Humble the Poet explains how to transition from being a teacher to being a paid emcee, author, and poet. He explains how the long road is the key to monetizing your platform. Humble also explains the importance of authenticity while building your platform and why you must never stop unlearning the wrong things they taught you in school.
On today’s show we are interviewing Humble the Poet
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On today’s show, we discuss transitioning from being a teacher to becoming a paid poet. On today’s show, humble the poet explains his transition from being a teacher to being a paid Mc. It paid off a paid post. How long does it take to monetize your platform? He discusses the importance of authenticity while building your platform and why you must never stop unlearning the wrong things they taught you in school who also discuss what are they saying in the lyrics to this track? What does this mean? Andrew? What are they saying? I have no idea. Yes. Find Glock in hall. Yes. Find the, the Glock and whole. Yes. I’m not sure what this intro music is saying in the background, but it’s very important. Here we go.
Yes, yes, yes, yes. We are interviewing the one really humble the poet, Mr humble the poet. How are you sir?
Fantastic. How are you guys doing?
We are excited to have you on the show. And for the listeners out there that are not super familiar with your background, could you share with everybody out there, uh, what you do because we know who you are, but a lot of our listeners are just becoming fans are beginning to become fans of humble. The poet,
I am a former elementary school teacher. I’m born and raised in the fantastic city of Toronto and I got into the arts spoken word, wants to impress them girls and started attending, you know, the little coffee shops for the spoken word, a contest. And that evolved into hip hop and rap. And uh, I became obsessed with the spoken word as I was writing and directing my own music videos and creating a bunch of art. And the next thing I knew I fell on some bad times and I went through a journey of self awareness and self discovery, which I started sharing with my audience. And that turned into a book which has a, I guess it’s gone viral as much as books can go. And, uh, everything has been like an upward spiral since then. So now I’ve kind of devoted my life to living, learning, sharing, adding value to the world, being creative, having fun, and uh, spreading all the wonderful propaganda that comes with being a knife. Beautifully bearded. Man.
I want to ask you this because I think a lot of listeners can relate. They say, okay, he was a teacher. Teachers get paid. I think we all know teachers have, uh, income. Uh, some could argue it’s not enough, but it’s, there’s some money coming in there. As a poet. What style, what was, how long did it take you to start getting paid? I mean, how did you support yourself that they had to be terrible?
Um, so what happened was I was working with a teacher up until 2010 I was making music and spoken word poetry and how was getting local gigs. And once in a while they were flying me out to like Fresno, California to do a performance. And nothing was really making me any money. But I had, the teachers are really kind of keep me at bay. And then I met a producer who said, hey, I got you a song writing contracts and I songwriting contract was going to me more than I would have made as a teacher in two years. So, you know, would that even reading the fine print or doing any due diligence, they took a leave of absence from my job, moved out of my parents’ house, took on an enormous debt and started working on all this music. And it took about eight months of, uh, uh, of denial fizzling to come to the realization that the deal wasn’t happening.
I put myself into horrible amounts of bed. I was about $80,000 in debt by the end of 2011. And I had no understanding your idea, how to earn any money and um, why slowly clawed my way up. And it was from doing random gigs, making $50 a hundred dollars here, there, uh, to once I created the book to start pushing the book, selling that at shows. So I started booking shows in a city breaking even on the tickets. And I’m talking about 40, 50 people showing up at any city, whether it be Edmonton, Alberta, whether it be London, England, anywhere that would have me. I do that break even on the, on the show and make some money selling the book. And uh, slowly, uh, planted a few seeds than opportunities came. And it took me about four years to get out of that debt. And that four years of me learning how to add commerce to my creativity. Uh, once I figured out how to go from minus 80,000 to zero, uh, it wasn’t too difficult to go from zero and to get into the green. Uh, and, and that was the second half of my story. And then, then you start learning from a whole bunch of other challenges that come, especially the idea that, uh, you go from money problems to money problems, different types of money
That became a whole different journey for me. And now I’ve devoted my time to chasing the fun, not chasing the money. I had to chase the money when I was in a financial struggle. Now things are a little bit better and I realize that you can, you know, chasing money to, they peak with mountain and you can do it forever. And the more money you make, the more circles you start entering, where your accomplishments seem cute in comparison and continually start to identify the gaps in your own life in comparison to who’s isn’t, who’s around you. And, uh, I just recently got out of that cycle, so they realized that wasn’t the healthiest for me. I wasn’t enjoying myself. I wasn’t having fun. I wasn’t expressing enough gratitude. Uh, and here I am and now I’m, you know, I have a, uh, quite a few things going on. I do earn as an influencer online. I have a, I have a fantastic, fantastic following. I call my hands from friends because they’re all, they’re all brilliant kind and nice. And probably the only guy who doesn’t get cyber bullied on social media right now. Um, I also, uh, my books have now been published in our bestseller in Canada and I’ve just recently signed with Harper Collins to rerelease my first book. Um, as well as I design clothes, I make music. So we’re figuring it out and, and things are going well and I’m very grateful.
This next question could sound like a backhanded compliment. So I’ll, I’ll rip on myself here first. I started the company back in the day called DJ connection.com, which before I sold it was America’s largest wedding entertainment company. And when I first started, I started our, started at my dorm room and I look back at it, Mr Humble. I was terrible. I, I was passionate but I was terrible. Um, how many gigs did you have to do to get to be as good as you are now? Because, because I, you look at how will go good. You are, um, your use of, of narrative, your, your flow, your rhyme schemes, all the things you’re doing now, uh, the way you articulate the syncopation. There’s so many things that you’ve mastered now. Um, when did you, how long did it take you to become good or, or, or to become not bad? Yeah.
Um, I mean I, I still, I still feel like I have a lot of work to do. Um, but it was definitely, um, it was probably in the last couple of years. So it probably, I mean I think everything I’ve ever done in my life prepared me for this. So I mean my first job was working in telemarketing and that got me speaking to people on a regular basis trying to convince somebody not to hang up on the hangup, the phone on me so we can do a survey on fast food or grocery shopping. And uh, from there just, you know, learning how to learning the idea of tact, learning the idea is not what you say, it’s how you say it. And in transitioning and then becoming a school teacher, realizing that, hey, if you can explain it to an eight year olds, you can explain it to anybody.
Spend a couple of years doing that and then going into poetry and just being, I think my natural England that was very into, you know, I’m an auditory learner, we all have different types of learning. Uh, I was very fortunate that I’m the kind of guy who can learn something by hearing it. And that’s usually how a lot of education in schools is modeled. So a lot of people who struggle in school, they’re the ones that need to be shown how to do something or given the opportunity to try it themselves. And um, you know, unfortunately education isn’t really set up to help them out as much, but I was always paying attention to people’s worries and loving hip hop and let me rhyme. So I think for me, when I always had the ideas in my head and my, and my, uh, my recording voice and everything else that had to catch up, and that’s taken forever.
And I feel like even till today I just did a performance in Melbourne, Australia on the 27th of December. And I, right after I got off stage, I was kind of huffing and puffing. And be like, Oh, you know, just kind of like you’re a baseball player. You know, if you’re, even though they call you a baseball player, you gotta know how to swing the bat. You’ve got to know how to throw the ball, you’ve got to know how to run the bases, you’ve got to know how to, how to, how to catch the ball and play the field. You’ve got to know the strategy. And I feel like as an artist sometimes if I spend too much time sitting in my office writing the book, then I lose my lung capacity to record on the mic. And if I spend too much time, you know, going on tour and performing on stage and I lose my capacity to kind of put words together all the time.
So it’s a, it’s a lot of skills that have to be practiced and I’m really trying my best to, to work from home. But, uh, I really feel like everything in my life prepared me for it. And I feel like as we all look back into our own lives, we can start picking up on the little patterns are like, oh, this is kind of helped me and led me to where I was going. And to be honest, I don’t even know if it’s something that was an interest to me or this was something that just the universe conspired to make happen for me.
It might be shocking to some of our listeners out there who are not given the humble, the poet you were born with a con war sing, um, decide to change your name. When did you decide to change your name? Walk us through the process of changing your name.
Uh, I’ll be completely honest, I was just too scared for the world to know who I was, so I just had to come up with a name so nobody would know who I was when I put my workout. But I was a, I was participating in back in the days, uh, for some of our older Luke news in the world of Internet forums and I was in a lot of hip hop chat sites and wrap sites and my, my, my screen name, there was this humble, I grew up in six philosophy take the loss of his big idea is your ego can be your best friend or your worst enemies. So humble kind of came out of that. And I used to participate in rap battles and there’s a little bit, you know, and rap, some people are called rappers, some people are called MCS and a rapper is just somebody who did rhyme. The random words for your entertainment and an MC is somebody who can use Ryan to communicate ideas to you. And one of these rap battles, I just kind of said, hey, you know who the rappers, screw the MC, I’m a poet, you know, trying to level up on the end fee. I ended up winning the really big tournament and to rub it in everybody’s face, that changed my screen name to humble the poet. So it’s the least humble name that contains the word home.
And then I, I ended
up, I remember the first time ever recorded it was, it was in somebody’s basement against the mattress. And they asked me, do you have a rap name? And I was like, I’ll thinking humble the poet and the room had like eight guys in it and they’re like, that’s a stupid name. That name is so long, that’s not cool. Rap Name. And then I think my ego got the best of me and I out of spite. I was like, since you guys don’t like it,
I’m going to keep it. Yeah,
make it work. And I mean logistically it is a long name and that does make it difficult for like social media handles and stuff. But I think I’m stuck with it now.
Now you are in Toronto. Kressley is a home of the a Drake show. Talk to me about Drake. What makes Drake so successful on an annual basis? What, what makes him so successful? What are your, what are your opinions? What are your thoughts, your pontifications about Drake?
Um, I think hands down one of the most important artists to come out of this city because not only was he able to, you know, achieve success on such a high level, at such a consistency, uh, locally, he didn’t suck up all the oxygen, you know, he’s not making it difficult for other artists to find their voice. And now, I mean, musically, Toronto’s doing amazing. We got, you know, Olivia Khara, Sean Mendez, the weekend totally lanes, um, you know, in every genre of music there are, they, they’re the Toronto artists, Jessie Reyes, there’s a lot of Toronto artists that are doing very well commercially and artistically. And a lot of that has to do with the blueprint that he kind of set out in addition to the fact that he didn’t kind of, you know, suck out all the oxygen and make it difficult for other artists to get shined.
And I feel like one of the main things that he did was if he kind of kept the spectrum open for himself. So when he started, you know, like you said, it started from the bottom. Now we’re here. You know, when you started from the bottom, as he continued to arrive, he didn’t neglect the bottom and he created a really good system of support for artists. And what that, what I feel like that does is that really gets him hip to what’s coming up next. And he also has a really good relationship with new artists where, you know, he’s able to feed off their energy and at the same time help elevate them to a new platform. So there’s so many brand new artists that we’ve only heard of because Drake did a song with them. And a lot of those artists, let’s say for example, the Migos, you know, they went off and had very fruitful careers after the fact.
And I think so he did something really good where he supported new artists, also benefited off of the energy that they were able to provide, gave them a platform and at the same time was able to continually reinvented the sound. And as well as his partner in crime 40, uh, Noah should be a just one of the most talented engineers on the planet. I also have a very low voice like Drake and it’s very difficult to record. And uh, Noah should be a 40 is a wizard. What he’s been able to do to make dre, because Drake is the loudest sounding person in music history. You can always hear and understand everything he’s saying and that’s made him very digestible from a technical perspective. You know, me and the team I work with were just an art trying to figure out how they make it so crisp and clean.
Z, you have a hot question for our incredible guests. You’re mister humble. The poet built the boat on. Love
it. I love the way the name came about by the way. That’s just the irony of it is just so much fun. It’s beautiful. It’s the least
very humbled to call your cell phone.
Oh, I know, but that’s fun. Um, let’s say you could paint a picture for the next say, decade of your life, say 10 years down the road, what do you, where do you see yourself? What are you, what are your goals? What do you, what would be like the home and be like, Oh yeah, oh yeah. humble the poet. That’s humble, humbled. Did it. Here we go. Oh yeah.
Um, definitely being able to show, um, I believe everybody on this planet is an artist and I believe everybody on this planet has an opportunity to be great at something. You know? Uh, all you have, and even if you’re a budding entrepreneur, literally all you have to do is find a problem that’s not being solved and solve it. And if you can find a problem that you’re enthusiastic to solve, then the sky’s the limit for you. And I think what I want to do now in this space that I’m in, is really show people that you know, and let’s grow past this idea of chasing your passions and let’s grow. Let’s grow towards the idea of living your obsession and living your enthusiasm to finding out who you are, not only with your, your upbringing and what you were, you know, the type of culture or our society grew up in, in the interest you developed that way, but also who you are like from your DNA.
And your coding and the thing that you naturally gravitate towards. And I want to encourage people to pursue those and they’ll find a much more fulfilling life. And I think I can do that by modeling instead of just preaching it to the world, modeling it. So you know, as things are going really well with me in the literary department, I’m able to take a lot of that money and put it towards my music so I can make music and not worry about if it, if it’s commercially viable, I don’t have to worry about working with the label. I don’t have to worry about other people’s opinions. I’m free to do it. And what I’ve noticed is everybody in every artist I’ve ever gravitated towards since I was a child, where the ones that seem the most free, and I think that’s the reason we listen to music.
You know, when we’re stuck in traffic. And that’s the reason we consume art on a regular basis, is if that feeling to helps us escape. Sometimes when we feel a little bit boxed in from life, I think I want to model that behavior and I want to let people know that it doesn’t mean you got to leave your job. You know, it could be painting, you know, painting pictures of fruit on the weekends, whatever it is that tickles your fancy. I want people to explore that. And I feel that the more that people explore that in their own life, the less we’re going to rely on these a quick fix. Uh, uh, dopamine drops to be happy in our own lives. So I think with the next 10 years from now, we’re going to look like is an artist who, uh, you know, makes a lot of irresponsible decisions to create some really dope art and lets the fun shine through it. And um, I have, I have a really good feeling that I’ll still be all right. You know, if I add some value to this planet, I’ll still be all right.
That’s awesome. I love your teachers on your website. I love the fact that says, find joy and then you marked out fine. And now you create, you’ve replaced that with create joy. You know, I think that that message is so powerful.
Salt and find love and let’s become the source of the things that we’re searching for all around us in the world. Then, you know, my unique experience, you know, being a struggling artist, moving to Hollywood, uh, spending three years in La with a lot of very successful but unhappy people and just really realizing that, hey, I wish I could be you guys, but I’m realizing that it ain’t all, you know, what it’s cracked up to be. And I started to realize like, hey, sometimes having a lot of money can be a problem because now you can afford to distract yourself and never get to the root of your real problems. And I took that to heart and I really decided to design a life where I wouldn’t have to chase a lot of these quick fixes and thus protecting my mental health. And it’s been amazing.
You, uh, do you have a favorite line from one of your poems or songs? Do you have a favorite one? I favor? I know it’s probably hard to, it’s like naming, choosing your favorite kid or something. But do you, do you have a favorite line or favorite love song or poem that you’ve done over the years?
Um, there, there’s a line that definitely has stuck with me and I wrote it years and years and years ago, but I still feel like it applies. And I just said a life is, but a musical full of highs and lows, but in harmony is beautiful. And, uh, for me, every time it’s kind of recognizing the roller coaster that life and to have the same amount of enthusiasm towards the high points that we should towards the low points. Because when you put it all together and make a beautiful song, beautiful story, an interesting story and a, you know, it always reminds me that ever lasting happiness is a little too fairytale is for me. And I’m okay with a little bit of struggle, a little bit of discomfort, you know, um, I, I can own those consequences if it means growing learning and evolving as a person.
I believe that you were featured in an apple commercial.
Um, it was all serendipity. Somebody in Los Angeles told me to go meet an artist in Toronto who had just opened a space, uh, for, for, for new artists. And I, I went there with the hopes of learning of what type of work he was doing and seeing if I could support it, you know, maybe given some money to help, you know, a, a teenage kid if he’s shooting a music video, you know, donate a couple of hundred bucks so he can make that music video. And he gave me the tour and we just kept talking and we just, you know, shared, shared artistic visions and everything was fantastic. And then I left and then the next day somebody phoned him from an ad agency and said, hey, we’re working on a project with apple. We’re looking for a poet. And he literally said, Oh my God, I just hung out with a guy named humble the poet.
And then the guy at the adage is he had just recently heard me on a radio interview and just like, Oh my God, I didn’t even realize that this guy did poetry even though he has the word poet and his name. And then they reached out to me, made me sign a lot of NDAs. And um, it was the first time apple allowed, uh, Canada can make their own commercial apples was really in control of their, their advertisements. They own their own ad agency. And it was only the third time in history of apple that they let an outside adding you make this stuff. And we got to do a really cool piece celebrating all the inclusion and diversity that is Toronto and not only celebrating diversity of people from different walks of life and different parts of life, but also that the diversity that comes from people are allowed to express themselves on their own terms. So, you know, once, you know, in Canada, we’re, we’ve, we’ve moved so far past multiculturalism, now we have the architects, you can have people, you got people’s dresses, hipsters, Yuppies, God, skaters and everybody in there and all their infinite creativity and styles being celebrated and they’re so fantastic.
No, I, my final question I have for you, I knowZ as one final question as well then my final question that I have for you is earning money as an influencer. How do you, how do you monetize this? There’s somebody out there listening who’s, who’s an aspiring artist and maybe they have a 100,000 views of their song on youtube or 100,000 plays of something. How do you monetize? How do you make money as an influencer?
Um, so there’s a couple of ways you can do it. So the, the cookie cutter way, which is probably the way that’s going to be nonexistent in the next probably five years, if you signed with an agency. So agency, you know, develop really good reputation, relationships with brands and brands are able to say, hey, you know, um, we are looking, you know, we’re here to sell this power saw and then you know, the agency is able to say, okay, well, you know, we have these influencers in the do it yourself home repair space. You know, they wouldn’t be the best for you guys to kind of work with and you know, they wouldn’t associate a budget and they would negotiate a creative or what have you and uh, you know, take their percentage and uh, and move forward accordingly. I think now as time that changing, it’s really about knowing your audience, knowing the content that you create and what you can do for a long time.
I think a lot of people are chasing trends, really playing the popularity game, not understanding that that’s not going to last you more than a year or two. And what you need to do is really focus on, hey, what’s exciting for me? Because when we’re excited about stuff, all of us, whether you’re an influence or not, when you’re offended about stuff, you want to share it. You know, if have you watched bird box or some other movie on Netflix and you’re really excited about it, you want to tell all your friends to watch it too. And it’s the same kind of idea that if you can really discover what you’re excited about and you share that and build a real community around that, then what then companies will able, we’ll be able to work with you if your community and your priority lineup with them.
So I’ve been, you know, I work, you know, as a former school teacher I did, I did a project with Cadbury chocolate, we’re Cadbury chocolates. They already had this program in place where you make digital, you make Griswold bikes online. And for every 100 bikes that you make online, they make up, they send a real bike to a child in Ghana. So a child in Ghana can turn a long walk to school into a short ride. And you know, me already being somebody in education who really cares about education and talked a lot about education. Also me to somebody. When I went broke, uh, after leaving my job, the only possession I earned, I kept, didn’t sell outside of the kitchen sink with my bicycle. I rode bicycles a lot to clear my head and uh, cause I couldn’t afford a car and putting this out there into the universe.
And is it a community really made it an authentic relationship with category. So, you know, I was still paid, but at the same time the messaging was real. I didn’t sound like somebody who was just trying to hoard a product on to anybody and I didn’t even talk about chocolate. I just talked about their program and what they’re about and how much I value a riding my bike and be education. So really create your community and created authentically. That will take some time. That’s not going to happen overnight. But you gotta be in this for the long game and any, anything you want to do, especially when it comes to earning money, don’t look at the short money. Look at the lung money.
Hello. We’ve got a lot of our listeners out there are aspiring entrepreneurs want to start and grow something on their own. They’re, they’re employed right now. They want to make that transition. If you could go back to your last stages of being a teacher right before you quit, if you could go back and talk to that man and give him some advice, what would you, what would you tell yourself? So you go back, what does that, I don’t know, 10 years ago, eight years ago, so you can go back in time eight years ago, what would you tell yourself?
I would remind him that he’s chasing a feeling you’re not chasing an outcome. He’s shaping a feeling. So I would remind him that, hey, you won $1 million. No, you want the feeling that you think is going to come with $1 million. And now we were reminded him that every single time he chased the feeling he was never accurate into and how it would feel. You know there, there wasn’t going to be that one moment when you win the Superbowl and you just live happily ever after. You’ll enjoy your Superbowl win five hours later your mind will be like, what’s next? And I’ll remind him of that and I think that would help save him a lot of times kinda chasing, chasing some of the low hanging fruit that was in front of me at that time. Cause I feel like my, my need to get things done quick ended up slowing me down and I’d really encourage them to chase the funds.
Cause when I was a teacher and I had the income coming in, I was chasing the fun and through chasing the fun is when I made the most growth in the moment. I left the job and now I had to focus on earning and just earning it lost all this fun and it just became job. And what’s the point of becoming an entrepreneur if you’re just going to start feeling more bogged down? Because when you’re an entrepreneur is you’re your own boss. And what happens is it’s very, it gets very easy for us to start talking to ourselves in ways that we would never talk to other people, nor will we allow other people to talk to us that way. So I don’t remind, I’d remind myself again, be kind to yourself, be supportive, be encouraging, uh, stop chasing the, the, the quick money. Uh, you know, you’re in this for the long run and if you got to go back to work, it’s okay. It’s okay to go back to work and do this and it’s okay. Instead of going from zero to 100, it’s okay to, you know, slowly phase out from one to the other. And, uh, I think that would have possibly saved me a few years on my life and, uh, helped me focus on my health a little bit more, uh, during that time. Cause then now, now I’m playing catch up.
Humble. I appreciate you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to hop on today’s show. If anybody out there wants to learn more about you, would you want to direct them to Instagram or to your website or where do you want all the listeners to go to learn more about you and your a super fantastic amount of humbleness.
I feel like everybody right now to do the Instagram so you can just find me at humble the poet on Instagram. I post regularly share my stuff there, uh, as well as in go on my website, see some of the things that I’m creating and working on and um, as well as my book on learn. Uh, that’s, that’s, that’s the one that pretty much changed my life. I wrote that back in 2014 and it’s just not going away. It went from an independent independently published book to now getting a major debut with Harper that is now available for hardcover preorder and you can find that on Amazon. So, uh, find me any way you like to find me and for all my old school folks that still use Facebook, I’m still on there as well. And for everybody who appreciates Twitter, I’m on Twitter as well. All at humble, the poet.
Well humble the poet. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day and thank you for allowing us to interview my friend.
Hey, thank you for having me. Your guys’ energy is fantastic. I do want to thank you guys for your time as well. I want to thank you listeners as well and I hope they enjoyed this as much as I did.
Alright, you take care.
All right, take care
there today listening and you are on the planet earth and you have a sound mind and you can comprehend the words that are coming out of my mouth. I want to encourage you that you have the capacity to change. You can go from where you are to where you want to be. If you’re a school teacher, you can become a paid poet. If you are working at Applebee’s and target and direct TV, you can start your own DJ empire. If you are living in a van down by the river, that’s troubling, but you can still move from where you are to where you want to be. You have the capacity in the tenacity needed to make that change. But it starts with taking action. You can talk about your passion, you can talk about your vision, but at the end of the day, you have to take action. So ask you today, what action steps do you need to take to create the life that you want to make? What action steps do you need to take today? What steps do you use specifically need to take today to go from where you are right now to where you want to be? Because this guy’s story doesn’t even make sense logically or, or from a literal perspective, how does a guy go from being a school teacher to becoming a bestselling author and paid poet? Well, he did it by taking action and you can too. And now that he further ado, I’d like to end each and every show with the boom. Some freak two one.