WIY? Blog

influential (4)

Coach John Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success” is a masterpiece!
I encourage everyone to click the link below and check it out!


I received a copy of Coach Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success” at his basketball camp when I was 13 years old. In my opinion it is one of the greatest life empowerment tools ever created! Some consider Coach Wooden to be the greatest basketball coach of all time and I would have to agree with that. However, he was a “Teacher” first and foremost and an amazing Life Coach & Mentor for all of his players and everyone else he crossed paths with. He lived to be 99 years old and the example he set for others as a human being is second to none! I encourage all adults, parents and young people to explore Coach Wooden’s website, the “Pyramid of Success” and his many books he authored. His content, teachings and philosophies are extremely empowering and timeless! Thank you Coach Wooden for influencing my life and everything you did to empower, inspire and influence the lives of others. Your legacy lives on!

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My high school music teacher at Hollywood High Jerry Grant had a positive influence in my life. He made our harmony classes fun by relating classical music harmony and theory to current day pop music.

I remember bringing him some of my pop songs I had written as a teenager and how positive and encouraging he was, complimenting me on my sense of melodic structure. When I look back on those songs I realize they were not that great. I was just starting out, but he still found something in my writing to compliment me on. I respected his opinion as a jazz and film/tv composer so to hear his compliments about my songs was a big deal to me at 17 years old.

After I graduated high school I took some private composition lessons from Mr. Grant which helped me a lot in understanding composition, melodic and harmonic structure.

Teachers can have a positive or negative influence on a young person's life. I feel blessed and grateful that Mr. Grant was my high school music teacher.

Here are the links to his Wikipedia page and website.



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Music Producer Arif Mardin had a big influence on my music career as a songwriter.

Chaka Khan's brother Mark Stevens and I visited Arif in his hotel room one night while he was working on arrangements for Chaka's upcoming album. I was in my early 20's and told Arif I had aspirations of becoming successful in the music industry like he was and if he had any words of advice for me.

He gave me 4 valuable words of wisdom that influenced me and that I try to pass on to anyone interested in pursuing a music career.

  1. Believe in yourself!

  2. Be prepared by having your craft and talent in order.

  3. Stay away from the negative temptations such as drugs, alcohol, partying, negative people, etc…

  4. And 4 and most importantly, if you can not accept disappointment and rejection, you need to find another career, because it’s going to happen no matter what level of success you achieve!

Arif was a CLASS ACT! He was one of the most humble, talented and respected music producers and arrangers in music history. I encourage you to become familiar with his work and watch his documentary. I am forever grateful for his influence on music and on my life.


AWB - "Pick Up The Pieces"
Bee Gees - "Jive Talkin"
Bette Midler - "Wind Beneath My Wings"
Chaka Khan - "I Feel For You"

Hall & Oates - "Sara Smile"
Norah Jones - "Don't Know Why"
Phil Collins - "Against All Odds"
Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway - "Where Is The Love"

I was actually fortunate enough to be in the recording studio when Arif, Greg Phillinganes, Michael Sembello and Raymond Pounds were laying down the rhythm tracks for Chaka's cover of The Beatles "We Can Work It Out" a day I will never forget.

Below is the link to Arif's Wikipedia and a couple of video clips related to his work.

Thanks Arif for being a positive influence in my life.





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