Forget Skills! Your Path to Success = Mindset, Belief and Identity with Nick Cownie

Photo by Ben Sweet on Unsplash

Here’s the big question of the day. Ready?

What’s the most important thing you should be focusing on – when it comes to your career?

Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Hmm – you might be shocked and surprised after reading this post. “That’s riiiighhtt,” as Milton Erickson once frequently said (note – that’s some foreshadowing coming).

So, yeah, I’ll go out on a limb that this post might be one of the most important posts you’ll read … for the week or maybe for the year.

Also note – it only took me about 25 years for this little epiphany.

Are you ready for it?

Let’s just frame the context from where we’re beginning.

Have you ever looked at, say, your competitor, or maybe that person you “want to be like” or have that high level of success: be it another artist, another songwriter, another executive, another manager – and you see their star rise – almost effortlessly.

In the meantime, you’re slinging in the trenches, grinding, pulling all nighters, working your ass off, pumping out songs and jumping through hoops – whatever it takes!

And when you look at where you are – with your goals almost “forever” away – that there are some people…in this music business, where success just seems to gravitate towards them, almost effortlessly.

In fact – as a point of reference, I know way too many music executives who just seem to literally fail upward.


Additionally, I have a hunch I know some of that internal dialogue you might be having. Because…

Clearly, you’re a better artist than that “whatever” artist that just got that nice Apple editorial feature.

New Music Daily - This should be you

Clearly, you wrote way better songs than what landed on the last superstar’s album.

Clearly, you’re a more talented executive who just got that CEO role.

Well – maybe you’re thinking – I need to work harder, I need to learn to write better lyrics, I need better equipment, my manager / publisher isn’t working hard enough for me, I need to network more – etc.

Well, maybe. Maybe not.

With the previous context in mind, let’s get to the epiphany of the day.

Most people would say that to break through to the next level … as Roy Schreider almost once said, “you’re gonna need a bigger skill set.”

You're going to need a bigger skillset

Or … you need to be more talented, you need a better studio setup, you need more experience, you need better co-writers, etc.

Well – yes, a lot of that is true.

But what if I told you that, in fact, that this is only about 5% of the equation.

Enter Nick Cownie.

OK … well, who is that?

Good question!

I’m about to tell you about a very important, new person to enter your life. And I’m proud and excited to make this introduction – as Nick’s been in my world for a number of years.

Nick Cownie

Feel free to get Nick’s amazing book “7 Minute Mindset” right now at, which will start you on your journey. And btw, it’s free!

In fact, Nick’s been one of my personal coaches. Nick has also mentored myself in NLP (neuro linguistic programming), from whom I also received my NLP Practitioner Certificate.

In short, Nick would say that, in the above example … that only (are you ready for this?) 5% of your success might be based on those bolded items above (i.e. your skill set).

When in fact, in Nick’s words – 15% of your success comes from your mindset.

And lastly – the most important element in your success … 80%, is attributable directly to your core identity and belief system.

What do you mean?

In other words,

(including your capabilities).

Let’s look at this visually.

Skillset/Mindset/Identity chart


So – hearing this and also, considering this as a concept, it started to shed some light on the bigger picture.

For instance – and here we get a little personal (and also look – I’m trying not to sound egotistical). Personally for myself, I know that I’m legitimately in many cases, at least or if not as or more talented, have better ears, work harder, am a better overall person (that’s for sure LOL), then many of those execs you’ll read about in say, HITS magazine.

While talent is one thing … the story you tell yourself, limiting beliefs, the internal programming, self talk, etc., that you’ve brought “in tow” with you for your own existence (we’re talking decades here), is something else.

Psst, I'm your inner voice

So is it possible that – while you or I might actually be as equally (or even more) talented and hardworking than some of your competitors…that they might have a superior identity, a personal belief system and better mindset?

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You bet.

And it’s not that I’m a slouch here either (LOL) – but there’s always another level to go.

Let me know if this might sound a little familiar to where you are?

Now – the above slide also is fairly congruent with the “Be – Do – Have” system.

You see – most people believe that you need to “have” before you can “do” – and then you’re finally going to “be” that person.

Neh eh.

As Napoleon Hill famously wrote in his 1937 book, “Think and Grow Rich,” it’s quite the opposite. Get this book now!

Here are some questions for you to think about:

  1. Who do you have to BE to enter that studio and CRUSH IT!
  2. And who do you have to BE for your co-writers to make an amazing, life changing song?
  3. What type of person or artist do you need to BE – in order for that to resonate within your music – and perhaps, for the Spotify and Apple Editorial people to playlist you?
  4. Who do you have to BE and believe about yourself, for the universe to conspire to make your goals and visions happen? (Yes, that’s esoteric!)

And I know some of you might be thinking – nah, I’m good…I’ve already got some wins under my belt. Well, that’s great. But do you have a hit on the chart right now? OK, well how about 10? Is there an upper ceiling on your success that needs to be broken through?

You see – once you start being that person and emulating and modeling the person who you need to be – then you start doing and then you start having (being successful and enjoying that success)!

The great thing is – just like any skill or concept that seems almost foreign or impossible to comprehend … there’s a way to tackle this.

So while you’re shedding your songs, building your song catalogue, playing that grueling tour, grinding every day … building your craft – in my opinion, you should really be grinding on your belief system, mindset and core identity.

We ain't here to play

So, where to start with all of this?

Fortunately – with the work of NLP (neuro linguistic programming), a lot of this work can be easier than you think.

Essentially, NLP is the breakthrough work of Richard Bandler and John Grinder. There’s a whole Wikipedia article on this here.

neuro-linguistic programming - wikipedia

As mentioned in the Wikipedia article:

NLP’s creators claim there is a connection between neurological processes (neuro-), language (linguistic) and behavioral patterns learned through experience (programming), and that these can be changed to achieve specific goals in life. Bandler and Grinder also claim that NLP methodology can “model” the skills of exceptional people, allowing anyone to acquire those skills.

Wow. But yes, that’s right.

Essentially, a lot of what I practice in NLP, and what I’ve learned from Nick Cownie – is a combination of visualization and light hypnotherapy.

This often involves re-writing visualizations and programs that aren’t serving myself – and instead installing new programs that ideally put myself (and you) in the fast lane of your career, relationships, and life.

I think therefore I am

In fact your future visualizations – start becoming your reality. Because the brain can’t discern from what is real and what is imagined. If you can imagine and visualize STRONGLY your future self and your future wins and feeling grateful – not for what’s happening now, but for your future success – your brain will also start believing that and sending empowering feelings to the rest of your body.

Let me say this again – while NLP can be important in so many different ways i.e.: breaking bad habits, influence and building rapport (amazing for sales – and btw – YOU are always selling yourself), becoming happier, more wealthy, using “anchors” to instantly access key resources (creativity, confidence, willpower, etc.), eliminating subconscious programming that’s no longer serving you … you instead install new programs, or model successful people so you have their traits.

As far as installing new “programs” into your subconscious, It’s a little like this (but a little slower and less painful looking!).

At the end of the day this is about BEING the person you want to be in order to DO the things you want in life, and then eventually also HAVE.



Be, Do Have

And this is also a reason why I’m dedicating more of what I do as an executive, to be a better “coach” for others.

This includes working on the “other” 95% in the above diagram (mindset, beliefs and identity) even more than increasing my or your “typical” skill set.

Consequently – I’m planning for this to be a key part of what I do – to help others get to the next level of their careers.

So, if I were to guess – some questions that might be coming up for you:

  • Where do I start on this journey?
  • What’s my belief system? What do I believe about myself?
  • What’s my internal programming?
  • What are things that are holding me back?
  • What are things propelling me forward? How can I get more of that?
  • How do I work on these things?
  • How do I install these “programs” of success into my life?

And lastly…

How can I become the person, where incredible results flow almost effortlessly and I can have all the things I want in my life?!

And thus, we circle back to my friend Nick Cownie.

I have a forthcoming podcast (one of my first!) coming with Nick, but in the meantime, I’d love for you to check out one of the top books I’ve ever read. It’s Nick Cownie’s “7 Minute Mindset.”

Lucky for you … you can get it FREE, right here.

Follow the proven, step-by-step system to take complete control of your mind, your emotions, and your results

I believe there’s still an offer in the book where you can get some downloadable NLP exercises where Nick will take you through some amazing visualizations.

I actually do a myriad of these every other day, and have also taken my clients through a number of these … and find them to be amazingly beneficial.

And here’s another treat for you, if you’d like to hear more from Nick directly, and his explanation of NLP with my other good friend, Stephan Spencer in this awesome podcast “Retrain Your Brain in 7 Minutes with Nick Cownie.”

Retrain Your Brain in 7 Minutes with Nick Cownie

I should also disclose that of course, I hold no medical degrees, no years of study of psychology … so looking into these areas should be done at your own discretion and via consulting your own professionals.

Personally, with the above in mind, I’d take a moment to notice the difference between the most successful people in the world, why they win (and why they also fail and fall from the top), and how mindset and your beliefs are so vital (not necessarily as much as the next 10 co-writes you’re going to try to fit in the upcoming week…though that’s important too).

This is a path to get your started.

And please note, this all doesn’t happen overnight. There’s a phrase in NLP called “hysteresis,” which means essentially that when a change is made – it’s almost an instant change…however, it’s going to take some time for you to catch up to that change.

Lastly, I have one other amazing book to share with you. It’s called “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” by Joe Dispenza.

Breaking The Habit Of Being Yourself cover

“Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself”

What can I say, but it’s epiphany after epiphany!! If you’re looking to create the new upgraded, better, more unstoppable version of yourself (perhaps even in the quantum realm…yes, i’m not making this up) … this book is essential.

I feel unstoppable right now

In summary – yes, it’s important as a writer, artist, musician or executive to increase your skill set.

But it’s very likely – that you should also be doubling down on increasing and improving your belief system, your identity and your mindset. And this is all juicy stuff you’ll never hear from another music biz executive, as far as your path to success – so I’m excited to share with you.

Your belief system = who you are and what you believe about yourself

It’s a lifelong journey … and will see you in the winner’s circle at the finish line.



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About the Author

The Author of “How Do I Get A Record Deal? Sign Yourself!”

My career in music publishing extends over 25 years, including BMG Music (bought by Universal) and EMI Music Publishing (bought by Sony), as well as the 1st U.S. employee of Kobalt Music Publishing, where he helped build the roster over 10 years as Executive VP of Creative.

Benjamin is currently heading up his own publishing company, Brill Building, as well as label and music filter, We Are: The Guard. Benjamin’s signings range from Ryan Tedder, Kelly Clarkson, The Lumineers, Grimes, Savan Kotecha, OneRepublic, SOPHIE, Ariel Rechtshaid, Greg Kurstin, Tiesto, Kid Cudi, TOKiMONSTA, TR/ST, Cut Copy, Big Freedia, Lindy Robbins, Peaches and yes, even Steel Panther. His specialty in the music business is early artist, writer and writer/producer development.

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