3 Business Lessons I Learned at a Songwriters Retreat

Jennie Lee Riddle, a Dove-award winning songwriter.

Jennie Lee Riddle is a Dove award-winning songwriter. I recently attended her songwriter’s retreat in Sherman, TX as part of a media team with Highways Ministries. While sitting in a chapel service, God spoke some lessons through her that will change the way I do business. The last thing I expected to gain at a songwriter’s retreat are business practices.

I once thought of a songwriter’s retreat as a kind of fluffy gathering for spacy creatives. But as I met and hung out with some songwriters and musicians, I realized that they are the hardest working creatives. Making a living from crafting hooks and lyrics that people want to hear is an art. Jennie Lee Riddle has made her mark on the music industry as a leader, award-winning songwriter and mentor to young creatives.

Here are some principles I learned from Jennie at this retreat that will change the way I do business and life:

#1 If you see a picture in your mind of what you want to do, draw it or write it down. God speaks in pictures and visions. Don’t be afraid to capture those pictures and words.

#2 Speak your mind if you don’t agree with something. Don’t waste people’s time. Jennie gave this instruction to students participating in a songwriting circles. If you hear something you don’t like, don’t wait until the end of the meeting to say you don’t like it. When you speak up after everybody has already wrestled with the idea, you’ve just wasted everyone’s time.

I’ve sat in meetings where the direction on an idea was obviously wrong. I’ve watched thousands of dollars wasted on an idea that was a loss because I didn’t have the guts to speak up. Speak your mind. Don’t feel obligated to be polite. Don’t waste other people’s time or their money.

#3 Work on what you already know. I’ve had a lot of wannabee writers tell me that they want to write a book or a script and they want my idea on how to get started. Or someone who pitches me a new business idea. My advice isn’t revolutionary. “Just start,” I tell them. Write what you know. Work on what you already know to do.

You don’t need my permission to do what you know you’re suppose to do. If you’re suppose to start that business, then do it. Write that book. Talk to that person who can move your idea forward. Work on what you already know. Use what you already have.

So draw a picture of what you’re envisioning. Speak your mind. And work on what you already know.

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