Calvin is a multipassionate creative and entrepreneur. He runs a company called Simplero, a service for people running online courses in addition to being a comedian, singer, speaker, photographer, programmer, and cook who is also learning bartending. 🙂 It is because of his many creative interests we welcome Calvin today on Artist Strong.
Carrie: How did you realize your interest in music and comedy?
I’ve always played music. I started with the recorder, then the accordion, then piano, then drums, and finally guitar. The piano is where I have the most practice at the moment: I wanted to be a jazz pianist. But singing is what it’s really been all about. I had convinced myself I couldn’t. I see myself playing piano and singing, like Elton John or Billy Joel or Alicia Keys.
Comedy is more recent. I didn’t much care for comedy until I saw Eddie Izzard. He made me laugh really hard. Also I’m inspired by The Daily Show, which takes up serious topics, but in a funny way, and where they say the truth in a way only comedy can (or does).
Carrie: What exhilarates you about being on stage?
There’s a rush; an interaction with the audience; an intimacy and dance. When that’s what you’re meant to do, nothing really compares.
Carrie: What do you do to prepare for being on stage as a comedian? Singer?
Well, let’s be real here. So far I have performed exactly once as a comedian, and zero times as a singer. So there’s that. For my stand-up routine, I spent the day before and the day of figuring out what material I was going to use, and rehearsing about five times. For singing, I’m currently practicing a lot, but I’m not performing just yet.
Carrie: When did you really begin to embrace your creative interests?
I think I’ve always done that. Creating software is also a very creative process for me. As is entrepreneurship. I don’t think we need to narrow down creativity to just mean paintings and music.
When I was a kid we flew to Norway for a ski vacation, and the stewardess gave my brother and I some crayons and paper and other kids stuff. I immediately started sketching software interfaces. That was my creative outlet. I also used to dream up businesses. Yup.
Carrie: You also appear to have an interest in photography. How do you navigate your many creative outlets?
Yes. And cooking, and mixing drinks, and writing. Life is fundamentally deeply creative, isn’t it? We’re creating our own reality every moment of every day. What’s more creative than that?
I go with what I feel drawn to… I’m very in-the-moment. I feel what I feel drawn to today.
Carrie: How has embracing your creativity changed your life?
I think of it more as embracing myself. For the most part of my life, I didn’t know myself at all, and yet I wanted desperately to be anyone but me. Crazy, since I didn’t even know me. As I’ve gotten to know me better, lo and behold, I’ve started to really like me. Like really. And it feels great. And it’s that expansion that’s allowing myself to embrace more aspects of who I am. And because I (finally!) see my own value from the inside, I’m not so worried about how other people perceive my value, and so I can do these things just for me, and not to impress.
Carrie: Can you describe how you got the idea for Simplero to Artist Strong readers?
Simplero was born out of a need. I felt called to teach spirituality to entrepreneurs, because I had been on my own spiritual path for a little while, and I’d had this major awakening to my life purpose that showed me in a very clear picture that spirituality: being in the present moment, coming from love, being in touch with our intuition and our life force and our creative energy, living life as one never-ending meditation was really critical for entrepreneurs. So I started teaching courses online and offline, and I didn’t find any software that I liked, so I started writing my own, and that became Simplero.
I help entrepreneurs get in touch with who they are and what they want, so they can create their business and their products from that place. To me, business and life are not separate. So for a number of us, our business has to be aligned with our core reason for being, or it doesn’t work for us. I’ve found in my process that it’s a journey, and there are many, many different things that have helped me along the way. There are teachers that were useful to me for a period, and then I had to move on to the next thing and the next thing and so on. I strive to be a guide to people in that process, by sharing all of the things I’ve gone through and discovered along the way.
Carrie: How does your creativity express itself when you are “working?”
I’m glad you put working in quotes, because I strive to never do things that feel like work. I don’t always succeed, but that’s my goal.
I’m not sure how to answer that question, to be honest. I think it’s a matter of focusing on what I feel called to do, which is also why my calendar is almost completely empty. I like it the best when I have absolutely nothing scheduled. This week I have all of five appointments in my calendar, and that’s a bit much for me. Three in a week is about right.
I also try to do what makes me feel genuinely good. I think life’s supposed to feel good, and to feel fun and easy. So I strive for that. And when I don’t feel that, I pause and try to figure out what needs to shift. I feel like that helps staying in touch with the creative juices.
That said, at this point, I’m a bit scared about writing songs. I’ve written a few in the past, most have been lost, but I know it’s something I have to do, and a part of me thinks it’s this complicated and difficult process, and that it’s a different form of creativity from everything else I do. I don’t think that’s true. It’s the same creative life force, it’s just being channeled through a differently shaped spout, and it becomes a song. I know how to write words and I know how to put melodies and chords together, so it shouldn’t be that hard, and I’m sure it won’t be.
Carrie: Advice for people learning a new skill?
Yeah, be prepared to suck. I’m currently also learning bartending. Seriously, two months ago, I didn’t know what an old-fashioned was, or what rye whisky was, I didn’t really know what gin was, I thought I didn’t like a gin martini, I didn’t know how and when to use a shaker, and on and on and on. That’s all changed now, but there’s still so much to learn.
When I think about programming or playing music, everything I know took years to learn. Of course I don’t know much about cocktails yet. I’ve only just begun. Being able to be patient with myself helps.
And really, as someone said: Savor the not knowing, because once you learn, there’s no going back. You’ll never not know in just this way ever again. Celebrate it 🙂
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
I’d say that life does. There’s so many amazing things happening all over the globe, and life is always there to guide you and show you the way.
It may be a cliche, but my dog really inspires me. She’s so loving, and she jumps with great excitement up to say hello to everyone she meets (she’s very small), with 100% expectation that they’ll love her right back. Which they do. That inspires me. Imagine what life would look like if you just assumed that everyone loves you completely. You’d be way less guarded, and most people would love you right back. It’s amazing.
There are a lot of entrepreneurs and musicians who have inspired me in the past, like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, or Sting, but less and less so. I feel like I have something really unique to offer that has not been seen before, and that really excites me.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
If I had to say one, it would probably be my MacBook. But it’s also hard to imagine life without a musical instrument, especially a piano.
Carrie: How do you define creativity?
To me, creativity is really about how we’re creating every moment of every day of our lives. And especially when we’re creating new life. Nothing’s more creative than that.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Are you “prepared to suck?” How can you better develop your courage and “thick skin” to navigate the challenges that come when trying something new? I want to know! Tell me about it in the comments below.
*Shots of Calvin by © Elona Sjøgren*