In this episode, I am talking with the multi-talented musician, radio host, businesswoman (and so much more) about wearing a lot of hats, adapting to the current climate and being forward-focused in your career. Joining me today is Beth Lano.
Amanda: There’s this concept of wearing a lot of hats that is familiar to nearly every business owner. Most of us do a lot of things throughout the week. You’ve taken that concept and applied it to your entire career – or careers, I should say. Let me see if I can get this all right. You’re well established French horn player with the Las Vegas Philharmonic. You toured with Wayne Newton, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis. You’ve played with a range of artists from Metallica and the Who to Elton John, Luciano Pavarotti, a whole long list of people. But beyond your musical career, you work as a voice actor, a radio personality, a writer, a teacher, a business consultant. At one point you were doing PR by day and performing in Spamalot at night. You’re currently the Director of Marketing and Public Relations at the UNLV School of Music. And you were nominated for an Emmy for playing yourself, which is just a cool thing to mention.
“Why not use the talents you have and earn money for doing them?”
Some people believe we should focus on doing one thing really well. I’ve never really agreed with that, because some people can do a lot of things really well. And mixing it up can be far more fulfilling than doing the same thing all the time. So, for you, was this all intentional or was it just kind of how everything worked out?
Beth: I would say it has been intentional. My first training was as a professional musician. I went to music school – I went to Ball State University and Indiana University Bloomington. And my goal, my dream, was to be a musician in an orchestra, or in a commercial setting working for a bunch of acts like the Frank Sinatras of the world and Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, people like that. As I went through school, and right after I got out of school and came out here with Wayne Newton, I realized that, first of all, I have a lot of interests. I’ve always been a writer. I’ve always been interested in voice acting. So those were two natural progressions from that.
But I also realized that, in order to have a decent amount of income as a musician, especially as a freelancer – and though I’m with the Philharmonic, I’m still a freelancer, because that’s not a full-time job – you need to wear a lot of hats. So why not explore those things that you want to explore? Why not use the talents that you have, and earn money for doing them, and enjoy them at the same time? So that’s kind of what I’ve always done. I’m also always looking for other work. Even when I was employed full-time, as either a publicist or a writer or a musician, one of the things that I’ve always done is read ads for people who need people to work for them, because I always look for ways that I can increase my income flow, but also ways that I can expand my mind and my talents. So yes, intentional.
“The other irons are taking over and help us get through a situation like this.”
Amanda: Some people jump into this world of freelance, or self-employment, or whatever you want to call it, and they don’t quite grasp how much work has to go into it. That you can be really good at what you do, but it doesn’t always mean that the clients are just going to fall in your lap. And sometimes they do, and it’s amazing when that happens. But that’s part of why I like to do a lot of different things, too. And in this particular situation we’re in, that’s worked out really well, because if I’d had just the one focus that people encouraged me to have, that focus was video production and live events. And that would have left me like so many people are now – completely out of work. But because I have the business coaching and the bookkeeping and the other random things that I do, I’m able to keep going through all of this. I get bored doing the same thing. And I, just like you, I like to learn as much as possible, and figure out what I like to do and what I don’t like to do. And I think that’s important to keep evolving as we grow, especially if you’re going to work for yourself.
Beth: Yeah, exactly. You hit the nail on the head with what’s going on because of the pandemic, and the economy, and everything that’s happening right now. I was talking to a friend the other day and I said, you know, if someone suddenly loses their sight, the other senses takeover. Well, having a lot of irons in the fire is the same way. The other irons are taking over and help us get through a situation like this. I’m really grateful that there are other things that I can do besides playing music.
So, when this happened, I had gotten the call for all of the Kelly Clarkson work for the next year and a half here in town. I also had to turn down – well, not turn down, it was canceled – I had two nights with Andrea Bocelli at the Hollywood Bowl. Disappointing, but that’s the way it is right now. So I’ve got to turn my attention elsewhere and try to cultivate some more work in some of these other areas to make up for that income loss. And I’ve actually had fun looking at those things. I’d like to increase my money stream a little bit more, but I’m getting by, which is good.
“Where my attention has been focused has been in teaching.”
Amanda: That acceptance is a huge part of this. A lot of people are not quite there yet, and it’s taking them to this place where they just are frozen, not moving forward, not doing anything because the main thing that they do, they can’t do right now. Not being able to perform, that’s a huge thing. I know that’s your original passion, is performing and music, and you’re one of the ones saying, “Maybe next year. We don’t know yet.” I know that as a concert hobbyist, that has affected my personal life greatly. But even though you can’t perform, you have all these other avenues, and they are all kind of related, and kind of not. You have your UNLV job at the School of Music – that’s pretty busy right now?
Beth: it is busy. That’s a part-time job. I work at the School of Music. We’re training musicians and the performances there affected as well, as well as in-person lessons and classes and all of that stuff. So, as Marketing and Communications Director, my responsibility is to publicize, obviously, what the faculty and students are doing, so I do that. I also volunteer for a lot of committees, like a re-entry task force that they have going on, that deals with all the issues that are facing people, because I feel that I need to stay aware of what’s going on. So that job, even though it’s part-time, I put extra time into it because I feel that I can be helpful, because it concerns me, too, in my role as Marketing & PR Director. Because if I’m doing website and social media posts about what’s going on, I need to know what’s going on and how they’re going to handle things.
Where my attention is focused has been in teaching. I have several private horn students who range in age from 11 to 68, and I teach them all through FaceTime, Skype, whatever platform works for them. I’ve noticed that my approach to teaching has changed quite a bit. It’s not as simple as saying, “Oh, it’s just a FaceTime lesson.” We can’t play together, but we can play back and forth. Sound is compromised, but the way you see these students and the way you relate to them, is completely different. And I’m actually enjoying it. So are the students. So I’ve had students who have shown improvement beyond what I thought they would show, because I think psychologically they depend on these lessons as feeling that they can actually express themselves, which does my heart good, too.
That’s been one area where my focus is shifted. The other area is voice acting. I’m not one of those people that has an elaborate home studio setup. And I’ve had to learn a lot about audio production and things like that. Normally, I go into the studio and I’m just the person behind the mic, and I’ll let other people take care of that. I have to do a certain amount of that myself if I want to remain viable in this area. I have gone into a couple of studios, but I’ve also pushed myself out of my comfort zone and created a space in my walk-in closet, and figured out ways to do this that are acceptable.
So, focuses are shifting in all of these areas, and I keep in touch with the Philharmonic people because we’re still trying to figure out what we’re going to do as far as this season goes – which will probably end up being more of a fundraising season to keep the orchestra afloat – and planning for the future.
“It’s important for everyone to remain nimble, flexible, and adaptable.”
Amanda: The education part of it is what I find fascinating through all of this, because I have been encouraging for more online activity for a while because I like to be at home. Everybody knows this about me at this point. I am loving being at home so much. But there has been pushback for a while because there’s this idea that things have to happen in person. And now because we’ve been forced to find new ways to do things, we’re figuring out, no, it’s possible and, like you said, some people are actually learning even more.
I do a lot of work with The Voice Actors Studio in Vegas, and A) voice actors are very busy right now because there’s still a need for that, because animation and graphics can still happen inside a little bubble, where you can’t go out and shoot live actors on camera and that kind of thing. So that’s been great, but that studio is all based on teaching – it’s education and workshops. And we had been working towards bringing everything online for a while, but it was a slow process that got pushed to happen very fast. And now everything is available online. And some of the students who were a little too shy to come to a lot of classes – because a group setting was intimidating or whatever the holdups were – they’re now embracing this, and loving it, because they can do it from their own place of comfort, and it’s less scary to get out there. And then it’s opened it up to being able to work with people from all over the world instead of just confined to Las Vegas.
And I know for me, that’s always been a big appeal on the business coaching side, because I can work with anyone from anywhere. And now being able to do the same things in the production world, where I’m currently working as a production manager on a series, and I don’t have to leave my house at all. And before, people thought that was a crazy idea, and now, because we’re forced to adapt, we’re learning different ways to do things. I know a lot of people are ready for things to go back to the way they were, but they might not go back to that way. So being able to pivot as needed when the unknown gets thrown on us, is something that’s really important, but especially when you’re self-employed, because it’s really on you to make the decisions that are going to keep you moving forward.
Beth: First of all, I think it’s important for everyone to remain nimble, and flexible, and adaptable. This is survival now. No one knows what the future is going to bring. But one thing that we do know, as long as we have Internet connections and this technology, we have these points of communications, and I think it’s important to focus in on what they can do. Too many people are obsessed with, “When’s it going to go back to normal?” Well, the fact is, this is going to be here for a while, and going back to normal may not ever happen. So what we have to do is face the fact that with so much uncertainty, we can only take a day at a time and make it the best we can. And I know what a platitude that is, but it really is true. And I think through this that priorities have shifted for a lot of people and for a lot of business, and it’s not all financial. The practicality of the situation is we need to be looking at the shift to more online business, and I think you’re right that people were pushed into this before they really felt that it was comfortable for them. I think a lot of these trends in business – taking care of business and managing business and everything – are going to be here to stay. And hopefully the technology will get even better.
“This is a fresh set of challenges, so be patient with it and work through it.”
Amanda: There are opportunities in what’s happening, and there are difficulties in what’s happening, because we’re all adapting to new technology, we’re all learning how to use different things, and sometimes those things don’t work. And there’s really not an alternative. You can find another piece of software, another type of technology, but in this space, in the podcast world, or in voice acting, if somebody’s recording you on the other end, there are just things that are going to happen. And I finally upgraded my internet to a faster speed, and then I realized, oh, why didn’t I do this before? I can now upload a video in two minutes instead of 12. I spent a lot of money during this because even though the work isn’t there at the same level, even things like the podcast, I want to keep improving the quality and that requires buying new things. To me, it’s more of an investment because I’m confident that I will be able to keep going, because I won’t accept anything else. And it seems that’s kind of where you’re at with things, too. We have to keep moving forward because the alternative doesn’t work for a happy life.
Beth: No, it doesn’t. And I really hope that people can learn to adapt. When technology goes bad, you can’t get ticked off about it. You have to just roll with it. And that’s kind of where we’re at right now with everything. We have to learn how to roll with everything. I understand frustration levels and everything, but this is just a fresh set of challenges. So be patient with it and work through it.
I was on the phone yesterday with a friend that I was trying to help her with online banking. She’s a little bit older, and she had the app downloaded on her phone, but she forgot her username and password, and she’s one of these people that hates technology. We always say she’s an analog girl living in a digital world. She was just getting incredibly short tempered and just frustrated. She says, “Well, screw this. I’m just not gonna do it.” And I said, “Well, you gotta pay your rent, and the banks are closed. All the branches around her closed, and she’s waiting for a car that she ordered that isn’t here because of the pandemic. So it’s hard for her to get around. So I was like, “You just gotta relax and work your way through it, step by step. Go slowly, and you’ll do it.” It was clear that I couldn’t help her anymore. Hung up the phone, and then she texted me about an hour later, she says, “I got it taken care of.” Because she was saying, “I can’t get through on customer service, and nobody’s going to answer.” And I was just quiet. I was like, gave you the tools, suggested the tools, and now it’s up to you. And that’s kind of where we have to be right now. Just be helpful. Try to help people, but we can’t fix it for them. They have to go through these steps themselves.
“I want to be able to go in whatever direction that I need to go in.”
Amanda: It’s fear motivated, so much of this refusal to try new things. And this happens when there’s not a pandemic. And that’s why I find it really interesting what we’re going through, and the lessons that are coming from it. Because how many people do we know, especially who maybe run small businesses and say, “My employees can’t work from home. I can’t trust my employees to work from home” or “They won’t be productive, they can’t get things done.” And they fought it for so long, because it goes against what they’ve known for so long. And that outdated 40-our work week, and all of these things that aren’t really relevant to the current climate, pandemic aside, but things are different now.
Now, people had to work from home, and people are realizing, oh, no, people are actually getting things done. Some are getting more done. Because you’re taking out the commute time, the getting ready time, the small talk – which I know that’s a different thing, that a lot of people are missing the socialization part of it. But the actual work is being more productive for a lot of people, and I think even when things reopen, it might give those opportunities for people to keep moving in this direction and save the company money on overhead and different things. I tried to tell a lot of people years ago, and they said, “No, no, no.” And now they’re seeing it. And it’s just like what you said – you can give them the tools, you can nudge them in the right direction, and give them case studies or things that prove that these work, but until they’re ready to do it, you just can’t make them do it. But I wish that people in normal circumstances, whenever that returns again, can kind of keep that attitude there where yes, it might be scary to try something new, but you might learn a better way to do it. Or it might make it more enjoyable for everybody. You never know until you try.
Beth: I keep wondering what this is going to do to physical brick and mortar businesses. So many small businesses can operate with a smaller staff on site, and more people working remotely. I know a lot of people who are paying a lot in rent and utility bills for their businesses. And it seems to me that this is going to change that the face of all of that. The complexion is going to completely change.
Amanda: That was one of my main strategies from the very beginning, when I started thinking about leaving my job, was how can I keep my overhead as low as possible? Because a lot of people were like, “Oh, you’ll go start your own production company.” It’s like, no, no, no. At the time, I wanted to get out of production because I was just fed up with everything. I feel like I have been babysitting people my whole life as a career, and I didn’t want to do that anymore. I didn’t want to have other people depending on me. I just kind of was at this place, like, I just want to do my own thing for a little bit. And I can do that with a laptop and some minimal software and an Internet connection. That is all I need. Fortunately, I have the space in my house, so I can have a dedicated home office. That helps. Even prior to this, most of my meetings and things were done remotely anyway, because it just works better for me. But in those cases where you need to meet face to face with a client, there was always a coffee shop or somewhere where you could go that didn’t require a monthly rent and utilities and all the other costs, because that’s where it can get overwhelming for people.
And even now with technology – the subscriptions, that’s the sneaky part of overhead. We get all of these different technology subscriptions, and it’s $19 a month here, $69 a month here, but when you see them all added up, you’re like, what am I actually doing with all of these things? Do I need all of them? I’ve been down the research rabbit hole way too many times in the last few months figuring out, is this the right platform? Is there a better platform? Can I merge these platforms? But it’s all in the idea of, how do I best move forward? It’s always moving forward for me.
Beth: I admire that. I respect it. And I try to do it, too. Since the shutdown, actually since before that, I’ve been working to trim my expenses and to streamline my life. I’ve been incredibly productive at all my different jobs, but in my down time, I’ve been going through my garage, my office, my storage shed. I’ve cleaned out 20 years’ worth of stuff. I’ve gotten rid of nearly half of my stuff, either throwing it away or bagging it up and getting it ready to donate. Sent a bunch of stuff out to donate to charity, to people that could really use this stuff. And realized in doing that, that’s a real metaphor for how I want to be in every aspect of my life, but especially in business. Moving forward, I want to be agile. I want to be able to go in whatever direction that I need to go in, in order to contribute to the world but also to contribute to my own well-being, my own evolving. My own evolution I should say.
But yeah, those subscriptions and the platforms and everything, that adds up. Same thing with cable. Do we really need Netflix, Hulu, and… we all need Amazon Prime right now.
Amanda: My garage right now is a pile of Amazon boxes. But, again for me, that started long before the pandemic because I don’t enjoy shopping. So, I felt like I had a lot of these tools in place, like I’ve secretly been preparing for this for quite a while. So it’s been okay.
“We can’t space out on things. People depend on us too much.”
Beth: Regardless of which of my hats I’m wearing, I have spiral notebooks. I’m on about my fourth one. I’ve got like a five-section spiral notebook, and I’m taking notes on everything. So I never go anywhere without an old school pencil, and my notebook. So are you doing that, or are you keeping everything in your head?
Amanda: Sometimes when I’m working through something, I’ll put it on paper first, and then I’ll type it out because the repetition, it just helps me find clarity in things sometimes. So I’ll start writing it out, and then when I copy that to a Word document or something, it gets more clear. But I tend to put notes in my phone more often just because that’s already with me. Not that I’m going anywhere, but it’s usually handy. And I like to have things in a digital form because of how much I cut and paste and move things around. I reprioritize a lot. But I do find that I have to get it out because I think a lot. I’m always too much in my head. And I know that when I’m working with other people, that’s one of the things that I’m always encouraging other people to do is: you have all this information in your head, but you’re not clear because that’s the only place where it lives. You have to get it out in some format – written, typed, something where you can visually look at it and make sure it’s clear, especially if you’re trying to then sell this service or this idea to somebody else, you have to be able to describe it. And I realized, hey, Amanda, you should probably take your own advice a little bit, which is always the hardest thing, as we know. But yeah, I definitely have written more in different places in the last few months.
My first step was to help other people, just like you. It was, okay, people are scared right now. And there were a lot of people that needed help with the different business loans that were available, or they just took this time to get their businesses in order. So I just offered a bunch of free services for a little bit. I just thought, I’m fortunate enough and if I can help other people be a little less scared right now, that’s absolutely what I want to do.
But in the meantime, it was looking at all those things that I had wanted to do for my own company for the last year or two, but had never gotten around to because, fortunately, I’ve been busy working. And sometimes when you’re so busy, I know you know this with your 23 different jobs, sometimes the things on your personal list get pushed back because even though it is priority, it’s a different kind of priority because those don’t always bring you income, and the things that we need in the current moment. So I’ve really been looking at different ways to expand on the coaching side, and how can I develop some online courses and different things that I can do once and put out there and help more people? I know that this is part of who you are too, but it’s also for me, it’s not just about making money for me, it’s how can I help more people? The money is good. I appreciate income just like anybody else, but it’s never been my primary motivating factor for anything I’ve ever done.
Beth: No, me neither. The way I look at it… there’s an old joke when you’re in show business, you always hear comedians say, “I never wanted to be a really rich person, and so far, it’s working out really well for me.” And that’s kind of the way I feel. As long as I can pay my bills, and live comfortably, get what I need, I’m fine with that. Obviously, I want… self-preservation is there, but I’m pursuing stuff where I can help people and where I can make a difference for someone else.
Now that we’re faced with starting the school year virtually again, I think it’s really important for these kids, and this this actually goes for parents and people in business and everything else. It’s like, one thing that I’ve always done is, I put everything in my phone. I put everything in my calendar. I prioritize tasks. If I have some yard work I need to do, I put it in my calendar – go out and weed the flower bed from 3:30 to 4:00. And I hold myself accountable for that. But I think all of this prioritization, and note taking, and reinforcing ideas that you have, I think it’s really critical to us as we go forward in this digital age. We can’t space out on things. People depend on us too much.
“Be focused – not fearful, but focused.”
Amanda: The idea of structure is the thing that most creatives fight, because they don’t want it. They don’t want routine. They don’t want any of this stuff. But I’m not saying your entire life has to be regimented, but if you have things that need to get done, and they’re not getting done, the first step is to figure out where your time is going. And I’ll recommend to people to use a timer app. There are free ones like Toggl – it’s what I use to track all of my job stuff. But you’ll find how much time you actually waste, not just on social media and TV and things like that, but there’s just a lot of time when you’re not actually doing anything. And you realize that a day goes by and you didn’t get anything done. But a lot of people can’t pinpoint why.
A lot of times I talk to people, and they’re like, “Yeah, I do really well when I have a to do list, or when I have this, or I have a deadline.” It’s like, okay, so are you doing that? “Well, no.” Okay, so your first step is to write everything down, prioritize it, and you’re going to give yourself deadlines. We know that those aren’t real – you can shift them if something else comes up, you can always reprioritize. But you have to have some idea of all the things that need to get done, or they’re not going to get done because we do have so much in our heads. And I feel like right now that’s influenced by everything that’s going on in the world. No matter who you are, everybody is having some kind of effect from this. It’s emotional, it’s physical, it’s whatever it is. There’s just too much stuff to keep floating around in there. So whatever you can get out, get it out on paper, it will help you reach those goals even faster. Or set the goals if you haven’t even done that part yet.
Beth: It’s interesting because in the past, say with my teaching, so I would have students come to the house, and they have their lessons. I wouldn’t really take notes on the students. I would just remember what they had to do, and I give them assignments, and they wouldn’t write anything down. Now, I take notes during the students’ lessons. I refer to those notes when they come back for the next week I give them definitive assignments. So I will write not just what they’re assigned to do, but how they did on the last lesson and the progress that they’re making.
It’s just a slightly different method of teaching that I’ve sort of shifted to use in all of my other businesses too. It works for the School of Music job. For the voice acting, I write down ideas all the time. I would love to go into some online educational video narration. I did some for the school of social work. I did these modular classes for them. It was like, this is really fun, and it helps people. It helps me earn money, but it also helps people. Sadly, because of budget cuts, I don’t think that’s going to happen for that school anymore. But there are other sources. So it’s like, I get those ideas, I write them down, and I then I put them digitally into a file. It’s organizing things, which is good. Structure is really good in the time of chaos.
A psychologist friend of mine said this is shared global trauma, and everybody’s going through it. It’s really important to stay focused as much as you can. Let yourself go every once in a while, and dive into a movie or a TV show and decompress, but when you’re on guard, be focused. Be focused – not fearful, but focused.
“My favorite gig is definitely the next one.”
Amanda: That balance is the important part in all of it. But I think what you were saying about how you’ve worked with your students differently, it’s that point of accountability that, for some reason, people in general, they don’t want to let other people down. But they don’t care if they let themselves down. And that’s a hard thing for people sometimes, because so many of us are – it’s one thing when it’s job and there’s somebody else who’s being affected, but when it’s our own company, our own goals, our art, or whatever it is… it’s just us, it’s fine if I don’t follow through. But that’s what keeps people stuck a lot – is there’s not that extra level of accountability to say, okay, I want to do this, so here’s how I’m going to do it. I have to do this by this time. And sometimes that’s where a coach comes into play is you just need somebody to check in on you and say, “Hey, did you do that yet?” and to give them the assignments and the things like that, until they get in the habit of doing it themselves naturally.
That’s how you create opportunities. Things aren’t just gonna fall into your lap all the time. Sometimes they do. I get that that’s ideal when that happens. But it’s the same thing, and it’s that trusting your instincts, which is always the most important thing, in my opinion – where if you get an idea, and it seems weird or whatever, still write it down. Think about it, because sometimes that weird idea is what turns into something else.
A lot of people think you have to have plans, you have to have, you know, a one-year plan, and a five- year plan, and a 10-year plan, and they assume that I’m a person who has these things because I am so regimented, but I don’t think that’s practical. And that’s not to say that it’s bad to have goals and a rough sketch of what you want to do. But, I know for me, if I would have stuck on the path that I had planned out many times, I never would have ended up where I’m at, because all the great things have occurred somewhere, like way off of that path that never would have happened if I was just focused on that one straight forward line. So I think it’s good to move in a direction, but not be afraid to look at what’s outside of it. And there are no rules that say you have to stick to the plan that you made for yourself. You get to change it if you want to.
Beth: When I see questions on job applications and stuff, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I just look at that and I go, oh, that’s adorable. That’s just adorable. Because that probably was a great question to have, maybe 20 years ago, but it’s so outdated now. The honest answer is, I don’t know.
Amanda: I read an interview that you had done for something, I think when you started performing in Phantom or something at the Smith Center, but they had published an article about you and you’d said that your favorite job is the next one. And I always love that because that’s really forward thinking. It’s great to appreciate what you’ve done – I think that’s important – but it’s again, always looking forward. Thinking that your next job is the one you’re most excited about, that’s a good mindset to keep all the time. It’s like yeah, the next thing coming up is going to be great.
Beth: Yeah, and It’s because of the possibilities it holds. There is the unknown in there, and with the unknown you can choose to be afraid about what’s unknown, or you can choose to embrace what the possibilities are. And I think it’s great to reflect on the past, but you can’t live there. And if you cling too hard to what has happened, and the way things used to be, and all of that stuff you are… you’re condemned to be stuck there. And I truly believe that my favorite gig is definitely the next one. I’ve had some wonderful experiences, but I’m excited about what the future holds.
“It’s important to take time for yourself.”
Amanda: So in the midst of all the jobs, do you have any Beth time, any free time? Are there things that you like to do that are not work, or is work what you do because you love what you do, and that doesn’t always feel like work sometimes?
Beth: I do love what I do. I love all of the different things that I get to do. But, there are things that I wish I were doing that I’m not able to focus on yet, like I’ve always loved to read, and I’m not reading a whole lot. I’m starting to get myself back into watching movies and some TV series that I had put off for too long, and so I decompress doing that. I do allow myself to get outside when it’s not 110, and there’s a park near my house, and I go do a 45-minute workout, mostly combination of running and walking. And so I exercise. I have a pool, so I swim. Those are things that I do that are fun. Listen to music – I am able to listen to music, so that’s good. I think it’s important to take time for yourself. I try to make myself turn off the email and the phone for a few hours before I go to bed. So how about you? What are you doing for yourself?
Amanda: I like to read, but I haven’t been doing as much of that. I’ve been catching up on some of the TV and movies that I never got a chance to watch. Finding new podcasts that I like to listen to, because I find that it’s easier sometimes to be mobile, if I’m moving around the house or doing something. But really, I’m just trying to enjoy the peace. I don’t mean that to discredit the fear and the other things that are going on, but usually I’m so busy. And a lot of people like to use busy as a point of pride, and I don’t think it’s that. I think you have to balance that with some downtime.
Even if I don’t have a job going on, on that particular day I still work during business hours – I just dedicate that time to my own projects. So I try to stay in that same routine, but there are some days, especially in the beginning, it’s like, you know what? My cat is out there sleeping, and she looks really cute, and I just don’t feel like it right now. So I’m going to shut everything off and I’m going to go hang out with my cat, and I’m not going to feel guilty about it. And that’s where some people, they start to feel guilty when they’re not doing things, but we need to just balance out sometimes and refresh. Because if it’s all work all the time – and sometimes I feel like, when you own a business, you feel like you can never shut it off.
But I think establishing those boundaries, even during normal times – because I’m the same way… I have my set office hours. I’ll check emails occasionally, up to a certain point. And if it’s important, I’ll answer it. If I’m on a big deadline or a huge job, obviously that changes, but getting my clients into the habit of knowing I’m not available to you 24 hours a day. And not that I don’t care about you, but just like you want time at night to be with your family, just because it’s “just me” doesn’t mean that my time is any less valuable. So I’m going to take that time. And even like this weekend – because we just wrapped the first episode of this series that I’m working on last week, so I didn’t really get a proper weekend. So I’m like, I am not doing anything productive. Recording this podcast right now is the only thing that requires any kind of effort for me, and I don’t feel like this is work because I don’t get to talk to you that often. So I was just like, I get to talk to Beth today.
“Little germs of ideas can turn into something else.”
Beth: This is like a nice hang. We should be going out to lunch right about now. This is all I have to do, too. This is one thing that I wanted to bring up – revenue streams, income streams. One way I make money, obviously, is through teaching private lessons. And I have one student who is very talented. I used him as a sub on Dwight Yoakam – there are two horn chairs, and the second horn player needed a sub, and I said, “Well, let’s call this guy.” So we called him and I said, “Hey, when you’re ready, you want to take a couple of lessons with me, let’s do.” So If you’re interested, let’s set up some lessons.” And I thought, it’s not a huge amount of money, but it all adds up, right? So he called me back and he said, “We had some expenses come up around the house, and we aren’t sure what’s going to happen with the school district, and how the pay is going to work and all that.” They were worried about layoffs and stuff. He says, “so I can’t really afford lessons.” And I said, “I think we can work something out.” So I have a barter thing going with him. Since he started studying with me a couple of months ago, he’s come over and painted my trim, mowed my yard, he’s done all kinds of little odd jobs for me.
So it’s like getting creative about things like this I think is very important, too. Look around and see what you need help with. And if you have a service that you can provide to somebody else who can help you, then allow that to happen. But it’s thinking differently. And I’ve never set up anything like that with anyone in my life, but I really like it.
And I want to take that concept and apply it to programs for the School of Music. With the budget cuts the School of Music is faced with… we always bring in artists in residence to teach our students. And when you’re online, when you’re doing virtual teaching and learning, it’s possible to call on people from all over the world to appear and perform and lecture for your students. We can’t pay these people through our artists in residence program, because there’s really no money. But what if we organized… not just calling up a friend and saying, “Hey, can you call into this Zoom session?”… but actually organize this system where, say, we want to call somebody from the Berlin Philharmonic and have them give a masterclass for one of our studios. So we ask the favor of him, but then one of our violin professors does something for… maybe not for the Berlin Philharmonic, but maybe for a youth orchestra that’s over there that that person is involved with. But we cross promote. We do all of this for free. We trade. We do this whole barter system thing. We build this program up, and we don’t just use this for the pandemic, we use it moving forward. Those are the kinds of things, that like you say, these little germs of ideas, that they can turn into something else.
Amanda: I love that idea because it’s supporting community. And, sure, you need money to pay your bills, but there are other things where you would spend money, so it is finding that. And I’ve done that a couple times with my coaching students, because they’re like, “I want to keep doing this, but I don’t know how long I can afford to do it at this rate.” And it’s like, well, okay, but then let’s figure something out. Because you’re motivated, you want to do this, I want to help you. We can work together on this. And again, it’s not always about the dollar amount. And I’m never saying that you should undervalue your services, because that’s a whole other issue. You need to charge what you’re worth for things, but there are ways to work with people.
Like, for me, I hate social media. If somebody wanted to trade coaching sessions for social media, okay, let’s do that, because I don’t promote things well because I don’t have the skill set for that, and I don’t have the joy for it. I need to get better at that, and I know that. I’m very aware. It’s on my to do list. But it’s that kind of thing, or just like you said, there’s things around the house that you would either have to fix yourself – and maybe you don’t want to do that – or you’d have to hire somebody to come in and do it. Why not hire the person who you already know, so you’re helping a friend in exchange? Everybody’s getting something out of it, but you just kind of have to look for those opportunities. We can help each other through all of this. I know we can.
Beth: And I’ll help you with your social media. I love doing it and finding the voice of the client. It’s fun for me.
“I’m playing music solely because this is what I want to play.”
Amanda: I’m curious about… because you play the French horn. That’s not always the go-to instrument that somebody picks. But it’s this concept that I always think about – you don’t have to do the same thing that everybody else is doing. Because if you do something different, then you stand out. And you being the French horn player in Vegas, when all of these acts come through that have orchestras, it’s not like you’re competing with this whole vast group of people that are playing the same instruments. Like you’ve got a lot of guitar players, or a lot of piano players, but French horn seems a little more… sophisticated somehow, and I like that. Was there a reason that you chose the French horn?
Beth: It sort of chose me. I went through several instruments. I started out on violin. And I had really good ears, and I played out of tune, and I had a really scratchy sound. So I was in first grade and I knew I sounded awful, so I wasn’t interested in keeping up with that. And I played viola, same result. Piano, I played by ear and the piano teacher said, I’m not teaching you because you’re not learning how to read music. Trumpet, guitar, back to trumpet, and then the junior high band director said, “Hey, listen, we’ve got this piece that we’re playing that needs four horn players.” And I was first chair trumpet in that band, and I worked really hard. I was the only girl in the trumpet section. I worked really hard to get there. And I was like, “I really don’t want to change.” And he says, “Just do it for this concert.” And I said, “Okay, but only if you promise I can have my first chair back.” He said, “Yes, you can.” So we played this thing. We had about three weeks to put it together. I moved to horn. I was last chair. Within a week, I was first chair. And I loved it. And I never looked back. I left high school two years later, a year early, to go to music school. It picked me.
Amanda: You didn’t stay on the path that you were on. You took a different opportunity, and it led to all of these things. I was the first chair viola in my fifth-grade orchestra, just so you know. That was the last time I played a viola. I moved on to the guitar after that, and then I just I started working.
Beth: I liked the viola, actually, better than the violin, because it had a deeper, more full sound. But that’s what I like about you, you’re a former viola player.
Amanda: I think I chose it because everybody else wanted to play the violin. I didn’t want to deal with a cello or a bass because I was really tiny, and it just seemed like it would overpower me. But viola just seemed like just enough, like it’s close to this thing, but it’s a little bit different. And I like to be different.
Beth: Are you still playing guitar?
Amanda: I haven’t in a while. I have some still in a closet that I’ll bring out every once in a while. But for me, what it was is I always liked to play, and I started playing with my brother. My dad got us a guitar when I was 13, and so my brother was 16ish, and we would play songs together, and it was just kind of a thing that we bonded over. And I kept with it, and I played in high school, not in a band per se, but just a guitar class that I took. And what happened is, I had so many friends who were so passionate about playing music, they would practice for hours a day, wanted to be in a band. Back in those days, the record industry was different. There was a different path to become a well-known musician. And I didn’t have that desire. I liked playing it, but it was definitely a hobby. And I just didn’t have the same drive for it. I mean, I love music. I’ve been listening to it my entire life. I’ve been going to concerts since I was seven. It’s my main hobby. I love music, but I didn’t have the same desire to play it as I do to listen to other people play it. I don’t know that I ever had anything else to do with it other than just the enjoyment of doing it, which I think is good to have sometimes.
Beth: It’s a good release. I think more than anything right now, because I’m not playing to earn money, when I play I play because I love it. And I play to explore music that I love. It’s not for anyone else, it’s for me. You were talking earlier about the peace, the calm, and everything. I have no one else to answer to right now. So what I do around here, I have to prioritize. If I leave a sink full of dirty dishes, will anybody care? No, but I’ll care. The same thing with music. I’m playing music solely because this is what I want to play. Same thing with how I consume movies or TV and how I hope to be consuming books again.
Amanda: Put that on your to do list.
Beth: It actually is on my to do list. That’s one thing that I want to do this week. I have a couple of books I want to open, and I’m going to open one of them and read at least four or five chapters.
“I can control how I treat my body.”
Amanda: It’s all part of taking care of yourself. That’s one of the important things that we have to remember is no matter what’s going on in the world, we have to take care of ourselves. And you’d said that one of the things you like to do in your downtime when you have it, you exercise. And the other thing, and I know you agree with this, too, is eating healthy is a big part of that, that people forget a lot of times because it’s not as fun. But I know I feel much better, mentally and physically. I mean, I love cake. We know that I love my desserts more than anybody. I always have to have some kind of dessert. But I’m also vegetarian, and I eat a lot of salads and everything. I make all my own food, so I know where it’s coming from, and I know what’s in it, and I pick the best ingredients that I can, and I do all of that, but it really helps me feel good. And that helps me get going because if I eat some big heavy meal that’s maybe not as good for me, I might enjoy it in that moment. But then afterwards I don’t, and then I don’t have the energy, so I don’t get things done, and then I feel bad because I didn’t get things done, and It’s a whole spiral. I know a lot of people that have changed their eating habits, and then they’re just working more productively, and then it changes all these other things. I’m glad that you are like that as well.
Beth: When this first started, I think everybody was just – was and still is – we’re all thrown into all of this uncertainty. And I was thinking, what can I control? Well, I can control what goes in and out of my body, and I can control how I treat my body. The first month and a half, I wasn’t very hungry, but I made sure that I was eating fruits and vegetables. I’m not 100% vegetarian, but I’m mainly plant-based, so I eat a whole lot of plants, and occasionally meat, but I made sure that I was doing my fruit and yogurt and granola every morning, even though I didn’t feel like it. It was like, right now this is fuel and if you don’t feed your body good pure food right now, your brain is not going to respond very well, and right now you need your wits about you.
And so I just made sure that I was eating well at least twice a day. And slowly but surely my appetite came back. And I’m like you, I cook a lot. I cook my own food and I’ll make batches of food and I’ll can it. I’ve got enough food in my refrigerator right now to probably last me til the end of the year, except for the fresh fruits and vegetables, but I think it’s really critical. And water. I drink a lot of water every day, and I always have. I’ve always been a big water drinker. It’s pretty much all I drink – water, coffee and some tea. But it’s really important to stay hydrated and that’s also good for your brain.
Amanda: If you have one piece of advice for somebody that’s either starting in business, or in business, because we get all kinds of advice whether asked for or not, but if somebody that’s wanting to make the leap in learning how to say, “Yes, I can do this,” what kind of advice would you give someone?
Beth: There’s a lot, but I would say the biggest thing is to be open. Be open to learning. Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know. I don’t know how to do this. But make it your business to learn how to do it. Just be prepared. Don’t ever stop learning because with that learning comes growth, and comes so many opportunities. If I had to put it down to one, that would be the most important one.
Amanda: Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today, and for the lovely advice for all our friends who can find you doing many, many different things. Where is the best place for people to find you out in that social media world?
Beth: I have two Facebook pages. My personal Facebook page is, I think it’s not set to public, but you can friend me on Facebook. My professional Facebook page, I haven’t been keeping up – that’s more of the music page. So you’ll find me in both of those places. If you want to see my political beliefs, you can follow me on Twitter @bethlano. I don’t go on and vent. I do a lot of retweeting, but pandemic and political related tweets there. Those are the best things to do. Or you can ask Amanda for my email address. And if she thinks you’re not a kook, you can get in touch with me.
Amanda: Thanks again for joining me today.
Beth: Thank you for having me, Amanda. I hope to see you soon, when it’s safe.
Connect with Beth:
https://www.facebook.com/beth.lano (personal profile)
https://www.facebook.com/bethlanohorn/ (music page)