With fingers flying across the piano keys and breath-taking videography in the background, Jon Schmidt’s presentation and lecture on Wednesday Jan. 30 was a feast for the senses. Students filled the auditorium in the Ellen Eccles Conference Center 30 minutes before the show started. And when I stood up to take pictures 10 minutes into the presentation, I had to climb over students who were stuffed into the isles.
He began with his story. Schmidt started performing at benefit events and selling cassette tapes whenever he could. Although he was amazed by the fact that people actually wanted to buy his tapes, he said he acted the part.
“Fake it ‘til you make it,” Schmidt said. “It really works.” As students laughed at this remark, he continued by stating that people’s perception is reality.
“Your image is what people perceive, and that’s what they believe,” he said. With his humility shining through, Schmidt attributed this factor to his early success.
Schmidt’s second entrepreneurial advice for success was to think of, create or do something that has never been done before. When Schmidt met cellist Steven Sharp Nelson, he wanted to create something different. With their first YouTube sensation “Love Story Meets Viva la Vida,” the innovation for creative, classical yet modern music was born.
Schmidt then played the song for the audience, and the goose bumps on my arms started to rise. In addition to being a very talented pianist, Schmidt was an entertainer. He would bob his head to the beat, sway his shoulders to the melody and even spin around and play upside down.
When asked what got him through the tough times of being an entrepreneurial musician, Schmidt gave credit to God and his gut. He stated that in order to feel good about what he does each day, he has to follow his passions.
I left the presentation with a song stuck in my head and a new determination to reach for my dreams. By being creative and “faking it ‘til I make it,” I think I can do just about anything.