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I have always felt my calling is to be of service to others. At an early age I became aware of the great degree of injustice in the world and wanted to do whatever I could to eliminate the use of oppression and exploitation to control and manipulate people.
With this intention in mind, my career opportunities have been directed by chance circumstances. When I was 16, a friend took me to a small coffeehouse where, for the first time, I saw musicians playing their own music. I had no idea of the obstacles musicians had to overcome to be able to record their music and have it played on the radio. Deeply moved by the honest acoustic performances by the live person a few feet in front of me, I made a conscious decision to dedicate my life to music in some way. This was facilitated by picking up a hitchhiker in 1969 who happened to be a concert lighting designer for Bill Graham. He hired me to work a rock concert; that gig led to a chain of events that culminated in a full fledged career in the music industry. I fulfilled my intention first as a sound and light technician, then became a personal manager, a concert producer and, eventually, a nightclub owner.
In 1993, there was a lull in my music career. During that time, I had an intense argument with my girlfriend; we agreed to go to mediation and see if we could salvage the relationship. While the relationship did not survive, I found my next calling; I loved the mediation process and asked the mediator, “can I do this?”. She referred me to her mentor who trained me. I immediately changed careers; within a year I was working as a professional mediator.
Helping people resolve conflict with dignity, grace and respect is more intimate than running a nightclub yet it is a powerful way to be of service. It is also helpful that divorce mediation usually costs less than 10% of the expense of a litigated divorce, certainly to the chagrin of some divorce attorneys.
After mediating about fifty divorces, I wrote my first book, Conversations Before A Marriage, about the elements and dynamics I recognized in common in the failure of these marriages. The book contains significant questions for couples to ask prior to moving forward in their relationship, and tools to help the couple handle their conflicts in constructive ways.
In 1997, while attending a mediation conference I ran into Stu Yahm, a former VP of Capitol Records. He and I simultaneously said, “What are you doing here?” As two refugees from the music biz (Stu may not agree with that definition), we had to write a book together, and we did. “And The Band Broke UP”, a book to help musicians and others in the music biz handle conflict with such skill and grace that the band won’t have to break up.