Brent Walsh is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist originally hailing from Fremont, California. He attended college at California State University, East Bay, maintaining a 4.0 grade point average for his short tenure there, before dropping out with ambitions of touring. A musician for nearly his entire life, Brent could not in good conscience at least try to make a career for himself in the music industry. So, in his late teens, he formed a band with some talented friends and started to play live gigs. The band achieved local success, picked up momentum, signed to a record label, and soon Brent Walsh and his bandmates were touring across the United States. Feeding on the strength and success of that nationwide tour, the band then embarked on a large-scale touring, playing venues on countless U.S. tours and eventually across multiple continents.
However, like many musicians, the year 2020 led to a number of hardships and difficult decisions. Brent has since had to explore other avenues as a means of supporting himself. He has recently decided to take the plunge and become an entrepreneur. Brent Walsh still resides in the Bay Area of California.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Music has just really been my only interest since I was a 16 year old who picked up a guitar. I had a couple of moments where I thought maybe pursuing an acting career could’ve been an option, but I ultimately decided that music is what I’m better at and what I had, at that point, already been pursuing for awhile. So I just never steered away from that course.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My alarm is typically set for 7AM. I wake up and spend a few minutes on appreciation for the important things in my life. When you’re going through a really hard time, thoughts of appreciation can be difficult, but it helps to put you in sort of a positive quadrant for the day if you take those couple moments. After that, I shower and get a coffee. I like to read in the morning. I read an email subscription called ‘The Brew’ which has a concentration on economic matters, then I read the New York Times. After that, I usually just bang away at whatever checklist I’ve made for the day which usually starts with responding to emails, starting with pressing matters and collaborative things. I’m really big on checklists. Then I examine what social events I have going on for that night. I like to pick an end time for my work day—I’m really big on work/life balance—so, I usually try not to work too far past 6 or 7PM. During the day, it’s usually a mix of writing, recording, studying production, studying real estate, and getting in some exercise somewhere in the middle of all that. Usually I play basketball or do a little workout to get my energy back up.
How do you bring ideas to life?
By not forcing them. I like to experiment until some sort of strain of inspiration takes hold and continues into something substantial. I think if you ask any writer of music, or script writer, or author, they’ll tell you to just sit down every day and start. Sometimes you won’t find anything you like for hours, and then all of a sudden some sort of inspiration will hit. That’s one of the most impactful things a person can ever experience. You just kind of dig through the dirt until you get to something good.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Right now, in music there’s this cool trend of production simplicity. It’s interesting. It’s great for me because I’m currently teaching myself production and, you know, the more instrumentation you add, the harder it is to make things stand out that are important in the mix—the harder it is to make things sound clear. So, it’s nice for me that this trend is happening right now. I also like it because it lets the songwriting or the emotional resonance of a lyric or vocal shine when there are fewer things drawing the listener’s attention away from it. In the past, I’ve tended to add a bunch of layers to my music, but that’s not always necessary and it’s not always what’s best for the song. I like that trend.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m a very big fan of lists, vision boards, and manifestation mindset. I think when you start your day with appreciation, you get your brain working in a positive quadrant and it can help you to stay productive and focused. It can help you believe that you can achieve what you want to achieve. I’m really big on breaking the larger goals down into smaller monthly, weekly, and daily steps. That’s why keeping a daily checklist can help you stay on track and bring it all together.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would say be more mindful of how you may affect other people. Always use empathy as your starting place in any conversation. I would tell my younger self to listen more and assume your ideas can always be improved with outside input. And don’t let setbacks set you back so far. I would also tell myself to start therapy early in life. I’ve found therapy very helpful. I’m big on preventative help rather than treatment directly after it’s needed. Therapy is something I think a lot of people could benefit from—probably to a greater degree than most think. But maybe there’s a stigma attached to it.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The Golden State Warriors will win another NBA championship in the next three years.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Readjust your goals. Don’t be afraid to tweak the vision board and reassess it often to make things more realistic, because if your goals are too unrealistic, you won’t even bother to take the small steps toward reaching them. Don’t be afraid to readjust what you’ve already written down.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Persistence and belief in myself. If I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing and it’s what brings me happiness and it feels like I’m on the right path, then I can’t let setbacks set me too far back.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I was really young—18 years old—my band was signed to a label. I thought to myself, ‘oh, the sky’s the limit! I’m just a teenager and I’m on a record label! This is going to be great!’ We spent a year recording a record and then we got dropped. There was a point after that when we lost our drummer and bass player, too, and I started to feel like, ‘okay, maybe this isn’t going to happen.’ Well, we kept at it and then when I was 21 years old, we were signed to another label. Then we spent another year recording a record, and then that label went bankrupt. Neither of those records ever came out. So, from the age of 18 to about 22, the band put in some really, really hard work and didn’t have a whole lot to show for it. If I didn’t really believe in my own talent, and didn’t believe that music was what I was meant to do, and didn’t realize that it was what brought me happiness, then I would have probably redirected myself at that point. But I never steered off course from music and I’m happy that I didn’t.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I wrote something down the other day about tandem jet packs. Tandem jet packs that can act as an Uber in the sky. How hard could it be?… Let’s make this happen, Silicon Valley!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently spent a little more than that on a camping trip with a bunch of my friends for my birthday. As I mentioned before, I’m a really big believer in work/life balance. That means not just setting goals for my business, but setting goals for my personal life and my interpersonal relationships. Bettering my interpersonal relationships with friends and family is really important to me. So, having time away on my birthday to go camping and get away from all the stress I’ve been under was a good decision. When I’m getting burnt out, I always find it’s helpful to hit the reset button. Plus, it’s nice to have something like that to look forward to beforehand.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
There’s a piece of software called Slate Digital. It’s fairly inexpensive for a monthly subscription and it allows access to some really incredible music and some plugins that take your recordings a huge step up. In the old days, you’d have to buy all these plugins separately and they were really expensive. You might end up spending a lot of money on one and never even end up using it very much. One great thing about music creation nowadays is that there are so many more avenues and inexpensive ways to create quality music than there used to be. That’s why you see all of these musicians blasting off at 18 years old. They’re making songs in their room because the technology has just come that far and there’s a YouTube tutorial for absolutely everything. It’s really interesting and really cool how companies like Slate Digital open up a lot of doors that didn’t used to be open for young music creators.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I just finished a book called Ninja Selling by Larry Kendall. He’s a real estate mogul. There are a lot of techniques in the book that would benefit anyone who’s attempting to traverse the entrepreneurial landscape. It’s got a lot of great insights into mindsets, time management, work/life balance, manifestation, and how to provide a service to people that are in contrast to some of the older business mindsets, like not taking no for an answer. I think there were a lot more immoral stances on how to grow your business back in the day. I like how Larry Kendall and others are taking this more new age approach of being kind to people and focusing on providing an actual service in order to grow a business.
What is your favorite quote?
“I am the captain of my ship, and the master of my destiny.”
• Make lists. But feel free to readjust them as needed.
• Don’t get too bogged down by setbacks.
• Believe in yourself and believe in what you’re doing.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.