Being thankful for what you have and where you are in life is a “glass full” strategy that makes you feel more complete than empty. Remembering that I can still provide a roof over my family’s head and the means to positively impact the lives of others equips me with more empowerment than living in fear or dismay with what I don’t have nor can control.
As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Call Me Ace.
Call Me Ace is an independent hip hop artist, millennial professional and disruptor who challenges the status quo. In 2019, Call Me Ace released his debut album, Airplane Mode, which debuted #3 on the iTunes Top 40 US Hip-Hop Album Chart as well as #50 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Album Sales chart. Ace’s recent EP, Working From Home broadens the conversation of his previous work by tackling themes such as: the definition of true success, compromising calling for comfort, and the quest for self-expression within a restrictive environment. Determined to use his music and professional knowledge as a gateway to connect with disenfranchised communities, Call Me Ace encourages his supporters to live a rich life, not just a life full of riches.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Sure thing! My overall career goal is to empower brands and clients to reach their full potential through tech, media, and entertainment. How that developed on the corporate side was going from strategy & operations consulting after business school (specifically in the tech and media entertainment industry) to consumer marketing at Facebook to now, being on the Creator & Artist Partnership Development team at YouTube. And on the music side of things, it’s been the constant evolution to share my testimony, words, and artistic craft with my listeners in hopes that they leave entertained, inspired, and empowered.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
When I found out I hit the Billboard chart with my album, Airplane Mode, I was on my way to a work meeting. I checked the Billboard R&B/Hip Album Sales chart that Tuesday morning and saw my album on the list. I wanted to immediately take the day off. Instead, I took a quick bathroom/praise break and went back to work.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Build life-giving relationships and true points of connections between your team and others. That’s how you build long-lasting culture. When you try to “impose” culture, it will always be superficial, trite, and short-lived, always changing with the times. However, real relationships will always grow and adapt with each other. It will be the depth of the relationships that make the richest cultures, because there’s more meaning to be shared with one another.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Besides the Bible, I would say Boundaries by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend. I took a lot away from this book, but one of the gems I’ll share is — in the book, they discuss the difference between “use” and “abuse.” As humans, meant for exchange and connection, there’s a natural balance in life between “give-and-take,” and as people it’s okay (and frankly essential) to give to and receive from others. Bartering, purchasing, communication, volunteering — it all works this way, and that is “using” one another. It’s okay to use and exchange value between one another, assuming there’s balance. “Abuse” comes when people seek to take more than give, manipulating others out their value to disproportionately accumulate more for their own gain. Being mindful of the difference between relationships that “use” and “abuse” has been super essential for my ability to live a well-balanced life.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?
Being cognizant of the moment as it’s happening: acknowledging the presence of your emotions and the emotions of others; the reactions, the pressures; and the goals.
Having an acute connection to it all and not moving idle — being alert.
This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?
- Physical benefits: Being correctly in tune with your body’s needs. Staying engaged, refreshed, fulfilled.
- Mental benefits: Not lackadaisical or feel like time is passing you by.
- Emotional benefits: Feeling balanced, not depleted. And even if you do feel the opposite, being able to recognize when you are and knowing how to recharge and course correct.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness and serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
- Gratitude: Being thankful for what you have and where you are in life is a “glass full” strategy that makes you feel more complete than empty. Remembering that I can still provide a roof over my family’s head and the means to positively impact the lives of others equips me with more empowerment than living in fear or dismay with what I don’t have nor can control.
- Perspective: Usually, whenever I get anxious, it’s because I begin thinking about things outside of my control and me trying to control them even though I can’t. Reminding myself to put things into perspective — not making a small thing big, or a big thing small, a thing out of my control my responsibility, and vice versa — does wonders in recalibrating myself to the present moment.
- Alertness: Lots of our “future plans” were altered. Many of us are going through old memories and reminiscing on the way things were. But, neither of those help us deal with reality. There’s still life to be lived now and things that we can do to prepare for an unknown future. All the more reason to be encouraged and tackle the new day as it’s been gifted to us.
- Hopefulness: While these are definitely wild times, having an optimistic attitude can be the key difference in gaining the strength to proactively start and contribute to the new day. I know that personally.
- Perseverance: We can only survive if we don’t give up. Getting to the top of the staircase starts by taking step after step. Even when a step might be challenging to take, even if we slip a couple steps, the goal is to get to the top of that staircase. Survival is the name of the game. We must continue to climb the staircase of life.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Listen: Many of us are hurting or going through something as COVID has affected the entire world in some way. Instead of being quick to respond to people, take the time to hear where they’re coming from and understand how COVID has specifically impacted them as well as how they’re coping.
- Care: It’s hard to truly listen without truly caring about the person and what they have to say. A person also can sense — e.g. through disengagement, disingenuous remarks, etc. — when someone does not care. To actually support someone, you must care.
- Assist: If you know someone feeling anxious — do they have an actual need that perhaps you have resources to help tend to and resolve (or do you know someone that does)? Sometimes, there may be a solution that, after listening to and showing care about that person, you might be able to actually help resolve — which could also potentially relieve the anxiety.
- Share: Sharing your story and your heart with the person can be comforting as well (of course, this should be done only after really authentically extending yourself to them first, otherwise you can just appear to be wanting to talk / make this all about you and, thus, actually never listening and connecting at all)
- Exemplify: You might find that some people are feeling hopeless, unsure, and in need of guidance in some capacity. Sometimes, one of the best things you can do is “show” that there’s hope, a reason for peace, and the possibility for a way out, and that can be more powerful than just “telling” them that.
What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?
The Bible — I’m not even joking. There are so many passages around not being anxious — with Jesus asking his disciples to remain alert, have peace, and to not place your hope in the transient day-to-day — that it’s been very essential for me in building awareness and holistic perspective.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
When I was in high school I met a very senior exec in the music industry who invited me to his office, listened to my music, and asked me about my goals. At the time, as a young rapper, I didn’t know if there were any real “goals” other than get famous and make a lot of money. Hearing my response, he challenged me to instead, “Live a rich life not a life full of riches.” I have been doing so ever since and it’s the mission statement for my brand as an artist to this day.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Everyone gets a lifetime of free churros!! 🙂
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
My website: https://callmeace.com
Social media: https://tapmybio.com/callmeacelegit
On Spotify, Apple Music, or wherever you listen to music! My latest project, Working From Home, can be found here: https://music.callmeace.com/workingfromhome
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!