So today after the gig I was sitting on a bench minding my own business when this guy sits down next to me and immediately says, “Hi, what’s your name?” as he sticks out his hand and reeks of alcohol. I got away from that shit as fast as I possibly could. Let me explain something to everyone. I was going to say “Let me explain something to all you douchey guys,” but then I realized this behavior and cluelessness is not limited to douchey guys, unfortunately. So let me explain something to you all. If you want to pick up normal people, this is how you do it:

1. Don’t accost them and force them to interact with you. It will freak them out and frustrate them and they will flee.

2. Don’t reek of alcohol, B.O., drugs, cigarettes, or anything else. Don’t even reek of cologne or perfume. Just don’t reek. Be clean and well-kept, and if you smell of anything, let it be body soap (not dish soap, as someone I know smells like. That is weird.)

3. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT try to engage anyone who is engaged in another activity, be it reading, listening to music, riding a bike, running away from your annoying ass, whatever it is. If they’re doing something else, LEAVE THEM ALONE. They don’t want to talk to you and they have the right not to talk to you. There are people who will be ok with talking to you. Work on them.

3. You cannot just force a stranger into a conversation out of the blue. You have to make it look like it’s just happening, not that you’re insisting that it happen whether they like it or not, and you have to tacitly get their permission. You can do this by starting with something harmless, like asking for the time. If they tell you the time and keep walking, let them go. If they stick around, you can maybe mention when you have to be where you’re going or that it’s later or earlier than you thought (but don’t just lie about this, idiot. Keep it honest.) If they converse with you after this point, you may be in the clear to keep talking to them for a bit. If not, let them go.

4. I know you’re trying to pick the person up. You know you’re trying to pick the person up. Honestly, they know you’re trying to pick them up. But you have to pretend like hell that you’re NOT trying to pick them up, or you will never pick them up. So don’t do anything stupid, like telling them how attractive they are one second after you met them, or commenting on their appearance in any way. Don’t talk about being single and lonely (Would you find that attractive if someone said that to you? Hint: you’re not supposed to.) Just don’t be a total idiot about it. People need time to figure out if they have any interest in talking to you further, and I can guarantee they won’t if they think you’re just trying to bone them as quickly as possible and you’re clearly insane and/or pathetic.

5. Be cool. This is easier than it sounds. Just be an active, interesting person who does lots of things and is busy and knows about some stuff. People expect you to come on to them and will just reject you if you do it clumsily. If you avoid coming on to them and instead just get to know them and let them get to know you, if they’re interested, things will happen.

6. If you’re the only one keeping the conversation going, it’s time to end that conversation and move along.

So bottom line is, don’t be a douchebag or an idiot. There are already too many of you in the world and no one will appreciate you for being a douchebag or an idiot. Be a respectful, cool, nice, interesting person who has some interesting characteristics or redeeming qualities, and you’ll be fine.

Wow, haven’t written in a while, sorry! Just wanted to let ya know I’ve been working on new dance-pop music (finally! no more girl-with-guitar-look-how-sweet-I-am crap! WE ARE GOING TO DANCE!!!) and it is freakin’ amazing. I think you all are going to love it, and I know it’s going to be a knockout live. I cannot WAIT to perform these gems!!!

Also, I think once I have a demo’s worth of kickass dance songs, I’m going to start trying to take it to the next level in earnest. Up till now, the stuff I’ve done hasn’t been the stuff I really want to be known for, but now that I’m seeing how awesomely the new stuff is turning out to be, I think I can be really comfortable with this sound as an accurate picture of who I am and what I want to do. Yay! FINALLY!

The tip for today is: when you’re stuck, and you think you can’t make anything good happen, WORK THROUGH IT. When you think there’s no point to trying to work on your dream, WORK ON YOUR DREAM. You’ll get back into the groove instead of wasting time, and you’ll feel better when the inspiration starts to come back.

Yesterday it took me two hours of sitting and staring at my computer and wondering if I could even make good dance music until I got some ideas for my song and started laying them down on the recording, and you know what? I made a freaking amazing song this weekend. I’m in love with it. And I feel great about that. And if I had given up, either for the moment or forever, when I felt like I couldn’t come up with anything, then I wouldn’t have ever known that I can totally make an amazing song when I put my mind to it and chug on through the tough times. So chug on through the tough times, folks. After all, you never read a book about The Little Engine That Said “F*** It,” did you? You read about THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD.

JUST DO IT.

The difference between an ok life and a great life is hard work.

Whatever lofty goal or big dream you have in life, it’s going to take some hard-ass work to achieve it.

The best thing you can do for yourself when pursuing a goal is immediately throw out the idea that it will be easy or happen fast. Because it won’t and it won’t.

Accept the fact that anything worth getting only comes after a lot of hard work, and get to work.

Here’s some of the work I’m doing right now: making music, making videos, leading a band, booking shows, friending hundreds of people on Myspace each day, performing as much as possible, practicing and learning new skills and songs on the guitar, trying to get blog publicity, and on and on and on.

A little work every day adds up over time to a lot of goals reached. A lot of work every day accomplishes even bigger goals even faster. The work is never going to end, so get used to working constantly. Once you reach your goal, you’re going to have to work to stay there, and work even harder to get beyond that point. So get comfortable with the idea of hard work every day. Because there really is no alternative if you have any ambition at all.

A couple things I’ve thought about in the last couple days of doing open mics and networking with new contacts/fans:

1. When networking with someone, ALWAYS be the one to reach out first, because the simple fact is, if you don’t, they won’t. It doesn’t matter how much they said they want to keep in touch etc. My experience has literally been 99 out of 100 people do NOT contact you first. You MUST contact them first, and then oftentimes they will get back to you and your exchange will develop, but for whatever reason, people just do not initiate contact with new friends/contacts. So if you want anything to come out of meeting people, you have GOT to be the one to send the follow up email or make the follow up phone call. You don’t have to believe me, but if you test this theory, you will notice you aren’t getting any follow up emails before you ask the person for a response yourself.

2. Follow ups must be made in a timely manner–preferably as soon as you get to a computer after you’ve met the person. What I’m doing now is, performing at an open mic, going home after it, and, before I go to bed, even if I’m really tired, I make sure to take 10 minutes and reach out personally to each new contact via email before I go to bed and forget about it forever. People’s memories are only so good, especially when trying to remember someone they only met briefly once when they had a drink or two in them. So send that follow up IMMEDIATELY, and put their name in the subject line, and explain who you are. Example subject line: “Hey Dave, this is JC Cassis, the girl who met you last night at the open mic.” In the body of the email, remind the person who you are, what you performed, and what you and they talked about when you met. Thank them for their interest in you and ask whatever you need to ask them, and offer to help them with something you can help them with if possible, or offer them a free gift, like a free mp3 if you’re a musician. They’re a new contact and you’ve got to make a great first impression to get in their good graces. And a good first impression goes a long way. You never know where getting someone’s favor might lead…

3. When someone helps you in a networky way, pay them back equally. You TOTALLY owe them and you want to show them your appreciation by doing something equally nice for them. For example, last night at the open mic, a guy named Collin who’s in the band Victor Bravo saw me perform. I friended him on myspace and wrote him a personal email thanking him for giving me his email address. He wrote me back a personal message alerting me that he had mentioned me in his band’s blog. Look at what he wrote: victorbravo.blogspot.com. Now that is amazing networking on his part. He gave me an amazing endorsement to all of his fans, complete with a link to my website and a notice of when my next show will be. That is so fucking smart it blew my mind! What a brilliant guy. Because now I’m talking about how awesome he is in my blog. Because how could I not? Not only is it true, but it really meant a lot to me, and I TOTALLY owe him! So, by him taking the time to write a few sentences about the acts at the mic and letting them know he did it, he is earning blog mentions/endorsements from all of them (if they are smart, they will pay him back. Either way, he gets major musician karma points). If you want to help out this sweet and intelligent man, check out his awesome band, Victor Bravo, here.

So be smart, nice and prompt with your networking. Think about it from the other person’s perspective. It’ll go a long way!

When you want to accomplish anything, in any industry or pursuit, you should tell everyone you know/meet about it. You’ll never believe how many people can help you out that you already know or that you will meet in your life. Sometimes the person you’re talking to has the power to help you him/herself, sometimes they know someone who can help you, or sometimes they just know something that can help you get where you’re going faster. But nine times out of ten, they’ll have something worthwhile to share with you. When I tell people I’m pursuing a career as a music artist, I never, ever get a blank stare. I always get one of the following responses (or something close to it):

“That’s awesome! It’s so admirable that you’re pursuing your dreams and not just settling for some lame job.” (This makes me feel good about myself and my decisions about my life, which gives me confidence to keep going.)

“Oh wow, I want to hear your music/come to a show!” (This also makes me feel good, and as though people give a shit about what I’m doing and are actually willing to support it or at least give it some of their attention.)

“Cool, you know, I know a music blogger/singer-songwriter/record label employee/manager/agent/booker/guitarist you should talk to–here’s his info…” (This helps me make a connection that is helpful no matter what–whether I just get a bit of advice out of it or a record deal.)

“Oh great, you know, I’m putting on a show and I’d love you to come play…” (That person just booked a show for me. Great!)

That’s why, when someone gives you an opportunity to tell them about yourself, you should tell them what you most want them to know, what you want to be true. You talk about what’s important to you, so they make a response that’s relevant to that part of your life. You’re basically telling them, “This is who I am. This is how I want to be known/seen.” So if you’re an aspiring screenwriter, don’t say, “Well, I’ve been noodling around with this movie script in my spare time, but it’s nothing special.” Say, “I’m working on a movie script I’m really excited about, and trying to figure out how to get it to the right people so it gets read.” Showing that you’re serious and are doing the legwork is what impresses people and makes them want to help you. When people ask what I do, I say I’m a singer songwriter who’s hitting a lot of open mics, doing shows with my band, making my own music videos, learning to accompany myself on guitar, and basically working towards a high-flying pop career. Now, do I also have a day job? Yes. But is that my ultimate goal and dream in life, with which I want help moving forward? No. I want help making progress in music, so I talk about how much work I’m doing on my music, and people are impressed and interested and offer to help.

Also, it’s important to know that people want to help you. People love helping other people. Personally, one of my favorite things to do is connect my friends with other friends and contacts who can help them do what they want to do. It gets them excited, it gets me excited for them, and it makes everyone happy. But, they have to let me know what they want so I know who to put them in contact with. If they don’t say anything, I don’t know how to help them. So don’t be shy about talking about your passions and goals, and ask people for the help that they’re just dying to give. They’ll give it, you’ll get it, and it will be awesome!