Life with John Mayer. Uber in the snow.

Life with John Mayer. Uber in the snow.

My dinner party with John Mayer was one I’ll never forget.

I’ll never forget it because the party is all in my head. I’ve never met John Mayer, but I’ve played a lot of his records on my radio stations since his first single, “No Such Thing,” in 2001. I consider myself a fan of his music, but I know very little about the man John Mayer.

A few months ago, SiriusXM radio debuted a new channel, Life with John Mayer. Like any radio/audio enthusiast, I listen to everything new whether I like the content or not. It’s good to analyze, learn, and adapt ideas or techniques.

The Life with John Mayer channel is music John likes. The eras are broad. I’ve heard Ella Fitzgerald, Pearl Jam, Motown, Cranberries, Steely Dan, Coldplay, Olivia Newton-John, Buddy Guy, Chris Stapleton, Bee Gees, Talking Heads, Brandi Carlile, Beatles, 80s, 90s, 2000s, Pop, Rock, Rhythmic, Americana and many new artists I don’t know. It’s a big variety. The playlist includes a lot of hits and some “oh, wows” I haven’t heard since I played them as a young DJ.

He tells stories about songs and artists who influenced him, and, of course, he plays some of his songs and shares stories behind the music. As a presenter, he has that quality I look for in talent: believability. I find myself listening to John when he talks about the music. Notice I’m already on a first-name basis with Mr. Mayer.

we would have something to share

Aside from this channel playing music and content that appeals to my emotional need for music at this stage of my life, I’m writing about Life with John Mayer because I said, “Hey, I would get along with him based on this music and presentation. I mean, if he invited me to a dinner party and he chose the music, we would have something to share, debate, and enjoy.”

That’s the fake dinner party I created. I felt a connection to this person because of his common passion for music and the content I enjoy. If this channel didn’t exist, I wouldn’t feel a connection to this person.

Did I like that unfamiliar song because I have an open mind about music? Or did I like it because John Mayer, whom I’ve concluded has very similar music tastes to mine, likes it? The power of association and suggestion is strong.

Who is creating those emotional connections in your business or your brands? In the radio/audio world, we have talent who weave the connective tissue with the audience: DJs, News and Sports talk show hosts, funny personalities, endearing personalities, and polarizing personalities. Often, the brand benefits because the audience feels such a connection to the talent. This is why endorsements work. “Hey, he likes Harry’s razor blades. I like him. I think I’ll try it.” Disclosure: I use Harry’s blades across my head every day. The best blade on the market.

ambassadors to represent our brands

Great sales reps have the gift of creating an association with a brand or a service. Smart operators use these reps to influence the clientele.

If your brand is fast food, do you have someone at the counter or the drive-thru who makes me feel like they enjoy this food experience and want me to enjoy it too? Is the person answering phones at the dental office simply a nice voice, or do they have empathy when the patient is having problems and is afraid to get in the dental chair?

Do we look for ambassadors to represent our brands? In the moment, can they be real, and likable so the patron walks away saying, “Hey, I’d love to have coffee with that person because I think we might have some things in common.”

Life with John Mayer. Uber in the snow.

the snow storm that challenged my skills

Middle Tennessee got 6-8 inches of snow in late January. As a former resident of Colorado and Michigan, I was bold enough, or dumb enough, to serve my Uber clients every day of the snow and ice-packed week.

I became a driving teacher for the locals. I would show them how to control a car going downhill on the ice, how to turn it into a fishtail, or how to hug the side of the road to grab traction on the snow when the car was struggling up the hill. My most repeated line was, “The key is to be aware of what you CAN’T do on the snow and ice.” There’s your life lesson of the month.

The most challenging moment of the week came during the first day of the snowfall. I was in a very hilly neighborhood and I knew I couldn’t turn into the residence because it was uphill. So I messaged the rider and said, “I’m going to the bottom of the hill, turning around and parking about two houses uphill from your driveway. We’ll be able to get enough traction from that angle.”

The plan went according to my explanation. I got out and shuffled down the hill to get her suitcase and walked her to my car. She was so thankful, and she finally thought she would get to the airport after multiple flight delays.

my client started to get that look

Then my plan stopped. We were spinning with no traction. I didn’t want to move the car to the side of the road to grab deeper snow because there was no curb. The road dropped off into a ditch on each side. My client started to get that look.

“I’m going to back down this hill and get a running start,” I said confidently. Driving in reverse was the toughest part. I pride myself on the art of parallel parking. One hand on the wheel. One attempt. Bingo.

However, the driving in reverse experiment a quarter of a mile downhill created a little anxiety because everything was white across the road and I couldn’t discern depth and boundaries. It was like spatial disorientation for pilots. Okay, it was nothing like that, but it was the first thing I thought of when I found myself challenged in the moment.

I got to a place where we had enough runway and I confidently said, “Here we go.” The front-wheel drive navigated boldly until we reached the previous uphill spot where I stopped the first time. We started to spin and fishtail, but there was enough speed to get us to the top. She took a breath. I took a deeper one. Only twelve more miles to go.

one thing could not be compromised

Let’s go back to the story when I met this client on the hill and I was loading her suitcase in the trunk. She was carrying another item. It looked like a stringed instrument of some kind. I reached out in an attempt to place it in the trunk.

“Oh, no thank you,” she said. “I keep this with me.” She got into the back of the car with her prized possession. Then the previous paragraphs about navigating the snow and hill happened. When we both relaxed after the accession of the mountain (this story will become more dramatic over the years), I asked her about the instrument. She was a member of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. I was transporting greatness.

What is so vital to our lives and careers that we intensely protect it? Her clothes and personal belongings sliding around in the trunk were secondary. She would protect the instrument defining her livelihood with her body and instincts. Other things mattered, but one thing could not be compromised.

She inspired me to think about prioritizing and eliminating concepts and actions. Plus, she was wise enough to know we might end up in the ditch and she wanted to protect her baby.

One-twelfth of 2024 is gone. Challenge yourself and have a strong February.

(This post originally appeared on LinkedIn on February 08, 2024.)

Ron Harrell

Ron Harrell

Ron Harrell is a contemporary media consultant specializing in brand analysis, strategy, execution, and talent coaching for radio and audio mediums. Connect for a No Copy & Paste review.

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