March 25, 2008 – 9:32 pm
John Kieffer coping with the bitter cold outside Euston station
I met with John Kieffer today. As of today, he’s my mentor.
John’s a well-respected figure in the creative sector. He used to be the Director of Performing Arts for the British Council, and has an astonishing CV of accomplishments.
I have to say, the mentoring thing felt weird to set up. I’ve always encouraged my students to find a mentor – and I’ve long believed that you should always have at least one. Someone you trust to bounce ideas off, seek suggestions, introductions and advice from and generally just act as a guiding force.
I’ve had mentors throughout my career – whether they were aware of that role in any ‘official’ capacity or not. But John Kieffer was the first person I’ve ever actually approached and asked ‘would you please be my mentor?’. And that was a kind of a leap of faith (what if he said no?!).
But in fact, in the first instance, John approached me.
He’d read my New Music Strategies site and had downloaded the e-book. He emailed me, explained who he was, and we decided to meet up for a chat. At the time, there was no particular agenda – we sat and just talked about stuff for a couple of hours over a drink. This was about a month or so ago.
We got on well, and it struck me that this was somebody I could learn a great deal from. So I eventually just asked him if he’d be interested. And he was. In fact, he mentors a few people, and he’s very good at it. Good, solid advice – a real skill at stripping away the unnecessary – and focusing on the important things.
We met in the cafe at the British Library in London today, had a bite to eat and just spent another couple of hours while I laid out all of the stuff I’ve been thinking, doing and setting up lately. As a result, I spent the train ride back to Birmingham narrowing my 72-odd projects into seven core areas. And now I know how and why I can prioritise them.
I’m still processing all of the advice and information – so many things clarified, so many more things opening up as possibilities and opportunities.
If you can identify someone and convince them to act as your mentor – I thoroughly recommend it. And if you can find someone half as great as John, then you’re onto a winner.
I also met Gilles Peterson today, which I know will interest a few of my readers.
I’ve long been a fan of his radio show, the compilation albums and the music scene that surrounds him. I’m doing some consultancy with his record label Brownswood — and we’re setting up a few really interesting online projects.
I’m dealing mainly with Simon and Thristian at the label (who are absolutely great), but Gilles was around today, which was nice — having long enjoyed his work and looked to his playlists for reliable recommendations about great music.
Looking forward to working more with those guys and developing those projects more. Can’t say too much about them just yet, but there are some really interesting ideas kicking around in there – and a great pool of ‘worldwide’ talent to draw from…