Joining us for our last Virtual Speaker Series session of 2020, JUNO award-nominated singer-songwriter Peter Katz brought his special combination of stories and songs to our Zoom screens. He related how his surprising path to success, both as a musician and speaker, holds useful lessons for everyone.
To begin, he talked about the struggles he faced in his early days as an independent musician, driving back and forth across the country playing hundreds of small shows. It was a difficult path—mentally, emotionally, and financially—and even his JUNO nomination in 2012 didn’t do much to change his fortunes. Peter caught himself questioning his path and feeling unsure about continuing. However, it wasn’t long afterwards that he had an unexpected event that inspired him and renewed his determination.
Peter was in Fort Macleod, Alberta playing a show to a surprisingly full audience that seemed very familiar with his songs. It turned out that there was a youth education program called FACES based in that town, which had been using his music in their 12-day summer sessions where teens are invited to participate in outdoor adventures to build leadership and teamwork skills. The organizers of the program had in fact helped arranged the show with the hope of asking Peter to participate in their sessions. Peter was thrilled and touched by this surprising connection, and agreed to help with the program. He’s attended every summer since and now helps to run the program.
This is just one of the stories Peter shared to underline his point about how we can never really know the impact we’ll have on the world, and on other people. We don’t really have any control over that, he said, but we can control how we show up everyday and remain dedicated to our work. Whatever you do, Peter said, you can put energy and love into it so that there is a chance to engage, connect, and help others. Additionally, the challenges we face give us the tools we can apply to each new challenge.
Peter provided 4 primary “resiliency rules” that he’s developed through his experiences to help him stay motivated and grounded throughout his career, and he pointed to them as ways that we can all check in to “stay in it”—whatever “it” is for each of us.
Peter’s Resiliency Rules
1) “Head on the pillow” Rule: Peter said each night when he goes to bed he asks himself, “Have I tried my best? And have I helped others to do their best? If I can answer yes to both, no matter what went wrong I can sleep ok.” He considers this a nightly ritualized connection with his integrity. It’s a way we can check in ourselves and our goals, importantly noting that we shouldn’t hold ourselves against anyone else’s expectations.
2) “Staying Connected to My Bigger Picture”: Peter said he regular asks himself, “Why am I doing what I’m doing? And who am I doing it for?” He used the example of acknowledging his artistic impulses and also his desire to succeed in his career so that he can support himself and eventually make a good life for his future family. This check in, he said, can help keep us grounded while also renewing our dedication to whatever life goals we may have.
3) Lifelines: Peter believes it’s incredibly important to have at least one or two key people that we can relate to in our life without any barriers. These are people we can be completely honest with, who knows us well, and who we can share our deepest feelings with. This kind of relationship takes time to nurture, he said, but they’re so important.
4) “I don’t have all the time in the world”: Peter’s final rule was simple but poignant. He said we need to acknowledge the reality that our time on the planet is finite. Not to make ourselves anxious or create fear, but instead as another way to ground and motivate ourselves to set our goals, and remind ourselves that it’s important to show up every day in whatever we do.
Peter wrapped up his presentation by again reiterating that his experience has shown him that showing up wholeheartedly in life allows for amazing impacts to happen. Honesty, openness, and dedication in everything we do, day to day, sets in motion the possibility for incredible things to happen.
Peter Katz is a JUNO Award and Canadian Screen Award-nominated singer-songwriter who has spent the past 15 years touring internationally, sharing the stage and studio with legendary musicians and releasing five albums. A gifted storyteller, Peter infuses his presentations with songs which inspire audiences to create their own path, overcome obstacles, and find success in whatever they desire.
Speakers’ Spotlight has been offering virtual presentations since 2009. We work with a range of speakers who are comfortable with presenting virtually on a variety of topics. If interested, contact us for more information.