Damian Keyes - F**k Plan B

Hello and welcome to this conversation with Damian Keyes, Musician and Entrepreneur. Big thanks to Jake at The Sneaky Panda which is a secret cocktail bar hidden behind a bookcase within the Artist Residence Hotel in Brighton. If you haven't been there it's absolutely worth it. The Artist Residence describe their hotels as an eccentric bunch of fun and friendly places to eat, drink and sleep - and we reckon they should add 'have interesting conversations' to that list. There's a big difference between being in a conversation and listening to a conversation and it's a real privilege being able to both. Listening to our conversation with Damian I was most struck by his 'burn the ships' approach. It's an approach that many guests have taken but I'm not sure anyone else has been so conscious, so deliberate about their own approach to life. In 1519, The Spanish Conquistador and explorer, Captain Hernan Cortez landed in Veracruz, Mexico. On his arrival, he ordered his men to burn the ships on which they'd arrived. Cortez and Damian both recognise that retreat is easy when the option is available. Damian does not believe in Plan B. Damian throws himself into his music industry ventures like Cortez did against the Aztecs, it's all or nothing, do or die - He makes it difficult for himself to step back into his old comfort zone. I think we can all learn from Damian's willingness to perform without a safety net. We've talked before about these 'crossing the threshold' moments but we've never talked about actively blocking the path home. It's not for the faint-hearted but it makes huge sense because one option makes decisions so much simpler. As Cicero said 'More is lost by indecision than wrong decision. Indecision is the thief of opportunity. It will steal you blind' We bring you Damian Keyes - Fuck Plan B

We have a big old natter about:
  • Growing up in Swansea
  • The problem of doing what you want on your wedding day - when others want you to go with the flow (one week after this conversation Damian was getting married Vegas) 
  • Moving to New York
  • The problem of describing what he does; Musician v Builder of Businesses
  • The creativity of building businesses 
  • When he gets bored it's time to move on
  • Being a five-star failer
  • Good drummers = good videographers
  • Playing Wembley Arena & Hyde Park 
  • Meeting your heroes
  • Being paid to do what you love
  • Failing all his GCSE's
  • Joining a band
  • Signing a record deal and the anticipation of becoming a rock star
  • The 9 months of anticipation being followed by being dropped by the record label  
  • Getting a job in the local shampoo factory
  • Realising that he didn't want to get used to a very boring job
  • Why everyone should do a very boring job
  • Reacting to rock-bottom
  • Being more scared of staying at the shampoo factory than he was scared of the unknown
  • Understanding that failure isn't fatal
  • Finding his 'lane' which is working very hard to overcome any lack of talent 
  • Competing with himself not others 
  • Why he doesn't want to look back on his life and wish he'd done something different
  • Why life is like a computer game 
  • Money is like oxygen - you don't really care about it until it's gone
  • One holiday in his 20's
  • What are holidays?
  • Having a Dad with no ambition whatsoever and reacting to that
  • Taking personal responsibility 
  • Contentment v Ambition
  • His very supportive mum
  • Having a Stepdad who introduced fun and was a big influence on his life
  • Sliding doors moments
  • The importance of the mentors in his life, particularly Bruce Dickinson
  • When 'Why Not?' is the answer
  • The amazing Princes Trust 
  • Going to Rock School
  • The different lenses through which we look at life and why alternative lenses are essential for growth
  • The importance of doubting that your stories are the only important stories 
  • When snow forced Damian to move from Rock School student to Rock School teacher
  • When Damian became the Rock School's Sales & Marketing Manager 
  • Following/stalking his mentor Bruce and how they set up their own music college (BIMM)  
  • Damian's focus on giving students the best music education possible
  • How in the first 3 years students were involved in 24 Top 40 hits (including the Kooks)
  • The importance of remembering students names (and at the height taking 3 weeks to remember 1,000 students names)
  • How the scale of BIMM became a problem
  • Leaving BIMM 
  • How becoming a millionaire was overshadowed by a sense of failure
  • Losing confidence
  • The 'what next?' moment  
  • Feeling like Jason Orange
  • Going back to the comfort of his bass guitar
  • Learning to sing and having too much work
  • Starting to manage bands and having to employ people to help out
  • How learning is a confidence builder
  • His Mum's words 'do it while you can'
  • Unwittingly becoming the social media guy
  • The irony of being asked to write a book when the last book he'd read was Fantastic Mr Fox
  • Writing 'Fuck Plan B' which became 'The rulebreakers guide to social media' 
  • Understanding that both success and failure are fleeting and just part of the game 
  • The importance of doubting the stories you tell yourself when the story is that you can't do something
  • The importance of creating meaningful experiences or 'legacy' 
  • Damian's next adventure and why it feels like he's burning the ships 

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