I think Mark Schulman is a rockstar– literally a rockstar. But he modestly explains that he works in service to rockstars such as P!nk.

The apocryphal story is that Mark saw Ringo Starr when Mark was three, and that set him on the path of professional music. He played cello as a kid and then transitioned to drums.

In addition to P!nk, Mark has worked with Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks, Destiny’s Child, Beyonce, Foreigner, and Billy Idol. He was also the drummer on Cher’s Believe and Farewell tours.

Spoiler alert: there’s a great story about Cher in the interview that explains why Cher is Cher.

When he isn’t on tour with P!nk, he is a professional speaker, business book author, virtual drum instructor, and recording studio co-owner.

Listen up and you’ll learn that being a rockstar is more about yoga, meditation, and kale salads than sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Listen to Mark Schulman on Remarkable People:

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Transcript of Guy Kawasaki’s Remarkable People podcast with rock star Mark Schulman.
Guy Kawasaki:
I’m Guy Kawasaki and this is Remarkable People. This episode’s remarkable guest is Mark Schulman. I think Mark is a rock star, literally a rock star, but he modestly explains that he works in service to rock stars such as P!nk.
The apocryphal story is that Mark saw Ringo Starr when Mark was three, and that set him off on a path of professional music. He played cello as a kid and then transitioned to drums. In addition to P!nk, Mark has worked with Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks, Destiny’s Child, Foreigner, and Billy Idol. He was also the drummer on Cher’s Believe and Farewell tours.
When he isn’t on tour with P!nk, he is a professional speaker, business book author, virtual drum instructor, and recording studio co-owner. Listen up and you’ll learn that being a rock star is more about yoga, meditation, and kale salads than sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

I’m Guy Kawasaki. This is Remarkable People and now, here’s the remarkable Mark Schulman.
What happens when you hold your drumsticks too tightly?

Mark Schulman:
That’s a great question. And actually very few people have asked me that question. When you hold your drumsticks too tightly, you’re actually relinquishing control because you need the looseness because there are actually four points of movement when you’re using drumsticks.

There’s the fingers, there’s the wrist, there’s the arm, and there’s the shoulder. So you need to create an acoustic chamber. If you’re holding it properly, you’re just grabbing the stick between the fulcrum and then you’re creating an acoustic chamber, and then you have the drumsticks loosely so you can still use your fingers, and that gives you a lot more control.
And I told my students it’s a good thing if you drop your sticks during a performance because that means that you are relaxed and you’re not tensing. I’d much rather you be relaxed and drop a stick and just practice picking one up than over tensed because when you tense, you’re straining.

When you’re straining, you can feel it in the feeling of the music. The music actually feels tense because you’re grabbing the sticks too tightly, and your body is tense and using too much muscle because drumming is an aerobic practice.
It’s not a muscular practice. You’re using a lot of muscles, but you want to be very, very aerobic. So the looser you are, the more aerobic you are, the easier the groove is and the more everybody relates, and it feels great.

Guy Kawasaki:
And is that not a metaphor for life that…?

Mark Schulman:
Yeah. Even down to the 38 Special song, “Hold on Loosely,” but don’t let go. It’s a wonderful metaphor for everything because it gives you freedom.

If you’re holding onto something so tightly, you want it so badly, then you’re not free to lose at the moment. You’re free to lose at the moment. You’re free not to have it. You are more prone to have it because you have freedom attached to the experience.

Guy Kawasaki:
There you go. Now this is completely an aside, completely unrelated, but I just have to ask you this before I forget, okay? So let’s say that somehow you went to some Buddhist temple and there was a Taiko drum exhibition, and they invited you on stage, could you just pick up the Taiko drumsticks and just knock it out? People would be amazed, “Who’s that white guy just rocking on the Taiko?”

Mark Schulman:
Well, to honor the Taiko drummers, it is a very, very specific technique that they have mastered over many, many years. So I would never dishonor them by saying, “Yeah, I just pick up a stick and hit it.” I could pick up a stick and I can hit it, but I’m not using the technique that they have practiced so hard for many, many years. And I have had the pleasure of being able to play a Taiko drum, but I realized, “Wow, it’d be great to study with the Taiko masters,” so I really knew how to do it.

Also there’s a lot of dancing involved. It’s a full performance. It’s like playing the drum set. I’m a drum set drummer. I don’t even call myself a percussionist. I don’t want to dishonor percussionists because I really do only play drum set. I can fake my way on percussion, but playing the drum set versus playing different types of percussion require very different techniques.

When you think about all the hand drums and the mallet instruments, and even the way that you play timpani, the way that you play a triangle, there’s such a meticulous and very specific way that a master percussionist in a symphony would play a triangle, that I don’t possess.

Guy Kawasaki:
That answer is also a metaphor for life.

Mark Schulman:
These are all metaphors for life.

Guy Kawasaki:
How does a professional musician, rock star like you, what was your big break? And let me tell you a story before I have you answer that.

Mark Schulman:
Okay.

Guy Kawasaki:
So I interviewed Jane Goodall, and believe it or not, Jane Goodall came from, let’s say, not a rich family. So in school she had to study and get secretarial skills, believe it or not.

Mark Schulman:
Wow.

Guy Kawasaki:
So her big break occurred because she was in Africa and the secretary for the Leakey’s had quit. And so they needed a secretary just when she happened to be there. So that was her big break. So what was your big break?

Mark Schulman:
My big break… I’ll try to make this story as short as possible. My mother and father are both professors. My mother ran a tutorial center in a junior college and my father had a PhD in grammar and composition. So I got the DNA for grammar. I was very, very good. And I became a tutor for my mother.

And one of the people that I tutored was a very successful drummer named Armand Grimaldi who played with Claire Fisher, this Latin artist, and Don Henley. He had quite a CV behind him. I was nineteen, he was twenty-six. We played drums together. We had a ball he said, “You’re really good, dude.”

I move away. I come back. I ended up befriending a bass player named Mark Brown, and Mark Brown happens to tell Armand Grimaldi that I am back in town. And Armand was like, “Oh my God. He plays so well. I just got called to do the Brenda Russell tour and I can’t do it. So I’m going to recommend Mark to do it.” And Brenda Russell was an R&B artist that had one hit. And so I ended up getting the gig. All I needed to do was keep the gig, which I did. And we opened up for Billy Ocean, and the rest is history. That was my first tour and I never stopped. And that was many, many years ago.

Guy Kawasaki:

So it all comes back to your mom.

Mark Schulman:
It comes back to relationships. It does because I had established a relationship early on with this gentleman, Armand, and then he recommended me, sight unseen based on my playing six or seven years earlier, but also based on the recommendation of his friend, this bass player that I met when I moved back, Mark Brown, and timing… They say for a drummer, especially, timing can be everything, but then I needed to show up with this skillset and the proper attitude and the ability to hold my own, so I could sustain in that position.

Because if I had shown up, and I was one of just a few of the white guys in an all African American band playing with an African American artist, I needed to have the soul, I needed to have the groove. There was a lot that I needed to possess to be able to maintain that gig.

And I also went above and beyond because I ended up running the electronics and I ended up learning how to use this electronic machine. And so I really did everything I could do to do the best that I could to sort of overachieve for that gig.

Guy Kawasaki:
But then, what happened when you had an audition? And I can’t remember the famous group’s name right now, and they told you to slow down and they even gave you a metronome. So what happened that day?

Mark Schulman:
Oh, my gosh. Well, that was the impetus for me writing my first book actually. I was younger than that. I had just been playing in local bands and then a friend of mine, Dan Reed, who was already touring the world, opening up for big artists. He had met the guys from Journey, befriended them, and Journey was starting this new super group called Bad English, which was the guys from Journey and that singer John Waite, and they were looking for a young drummer and Dan recommended me. He said, “It’ll be perfect for you, man. You’re going to nail this audition.”

So I was so excited. I thought I’m going to nail this audition. I showed up. I was incredibly nervous and because I was incredibly nervous, I also really rushed. And your internal meter, your tempo… Here’s another metaphor for you, your internal meter is critical. And I tell everybody, “It’s not just the drummer’s job in the band, it’s everybody’s job in the band to perfect their internal meter.”
So I rushed so badly, and I was so nervous that Jonathan Cain, the leader at some point, stopped the band after the second time, threw a metronome at me across the stage, it landed near my left foot, and he said, “Watch the light.” So I was trying to desperately watch the light while looking up and acting like a Rock star. Anyway, make a short story long, I didn’t get that gig. I ran to my car. I was in tears. I was hitting my steering wheel going, “Accountant, a lawyer, attorney, a doctor, why didn’t I do what my Jewish parents told me to do?” And I thought that day was going to be the defining moment that I got this great gig.

It was the defining moment when I realized I’m either going to step off the stage for good or I’m going to remedy what needs to make remedy. And I made two promises to myself. I said, “First promise is I’m going to master my meter, so nobody will ever tell me I’m speeding up or slowing down unless I want to speed up or slow down.”

And I spent the next two years exclusively working on my meter with the rhythm course, which no longer exists, really refining that meter. So I knew no matter how nervous I get or what would happen, I had such an internal sense of meter that was so innate that I’d be fine.

And the other promise I made to myself is I was going to shift my fear into confidence. And then I began a lot of emotional inner work and a lot of theoretical study and reading all the books that I could, and eventually, worked out to my advantage. So that was a great impetus for me, another metaphor for life, that some of our greatest failures, and so many of the greatest entrepreneurs talk about that; their greatest failures were their greatest motivators to learn more because you can either take failure as an opportunity where you’re just going to, “That’s it. I failed,” and it breaks you, or you become determined, and even above that, you jump into the…of interest and you really refine your skills and you refine all of your knowledge to the point where you evolve.

And so I evolved. So by the time I got that Brenda Russell gig, I was ready. That was a few years later.

Guy Kawasaki:
Because you are the only rock star I know, I have to ask you, what is life like on the road for a rock star? Is it just all partying or is it, you got to set up the equipment, you got to be there late, everything goes wrong, you’re exhausted? I mean, and you’re in a shitty bus driving from Cleveland to Indianapolis. So what is it like for a rock star on the road, really?

Mark Schulman:

I’m honored that you call me a rock star. Thank you very much. The way that I see it is, I am happy to be your own personal rock star, but I actually support and I’m the one who was of service to the rock stars. So here’s a great metaphor for you, or here’s a great story and you can draw your own metaphor.

Imagine being on stage in front of 50,000 people and not one set of eyes is looking at you because they’re looking at the shiny brand in front. They’re looking at P!nk. I am in the backlight. I am there to be of service. Literally, the drums, the bass, the keyboards, we are called the back line because we are there to support the front line. So I’m in a completely supportive position.
And the way that I view what I do as I’ve gotten older and older, I’ve solidified this, is I am here to completely be of service to the band, to the dancers, to P!nk, to the audience, to the road crew. So I need to take every single nuance seriously. And I finally came to the conclusion after a conversation I had with Billy Idol because I play with Billy Idol, that I made the decision that when I sit behind the drum set that every single note I play, matters. Every nuance matters. Every detail matters because it finally occurred to me that if every nuance matters, I’m attaching a sense of purpose to every note.

And the more purpose I attest, the more passionate I become, the passion feeds the purpose, the purpose feeds the passion. It’s like a cycle of empowerment.

So a life of a rock star on the road is, you damn well need to take care of your body. You need to eat well. You need to be on time. You need to be of service to everybody else. Not that we won’t occasionally have party nights where we drink and we get on the bus and that all happens, but in today’s environment, if you show up late… It isn’t sex and drugs and rock and roll anymore. Now it’s yoga, carrot juice, and the gym.

Guy Kawasaki:
Kale salads.

Mark Schulman:
Yeah, kale salads. So I need to take care of myself. So the truth is that… Yes, we have some lavish dinners. We stay in wonderful hotels. I fly my wife and my daughter out. We have amazing times, but when it comes down to doing the work, baby, you got to nail it. You got to be the best in the world.

P!nk is the best performer on the planet. She is so committed. Her diet is so strict and she pays so much attention to every detail and every nuance. I feel like a mere mortal when I’m in that audience watching her literally spin around doing life-threatening situations, one of which she nearly died from in 2010 when her carabiner clip wasn’t clipped in, she was clipped in on one side and the computer operator didn’t know, and she was dragged off the side of the stage, six foot drop, pulled up against the metal side railing.

I literally thought she was dead. I nearly stopped breathing. And she’s built like such a truck. She didn’t break any bones or break any skin, but that is the artist that I’m working for. I’m working for this artist who is the best and so committed and every single one of the two hundred-and twenty-five people on the road is the best at what they do and if they’re not, they either get fired or they eventually quit because they just know they’re not the right person.

Guy Kawasaki:
Wait, so there’s two hundred-and twenty-five-people people supporting P!nk on the road?

Mark Schulman:
When we are doing a stadium tour, and we did a sold-out stadium tour in Europe in 2019, 30,000 to 100,000 people per night. As a matter of fact, there is a new documentary on amazon.com called All I Know So Far. It’s basically chronicling that particular stadium tour from the perspective of P!nk as a mother and having her family on the road, but all of us are in it of course, and it was such a fabulous tour.

As a matter of fact, she broke all sales and attendance records for one week in pop music history, out grossing The Stones, U2, Springsteen. Even Ed Sheeran, and he has no band dancers or singers, very low production cost. She is truly stupendous and it’s not just because I play with her. I’ve played with her for fifteen years. I’ve worked with amazing artists; Foreigners, Stevie Nicks, Simple Minds, Sheryl Crow, Cher.

P!nk is other worldly. And for a woman who’s already in her early 40s, there is not one young artist who’s even trying to emulate what she does because she’s such an amazing athlete. So I am humbled by her. I’m humbled to be in the position that I’m in and I am here to be of service, truly be of service. I don’t want to be corny, but that is the way I think about what I do. I am purely to be of service, and the sex and drugs and rock and roll take a very far backseat to that. Let me tell you.

Guy Kawasaki:
One more behind the scenes question because as I say, you are my only link to the rock business. How does the day of the performance go? What’s the timing of that day?

Mark Schulman:
All right. An average day. I wake up, have a little coffee or usually go to a local coffee place, I will sometimes do a workout. Sometimes I only work out on days off because the gig itself is so strenuous. I take care of business. I meditate.
And then sometime in the middle of the afternoon, we get our call to get on the bus and we go to the venue and then we do the band sound check. So the band is just checking everything on our own, and then they do a little bit of rig checking in and around the band sound check. They’re checking all of the aerials and the lights and everything else for the dancers. And then P!nk shows up and then we do a sound check with P!nk, and then she checks all the aerial stuff.

Then we have some time off for dinner. I almost always take a nap, believe it or not. I know it sounds strange, but me and the keyboard player, Jason, and the musical director, we always talk about that we’re always sleeping together in the dressing room. I take a little nap. I get up and then I actually don’t even warm up, but I stretch because to me as a drummer, because it’s so physical, I’m an athlete.

And especially because I’m not the youngest guy on the planet anymore, I’m in my fifties, so I take very seriously the stretching and we also have a physical therapist on the road that helps kind of massage and help us work through issues and helps the dancers. So then I stretch, and then we get ready, and we get dressed, and then we have a little huddle. The band, the dancers and singers, we all go into P!nk’s room, we collect our energies.

Inevitably, it turns into like a gratitude rally. She talks about everything for what she’s grateful. You could feel the serotonin and the dopamine just rise and then all of a sudden, you see everybody’s eyes as we split, we run to the stage and then we just rock as hard as we can, and we give everything we’ve got. If I’m not exhausted after a show, then I feel like I haven’t played a great show.
And then what we do is, when we were on the stadium tour, we immediately got in vans. So we did what was called a runner, so we could beat the traffic. They’d haul us off in vans, haul her off in her bus, we’d go to a nearby hotel, we’d change, we’d shower. And then we get on the bus and then you have a drink.

You have your after-show meal, then you get in your little bunk, and you drive at night to the next city. And then you get in early in the morning, and hopefully you can get back to sleep without having to take a sleeping pill, and you start it all again.
If my family’s there and it’s someplace cool… And if it’s a cool city that I love, I’ll go out walking around. Like if you were in Rome, or you’re in the south of France, or wherever you might be, we are so blessed because we get to see some of the most amazing artifacts and museums and be in the most profound cities, and we’re getting paid for it!

Guy Kawasaki:
Here’s the softball of the interview.

Mark Schulman:
All right.

Guy Kawasaki:
You ready? You ready?

Mark Schulman:
Pitch me your softball, buddy. Come on. Give me what you got.

Guy Kawasaki:
This is right down the middle. Slow. It’s coming. I’m telling you. It’s right in the strike zone, okay.

Mark Schulman:
Okay.

Guy Kawasaki:
You can shut your eyes and hit this one, okay?

Mark Schulman:
All right.

Guy Kawasaki:
Do you get stage fright?

Mark Schulman:
My first book was literally called Conquering Life’s Stage Fright: Three Steps to Top Performance.

Guy Kawasaki:
That’s why it’s a softball.

Mark Schulman:
Yeah. After I got that horrible stage fright, I did a lot of research into a variety of methods of how one can… Essentially, I don’t want to say get over it because that’s a negative goal but shift the stage fright into something useful. The reality is I do not get deleterious stage fright, excessive stage fright. I get a little bit of butterflies in my stomach because I think that you want to have a hypersensitivity like when I speak. I do a lot of speaking gigs. If I feel nothing, that concerns me. So I like having a little bit of the butterflies in the stomach because I have a hypersensitivity. It makes me actually more acute. And when we’re ready to start, it’s like bam. It’s like I’m on fire.

So I think it’s a matter of the balance of having just the slightest bit of… I don’t want to say anxiousness, but the slightest bit about heightened awareness in your body and your heart rate is just beating slightly faster, but the causes for stage fright, I base on the three core concepts of that book; clarity, capability and confidence. You need to have a very specifically clear picture about what you are going to perform. Whether you’re going to speak, give a pitch, or whether you’re going to play a musical instrument, because once you have extreme clarity, then you create real capability. So you are truly well-rehearsed.

I remember when I first started speaking and I was talking to an agent who was like a mentor. She said, “Our favorite speaker says he won’t even go on stage till he’s rehearsed his speech one hundred times.”

So we are so well-rehearsed with P!nk. We start with just the band rehearsing and then we do all this pre-production rehearsing. By the time we get on stage, we are extremely well rehearsed and that’s what leads you to real confidence because if you haven’t done the work and you get up to give a presentation or a performance, you should be scared, but having the right balance is what matters.

Having a little bit of excitement. Having a little bit of… The juju in your body that inspires you to just be acute and be more aware and be in the moment, be completely present because playing music is an interesting hybrid. And I thought about this a lot. It’s this perfect hybrid of being completely in the moment because you want to be completely present and being really aware of everybody and everything, every note and every dancer and everything that P!nk is singing, and also forecasting just slightly ahead, so you know what’s next.
I can’t even describe exactly how that works in the brain. I have tried to analyze that, but I think

maybe you can relate. I know you do a lot of speeches. It really is that hybrid of being exactly where you are, but also just being able to forecast slightly ahead.

Guy Kawasaki:
Do you have any practical tips for people getting over their stage fright?

Mark Schulman:
Well, the three C’s are the most practical tip, obviously, because what happens is… And I interviewed a lot of people in my book. And so I will give you one of my tips and one of the late great Tony Hsieh’s tips because Tony was a friend of mine. Tony’s idea is… This is a guy that never had to speak. He was a billionaire. He did it because he wanted to be of service. So let’s face it. He wasn’t doing it for the money, but he was still getting nervous.

So he said he always had a go-to story that he had practiced so much that he said the stage fight would always take about 45 seconds to a minute to go away or to diminish enough till he felt comfortable. So he would always start with that story because he knew that during that story, his stage fright would gradually mitigate and gradually become controllable. So that’s a really good thing.

For me when I’m doing my live presentation, I open up by playing drums. That’s my way of getting rid of the jitters, right? The other thing that I think is, I always speak out and take a look at the audience. And there’ve been times, especially in the early days of speaking where I was really getting a lot of stage fright, and I stopped one time and I said, “Who are you thinking about right now?” I was talking to myself literally. It might’ve been an outer dialogue. I think of it as an inner dialogue, but somebody probably thought I was crazy because I was talking to myself. “Well, I was thinking about myself. Well, who should you be thinking about? The audience. Well, yes, dummy. It’s all about them.” And then I laughed. I released and a lot of the stress fell out when I realized that I am here to be of service to them. It’s not about me.

So before every time I speak, I do sort of a… I don’t want to say a prayer necessarily, but a mantra where I just collect my energy to be completely of service to everybody else, so they get the message in. So I am spot on, so I can be of the greatest service to them, because I am there for them. And when I get out and I look in their eyes and I remember I’m there for them, then my stage fright just kind of drops off because I realized that it’s not about me.

And I don’t want to be a selfish bastard because you’re thinking about yourself. If you’re focused inwardly on that stage fright, you are truly being selfish. You’re putting that energy into yourself and that’s all the energy you should be putting into the people to whom you’re performing.

Guy Kawasaki:
Okay. I love that answer. I’ll give you what I do because maybe you can use this.

Mark Schulman:
Please do, my friend.

Guy Kawasaki:
I used to speak in person fifty to seventy-five times a year. So I’ve done a lot and what I’ve noticed is that, most speakers and the more famous and the more expensive you get, the more this is true. They have their entourage. They have their personal assistant. Their personal assistant has their personal assistant. There’s security. There’s PR. There’s…

Mark Schulman:
Sounds a lot like rock stars to me.

Guy Kawasaki:
And so what I figured out is, before a speech, I will often sit in the audience with the audience. I will circulate with the audience. I will take selfies with the audience. I’ll do anything the audience wants to do in the first few rows. Talk to them, sign books, whatever they want, because when I stand up there and I look… And when you look out, you can only see the first few rows, the rest are all dark. I want to see people who are already liking me because I took the time…

Mark Schulman:
Yes, I love it.

Guy Kawasaki:
…to meet them and take a picture with them and sign a book. I want them to be beaming confidence and support to me on stage, and that has never failed me. So that’s–

Mark Schulman:
That’s beautiful I love it. And that’s twofold because you’re doing a service to them because they’re like, “Oh my gosh. Guy Kawasaki is out of here just hanging with us like a normal guy.” So you’re of service to them, and you’re creating allies. You’re creating those folks. The moment you walk out, they’re like, “Oh my God.” Yeah, you’re the evangelist man. They are evangelists. They become Kawasaki evangelists, baby. You know what? I may try that sometime and I’ll let you know how it works out because I’m sure people would love it.

Guy Kawasaki:
I guarantee you that’ll work. And I feel bad because all these assholes who have these security guards, and PR people, and people’s people, such bullshit, and they don’t get that connection.

Mark Schulman:
Well, you know what I do? I enter from the rear of the… So I run up right through the crowd and I’m high-fiving people on the way to the stage and then when I’m done, the line for autographs and photos takes longer than my speech. I make myself accessible. So think of me as being the rock star dude yet I’m the accessible rock star. So now with security, nobody has ever attacked me. Nobody’s ever done anything adverse, but just be loving and supportive. Sometimes they’re nervous, but I believe that that’s a great myth.

Even P!nk jumps down in the audience, in the middle of her presentation, and is signing autographs and taking selfies. She’s the only artist that does that. Granted, she has security around her in case there’s any sinister stuff, but nothing has ever happened because she’s not afraid of it.

I’m a true believer that if you are focusing on the fear of that happening, what you focus on, you create in your mind. So these people that overdo it with the security people and all that other crap is really kind of… A lot of it is ego. I agree with you so wholeheartedly. I think what you do is great, and I think I’m going to try it. I think I might actually get in the audience first, then run to the back and I go, “What the hell?”

Guy Kawasaki:
Yep. Yep.

Mark Schulman:
That’s wonderful.

Guy Kawasaki:
Yep. Okay.

Mark Schulman:
Great, Guy.

Guy Kawasaki:
Now, you said something very quickly and I just want to touch back a little bit.

Mark Schulman:
Okay.

Guy Kawasaki:
So let’s say that P!nk decides that she’s going to add a new song.

Mark Schulman:
Yes.

Guy Kawasaki:
How many times will she and her team have rehearsed that song before it goes public?

Mark Schulman:
Usually not that much. Generally when we add a new song, it’s a song that we’ve already done, but she has so many hits and we do so many songs. We may change out something in the set.

So what we’ll do is the band will just go over it and sound check a couple of… Well, usually, maybe write it two or three times, two or three different days, and she’ll come in. I will rehearse it with her maybe once or twice, and then we’re in. And it also depends if there’s choreography. If there’s choreography… The choreography is what takes the time because the singing and the playing’s actually the easiest part, even for her.

Guy Kawasaki:
Well, what if it’s a brand-new song? She’s never performed it live or there’s no such thing?

Mark Schulman:
No, there is a such thing because we have put songs in, but generally speaking, we take songs out. What we generally do is we rehearse more songs than we need to and as we’re going through the full production rehearsals, we start changing the order, we start taking some of the songs out. Usually, there’s too many choreographed songs and it’s too much for her. It’s like the choreographers might’ve done ten choreographed songs. She’s like, “Give me a break. Can we just do a rocker get up and sing?”
And so we’ll do something like Bohemian Rhapsody, or we’ll do some Zeppelin cover, or we’ll do an AC/DC cover, or we’ll do one of hers. So it’s very rare that we put in a brand-new song. We have done that. And as I said, if there’s no choreography, it doesn’t take very long. It just takes a few rehearsals because she knows the song. We’ve learned the song, and we’ve learned the song very well.

So by the time I come into rehearsal, I damn well know that song, and so does every other musician, every other singer. So we are ready. So by the time she comes in, she has the confidence of knowing, “Oh, they got my back.” She may forget the lyrics to some songs… There was one tour, I kid you not. She, for some reason, was forgetting the lyrics to one song and the audience loves her so much, and she’s so interactive with the fans that they started bringing cue cards because for some reason she got… There’s one section… I don’t remember what song it was. They were bringing cue cards. It was the funniest and most endearing.

Guy Kawasaki:
No freaking way.

Mark Schulman:
Because there’s a lot to remember. People forget. There’s a lot for her between the aerial stuff, all these lyrics, all the choreography, every moment, every step. It’s all so meticulously planned. And then there are spots that are improvised, where she gets to relax, but there is so much going on in that show, more going on in that show for her, I can guarantee you, than any other artist on the planet because nobody else does their own stunts.

Whether you see Lady Gaga or Katy Perry or anybody, they’re not doing the stunts. Other people are doing the stunts. They may be doing dance moves and Beyonce does some great dance moves, but she isn’t getting up and doing aerials stunts from what she can literally die, man.

So she knows her life is in her hands, but she loves it. I mean, she’s an athlete. Her husband’s an athlete. These are incredibly athletic people that have produced some very athletic children, by the way. So the DNA definitely worked.

Guy Kawasaki:
So I hope I’ve been asking you questions that very few people ask you, but I’m about to ask you a question that I guarantee you, no one has ever, ever asked you this. And no one will ever ask you this. And no one, if I had not brought this up, would ever have noticed. Are you ready for this?

Mark Schulman:
That is the biggest windup for a question I’ve ever had in my life.

Guy Kawasaki:
I will switch from Macintosh to Windows if you tell me somebody has already pointed this out to you, okay?

Mark Schulman:
Okay, Mr. Evangelist. I believe you. Go.

Guy Kawasaki:
I read this book. I really enjoyed reading this book.

Mark Schulman:
Thank you.

Guy Kawasaki:
And I am an author. I have written fifteen books and one of the things that is really part of my OCD, perfectionist personality, is I like parallel structure. I want parallel structure. So if you have four bullet points, I want them to be all parallel structure. And you have in this book… Let’s see here, I’ll go to that page. You have thirty-two chapters in this book. You have any idea what I’m coming to yet?

Mark Schulman:
I have an idea, but I’m going to let you get there.

Guy Kawasaki:
Okay. So you have thirty-two chapters in this book. Every chapter title begins with a verb. Everyone. You always say define, prepare, get, hone, make, visualize, remind, understand, get, find, completely parallel except for two chapters.

Mark Schulman:
Oh, Guy.

Guy Kawasaki:
Chapter Eleven is “The Highest Good for All Concerned” and Chapter Twenty-three is “Some Pre-performance Rituals.” So I am so impressed that of thirty-two chapters, thirty start with an active verb. That is sign of an organized mind. And I appreciate an organized mind, but I have to point out that there’s two chapters that don’t begin with a verb.

So you could fix that and make it absolutely perfect, but I don’t mean to be criticizing you. I’m just telling you. I am so impressed that thirty out of thirty-two times, you started a chapter with a verb. That is very impressive.

Mark Schulman:
And I am so impressed that you noticed that nuance. And I will say that I did have a book editor who’s editing this next book because I love her so much, Jessie States, and that is something that I will call to her attention. And now you damn well know that this next book when it comes out is going to have absolute parallel structure because I’ll be thinking, “I don’t want to do my next interview with Guy and he’s going to chastise me because I don’t have parallel structure.”

Now, just like you though, I will say. I am incredibly fastidious about stuff like that. And having been a grammar tutor and having been a guy who’s literally the DNA from my father, I really love the absolute continuity. So I will make sure in your honor… I might even dedicate, write a sentence about it in your honor, that we will have absolute parallel structures. But this next book is very different because this next book… You noticed I did a lot of interviews in that book.

Guy Kawasaki:
Yes.

Mark Schulman:
This next book, I’ve done a lot of interviews and I’d like to interview you too as well because after this interview, I was like, “I need that brain.” We are actually going to keep the interviews intact. We’ll abridge them somewhat, but we are going to base the content around the interviews rather than putting little snippets of a line in here and there to support the contact group because we believe that interviewing the great performers, and this book is on the power of attitude, interviewing the greatest performers on the planet about how attitude has shifted and affected and shaped their lives is so critical.
And what my editor is doing is, she is giving the readers specific points to look out for at the beginning of the chapter. So as they read the chapter, they can pay specific attention to what…

Guy Kawasaki:
Yep, I like it.

Mark Schulman:
…they will get out of it.

Guy Kawasaki:
I like it.

Mark Schulman:
So I like the fact that we decided to change up the structure because I’ve never seen a book that has a very defined concept yet is still based around the interviews as opposed to just interspersing the interviews where it’s convenient. And that features the interviewees, to me, as much as we can.

Guy Kawasaki:
The concept of other people’s money, OPM, that would be other people’s wisdom.

Mark Schulman:
How about OPM, other people’s minds?

Guy Kawasaki:
Okay. That would work too. That would work too.

Mark Schulman:
Parallel structure, buddy. You want a parallel structure?

Guy Kawasaki:
Is your father still alive?

Mark Schulman:
No. My father passed ten years ago.

Guy Kawasaki:
Right now he’s in heaven and he’s saying, “Thank God that Guy pointed out to my son that he was only thirty for thirty-two. What’s wrong with my son? He didn’t start two chapters with verbs.” If you look at most people’s business books, they’re all over the map. They start with verbs, subject, the, be. It’s all over the map.

Mark Schulman:
Oh, that drives me crazy. That drives me crazy.

Guy Kawasaki:
It drives me crazy.

Mark Schulman:
Yeah. So thank you. And I honor you for even having the wherewithal and the awareness to notice that. My God. What a mind you have.

Guy Kawasaki:
I could take that as an insult that I would notice something like that, but…

Mark Schulman:
No, no. I think it’s fantastic because I have the same kind of mind that, the lack of parallel structure will drive me nuts. It will.

Guy Kawasaki:
You’ve got to tell me some great story about P!nk, Cher, Billy Idol, anybody. When people find out that I worked for Steve Jobs, I always have to tell them a Steve Jobs story. So when people find out that you hung out with all these rock stars, you got to tell me one great story that’s just an oh shit, gob smacking, no, can’t be true story.

Mark Schulman:
I will tell you a quick Cher story because a lot of people don’t think about Cher as being this way. So we go on stage. It’s the third show of the tour. It’s Cleveland, Ohio, right? And the band is on the stage. Cher is on. She’s forty foot above the stage on a what-cha-ma-call-it. She’s inside a model of a chandelier that’s modeled after her very own chandelier. It’s a platform. So they bring her down on the platform, right?

So we open up. There’s a set with a song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” So we’re playing the song. Everything’s going great. It’s time for Cher to sing. There’s no voice. Like, “What the heck’s going on?” Maybe her mic is turned off.
And so I look up and I realize that the platform is coming down and Cher is not in it. I kid you not. What had happened was, the air conditioning was so voracious that day, that it literally blew her platform up against the scaffolding behind her, and she got caught. She has a little safety harness about that thick. It’s a steel safety harness. The safety harness got caught on the scaffolding and the platform is coming down and all I see is little dangling Cher feet.

I was like, “Oh my God. This is the craziest thing ever.” And then by that point, talk about assistance and assistance. Everybody’s running out on the stage and people are crying and they’re freaking out. And they quickly realize the only way that they could get her down… Because there was no way to get her down. So we need to bring the platform back up and she would need to unhook herself. So literally, the audience, the band, dead silence.

They bring the platform back up. I can no longer see her. And I hear this thump and I’m thinking, “Please, God. Make sure that she’s okay.” Then they start bringing the platform down and she’s on a platform and she is safe, and they escort her off, and I saw her eyes, and that poor woman was petrified and as they escort her off… And then we are awkwardly all on the stage.

I’m looking at the musical director, all the other band members, not knowing what the hell we’re going to do. I’m thinking, “Okay. This is the third show of the tour. Homegirl doesn’t need the money.” I bet the tour’s over. I bet everything’s over. That’s it. She’s not going to do this.

So after a while, I look at the musical director, I take my stick back. I’m about to jump off the stage. Cher comes running out of the backstage like a bat from hell and she’s got the mic and she just runs up to the audience with a mic and she goes, “Come on, everybody. Let’s do this.”

And we were all completely gob smacked by the fact that she had the guts after all of that, and to be so selfless, and that turned out to be the longest recorded tour in pop music history for a female artist. And we went nearly three years and she was the highest grossing female artist of all time, at the time. And you got to think, “What if she had never run back out onto that stage that day? What if she let her emotions get the best of her?”

And I will never forget how… Because for me, I can’t think of anybody else that would have even done that. Who would have thought of all people, Cher would do that. And we were just like, “Let’s go.” It was like she was zapped by energy. Except for life-threatening situations. The chemistry and the body for fear and excitement literally are the same. They’re like flip sides of the same coin.

So the very same stuff that makes you afraid, you can also reframe it to make you excited. That must’ve been what she did. She’s probably said, “Oh, the hell with it. I’m so hyped up. I’m running back out.” And everybody’s like, “What are you doing?” And she runs back out and she does the show and it turns out to be our greatest tour ever.

The farewell tour that would never end. It was a joke. It ended. And then it started back up again and then she would make jokes. The best thing, she would make jokes about it. She would talk that became her monologue. She said, “Yeah, people were talking like yeah. Cher would just fall to her death and all anybody be talking about is the fact that you ruined a $40,000 Bob Mackie dress.” Great woman, man. And that’s commitment. That’s a real level of tenacity and commitment for what you do.

Guy Kawasaki:
Well, that’s what you call a professional, right? The show must go on. Yeah.

Mark Schulman:
Good story, right?

Guy Kawasaki:
That’s pretty good story.

Mark Schulman:
Completely true. Completely true. People were there.

Guy Kawasaki:
It’s right up there.

Mark Schulman:
Yeah.

Guy Kawasaki:
Definitely trumps my story where I once gave a speech with a migraine headache, but…

Mark Schulman:
Oh, I get vascular migraines where I can’t see. And I’ve gotten those right before a speech. Fortunately, they went away.

Guy Kawasaki:
I know all about migraines. So what do you do? Just the show goes on?

Mark Schulman:
The show goes on. I was doing a recording session where I’m reading charts and I got a vascular migraine, and I literally just kept on going. I read what I can read because a vascular migraine, you see halos. I read what I could read. I got a whole cluster of them within six months. They take twenty-five minutes. As long as I just take a gazillion Advil, I don’t get the really bad headache. So I’ve literally just played through it. Fortunately, didn’t need to talk through it, but I know now that I can.

I know that I can survive a migraine because they’re not debilitating as far as pain. The ones that are debilitating as far as pain, that’d be hard to survive. Do you get the ones with pain? Do you get the vascular ones? What do you get? Or ocular, I guess they call them.

Guy Kawasaki:
The first thing that happens is, if I were looking at a license plate that has seven characters on it, I could see the first two and the last three and nothing else. Now, I have Maxalt and drugs that take care of it. We also grow out of migraines apparently. So I’m at that age where I’ve grown out of it, but when I had migraines, it would be like someone was pounding a nail in your head. It’s hard to describe how much pain the migraine can be. We don’t want to turn into a HIPAA episode.

So I am very interested in your transition during the pandemic of how you went from in-person to virtual and could still rock a speech.

Mark Schulman:
In the month of March, I was slated to do about one hundred speeches in 2020 because I finally had the year off. When I’m out with P!nk, I tour with P!nk for six months. In 2019, I did fifty speeches and toured with P!nk.

So all of a sudden, nineteen speeches, gone. And admittedly, I was freaking out. And I did a lot of research about what’s going on, at least in my opinion, and I really decided that it comes down to how we manage change.

We either embrace it or we resist it. And I was so resistant because I had never done what I call my rock show disguised as a keynote virtually.

So for a few days I was telling myself I could never do it. I was anxious. I was afraid. I was telling myself all these stories. And I literally woke up about the third day and I thought, “What kind of pathetic story am I telling myself?” And I purposely literally reframed the way I was thinking and I decided, “I am going to embrace the virtual experience.”

And it’s funny when you make a decision, you’re cutting off all other possibilities. Literally, when I embraced it, my mind went with me. My mind started getting creative. Started becoming solutions oriented, goal oriented rather than barrier fixated. And then I started to get really excited about putting together the virtual speech. And it shifted.

The moment you become interested, then all your attention goes to, “Okay. What cameras do I need to get? What lighting do I need to get? I need to find a tech.” And now I’ve done dozens and dozens of virtual speeches where the transition was… I went through all these sorts of different emotions, fortunately very quickly and caught myself whining.

And I like to think of myself as a winner and not a whiner, so to speak, but literally by reframing it, I believe that there’s something above us. We are not our minds. So when we make a decision, our minds follow. And you literally change your focus, then everything changes.

Guy Kawasaki:
I’m really into details. So tell me the setup. Do you have three cameras? Do you have a mixer or do you have a whole crew? How do you do this rock star virtual keynote now?

Mark Schulman:
Sure. I got the biggest green screen I could find. I got a thirteen by seven-foot green screen. We had just converted our garage into a photo studio for my wife. I kid you not. It was done right when COVID was done. So I had this huge space. I got the biggest green screen. I hired a tech that could help me figure out if I needed multiple cameras, what kind of lighting. And we did everything online because of COVID.

I found out a way to switch because what I do is, I use… Right now I’m using OBS, I was using Ecamm. So I could switch scenes because I have scenes of me playing drums live. I have scenes of P!nk. So how can I switch the scenes? And I tried from switching it on my phone to using a clicker, finally figured out a way I could do it with a foot switcher.

And I realized that any more than one camera for me really doesn’t apply because I move around a lot. So I have this big green screen, all these lights, one camera in the front. My Macintosh is twelve feet back because I’m twelve feet away. I’m in front of the huge green screen, and I’m constantly switching with the switcher. And then I use a headset mic.

I’m a real stickler for audio. I’m an audio guy. So I use the same mic that P!nk used live when she was swinging. And I have a whole rack with a mixer and a really high-end audio interface and a high-end compressor. And I feed all of that into the OBS program. So the OBS program is reading my Canon camera and I have a lens.

That’s 1.2 f-stops so it lets in as much light and as clear as possible. I have front lighting, side lighting, and a little bit of rear lighting. This huge green screen. And I’ve never used anybody but myself to do it. I switch everything myself.

Guy Kawasaki:
You do it yourself?

Mark Schulman:
I do it all myself.

Guy Kawasaki:
Wow.

Mark Schulman:
Because that was the goal. Because I thought I was really a stickler about not wanting anybody near me. So that was why I needed to figure out a way to switch it. So I switch it using a foot switch.

Guy Kawasaki:
What model of Canon camera are you using?

Mark Schulman:
E50, I believe it’s called.

Guy Kawasaki:
And even more interesting.

Mark Schulman:
With a custom lens.

Guy Kawasaki:
What microphone are you using?

Mark Schulman:
I’m using a really thin Countryman dynamic mic that just clips over one ear. Is that what you use as well?

Guy Kawasaki:
Okay, Mark. You’ll be impressed. You mean like this?

Mark Schulman:
Yeah, that’s it. And the reason why I use that is because I’m wearing in-ear monitors because I do interactive clapping with the audience, interactive performances with the audience. And I need to hear what’s going on when I do that because I can’t have it coming out of my computer audio, right? So I’m wearing these molded in-ears, so I need as possible just to wrap around and that’s why it works.

Guy Kawasaki:
Oh, Mark. I swear we were separated at birth. Okay. So Mark. Let me tell you my Countryman story. So when I was making in-person appearances, I carry my own Countryman. And in my contract, it says, “Guys coming with a Countryman, you need to get the body pack that works with the Countryman.”

So there’s really two reasons. One is, I don’t want to look like the Madonna with the thing that goes behind your head. I don’t want the lavalier clip. I want a Countryman. I want that thing right in front of my mouth. So that’s number one. It’s just a better result. But honestly, between you and me and whoever listens to this podcast, I think that even more important effect of bringing your own Countryman, is that when you go backstage and you see the guy in the black t-shirt who’s listening to P!nk Floyd on his Windows laptop, who’s running the mixer, and you go to him and you say, “Okay, I brought my own Countryman. Here it is.” Those people are so impressed because no speaker brings their own Countryman.

Everybody just shows up and whatever you got, you got. And so they are so impressed that you bring your own Countryman that they treat you better and they give you better results. And life is good. People should buy a Countryman just to carry to say they brought their own Countryman. That alone would make those AV people care more about how you sound. That’s my…

Mark Schulman:
I agree with that. And also you do sound better. A Countryman’s a great mic. It works much better than a lavalier. You know what I travel with? I travel with a rack. I travel with all my own packs, my own audio interface. I do my own switching onstage. I bring my own PerfectCue. So a high-end one that they all use, I bring my own. And we hire out a local drum set. So I have a lot of tech when I perform live.

Guy Kawasaki:
Wow.

Mark Schulman:
And the only thing I don’t do when I give my virtual presentations, I don’t play drums live. The drums are prerecorded with a great green screen and all these great shots of P!nk in the background so it’s very exciting and they get the same feeling. Because that’s just a little too much tech for me to be able to handle myself.

Guy Kawasaki:
Well, there you go.

Mark Schulman:
There you go.

Guy Kawasaki:
If you don’t know this by now, I give up. But the Remarkable People podcast is sponsored by the reMarkable tablet company. This is a tablet that helps you focus. It helps you focus, so you can do your best and deepest thinking. Not check email, not check social media, not check all the other kind of stuff that can de-focus you. So guests are asked, how do they do their best and deepest thinking? Remarkable People podcast sponsored by the reMarkable tablet company.

Just a few more questions. First one is, how do you, Mark, rock star, do your best and deepest thinking?

Mark Schulman:
When I allow myself the luxury of doing nothing else, but doing some form of physical exercise, or sometimes when I’m driving. Either when I’m driving or when I’m walking or when I’m running because everything else goes away, and then I’m constantly taking notes on my phone.

I rarely sit down at the computer and do my deepest thinking unless I’m writing a piece. When I’m going to write something, that’s a different approach. When I’m just thinking about concepts… So I always am evolving my live presentation.

I usually like to be physical. I run my speech four or five times a week. I’m always practicing it. Clarity, capability, confidence. I always customize it for the client, but the basic speech I’m always running. And literally when I run it, I’m either running physically or I’m walking because I like the activity because that’s part of it for me. It’s like getting the body, moving the body inspires the brain.

Guy Kawasaki:
Wait. What do you mean you run your speech four times a week? You mean you say it out loud four times a week?

Mark Schulman:
I practice it four times a week.

Guy Kawasaki:
Really? Wow.

Mark Schulman:
I am committed, man. I am so committed to that formula because what happens when I do that is I discover greater nuances that I can always evolve it and it gets better and better then I try putting things in and taking things out. And also with the customization of what I’ve got for each client.

I was speaking for Johnson & Johnson this upcoming week. There’s always a customized part, but there’s a basic foundation. But ever since that agent told me that her top speaker runs the speech one hundred times before they perform it, I just feel like I want to keep my chops up. It’s like practicing. I know the P!nk tour is going to be starting up or now that we’re coming back in and doing live shows again, I’m going to be practicing a lot more than I have.

Guy Kawasaki:
Once you really know your speech well, and this is your concept, then you have the freedom to improvise.

Mark Schulman:
Yes.

Guy Kawasaki:
If you don’t know your speech well, then you just have to read the teleprompter.

Mark Schulman:
Or you’re doing a Ted talk because most of these people, everything is memorized. My shtick is that I want the foundation of it to be basically the same, but I want to play and improvise a little bit inside of it. I’m a musician, man. We love to improvise. It’s what I’m used to. And I don’t want every speech to be exactly the same even though the foundation of it is the same. I want to perform it. I want it to be fresh.

Guy Kawasaki:
My last question is this.

Mark Schulman:
It better be good, man. It better be good.

Guy Kawasaki:
May not be as good as the others, but let’s suppose that I’m an aspiring musician or I’m a parent of aspiring musicians. What is your advice?

Mark Schulman:
There’s a few bits of advice. One is, listen to everything you possibly can and find what you like about everything you listened to because if you find what you like, you will learn from it. The moment you say, “I don’t like that,” you miss the chance to learn. So you never know what you’re going to listen to that’s going to inspire something brand new in your thought process.
The other suggestion is, study with a teacher that you trust and listen to everything they say and do everything they say because you’ll know what resonates with you and you’ll know what doesn’t. But if you start to judge what they’re trying to teach you when you really are not qualified to judge, you may miss out on something that’s critical. Yet when you start to actually do what they do, you’ll know what resonates the most and what you might need, what you might let slide a little bit.

Also play with better musicians than you. Play with people that are going to help you grow and elevate you to the next level and try to teach other musicians as much as you can.

Teaching is one of the most honorable professions. My parents were both teachers. I learned more about my drumming at nineteen years old when I started teaching little kids how to drum because something about breaking it down and getting down to the real fundamentals… What did John Madden say? The three things he works on with the greatest athletes are fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals.

The more you break things down and the simpler you make it, then you can really get in tune with the nuances and the minutiae of simplicity. And the art of playing pop music is the art of making simplicity interesting. So I play pop music, which means I may play the simplest groove. I need to love that groove. I need to make that groove feel so good that I’m loving it. I’m interested. The audience is interested. It’s not just about playing all the chops and all the licks I know. So you need to love and embrace the simplicity because that is what pop music is really based on, is the art of making simplicity interesting.

Guy Kawasaki:
That’s so Zen like Buddhist, guru mantra-ish. I love that. I love that. All right.

Mark Schulman:
Thank you, man. I’ll take that as a compliment.

Guy Kawasaki:
I love that. Okay. So now, go play us something. I hope the audio works well enough.

Mark Schulman:
Yeah.

Guy Kawasaki:
Let’s hear something.

Mark Schulman:
Should I put the camera on it too?

Guy Kawasaki:
Yeah. Why not?

Mark Schulman:
All right. Let’s see if I can focus the camera on the drum set. I’ll play a little groove. And I’m in my gym clothes below my shirt. So I’m not going to the gym. That’s what’s so great. This is what’s really going on, nobody ever gets to see me below the waist. Okay. Ready? Let’s jam. Here we go.

Guy Kawasaki:
That is the best ending of a Remarkable People podcast ever. I have to admit.

Mark Schulman:
Well, Guy, you are a remarkable man. And we’re both evangelists of our own.

Guy Kawasaki:
God help us.

Mark Schulman:
Yes.
Guy Kawasaki:
When you get around to it, it would be great if you could send us some pictures to use. Are you hanging out with P!nk or Pink Floyd or whoever?

Mark Schulman:
We won’t tell him that story, will we?

Guy Kawasaki:
Or Cher, or Robert Kiyosaki, whoever it is.

Mark Schulman:
Dude. Oh, it hurts.

Guy Kawasaki:
Okay. So I freely admit that the recording of his drum playing wasn’t the greatest, but the microphone was far away. Nothing was planned about that. So you’re just going to have to deal with it. But Mark Schulman is a remarkable person and he has remarkable rock and roll stories. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Getting a little insight into rock and roll stars and stardom. And this little joke at the end, let me bring you into the picture here. So in one of the first emails that we had, he thought I was Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, as opposed to Guy Kawasaki, poor dad, poor dad. After all, all Japanese names sound alike. So ever since then, I’ve been busting his chops about what it’s like to play with P!nk Floyd, as opposed to P!nk. You had to be there. What can I say?

Anyway, I’m Guy Kawasaki. This is Remarkable People. My thanks to Jeff Sieh and Peg Fitzpatrick, who once again, made it rock and roll. Also my thanks to Julie Masters who introduced me to Mark and really, made this episode happen. All the best to you. And remember, please get vaccinated. Mahalo and aloha.