Monday, July 27, 2009

Corinne Gibbons: A singer's journey

Karen and Corinne: Up Close and Personal

Corinne Gibbons. Singer, Song-writer, Independent Artiste. Entrepreneur who founded Singapore Sing - runs a corporate team building company which uses choral singing to inspire and energise staff. Corinne has just launched her new album Melt with a 3 night performance in Singapore. She then performed to a crowd of over 30,000 people at Summer Solstice 2009, Stonehenge in the UK. She is now taking her music to New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Sydney, Perth and Vienna. And that's just the beginning.


How did you decide on singing as a career?

When I left school, I applied for a cadet journalist job and, and I got that cadetship. I also applied to take music at university and I got into university too. I was then torn; I didn’t really know which one to take because it’s practical to take the journalism job because I’ll get paid straight away and it's a great skill to have. But yet I really loved singing.

I remembered sitting on my front steps of my house. I was crying.


My mother asked me what I was crying for, and I said, “Well, I don't know what to do.” And she said, “Well, what would make you happy?” “If I could sing, I would be so happy.” She reassured me ' You should go to the university."

I went to university. It was being around alot of really talented musicians that I knew this is what I’m supposed to do.


What kind of advice would you give to someone who dreams of becoming a singer or musician? How can you strike it out and survive?

If you’re still in school, find people that you absolutely enjoy working with. And then form a group. Surround yourself with other creative people. It really helps to have a supportive community around you. That’s one of the most important piece of advice I’d give to young people.

If you have finished school and you really want to pursue a career in music, get yourself a little regular gig somewhere. Perfect your craft. It’s by far the most positive thing that you can do. In fact, there is a growing support for local musicians and the arts.

If you don’t want to do live performances, look at ways that you can explore the music industry, either through recording or writing for other people.

I do a lot of different things to support myself here as a musician. I am touring, I’m writing music for Singapore Repertory Theatre, I'm writing music for a documentary, I am also writing for films.

What would you call the lowest point in your life?

When I lost my sister. She was my closest friend as well. Nothing compares. Our relationship was so potent. I’m so thrilled I had 27 amazing years with her. That’s how I see it now. At that time, I didn’t even know how to breathe. Now I have a much deeper empathy for the world.


What motivated you to come to Singapore?

When I first came to Singapore, I was on my honeymoon. We were only going to stay a few days. But my ex-husband, who was then my new husband, he met some people when we first arrived on the very first day and they invited us to this gig. There was an incredible singer, Mildred Jones. And I was sitting in the crowd, when she announced “We happen to have a young Australian singer in the crowd....Would you like to come up and sing a song?” I was surprised, but with some encouragement, got up and sang one song. After the song, she turned around and said, “Honey child, you got a beautiful voice but you got to lower your keys.

"Oh, Really?" I wondered. She asked “What’s the next song you’re going to do?” “Oh, I hadn’t planned on singing tonight" “Oh come on you know heaps of songs.”

I came up with the song and she lowered it fourth from the key that I sang. She helped me discover my low register, because I’ve got quite a low voice. She really was quite instrumental in helping me find that voice.

She later connected me with Bryan, a fantastic base player, I went to an event of his, and got connected with another band who played at Western Stamford. Instead of a few days, I ended up staying ten days. And meeting so many different people.

Fast forward to year 2006. There was a point when I really wanted to leave Australia because though I know so many people there and love the country, I needed the space and solitude to write melt.

Corrinne's latest album melt is infused with pop, rock, Celtic, country and a little smooth jazz with a twist


There was one night were I sat up and wrote down everything that was important in my life on a personal level. And I also wrote down everything that I wanted to achieve on a professional level. Two years later I look back and I actually ticked everything on the list. Except one thing. I'm still working on that, gives me something to work towards.

And I hadn't even referred to the list during those 2 years. I realised that just by writing down what was truly important to me, my subconscious then knew where I was going to head.

So, write down what you want. On a personal level and a professional level. It’s really important to have both.

Who are the people who have contributed immensely to where you are now?

As a creative person, you sometimes don’t have all the business acumen, to commercialise what you do. So it’s important to build a team around you, who believes in you.

I also genuinely like the people I surround myself with. I like this gray area between fun and work. Laugh and work just enjoy life.

I’ve had lots of things happen in my life. Every single thing that’s happened, whether it's positive or negative, has emotionally empowered me.


How do you make it work as an independent artist, as opposed to being under a record label?

A label is great because they have the entire infrastructure. But, I’m sort of looking outside the square there. With the Internet, you can now do so much as an independent artist. Which is fantastic. The main thing for musicians to address is the distribution, your radio play, and your touring schedules.

What you really need is an agent, or a promoter. You have to have those connections. And you can do online distribution which is the way a lot of things are going these days. I'm going through all of that now. Because my album’s only been out two months.

I never wrote any of the songs thinking they have to finish in three minutes so that it can be played on radio. But somehow radio still picked up my songs.

I released the album in Singapore first. Because this is now where I live; this is where I work and wrote most of the album.


How did your vision of having an album become reality?

I met my executive producers through my landlord, who often invites me to dinner when they’re collecting the rent. That’s how I met Robin and Bojan. I’m really grateful for her connecting us up.

We all kept in touch. Bojan even invited me to sing at his housewarming. I gave him a gift of 2 songs.

Bojan and Corinne became friends, and that's when they started the Choir Training Company together. But deep down inside, Corinne had always had the idea of having her very own album - melt. She also kept evading Bojan's questions of when her album will be out.

I said to him, “Well, look, you know, it will come out. And I will record it,” I said, “But I do need to get some funding for it. You know, because I can’t actually fund it myself at this point. If I could, I would be in the studio tomorrow. I said, “So it will happen and I know that that’s going to happen. I have been putting aside any fears so that it will happen. But that was a constant question from him.

Robin was the one travelling alot. There was one time we finally met up. He asked me “So when is your album coming out? When are you going to be doing it up?” Déjà Vu. I said, “I need to get funding for the album. It will happen, but it is going to take a little bit of time. He asked “How much would it cost?” I said, “I think this will cost this much."


I had a really intense conversation with Robin. It was a very personal conversation. It was then I got to know him a lot better. That night he wrote me an email, and said, “We think you are a wonderful person and we would really love to support melt, and so if we could put a budget together, we would really love to explore producing the album'

It still think that moment is amazing. Bojan and Robin have become two of my dearest friends. The team that’s put melt together is like family.


I encourage people to work with people they really enjoy working with, in any field.

Because sometimes the long hours can be taxing. But when you’re with people that you enjoy working with, you can just have a laugh or two. And that’s great.


How do you keep in touch with all the many people in your life?

For my close personal friends, I keep in touch with them over the phone. Or on Skype or I-Chat. Or face to face.

A lot of people want to know what I’m up to and that is not my forte to keep up to date with that. I’m not great with Face Book. I’m not even great with text messages. As for email, I see it largely as a business tool.

That's when I have to tell you about Bojan. He is amazing! He handles 90% of my communication. He keeps everything up to date. He’s got a separate blog for me too and he‘s updating that daily *Snaps fingers* He’s got a really brilliant way of communicating and he is the connector for a lot of these people that we’re meeting.

I think I need a Bojan too!

Everybody needs a Bojan, as far as I’m concerned.


You just came back from Stonehenge performing to over 30,000 people, and are scheduled to be in New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, Perth, Vienna. How did you create all these international opportunities?

I’m so fortunate that I have the team I’m working with. We’re all quite connected in different ways within the music industry. I’m doing commercial tours. I’m also doing tours with event companies. I will be performing at the Annual Meeting of ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) to 8,000 of their members in Toronto next month. I'm so excited and thrilled about this opportunity to showcase my work. Bojan organised this.

I’ve had so many introductions to people. I know quite a few people in the commercial industry as well. Its about hooking with the right promoter and the right agent to manage your overseas shows.

Enjoy the video montage of melt

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ronnie Kagan Interview (Part 3 of 3) - My midnight interview with the International Business Guru

Me: You have gone through so much and evolved over the years. Do you think you have changed in terms of your personality, and how?

Ronnie: Absolutely. I have gone from an manipulative, insecure, fearful person, to someone who is presently conscious about what he has available and uses it to the benefit and advantage of the global community rather than to manipulate the global community.

What made you sit here waiting 2 hours to chat with me?

(This question made me think. Oh yes, I actually waited 2 hours for this interview. But somehow it just didn't feel like 2 hours.... )

Me: Because its part of my calling. What I want to do.

Ronnie: So you learn somethings from me, and you gain some phenomenal information, open up some doors that could change your life forever, and other people would sit down and say:

"you're crazy, you wait for some bloke you don't know in a hotel lounge bar, what's going on?"

but you know that you are doing what you feel is right to do. And that's what makes the difference between ordinary and extraordinary.

Extraordinary people are ordinary people who just do that little bit extra. And in the moments of doing that little bit extra, within themselves they seem insignificant, but when you add that little bit extra on top of that ordinary, you end up having an extraordinary life.

And then people sit down and say to you. Gee, you're lucky Karen... Wow you are sooo lucky! Well luck has nothing to do with it.

Me: Yes, we create our own luck. Many people are stuck in their jobs or looking to take a plunge. What advice would you give these people?

Ronnie: Yes. Go out on a limb. Stop living in a fearful mindset. People want more. People know that by doing what they are doing, they are not going to achieve more. People won't change and face a new future because of fear.

We all know the acronym for fear. False Evidence Appearing Real.

So fear holds them back from giving something a go. And they never shift from where they are to where they want to be.

Me: How do you manage your relationships?

Ronnie: Don't take someone's advice if you are not prepared to put it into practice.

Me: What's after this, Ronnie?

Ronnie: (Pauses) You just brought up something really powerful. My response to you is "There is nothing after this."

This is it.

And I think that you have just taught me a valuable lesson. Absolutely, you have contributed to me in a huge way. I appreciate that. That is really generous of you.

There is nothing after this.

That is really present for me right now. Everybody is living their lives for what's happening after this. And I think they need to be consciously aware that there is nothing after this.

I am not talking about whether there is an after life, or a god, or if there is heaven or hell.

Its not about what's after this. This is it.

Start living your life as if this is the final act.

Me: There is a book titled "Flow - The Psychology of Optimal Experience". People always have the notion that they are happiest when they are retired, relaxing on a beach or lounging away...But what this Hungarian professor found is that when people lose themselves in an activity, when time just seems to flow by in peak concentration vs. relaxation, that's when they are most happy and creative.
(PS: The author's name is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. But there was no way I could pronounce that. Nor would Ronnie ever comprehend... my pronounciation, i mean :))
That's when they are in the flow. So what are the moments when you discover yourself being in the flow?

Ronnie: Being with someone like you. Being present. Being Real.

Me: What are the activities where you lose yourself?

Ronnie: I live my life as a flow. My everyday is a flow. Because I don't do anything that I don't wanna do anymore.

You have stopped doing things you don't wanna do. Who are the people whom you have also dropped from your life, consciously?

Many. And I dropped them not because of right and wrong. Not because I'm good and they are bad, I dropped them because their mission, purpose, focus was no longer aligned with mine. So I dropped them only because we were both heading in opposite directions.

Me: So even if you liked the fella....

Ronnie: The only reason you like someone is because you have an aligned core value. So if you didn't have an aligned core value, you couldn't like them.

Now, there is a difference between dislike and like, in so much as I really like you. vs. I really dislike you. I am talking about....We like everybody. The bloke who takes my luggage, I like him.

Me: You are saying that being aligned emotionally requires a certain connection.

Ronnie: Absolutely.

Me: You are a D personality (D for DRIVE in the DISC profiling tool). Have you always been driven in your life?

Yes, that's pretty obvious. You are talking about the DISC concept right? Florence Littauer talks about Personality Plus.

We are what we are. Neither is right or wrong. We just need to learn how to operate with the other personalities in the world.

Me: So what kind of personalities do you connect strongly with?

Ronnie: All of them.

If you are going to succeed in life, you can't not like someone because they are this type or that type. Why is that any different from 'I don't like you because you are Asian and I am Caucasian? Why is that any different from 'You are from Africa, and I am not'. You are what you are, regardless of your skin colour or personality type.

There is good people in every type. There is bad people in every type. So don't pre-judge people. Give everybody the opportunity of an open heart. And when there is proof beyond a question of doubt they don't deserve it, then close it.

Me: Are you a guilty until proven innocent, or an innocent until proven guilty person?

Ronnie: That's obvious.

Me: Even if you have learnt that one of your biggest lessons is not to be guillable...

Ronnie: If you are a guilty until proven innocent person, boy-oh-boy, you are cynical and what a life you are gonna have!

Ronnie had this huge glow on his face. Its almost as he savoured his life's journey during the course of the interview, and it was truly a delight. We can tell if someone truly loves his life, and I think that makes someone incredibly attractive.

I re-discovered the law of attraction. Its definitely not a plunging neckline, or more make-up. Its not having the hottest male accessory - a Lamborghini (the Murcielago model especially, oh I digress), or a full-head of hair. Its not just learning influence techniques, body language or mirroring strategies.

"Its being comfortable in your own skin, and loving your life."

- Karen Leong

On the fundamental Law of Attraction

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ronnie Kagan Interview (Part 2 of 3) - My midnight interview with the International Business Guru

The Interview

I coach corporate executives on powerful networking - building real and fulfilling relationships for business and personal success. And nothing excites me more than distilling lessons from top performers who excel in their various passions.

Ronnie Kagan is one such person.

This interview is written in a very conversational tone. Because it is directly transcribed from the voice memo recorded on my iPhone (psst again: a free and fabulous iPhone application great for anyone who wants to freelance as a journalist)

Me: You have written a best selling book – The Winning Way…. You have the philosophy that knowing the right people, reading the books makes a difference. How has knowing the right people made a difference for you?

Ronnie: Brilliant question! And I have a very simple answer.

We all going to have to pay the price in life. We either have to pay retail (full price) or wholesale (discounted price). If we try to learn everything from our own experience, we are going to have to pay Retail Plus. We are going to make mistakes, and we are going to make some big ones, often. But if we learn from other people who have gone out there, and already made the mistakes, we can pay wholesale. We can learn from their mistakes, and shorten our learning curve.

Me: How much has your success do you attribute to having the right connections?

Ronnie: 100%.

I have the philosophy that you can’t be a little bit pregnant. Either you are or you aren't. You are either successful or you are not.

My success has been determined by the people I have met along the way.

Me: Do you have a few instrumental people that have made a huge difference to you? And can you share some of their names?

Ronnie: I was president of Brian Tracy International. I used to bring out Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Jack Welsh, Lee Iacocca. I've hung around people like Dr. John Demartini, who I used to promote and is a personal friend of mine; Allan Pease, Jim Dornan, and I have a vast network of support structure...

Me: You mentioned Tony Robbins and many other big names... How have they individually impacted you? Were they more mentor figures, idea generators... etc?

Ronnie: Everybody adds a little bit extra. Its like a layer of cake. No single person has enabled me to become where I am today. It is each person's small amount of contribution, layered upon the previous small amount of information, layered upon the previous, that has enabled me to get to where I am.

Me: Interesting. Do you have a lowest point in your life?

Ronnie: Many. (laughs) How many would you like?

Me: Lets start with ground zero...

Ronnie: My story is vast. I grew up in a home where my mother was alcoholic. She had a drug problem. My father worked as a butcher. I left home at 15. I lived in a park. I used to have to steal washing off washing lines in order to sell the clothes at the second hand store and buy food while I still go to school. I was a mercenary for a couple of years in Angola. I was happily married, then my ex-wife walked out on me. I loved her. I was devastated. I was a single dad for a couple of years. And then she decided she wanted the kids, we went to the courts and they just took my boys away from me. I lost money 3 times. The third time I lost $160 million.

I mean how many points do you want? (laughs again) I think we can stop there for the moment.

Me: Yes, I think so! What was your turning point from the lowest of low... to the first point of success?

Ronnie: You know that's a very good point. After my wife left me, I started doing drugs and drinking again, and I would go day upon day of drinking and smoking, and there is no conscious thought as to what actually happened. I then got to the stage where if I didn't take responsibility for myself, no one else would take any responsibility for me.

It's not like I had this bolt of lightning that came down through the heavens and jolted me into the reality.

It was more a matter of what I call 212 Fahrenheit (°F). (note: that's equivalent to 100 degree Celsius)

What is 212 °F? You may have seen this on TV. Water boils at 212 °F. So what happens when you have water at the temperature of 210°F? Its not boiling. 212°F? Its still not boiling. When you get to 212°F, its boiling.

So was it the last Fahrenheit that got it boiling or the first 211 Fahrenheit?

Me: That's a very good analogy... Would you attribute your success to your own personal desire?

Ronnie: I suppose part of it comes down to desire. Part of it comes down to instinctiveness.

Me: When you were the president of Brian Tracy International, you were already at a successful level. Going back in time, how did you engineer the first wave of success?

Ronnie: One step at a time. I don't have an education. I started my first job as a packer in a warehouse. I packed shelves. I worked hard. I got promoted to packing shelves on the shop floor, not just the warehouse. I got promoted from that to a junior position. And I left that position and got involved in selling cutlery and crockery door to door. From there I became a junior manager, then a senior manager and a vice president. Then I bought the company and expanded that company into 32 companies in 8 countries.

Was there any single point where I broke through?

I married the boss's daughter or I won lottery or my father left me an inheritance? (thank goodness he is still alive!) There was no single point.

Me: So its really you learning and imbibing life lessons...Do you have a mentor? People whom you have a mentoring relationship, who have guided you or coached you (formally or informally)...

Ronnie: Well, that's what all these people have been, that I mentioned earlier. They were all some kind of mentor. Was there any single individual who sat down and put me under their umbrella and said to me "Don't do this, do that", bounce off ideas with them? No there was never. Had there been one? Boy, I would have been a lot further ahead and saved a lot of pain and left less corpses along the way.

Karen's thought of the day: Successful people all have mentors. It does not mean you need to keep searching for that god-father figure to take you under his wing. Think: What help do you need? In every area of your life you want to improve on, who around you has already achieved more than you? Mentors exist all around us to help us shorten our learning curve. And they don't even need to be living, breathing people. Books and the internet qualify.

Me: How did you manage to attract these people to support you and be around you? Was it about you that attracted these connections?

Ronnie: I suppose my high energy, being authentic. Not putting up with NO for an answer. Taking responsibility for my life.

Me: What sacrifices have you made in your life, to achieve your success so far?

Ronnie: The sacrifices could be... I emigrated to new countries, started over again. There are many sacrifices I have made. But I haven't made them as a sacrifice to be a martyr, I have made them as a sacrifice to move on to a higher level. Because if you are never prepared to give up what you have got, then you better hang on to it tightly, coz that's all you will ever amount to. You need to be able to be prepared to give up what you have got, to achieve and aspire to something greater.

Me: So if you could live your life again, would you change anything?

Ronnie: Well bloody lots of things! (hearty laugh)

Me: What would one thing be? With hindsight and wisdom?

Ronnie: I would have been less gullible. I saw the writing on the wall, but didn't react to my instincts. But rather I responded to my greed.

Me: That's a powerful statement. How many times have you been gullible?

Ronnie: I don't live in the regret of the past. I don't live in the fear of the future. I rather just be present with what I have today.

Part 3 of this interview posting will shed more insights into Ronnie's keys to connecting and success. And how we all can create our own luck :) Coming up soon!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ronnie Kagan Interview (Part 1 of 3) - My midnight interview with the International Business Guru

Interview with Ronnie Kagan - Still looking fresh!
3rd July 2009 1:00am
Friday wee hours of the morning
Changi Village Hotel Lounge Bar

This 3-parter 'Interview with Ronnie Kagan' kicks-off my interview series with 100 inspirational individuals who have achieved success in pursuing what they are truly passionate about.

One common thread: They never achieve this by going it alone. They all attribute their success to certain people in their lives. My quest is to gain insights into how they attract these valuable connections into their lives, their networking magic and secrets to their success.

Nailing the Interview: The Approach [Monday, 30 June 2009, 10.30pm]

I met Ronnie Kagan when he presented an hour long seminar for the Asian Professional Speaker's Association monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, 30 June 2009. He had just flown in from Russia, where he had addressed a crowd of thousands. I was fascinated by this man who only achieved a high school education, yet rose to achieve heights of success, reached by so few. (Its all laid out in his profile below!)

At the end of the seminar, he was surrounded by a group who wanted to buy his books/cds. He had cleverly slipped in during his speech that he had only 8 books and 2 CDs for the evening. The scarcity bait! Unfortunately, I had used up most of my cash on the evening's entrance fee, so I didn't have moolah to buy one. Didn't see him with a credit card or NETS machine. Nevertheless, I hovered around him until there was a opening in the group, and I introduced myself.

"Hi, I'm Karen. I absolutely loved your talk. I'd like to buy your book, but I don't have spare cash on me right now. You don't happen to take credit or a bank transfer?" That question, was definitely a filler. But it was there to give him a reason to reply me.

"No, unfortunately." Ok, time to move on to securing an interview, the book purchase can come later.....

"Ronnie, I am writing an interview series on successful individuals who turn passions into profits, and you are someone that I think will inspire many people with your story. Would you have any time for me to schedule a brief interview?"

He looked at me for a few seconds. It seemed like eternity. And from the corner of my eye, I could see the rest of the women around me (for some reason, I could only remember the women) waiting around for their turn, and listening for his reply.

"I'll be flying to Malaysia tomorrow and will be back Thursday. I will then be flying off on Friday. How about Thursday afternoon?"

"Great!" I'll take that! Yes, though I am leading evening seminars back-to-back from Wednesday to Friday. I'll take any window of opportunity.

He then whipped out a card, and asked me to give him a call.
"I'll buy the book from you when we meet!" I genuinely looked forward to reading his book. The thought also crossed my mind that giving him one extra reason (one more book sale to a potential fan!) not to stand me up, wouldn't hurt.

Yippee! The first interview of this series confirmed.

Here's a brief profile of Ronnie Kagan as promised (of course with google search, you can get this and more, but this is here so that I can spare you the effort of additional keystrokes) :)

During his 30 years of business Ronnie Kagan has gained a broad foundation upon which his huge success is based; from Co-Founder and World Wide Vice President of a Gold Company employing over 5,000 people, to part ownership in an International Franchise organization coaching 32 licensees with over 345 employees in 8 countries. Ronnie also co-founded a property development company that turned over $1 billion per annum.

With his straight-forward, frank approach – he delivers powerful presentations on how to inspire and motivate a work force and generate more profits. Ronnie has delivered more than 1,000 presentations to a combined audience of over 1 million people in 15 different countries. As the author of the International best seller The Winning Way in Business, he clearly understands what it takes to be successful in the rapidly changing business world.

Past Midnight: The Long Wait [Thursday, 1 July 2009, 11pm till Ronnie arrived just after 1am]

Last minute meetings on my end. The decision to hold the interview at 11pm at Changi Village after Ronnie was done with his convention. Mixed signals. Miscommunication.

I ended up waiting for Ronnie for over 2 hours at the lobby cafe of Changi Village Hotel. I had been yawning away as I just finished leading a 3-hour evening seminar earlier after a full work day.

But thank god for the iPhone. Many people have commented that I seem addicted to it, but this time it was extremely nifty in doing research on the fly. Hmmm.... Ronnie's bio, YouTube videos, twitters, it takes time to research a man, in order to get under his skin.

The Interview Begins [Post-1am, 1 July 2009]

Ronnie arrives! Extremely apologetic for the miscommunication, and we settled back into the cosy lobby lounge. He has had a long day himself, but still radiated this warm glow. I think to myself - his eyes are his best feature. He seems to look into your soul with his eyes. Yet they are smiling eyes, so you don't feel intimidated, rather deeply connected.

Note to self: The eyes can connect a person to another in a way, no amount of words can. For a start.... Just look into the eyes of another 1 or 2 more seconds than you normally would. Your connection with anyone will instantly deepen.

I ask Ronnie "Would it be ok if I recorded our interview?"

"Of course. I charge for my coaching sessions. All these conversations I have with people are recorded, so they don't miss a thing" Big Smile.

I turn on the voice memo application on my iPhone. Gratitude. Steve Jobs has created a magical application the size of my palm. Can't ever imagine living without my iPhone. It ranks way higher than the invention of the air-conditioner.
Ronnie thoughtfully picks up my iPhone, checks to see where the Mic is, and opens the interview by saying "This is an Interview with Ronnie Kagan, 2nd of July, (he forgot its past midnight which means its now 3rd July morning... ) Changi Village Hotel Singapore..."
My interview begins.
Watch out for part 2 and 3 over the next 2 days!