Wes Yee is a music producer, songwriter and entrepreneur. His credits can be heard on various TV networks, his jingles are all over the radio and he recorded the audio book 13 Hours In Benghazi. He is a partner of No Quit Living, and he’s recently crept out from behind the scenes as an artist and vlogger.
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3 Value Bombs
1) Everyone has the ability to create, but you have to engage your creative outlet as much as you possibly can.
2) Every opportunity may be your big break, but learn how to manage your expectations.
3) Do not let fear keep you from your goals.
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
[01:12] – Wes owns a company called You Write Music and produces a podcast – JLD was a guest!
[02:16] – When Wes was leaving his day job, his boss told him he had wanted to do something different for a long time but did not know how to do it
[03:12] – JLD asks Fire Nation, “What path are you on, and what you are doing to get on the path where you want to be?”
[04:13] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: Be as creative as possible, as often as possible. Wes says being creative is trying a lot of things until something works. Wes claims 90% of his initial ideas are terrible and he only puts out 10% that he considers good content
- Everyone has the ability to be creative, but you have to start doing it
- Carry a little notebook with you everywhere you go so you can write down your ideas
- Wes also has a tattoo on his forearm of a blank music staff where he writes musical ideas in
[06:41] – Ideas come from experiencing life and can come at any time
[07:17] – JLD says everyone has that billion-dollar idea; what most lack is the execution
[08:02] – Worst entrepreneurial moment: When they first started Jingle, Wes was doing well and had the chance to work with CBS Radio Gold, a national company, and iHeartRadio. They spent two months working on one project and came up with three of the best pieces of music he ever made
- Wes went to New York to present it to a business owner and he loved all three of them, but said he had to get the opinion of his celebrity panel before signing the contract
- Months later, the business owner said he wanted to test the music before buying it and Wes wanted to negotiate a lease deal
- The guy replied back saying that Wes should have given the jingle to him for free and that he did not want to do business with him anymore
- It was in this moment that Wes realized they were doing extremely well
- Wes says there are people who think they can make a living from using small business products for free, but ultimately it is their loss
[12:30] – Every opportunity is your big break, but at the same time, expect the worst and hope for the best
[13:20] – Greatest AH-HA Moment: Wes was dating a girl and two months ago, they broke up. Wes realized the whole time they were together, he felt content but also felt there was something missing— like he was not living up to his fullest potential. Wes was always working behind the scenes, and his girlfriend knew he wanted to be an artist and public figure
- Wes wrote songs, but never released them. He kept making excuses saying it was not perfect, but the truth was he was afraid to put it out there and fail. He didn’t want his girlfriend to be the one dating the laughing stock of the Internet
- JLD calls this “the pre-launch fear”
- Wes says we live in a society where we show our best on social media only to have a few likes for a product (this humbles us). But, if you do everything right, it WILL work
- After they broke up, the AH-HA moment kicked in and Wes launched his artist page
- Wes was talking to an artist who wanted to meet up with him when he was still with his girlfriend. The talk did not push through because he didn’t want to disappoint his girlfriend if he ended up burning a bridge with the artist
- After they broke up, Wes contacted the artist again and Wes was asked if he was willing to write songs for artists like Maroon 5
- Wes was scared of failing in front of his then-girlfriend, and he realizes that now
[21:39] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Fear”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “You can’t know what good is unless you experience bad”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – Meditation and yoga
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – YouTube
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Miles Davis’ autobiography
[24:29] – Patience is everything
Wes: Absolutely. I’m excited.
JLD: Wes is a music producer, song writer, and entrepreneur. His credits can be heard on various TV networks, his jingles are all over the radio, and he recorded the audio book 13 Hours in Benghazi. He is a partner of No Quit Living and he’s recently crept out from behind the scenes as an artist and vlogger. Wes, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Wes: Totally. Absolutely. Also, thank you for having me on the show. I really appreciate it and I’m really excited to be here. But I guess I’m a somewhat recent college grad and an even more recent day job quitter actually. But I own a company called You Write Music and like JLD said, we do jingles for the radio, music branding that type of stuff. And in addition to that, I’m an artist, I’m a music producer, and I recently got the opportunity to write for some pretty big pop artists which is pretty cool. And then also I’m a partner in No Quit Living like JLD mentioned. And that’s a really cool project as well. I’m really humbled to be a part of it, but we have a Podcast as well and we interview people from all different walks of life and different industries.
And it’s actually kind of funny because my business partner, Chris was on EO Fire as well and then JLD was a guest on our show and that was an awesome episode to work on.
JLD: Thank you.
Wes: And here I am so it’s crazy how things kind of come back full circle. And it’s a really cool show. I audio edit it, I do the music for every episode. And every episode makes me feel like I can do anything. But really quick, I just wanted to touch on the day job thing really quick because I don’t know if anyone in Fire Nation is still working a day job. But I just wanted to share a quick story about it. I just remember my boss was always stressed out and I’d watch him work 16-hour days sometimes for a predetermined salary that was way lower than what I thought he was worth. And when I finally put my two weeks’ notice in, obviously, I was kind of on my way out so I would just ask him whatever and I didn’t really care anymore.
And I remember we were getting lunch one day and he was telling me how screwed essentially he was with me leaving and how understaffed they were about to be. So I asked him, I said, “Hey Joe, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you not stressed before. Have you ever considered doing something different or starting a business or anything?” And he said to me, “Every single day I’ve thought about doing that but I don’t know what to do.” And it’s pretty wild. It hit me like a ton of bricks. So I really am truly humbled and honored to be on this show because I really want to help Fire Nation and anybody who’s listening not end up in that situation.
JLD: Well, I’m excited too. And Fire Nation let me ask you, what path are you on? I mean, does your boss right now have a job that you’d actually want? I mean because that’s the path you’re on. Do you want that job? If the answer’s no, then it’s time to quit. Absolutely.
Wes: Absolutely. It’s a very strange phenomenon, kind of seeing your future.
JLD: That’s so true.
Wes: I think kind of preparing to either allow it to become your present or follow the path because a lot of people really like the corporate thing as well. And if that’s what you enjoy and that’s what you want to be a part of and the track that you want to follow, then power to you. I think that’s awesome.
JLD: Yeah, totally. You do you. But let’s be honest, Wes. They’re probably not listening to this podcast if that’s the path they want to go on.
Wes: Good point.
JLD: So Wes, you have a lot of different areas of expertise, but let’s just kind of narrow in on one.
Wes: Thank you.
JLD: What would you say your biggest area of expertise is right now?
Wes: Totally. So honestly, I wouldn’t even consider myself an expert at anything. I’m a firm believer in progress and I try to just get better at everything that I do every single day and I wear a lot of different hats. But I guess this is kind of just semantics. I guess one thing that I would consider myself pretty good at is being as creative as possible and as often as possible. And I guess I want to start by saying that everybody has the ability to be creative.
And to me, all being creative is is just trying a bunch of things out until something works. So I produce music and I write songs and honestly, probably 90% of my initial ideas are just terrible. Absolutely just bad. But I only put out the 10% of good content. So I think there are a lot of people who just kind of rule themselves out. I’ve talked to a lot of people who see me playing all these instruments and they say to me, “Man, I really wish that I could play those instruments.” But they don’t really know that it took tens of thousands of hours and decades behind it to get to where I am. And it took a lot of trial and error.
So I think that anybody has the ability to be creative, you just gotta have to start, and you gotta try it. I think everybody also had a billion dollar idea, like a Facebook like a Zuckerberg idea. But it happens, inspiration just hits you when you least expect it. And maybe you had it while you were walking to the store or something, but then you get a text from a friend and you look at your phone and forget about it or like a Tinder match or something. It doesn’t really matter. But you’ve had this idea and then all of a sudden, something distracts you and gets in the way and then you just forget about it and then you continue on with life.
So the advice I would give is to carry around a little notebook with you everywhere you go. And I started doing this somewhat recently, but it’s been literally life changing because I’ll come up with an idea and I’ll write it down. And I have everything from song lyrics in there to a letter I wrote to my future self and just different positive quotes that I can look back on. So it’s been really cool to have that and something tangible as opposed to typing in your phone or something. Because I feel like you look at your phone for a lot of different reasons, so you might forget to look back at that positive quote or that idea whereas your notebook is literally designed as your journal I guess.
So you can always look back at it and it’s only gonna be filled with positive things that will help you to be as creative as possible. And also, I guess I might as well share. I have a tattoo on my left forearm. It’s a blank music staff and I write musical ideas on it when ideas hit me because those also just kinda hit me just at the most random times. I’m kinda convinced that you don’t really come up with good ideas just sitting in a room or sitting in a cubicle. It kind of just comes from experiencing life and something will inspire you whether you see someone walking, an old lady down the street or offering their seat on the bus or something. Inspiration can hit you at any point I think. So you don’t want to miss your billion dollar idea.
JLD: I’ll tell you, that little notebook, I need it. I go on runs almost every day here. And on those runs, I’ll come up with these ideas and I’m just kind of stressed out then for the rest of the run because I’m trying to make sure I remember that idea. And I’ve tried different things but I just don’t like a pad when I’m running, it bounces. So I gotta figure something out. Maybe that will be my billion dollar idea. And by the way Fire Nation, everybody has had a billion dollar idea, but you know what you lack? You lack execution. And oh, by the way, I’m in that category. I mean I’ve executed on a multi-million dollar idea which is Entrepreneur On Fire, but it’s not a billion dollar idea yet. So we’ll see. Time will tell.
My billion dollar idea hopefully is still to come, execution wise. But just recognize that. You’ve had a billion dollar idea, Fire Nation. You have. Now Wes, let’s talk about what you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment to date. I mean this could be a challenge for you. I don’t know. You seem like such a positive guy, but take us to your worst moment. Tell us that story.
Wes: I definitely pride myself on staying positive as often as possible. But I’m a human being and I’ve definitely had some pretty bad entrepreneurial moments. The worst one is definitely with my jingle business. When we just started, we were doing really well. It was crazy. We were popping deals left and right and we closed our first regional deal and we partnered with CBS. And they actually referred to our product for that regional company as radio gold which was really a shock to me and it was really cool. And we actually got the opportunity to do a jingle for a national company. I probably won’t say their name for professional reasons.
Wes: But the owner, he’s pretty big. He’s partnered with 50 Cent and [inaudible] [00:08:00], one of the best music producers in the world. So for me to just have the opportunity to produce something that this guy might possibly use was insane and super surreal. And then he also had a relationship with I Heart radio which is one of the biggest radio companies out there. So it was pretty big for us and we actually put aside every project we had for two months just to work on this one project. And man, we jumped through a lot of hoops I gotta say. We interviewed people on the street to see what they thought about this product and we came up with three of what I think are still today some of the best pieces of music that I’ve ever made.
So it was kind of unfortunate that it never saw the air. But we made these pieces and we went to New York to present them to this business owner. And it was so crazy. He takes us into this multi-million dollar condo in the middle of Manhattan that he owns and it overlooks the whole city. And I was more nervous than I’d ever been before in my entire life. And I remember just sitting there and sweating and we’re playing him these three products. And to my surprise, he actually loved all three of them and he ended up popping open a bottle of champagne to celebrate. And you know, we gave him a fair price and he told us that he wanted to get the opinion of his celebrity panel before he signed our contract.
But he said he was all about and he said we would definitely do business together. So we go home, we have kinda mixed feelings. But everyone buys at their own pace, that’s one of the first rules of sales I actually learned. And we figured we would just kind of give them some space and let him buy when he’s ready to buy. And we never heard from him for weeks. And we’d email him and we would set up tentative days to have a conversation and he allegedly lost his American phone. So we just jumped through all these hoops and we never heard from him. And it was pretty wild because we thought that our presentation went really well.
And months later, we get an email from this guy. He basically says, “I wanna try out your product. I ran it by my celebrity panel. They loved it. But I want to try it in a small region first, and if it works, then I’ll buy it.” So we emailed him back. We were super nice and polite and we said, “Well you know we have to get all our musicians paid and everything. We put a lot of time into this product. Can we get on the phone and negotiate a lease deal?” And he sends us back an email almost immediately that says, “Honestly, it’s really weird that you would contact me to do a jingle and not just give it to me for free. Forget it. We’re not doing business anymore.” And that was pretty much the last we heard of him.
But there are positives to the story as well but it was definitely a big entrepreneurial realization for me because we were doing so well. And then we got this huge opportunity and then I just watched it completely crash and burn. So it was pretty surreal and pretty crazy.
JLD: Now Wes, I have a question. Would you do anything differently if you could? I mean besides like – let’s just pretend you still had done the work up to this point. Would you have handled the back and forth at all differently?
Wes: I don’t know if we would have given it to him for free. That’s a good question because what I’ve come to realize I guess is that there are people who somewhere down the line realize that they can make a living off of finding these small businesses and getting products for free that took a lot of time and took a lot of work.
JLD: Yeah, that’s true.
Wes: You promise maybe exposure or you make some sort of “promise,” but at the end of the day, there’s no 100% guarantee. So there are people unfortunately who do that, but honestly, it’s really their loss. I’m a firm believer in karma and I think that power is a really strange phenomenon and there’s psychological studies done about the idea of power and how we as human beings crave it. And honestly, if this guy needs to continue to do this to get that feeling and feed that addiction, then I’d rather be in my place than his place any day.
JLD: Hey Wes, let me challenge you right now. In just about a sentence, share with Fire Nation the one takeaway that you really want to make sure that we get from that story.
Wes: Every opportunity, like it’s your big break, but at the same time expect the worst and hopes for the best.
JLD: Wow, I think you just nailed that, brother.
Wes: Kinda cliché.
JLD: It’s kind of cliché, but it kind of sums up I think the experience you went through and the lessons you learned. And Fire Nation, just eyes wide open. Eyes wide open.
Wes: I spent a lot of time thinking about it.
JLD: So Wes, you’re a great storyteller. Let’s talk about one of the greatest ideas that you’ve had to date. Take us to that aha moment. Walk us through that story.
Wes: I’ve had a lot of aha moments in my life. There’s actually a great quote that I really love that goes – and I can’t for the life of me remember who said it. But it goes, “When you stop learning, you start dying.” Not to make it morbid or anything, but I am looking forward to my future aha moments as well. But the most recent big one I guess happened a few months ago. And the story starts with the fact that I was dating this girl. And we had been really good friends for four years before we even started dating so it was different than any other time I’d been in a relationship or been in love or anything like that. And I really cared about this girl and had a lot of respect for her as well.
It was pretty wild. About two months ago, we actually broke up and even though, at the time, it didn’t feel great. It kinda sucked, but I had a big realization out of it as well. And that is that the whole time we were together, I always had this feeling of contentment like everything was okay. But at the same time, I also kind of felt like something was missing. On the surface, everything was cool like I was dating my best friend and I had these businesses, but at the same time, I also didn’t feel like I was living up to my full potential. And it’s weird. I would work on these big projects and it was always behind the scenes of the producer or the ghost writer or whatever.
But I really felt like I had more to offer. So I would make these songs and she knew that I always wanted to be an artist and this public figure or whatever. But I would make these songs and I would just never release them. And at the time, what I’d tell myself is that “Oh, it’s just not perfect so I can’t put it out yet.” But the truth is that I was really just lying to myself if we’re being honest. The truth is that I was just afraid to put it out and then fail and become the laughing stock of the internet and become a meme or whatever. But not because I was afraid to fail because I’d failed so many times before in the past and I was totally over that. So I knew that that wasn’t it. But I was actually afraid of having this girl be the girl dating the laughing stock of the internet. So, may be kind of an irrational fear.
JLD: Well yeah, at the same time and this is so natural and I’ve experienced this so many times as well. It’s called the pre-launch fear. And as long as we’re in pre-launch mode, Fire Nation, guess what? Then whatever we created, hasn’t failed yet. It still might. It might succeed, it might fail. We just don’t know. We live in this fake kind of world of this just might work. It might not but it might work. But we know when it goes live, then it’s real. And that’s scary for people and for that exact same reason Wes, that you just shared. It could have been because of the girlfriend because of the laughing, whatever it might have been. So keep going, brother.
Wes: Totally agree with you and I was actually talking to my roommate this morning about this. But I think that even the fear extends past just the pre-launch phase. I think it’s almost scarier to have launched and only have 20, 30 Facebook likes or whatever and have to build off of that. And then you have to show your significant other or whoever you’re talking to about this project, that you only have 20 likes, it’s only been out for a couple of day or a couple of weeks or whatever and you’re still building. And we live in this society where people try to, I feel like put their best foot forward on social media and show how good their life is. So to have only 10, 20 likes or whatever is really a humbling thing.
And you have to really believe in your product. But if you do and you do everything right and you’re patient, it will work. So that’s my piece of advice for Fire Nation. But I guess for the rest of the story – I kind of forgot where we left off.
JLD: It was the aha moments. We kind of left off where you were kind of scared to push that launch button because of the girl.
Wes: Totally. Thank you. And so I didn’t realize this at the time, that this was the fear. But after we’d broken up was where the aha moment kind of kicked in because after that, I realized I had this kind of feeling of liberation. And I launched my artist page. And there’s this guy who’s pretty big in the music industry. He signed to Bad Boy Records which is P.Diddy’s label. And he had a bunch of hits back in the day and he and I were kind of talking through a mutual friend and I had sent him some of my songs through the mutual friend. And the first email I got back from him was in all caps that said, “I WANT TO MEET THIS GUY ASAP.”
And this happened while I was still with this girl. But long story short, he’s really busy so it didn’t really end up happening. We never ended up meeting while we were together. And I was kind of scared I guess of persisting and coming home and having to tell her that I burnt the bridge what could have been my big break and letting her down. Even though, for me, I know in myself that if I burnt that bridge, there would have been another opportunity and that one would have been even better and it still would have worked out. But I didn’t want to let her down and have her feel like I don’t know. That she was dating a failure or this was it for me and that was kind of the end of the line.
So basically, after we broke up, I probably emailed this guy – I don’t know how many times but definitely in the double digits, like 11, 12 times. And we set all these tentative meetings and then finally, I get him on the phone and we have this awesome conversation for half an hour. And it basically ended with him saying, “I don’t know if you have any interest in writing songs for other artists, but I have these artists like Maroon 5, G-Eazy, Zarah Larsson, all these big artists and they need songs. Are you interested in writing for them?”
So that’s what I’ve been doing right now and I launched my artist page and the positive feedback I’ve been getting has been really amazing. And it’s crazy too because – sorry if I’m rambling here by the way. But I was scared of I guess failing in front of her, but I wasn’t more scared of that than I am now of never having come to this realization. So I think it was kind of an essential transformation that I had to have.
JLD: Yeah, I mean Fire Nation, life is about essential transformations. Wes has gone through a few, I’ve gone through a few and we have some more ahead and that’s kind of exciting. I mean that’s the journey of life. It’d be boring otherwise so just kind of relish that. And by the way, that quote, Wes, that you shared, was Albert Einstein if you ever wanted to know.
Wes: Oh, really.
JLD: Yeah, yeah. Great quote.
Wes: Oh, that’s totally embarrassing that I didn’t know that.
JLD: So Fire Nation, if you think that we’ve been dropping value bombs and Wes has been, we are gonna crush the lightning round. So, don’t you go anywhere, we’ll be right back after we thank our sponsors. Wes, are you ready to rock the lightning rounds?
Wes: I think so.
JLD: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Wes: I kinda just touched up on it but I guess I could sum it up in one word and that’s fear.
JLD: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Wes: I work closely with this guy who used to do the lighting for bands like U2 and Fish and Springsteen and he told me pretty recently that “you can’t know what good is unless you experience bad.”
JLD: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Wes: I meditate every day. Actually, my mom kind of turned me onto that. And I actually recently started doing yoga as well which has been really cool.
JLD: How long do you meditate for?
Wes: Not that long, like 20 minutes just before I go to bed.
JLD: Can you share an internet resource like Evernotes with Fire Nation?
Wes: Totally. This is one that everyone knows, but I think it’s often kind of taken for granted and used for other purposes. But it’s YouTube. If I ever need anything, I go to YouTube. If I flatted my tire tomorrow or after this interview, I would just go on YouTube and look up a tutorial on how to change it because embarrassingly enough, I don’t know how to do that off the top of my head.
JLD: So funny, that actually just brought up a memory. We were taking a quick little flight from the mainland of Puerto Rico to Viachsy Island. It’s only a 15-minute flight. But we’re in this little 8-seater Cessna prop plane and I’m in the plane with Kate and we have this one pilot, just one singular pilot. Which is fine but he was pretty obese. I’m looking at this guy. He’s sweating even though there’s AC in the plane and I’m like, “What happens if this guy has a heart attack?” And here we are, halfway through a 15-minute flight in this little Cessna. I go, “What would I do?”
I kind of always think like that sometimes because I’m an army guy. And I go, “I would pull up my phone and I would go to YouTube and I would go to how to fly a Cessna.” And I would try to land it. I would actually literally YouTube search “how to land a Cessna.” I would have Kate hold up the video as I’m trying to follow the instructions on landing a Cessna because that’s the place you go.
Wes: I don’t want this guy to have a heart attack, but I would love to see you do that.
JLD: Wasn’t it crazy?
Wes: And see what happens. I think that would be awesome.
JLD: So what I’d do is I would have Kate hold up the YouTube video of me trying to copy, but she’d also have to be holding a Facebook Live of me doing it too.
Wes: Of course. Because I need to see it.
JLD: I don’t know if she’d agree to that but that’d be a pretty crazy Facebook Live. What’s a book you’d recommend and why?
Wes: Miles Davis’ autobiography and this may be kind of a bias because I actually won it in high school when I won the jazz award when I graduated. Time flies by the way. It was so long ago. But it’s one of the few books that I’ve really read cover to cover multiple times and I get something new out of it every time I read it. He’s had a pretty crazy life.
JLD: Love autobiographies. I’m gonna have to check this one out. And Wes, end with a parting piece of guidance, then give us the best way we can connect with you and then we’ll say goodbye.
Wes: Yeah, I guess my parting advice is that patience is the key to everything. And anything worth getting isn’t going to come overnight and it’s always going to take time but it is achievable. And typically, the more time you put into something, the greater the reward as well. And also remember that every single successful person was exactly where you are at one point in their life and it’s never too late to start. I really hope I was able to help and inspire some of you guys. You can find me at Facebook.com/wesyeemusic where I post all of my songs for free. And if you want to hear more from me, definitely like the page.
I make vlogs where I share more of my stories and I’m also starting a Q&A series. So definitely shoot me a message with any questions you may have. It can be business related or not. And I’ll pick the best ones to answer in a future video. It’s also my newest business so you can watch me build it from the ground up. And also, obviously, you guys are podcast listeners. And if you have a show like this one that really helps you, I think that’s awesome. You should definitely keep listening to it. But also feel free to check out No Quit Living as well. We interview all different types of people and it’s pretty crazy. I’ve learned something new from every single episode. So yeah, I think be patient is my parting piece of advice and I hope to see some of you guys soon.
JLD: Yeah, listen to my episode on No Quit Living. That was a rocking episode.
Wes: JLD killed it. That was an awesome episode.
JLD: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with and you’ve been hanging out with Wes Yee and JLD today so keep up the heat. And head over to eofire.com. Just type Wes, W-E-S in the search bar. His show notes page will pop up with everything we’ve been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz. Timestamps, links galore. Of course, head over to Facebook.com/wesyeemusic to check out all that he has going on over there. And Wes, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Wes: Thank you for having me JLD.
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