Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pyramind Keynote

The following is a keynote I gave at a graduation ceremony for students at Pyramind at the end of last year. I thought it would be a good thing to share...

Today, I’d like to talk briefly about the future.

We all dream of futures filed with creativity, success, wealth, love, joy –

Many possibilities all revolving around what we desire in our hearts and what we’re passionate about.

The problem with the future is:

There is no certainty.

No guarantees that everything we desire will be there when we arrive.

What can we do about this?

What actions can we take to achieve our dreams?

In my observations, people live in one of three ways:

The future
The past
The moment

Those that live in the future say things like,
“Once I land that big job, everything will be OK.”
“Once I achieve X, then I’ll be happy.”

It took a year from the time I submitted a demo for Dirty Harry until I got hired. Waiting and wanting the job so badly drove me nuts! I was so desiring of this future (at the time) but couldn’t do anything about it – until it happened in its own time.

Those living in the past say,
“If only X would have happened, then everything would have been OK.”
“If I would have done X, then Y would have happened.”
If only I practiced piano more then sequencing would not equal pain!

Sadly, most people live in these two places.

But here’s a secret:
The past and the future aren’t real.

The past isn’t real because it’s already happened.

It was real when it happened

But it’s not real now.

The future isn’t real because it hasn’t happened yet.

It won’t become real until it happens.

Plus, which future will it be?

I believe everything occurs in a succession of moments.

Once they occur, they become part of the past.

Those moments that haven’t occurred yet are part of the future.

None of these events are ones we can control.

So, what can you control?

The moment

This moment.


You choose.

You act.

The choices and actions you make live in the present.

They live here in the moment.

When I’m composing and “in the zone,” I’m in the moment.

Relaxed, focused, present and open to let the composition evolve

into something cool and amazing.

Now is the most powerful spot to be in.

Now is where everything exists and it is the only place

Where you have complete control.

Once you choose,

Once you act,

This event moves into the past.

And there exists a new moment for you to make

Addition choices and actions.

Now is where everything exists.

It is a powerful spot.

It’s where I feel the most excitement.

The most joy.

What does “being in the moment” mean?

Being present

Being decisive

Acting powerfully

The last day of recording on Star Wars: The Old Republic was a magical day.

We were behind schedule, and our whole team collectively chose to “go guerrilla.”
This meant we needed to use guerrilla warfare tactics, which was a phrase I (and many of my colleagues) used back in the early days of my career when we had no budget and not enough recording time. This method of recording involved setting limits as to how much time would be spent on recording each cue. Three takes or 15 minutes for an action cue, two takes or 10 minutes for an ambient cue. Record the best performance possible with the restraints and move on.

 On this magical day, the synergy of everyone – composers, recording crew, conductor and the musicians performed at the highest level of working together that I’ve ever experienced.

It was amazing! The performances were stellar. The teamwork was unparalleled. The efficiency of the day was perfect. It was a perfect succession of moments.

 I’m not sure if experiencing a synergy like this might ever happen again. Let’s hope so.

So here we are. Here. Now.

Choosing to be what we are in this moment.

Hopefully, I’m being inspiring on this day where you all celebrate

The completion of your programs.

Whether I’m actually this or not depends on you and me.

By what we choose

And what we act upon.

So after celebrating this graduation from the program,

What are you going to do?

What choices and actions will you make?

 I can’t wait to find out!

Some advice as you go out and conquer the universe:

 1.   The jobs and opportunities are out there, in the world.

Staying at home waiting for the phone call vs. putting yourself out there

Not what I’d consider productive or efficient.

It’s our nature (because the work we do is generally solitary) to stay in our little caves.

But the people who hire you aren’t in your cave, so get out there!

That’s where they are. Go get ‘em!

I go to GDC every year. Also community events, dinner with friends, send emails, make phone calls, update my website, facebook, etc.

2.   Opportunities come from unexpected places and people.

My first video game job came from a posting on a film music soundtrack newsgroup.

It came from Belgium.

That game was Outcast.

3.   When your opportunity arrives:
        Be prepared.
        Execute well (kick ass!)
        Acknowledge the moment (we forget this one)
        Acknowledge others (those that help get you there need love too)

When I finally got the green light for Dirty Harry:
I analyzed all the movie scores
Kicked ass on composing and working with the audio director
Smiled (a lot!) on the scoring stage (acknowledged the moment)
Expressed my appreciation to everyone on the crew and in the orchestra (and got a better performance because of this)

4.   There’s room for everybody

Repeat after me: I’m unique!

I believe in an abundant universe over one filled with scarcity

That abundant universe has room for everyone to have their little spot where they can fulfill their dreams.

5.   Final words of advice:


Yeah, it’s on every shampoo bottle but it works!

Congratulations everyone! (That’s an acknowledgement)

Enjoy the moment.

Thank you.