Note from Amanda

Mike has become a good friend over the last few years.  I really appreciate his approach to learning some valuable life skills through the arts – drumming in particular.  I started piano at 6 years old and spend much of my childhood making music – piano, percussion, saxophone, singing, etc.  The discipline and tenacity it takes to master a piece of music are directly transferrable to entrepreneurship.

Plus, I totally agree with Mike’s statement, “We first change the world by changing ourselves.”  I hope you enjoy the post!

Productivity Workshop
p.s. Learn more about discipline and tenacity at our upcoming workshop Personal and Professional Productivity in the Digital Age.

Now the Guest Post

Hi! I’m Mike. I teach drums at the Daystar Center next to Overflow. You may see me on occasion hanging around the café, bothering the baristas. Today, Amanda and Brandon have given me an opportunity to talk to you all about what I do and why it’s important.


When I was at the University of Chicago, I took a class called the Economics of Education. And one interesting insight that I took away from that class is the importance of non-cognitive skills (things like discipline, focus, and organization rather than arithmetic and reading comprehension) in determining success. As much as that conclusion may fit with most people’s common sense, it was never obvious to me. As someone who has always been considered smart but was never able to make good on the potential others saw in me, it was an eye-opening insight.


Now, you may be wondering how I’m going to segue to talking about drums. Well, since school subjects were relatively easy for me as a kid, the one place where I had to make good habits, have discipline, and practice consistently was behind the drums. I started playing when I was 10 (I’m 28 now) and it was from this process of learning to coordinate my limbs in profoundly unusual ways that I was finally able to understand the behaviors that could make me successful at other things.


What does learning drums require?


It requires you to make good habits.

To become good at drums, you have to set aside time to practice every day. And you have to use that practice time deliberately.


It teaches you how to learn.

When you’re good at something and you pick it up quickly, you are unlikely to learn much about the process that got you there. You may even become frustrated, or give up, when facing something that doesn’t come as easily. But no one is born with the innate ability to play rhythms simultaneously with their left hand and right foot (Seriously, try it and prepare to embrace humility.). If you are going to pick up drums, you have to break things down, take it slow, and practice a lot, which—in my humble opinion—is how you achieve/create anything of value.


It gives you confidence.

When you learn how to learn and by following that process achieve success, it gives you confidence in yourself and in the process of habit-based, deliberate learning.


It requires you to make sacrifices and delay gratification.

Playing drums is fun…except when it isn’t. If you want to get good at drums you have to do some boring metronome practice for extended periods of time. Sorry! There are no shortcuts. You can’t cheat your way to playing quickly and accurately. Sparknotes doesn’t sell that yet.


In other words, learning drums teaches you some great life skills. Of course, this all would be a bit dry if people only played drums as an exercise in personal development. For you folks who already have life totally figured out, here are a couple of reasons playing drums can be awesome.

  1. You can play along to your favorite classic rock or metal songs. You know the feeling you get when you walk down the street listening to ACDC? It’s like that except better because now you’re actually part of the song.
  1. Impress your friends. Play something cool. Instagram it. Check your phone every twelve seconds to see how many likes it has…
  1. Stressful day at work? Politics getting you down? Plagued by annoying guest bloggers? Take it out on the drums with some Metallica. As I always say, hit drums not people.
  1. It’s exercise! Work those muscles. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that you can eat all the bacon and donuts you want as long as you exercise by playing drums.*


I strongly believe in the idea that we first change the world by changing ourselves. And while it may not be the most important thing in life, learning drums (or any instrument) can make us better people by helping us feel good about ourselves and teaching us important things about life.


Anyway, thanks to the Neelys for letting me use up their internet real estate. And have a great week everyone!

If you’d like to contact Mike for drum lessons, you can reach him here: (872) 228-6394, mikesbizcomm[at]gmail[dot]com.



*This claim may not be medically, logically, or in any way valid. Then again, String Theory