After 23 years and hundreds of events later, you would think that I would have all of the experience I would ever need to be successful. But then, 6 years ago I met some of the best mentors a DJ could ever have. It wasn’t at a convention or in a DJ chatroom. It was right in my own backyard and I was blown away by all of them.
You see, I started DJing when I was 14 years old. As the story goes, I had a rock band in high school and my father was kind enough to finance a sound system for us. And as it is with many high school bands, we broke up not long after. So I was left with this 800 watt Peavey powered mixer and 2 monster speakers and noone to play for. My father had given me an ultimatum. He said you’ve got 2 choices. Sell the gear and get my money back or go make money with it. I chose option 2 and the rest is history. Pryme Tyme Entertainment was born. My first paying gig was $100 every friday night at the Elks Club in Waterbury, CT and from there I’d do small parties and fundraisers. Sound familiar?
Then in 2000, I worked for a large multi-op, Powerstation Events. This was where I received formal training from several of the 16 DJs that worked there. Each had their own style but for the most part had the company’s signature decorum. When I had left there, I went back on my own and started doing weddings. I was quiet and not a big talker on the microphone. A bit of an introvert. But, my mixing skills had improved over time and I could hold my own. But it wasn’t until 6 years ago when I was introduced to 3 of the most influential people in my craft that DJing went from a job to a passion.
I first met Mike Connolly. Mike is a solid professional through and through. His introductions are flawless and is a really good gauge at reading people. Just a warning, never gamble with this man. He knows what cards you’re holding before you even cut the deck. He’s that good. But even more than just an expert people reader, Mike is as smooth as they come. A master communicator and great with getting what he needs out of other vendors to create the best experience for his clients. This is an invaluable skill in our industry. We’ve all heard the story of the DJ that walks into a venue and gets put in the corner like the lit shrub and blends in with the furniture and told what to do from the venue. That doesn’t happen with Mike. People seek HIM out to lead the team to victory with his years of experience. He knows what works and puts it in motion and gets the job done right. But Mike is also a very kind person who donates his time and talents to causes he’s passionate about and it comes back in spades. All in all, Mike is the even keel and my litmus test whenever I’m in need of solid advice. People call him The Godfather and it’s easy to understand why. When anyone in CT needs advice on something, Connolly’s name is the first one that comes up.
The next guy I met, EVERYONE from Connecticut to California knows. That’s Sean Big Daddy Mckee. All I’m going to say is, if you ever have the chance to meet Sean, DO IT! It’ll change your life. Sean’s mantra is the power of positivity. When you’re in Sean’s presence, no matter what kind of a day you’re having, you’re going to be in a great mood after a few minutes on Sean’s watch. I watched a man who had just gotten through a chemo treatment after his 2nd bout with cancer push a room to it’s peak and never come down until it was time to head home. From introductions til the last dance there was not a single person in that room that didn’t have a smile on their face and it was because of him. Not because Sean was the center of attention but more a catalyst that lit a fire under the asses of his guests and commanded the room with great vigor. When Sean speaks, you listen. When Sean says it’s time to dance, you dance. And how does this happen? I learned one very valuable lesson from Sean. If you are passionate about seeing others happy and creating memories for people, it makes you want to push harder and harder to do it again and again. He owns everything he does and because of that he was instrumental in helping me take my master of ceremonies skills to the next level.
Last but certainly not least, there’s Keith Alan. Keith is the ultimate entrepreneur. His work ethic is unmatched. When Keith isn’t rocking 1100 people on New Years Eve, or hosting Juke Box Bingo at the local watering hole on a Wednesday night, Keith is circling the globe in search of the next big thing. Keith has the power of persuasion down to a science. Last night I watched this man get 800 perfect strangers to connect at a small business holiday party. He had them riled up from the moment he said, “Hi my name is Keith Alan” And with that, I had the pleasure of seeing some great methods for creating a guaranteed dynamic in the room perfect for dancing. Keith really knows how to get the most out of an event. It doesn’t matter if he’s playing for 10 people or 1100 people, fasten your seatbelts, hang on tight and enjoy the ride. Keith is also a master at music programming. He just feels the room and is 10 steps ahead and knows right where to go. After seeing Keith work his magic, I picked up some great knowledge that will serve me well into the future.
But even with all of these different personalities, styles, and points, one thing remains the same for these gentlemen. They work for the client. They understand that without the client, we would not be here. And that is why each one of them stops at nothing to satisfy their clients. I’ve learned a TON in the last 6 years from these gentlemen. They are with me at every event that I host.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re starting out or have been around for decades. Get out there, shadow other DJs and learn as much as you possibly can. It’s the best training you’ll ever get.
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