Learn to Walk Before You Run

by Mike Walter

Happy New Year dear reader! Hope your Holidays were joyous and your 2012 is already off to a flying start.

A little while back I wrote an article about making sure your trainees master the basics before they move on to anything else.

I used the Beck song “Where It’s At” and its infectious chorus of “I got two turntables and a microphone” to drive my point home. I also quoted from a Seth Godin Blog that talked about how sushi chefs spend months perfecting how to cook rice before they move on to anything else.

The article was very well received and I got some good feedback on it (which I always love to hear.)

Synchronicity, Brother!

So a few weeks after that I’m reading an interview with my kid brother Brian and he makes a similar point. Brian is a phenomenal photographer (I know what you’re thinking, all this talent from one family?) who is making a name for himself in his field.

His website and blog have caught the attention of many to the point where he was interviewed recently by Colin Butterworth of Colblue Photography in Australia. In the interview, Brian says:

I find the best inspiration comes from being confident in yourself, your abilities and being lost in the moment. Worrying about details, and anything else except for what you’re doing, turns photography into an arduous chore. That’s why I think learning about your gear, and how it works, is such a vital part of the process. I find most photographers want to hurry up and get over with the basics, but when your equipment can become an extension of yourself, and you can command it and make it do what you want, when you want, you will find yourself in a zone where the images just begin to flow.”

Where’s Your “Play” Button?

I was impressed with the imagery of “your equipment becoming an extension of yourself.” Isn’t that the goal of any professional?

Whether your equipment is a camera, a hammer or a mixing board, knowing it so well that it’s like a limb or a digit, as my brother points out, will only lead to a comfort zone where the real creativity begins to flow.

So how do you make this philosophy work for you?

Well, first of all, if there is any aspect of your business that you aren’t proficient in, then focus on that. Get to know it better. Make sure it’s “an extension of yourself.” Then, as you grow, even if this becomes an area that you choose to delegate to someone else, you’ll always be an expert in it and be able to monitor what others are doing.

Start with the Basics

Most importantly, as you begin to teach a new DJ, make sure he or she has the basics down before you move on. Make sure they can speak clearly and succinctly before they start doing bridal party introductions. Make sure they can cue and segue before they start beat for beat mixing. And make sure they can do a line dance before they try to teach one.

The basics aren’t always the fun and sexy part of any job. In fact they are often the boring and mundane part. But if you build a house on a shaky foundation, it can be as fancy and ornate as you want but it’ll always be tenuous at best.

Professional careers are the same. If you start with the advanced stuff before mastering the basics, you’ll likely struggle to be a true and creative visionary in your field.

Like my kid brother has become in his.

Mike Walter – Multi-Op Corner

Mike Walter is a nationally recognized expert in the areas of DJ staff training and multi-system business development.

He is also a writer for Disc Jockey News and Producer of the International DJ Expo’s “DJ of the Year” competition.

Mike is the owner of NJ’s Elite Entertainment, selected by The Knot and Modern Bride magazine as one of the country’s top entertainment companies.

To contact him about his on-site training services or for general inquiries, email mike@eliteentertainment.com.

Mike’s book, Running Your Multi-Op, and his highly praised DVD set, Training Your Next Great DJ, are available at DJMikeWalter.com.


  • Mike Walter is the proud owner of Elite Entertainment, a Multi-System DJ Company in New Jersey that has been selected by TheKnot.com and WeddingWire.com as a top Entertainment company in the country. For over 30 years, he has MCed events from weddings to fashion shows and beauty pageants and his public speaking experience and acumen have served him well as a presenter.

    He began to offer seminars in 1998, at first specifically to the DJ Industry, then he expanded to speaking to event groups and finally to any and all audiences. His seminars are known for their fast pace, mix of information and entertainment and deft use of Keynote. Having sat through enough tedious seminars in his life, Mike vows to never bore an audience. Whether he is offering life changing advice, motivational challenges or hard-core information on how to grow and expand your business, Mike promises he will deliver a quick, concise, and nugget-filled presentation every time he speaks.

    Mike has published three books, Running Your Multi-Op which is widely consider the most comprehensive book for anyone interested in expanding their DJ business, the self-help primer, Ten Things You Can Do to Have a Better Day and the music history compendium: On This Date in Music. He’s also released a number of education videos to help his fellow DJs and business owners. In 2014 he partnered with Joe Bunn to start the PhDJ Workshop and in 2017 the two began a weekly podcast called the PhDJ Podcast.

    For more information head to DJMikeWalter.com and OnThisDateInMusic.com

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