Scotty Milas' All Things Considered Franchising Podcast with Alan Paul

September 27, 2023 00:22:55
Scotty Milas' All Things Considered Franchising Podcast with Alan Paul
All Things Considered Franchising Podcast
Scotty Milas' All Things Considered Franchising Podcast with Alan Paul

Sep 27 2023 | 00:22:55


Show Notes

Alan Paul joins Scotty Milas on this week's episode of "All Things Considered Podcast." Alan is an author, journalist, and musician. He has written several books, including, "One Way Out: The Inside Story of the Allman Brothers" and "Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues, and Becoming a Star in Beijing." Alan's writing has been praised for its emotional depth and storytelling ability.

Alan shares his journey of following his passion for writing and music with Scotty. He
emphasizes the importance of taking your craft seriously and being open to opportunities that
come your way. He tells Scotty, “There are multiple paths to get to the same place.... The key is
to take whatever you’re doing really seriously and get really good at it.”

Alan also discusses the role of support from loved ones and the value of education in pursuing a creative career. During their conversation, Scotty asks Alan if education is critical to being successful. Alan
agrees. He tells Scotty, “Education provides valuable experiences and knowledge that can
enhance your creative pursuits.” However, in addition to education, Alan believes that success
can also be achieved from a combination of passion and a strong work ethic.

Key Takeaways:
1. Follow your instincts and be open to improvisation in your career path.
2. Sacrifices made for a partner's career can lead to unexpected opportunities for personal
3. Continuously work on improving your skills.

Thank you, Alan for being on the podcast!

Scotty Milas can be reached at [email protected] and at (860)751-9126
Alan Paul can be reached at

#allthingsconsidered @scottmilas #businessownership #franchiseopportunities #alanpaul
#stevierayvaughn #onewayout #biginchina #allmanbrothers #takesmorethandiscipline

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:05 Everybody, welcome to another episode of All Things Considered Franchising. I'm your host, Scotty Milas. All Things Considered Franchising is powered by Scott Milas franchise We focus on the entrepreneur exploring options for people, helping them build a roadmap and introducing to potential franchises that could be a fit. Scott Milas franchise is a service that is provided by my organization at no cost to my clients. All things considered franchising a podcast is a series of, uh, conversations with entrepreneurs, uh, both independent, freelance and of course franchise owners. I have a guest today. Um, I'm gonna pull some rabbits out of the hat, I gotta admit, um, and kind of take us outside the box. 'cause those of you who have been following me and know me, I like to color outside the lines a little bit. And our guest today is Alan Paul. Alan is an author, journalist, and a musician. Speaker 1 00:01:02 Uh, he has written recently two books. Uh, the first one, the Oral Histories of Texas Flood, the Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughn, and one of my favorites that I'm kind of getting through right now. One way out the inside story of the Allman Brothers. And for people who know me, you know, I'm a diehard Allman Brothers fan. Uh, his first book, big in China, my Unlikely Adventures, raising a Family, playing the Blues, and Becoming a Star in Beijing, uh, has been hailed by, uh, U Ss a as a, uh, big hearted memoir with emotional depth. He said it's about experience raising a family in Beijing and becoming a, uh, musician rockstar, I guess. So Alan, welcome to the show and thank you for taking the few minutes. This is, this, this is, this is very special for me, <laugh>. You're Speaker 2 00:01:47 Welcome. Thank you. Thanks for having me. Speaker 1 00:01:49 You know, you and I were chitchatting, um, a little bit before, uh, just kind of catching up a lot of connections, but really why I wanna find the connection here is, is that, as I said to you earlier, that you are everything that I wanted to be, but got kind of pushed in a different direction. And you had a family, parents that supported you in doing what you wanted to do. And in your book, you mentioned that your brother, you know, handed you a copy of Eat A Peach, and from there it was just, you know, flash forward into, uh, the music industry, the love of the Allman Brothers. So, I guess what I'm trying to get at is, is that for our listening audience, for people who think that entrepreneurship is a direction they want to go, but they wanna tie a passion to it, what is a best direction? How, I mean, connect the dots for us a little bit? Speaker 2 00:02:42 Well, uh, <laugh>, thank you for that nice introduction. You know, there is no easy path, so there's so many, uh, points on my own journey where things could have gone different ways. Um, and so none of it is really predictable. I operated very much on instinct and, um, improvisation, just like the music. I love <laugh>. Um, and I made decisions, mostly I made good decisions. It turned out, um, I certainly went down some wrong paths here and there. Um, but just to back up, I I, my passion initially was really for writing and for journalism. And I tried and tried to get jobs at regular newspapers. I mean, I, I worked for the St. Petersburg Times. I, I wrote for the St. Petersburg Times. I never, I wanted very much to have a job with them. I never got an offer for a full-time job. Speaker 2 00:03:31 I did a lot of freelancing for newspapers. I was banging my head against the wall trying to get a newspaper job and having a hard time. My girlfriend at the time, uh, Rebecca Blumenstein was, you know, had no trouble getting jobs. We had met at the Michigan Daily College newspaper. I was the arts editor. She was the editor in chief, and they wanted to talk to her. They weren't so interested in talking to me. I always had the passion for music. I was doing freelance music writing all the way back then, but I didn't see that at the time as the path to a job. I didn't even know how to go about doing that. So I just kept working. So the first lesson I would say, and, and, and when I mentioned my girlfriend at the time, I should add that she's been my wife for 30 years now. Speaker 2 00:04:14 So <laugh> Okay. Can, yeah. So part of, there's so many different, um, things I wanna say, but one of them is that there were multiple times where I made sacrifices for Rebecca's career that people questioned at the time, especially including my parents. You know, you mentioned my parents being supportive, which is true in the big picture. And I think the reason you're saying that is because, uh, I dedicate, um, brothers and sisters Yep. Few people, but one of them was to my parents. So I said, always let me be me. And that is true. Um, going all the way back to when I was a kid, um, you know, I didn't always deliver the academic success that my, uh, IQ test indicated I should have. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And my parents got frustrated with me, especially my father who, uh, my father went to Harvard. He was <laugh> a grinder out <laugh>. Speaker 2 00:05:08 I was not, um, he had problems with that at times. Um, but they never tried to force me, uh, in, in a career way. But back, this plays a role. And the other thing I was saying, which is that I did these things for Rebecca that people questioned, and I got a lot of credit for as being like a really liberated man, um, <laugh>. But the truth is that each one of those things, each time I made a decision like that, I, it ended up paying off for me. And I could tell you a few of them, but each of them led me to where I am now. So, um, I didn't know I was going down this sort of entrepreneurial path. I, ultimately, I was, but those weren't, I didn't set out in my decision making to do that. I was improvising based on what was available in front of me. Speaker 2 00:05:54 So like, I went, I moved down to Florida. I turned down a job up here, uh, in the New York area where I had been, um, that, that really, I had issues with the job. I had gotten a better job offer. I probably would've taken it <laugh>. Okay. I had issues with the job I was given. It was sort of a part-time job doing stuff I wasn't thrilled about. Uh, in reporting in newspaper writing. Rebecca had this job at the Tampa Tribune. So I said, oh, the heck with it. I'm gonna go down. I wanna live in a different part of the country, see what happens. While I was down there, again, I was really trying to get a full-time job. I mean, I was working for tons of different people and I was doing music writing. I mean, I mean, I covered high school baseball games, um, in the time I to go to a payphone and call it in, um, you know, a 150 word article. Speaker 2 00:06:38 I interviewed kids, you know, high school kids who just, you know, pitched a two hitter, right? Did all that kind of stuff. I did anything that someone would pay me to do to write. It. Turned out that all of that work really paid off. I mean, being able to go to a high school baseball game and write a story and call it in that, that's really good training for being able to respond right things. I didn't think of it that way. I mean, I was just trying, I was hoping it was gonna lead to a job. I ended up outta the blue, then getting hired at Guitar World the one time. Rebecca then did something for my career. She found a job in New York and moved back up here. But then she got hired at the Wall Street Journal. I was the managing editor at Guitar World. Speaker 2 00:07:17 Her job was in de her job offer was in Detroit. I quit my job, uh, as managing editor to thought I'd find a new job. Guitar World gave me a writer's contract. That was the next step in my evolution where I got to really focus on writing, which is what I had wanted. I never would've had the guts to quit my job and just try to make it as a writer, um, if I hadn't been responding to her job offer. So again, um, doing that <laugh>, you know, again, sacrificing by quitting my job. And then it happened again, 2005, she was offered a job in Beijing, uh, for the Wall Street Journal as the China Bureau chief. I quit my then steady freelance job as a, as a senior writer for Guitar World and for Slam the basketball magazine to go move to China. And, um, I had had this really good 10 year run as a freelance writer. Speaker 2 00:08:06 Um, but I knew it was sort of coming to an end because money was starting to get tighter in publishing. And, uh, both those magazines were gonna, you know, probably cut me off from being on salary. Um, and so I knew I had to do something, and that came up and that gave me a chance. I was also getting really burned out. I mean, I'd spent 10 years doing so much writing. I mean, I was on the, the downside of being a contract writer for those magazines was that I really had to write a lot of words, right? The upside was I got to just write work at home. That's when we started to have kids. I was able to be the frontline parent by Rebecca was commuting into work in the city. Um, but I was getting pretty burned out. And so I went to China. Speaker 2 00:08:47 I had this chance to completely reinvigorate my writing because I just wrote for myself, I started a personal blog. Um, the finances were much better over there. Um, we had subsidized housing as an expat package and things like that. So, um, that was like the ultimate thing where I got so much credit from people, like for quitting my job, um, and, and moving to China for my wife's job. But the thing is, the flip side of it is I got to go to China and do all this fun stuff while she was like grinding away at work. Wow. And that led to all kinds of other things. My birthday as a musician, I mean, of course I had played guitar for years. Um, but that's when I really started performing. Um, I became a columnist for the Wall Street Journal writing about the expat life. Speaker 2 00:09:29 And so I got out of the music and sports world, and so, so many things opened up. And so at some point I started to just have faith that if I did that, um, good things would happen. I mean, I quit. I quit feeling like I was making sacrifices. Um, the way our society is structured, I still got a lot of praise for doing things for my wife. I think that's just sexist. Um, women do it for their husbands all the time. Um, right. Praise for it. Um, I benefited from that. And, you know, I wasn't beyond accepting some of it, but, um, <laugh>, yeah. So there wasn't really a plan there. It was more have faith, keep working on your craft. That would be the main thing. I mean, by the time these opportunities came in each case, I feel like I was ready for them because I had taken what I was doing really seriously. Speaker 2 00:10:18 Um, even when I was covering a high school, um, baseball game for the St. Petersburg Times, I didn't really treat it any differently than I do if I'm writing a profile now for the Wall Street Journal, um, which I do <laugh>. So, uh, I, I think that's really the main thing, is like, take whatever you're doing really seriously. Um, yep. And, and, and just get really good at it. And get good at your craft. I mean, um, I just became confident as a writer, um, and my ability to talk to people. And, um, yeah. But throwing myself into these different situations in which I was sort of doing it because I was desperate, because I just would do anything that someone would pay me 50 bucks to, to write. I would write anything for anybody. Um, Speaker 1 00:11:02 How much of the homework, how much homework was there? I mean, you know, you touched on the different aspects of writing. Uh, obviously it, it, it eventually channeled into the music industry, but I mean, I is is, is the best guidance that you can offer somebody, you know, kind of rub ebos with a lot of different people, test some things and just wait for the dots to connect, so to speak. Speaker 2 00:11:26 Yes. It's a combination of wait for the dots to connect and make them connect. Um, there were some periods, um, where I started to lose faith. I was waiting for the dots to connect, and I didn't feel them connecting. Um, but, you know, ultimately I stuck to my guns and it, and it worked out. Um, yeah, I, I I, I just homework is, is important. Um, especially I think early in your career, because sometimes, you know, for me, as my life got busier, I, I mentioned like for 10 years I was, I was a contract writer for both of those magazines. And sometimes I would have to do interviews with almost no homework or, you know, get thrown into something. Um, and, and there are times where you write for me as a writer, but I think it applies across other things. There are times where it's really driven by passion. Speaker 2 00:12:17 Uh, most notably, certainly with all of my books, um, the columns I used to write, uh, uh, for the journal and a lot of things. But there are also times where it's a job and you rely on your craft and you have to really develop that. Um, my son, uh, Jacob is a great writer and photographer, but he really struggles when he has to write something that he's not passionate about. And that's something that I've tried to coach him through. And that's what I always say to him is, there are times where everything is a passion play, and there are times where it's a job and it's, and, but you still take pride in it because the craft of writing is, is a craft. And you've, you've developed skills and you've gotten good at it. Um, and sometimes you just lean back on that. And, and that goes back to what I said, like covering those baseball games, writing stories, um, bridge games. Speaker 2 00:13:08 And, um, I just did so many things, like I said, anything anyone would pay me to do. And, and I developed, um, my skills that I, that I could then rely on. Um, and, and I've, I've been fortunate in that way. I've been fortunate, as you mentioned, to have a family that was supportive. And, um, I've been fortunate as a creative person, a writer, and a musician, um, ultimately to have a wife, um, who made steady money <laugh>, you know? Right. Uh, I mean, we made the same amount of money for a long time. And then, uh, her career kept going up, but I was on her insurance. I've been on her health insurance since we got married, but more or less <laugh>, <laugh> and <inaudible>. And I think that's important too. Um, you know, our society does put health insurance on employment. Yep, absolutely. Speaker 2 00:13:59 So I think that in most relationships, um, one person kind of needs to hold that down. I do know people who, both people are really creative and work in non-traditional jobs. Um, certainly doable. I think it presents more challenges, um, if you have a floor underneath you. Um, but you don't both need to do that. So, uh, you know, whether it's a man and a woman or two women or two men or, yep. No. Yep, yep. And that's my of marriage equality in my opinion, because, um, ev anybody should have that ability, um, if, if, if, uh, uh, health insurance is tied to employment. I, I think it's important. Of course, I know people go without health insurance and stuff. Yep. Uh, I never wanted to live that way. And I, I, so I've been able to ride that fine line between living a pretty straight life, um, and, and a very adventurous life. Speaker 1 00:14:51 Yeah. When you, when you, when you tie in all the experiences and kind of being at the right place at the right time, and I'm, I'm, as you mentioned, there were probably some times you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or the wrong place the right time, or vice versa. But, um, you know, a lot of people today, and I grew up, uh, I grew up with a father whose emphasis was education, you know, push to education. I was never the education guy. I was the kind of guy that if I put my hand on the oven and it was hot, I know not to put my hand on the oven, but, um, is, is education, the knowledge of writing and getting into journalism, is that critical to being successful? Or do you think that you could be successful without education? And when I say education, I'm talking about four years of college. I'm, I'm, I would never tell anybody not to finish high school. Of course, you gotta finish high school, but, you know, the education, I mean, Speaker 2 00:15:46 Uh, you could certainly be successful as a writer without four years of college. But, um, I do think it's, it's really helpful both because it exposes you to more experiences. I mean, I was lucky. I went to the University of Michigan. Um, like I mentioned, I met my wife at the University of Michigan, um, at the Michigan Daily student newspaper. I also worked at W C B N, the radio station. Uh, I also worked at Rick's American Cafe, a bar, um, where they had music five nights a week. I plan, I was able to have a wide range of experiences. So college is great at that. If somebody is really disciplined, um, in terms of how they read and write and whatnot, of course, you can do it on your own. Um, most of us need the structure of time. And, uh, it's important if you wanna be a writer to read a lot. Speaker 2 00:16:34 Um, and, and you start reading books the way like an engineer looks at a bridge or even an article. Um, you know, of course, I, I do still read for enjoyment, of course, but, um, I also do read books and I edit them in my head. Um, and I admire them, or I see flaws in them that I think, you know, people who don't write books maybe don't, don't notice. But, um, I, you know, that, that's a matter of experience. But having an opportunity to, to study writing for me, I also studied sociology in a lot of American history. I view all the writing I do as a form of American history. Um, so I think I'm more grounded, um, in, in, in, in things that I might be if I, but, but on the other hand, you definitely can self-educate, uh, just takes Speaker 1 00:17:21 Yep. I agree with you. Yep. Speaker 2 00:17:22 It, it just takes more discipline. So, um, if you are someone who has the discipline to do that, then you know, by all means, uh, go for it. I mean, uh, Dean Beke was the, uh, legendary editor of the New York Times, uh, who my wife got to work with when she was at the Times. Um, never graduated from college. Um, he's from New Orleans, and I believe he's sort of working for the New Orleans Time p Kun or as a stringer for a national newspaper, and just quit school. Um, not a normal path. I mean, he's probably the only editor of the New York Times. You know, he's the exception that proves the rule. Um, it's not a normal path, <laugh>, but it, it just shows that there, there are multiple paths to get to the same place. Wow. Speaker 1 00:18:05 Well, Alan, you've really shared some wonderful information here. And, uh, you know, I, I, I, I've, I've shared this story with only a few people, uh, mostly the inner circle of my, uh, family. But, uh, back in, I think it was 77, 78, maybe it was 79, I, I decided to quit college. And my father was pretty furious at me. And, uh, somehow or another, he ended me up connecting me with somebody within, uh, the Springsteen organization. Um, and I guess I was, you know, he mentioned something about going on an interview and, you know, uh, you know, maybe you could, maybe you could work in the music industry. And I'll never forget coming downstairs and I was gonna take a train. 'cause we grew up on Long Island. I grew up on Long Island, and I was gonna take a train into the city and meet this gentleman for a cup of coffee on a Saturday. Speaker 1 00:18:53 And I came down in a, you know, a pair of jeans and, uh, you know, golf shirt or t-shirt, whatever it was. And my father looked at me and said, I thought you were going into the city for an interview. And I said, I am. He says, but you can't go to an interview looking like that. I said, dad, it's, it's the music industry. So my father insisted that I go upstairs and back in those days, we wore three piece, three piece suits. So I ventured into the city and walked in. Actually, it's right down the street still there, that little diner next to the Beacon Theater, right down the street from the Beacon. Yeah. Walked in and sat down, and I can't remember the gentleman's name, but this is when Springsteen was kind of emerging and just coming out. And he looked at me and he said, Scott, he says, I just want to tell you, I appreciate you coming in, but there's no way I'm hiring anybody that shows up in a three piece suit, Speaker 2 00:19:45 <laugh>. Speaker 1 00:19:47 And I went home and my father said to me, what happened? I said, thanks, dad. You lost the job for me and <laugh>. And I still share that story. And I, I, I think it's important for people to be an independent and feel comfortable in their environment and their skin and go someplace. And, you know, uh, it isn't always about being in a three piece suit. I guess that's the best Speaker 2 00:20:07 Way to put it. That's, it's, it's funny you mention that. I'm sorry that that happened to you, but I was, it came up to New York. I was living in Florida to have my interview at Guitar World, and I did have the sense for some reason, from the phone calls that they already were ready to hire me. Um, the, basically the job was mine. They just wanted to make sure I could walk and talk and Right, based on a phone interview. And some time we spent talking and, and my sister lived in Manhattan, and she absolutely insisted that I have to wear a suit who the interview. And I remember her saying, it doesn't matter if you never wear a suit ever again at that job, you have to go to the job interview in a suit. And so my sister's older than me and had usually given me pretty good, good advice. Speaker 2 00:20:47 So I put a suit on. Um, but she was at work, and, and I looked in the mirror and I thought, there's no way I can wear this suit into there. And so I <laugh> took it off, and I did go into her boyfriend, who's now her husband's closet, and find like some kind of tweet sports coat or something. Yep. A sports jacket. And I wore that, um, I think I put a tie on, and I went in and Brad Linsky, the editor of Guitar World, walked in to meet me, and he was wearing skinny jeans, you know, and like a cutoff shirt. And he had a Prince Valiant haircut. And, you know, he probably was playing at CBGBs that night. And he looked at me and said, good to meet you, dude. Lose the suit. Um, and, and that was my much more informal <laugh> Bar Mitzvah suit I had so Uhhuh, um, probably the same thing might've happened to me if I had actually, you know, done that. Speaker 1 00:21:36 Yeah. But, uh, father Speaker 2 00:21:37 Certainly, for sure, absolutely would've said the same thing had he had the <laugh> without a button. Speaker 1 00:21:43 Well, <laugh> Hey everybody. We've been talking to Alan Paul. I'm Scotty Milas. Alan is, uh, the author, uh, of several books, uh, one Way Out the Inside Story of the Alman Brothers. And most recently, a publication that came out, again, a bestseller, uh, brothers and Sisters. Uh, hard to believe it's 50 years. Um, but, uh, I, i, I, it, it's, uh, it, it's just amazing. It's, uh, the stories are endless and, uh, having, uh, frequently attended, uh, I, I didn't miss a show. I shouldn't say I didn't miss a, uh, I saw at least one show, if not two, on every beacon run from the inception. And of course, I'd been down to the GABA Festival a number of times. So, uh, that's, uh, that's it. But I appreciate your time today, Alan. We've been, like I said, talking to Alan Ply. I encourage anybody who is a Alman Brothers fan, music fan pick up the books, um, they're, they're a great read. And, uh, it it, they're hard to put down. Speaker 2 00:22:41 Yeah. Thank you very much, Scotty. I appreciate it. Speaker 1 00:22:44 All right. Hopefully get you back one of these days. Thanks, Alan, I appreciate it. Thank Speaker 2 00:22:48 You very much.

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