Stephen Nelson speaks the language of music. A primarily self-taught pianist, he has an amazing talent for composition, oftentimes performing on-the-spot “mash ups” of famous songs for live audiences. His ability to effortlessly create melodies has led to multiple collaboration efforts, including producing the cinematic pop group GENTRI.

“One thing I love to do is take this big mess of things that all sound wonderful and distill it down to what I feel is the most important aspects of it… You have to write music that has a heartbeat. And music that has a heartbeat has to be real. It has to be vulnerable. It has to be authentic.”

Something truly refreshing about Stephen is his lack of ego. He compares himself to a recluse, eschewing social media and internet advertising in favor of real-life collaborations. He feels that he is an “empty soul,” prepared to be the vessel that carries the message of an artists with a desperate desire to speak to the world. If they bring the passion, Stephen will give it a voice.

“I found that I have nothing that I want to say to the world. I just don’t care. But the music is just oozing out of my soul. And so I’m always looking for opportunities to find somebody who has something [they] want to say. And when I collaborate with them, that’s where I think the most special things come from with the things that I’m a part of.”

Today’s podcast is unique for several reasons: first, Stephen composes a “mash up” of two of my favorite melodies, and I am delighted at the result! Additionally (because we like to keep things exciting), you’ll get to hear Stephen collaborate with our very own producer, Macy Robison.

Join us for an enthralling journey into the heartbeat of music and the world of collaboration. Listen to the episode on the player above or download it on Apple Podcasts. if you like what you hear, please leave us a review! How do you feel about the clips in this episode? If you had a soundtrack to your life, what songs would you include?

Takeaways from this episode:

  • Stephen realized early on that he prefers to use his talent to showcase others’ voices instead of his own. Is this something you can apply to your own life? This week, deliberately share something you’re working on with other people. You can share it online, on social media, with a coach or colleague or trusted friend. But share it.
  • Know what your unique strengths are. In Stephen’s case, it’s his incredible gift for being able to hear and see melodies almost effortlessly. What’s your unique strength? As we’ve talked about before, sometimes we devalue or talk down our strengths (just like Stephen did for a minute) because they are often gifts or talents that come naturally. We value what we don’t do well (our weaknesses) and the things we’ve overcome. But our strengths are what set us apart and are an important lever of disruption.
  • Remember to bring all you have to offer to the table and detach from your ego for the good of whatever project you are working on.
  • Whatever you’re creating, if it’s meant to make a difference in the world, will have a heartbeat and a life of its own for others to experience. It’s not for you to keep or hide. The things we create are meant to share. That can feel vulnerable and scary, but remember what you create may inspire others to create as well.
  • As Austin Kleon says – Show Your Work. Share it with others.

Links Mentioned in this Episode:


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