< Chapter 4:7 Chapter 5:2 >
The birth of my daughter was life changing. During the time that Lori was pregnant, I had to look at how I was going to provide for a child? What kind of future was I going to be able to give her? The company I was working for was going out of business. I was a college dropout, with a criminal record. The music scene in my area was dying also. I had made the decision when Toyz was breaking up, that I was going to pursue my career as a recording artist. Now as I looked at how I would provide a future for my daughter, music looked like the only way that I could ever give her the life that I dreamed of giving her. Now I had even more of a reason to succeed.
In the summer of 1991 before Sierra was even conceived, I had begun working on my first effort at recording my own music. In June of 1992, just months after Sierra was born, I attended a Music seminar where I gained interest from a major music publisher and the former manager for Don McLean, the songwriter who is best known for the song American Pie. Both of these gentlemen told me that they saw tremendous talent, but that I needed to move closer to NYC so they could see how I was going to develop. With interest from these two men I imagined my life changing course for success and stardom.
At the same moment, here I was, just about to turn 26 years old, with a new daughter. And I was being told that if my dream was going to come true, I needed to leave her behind and move to NYC to the heart of the industry. I knew that I could not give my daughter the kind of life I wanted to give her if I stayed in Pennsylvania. So after much deliberation, I made the decision that I would go. Lori agreed to extend my weekends so I could have more time with Sierra. I would get her on Thursday, and she would stay with me until Tuesday. Allowing me to spend more time with her in New Jersey.
New Jersey was life changing for me in many ways. It was my first true attempt at “leaving the nest”. My whole support system of sober friends was in Pennsylvania. Any other time that I had moved away, I had done so to escape and continue my drinking. Now I was moving to New Jersey to follow my dreams.
I became friends with the Steve Zuckerman, who owned a company that promoted music business seminars. Through our talks about my moving to New Jersey, he offered me a job, and a place to live. Things were definitely looking up. My dreams were on their way to coming true.
In choosing to work with Steve, I was plugging myself into a higher level of music industry connections. I had already found that networking was the only way to really learn about the business and had been developing my own network on a small level. Working with Steve was going to give me the opportunity to meet some of the biggest people in the industry.
Within the first 6 months of knowing Steve, I had met childhood idols like Ace Frehley from Kiss. And other performers who were huge at that time like Jeff LaBar from Cinderella, and Sebastian Bach from Skid Row. I was meeting people I never realized had such an impact behind the scenes like inventor/guitarist Les Paul, and producers like Eddie Kramer and Jimmy Douglas who had worked with Kiss and Led Zeppelin respectively. I was speaking on the phone regularly with people in some of the biggest publishing companies in the industry including Paul McCartney’s publishing company. I saw my life changing in so many ways as I was actually becoming friends with producers and engineers who had worked with some of the biggest acts in history. It was a whirlwind, and as I got to know more of these people, I also got to learn so much more about the business. I was learning lessons that were invaluable, and creating friendships that were even more precious, not just for their business value, but friendships that have endured with people who have become some of my biggest mentors.
Have you ever been involved in a business deal, or friendship that turned into a total nightmare? But looking back, you see now how it changed the course of your life? This was my experience with Steve.
Even before accepting Steve’s offer to work for him and become his roommate, I knew he was an eccentric person. But what I found over the following year was that his eccentricity was covering a lot of personal pain. Steve was, in essence a genius, but his hunger for being in the spotlight was more important to him than anything else. He lived life as though his number one value in life was significance. He was seeking so hard to be in that spotlight, that he did a lot of things that, from my point of view, were highly unethical.
As I continued working with Steve, we discussed these things continuously whenever his actions would put the business and all of our reputations in dangerous positions. He would always vow that he was going to do things differently, but the patterns would continue. About 6 months into working with him, there was a situation where I was beginning to feel that my own integrity was being threatened by my association with him, and I chose to leave his company, although we did remain roommates.
Shortly after I left Steve’s company, the man who took over my former responsibilities, quickly leveraged Steve into a business partnership. Steve’s new partner was Paul Kanengeiser. Through his working with Steve, he and I ended up becoming very good friends. He would come and talk to me about some of the insanity that was happening because of the things that Steve would do, and ask me how to best communicate with him so we immediately had a common bond.
Now I have to say, that even at this point in my early recovery, I was always able to accept that each person has their own demons that they need to deal with. And even though Steve and I no longer worked together, I was still concerned for him and his business. Even though there were many negative things that happened in my association with him, I still had to acknowledge that I met a lot of people through working with him, both in the industry and outside of it. These were people that I would not have met if it were not for my moving to NJ and working with him.
So as Paul discussed these things with me, we started to look at doing an intervention with Steve. I truly believed then, and do to this day, that Steve really did want to help people. But his personal issues prevented him from really doing so. And in an effort to make himself feel better, he ended up hurting other people. Not intentionally, but he still hurt them. I really could empathize. My drug and alcohol abuse had me doing the same thing when I was using. At my core, I really didn’t want to hurt anyone, but to keep my false reality alive, I ended up hurting a lot of people. So if anyone was going to understand the position he was in, it was me.
The day came when Paul asked me to sit down and literally do the intervention with Steve, Paul, Steve’s father and myself. In respect for Steve and Paul’s privacy, all I will say is that Steve had crossed a line that threatened putting the company and Steve in legal trouble.
Paul was in fear of getting pulled into the legal trouble, and losing his investment. But he was also concerned about Steve. Steve was one of those people that you just feel you need to protect. You know that they aren’t trying to do anything bad, but they just keep getting in trouble. It was an intense meeting, and I got, what I believe to be one of my first lessons in actually being able to see how the actions of our environment as children can dramatically affect us in how we act as adults.
I don’t want to go into all the details of what happened in that intervention due to respecting everyone’s privacy. What I can say is that it became clear that the need for attention was something that was a struggle for a very long time for Steve. He also admitted to being a pathological liar because in his words, he was “scared of the truth.”
As I do coaching now, I see more and more of how many people continue to live out what I call “control dramas” that we learned as a child. These are patterns that we developed as children in an attempt to maintain some semblance of control in our lives, or as a reaction to the control dramas that are used by the people around us. You see it unfold in interactions between people everyday. It constantly amazes me how much you can learn about people when you sit back and observe.
The other thing that resonated with me from that meeting was I began to wonder how many other people are living in a veil of lies because they fear the truth about themselves? Or how many people live in fear of the world around them? So in an effort to feel secure, they create a fantasy world that they truly can justify. From their perceptions, these lies that they tell are not lies. I know when I was drinking that I lived behind a wall of lies so tall that it took some serious time, and exploration for even me to know which were truths, and which were lies.
By the end of the meeting, Steve had decided that he was getting out of the music business, moving back with his family and was going to do something to get help. Paul and I had decided to carry on the business idea that Steve had been using, but because of the bad reputation their company now had, we would start under another name. Steve’s idea of helping to connect other artists with each other and with business people in the industry had merit, and we believed it needed to continue.
That business was short-lived though on our end. It was one of my first “real” attempts at business, and also became a major learning experience. We started the company with no capital, and were working in an industry where the only connections that we had, had been created through our affiliation with Steve. By this point many people in the business had been negatively impacted by his business practices and weren’t the most receptive to our approaching them.
I do have to say that many amazing things did come out of this period of my life changing from a small town boy to playing at the level I was now playing. In my association with Paul, we started developing a business plan, which is still a part of my “Master Plan” for my business and my life. Just like working with Steve, working on this business with Paul gave me the opportunity to meet many people I would have never met. It also shifted me into a new profession, which became my major source of income for the next 17 years, which was DJing.
I can truly see that my experience with Steve and Paul, just as many other experiences in my life, was another turning point that moved me into where I am today. Even though at the time I was going through these life changing experiences, I cursed my life and all that was happening in it. Things got so crazy financially that I was working three jobs just to pay the bills. I also made the choice to set aside pursuing my career as a performer, and use the time to allow me to study more about how the whole music business worked. I knew that if I was going to truly be successful, I needed to know more. I needed to study the business side of things so I could make intelligent decisions. And most importantly, I was still working on discovering who I was.
< Chapter 4:7 Chapter 5:2 >
The Warrior Sage Chapter/Section
Who Is Willard Barth?
Preface - Exploring Strength And Weakness
Chapter 1:1 - The Process Of Self-Awareness
Chapter 1:2 The Stages Of Child Development
Chapter 2:1 The World Changed Forever
Chapter 2:2 The Vicious Cycle Begins
Chapter 2:3 Losing Faith
Chapter 2:4 My Dark Secret
Chapter 2:5 Where Is The Love I Was Promised?
Chapter 3:2 The Road To Alcohol Dependence
Chapter 3:3 Leaving My Childhood Behind
Chapter 3:4 Escaping Responsibility; The Joy Ride Ends
Chapter 3:5 Living A Duality Begins
Chapter 3:6 Out Of Control
Chapter 3:7 Crossing The Line To Insanity
Chapter 3:8 The Black-out Drinking Begins
Chapter 3:9 Facing The Music
Chapter 3:10 A New Beginning
Chapter 3:11 More Lessons To Learn
Chapter 4:1 The Final Party
Chapter 4:2 A Moment Of Clarity
Chapter 4:3 My New Life Begins
Chapter 4:4 Sober, Time To Face The World
Chapter 4:5 The First Year Of Sobriety
Chapter 4:6 Major Change Comes In Year Two
Chapter 4:7 My Daughter Is Born April 20, 1992
Chapter 5:1 Life Changing Decisions Follow My Daughter's Birth
Chapter 5:2 Recognizing The Voice Inside
Chapter 5:3 The Empress Hotel
Chapter 5:4 A New Chapter In My Life Begins
Chapter 6:1 Finding My Way Home
Chapter 6:2 Falling Into Place
Chapter 6:3 A New Awareness
Chapter 6:4 Personal Finances And Personal Development
Chapter 6:5 The George Washington Story
Chapter 6:6 Letting Go So Others Can Grow
Chapter 6:7 The Wrap Up
Jump HOME from Life Changing Decisions