The Thrive Questionnaire With Tyler Rich

The country music star shares the daily habit that helps him thrive and how he reframes failure.

Courtesy of John Shearer
Courtesy of John Shearer

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Rising country music star Tyler Rich was gifted his first guitar at age 14 and has been playing and singing ever since. After promising his grandmother he’d graduate college (which he did, with a degree in economics), Rich left his small town in California, moved to Nashville, and relentlessly pursued music. His determination has paid off — his debut single, “The Difference,” hit the No. 1 spot on SiriusXM’s “The Highway,” he opened for Brett Young’s fall tour and made his Grand Ole Opry debut in under a year. Now, Rich is releasing a new album in the fall and gearing up for his wedding to actress Sabina Gadecki. 

In his Thrive Questionnaire, Rich shares how he gets his energy (sans caffeine), what brings him optimism, and the secret to making his long-distance relationship work.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed? 

Tyler Rich: I recently started meditating when I wake up for about five to 10 minutes, as well as about five minutes of stretching and yoga to get my blood flowing while I wait for my coffee to get ready. Then I read about 20 minutes of news and current events and head to the gym. 

TG: What gives you energy?

TR: I strangely don’t get over-energized from caffeine, so most of my energy comes from exercising and meditating. Focusing on everything to be thankful for in my life really gets me pumped up and excited to tackle the day. 

TG: How do you maintain open communication with your fiancé? 

TR: This has never been a maintenance thing for Sabina and I because we have actually been long-distance since the day we met. Most of our relationship is talking about our days over the phone and filling each other in on every detail to feel as connected from afar as we can.

TG: How do you and Sabina make time for each other with such busy schedules?

TR: I’m pretty organized when it comes to planning and mapping out an idea of how I see my next couple months. I usually have us booked out a few months ahead of time, or at least our iCals marked for when we will be seeing each other. Our regular rotation has been seven to 12 days “off,” three to five days “on.” And most of our days “on” are usually weekends on the road. 

TG: What daily habit or practice helps you thrive? 

TR: I’ve been reading a lot more lately. Everything from self-help to history, non-fiction and the occasional fiction (though I spend most of my fiction entertainment with a big screen and a bag of popcorn).

TG: Name a book that changed your life. 

TR: About seven years ago I read this book called Escape From Prison Camp 14. It’s about a young man that escaped from a brutal internment camp in North Korea. The life this man lived through, and survived, was inspiring to say the very least — it really helped me to understand what the scale of an actual problem is. 

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you? 

TR: Yeah, but only because it’s my alarm clock. Sabina and I have made the rule of no social media right before bed. I feel people beat themselves up the most when looking at everyone else’s “highlight reel” and that negative energy is terrible for you before you fall asleep. 

TG: How do you prioritize when you have an overwhelming amount to do?

TR: I struggle with this a lot. I like to get all the little things out of the way one at a time. Visually checking tedious tasks off a list is euphoric, and gives me a feeling of accomplishment; the more I mark off, the more I want to keep going to get everything done. Or, whatever task I get emailed about saying “reminder on this,” I usually prioritize to be done first. 

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it? 

TR: I either sit down and close my eyes, or if I am near a TV, I watch a mindless sitcom. I’m a sucker for anything TBS. 

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why? 

TR: We have been in the middle of a very grueling travel schedule with lots of 5-6 a.m. flights, connecting to other flights to arrive in a city, load in and soundcheck, play a show, then immediately drive a few hours to our hotel. We’ll sleep about three hours before going to the airport to catch our 5-6 a.m. flight, wash, rinse, repeat. Tired from reading that? Yeah… Same.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?

TR: No one is ever harder on you than yourself. I’ve beaten myself up over the littlest things that others don’t even notice. We all had high hopes of a #1 song, and when my first single didn’t get there, it felt like I’d failed. But, in reality, getting to #20 at country radio is so damn hard, and a huge accomplishment. I just reminded myself we have so many more amazing songs coming out, and that it was just the beginning, and reminded myself of every reason I had to celebrate. 

TG: What advice would you give your younger self? 

TR: Yes, breaking up with that girl is the right decision, keep pursuing music, and the only thing crazy about your dream is the person telling you it’s not possible. 

TG: How do you handle social media criticism? How do you differentiate what is private and what is public? 

TR: I simply just delete it from my thread and my memory. No one hiding behind their keyboard to slander people they don’t know online is worth more than a second of my energy or time. They are people who are sad about things going on in their own lives, and turn to social media to take it out on strangers. There’s no point in arguing with them or giving them the time of day — that’s what they want.  

TG: What brings you optimism and hope? 

TR: Taking a step back and appreciating growth. I’ve grown so much over the past few years, as a better songwriter, and better performer. I know that as I continue to put the hard work and time in, that I will continue to see results, and it gets me even more excited for the future. 

TG: How do you show gratitude? 

TR: Without my amazing fans, I would have nothing to show for this career that continues to grow. So, every chance I get I try to spend time with them, and get to know them as much as possible. A true connection with a fan is worth more than you could ever know, and I’m lucky enough to have some of the best in the world.

TG: Can you share a time you went from surviving to thriving? 

TR: Just the ability to pay my bills and support myself doing what I love. I’ve spent years and years touring, and never making money, and bartending on the side, and playing cover sets at casinos to make ends meet. And to finally be not struggling 24/7 or worried about rent or electric bills is the greatest feeling in the world. 

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace. 

TR: The poem by Atticus, “If you’re gonna love her, leave her wild” was the inspiration behind my new single “Leave Her Wild.” It’s Sabina’s favorite quote with a message that’s so important about love and life in general. With the right support from your significant other, you can have the strength to do anything. We wrote this song about loving someone for who they are and not trying to change them. Leave them like you found them and support their image they have for themselves, not the image you think they should portray… Leave her wild. 

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