In late 2014 I challenged guitar builder Tony Nobles to create a visionary Dream Guitar.
But I didn’t want it to be my dream guitar.
I wanted it to be HIS dream guitar.
Three years later, Tony succeeded.
He announced, “There is no guitar like this on the planet.”
I’ve now seen it.
And played it.
And he’s right.
It’s a masterpiece.
Let me tell the story behind it:
Tony has been building guitars for almost thirty years. He’s made them for celebrity musicians such as Joe Walsh, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Alejandro Escovedo and others.
He’s also made them for lesser known collectors and players, like me.
I have a collection of a hundred old and new guitars by great luthiers, known and unknown.
Some of them (to name drop) are Bean, Baldwin, Collings, DK, Manzer, Maton, Versoul, D’Angelico, Veillette, Bacce, McElroy, Teye, Oxbow, Huss & Dalton, PRS, Santa Cruz, Fylde, Gigliotti, Trenier, Tesla, Trussart, and Zemaitis, as well as vintage Martin and Gibson models.
I’ve also seen impressive private collections, like that of rock icon Melissa Etheridge.
Guitars are playable art.
And sometimes a good investment.
I love them.
And no, you can never have enough.
I suspected a luthier with Tony’s decades of experience might be open to a bold idea.
I wondered –
What if I acted like a patron saint of the arts and commissioned him to create something visionary from his own mind, not mine?
Tony accepted the challenge in 2014.
For the next two years he read, thought, dreamed and wondered.
He also came to my home and spent a day examining my own collection, from the Fylde guitar made out of a former Scotch whiskey barrel, to Danelectros with their lipstick pickups, to an Oxford Guitars baritone electric made from gem stones and prehistoric wood.
I would also supply Tony with coffee table sized books about some of the greatest guitars of all time.
One book in particular became the resource for what would become the Dream Guitar.
The book was a hefty volume called Archtop Guitars: The Journey from Cremona to New York.
It displayed artistic photos and inside stories of museum quality guitars from three legends, D’Angelico, D’Aquisto and Monteleone. I had bought it from Rudy Pensa, the author and owner of Rudy’s Music in SOHO in New York.
Tony would later tell me, “Whatever I created had to be of the caliber of these guitars in this book, else what was I doing?”
Fast forward to October 20, 2016.
After almost two years of research and incubation, Tony showed me a sketch of an idea.
It was a light pencil outline on a torn off sheet of butcher paper, but I could see the vision being born.
The 1970’s Ibanez “Iceman” guitar inspired Tony. Paul Stanley of KISS made the Iceman electric famous.
“I like how that guitar sits well on your knee,” Tony explained. “Builders often forget the guitar has to be comfortable.” (Tony is a player, too, being in the band The Beaumonts.)
But that was only the beginning.
He knew he wanted an archtop, like those in the Pensa book, and he wanted an electric pickup.
My only request when I commissioned this guitar was a Bigsby or whammy bar. I love them.
Otherwise, Tony had a blank canvas to create per inspiration and will.
Tony was now off and running.
Using sinker log redwood, rare Brazilian Rosewood, and more, he began to carve and build what would become the world’s first Dream Guitar.
“I wanted the fret system to be different,” he says, “so I used what’s called True Temperament.”
Those are “wiggly” shaped frets that look odd but help the guitar stay in tune better and longer.
Things got even more unique when it came to the pickup.
“The Austin Sidewinder pickup was made specifically for this guitar by Bob Palmieri of Duneland Labs in Chicago,” Tony says. “I’ve never heard anything like it.”
When I finally saw the Dream Guitar in late December 2017, right before Christmas and just days before my 64th birthday, my jaw dropped.
But then I held it.
The guitar is feather light.
I thought of the term “floating guitar.” Tony says it’s less than five pounds. It sat on my leg as if it was tailor made to fit my knee.
Playing it was a surprise, too.
Each note has a distinct ring, and a sustain that is clear, rich, and drawn out.
The odd shaped frets weren’t even noticeable as anything different as I played, and may have made my chord fingering easier.
Guitar Monk Mathew Dixon, who I’ve made several bestselling instrumental albums with, was with me for the unveiling of the Dream Guitar.
He said, “Tony has undoubtedly created a masterpiece.”
I play the guitar every single day.
It’s already inspired two new songs.
And it’s inspired a new instrumental album that Guitar Monk and I have started “allowing” to happen.
The Dream Guitar is, well, a dream.
I saw that Tony had stretched in making this guitar.
Tony told me, “The little push you gave me down the path of uncertainty really did spur some growth.”
For me, seeing a man exceed his perceived boundaries and go pass tradition was inspiring and gratifying.
My books, music, coaching, mentoring, and presentations are all encouragements to do more and be more, to dream and achieve.
Even the album I made with Grammy nominated singer Ruthie Foster, and producer Daniel Barrett, was all about stretching, so much so that we called it Stretch.
And the new book I have coming out soon about strongman feats of strength, titled Anything Is Possible, is all about exceeding what we think is impossible.
I feel I succeeded in inspiring a builder to stretch, just as his one-of-a-kind Dream Guitar is now succeeding in inspiring me to create and play new music.
What would you do if you forgot tradition, perceived limits, and everyone’s expectations of what was possible – including your own?
PS – Tony Nobles can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/tony.nobles.5
Note: The professional photos of the Dream Guitar were by Rodney Bursiel.
Bonus: Here’s a 23-minute video about the making of the Dream Guitar:
Almost everyone is interested in overcoming fear – or should be.
Whether you want to speak in public, open a new business, talk to potential dates, do stand-up comedy, climb a mountain — or anything you haven’t done before — you’re bound to feel fear and want help in overcoming fear.
Well, how do you do it?
After recording six albums of songs, my Band of Legends politely nudged me to perform live.
While I’ve spoken on stage numerous times over the decades, I never sang on stage.
Thinking about it brought up serious fears.
A friend remembers me saying I would NEVER sing in public.
I had to overcome panic attacks, anxiety ambushes, and near nervous breakdowns to overcome the fear of public speaking.
But public singing?
I didn’t even sing in the shower.
Childhood memories of being humiliated when I tried to speak or sing stayed with me.
I overcame the speaking one.
But I refused to even touch singing.
It felt too vulnerable.
I managed to do it in the studio for my six albums, by basically managing my adrenaline, but I couldn’t accept ever singing on stage live.
But I did it.
I did it!
And it was a huge success.
I was strong and confident, owned the stage, and led my Band of Legends into a triumphant performance.
It was a historic moment.
It was a personal breakthrough.
And it will live forever in my mind as a moment of greatness for me.
So, how did I go from terrified to terrific?
I’ll share my own process, as it will illustrate the art of overcoming fear. I’m sure you can be inspired by this adventure.
I of course did all the standard things that I teach, from practicing ho’oponopono (as I wrote about in my books, Zero Limits and AT Zero) to rehearsing in the studio and in my mind.
But two months before the show, I also —
A basic rule of self-improvement is this:
You can accomplish more if you have someone who believes in you almost more than you believe in yourself.
I first saw that insight in the home of Jerry and Esther Hicks, of Abraham fame, decades ago. Jerry (who has passed on and I greatly miss) told me he first heard it in an early television western. I don’t recall the name of the show, but I do remember the impact the principle had on me.
I started Miracles Coaching more than a decade ago for that reason – to give people someone who could believe in them.
To help them overcome fear.
To help them attract miracles.
I’ve had a lot of people support me and coach me in performing:
Jen Sincero is a badass author of two NY Times bestselling books, You Are A Badass and the recent You Are A Badass at Making Money. I discovered her first book years ago, knew it would be a hit, and interviewed her. We stayed in touch.
I had lunch with Jen when she came to Austin for a book signing. I knew she had been in a band at one point, so I told her my dilemma. She told me that I had already done the hard part of singing.
“You sang for Melissa Etheridge,” she explained, referring to when I had a private songwriting lesson with the rock icon last November. “Singing one on one is harder than singing on stage, and you sang for an icon you idolize and adore.”
The last time I saw Melissa Etheridge, just for a moment after her show in San Antonio in June, she told me she loves my latest album, The Great Something.
She said to “Keep at it.”
I dedicated that album to her. There’s a song on it I wrote for her.
Her encouragement helped me stay motivated.
She once told me, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
Sarah McSweeney is a singer-songwriter who is on my first album, Blue Healer. She was the first person I sang for.
We met and she told me she always feels nervous before getting on stage. But she thinks of herself as a messenger, not a singer.
That reframe made the idea of singing easier.
“I am a messenger,” she said. “I focus on the song’s message.”
That insight helped me drop the idea of being a singer and adopt the idea of being a messenger. It helped me relax a little.
Meghan Sandau is a new friend. She has promoted big music events. She wanted to see me do a concert. She said she likes my music.
Her belief in me helped make me more secure.
In fact, none of this would happen without her.
She set up the event for my Band of Legends to perform.
She held my hand and encouraged me.
Meghan also suggested I do an energy clearing session with Nicole Pigeault of Los Angeles. I love energy work and do clearings for others so I leaped at the chance to hire Nicole.
Turned out to be one of the most powerful esoteric washes ever.
The hour session helped me release fears and settle into confidence.
But she wasn’t the only person to support me.
Guitar Monk Mathew Dixon has been coaching me for years now. We’ve made numerous instrumental albums together, such as Invoking Divinity.
He stayed in my corner, listening to me rehearse, listening to me confide my fears, and urging me to hang in there.
Then there’s Patrick Stark in Canada. He’s a filmmaker making a movie about overcoming fear.
It’s called “One Life: No Regrets.”
He interviewed me for it. He plans to sing on stage with the band U2. But it will be the first time he’ll sing on stage EVER.
The first time you sing in public anywhere is on stage with U2 and thousands watching.
Well, if Patrick can drum up that kind of courage, then so can I.
I found preparing for the event mainly a battle with my mind. Most of my thinking was negative. It was all, What if it goes bad?
But Mindy Audlin came to visit. She teaches what if up thinking.
She wrote the book What If it All Goes Right?
She coached me in other ways to think: what if it is a breeze? What if I love it?
It also helps to see people successful in one field try their hand in a completely different field.
James Altucher tried stand-up-comedy. He’s a writer. He’s doing something out of his comfort zone.
But he’s willing to do it for the experience, and he’s sharing his learning curve to inspire others.
Though I haven’t met him, knowing he was stepping out beyond his fear fortified me to do it, too.
Of course, my beautiful Nerissa (above) believed in me, too.
She and I practiced “The Remembering Process” that Daniel Barrett taught me: we talked about the live show as if it had happened in the past and we were remembering how great it went. (See the book Daniel and I wrote: The Remembering Process.)
So the first thing I did was gather people who could coach and inspire me.
To prepare for my show, I attended an online Masterclass with David Mamet, and another with Usher.
Both were astoundingly good.
Mamet is a Pulitzer prize-winning playwright and screenwriter. I think he is a genius.
He said most people are afraid to be bad to be good.
You have to be bad first to start being good.
You have to start someplace.
I reminded myself of this as I prepared for the live event.
While I wanted to step out on stage and be “perfect,” Mamet reminded me that I will probably step out and be bad.
But bad is where you start. You can’t get to great without starting at bad.
Usher said to prepare, to be confident, but to expect something to go wrong.
Don’t expect perfection.
He told a story of a performance where he injured himself at the beginning of a two-hour show, and had to keep dancing and singing despite the pain.
His insights and pointers were priceless in helping me create a mindset for success.
And I bought a set of audios called The Relaxed Musician. It’s a 14-day course in exploring limiting beliefs.
It helped me realize I had a big belief that if I looked bad as a performer, it would hurt my reputation in other areas, such as an author or speaker.
But like most beliefs, it didn’t hold up.
I could forget all my lyrics and totally wash out on stage and it wouldn’t even dent my image anywhere else. Most people forgive and forget.
In fact, a miss on stage could give me a terrific story about how I bombed and lived.
But I didn’t stop there.
I read a terrific book on how to deliver an unforgettable live performance. I liked the book so much, I read it twice.
It was called, The Musician’s Guide to a Great Live Performance.
It became my bible. I read it on planes, took it with me on my iPad, and shared it with singer-songwriter friends.
And I read a wonderful book on overcoming fear and panic, titled You 1, Anxiety 0.
Author Jodi Aman helped take the mask off of fear so I could see what it really was: an illusion. I soaked up the wisdom in this book. It really helped me.
I also read a 1950 book by Vernon Howard called Word Power.
It was about how you talk to yourself, as well as to others, effects your behavior and your results. It’s not so much affirmations but self-talk.
Pretending you are fearless by saying “I am a fearless performer” is a way to begin being a fearless performer.
And I read a recent book, called Succeed.
It explained that just visualizing success is a plan for failure unless you also visualize planning for setbacks.
In other words, thinking the show will go without a flaw is not realistic, as Usher pointed out. There is no such thing as perfection.
But visualizing success, and understanding there is work to do to get there, can almost guarantee the result you want.
That was a mind-spinning insight.
I did more, too.
With Meghan’s urging, I wrote out a script of how I wanted the show to go.
I focused on my feelings, not anyone else’s, so I could focus on what I could control.
The script was a type of Nevillizing (which I write about in my book, The Attractor Factor): feeling as if the event already happened, and happened the way I envisioned it.
I wrote the script from the point of view of the next day, after I performed on stage.
I read and re-read it every day for a week before the show.
I got massages, I got plenty of rest, I drank lots of water, and I went into a flotation tank at The Zero Gravity Institute for 90 minutes the day before the show.
I was doing whatever I could to be at peak form when I stepped on stage.
I was taking care of my body and mind.
I was getting ready for my moment.
Faith doesn’t always mean something religious.
Faith in yourself, faith in other people, faith in my practice and prep, faith in my Band of Legends – all of it gives a level of confidence that allows the best to surface.
As a slogan I coined says, “It is what you accept.”
I accepted that the moment would be perfect, even in any imperfections.
It would be “perfectly imperfect.”
And, after two months of preparing, what happened?
My Band of Legends and myself performed on July 21st at The Townsend in Austin.
I’m the luckiest musician alive to have a band of this caliber: Drummer Joe Vitale (yes, same name as mine), bass man Glenn Fukunaga and lead guitarist Daniel Barrett.
These incredible musicians encouraged me, supported me, and brought my songs to life.
We raised the roof and tore down the walls.
We shook the earth and wowed the crowd.
Talk about overcoming fear!!!
I gave everything I had in me, delivering my messages with energy, enthusiasm, electricity, and a sense of fearlessness and fun.
At the end of our set, we got a standing ovation.
A standing ovation!
I did it.
And I loved it!
Now, what do you fear that is time for you to do?
Isn’t today a good day to begin overcoming fear?
It shouldn’t surprise you that I’m writing yet another article here — my fifth — about the rock icon I love: Melissa Etheridge.
I saw her concert in San Antonio last night at the beautiful Tobin Center.
She rocked, of course, and tore down the walls of the new building.
Her power and charm remain high.
She is a bolt of lightning on stage.
I still marvel at her performances.
To my delight, Melissa spotted me from stage.
It was fairly easy for her to see me, as I was in the second row, basically not blinking throughout her entire show.
She blew me a kiss.
And when she was exiting at the end, she turned, pointed at me, and mouthed the words, “I love you, Joe.”
I thought I was hallucinating.
But the three people I was with all confirmed it. They saw it, too.
It gets even better.
After the show, I managed to get two minutes with Melissa.
I asked her if she had received my latest album, the one I created after my songwriting lesson with her, and the one she helped me name.
“Oh, I so got it,” she said. “I love it. It is great. And I’m so glad you called it The Great Something.”
The title “The Great Something” came out of my private music session with her.*
Apparently that moment was memorable for her, too.
And then she added what I needed to hear most.
She held the album in both hands, looked me right in the eyes, and said with all the sincerity of a turning point moment, “Keep at it. Do more.”
“Keep at it. Do more,” Melissa said.
Getting the encouragement of a music legend – who I happen to be a two decade fan of – was enough to fortify me to climb mountains.
I needed to hear it, too, as I’ll be performing with my Band of Legends for the first time on July 21st at The Townsend in Austin, Texas.
I am so grateful for Melissa, her music, her message, and how she has influenced my life.
I even wrote a song for her, called “Melissa Said,” as a way to show my gratitude. (It’s on The Great Something album.)
I’ve often said that a secret to success is to have someone believe in you almost more than you believe in yourself.
(That’s just one reason I created Miracles Coaching, so you can have someone believe in you, too.)
At this point in my life, I have numerous supporters.
But I’ve had a lot of them along the way, too.
Melissa Etheridge is one of them.
She’s been a coach, a mentor, and an inspiration.
Thank you, Melissa.
I love you, too.
PS – * Here are links to my previous four posts about my private songwriting lesson with Melissa Etheridge:
Bonus: Here’s Melissa Etheridge burning up the guitar as she tells you “Hold on, I’m coming!”
I love crowdfunding.
That’s where the fans fund the dream.
I’ve seen authors, musicians, inventors, and movie producers raise the money they needed for their projects by going straight to the people.
But until today, I’ve never seen crowdfunding for spirituality.
As I write this, it’s 4 am here in Madrid, Spain.
I came here to give a presentation to 5,000 people.
Fifteen other speakers flew here as well, including Gregg Braden, Don Miguel Ruiz, Neale Donald Walsch, Mooji and more.
But the planned event – called BeingOne – didn’t occur.
It turned into a nightmare.
Five thousand people stood outside a bull fighting arena where the event was to be held.
But the organizers didn’t pay their bills.
Security would not let the people in. They hadn’t been paid.
Vendors left. There were no people inside to sell to.
They were upset.
The police came.
There were still thousands of people waiting for hours, confused, impatient and curious.
At least one author (I don’t know who) went to the standing crowd and spoke to them, comforting them, assuring them that all would be well.
The people appreciated him and the love he showed. But they paid good money for a three day event to see 16 speakers.
They weren’t happy.
Where was the event?
Where were the speakers?
Where was Dr. Joe Vitale?
I was in my room, reading social media posts about the missing event, and just as baffled as anyone.
After all, I flew to Spain from Texas solely for this event.
And I did it against the advice of my attorney.
Since I hadn’t been paid, the event organizers violated their contract. So my attorney said don’t go.
But I kept thinking about all the people who paid to see me. Many were flying from other countries. Many had to borrow to make the trip. Many had posted how they longed to meet me.
I knew I had to make the trip.
So I did.
But when I got to the hotel, I was told my room was not paid for.
I was stunned.
So here I am, sitting in Madrid, wondering why I and apparently 5,0000 other people attracted this experience.
I was looking for the lesson, not the loss.
But here’s where the story becomes miraculous.
Many thousands of people, after waiting half a day, left.
The thousands who stayed found out that the security detail needed paid before they would allow the crowds into the arena.
So these people raised the money among themselves.
They essentially crowdfunded the event.
But that’s not all.
When speakers needed translators, people volunteered.
When speakers needed audio for the event, people volunteered.
When the police needed people to move and sit, people volunteered to help the crowd comply.
It was amazing to see.
It was a miracle.
And it happened because good people decided to practice what they had been learning from the very speakers they came to see.
This brought me to tears.
By the time I took the stage, the crowd went wild.
They were almost delirious to see me.
I smiled liked the morning sun and opened my heart and repeated, “You are loved! You are loved! You are loved!”
“You are loved!”
I had two beautiful translators on stage with me. Both were volunteers.
They helped me and the crowd understand each other, though I suspect we were all just vibrating at a level of wordless love.
I spoke spontaneously. I answered questions. I did my best to deliver what these wonderful people had waited so long to see.
When my talk ended, the crowd roared like they were at a rock concert.
They screamed in joy.
And this was the same crowd that had spent hours frustrated and confused, but stayed the course, raised the money needed, and got to see the speakers they love.
And now, closer to 5 am here in Madrid as I write this, I am still processing the power of people.
When you are clear about what you want, you can move heaven and earth – and raise funds if you need it – to make it happen.
Madrid proved today that miracles are real.
But the people did it.
Anything is possible.
PS – I have to mention that during the chaos of today, three people who were at the event and lost in the confusion, discovered the hotel I was in and called me. I met them, went on a walking tour of Madrid with them, and had a great time. When I got the call that the event was still on due to crowdfunding, I went and presented. All in all, a great day – just not one that went as planned. Maybe that’s the point: miracles occur when you quit insisting life be a certain way and you instead work with what you are given in the moment. But what do I know? It’s 5 am in Madrid and I’m processing a miracle.
Note: Here are my new friends…and their account of the BeingOne event is here… https://www.facebook.com/maria.cognifusion/posts/545621902493048
The big mistake most people make when it comes to using the Law of Attraction – or using anything to achieve their goals and dreams – is wanting to know how.
“How do I make it happen?”
“What are the exact steps I should take?”
“How do I get from here to there?”
The thing is, you rarely if ever know how in advance.
Once you complete a goal and can hold it in your hand, or show it off to friends, you can explain the how of it.
You’ll then have a complete beginning-middle-ending story.
The puzzle will be revealed.
You can then explain the steps you took.
But not before you attract it.
Recently I surveyed my list, asking what book they would like to see me write next. While virtually everybody wanted more books like Zero Limits and AT Zero on ho’oponopono, a few wrote in some suggestions.
Those people were usually wanting to know how to attract something specifically, and how I did it.
They wanted stories of people revealing exactly how they attracted their goals.
They were asking for step-by-step plans.
This is the big mistake.
Let me explain:
When I was making a name for myself as a copywriter and marketer back in the 1990s, a lot of things occurred that I couldn’t predict, let alone know how to make happen.
For example, the Internet came along.
Who saw that coming?
I was one of the first to be online already – on what were called Bulletin Board Systems (a kind of miniature, local only, limited reach Internet) – so when the actual Internet was born, I was already there.
The speaking and writing I was doing in Houston, where I lived at the time, now being posted on CompuServe and AOL, broadcast my name across planet Earth.
It helped make me cyber-famous.
It was certainly an essential step in my career.
But I never saw it coming.
It was never on my to-do list.
How could it be?
Are you starting to see how this works?
During these same early years, I wrote a little book called Spiritual Marketing.
I released it online, free, and it touched millions of lives.
I never knew it would do anything. I released it to the world in the hope that it would help people.
But The New York Times wrote about it.
And Bob Proctor urged me to publish the book.
And it became an early print-on-demand book.
It was also my first Amazon bestseller.
But I wasn’t following a “how to make it happen” plan.
No such plan existed.
These synchronistic events were happening as a side result of my passion and persistence.
They were happening organically.
They were happening on the way to my dream.
I couldn’t predict them because I couldn’t see them.
They were on the unseen road ahead, to be discovered as I kept moving forward.
And along the way in this adventure a publisher contacted me. He later published my book, Spiritual Marketing, but with a new title: The Attractor Factor.
That became the most powerful and popular self-help book I’ve ever written.
And The Attractor Factor was given to a television producer in Australia. She read it and contacted me.
She said she wanted me to be in a movie she was making about the Law of Attraction.
It was to be called The Secret.
That movie changed my life.
It put me on Larry King’s television show, twice, and got me invited to speak in countries I didn’t know existed.
How do you make those things happen?
After all, none of them could have been foreseen.
When people ask for the step-by-step exact plan to make something happen, they are making the mistake of thinking there is such a plan.
There is a general formula, but not a specific one.
There are formulas for helping you choose your intention, start taking action, and maintain momentum once you get going.
But there isn’t a specific “do this and then do this” plan.
Even Mark Twain knew it.
Twain said, on his 70th birthday, “You can’t reach old age by another man’s road. My habits protect my life but they would assassinate you.”
Thinking you can copy the specific things I did in my life to attract and achieve specific results in your life is a big mistake.
Thinking there is a “how” to get where you want to go is an error.
You attract the results you want with the formulas I have revealed, in books like The Attractor Factor, Attract Money Now, and most recently in The Miracle.
Other self-help authors have other formulas.
Mine goes something like this:
You’ll notice there isn’t a specific task that will work for you and everybody else.
There isn’t because there’s no way to know it in advance.
Steve Jobs knew this, too.
Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”
Melissa Etheridge told it to me this way –
Have faith that it’s all working out in your favor.
Have faith that “The Great Something” is – as I sing in my title track song on my new album – your “hidden ally” in life.
Have faith in yourself, the Universe, The Great Something, and your journey.
And then one day, after the dust has cleared, and you realized you attracted your goal, you can look back and tell the how of it all.
You can then connect the dots.
But all you can do today is the next obvious action step.
It’s the next “dot” that will lead to your success.
Dot by dot, by dot, you will get there.
Now go do today’s “dot.”
PS – Check out www.MiraclesCoaching.com