July 1, 2024

See Your Sound! Educator Mickey Smith, Jr. Shares How to Unlock Your Creative Significance

In this uplifting conversation, Grammy-winning music educator and motivational speaker Mickey Smith Jr. shares powerful insights and practical strategies for overcoming self-doubt, developing resilience, and consistently taking purposeful action towards your dreams.

Have you ever felt like the world just doesn't hear your voice? Struggling to shake a nagging sense of insignificance? 

In this uplifting conversation, Grammy-winning music educator and motivational speaker Mickey Smith Jr. shares his powerful insights and practical strategies for overcoming self-doubt, developing resilience, and consistently taking purposeful action towards your dreams. Through candid personal stories and a faith-based perspective, he'll reignite your passion for pursuing a life of creative significance.

Mickey's central message is about finding your "sound" - that internal significance that allows you to resonate with others in a profound way, 

He'll guide you to gain clarity on your unique vision and equip you with powerful daily strategies to:

  • Conquer the mental roadblocks and negative self-talk holding you back
  • Implement daily rhythms and habit stacks for consistent progress
  • Cultivate an unwavering belief in your God-given desires
  • Embrace a mindset of gratitude to fuel your motivation


Website - https://mickeysmithjr.com/
Podcast - Keep on Going Podcast

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[00:00:00 - 00:00:45]
Have you ever felt like your sound is drowned out in the world that's noisy, that doesn't care what you think or what you say? Do you feel as a creative that you just don't really have any significance because you're stuck in a certain area or where you're not being heard or noticed? Does that make you feel like you're alone in this world, especially when you're already gifted? Well, my friend, I'm here to tell you that this interview with educator and encourager Mickey Smith Junior is going to help you change that. So just give me a moment to welcome those of you who are new to our show, and then we're going to get into this incredibly inspiring conversation. Artists, musicians and creatives of all kinds looking for help balancing your passion to.

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Create with your everyday life?

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Not sure if your faith can coexist with your profession?

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Welcome to a place where real artists discussed real life.

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You're listening to the God and gig show.

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Visit godandgigs.com for show notes, links and more information.

[00:01:02 - 00:04:06]
Hello and welcome to our show. Thank you so much for making this podcast a part of your creative day. And if you're new to our show, let me tell you why you're in the right place at the right time. As a musician, artist, freelancer, christian content creator, anyone in the intersection between faith ministry and entertainment. You need a tribe, someone that understands what you're all about, that you're trying to become a totally confident creative. Well, that's what we do here at God and gigs. We help you to become that totally confident creative from the inside out by applying timeless spiritual principles to the temporary creative problems that you might be facing. And my friend, if you are one of those people, thank you for joining us. And if you've been in our community for a while, you are in for a treat. Let's get right into this amazingly impactful interview with my new friend and brother, Mickey Smith Junior. Now, let me tell you why he's on the show and why you're going to be so impacted and inspired in the next few minutes. Now, as a Grammy award winning music educator and multiple time teacher of the year in several schools across the country, he's already proven that he has a heart for educating students in both music and in life. But that's not where it stops. Mickey has a heart for every single person he meets to gain their significance, to understand what their unique sound is. And he has this unique way of helping people to keep on going. He's relentlessly inspirational and he has these practical strategies, some of which I am absolutely going to be putting into my tool belt so that I can also be that kind of creative who sees every day as an opportunity. When you hear this interview, you're going to see how he applies both the practical and the spiritual components to keep on going in every area of his life and to achieve not just success, but significance. My friend, have you ever felt like you're just kind of spinning your wheels? That you weren't really making an impact because you thought you needed something else, some other resource, some other thing outside of yourself in order to achieve what God has for you? This interview is going to change that. It's going to show you how you can achieve that significance right now in your everyday creative life, my friend. I can't wait for you to hear this, so I'm going to step out of the way and let's talk to the educator and encourager, Mickey Smith Junior. Ladies and gentlemen, when I tell you you're about to be inspired, you're about to see the sound of that you have inside you. I am. Absolutely. So I can't tell you I'm already losing my words because I'm so excited. Look at this. I cannot wait for you to hear from this man. Educator, musician, speaker, podcaster, and most important, I'm sure he will say, husband and father. Welcome Mickey Smith Junior to the got and gig show. How are you doing, my friend?

[00:04:06 - 00:04:25]
Man, I'm doing great now, man. It's good to be in the place. Good to be in the space with you, man. And thank you for the invitation and opportunity just to. Just to be connect, man. Just to be together. That's what makes these things so good. So, to all the folks out there, wherever you may be and however you may be, I'm so glad that we can be together. And thank you for making this happen. Like, you do so many things, man.

[00:04:25 - 00:05:33]
Oh, man, I gotta tell you, like, this is where I try not to just turn into, like, the phone call where people are listening in like a fly on the wall and actually make sure that we're talking to them. Because when I first met you, brother, it was at a gig. It was up in West Palm where you now call home. And I just immediately realized, okay, there's something different about this cat. Like, there's something different. We sat down at the table after playing number one, your playing was awesome. Then number two, when we got into a conversation in less than ten minutes, I was like, this is more than just another gig with another musician who just happens to sound good. This brother is deep. And so I am unpacking the layers even now, as we've been talking and learning more about each other. But I know for you, especially now, during the podcast game, you have to do this a lot, where you have to give everybody that's meeting you for the first time that elevator pitch in the first 30 seconds, and it's got to explain everything about you. This is the most ridiculous thing we do to everybody in this medium. But yet I have to follow conventions. So if they were not to listen to anything else in the next 30 to 40 minutes, what are the couple of things that you want them to know about you upon meeting on the first time?

[00:05:33 - 00:06:59]
I guess the biggest thing, man, is that, honestly, there's nothing special about me and there's nothing special about any of us, but there's something significant about all of us. And that idea of significance is what carries you. The idea that we live in a world that talks about success, but really, at the end of the day, success, as I defined it, as being the best in the world. But being significant is being the best for the world. So my mission, my calling, my purpose is simple. You know, my heart is teaching, but my passion is helping people find theirs and operate in theirs. So whether it's a classroom, whether it's a boardroom, whether it's a stage, I believe that we all have a sound. And I'm not just saying that because I'm a band director. I'm not just saying that because I'm a musician. The sound I'm talking about is not an audible, but it's an internal significance that resonates with people. So, when you can see your sound, it means that you can see the significance that's in you and around you. And that significance gives you the resilience to do what I call keep on going, which is what we need now more than ever. So that's who I am. Humbly. I'm just an individual from Bayou State who somebody saw a little something in me and provided me an opportunity to find my sound. And now, through education, through speaking, through life, I've devoted myself to helping others do just that, to see their sound and to keep on going. And that's what we gonna talk about today, man. Just what people need. So that's who I am, and I don't know. That's it.

[00:06:59 - 00:07:50]
Mandy, look again. I could just hit stop right now, and they would have gotten value in the first five minutes of this interview. That's what I'm talking about. So we do have to unpack, though, because you mentioned value state. And obviously, if you're watching, you can see the red, you can see the hat, you can see this man is put together. So let's talk about a little bit of how that comes together. How do you get from the bayou state? I'm assuming. And again, I don't know these stories. So this is literally me learning for the first time. I'm assuming your love for music came in some way, shape, or form from where you were brought up from that area. So where did your love of music, where did this first? If this was kind of like your first foray into the arts and creative life and, like, what it meant to you, did it come from where you started and just explain a little bit about that, like, how you got your beginning?

[00:07:50 - 00:12:49]
Yeah, no, this is cool, Mandy. I mean, I'm from a little place. I'm not. Look. Okay. All love the New Orleans. New Orleans is what people associate with Louisiana, but I'm probably about as far from New Orleans as a person can be. I'm actually from southwest Louisiana, 20 miles from the Texas Louisiana border. Still got that Cajun Creole flavor and all the soul that you imagine with Louisiana, but definitely a smaller community. But it's so interesting. I got a buddy of mine. He's a fantastic musician. Big shout out to Jacob Lowry. He does work with. Plays bass with Michael McDonald, Reeve, McIntyre, you know, Michael W. Smith. Like all these people, he'd never boast, but I'm a toot his horn. We were chatting, ran into each other in the airport, and he made a comment that really resonated with me. Like, all due respect, I've been around the world. I've been different places. But there's something about the place I grew up. There's something about the people there. Some of the most amazing musicians nobody has ever heard of happened in this place called southwest Louisiana. I don't know if something in the water, I don't know if it's something in the food, but there's something so powerful and significant there. So I was always exposed to that. But to be perfectly honest with you, I never had interest in music. I was more of an athlete growing up, and the community I was in, that's what you got celebrated for. So I was sweet. I was real nice on the court. I could tear you up on the track, track and field. And I'm actually a music school dropout. My mom put me in piano lessons, and I was doing okay with it. Cause my mom always wanted to play piano, right. And I was doing okay. But then my friends laughed at me, man, and Alan, look, I'm gonna be honest. I tanked. I quit on purpose. And a couple years later, the only reason I joined band, a couple years later, my best friend across the street, Leroy, Leroy Blunt, joined band, man. My man Leroy. Anything Leroy did, I did, too. We was thick as thieves, and we was, you know, ace boom Coons, man. We was just. You saw one, you saw the other. So when Leroy joined band to play trombone, I wanted to join, too. And that's the only reason I joined, man. Two years later, Leroy quit band. I kept on going, and the rest is history. Now, I'm here today. But to be perfectly honest with you, man, I never really had big aspirations or dreams. I never saw a lot, because the community I grew up in, I'm from a forgotten community called Mossville, Louisiana. You can't find it anymore. They bulldozed the whole town and built a chemical plant on top of it, so it doesn't even exist anymore, okay? So growing up there, just to kind of give you that perspective that we didn't see a whole lot that made us dream big. Good people, you know, good heart, lots of love, but just not a lot of opportunity. So it wasn't like I sat up with musicians in my family or professionals that I saw or degreed individuals that kind of gave me some trajectory. I didn't see any of that. But I did have a cousin growing up, cool cousin Lisa. Lisa lived in Houston, Texas. And when I was twelve years old, she looked at me and she told me these words I'll never forget. She said, you're going to win a Grammy. Twelve years old and I'm out there squeaking and squawking, man, I can't even play. She said, you gonna win a Grammy. Fast forward, fast forward. I become a middle school band director. And, you know, middle school band directors don't win Grammys, man. But little did I know there was an award that had just opened up, and they recognized educators who were also musicians and were making impact in the community and, you know, different things like that. And somebody threw my name in the hat, man. And that's another story for another day. But somebody threw my name in the hat. And to my surprise, I made the top ten from this little bitty town that nobody's ever heard of, little school that wasn't much anything. Here I am, top ten. And that started a process of development, because I really wasn't worried about winning the award. What I loved was the process of it. And what I learned about myself and the profession as I went on along with it. So this started a journey that lasted about six years, man. And on the 6th year, I lost again. Six years lost, and I went home. And what should have been a joyous occasion, because once again, I made the finals. I found that my family was in tears. My daughter was crying, my son was crying, which made my wife cry. And they was all sad. They saw it. As we lost, he lost. And I thought to myself in that moment, I said, I'm not doing this anymore because I really, really care about the award like that. You know, now it's bringing pain. So I just backed off of it. I said, I'm not gonna do it again. I called Lisa, and Lisa told me three words after I went on and on about how I wasn't gonna do it anymore. She said, you done, maestro? She called me maestro. I said, yeah. I said, you got something? She said, I just got three words. I said, what? She said, keep on going. Now watch this. I didn't plan this. It just happens to be here. When I said, keep on going, I actually had the little children's book that I had written and illustrated sitting right next to me on the. On the little ottoman. I say, dang, she threw my words back at me, man. You know, look, ali, you know how jacked up that is to say, you.

[00:12:49 - 00:13:30]
Go quit your friends or your worst enemies or your best friends because they hit you with what you don't want to be hit with. Number one, let's go. Okay, let me just pick one at a time, because my add can't handle it. All right? Because you have so many things that are going on in your life as an educator, as a musician, as a family mandev. And I had this conversation in a previous podcast about this work life balance word that I don't believe in, but I'll let you. I want you to address it. I don't want you to give my thoughts. So what is the word that helps you or the framework, I should say, that helps you handle all the things that God has put on your plate, because he has gifted you and given you passion for several different things. So how do you manage that, man?

[00:13:31 - 00:13:46]
That's good. Purpose and rhythm, you know, like. Like, I think we probably on the same page. I don't really believe in work life balance. I used to argue with a friend of mine, soon to be doctor Valarie Humphrey. Val. I call her auntie Val. Val.

[00:13:46 - 00:13:46]

[00:13:46 - 00:13:46]

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Val. Val.

[00:13:46 - 00:14:39]
Val. Val was real quick on that. She said, ain't no balance. Ain't no balance. I said, what you mean? She said, there ain't no such thing as balance? I said, no, no, Val, look, I'm the musician guy. I'm like, no, there's balance just like in music. You know, the sound pyramid, you know, and, you know, we gotta have a. You know, like, I'm trying to. I'm like. I'm thinking this thing out way too deep, right? I'm like, you know. And she say, yeah, I hear all that. I hear all that music stuff. She said, y'all music people. Y'all weird. She ain't musician. She said, y'all music people weird. She said, I'm trying to tell you. She said, there ain't no balance. She said, there's rhythm. I was like, huh? And I got to thinking about it. Success is really small things done well stacked on top of each other over time. You know, one thing at a time. And it's about knowing when to put those things. Look, the great philosopher Kenny Rogers said it. He said, you gotta know when to hold them, know when to fold them. Come on, you know, what's the rest? Come talk to me.

[00:14:40 - 00:14:52]
Oh, really? Don't make me finish the entire verse. Cause, you know, I grew up. My father. Look, know when to walk away, know when to run. You can count your money when you're sitting at the table. For there'll be time enough for counting when the deal is done. Don't get me started.

[00:14:52 - 00:14:59]
Come on, man. Look, everybody don't know the whole thing. He said, the whole truth is nothing but the truth. That's nothing but the truth.

[00:15:00 - 00:15:01]
That's a songwriting.

[00:15:01 - 00:15:52]
Yeah, man. It got me thinking. So now I change the whole way. I change the whole way I do my day. I don't believe that we can have success by happenstance, but by habit stack. Small things done well stacked on top of each other over time. So when I'm operating in my day, I got different ways that I see it. Cause my friend Sean, he says, you gotta see it, say it, and get to work. So the way that we can visualize and conceptualize our day goes a long way. I got a buddy of mine, fantastic musician, fantastic keyboardist, man. And when we were in college, or when I was in college, he wasn't, and that kind of caused a little friction, you know, at times, I didn't realize it, but I guess he was having some kind of feelings about maybe not being that musician. I would tell him, like, bro, there's cats I'm going to school with that can so say read. But ain't nobody trying to hear what they saying.

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[00:15:53 - 00:19:24]
Like, your stuff. Your stuff's sweet. And really, at the end of the day, music is supposed to communicate the whole idea of the theory and all that is to be able to go back and conceptualize and to study and improve and stack on it. But when you're in the moment of expressing music, you know, I ain't never seen nobody moved by an actor that was reading. We commit the script to memory. We study our craft. But when you in the moment, it has to emote. Right. And I was explaining that to him, but one of the things I was showing him was, man, you gotta go back and at least figure out how to read these chords. Cause you're trying to store too much information up in your head. Like you dropping the ball as a husband and a father, as a personal finance. Cause you dropping those balls. Cause you're trying to remember all this stuff. I need you to automate. I need you to delegate so you can elevate. And I think that, just like with music, life is the same way, too. As a teacher, I have to have a lesson plan. I don't teach scripted, but I do have to have a blueprint, just like building a house. And if I'm gonna have a lesson plan, I think it's important to figure out, okay, what's my life plan for today day? And that's why, for me, I don't just plan out my day, but I put purpose in my day. I create. I created a system and instruction for my day. And to kind of let you know how I balance everything, I create a rhythm. The start of my day is about priming my day. So all the time that I have, from the time that I wake up to about 10:00 a.m. is priming. That's practice, that's prayer, that's planning. That's all the things. I started doing that because as a teacher, if I don't do that and if I don't pour into my cup, by the time the kids show up, I will have no time to pour into my cup. But the moment the kids show up, it's got to be all about them. Anybody who's not finding success in the classroom, oftentimes it stems from not being able to prioritize where you find your purpose, because you can't find your purpose in the middle of doing something on purpose. It's got to be proactive, right? So I got my day splitting it three times. Three times. The starting point is the priming. That's from the time I wake up to generally tend to from 10:00 a.m. to one. I call that ten to one. W o n. Cause I wanna win. Cause every day is a Wednesday. W I n s, right? So from ten to one, that's when my productivity. Because studies show that that's the time of the day where you're thinking at your peak, you know, you're thinking at your highest physically, you're probably feeling your best. So if I need to do something where I've gotta really deliver, like, say, maybe, you know, do a podcast interview, I'm gonna try to do it at about 10:00 a.m. so that I know I'm firing at the highest level, right. Cause that ten to wo n is when I get the work done, right? That's the highest level. And then from one to done, that's my playtime. Now, it doesn't always work out that way. Cause I'm a husband, I'm a father, right? But those things that maybe don't require that have a little pliability, flexibility, I like to try to plan those things for that part of the day. And that way, you know, I'm playing with house monies, like you say. Like Kenny Rogers said, I'm playing with the house money. Cause the deal is done. So that's how I do it every day. And that gives me a rhythm. I know when I get up in the morning, I'm making time to invest in myself. And once I make that deposit in myself now, others can withdraw without me going into overdraft. And then that allows the end of my day to be the best of my day. Because now I've gotten those things done. I have a sense of self, I have a sense of purpose, and I have a sense of accomplishment that allows my esteem to stay high, even though I live in a world that's always trying to tear down my esteem.

[00:19:26 - 00:21:22]
Okay, again, I thought you saw me. Oh, I was looking down to take notes. Not on my phone. I literally wrote that down, bro. Not happenstance. Habit. Stacks. Look, I'm going to clip. I'm going to click all this and just study it for the rest of the day so I can get myself together. Because I want to be honest again, the people, and I think right now I'm going to be very, very specific. And this might sound really strange, but because we both have communities where we know people who have bought in. You have people that are following you as you follow Christ, right? They're not following you because you're a celebrity or anything like that, but you are a teacher. You're leading by example. So I have the same thing in my community. Guided gig, 360 gold. And I'm talking to two or three people right now who have bought in, who are investing in themselves, and they are struggling with the thing you just said, which is, I know there's priorities, but there's so many things pulling on me that my steam is dropping, that literally they feel like failures, even though they've achieved so much. And I just hope that they're going to clip that part and just say to themselves, okay, here's how I can segment my day, segment my energy, so that the people that need it most get it at the time that they need it most. Because when I'm on the band stand, let's talk about music for a second, especially as a teacher and as a bandleader, right. You know, you cannot treat everybody on the stage with the same focus at the same time. Just like in conducting and everything else, there's certain times that you turn. I'm a bro. You know, you're bringing up the teacher in me, too, because right now, I'm right back in my elementary school. I'm right back in my band room. Right? So you turn, and, you know, for that moment that you're trying to get that cue for that one entrance. Everybody else in the orchestra, you've just broken eye contact. Right. So they are relying on themselves. But this moment, like, I gotta focus right here and bring this in. Boom. You're getting my full attention. But instantly, you turn. And now the hall ensembles back, like, in your purview.

[00:21:22 - 00:21:22]

[00:21:22 - 00:22:02]
So, I just need people to think that way in terms of our groups and our people, because I think sometimes I get frustrated with those who don't listen. I turn my focus to the bad one in the class that's getting all the attention, and the person that's trying to listen is getting no attention. So I'm so busy trying to get people that are just kind of not really buying in. They're not really taking what we're giving, the value that we're providing. And meanwhile, the people that, you know, are listening are the ones that struggle the most because they know what to do, because they've heard the podcast, because they've been to the TED talk, and yet they still struggle with those same things. So that was more or less of a question, more just a comment.

[00:22:03 - 00:25:04]
And it's so important, you know, like, I hate to sound cliche, but cliches are there because there's truth in it, right? You know, to those folks, I'm gonna say, keep on going. Rome wasn't built in a day, right? There's no overnight success. It's just over life success. So the whole thing about the comparison thing, when you're looking at folks, you gotta look at the whole story. And then also understand this, too. When you're talking about somebody's story. Even the best book got a few bad chapters. Even the best book got a few pages where you just like, man, even the best movie in the world got a spot or two. You get up and go get some popcorn. Do you throw the whole book away? Do you walk out on the show? No. Everybody hangs out. It's so funny, like, when you talk about, like, marvel and stuff like that. Not only do people stay for the show, these jokers stay after the credits because you never know what's gonna pop up. You always know, hey, let me wait. They gonna give a little teaser or a little something that's coming up. And so many times in life, we overlook the credits. We don't understand that every opportunity is another opportunity for another opportunity. So I'm telling somebody today to keep going because your story's not finished. And you can't judge the totality of the story off of the page that you're sitting on right now. And when we talk about our stories, our stories are really created out of systems. When you see something you admire, you're seeing a system of something. Right, right. So, so. So we talk about the habit stacks, right? As opposed to the happenstance. Small things don't. Well, stacked on top of each other over time. So I'm flying to a gig in Cabo. Is that how they say it? Cabo? Right. So I'm going Cabo. So as we're flying over, there was something we saw. Like, the plane went down for a little bit and came back up. Not crash, but, like, my man took us down a little bit to see something. I'm really not sure what we were looking at, but it wasn't like a mayan temple, but it was some type of structure that was pretty impressive. I mean, we could see it, obviously, from high elevation. But there was a guy next to me. He kind of a know it all, but he was cool. He was cool to be on the trip with. He knew. He knew. Apparently he took this trip a lot. He was telling us everything about everything. But in this case, it was actually kind of cool because he said, hey, I've been down there before. He said, don't that look like a big structure, like big blocks and stones. I'm like, yeah. He said, nope. It's actually little, small stones that they fitted together. And that was really where I came up with that concept of small things done well, stacked on top of each other. Because if you keep stacking these things, it becomes. It becomes a wall of excellence. But then if you keep stacking up, eventually it becomes a tower of greatness. And the tower is what people see. But really, if you look carefully, I don't care how great the tower, it's usually the culmination or the accumulation of these small habits, these small routines, these small systems. And if you. I'm like this man. A lot of times, we follow people online, and we see people social media, and we can tell them everything. We can tell people everything about other people. But when I ask people, who are you? Matter of fact, real quick. Knock, knock.

[00:25:04 - 00:25:05]
Who's there?

[00:25:05 - 00:25:06]
I am.

[00:25:07 - 00:25:08]
I am who?

[00:25:08 - 00:26:48]
That's the question in all you're seeking. That's the question. I am who? Because knowing I am who is not getting away from the I am, right. Because we're in his image. So a lot of times, we get so deep, we get so religious, sometimes we do ourself a disservice. Sometimes we being humble, but it's really humble. B u l l, right. He didn't put us in this thing called life to live it anything other than abundantly right. So abundant life. If we're going to live it to the fullest, I think we do ourselves a discredit and a disservice if we do not become students of ourselves, because if we begin to understand what systems work for us and what systems work within us, then we increase our competence, which then increases our confidence. And when you have greater confidence, music teacher, then the student is more eager to go get more competence. And when they get more competence, then they get more confidence. And the confidence is so important because I think the greatest sin we have that we can commit is self doubt. That was the original sin, because Adam and Eve, he told them straight up who they were, and then here to come the little snake, here come the enemy. He gonna tell them. So they exercised a level of self doubt which caused the whole thing to fail. And I believe every day we wake up with an opportunity to walk in purpose. Walk in purpose. So I think. I think taking time to really become a student of yourself and understand your systems put you in a position to win like nobody's ever won before. Not saying that you're going to be the greatest, because, again, success is being the greatest in the world. But when I say win, I'm talking about significance. Becoming the greatest version of yourself for the world.

[00:26:48 - 00:27:42]
That's so beautiful. And the one thing I know that you deem as your most significant role is in your family. And I cannot tell you how impressed, proud, inspired I was to see your family on stage with you at this recent event that you did over there in West Palm. Man, how good did that have to feel to know that you're not only impacting young lives in the classroom, but those lives that you literally brought into existence and that they are following in your footsteps? Man, talk a little bit. Brag a little bit about your family. Talk a little bit about why is that? What have you poured into them that has created the significance that they clearly feel, that they clearly have said, hey, dad, I'm following your footsteps. I want to do this because I see how beautiful and how amazing it is when you've done what you've done.

[00:27:42 - 00:28:55]
Man, I'm just blessed, and I'm grateful because it didn't have to be this way. I'm blessed, and I'm grateful because I teach every day and I see so many kids that don't have what we deem to be so valuable, those positive relationships. I'm grateful and I'm blessed because I have friends who don't have their children anymore, that their lives were taken too soon. So sometimes it's pain, not hope, that brings the best opportunities. Sometimes it's pain, not hope, that brings the best perspective. So I'm proud. But I think the better word for me personally is I'm incredibly grateful because it didn't have to be this way. Statistically, it shouldn't even be this way. So every day we get on stage, I'm just so grateful. And I'm also grateful because life be life and, man, because about. I don't even know, man, I could say five years ago, this was not a reality. Seven years ago, this was not a reality, because although my wife and I are both musicians, we met in college. She was in the band. She played french horn. I played saxophone. Proximity, one those people that know orchestration and music, I ain't had no game. I just happen to be close.

[00:28:55 - 00:29:03]
Just so you know, quickly, proximity also works whenever you're the accompanist and your future wife is the singer that works.

[00:29:03 - 00:29:05]
Hey, hey. Won't he do it?

[00:29:05 - 00:29:08]
He will, and he did. And he's still doing it.

[00:29:08 - 00:32:03]
He's still doing it. Well, you know, me and my wife, me and my wife, we've been partners, so to speak, in this thing I call Sax and the city. And the sax for me, is my ministry. It's my way to be a blessing. So sax and the city, you know, folks think it's one thing when they hear it, but really it just means ministry in the city. Because we were operating in church. My wife was amazing choir director and singer and all that kind of stuff. But it hit me, there's some people, for whatever reason, whether it's hurt, whether it's past experiences, whether it's perception, there's certain people that ain't gonna come in them four walls. I don't care what it is. They're not coming in until somebody carrying them in, unfortunately, right? So sometimes they won't come there till six strong men bring them. So what I realized is sometimes we have to create opportunities to bring the ministry to them. That's what Saxon City was. That's another talk for another day. But Saxon City was my wife and I doing our thing, primarily me doing the sacks thing. She would be featured on a song or two. And then we had our daughter begin to sing with us. And she hated it. Oh, with a passion. I tell folks she had a drug problem. I drug her to every, every gig. And she sing background music, and I make her sing jazz. And she say, ooh, that's old people music. I can't stand that jazz. Meanwhile, my son, he too little. He ain't even playing. He being babysat back at home. So what you saw at that jazz festival, again, no overnight success, over life success. That was the first time we had all been on stage together like that. First time ever. Because my son now is old enough. He has a skill set. He plays trumpet. He's been wanting to be a part of it. Now he can fast forward. My daughter, who didn't even want to sing. This is another talk from that day. You need to have her own one day. Tell her story. She went from not singing, not wanting to sing in the birthplace of jazz, Louisiana, to moving down to South Florida, to being named downbeat magazines top young vocalist. Being on the COVID of Downbeat magazine, pretty good for a reluctant singer, to now she's been selected for their Songbook academy. She's doing amazing things. She's now getting her first feature performance. She's gonna be performing at an event here real soon with her own band. Like, it's her thing. Daddy ain't got nothing to do with it. It's her own thing. And here we all on the stage together. And it's just a reminder that if you don't quit, if you don't give up, if you don't faint, if you keep doing the good work, don't get weary in your well doing in due season, you'll reap that harvest, that reward, but only if you keep on going. That's what I saw more than anything. Yeah, there's pride that there's. That your kids are doing well and they're following in your footsteps. But I feel like, you know, success leaves trails. But at the same time, I feel like they're paving their own path. You know, it's been interesting because they're doing things I wasn't doing when I was twelve.

[00:32:03 - 00:32:36]
I reminded of how grateful I am. When you say, and it really is. It stacks the same way that you said that. Those habit stacks. The gratefulness stacks, the gratitude stacks. And the fact that I can look back on my 27 years. And look at that. Look. This is nothing but a miracle. Three times, right? I tell people all times, I've been married three times just to the same woman without a divorce. Look. You know, and three children, again, like, three different stories. Where everything should have gone off the rails. And now you're right, because it's different chapters.

[00:32:36 - 00:32:38]
The story gonna change whether you want it to or not.

[00:32:38 - 00:33:03]
That part. And the reason why I want to, like, just remind people that this is so key to your success and your significance. Even better word, significance, as we're saying, is because you're constantly not looking back. But you're looking. You're looking at what you have here. Without looking back, with nostalgia. And that's what I'm trying not to go. It's not nostalgia. It's not. I wish I had. It's. What do I have right now?

[00:33:03 - 00:36:06]
Two most powerful words. English language. Luther said it. Here and now. Here and now. When you just really think about what you just said. If we can get a perspective and a purpose that points to here and now. Then comparison is not a thing anymore. Jealousy is not a thing anymore. Insecurity, inadequacy is not a thing anymore. Mickey, how can you be so certain? Because music teaches us that music is one of the few things that you have to be absolutely present to perform it. If you're thinking about what you did in measure four, that mistake, I promise you about to jack up something. If you think too far ahead to the next song, you're not going to deliver it with authenticity. You have to be absolutely present. And I think that's why there's a joy that can't be quantified or explained when you're operating in this music thing, especially when you're doing at a high level, when you spent the time practicing to now you remove those barriers, and you can fully communicate authentically through that medium, through that instrument, whether it's your voice, whether it's an instrument per se, a woodwind instrument or brass or percussion or whatever it is. When you facilitate the music so well that you can't separate yourself from the music now you find yourself in this sweet space. Some people say the zone, but it's actually. It's just being here and now in a way that few people, I think, really intentionally go about living life. Can I share something with you, please? I believe you made me think of something just now. I believe that that idea of presence is the present. It's the gift, right? That idea of being present is the gift. And when we think about being present and having presence, it's the difference between being a victim and a victor. Okay, so my wife, she loved me, but I had concerns early on, I'm be honest. Cause every time we went to bed, she was watching this stuff, Allen. Like, she was watching, like, snapped homicide, true life investigation, unsolved mysteries. He was watching Dateline, you know, how to get away with murder. Like, you know, they're like, what? I can't rest easy. What are you doing? I just feel like if the shoe is on the other foot, I don't think that bodes well for us. Like, I think there's gonna be an investigation. So I called a buddy of mine. I'm like, dude, am I? He's a little bit older than me. I'm like, man, should I be concerned? He's like, mickey, stop tripping. She's like, a lot of them watch that, right? And I went back, and I found out, okay, a lot of females, particularly do watch these shows. So, anyway, you know, coming up on 21 years, I think we good, right? You're still here.

[00:36:06 - 00:36:11]
Yes. Nothing happened. Hey, if she wanted to get that done, she would have done it a long time ago. You wouldn't be here.

[00:36:11 - 00:37:06]
But one of the shows she watched was law and order, special victims unit. And my man ice t, he used to say this thing like, it sounded so slick back in the day. He didn't say the victim, he said the vic. Right, right. And it just sounded so slick. I know, it's terrible. I know it's a hard. Like, the person's dead, but he made it sound so cool, man. Like, if you gon be dead, man. I'm gonna be the vic, right? And I'm like, I thought about it, and I share that with you, because every day, my intention is to be a ViC. I remember those WorkSheets where you had the choice of how you finished the word. They give you a partial spelling of the word I, and you had to finish it. And I think every day, the life we live is the completion of that. Are you going to be a Victim or a Victor? And in order to be a Vic, I believe you have to have vision, intentionality, and consistency, man.

[00:37:06 - 00:38:44]
Okay, we have to drop the MIC on all of this because. Well, the fact that you don't have to drop the MIC on us because he's got a Podcast, but you can continue to hear this. So we're going to give that. But I just have to give you this last Little Thing, brother, because what you just shared about the vision and knowing exactly what you brought up. Habakkuk to me. Habakkuk two. Where it says, write the vision. Here's the thing that's been helping me, and you just helped me as well, where it says, write the vision and make it plain so they may run. Who read it. And you know why many of us are not running? It's because we haven't reread the vision. And you know why we haven't read the vision? It's because we didn't make it plain like you just made it plain. And you know why we haven't made it plain? Because we never wrote it down. And the fact that you just spelled it out for somebody listening, they need to go right now. Take what you just shared, write it down, make it plain to themselves so that they can quote it and say it to themselves, right. With that same kind of intensity and focus. And then run. Start running. Read it first. You got to read it every day. And then start running, man. Start moving with this. Because this is not just possible for Mickey, even though he is clearly gifted and passionate, it's not just possible for me. Now that I can say this with very, very humbly. Now that I realize that God has gifted me for this particular position in my life, right now that I know that I'm starting brands and starting podcasts and playing and doing, and I'm in that zone that God has gifted me to be in, I have a space for the grace that I'm in right now. Now, you know that this should be something that you should be walking in, as well. So, Mickey, thank you for inspiring us, brother. They got to get more of this. So tell us where you're sharing it, how they can stay connected with you, and how they can continue to keep on going with you and your message.

[00:38:44 - 00:38:50]
Thank you so much. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And put this down on paper, too. Why? Cause paper remembers what Alan forgets.

[00:38:51 - 00:38:55]
Was it a sharp. A sharp pencil was better than. A sharp pencil is better than a Dell memory.

[00:38:56 - 00:38:58]
Oh, I like that. That's it. That's it.

[00:38:58 - 00:38:59]
Look, don't get us started, man.

[00:38:59 - 00:40:29]
We gotta stop. Hey, I'm telling you, this has been a blessing. And really, it's no form or fashion other than to add value. Yes, that's what I try to do every day. And I got a few different platforms that I try to add the value with. I feel like in life, either you're a producer or a consumer. So on social media, I try to produce a signal that sound and that, that helps people's resilience. So if you follow me on any social media platform, whether it's Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, you know, x, whatever, whatever they call it this week, all them things just go to Mickey Smith Junior. You can also find me on the website as well and find out more about the keep on going tour. Just a powerful mission that we have right now to share keynotes and concerts in a compelling way to help people keep on going across our country through a motivational mixture of message and music. And find out more on the website@mickeysmithjr.com. and all those things. So easy to remember. It goes like this Mic keysmithjr.com. all right, so go check it out and let's, let's partner. Because at the end of the day, life is better when we band together. And anything that I can be of service to you, wherever you may be. And, you know, whatever you may be doing, I want to be in the business of you and partner with you, Justice Allen. You know, we bond right now. So I appreciate, I appreciate this, and I look forward to continuing the journey. And thank you so much for all you do, man. Thank you so much for all you do.

[00:40:29 - 00:41:41]
Yeah, brother, this has been more than a blessing, man. This has been an iron sharpens iron moment. And you are made of the same stuff, brother. I appreciate you. Love you so much. And everybody, again, follow those links. They're all in the show notes, in the descriptions. So go clicky, clicky, clicky. Go follow everything we just talked about and all the links he just gave, because this is going to bless your life continuously. Mickey, my brother, thank you again, man. We're gonna have to do this very, very soon again. Well, my friend, that was one of the most inspiring interviews I've ever done. And I believe you are now encouraged to see your sound, to know your significance, because of what God put on the inside of you and making sure you're sharing it with the world by using those practical strategies that Mickey just shared with us. I'm probably going to relisten to this a few times. I think you should do the same. So go ahead and share it and save it in your podcast player so that you can get back to this interview time and time again. So until next time, continue to become the creative that you were created to be. God bless you and we'll see you next episode.


Mickey Smith Jr. Profile Photo

Mickey Smith Jr.


Those are just two of the words that describe the Southwest Louisiana native Mickey Smith Jr. In the course of his career, Mickey has grown multiple band programs in Louisiana, Texas, and Florida by over 500%, encompassing over half of their school populations. Upon moving to Florida his program had 100% of the school population! Currently, Mickey teaches band to 4th through 8th grade students at The King's Academy. There the program has seen increased interest and growth with the new Beginning Band, Intermediate Band, Concert Band, and Jr. Jazz Band. Throughout his nearly two-decade career, he has developed and grown not only band programs, but most importantly, he has helped young people realize what they are capable of through music. This 7-time Teacher of the Year and GRAMMY Music Educator Award Recipient believes in promoting education and the educators across the globe who make it possible. Mickey Smith Jr. has shared his unique combination of message and music with thousands of students as a teacher, all-state conductor, and clinician. In addition, he has taken his systems of joy for teaching to hundreds of educational conferences, school district meetings, and leadership development stages across North America sharing his "Keep On Going" approach. Mickey has extensive experience teaching in Title I, urban, suburban, rural, public, as well as private schools. Throughout the years, Mickey's classrooms have been filled with students from a variety of backgrounds. There are some who have experienced trauma and adverse… Read More