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Talent, Creativity & The Stuff That Really Matters with John Mays

John Mays is the VP of A&R for Centricity Records. He’s credited on over 100 albums, and has worked with artists over an almost 40 year history: Lauren Daigle, Jason Gray, Apollo LTD, Brandon Heath, Newsboys, Point of Grace, Nichole Nordeman, the list goes on. John has dedicated his life toward finding talented artists and helping them reach their full potential. The mission of Centricity: to enable our artists to create life-changing experiences for the world. Join us for this episode as John shares what it was like to “discover” Lauren Daigle at an artist retreat, how he views artistry in general, and the full circle moment that came when his first signing came to sing hymns for John’s mother in her final days.

Listen to “Passion Meets Purpose #8: Talent, Creativity & The Stuff That Really Matters with John Mays” on Spreaker.

Special thanks to Northwest University for sponsoring the Passion Meets Purpose Podcast!

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John Mays: The preparation is what we can do. You know, there’s this mysterious  mix of God, beginning of good work in us. He’s, he’s faithful to complete it, but we have this cooperation in our sanctification, right? We do. There is something expected of us. There is practice. There is work. There is discipline. Those are all things we can do to prepare ourselves for whenever God does this thing of intersecting that line with an opportunity.

Sarah Taylor: His name is John Mays and you are in for such a treat in this episode, mainly because John’s life work is all about finding talent in others and cultivating that talent. He is the vice president for A and R, Artists and Repertoire on Centricity record label. We’re going to talk about how he started that job.

He was Centricity employee number one. What he looks for when he’s looking for musical talent, John himself has credited on over 100 records. He’s been a composer, a session musician, and we begin our conversation with John. Oh, by the way, he’s also the one who pretty much found Lauren Daigle. Yep. And the Newsboys and Nicole Nordeman.

And you’re going to hear about his very first signing and how that all came full circle. Okay. Without further ado, let’s get started with what Artists and Repertoire actually is.

John Mays: It’s actually an old music business term that came out of the fifties. Uh, There was a guy named John Hammond. And if anyone’s ever interested, he has a book out, or he’s gone now, but he had a book called the producer, which is fun and interesting if you care about what A&R is. But, uh, he was kind of credited as the first guy who knew the music scene in New York. And at that time, this would be the late fifties, you know, labels were mostly really seeing jazz, classical and show tunes and John Hammer would go into clubs and see Billy Holiday and go, why isn’t this person making her? This is what people love in the clubs. You know? So he, he would, this is the, A part, he would identify an artist.

And I think Billy Holiday was one of his first ones, and take it to a label and say, you guys should be recording artists like this, uh, because this is what the popular music of the people is. So identifying artists, that’s the, A part, the R part in his case, going back to him would be sitting down with Billy and saying, okay, in your set, you play 15 songs.

Uh, and I’ve watched you now twice and it seems like this song connects, this song needs some help, the it, let me put you with this writer to help you fine tune this song. That’s the R part, the repertoire. So it’s a function of identifying artists for your label to work with, and for, to sign and then to help them in the process of making a recording. And the biggest chunk of that process is identifying the songs that you’re going to record.

Sarah Taylor: You basically, you have a radar for finding talent, and then you have a discernment on how to nurture, cultivate, draw out the best in that talent without completely crushing them. It’s one of the main reasons that I wanted to have you on the

podcast is because it’s almost like the mission statement that you have for Centricity, which I’m going to have you kind of unpack a little bit, that you enable your artists to create life-changing experiences for the world, right? So you’re not enabling them just to be great artists on their own, but you want them to have a way that they give back that they find that, that deep purpose. Your Centricity is to get that whole mission into a sentence. How long did that take?

John Mays: Months. I, you know, it kind of started with, uh, uh, in the earliest days doing some interview with somebody and they were asking me, well, what’s Centricity’s mission? And at that time it was me, you know, and I’m like, well, and I actually riffed on something and came up with something that I could probably buy. But it, that just triggered the idea in me that, well, I guess we’re, if we’re serious, we do actually need some sort of mission to guide us by and, and, you know, a target to shoot for. So it was months from then and, you know, bouncing it around the owners and some other people. But, uh, I think the, the first word enabling might be the only word that I would mess with if I was ever going to do it again, because there’s some connotation that, that they couldn’t do it without us. We enable them to do this, but that’s not true. Obviously they, they could and will, most artists will do it, you know, on some level, without anybody coming along and helping them. It is enablement. And that we build a platform for them. We, we support, we give support and encouragement both financially, of course, uh, and art creatively, hopefully, and spiritually. So we enable them in that way, but it’s not like they’re dependent on us. So that’s the only, that’s the only word that’s a little fuzzy for me. But, uh, uh, our artists is important to me because we don’t do this with everybody’s artists, you know. We have a culture and a fit and, um, a way of doing things. I mean, there’s lots of labels and we all basically do the same thing, but it’s the way you go about it that makes you unique, right, are different in the landscape. And the way we go about it makes us us, and so this is only this statement is only true for our artists, not for other people’s artists, and not think there’s some ownership in that that inspires us. Right?

Well, I’ll, I’ll fast forward here to create life changing experiences, one thing that might be interesting about it is the word music is not anywhere in the mission statement. That was intentional and also wrestled a lot with that in that could life change come from a conversation with an artist at their merchant table, or an interview that they hear from them on a podcast. Could a thought that they have that’s in a blog post uh, actually inspire life change that has nothing to do with a song or, uh, or a recording? And I think now this many years later that’s happened time and time again. So the experience is what we want to help the person enable, right? Not necessarily the song or music, but most of the time, that’s what it’s going to be. Uh, but we didn’t want to just limit it to that. And then of course, for the world, You know, I guess it would have been dumb to say for the universe, but we don’t want any walls around this. Right. We, we want God to be able to take it. Uh, we want our vision to match what we believe God’s would be, which would be for the heart of every human on the planet.

So, uh, that’s a quick version of the mission statement.

Sarah Taylor: So you were Centricity employee number one in what year?

John Mays: I think 2002 is the first time I met the owner. Okay.

Sarah Taylor: And there was a lot of fun 20 years coming up on it.

John Mays: Yeah. There was a lot of just conversation and dreaming and sort of is this, would this be crazy that went on for a couple of years, but it was 2016 that we actually released our first music. So that was 15 years.

Sarah Taylor: Maybe you said 2016, I think you mean 2006.

John Mays: Don’t correct. Me. Sarah I’m of course. I’m right, but I’m going to give you this one. Okay. Okay. 2006.

Sarah Taylor: Okay. Okay. So my point is I think my, my question buried in all of that, what’s it been like to watch that vision come to fruition?

John Mays: Yeah, so humbling. One of the big questions, and I’m sure you can appreciate this with any team, right? Is like, how do you keep the mission in front of everybody? How do you keep reminding people that this is why you exist? And the reason you show up for work every day? So, so I started this idea of a collecting, getting emails and voicemails and texts.

Anyway, anything could come in from people out there who would say, and it would almost always start with, Hey, I heard your song on the radio, or I’ve found your song on Spotify or whatever, that and then they would go into their story of what happened in their life as a result experiencing this song, you know?

And, uh, so it, it seemed fitting around the end of the year… so usually in our Christmas gatherings, I’ll build those out among the team and or sometimes I’ve done it through video, but, uh, we’ll read these stories and it’s always so humbling to have some sort of tangible sense of how God has used, uh, showing up for work everyday.

Right. Um, and we all know this isn’t if all these good things have happened, it’s not about us doing some good job because everybody does a good job right now. There are great people at all the labels who do great jobs. Uh, this is something about God’s honoring our faithfulness to show up and, and giving favor and grace to some of the artists that we have.

Uh, and that just feels so, it feels so good. I’ll be honest. But, uh, you know, when you think about where I’ll put this in my heart and my mind, it’s just, uh, it makes much of Him and, uh, ma and encourages us, and especially me, I think, to just soldier on, like, I’m more inspired than I’ve ever been to keep doing the best work I can.

And I think most of our team feels that way.

Sarah Taylor: So glad to hear you say. I’m so glad to hear that. Um, it continues to ignite that passion inside of you and that you’re more inspired than you’ve ever been. For someone that’s listening to this, that they’re taking some of the wisdom that you have from your career and applying it to, like, for example, what you were just saying about giving feedback in a tender way, um, it makes me think about parenting, right? You want to drop of your kids and not, you also need to give them boundaries and you need to speak the truth. So for someone that’s listening to music, maybe go ahead and share a little bit about some of the similarities you see with what your skillset is. Nurturing and cultivating talent.

John Mays: Oh any, any parent would appreciate the complexity and difficulty of identifying what’s a strength and a weakness in their kid’s life, especially as they age a little bit. Yeah. Because you’re, you’re caught in this thing of like well, yeah, sure. Try soccer. Let’s see if you have any gifting for that.

Try cello. Let’s see. You know, and you experiment a lot in those beginning years, it’s just to see if something sticks with that kid. And then, uh, if it does stick, hopefully you recognize some gifting in there and then you can, if there’s gifting, then you can nurture that, that gifting. So very much the same in the way that you uh, develop artists in that, you know, you might have a, uh, an artist who’s a fantastic writer and a terrible performer. Like they they’re wired completely inward and the idea of getting on stage in front of an audience scares them to death. Uh, this is probably an old reference, but Rich Mullins was that guy, you know, he was very incredibly talented as a songwriter, but hated getting on a stage and had to find a way to make that happen. There are, there are artists who are great lyricists, but terrible, terrible melody writers. There are artists who, like you mentioned, Nicole Nordeman I remember one of our first conversations. So it was talking about the songs that she’d sent in way before we released anything, but everything was like nine minutes long. And they were these incredible stories set to music that were like, you don’t have to write a movie. We’re just writing a photograph, you know, right now. So if, could you take a picture of this chapter for you right now and write that picture.

And that was really difficult to condense all these fantastic words and poetry that she had in her head down to hook, right? Like a catchy phrase at the end of a chorus. She didn’t really have a gifting for that until she wrote with some people that, that kind of taught her that. So there are similarities and that way of trying a lot of things, identifying what’s the strengths and then trying to nurture that thing.

Yeah. There are going to be things in every child’s life and every artist’s life that there that are going to come with the job that they don’t necessarily love doing. Right. But that’s true, that’s just maturity skill that you’ve got to learn. I don’t love everything about this job, but I do it because I love the outcome of it.

I love, I love being able to offer my skillset and see God use it.

Sarah Taylor: Another question that kind of fits that same parallel, uh, I’ve heard you say before that talent, isn’t the rare commodity, discipline is.

John Mays: That’s a good one, right? Yeah. And I don’t know. I think, I feel like that’s more true than it’s ever been in my 30 something year career now. Uh, there is, uh, a mechanism now in the music industry to get artists from say an American Idol audition to almost a headline tour without really any kind of dues paying along the way. And dues paying, I think it’s an old phrase in the music industry, but we forget how important, how character building it is to play for 15 kids at a youth group and just try to learn how to get their attention and do it for $30 gas money to get to the next night. A lot of artists now have the opportunity to just shortcut that, and I’m not sure it’s good for them. Right. And in that shortcut, they miss out on the discipline piece of what this is, uh, cuz, the truth is Sarah, we would have no problem finding another great singer, or right, or another great band. There’s so much of it out there. And I think with the advent, of course, YouTube and Instagram and all the tools we use now to, to help find people, uh, there’s just so many good people out there. What you can’t find is someone really committed to the craft of becoming, uh, an expert at what they do, whether it’s writing, performing, being an artist.

And I think if we could go back 150 years, if we could be watching, I mean, he was crazy, okay, but if we could watch Vincent van Gogh paint three paintings today, three paintings the next day, three paints that, uh, are, are Bach, writing a song a week for his church. We we might realize those guys had an edge on sub-discipline that a lot of commercial artists aren’t willing to exercise today, you know?

So I, I don’t want to ever use that quote as a, like a sword, but I do pull it out occasionally, especially with new people have this notion now that I can sign a deal and I’ll be headlining, you know, in two months, and, uh, I would love for my bus to have this kind of furniture in it… and I’m like, wow, we’re not even, we’re so far from that right now. Let’s talk about woodshedding for a little while.

Sarah Taylor: Why don’t you share this story of, um, another quote of yours that’s actually not your quote. It’s your friend’s quote, but it’s the one about, uh, preparation and opportunity. So start with preparation opportunity. And then I’m going to ask for a question about Lauren Daigle.

John Mays: Well, yes, that was an old mentor of mine is a guy named Bob McKinsey who was a producer. He gave me my first shot at a real recording session as a bass player. And in that session, he called me over into a corner, and I don’t know if not music, people that really get this, but he said, Hey, John, we’re not paying you by the note.

But in other words, it meant you’re playing too much, you know, it’s, it’s too busy, like relax a little bit that, and the concept that there’s as much music between the notes as there is in the notes themselves. That was all Bob and Kinsey. But yeah, he had this great thing that you live on the line of preparation until it intersects the line of opportunity. And I never hear, heard him really made, make a spiritual thing out of that, but the longer I lived with it and would talk about it with other people, the more I saw that’s so biblical, right. That the preparation is what we can do. W you know, there’s this mysterious mix of God, beginning of good work in us.

He’s, he’s faithful to complete it, but we have cooperation and our sanctification, right? We do. There is something expected of us in that, but it is his work in us. So there is practice. There is work. There is discipline. Like we talked about before. Those are all things we can do to prepare ourselves for whenever God does this thing of intersecting that line with an opportunity.

Yeah. That you can’t control. You know, and there are people in this town that have been on that preparation road for probably 10, 15 years, and that mine has not intersected an opportunity yet. And you can’t blame anybody for that. Right. That’s, that’s, God’s mysterious way of working. And, uh, and it, somehow I think that frame can make some sense for new and developing artists that this is all you’re responsible for right now is to, uh, to use the gifts you you’ve been given in any way that you know how to prepare for when an opportunity comes.

Sarah Taylor: So you do a Centricity writer’s retreat and beautiful, well, I won’t disclose where it is, so that up and coming artists don’t, go try to find it. So there’s a location that has,  a writer’s retreat where you invite those up and coming artists and songwriters and Lauren Daigle, uh, ended up at one of those as a background singer. And the opportunity that found her was unfortunately that the lead singer got sick and so she stepped up to the microphone and I’m assuming you were in the room with Steve in the room when that happened?

John Mays: Yeah. Yeah. And, and a few others by that time, that was, I think 2012. So, you know, we had a handful of employees by that time.

Sarah Taylor: Tell me a little bit more about that opportunity that found her in like…

John Mays: It’s, it’s actually more than just a writer’s retreat. There is songwriting that goes on at that retreat, but it’s, it’s a. Uh, an awesome opportunity that we have because of this place you’re talking about to invite a handful of artists who are on our radar at some level or another, like we, we would, uh, we’ve always lived under this sort of banner that the people we work with are more important, who they are, is more important than what they do or the kind of music they make. Right. So, To be able to spend a week away with a group of these people in some crazy remote location where there’s really nothing else to go do, but just hanging out together. Uh, we found that such an incredibly valuable tool that kind of fast forwards a lot of the get to know process. You know, somebody doesn’t live here in town, you’re going there, they’re coming here and you’re doing some lunches together and then they go back and it’s hard to learn who each other is really, you know, like that. So we have this opportunity to do this retreat and that’s really its core, is getting to know these artists. Uh, and part of that process is songwriting. Lauren had never written a song when she came to the retreat so if it was only about songwriting, I probably wouldn’t have invited her, but I’m glad that I did.

And yeah, she had a, there was a band out of Baton Rouge called The Assembly, that was a band we had already invited and they sent us their new indie CD that they had done, yet now. And the second, I think it was the second verse of the second track of that CD featured Lauren, who was went to their church and help them lead worship sometimes.

But she was still a student at LSU at that time. So I just ask, Hey, who is that girl? You know? And she was, was not on our radar at any level, but we had had a girl that had dropped out, who had had to drop out and, you know, you’re trying to keep your heart open to how has God worked in these situations and steward your invites, you know, accordingly, somehow.

And it just felt like, well, she might be good to talk to about coming. And we talked on the phone and she didn’t have a lot. She had done American idol a couple of times, and it hadn’t gone much of anywhere. And that was about her only musical efforts at that time, other than leading worship. So, uh, she came and as you say, we do have a day where everybody gets up and plays a song or two. That’s not because we, it’s not some label audition. It’s just for them to hear each other. Like, I’m the only one, usually that knows what everybody does by the time they get up there. So everybody gets up and does a couple of songs. But it’s very hard for them to not look at it, like, gosh, there’s a label here and we get to get up there and play a song, you know?

Uh, so anything I say, I can never talk to anybody out of it that not feeling like a showcase, but it usually does. So it came time for that. And the night before the lead singer for the assembly, his appendix ruptured and the place that we are for this retreat, I think it’s like 60 miles to a hospital. So they had to get him out of there. And he was for the next, I think four day, he came back on the last day of the retreat. So he basically missed the whole thing. And of course the rest of the band now is like, oh fine, we’re up here with a label and we don’t have a lead singer. And it was just like, Could Lauren do a couple of worship songs with you?

They’re not your songs, but okay. Like they didn’t really like the idea, but that was the first time any of us actually got to hear Lauren opened her mouth and saying, you know. I had only had that one first on that CV. I guess the rest is history. It was, you know, what she was able to do vocally was super impressive but then we got to know her that week and loved her. And that’s where that whole thing started.

Sarah Taylor: We’ll be right back with our conversation, but first a heartfelt thank you to our sponsor Northwest University. Have you heard NU is all in on tech. They’ve got a brand new state-of-the-art technology studio and majors include UX design, data science, video production, audio production, and computer science.

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Sarah Taylor: In addition to Lauren, so many of your relationships with these artists thankfully have spanned over decades because, well, I mean, it’s everything that you would hope for is you had a great judge of talent and they had that work ethic and then it just kept going. And one of the artists, she was your first signing, right?

Cindy. So that’s probably one of the reasons that this friendship has gone so deep. How, how many years have, uh,

John Mays: 1989 is when we met and signed. So. Well, I don’t know what that math is.

Sarah Taylor: For someone who’s not familiar with Cindy and her, why don’t you talk a little bit about, uh, what it was that got you to make that first signing. And then I want to talk about a real special moment between the two of you.

John Mays: Yeah. Cindy was from east Tennessee and, uh, man, this predates American idol or any of that, but there was a similar kind of show called star search and then I think Ed McMahon hosted it, but she had entered into that show. And I think that’s the first thing I ever heard on her.

She’s sang Aretha  Franklin’s, “She made me feel like a natural woman,” and crushed it. But, uh, she was working at, uh, a men’s clothing store in Knoxville and, uh, you know, she, for her to drive over. And we were just getting to know each other a little bit. I think Cindy and I would both say all these years later that we learned a whole lot from each other. Me about how to do A& R maybe her about how to be a commercial artists. But, uh, your right, that’s probably one of, some of the roots go deep on our friendship. As a side note, she was just here yesterday, writing. So the first person I ever signed was writing with the newest person I’ve signed, uh, who’s 20 years old. And that, that was, I just loved everything about that, you know. But, uh, Cindy was obviously had to spend five minutes with her to know that she was a really special person at that time.

And this would speak to the music scene at that time. She had the idea of wanting to make a record that sounded like a cross between Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson. So that’s exactly what we did. And she was great at helping write those kinds of songs. But along that way, somewhere that first record, she wrote a song called how could I ask for more?

That problem may be if anybody’s familiar with her or hang on, hung onto her career at all over the years, that’s the standout song. She just sat down at a piano and wrote that. Uh, that was just a moment of gratitude, you know, for her. So, um, That, that was a clue like, well, there’s way more in there than just this girl who can kind of do dance moves, dancing like Mariah Carey.

Uh, but we, we did do three records like that and it did launch a great career for her. But over time, obviously she grew as an artist and got more in touch with who she wanted to be. And now still does a lot of writing and performing, but more in a sort of a Americana folk tradition. But, uh, this beautiful story about my mom, she knew my mom really well.

My mom and dad lived with us, uh, you know, out here in Tennessee for the last 18 or 20 years of their lives. And my mom was in a nursing home the last few weeks of her life and was clearly, you know, uh, on her way out. And I, I’ve told this story to people just because it speaks to the power of music without any sort of commercial context at all.

And I do think a lot of people who are gifted musically because of the culture we live in, forget that God uses music for kingdom purposes in ways that we never know about. I hope we get to know about them in eternity. Like I hope some awards get handed out and we’ll get to see, right, oh, I see what was important.

So, uh, you know, Cindy having known my mom and known me, of course, uh, but also a person who had had a commercial music career, uh, just called and said, Hey, can I come sing some hymns for your mom? Uh, At this nursing home. So she brought in her little mandolin and, uh, my mom wasn’t aware enough to answer any questions about her favorite hymns, but, uh, really, uh, not my mom passed away the next day.

So there were some beautiful ways that, uh, Cindy just sort of sung my mom into, to heaven, you know. And that was it kind of a full circle moment for me. And then there was nothing Cindy, and I’d worked so long and hard on commercial music efforts and for there not to be one musical thing, a commercial thing about that moment, but it, for it to be everything for the kingdom, uh, it helped remind me and bring me full circle. And of course, cemented a friendship with me and Cindy that will last forever.

Sarah Taylor: Thank you so much for sharing that again. Like I think maybe that might be the second, maybe third time been honored to hear you share that story. And I just, um, I find that I, I reflect on it a lot. Like it’s just something I think it’s kind of like you said, awards being handed out in heaven and we’ll be like, oh, that’s what mattered.

John Mays: Right?

Sarah Taylor: Thank you for sharing such a tender part of your story so that we, the greater collective, can be reminded of the stuff that actually matters. The showing up in those moments, the offering our gift in those moments. So, so that’s a story about your mom. I know that there is a wooden stool, a homemade wooden stool in your office.

Tell me about that.

John Mays: Yeah. My dad, uh, was a roughneck. If, if anyone doesn’t know what that is, it’s a guy who works at our drilling rig in west, Texas. And that’s what he did, our whole upbringing. They did it really for about 40 years and it was, uh, it’s outdoor, physical, demanding labor every day. I think I was in junior high before he wasn’t doing it seven days a week. Uh, and it’s paid by the hour. There’s no retirement, there’s no benefits or anything like that. Institutionalize a little bit over the years. I don’t know this was back when he was doing it. And it was dangerous work. And, uh, it was the way he, you know, raised his family and, uh, very grateful for it. But there wasn’t a lot of margin in his life outside of working.

He would come home so tired and get in his La-Z-Boy, you know, and, and doze off to sleep. And of course you were like, Hey, you earned it, uh, go to sleep. But, um, Once they moved out here with us. It was the, it was, I guess, his retirement, you know, and it was the first time he was like, well, what am I going to do with my life? And, uh, we had a little shed out back that was little, like a tool shed. And he would be tinkering around, out there in that shed during the day, and I wandered back there one day and there were three or four of these, I’m going to call them stools or like benches, uh, any way I would describe him would not be rustic enough for our plane and not literally 2×4’s nailed together in a, just a non carpenter kind of way, uh, that, uh, he just found that he loved doing. So, uh, he didn’t want to go like the Home Depot and buy wood for them. So we would go around to construction sites and ask if we could take some of the wood that they were throwing away.

That’s what he would make them. But Sarah, he got to the place where he was making five and six benches a day and would give them to the neighbors, and people at church, and people I’ve worked with, and several of the artists that I have, I was working with at the time, have benches. He just loved giving them away.

And it was so neat for me to see a guy who, uh, yeah, there’s a, there’s a book, uh, called if you want to write about Brenda Youlan, it was written in the thirties, but she starts this, uh, this book with the premise that everyone is creative and has something important to say. Everyone is creative and has something important to say, and, uh, I have to remind myself a lot of that, you know, because as we’ve already touched on here, we live in this little commercial bubble where we kind of value that above anybody else’s creative work. But yeah. I thought of Brenda’s quote when I looked at these benches with my dad, this is the first time he was creating something, right.

He was making something with his hands that wasn’t there before he touched it. It reminded me of a lot of good things, but one just the joy he would take out of making something and giving it to somebody. There’s a great book called, uh, Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel, who sort of outlines his theory of the six steps of creativity. And the fifth one is completing.

So you would think, well, We’re done creating, right. That’s where it’s completed. But his sixth step is showing. That and he would make the case that really you haven’t created anything unless someone else can experience it in some way. Right. So to give these benches to people, it didn’t just bring him joy, it honored the creator by showing what he was able to do with his hands. So, yeah. I’m looking at that bench right now in my office, as it sits here. And this one particularly has been signed by a lot of people over the years. Uh, Cindy has signed this bench. I think she got, uh, one of those benches one time.

Uh, so just a beautiful reminder of my dad. One, one thing, and then just a how God, uh, put some gene or seed of creativity in everyone. Uh, I can’t remember whose quote this was. I’m sorry. I, I don’t remember the source, but it was that the saddest thing and all of humanity is for a man to go to his grave with his songs still in him, and that was my dad’s song. Right. Making those benches. And he got to sing it for about 20 years, there in the last part of his life.

Sarah Taylor: Wow, man. There was so much good stuff in all of that. I was trying to take mental notes, but obviously… my father-in-law was saying that too, cause he likes to ride motorcycles and he said that it wasn’t like he would ride to a beautiful, I don’t know, Grand Canyon vista, and unless he had someone to look at, and say,  you see this?

John Mays: Wow. Right. Yeah, it’s a, it’s sort of a universal principle in creativity that if you start looking for it, you find it. Marissa Meyer, who is now CEO of Yahoo, but was one of the early executives at Google, and, um, Engineers would bring her ideas, you know, in an explosive time of Google.

And she would always reduce the budget by 20%. And she would always reduce, uh, uh, the time allotted by some amount. And it frustrated the engineers and the people creating these services and products. And they were like, well, why, why can’t we have what we asked for? And she would say, because creativity loves constraints.

Like the part of the constraint might be that you don’t have as much to create from. My dad had some too much for his bike construction site, next door. Steve Jobs used to tell his engineers, true artists ship, true artists ship. In other words, until it goes out to someone, these iPhones are beautiful, like you take the back off of them, they are art almost, but in less, unless somebody can make a call on it, it’s not art, it’s just a thing laying on a table. So. If anyone is encouraged by this idea that I mean, maybe you cook or you make a garden or you create something you probably do, or at least there’s a hand in your back.

That’s like, I would like to create something to give that thing expression, but then to push through the barrier of being so shy about it, that no one ever sees it, to expose it to someone sort of brings it full circle, and then inspires that idea again so that you want to create more. And that’s the way people love the world. That’s just way, part of the way the kingdom works. My dad loved the world by making those crazy benches.

Sarah Taylor: John Mays, whose life just reflects both passion and purpose, and he spots it in others and he cultivates it. That’s actually, my favorite part of this whole interview is that he finds himself more inspired than ever before to keep going, 40 years in. Our, thanks to John Mays, Centricity Music, of course, Northwest University for sponsoring it,

and thank you to you for listening, for sharing your feedback on who you’d like to hear next on the podcast, and how you are pursuing your passion, to give back to the world. My name is Sarah. I’ll see you in two weeks.

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