a time when passion took over greed, and those who were able to help support, helped where they could. It was a yearlong learning experience for everyone involved from our team of 3, our 9 artists, our freelance network, our interns, our viewers, in term learning the ins and outs of music business, and quickly learning that the combination of business and music is a match made in heaven.
In August of 2021, my family purchased this building that our beloved Creative Compound resides. Our building has 4 floors totaling about 10,000 SF of space to create. Every day I get asked how I came up with the concept and I always give the same answer every time. “You can have the ideas in your head but when you finally find the perfect space, the concept creates itself”. It’s knowing how to use spaces creatively and being able to walk through the building and see one item, or one wall, or one piece of kitchen equipment that makes all of your ideas fall into place. When I explained the concept to anyone who asked what I was doing there throughout the planning and execution stages, they usually looked at me like I was crazy and taking on too much, (story of my life). This business plan was kind of my time to shine, my time to take this space and turn every corner into something amazing, a place for everything and everyone. That’s when the plan of The Creative Compound was born.
It was time to put my brain into high gear and conceptualize all of these ideas. Every day became a challenge, researching, note taking, summary writing, calculating costs, traveling to the town and seeing what could be done, what challenges might we face, how can we do this right. I spent a lot of time by myself, and when that happens it becomes extremely hard to keep your mind on track. You start to think too deep into everything, whether it be business or personal, or what your next move is, but sometimes forget to grasp reality and genuinely do need something to keep your mind on key. I started to look for focus playlists on YouTube, or instrumental mixes of songs I liked, continuously on the hunt for something that worked. I landed myself on a Deadmau5 Work-from-home playlist and the instrumental version of Stick Figures album, World on Fire. These two albums are laid back 125BPM mixes that keep my mind on beat.
Anyone can have a million ideas and talk about them however they want to whomever they want, but it’s not until you’re able to hone in on those details and put them on paper and truly conceptualize your ideas into reality. Having people point out how all over the place my concepts are, and fall in shock at how just one mind put together the plan that we operate around, keeps my confidence up that an ADHD mind is one of the most powerful attributes someone can be gifted with. People view having an attention deficit in two ways, someone who cant focus on one task, or someone who is highly skilled to multitask. I fall under both, as do most. It is nearly impossible to focus on something that requires direct attention, which comes to effect your day to day life when you’re trying to self educate. I wasn’t meant to be working a job, under someone’s own set of rules, critiquing everything that crosses my path that I have no business being concerned about. When anyone asked what my goals were, it was usually my saying I’ll own something at some point.
I never listened to podcasts, or motivational speakers, I didn’t follow anyone’s footsteps, I focused in on my brain, and found a tool that worked for me, and that was the instrumental music behind some of my favorite music. Every day I would work with these albums in the background, because it required no attention to listen to, when I needed my full attention span most. It was always just deep beats that sunk into my bones and gave my mind something to keep it focused. Ideas happen at 125 beats per second, fine tune into your perfect frequency, and ride the wavelength.
The future is always in the hands of those who know how to preempt it.–Enzo Ferrari