In a recent episode of the Narativ Leadership Story Talks Podcast, hosts Jerome and Julienne had the honor of speaking with Kevin Griffin, award-winning songwriter, producer, and performer, about his recent book The Greatest Song: Spark Creativity, Ignite Your Career, and Transform Your Life.
Kevin has been in the music industry for over 30 years. Over the course of his career, he has consistently worked to grow his knowledge and skills to continually write new and better chapters into the story of his life. His ventures have taken him from writing and performing his own hit songs as the lead singer of the band Better than Ezra to writing and producing hits for some of the biggest industry names to now being a speaker and author in the business world.
In this episode, Kevin, Jerome, and Julienne talked about Kevin’s journey through the music industry and what he has learned on the way. They discussed the guiding principles for success he uncovered as he became a public speaker and his passion for storytelling, which led him to weave truths into the parable that became his book.
Midnight Jambalaya: Kevin’s Story
It was several years ago when Kevin realized he was now considered a veteran in the music business. Younger artists had begun to ask him how he managed to stay engaged and inspired in such a difficult business for so long, which caused him to begin to think.
About the time of this realization, Kevin also had a chance encounter with an old friend. It was after midnight in New Orleans while he was out for some late-night jambalaya, and the friend in question was a serial entrepreneur. During the course of their conversation, Kevin’s friend invited him to speak at a business conference he was organizing.
“My answer to everything in life is yes, and then I figure out how I’m gonna pull it off,” explained Kevin, who agreed to speak despite having never participated in such an event.
In the weeks that followed, Kevin found himself having to think deeply about what exactly he’d done in his life to stay engaged in the music business for so long. He came up with 5 distinct things he’s done consistently in his career to stay successful, and he built his entire speech around those elements. His talk resonated incredibly well with his business audience, which drove home the realization that, even if it was a completely different industry, the 5 actions he’d identified could be easily applied to business as well.
The Greatest Song
Eventually, Kevin’s agent told him he ought to think about working his speech into a book. He wasn’t excited about the idea of writing a biography or a memoir because he felt there were already too many good rock ‘n roll memoirs out in the world. Instead, he chose to draw on his love of parables and weave his advice for success into a parable of his own.
In The Greatest Song, Kevin used the classic hero’s journey to demonstrate the truth of his principles for success. Though his protagonist’s journey and experiences are somewhat based on his own, Kevin felt that delivering these lessons through the story of someone completely new who he could change and develop as he wrote would make the learnings much clearer and more impactful for readers.
Kevin wove all 5 of his principles for success into the narrative of the book, but the one he emphasized the most during the interview—and the one that was the bedrock of his career—was collaboration. He explained how collaboration changed the course of his life after his performing career abruptly ended. As he was looking into becoming a producer, he by chance met the man who was producing for world-famous musician Meatloaf. This new contact asked him to collaborate, which opened up career opportunities for Kevin he had never expected to have.
That experience is mirrored in his book by the protagonist’s choice to collaborate with the enigmatic producer Sir Daniel Smith-Daniels, a choice which similarly changes his life.
Everything is Connected
During the interview, Jerome asked Kevin how he came to the realization that there was a connection between the business world and the music industry. Kevin explained that he is someone who always wants to get involved with different things and learn as much as he can, and as he shifted from learning within the music industry to learning about business following his speech he started to notice something interesting.
“What I do in music is the same as they do in other businesses,” he said, elaborating that the tools he had learned in his music career—including collaboration, continuous learning, and a willingness to change his attitude—can be applied toward success in both music and business.
Other principles he also found to transition to business were learning how to check your ego, avoiding micromanaging, and always listening. Understanding how transferable these lessons and skills were between industries caused him to realize that these lessons extend even further than that.
Kevin strongly believes everything in life is connected. The lesson you learn in one area of life can be brought forward and applied in other ways to other areas of your life as well. The interconnection of everything is an important focus Kevin wanted to authentically call out within his book.
The Power of Accepting Help
As always, toward the end of the episode, Jerome asked Kevin to share an experience from his life that shaped who he is today. Kevin told about a time in his life when he believed he had to do everything by himself to be successful and his insistence on bootstrapping his way through everything had led to a repeat of unhealthy patterns in his life.
The realization that he needed to change his mindset came as an a-ha moment when he finally asked a friend for help. From that point on, Kevin began to understand that asking for help isn’t a weakness and that learning to get help from others is one of the best things anyone can do if they’re trying to find success.
Kevin told Jerome and Julienne that the experience completely rid him of the illusion that he was exceptional or different from anyone else in any way. His life opened up in a big way as soon as he realized that we are all just people who need each other in order to write our own stories.
“I’m just another person walking this earth and what helps you can help me,” said Kevin, encouraging the listeners to have that same realization for themselves and learn to embrace the interconnection of everything.
If you would like to learn more about Kevin, his work, and his book, you can visit him here. If you’d like to learn how stories can help drive your own success, visit Narativ here to check out all our story training services.