My wife: “Are we having dinner together tonight?”
Me: “Sorry babe, I have a client meeting. You can go ahead and eat. I’ll have to eat when I get back…”
My stepson: “Are you going to watch a movie with us tonight?”
Me: “Sorry dude, I am still editing songs and preparing the final details for the wedding that I have tomorrow… I don’t have time…”
I don’t even know where to begin this blog. But first, let me be clear. I AM NOT QUITTING BEING A DJ! I AM NOT QUITTING DOING CORPORATE EVENTS! I AM NOT QUITTING DOING PRIVATE PARTIES! The only thing changing is that I will no longer DJ weddings beyond December 31st, 2018. Actually, that’s not even entirely accurate, and I don’t know how to express my feelings regarding the choice that I have made in a way that makes sense, but I’ll try my very best. It’s quite possible this whole thing will derail into obscurity and nonsense, but I guess I’ll just start from the beginning and try to be honest about all of it… Hopefully, it will all make sense by the end…
January 2018 marks the 5 year anniversary of me leaving the corporate world. It is absolutely incredible how time flies! If someone were to take a snapshot of my life 5 years ago and one of my life today, it’s unbelievable how much has changed! Five years ago, I was single, living alone in my bachelor home, having traditional Sunday brunch with my mom and dad talking about life, trying to figure out my purpose for the future, and working hard to develop a client base for my entrepreneurial project, Exclusive Events. Today, I am married, I have an amazing home with my wife, I am a stepdad to an incredible teenage boy, I’ve got a better grasp of what I’m supposed to be doing in this world, and I haven’t had to spend 1 cent on advertisement for Exclusive Events in 3 years because the business has primarily become referral based. All of this while hoping that my guardian angel mother is looking down from heaven and proud of me.
I admit that I had tears in my eyes as I wrote that last phrase. Losing my mom was likely the most transformative moment of my life. So many things have changed because of her passing. In my eyes, she bordered on sainthood. She tried to teach me so much while she was here and it’s so sad that I am only learning some of those lessons now that she is gone. On the bright side, at least I’m learning them… slowly but surely…
Without going into too much detail about the reason why I am so connected to the following quote since my mom’s passing, it became my guiding principle as I moved forward following that dreadful day on March 13th, 2016, which was just 9 days before my 40th birthday: “Trauma creates change you don’t choose. Healing is about creating change you do choose.” -Michele Rosenthal. So, what in the world does this have to do with my decision to stop DJing weddings and the direction of this blog? I’m hoping it will become a little clearer with the things I say next.
Let me go back to the beginning. After leaving the corporate world and successfully launching Exclusive Events with my business partner Tommy, my attention turned towards finding the right life partner. Truth be told, as many people may already know, I met my wife Tatiana on Match.com. I was immediately attracted to her based on her pictures, and she was somehow not turned off by my incredibly long and bizarre profile which included the following description of myself: “[…] the only thing in this world that I know for sure is that I don’t know anything. My views, my thoughts, my opinions, my feelings, and my general direction are in constant evolution. Women who are seeking a traditional relationship where the couple lives in a nice home with a white picket fence, and they both have secure jobs, and everything is planned out neatly until retirement should search elsewhere. I spent the better part of my life managing in the corporate world and left all of that in January of 2013. I am now successfully operating my own business and I’ve never been happier in my life as a result of the freedom it provides me. I have never been worried about lacking money or lacking food, but I cannot promise “security” in the traditional sense since I haven’t figured out how the rest of this life is supposed to play out.”
The reason I am sharing my dating profile is because it was the first time I went full blown honest about who I am and what I was looking for. My previous dating profiles were worded in a way intending to please others more than to please myself. Essentially, I felt somewhat exposed and vulnerable by being this honest and expressing certain “unpopular views” like not guaranteeing security for my partner or not wanting a traditional job or a traditional life or even the fact that I can’t seem to have consistent views or thoughts or opinions. Who in the world would want to be with someone like that? Well, I guess my wife does! And it turns out that she wanted to be with someone like me because she is the same! And so, when we met, it was the only proof I needed to know that I was on the right track.
Interestingly, my wife’s son (my stepson), thrives in a structured environment. He loves having his days planned out in advance and he performs best when things fit into a certain mold. In short, he feels comfortable with a routine and loves having one. I, on the other hand, feel imprisoned in a life of routine. I feel figuratively suffocated if I have to work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and having a fixed salary. I prefer establishing my own work hours and for my salary to be a reflection of my overall performance in my work. Essentially, I left my previous job for 3 reasons:
- I wanted to do something I was passionate about, something I was good at, and something that correlated with my innermost feeling regarding what my purpose is on this earth.
- I wanted to do something where the environment was constantly changing and the work itself didn’t feel like a routine.
- I wanted to work approximately 20 hours per week and spend more time enjoying life with family and friends instead of working 50-60 hours per week and having very little time for anything else.
I genuinely believe that Exclusive Events was founded upon these core beliefs and mostly continues to operate using these principles today, with the exception of 1 thing… Time. In the past 5 years, my level of involvement from start to finish for any given wedding has expanded exponentially. It started with just playing the right type of music during the cocktail period, the dinner, and then the dancing. Today, unless the couple has hired a wedding planner to handle the majority of the planning work, I usually step in and handle so many of those details. And why? Because if I don’t, I’ve noticed that the work usually falls on the couples themselves, and being stressed about so many details is the last thing most people want on their wedding day! So, I started doing most of it because that’s how I would want to be treated for one of the most important days of my life. Over time, I elaborated on that work because I would always discover new details at every wedding that would even further help to produce a masterclass type of event. Admittedly, the price we charged per wedding did increase year after year to correlate with the amount of work that was going into producing each of these events. However, something changed in me recently.
As previously mentioned, one of the reasons I left the corporate world is because I didn’t want to work 50-60 hours per week. In 2017, I noticed I was easily working that much per week, if not more. And although I love doing weddings and love handling all those little details to make couples have the best day possible, it just so happens that I love my wife and my personal time more. When you combine all the events we were involved with in the last few years and the numbers of hours invested into producing each of them, weddings were easily responsible for the majority of those hours. And while eliminating those hours will indeed produce a significant financial hit, money has never been my guiding principle in decision making. It certainly plays a role, but it is not at the top of my list as I weigh important life decisions.
It was right around this same time that I discovered Ikigai. Ikigai, pronounced ee-kee-gah-ee, is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” It is similar to the French phrase Raison d’être. According to Japanese culture, everyone has an ikigai and finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is important to the cultural belief that discovering one’s ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning to life. The diagram below explains the concept of Ikigai in the simplest way possible. It doesn’t deny the existence of remuneration, but it is only one component in a balanced approach to life. This is the balance I want and need to find in my life.
Since making my decision to stop doing weddings at the end of the year and sharing my reasons with a few people, some have asked me: “Why don’t you hire more people to help reduce your workload?”, “Why don’t you hand-off that planning work to someone else?”, “Why don’t you go back to just playing music?” These are all valid questions and I have pondered them for a very long time. And my answer is simple: At the risk of sounding conceited, I’m pretty damn good at what I do, and I simply wouldn’t be able to just go back and let anyone’s wedding day be less than it can be. We have a long list of client testimonials that all seem to have a common thread. They all seem to point to how reassured couples felt with all the assistance I provided them along the way. As such, unless future couples have an experienced wedding planner who will handle everything I was handling, I simply wouldn’t feel comfortable just showing up to play music. I would always feel like more could have been done to enhance that wedding, and I genuinely believe every couple deserves to have the best day possible.
So, in the end, it basically came down to the all-important question: Go big or go home? While “going home” is normally seen as the quitter’s side of things, I’ve actually decided to see it from a more literal standpoint. When my wife asks if we’ll be having dinner together tonight or my stepson asks me if I’ll be watching a movie with him tonight, I literally want to go home to do just that!
I figure that the best way to end this blog is to share another portion of my dating profile which describes me pretty well in a nutshell: “I know that there is more to this life than just being born, living the daily struggle for survival, and then dying. I have an enduring belief that we are all meant to be united and not divided, and I think I’m here to play a role in making that happen.” … So, for now, as I continue trying to find the right balance between passion and profession, mission and vocation, work and personal life, please know that I, along with the rest of the Exclusive Events team, remain committed to every event we do, remain passionate about what we do, and still look forward to seeing everyone on the dance floor! Let’s do this! #ExclusiveEventsMTL