Rise & Shine Interview: Jesse Ruben about Perseverance
Music is a powerful tool to inspire others around the world. I’m so honoured that today musician Jesse Ruben is sharing his thoughts on perseverance with us. I had to ask Jesse to be part of the “Profiles of Perseverance” interview series after reading an article in a local paper about his visit to Vancouver Island to encourage children to persevere. As an educator, I know how much of an impact he made by connecting with these young people in person. Read an article about Jesse Ruben's visit here or check out his blog post about the visit. I was so touched by his generosity that I had to reach out and ask him to be part of this series. I wanted to help spread his message further. Thanks, Jesse, for encouraging everyone to persevere and for taking part in this interview. You rock! If you haven’t heard Jesse's song "We Can"– here is your introduction! I love it - it's on my top list of inspirational songs. WE CAN! WE CAN! WE CAN!
Jesse Ruben is a Philly-bred singer/songwriter currently living in Brooklyn, NY. He has independently sold over 10,000 albums, gotten song placements on TV shows such as One Tree Hill, Degrassi, and Teen Mom and toured with some amazing artists including Jewel, KT Tunstall, Rick Springfield, and Hanson. His song “We Can” is in regular rotation on the XM/Sirius Coffeehouse channel, which called him “the next generation of singer/songwriter”.
Ruben has sold out venues across the US with deeply personal performances that combine well-crafted pop songs with the stories they came from. Most recently, he achieved one of his greatest life goals when he hit the 5,000 facebook friend limit, because it makes him feel cooler than he actually is.
Beyond musical endeavors, Ruben is highly involved with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the largest non-profit focusing on spinal chord injury and paralysis. He is a co-chair of their Champions Committee, and has represented them three times in the NYC Marathon.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Who did you receive it from?
I have gotten a ton of great advice from people over the course of my life (I didn't always listen to it, but I got a ton of advice). I remember reading an interview where someone said, "Do NOT have a plan B. Because then your plan B will become your plan A."
I have wanted to make a living writing and performing songs since I was 16 years old. I have had many many people along the way tell me that was not a good idea. But I have never wavered from that goal. This is what I love to do, this is how I want to inspire people. I have no back-up plan. I literally can't do anything else.
How important is mentorship in terms of your success?
It depends on your definition of mentorship. In the singer/songwriter world, I don't necessarily have one mentor that I turn to for advice, but I have a lot of peers that have gone through the same things I am going through, and it helps knowing that there are other people who can relate to your experiences.
What has been the best moment in your life so far?
I have had too many to count. My experience in Courtenay is certainly up there. I've never been so supported by a community before. It was overwhelming and wonderful. I have also completed 3 New York City Marathons, and each of those was very special.
What tips would you have for living a healthy life?
Everything is a balance. Schedule time for yourself, every day. If you work too much, all other areas of your well-being will suffer.
How do you motivate yourself to persist despite setbacks?
I am very proud of my songs. I am proud of the impact they have had on the people who have heard them. When I have setbacks, I just try to focus on my intention, which is to inspire people. It does not matter how long it takes, or how many times I hear "no", or how many people disagree with me. I will continue to do this tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day after that, for a long time. I'm not going anywhere.
What has been your biggest setback? How did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?
I'm in a strange phase in my career right now where there are a small number of people who really love my work, and then there is a large number who have never heard of me and don't have any interest in helping. I do not have anyone on my team right now, I am my own manager, booking agent, publicist, record label, publisher, distributor, and accountant. It is sometimes difficult because my skill set does not fall into these areas, so I spend a lot of time on things I'm not very good at, and not as much time as I'd like on writing and performing. But it is a necessary aspect of my job, so I just do the best I can.
When you take on so many different tasks, you actually learn that you are capable of much more than you realized.
How do you deal with critics?
Ignore them. Especially now with the anonymity of the internet, people say some pretty terrible things. You can't focus on that stuff, it will only bring you down.
How important is social support in overcoming obstacles?
Incredibly important. One of the first things I did when I decided to run my first marathon was tell all of my friends that I was doing it. Suddenly I had a whole network of people who were training with me, and people who would check in and ask how my running was going. It made it so much easier to have people to hold me accountable.
What advice would you give others about goal setting?
Be unreasonable. Set goals that make your stomach turn over. That's how you know you're doing it right. Too often we do not allow ourselves to play BIG. We get too burdened by work and stress and family and money and life. It is time to change that conversation. It is time to do incredible things.
What is a life lesson you wish you had learned before graduating high school?
If I could go back and talk to 17 year old me, I would tell myself to relax. That grades and school and tests are not the most important thing in the world. And also, to be nicer to my parents and sister, because they always had my best interests at heart.
Thank you, Jesse, for sharing your lessons with us and for truly speaking from your heart. Keep writing, singing, inspiring, and empowering others! I can't wait to watch you live one day.
As Jesse asks his readers at the end of one of his blog posts, "What is your I CAN Project?”
Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.
See you at the beach!