On Tuesday I had an inspirational call with Derrick Ashong (aka DNA), a West-African born musician, social entrepreneur, and host of The Derrick Ashong Experience on Oprah Radio.
Derrick inspires me for two reasons: First: he has guts. With the prospect of a lucrative career on Wall Street, Derrick (at the time a senior at Harvard) had the courage to strike a risky path for himself and co-founded Soulfège, a West African band with beats as catchy as their message is positive. Second: he pays the rent. Through speeches, performances, consulting gigs, and his radio show, he has designed a career that enables him to express himself artistically yet also supports him financially.
Derrick had the following words of wisdom regarding my storytelling project:
– On growing my network: It’s not about who you know, it’s about who knows what you know. Tell people what I’m working on.
– On finding a mentor: A mentor will want to work with me because they care about me deeply, or they respect my work. The most efficient way for me to find a mentor is to go out to venues and perform (a.k.a Just Do It).
– On the art scene in LA: Some of the most talented folks in LA’s art scene are artists who most people have never heard of. Seek them out.
– On where to perform: Start with Zanzibar in Santa Monica.
I’m excited to track Derrick’s pragmatic approach to building a career of self-expression, and I hope that I can channel his courage and discipline as I build my own.