Symbol of the strength and values of the Vassilaros family is Stefanie Kasselakis Kyles who traded her high heels as a very successful investment banker to run the family business. Driven by incomparable talent and 5 cups of black coffee a day, Stefanie is the intersection of old world core values and new world entrepreneurism.
Listen to Garrison’s interview with Stefanie:
The story of Vassilaros & Sons is about an institution that’s served all five boroughs with high-quality, hand-blended coffees, for nearly a century. 5 million cups a day of Vassilaros’ coffee fuels New Yorkers with the spirit that they need to build today and tomorrow, each and every day. But, the little coffee company that could is more than just a business that has weathered the economic storms of almost a hundred years. It’s about a business that’s been built on immigrants helping immigrants and values that stand the test of time like serving customers, gratitude and community.
Photo of Stefanie by Buck Ennis from the article Where Have All The Diners Gone by Aaron Elstein in Crain’s
One of my rock & roll influences growing up was listening to Fats Domino’s 1961 hit cover of the Dave Bartholomew and Earl King penned, “I Hear You Knockin.'” Although Fats drove this song on his keyboard, my parents didn’t have the money for a piano so I learned the chord progression on my guitar and played along with Fats endlessly.
You can imagine my thrill in 1970 when I worked with Welsh singer, guitarist and record producer David WIlliam “Dave” Edmunds at Media Sound Studios in New York City to master his version of “I Hear You Knockin'” which reached #1 on the UK singles charts and #4 here in the States. The unique guitar sound meshed incredibly with his voice effects and that augmented piano chord strike on the turnaround never fails to grab me.
Today, when I listen to the lyrics of “I Hear You Knockin,'” entirely new thoughts come to mind. How many people have had dreams growing up and into young adulthood of what they wanted to do in life; not jobs but real passions that got squelched because of what their parents, teachers and mentors told them they “should” do. And, even when that original passion creeps into their consciousness later in life, that super strong superego pushes it back down and doesn’t let it come to fulfillment. These lyrics strike a chord, don’t they:
You went away and left me long time ago And now you’re knocking on my door I hear you knocking But you can’t come in I hear you knocking Go back where you’ve been
(Dave Bartholomew and Earl King)
Just like “resolution,” the move of a note or chord from dissonance (an unstable sound) to a consonance (a more final or stable sounding one), needs expression in music so, too, we need to give our dissonant, repressed passions full expression if we are to live fulfilling lives and give value to ourselves and others. Make sure you follow your passion when you “Hear it Knockin.'”
One of the greatest obstacles we have to being creative is that critical voice inside us that controls what we say, how we say it and even how we write. I’ve actually seen people in graduate school handwriting sections of their thesis (yes, I am dating myself for all you Surface owners) then throwing away perfectly good idea snippets because what they wrote wasn’t neat enough or had too many cross-outs. Conversely, I’ve produced or engineered bands who’ve walked into the studio with chord progressions and lyrics on the backs of napkins and recorded some of the most incredible songs imaginable. Next time you listen to Sir George Martin’s productions of those amazing Beatles songs, remember how the words looked on paper before there was anything to listen to!
Give yourself every day a few minutes to free write your thoughts without regard to what’s coming out or what it means. Just let your mind do a data dump through your arm to your hand and onto paper. It’s the best way I know of to tame the control beast and to give your creative energies the paths they need for expression. When you build on that habit, amazing things will happen. Try it! Give yourself a ticket to write…
On April 12th, 1954, Bill Haley and the Comets had their first recording session at Pythian Temple studios in New York City after signing with American Decca Records. The landmark recording session almost didn’t take place when the band was traveling on a ferry that got stuck on a sandbar en route to the Big Apple from Philly. The 12-bar blues song, written by Max Freedman and James Myers, became a number one single on both the US and UK charts and opened the door to rock & roll as a commercial tsunami.
Find your own passion in life and career and live it every moment of every day: “Rock Around the Clock” with it. Will you look back a year from now and celebrate the anniversary of the realization of your own passion? Don’t let any psychological sandbars stop you!
Elisabetta Canalis is a well-known Italian actress, television personality and model. She started her career in the glamor industry by landing a role in the popular Italian television sitcom “Striscia Ia Notizia”. Elisabetta was one of the participants in the 13th season of the hit reality series “Dancing with the Stars.” She has also graced the Max calendar and played cameo roles in films like “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo’” and “Virgin Territory.” Iconic fashion magazines including Maxim and Vanity Fair consider her to be one of the most beautiful women in the world and she has appeared on the cover of fashion magazines like Vogue and Maxim. Elisabetta has starred in advertising campaigns for glamorous cosmetics brands like L’Oreal, Hollywood Milano and Pantene. She is a passionate animal rights campaigner and has appeared nude in an advertisement for PETA to raise awareness about the need to avoid products made from animal fur. Cancer charities like the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have benefited from her fundraising efforts.
Too many people believe that if they keep their heads down and work hard they’ll be recognized on the merits of their work. But that’s simply not true anymore. “Safe” jobs disappear daily. To make a name for yourself, to create true job security, and to make a difference in the world you have to share your unique perspective and inspire others to take action. And, Dorie Clark is THE person to show you how.
Dorie Clark is a marketing strategy consultant, professional speaker, and frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, TIME, Entrepreneur, and the World Economic Forum blog. Recognized as a “branding expert” by the Associated Press, Fortune, and Inc. magazine, she is the author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future which has been translated into Russian, Chinese, Arabic, French, Polish, and Thai and her most recent book, Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It. Clark consults and speaks for a diverse range of clients, including Google, the World Bank, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Yale University, the Mount Sinai Medical Center, and the National Park Service. She was also named one of Inc. magazine’s “100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference,” and recognized in Forbes as one of “25 Professional Networking Experts to Watch in 2015.”
Producing legendary American jazz pianist and composer Erroll Garner for London Records taught me as much about creativity and defining success in life and career as it did about his musical genius.
Born in Pittsburgh on June 15, 1921, Erroll began playing piano at the age of three. Like most kids, he didn’t write his goals down on paper or construct a rudimentary business plan; he simply played. He was self-taught and “played by ear,” never learning to read music. He appeared on KDKA radio at the age of seven and by the ripe old age of 11 was performing on Allegheny riverboats. In 1947 played with Charlie Parker on the “Cool Blues” session. Tall on talent but short in stature (5’2″), Erroll performed while sitting on a stack of phone books. An instrumentalist, his grunting and groaning vocalizations can be heard on his recordings and are his signature while his musical style is a combination of using his right hand to play behind the beat while his left strummed a steady rhythm. His musical sense of humor came from his improvised introductions to pieces that had nothing to do with the songs they set up. His composition “Misty” is a jazz standard.
Erroll Garner’s s life and legacy taught me:
Follow your passion without compromise.
Life is about improvisation.
Don’t wait to learn it to live it. Live your passion every moment and keep learning along the way.
Don’t play to convention. Do what comes naturally and feels “right” to you.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Keep your sense of humor and share it with others.
Bass, Electric Bass – Bob Cranshaw
Congas – Jose Mangual
Organ – Norman Gold
Percussion – Grady Tate
Piano – Erroll Garner
Producer – Garrison Leykam, Martha Glaser
Tambourine – Jackie Williams (2)
"You've had such a varied and impressive career. It's awesome to read about your adventures and reinventions and how you're now helping others do the same," branding expert Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You, Stand Out and Entrepreneurial You