Saturday, January 24, 2015

Where to find me in 2015 and beyond!

This blog is now continued on Jamaican in China

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Power of Clarity

The Power of Clarity

True story. When I was about 8 years old, I taught myself how to draw. I started out by tracing the photographs in catalogs and fashion magazines and eventually learned to draw on my own. I got so good at it that, as a 10 year-old child, I was earning money as a freelance artist for a local community center. Everyone who knew me at the time, said I had a bright future as a graphic artist.

As I grew into reading comic books, I was inspired to develop and draw my own characters. After seeing my work, a doctor, family-friend, and self-published author at our church, offered to help me publish my comic books. That never materialized, but I continued to draw and write, and soon, I had a whole universe of super heroes with different powers, and story lines.
One of my favorites was a team of young adventurers that featured a young couple--a Jamaican man and a Latin woman--who were romantically involved. Every day, I would spend hours and hours fantasizing about their exploits and drawing story after story as I indulged my artistic passion. Drawing was a source of great satisfaction, sublimation and also escape for my youthful thoughts and energy.
As I evolved through high school, however, I started drawing less and less, and by the time I graduated, those days of creative fantasizing and escape were almost nil, and my collection of art work ended up in boxes in closets and basements, and faded into the forgotten.

Jump ahead a few years, and I'm now at Columbia University, where, during my junior year, I meet a young lady. We start dating. She's everything I want: good heart, adventurous, intelligent, good conversation, independent, and, oh yes, pretty feet. I propose to her on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and we move in together.

Now, even though we never did marry (things fell apart shortly afterwards, as I was still evolving), all told, we were together for seven years. It was the longest, and most impactful relationship I've had. Her name was Reina--Spanish for "queen."

Jump ahead a few more years, and after redefining myself, quitting my engineering job, writing a few books, escaping from New York, becoming a nomad adventurer, I found myself going through some old boxes and came across the old artwork and comics I had created as a child in elementary school. Reminiscing, I start reading the old stories to see if and how my pre-teen mind has evolved. What I discovered gave me a shock!

I rediscovered that the name of the lead female character, the Spanish girl I had conjured up for my lead male character, the girl who was his partner in adventure--her name--which I had completely forgotten in the intervening years--had been “Rina!” In other words, the name I had created for the significant female character in my fantasies, years before in elementary school, turned out to be almost exactly the same name of the one woman I almost married many years later! Coincidence? I think not.

Motivational speakers, self-help gurus and personal development coaches all speak about the power of treasure-mapping as a way of creating your desired reality. Treasure-mapping is the act of pasting or posting images of your desired reality in a place where you can view and visualize it on a daily basis. Your treasure map--an actual physical collage of images-- might include pictures of your dream car, dream house, perfect mate, boat, money, any visual representation of things, or experiences you'd like to create in your life. Treasure-mapping is based on the principle that anything you dwell upon continuously, visualize, and live in will eventually manifest in your reality. It works.

Get clear on what you want.
When I suggest the treasure-mapping concept to coaching clients and workshop attendees, I often get a little resistance. While they recognize the validity of the concept, they are often a little hesitant about it. In order to successfully use treasure-mapping, and what I call treasure-writing, you have to be clear about what you want. All creation starts with clarity of outcome.
Some people are reluctant to get really clear because they feel they are limiting their possibilities by asking for a specific outcome. Don't worry about that. If you're like most people, I'd be willing to bet that specificity is not the challenge here. If there is an area of your life that is lacking, the reason you are not getting what you want is because you are not being specific enough!

You see, many people are entirely too vague in their desires. They want "a lot" of money, or a "nice" partner, or a "good" job, but don't get specific enough to really be happy. Imagine walking up to an airline ticket counter and asking for a ticket.
"Where do you want to go, sir?"
"Oh, it doesn't matter. Somewhere nice. You decide."
At the same time, many people go the opposite direction and focus more on what they don't want rather than what they do want.
Imagine what a frustrating and fruitless time you'd have if someone gave you a supermarket shopping list of, say, fifty things they didn't want. That only leaves 10,000 other items to choose from, and absolutely no idea of what to actually bring home.
Getting clear on what you want is the first step in getting anything that even closely resembles what you believe would make you happy. Getting clear on what you want tunes your mind and thoughts and actions and expectations to the right frequency to attract that which is in harmony with you. Getting clear on what you want saves you the time and trouble of sorting through the “also-rans” and “runners-up.” Getting clear on what you want helps you to maintain your standards so you don’t settle for what you don’t want. There’s an abundance of what you seek just waiting for you. There’s no need to settle, provided you can convince yourself you deserve what you seek.

Your assignments for today.
1. Create a written treasure map for your any aspect of your life.
To “treasure-write” your passion-centered business and lifestyle, for example, answer the following questions in the form of a descriptive paragraph. What sort of product or service are you offering? Where exactly is your business located? Where are you living? Describe in detail what you do from the moment you rise to the moment you go to sleep. How much money are you making monthly? How many employees--if any--do you have? What sort of feedback are you getting from the world? What are people saying about you and your business?
Your written treasure map might go like this: "In my ideal scene, I am in business for myself selling my crafts via the internet. I work from my home overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It is a canary-yellow, two-story townhouse with....yadda, yadda, yadda….” Be as specific and detailed as possible.

To treasure-write your ideal partner(s), as another example, consider the following: What does he look like? How tall/short is she? Describe her personality. What things do you like about him? How do you feel when she's around? What age, nationality, religion, etc. are important to you? What activities do the two (or three) of you like to do together?

2. Create a visual treasure-map.
Find, cut, copy and paste together a collage of scenes of people, places and things that represent the accomplishments and experiences of your ideal life. Post it on your wall above your office desk or anywhere in your home where you’ll see it regularly. Create one for your computer screensaver/wallpaper using scanned images or photos from the internet.

The ability to pursue your passion, live true to yourself, create the life of your dreams and set an example for others to follow hinges on the ability to be clear on what you want, to hold that vision in your mind and in your mind's eye, to live constantly in the feeling of the dream and to take steps every day towards the desired reality.

Yes, creating your ideal life is doable. Thoughts can become things. Words can create worlds. Dreams can come true. Fantasies can become real. Drawings can come to life. Trust me, it’s so easy, even a child could do it!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Double Rainbows on Saipan! Here's what it means

So, my friend Angelo sent me a link to the youtube film of a fellow getting pretty, um, inspired by a double rainbow. The video on Youtube has received over 5 million views! Five Million!!

Now, for anyone blogging or doing business on the internet, "hits" or "page views" or "visits" is what it's all about! So, what that means is--I couldn't help wondering this, as I do business on the internet--that if I had acted like I was in physical ecstasy when I photographed this double rainbow on Saipan (included in the book, Jamaican on Saipan), I could have gotten millions of hits for my book!

Here are my own actual, real-life double rainbow shots, shot about a year and a half ago on the island of Saipan, before I knew just how famous it COULD have made me....soundtrack not included.

What's the Purpose of News?

What’s The Purpose of News?

What do the World Cup, the Lebron James decision, the BP oil spill, and Roman Polansky have in common? If you said, current news items during the first week of July, 2010, you'd be correct.

Next question: how does knowing about these "news" items help you live a better life? Stumped? Do you see where I'm going with this?

Now, I'm not saying that these pieces of information are useless. These are all good things to know for some people, maybe even many people. If you are involved in the Polansky case, for instance; if you

make a living in the Gulf region, bet money on the World Cup, or, if you're Lebron's accountant, these are all developments you should know about. I suggest, however, that for the vast majority of people, the importance of what currently qualifies as "newsworthy" information in our lives is questionable at best. So, why do people invest so much importance on listening to, reading or watching "news?" Are they getting something out of it that defies observation and explanation? To answer that question for yourself, I’ll share with you my own personal beliefs that inform my decision to NOT follow the news. I know it's a radical idea from the fringe, but hear me out. (That's why you read this column, is it not? I mean if both of us--you and I--thought exactly the same way about everything, then one of us would be unnecessary!)


I have a philosophy. I've always believed (as mentioned before in this column) that the three most important questions to every human being are:

1. Who am I?

2. Why am I here?

3. How shall I survive?

Many of us spend at least an hour every single day tuning in to "the news." In addition, many of us spend as many as 16 years (some even more) of our lives obtaining an education. And billions of us hand over control of our thoughts and behavior to religious traditions.

With all this time and energy, it seems fair to expect that news, education and religion—pursuits that take up so much of our time and attention--should help us answer life's important questions, and concerns, don't you think?


I also believe that anything I spend my time doing should have some reason or purpose. Now, don't get me wrong. Entertainment, pleasure, hobbies, etc, are all valid reasons for doing a thing. Distraction is as valid as reason as any other. And there's nothing wrong--in my opinion---with watching, reading or listening to the news for distraction, for entertainment or if it gives you pleasure.

The danger with entertainment, however, is that every story—from comedy to drama, to horror—creates an effect, by design. So, what is that effect? When you go to see a movie in a darkened theater, even though the emotions can be just as powerful, there's a certain amount of detachment you can achieve once the lights come on. With "news," however, the images and ideas have an added impact of being real, and images and thoughts of war, violence, murder, rape, terrorism, etc., exist and continue during every waking moment.


Even if you tell me that you follow the news because you simply want to be "informed," I say that's a good thing. However, I believe most people delude themselves into believing how informed they really are becoming. They are actually being informed in a biased, selective and manipulative sense.

We all know that in a half-hour newscast, that there is a world of

"news" that's never reported. There are rallies for world peace that never make the news. There are battles against corporate exploitation that go unreported. There are positive stories of triumph that are missing from the headlines. So, the news that is reported is obviously someone's choice of what to call "news." I suggest to you that behind every decision a producer makes of what to include in a news telecast, or that an editor makes of what to include in a newspaper or website, exists an agenda.

I won't get into a discussion of what that agenda might be, I'll simply suggest to you something you already know: that your mental, emotional and even physical state after consuming a bit of "news" is affected by what you read, listen or see. After consuming a bit of "news" you might feel a. uplifted, b. neutral, or c. depressed (as well as angry, fearful, tired, sick, etc., and every emotion in between.)

So, my third belief is that everything I expose myself to—every

person, every idea, every image, every sound—has an effect on my being. So, I’ve already made the decision to limit my exposure to what others deem to be “news.”


By the time you’re exposed to some information that an editor or producer has decided is news, it’s already too late. However, here is a brief test to determine if what you’ve been accepting as “news” really qualifies (based on my belief no. 1)

1. Has this information helped me discover who I am, why am I here,

or how I shall survive?

If you answer no to this question, then this bit of information might qualify as simply neutral, distraction, or perhaps even entertainment.

2. Is the quality of my life appreciably affected by knowing this news?

Information can still not be news, but help the quality of your life, after all. However, if you answer no to this question, then the bit of information in question may not be neutral, it might qualify as entertainment.

3.How do I feel now that I know this information?

If you feel discouraged, fearful, bitter, angry, defeated, hopeless, resentful, then this information is more than merely useless, it is potentially destructive, because how can you improve your situation, your relationships, your world and your life—and for that matter, how can you turn your passion into profit—if you are constantly consuming ideas and images that make you feel discouraged, and hopeless?


If you believe there is (or should be) more to life than simply work and distraction; if you believe that the things you spend your time doing should have a purpose or reason; if you believe that the ideas, sounds and images you allow into your mind have an effect on your mental, emotion, and physical states; Further, if you accept that everyone has an agenda which may not coincide with yours (BP’s agenda is different than yours); if you can't depend on people

or corporations with competing or contrary agendas to filter and

interpret "the news" for you, then….it follows that you should be vigilant about, and filter what you spend your time consuming under the guise of "news." But it’s everywhere. One has to make a conscious effort to avoid it. That’s why even those of us without cable, televisions and radios still know about Lebron James.

Furthermore, whether you call it "news," "education" or better "belief system," there is information you SHOULD be seeking out to fill the void that exists in the vital and necessary knowledge you

need in order to find out who you are, why you are here, and

how you shall survive. Don’t rely on news to help you do that!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Mango That Saved Saipan!

The Mango that Saved the Saipan!
The Fable of The Forbidden Island Juice Bar

I had a dream the other day that I started a juice bar. Yep, in this dream, I was a successful entrepreneur selling fresh mango, pineapple, orange, papaya and other exotic fruit juices as well as green vegetable juices on the island of Saipan, on the US commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

But, this was no ordinary juice bar. This was a magical juice bar!
Absolutely! You see, it all started back in June of 2010, when I bought
a juicing machine. A few weeks before, I had started more earnestly living on an almost 100% raw food diet (nothing cooked), and decided to add a few daily servings of natural juices to my diet.

Things started off well. There were just two challenges. First, I had done some research online and discovered that the best fruits and vegetables for juicing--peaches, apples, nectarines, celery and carrots—also contained the most pesticides. [Search "20 fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides" at]. So, I contacted Darlene and Gemma at Joeten supermarket and requested that they stock organic produce—to which they agreed.

The second challenge was that I learned, as a general rule,
it's always best to eat produce that's grown in or as close to the environment in which you currently live. It makes sense (doesn't it?) that the best food for people and animals living in a warm, tropical climate, is food that is native to that same climate? (Hyenas on the Tanzanian Serengeti don’t import air-flown seals for their dining needs). So, I made every effort to juice oranges, tangerines, pineapples, and greens purchased from local farmers--avoiding pesticides as much as I could.

Then the idea hit me: Why not share the juicing on a larger scale with the community? Not only would it help the development of healthy eating habits, it just might create enough demand to keep the organic produce in the stores, and encourage local farmers to supply a wider variety of locally-grown, organic produce. And so, the seed idea for “The Forbidden Island Organic Juice Bar” was planted. Now, I would need a location.

To lower my overhead costs, I started out with a tent at the Thursday Street Market, and Sabalu Market. I even experimented with a mobile juice-mobile so I could set a reliable schedule and visit key locations. I wanted to reach the government employees on Capital Hill,
the tourists in Garapan, and the hotels, as well as students at the college. But, why would people pay a premium price for juices from fruits that are growing in their back yard? I would need a unique selling proposition (USP)—something to set me apart.

COMPETITIVE EDGE (the secret ingredients)
As I said, this was no ordinary juice bar. First, I used only verifiably organically-grown fruits and vegetables. Second, as a result of all the research I had done over the years into natural living, herbal remedies and nutritional healing, I added a proprietary suite of "secret ingredients" to my juices. A few drops of Echinacea extract

in my "Flu-buster" citrus juice; a few teaspoons of Potassium in my “Rejuvenator” green juice; Blackstrap molasses in my "Gray-away" smoothie, and 17 others. People could request juices to address various health challenges or beauty goals. Because of the generally nutritionally-devoid content of the Standard American Diet (SAD), many people said they could feel a remarkable difference after just one serving! They kept coming back. I was on to something! This initial group of converts was great, but, I would need a reliable and steady stream of customers to make this thing viable.

As word spread, my growing customer base began to included tourists who wanted a refreshing break from the Saipan heat. It included local residents who wanted to eat (and drink) a little healthier. It included athletes--trekkers, runners and bikers—who understood the need to replenish (in a natural way) the vitamins and minerals lost during sweating and physical exertion. It included new arrivals to the island who loved being able to add a healthy perk to island living. And, it also included a surprise group of unexpected, but very welcome clientele!
Encouraged by an article I wrote on the Gerson Therapy (, a proven therapy for curing all types of cancer, local doctors started recommending that their patients consume generous amounts of green juice daily to help detoxify, rebalance, and alkalize the body as part of a wholistic diet to restore and improve the depleted, acidic, cancer-prone condition of the body of the average SAD diet consumer. As a result, I developed a contingent of repeat customers whose past dietary choices had resulted in degenerative conditions for which they now sought relief and repair.

That's when the magic happened! To meet the growing demand within the community, local farmers started supplying me with more organic fruits and vegetables. Local residents, blessed with unique fruits growing on their property, started selling me pomegranates, sour sop, noni, and other fruits not readily available at the local market.

Rather than import produce from overseas--produce that could easily be grown here--Saipan farmers began growing more oranges, carrots, pineapples and other in-demand juice-friendly produce using organic farming methods. Export requests for “fruits from paradise” came from all over the region and the rest of the world!

We saw the beginnings of a sustainable business relationship and streams of reliable income for farmers and average citizens alike. A local, consumer and tourist-driven agricultural boom took place to meet the demand.

Organic fruits and vegetables were everywhere! Other juice bars sprang up to compete. What I call “the Saipan Healthy Living Renaissance” created a local pool of experts in sustainable, organic “paradise farming” techniques who marketed their knowledge around the world.

Yes, there was more happening than just the success of a single business venture, or the beginnings of a new (or, more accurately, return of an old) industry. There was the change in attitudes and beliefs within the society, as well as without and about the society.

It was a natural fit. Tourists were intrigued by the "natural living, back to nature, stay healthy" identity that Saipan was developing. Meanwhile, residents were pleased that their life in "paradise" came with the added perk of returning to a more natural, sustainable and healthy way of life that had always been part of the culture.

Boosted by positive word of mouth and mouse, as well as strategically-placed and publicized testimonials of health and wellness, Saipan, already valued by tourists as a naturally beautiful tropical escape from the literal, figurative and bodily congestion of fast-paced, high-stress urban living, developed a reputation as a place for rejuvenation! Tour agents in other countries promoted this new aspect of the island to appeal to the medical tourism, sustainable tourism, paradise tourism crowd. As more and more oil spills and pollution desecrated more of the earth’s air, water and land, there was growing interest in escaping to locations relatively untouched, and which offered a taste of pristine living.

The Forbidden Island Juice Bar was at the center of this renaissance, and it grew exponentially. When the demand for our juices exceeded the capacity of a single booth and a mobile operation, we moved into a physical location. Then came another and another. We started offering juicing books, information pamphlets, demonstrations, classes by alternative healing practitioners, educational school visits and more. We followed up with fruit-juice inspired products: carrot cake made from the pulp of local organic carrots, and sweetened with local honey, as well as other incidental products. We even offered tours of the farms and groves so people could see where and how their fruits and vegetables were grown and harvested.

Rather than compete, savvy entrepreneurs decided it was better to go with our proven strategy, and the requests for franchises poured in. Independently operated Forbidden Island Juice Bars sprang up in neighboring islands and even on the mainland, with fruits supplied in part by farmers here on Saipan, Tinian and Rota!

Yes, it was a beautiful dream! This new Saipan identity shifted the connections of these islands in people’s minds from war zone to cure zone, and from sweatshops to Shangri-la! Saipan became synonymous with perfect health, unspoiled beauty, rejuvenation and natural living. It was great, I tell you! And it all started with the seed of an idea that germinated in a fertile environment, that blossomed naturally, grew organically, and ultimately bore economic fruit that changed Saipan, and then, yes, the world!

p.s. The part about requesting organic fruits from Joeten wasn’t a dream. Contact the store to find out when they arrive!

Saipan activist, columnist and whistleblower, Ruth Tighe, was kind enough to mention me, and the Forbidden Island Juice bar in her weekly column.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

More Jamaicans on Saipan!

The pilot, the passionpreneur and the performer.
Ron McFarlane, Walt Goodridge and Wayne Wright, Jamaicans on Saipan

Maybe even enough to form a political party? You decide.


As I sat in the lobby of the World Resort Hotel on the island of Saipan, the young lady I was waiting for walked in. She is a new arrival on the island and had been referred to me to get my advice and tips on finding an apartment. As she approached, I noticed a man walking a few steps behind her. Had they arrived together? Was this the “friend” she had mentioned she would bring to our meeting? He looks like someone I’ve seen before, I thought to myself. He did in, fact, look an awful lot like a guy I knew a long time ago, but….naw, it couldn’t be. That was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. As he approached the table, he broke into an all-too familiar smile….

Small World!

Eight-thousand miles, five former lives, and nineteen years ago, I was known as “Sir Walt,” the reggae deejay on WKCR-FM in New York. One of my regular guests, a fellow named Wayne Wright, was founder and lead singer of Abeng, a reggae group who would visit the station to promote their music. Shortly after I left the station, I started managing his group, and he and I and another partner formed Strata Records, a Reggae record label. (This was even before the music industry Tale from the Walt Vault episode in last week’s column)

Wayne was my first mentor in the music industry, and I learned a lot about managing artists, music production, touring logistics, and much more. I designed his album cover, and even got to participate in doing background vocals during the studio session for the lead track on his CD! ( Eventually, however, we went our separate ways, and I went on to start my own label, and Wayne and I lost touch with each other. That is, until Monday night, when he sauntered in to the lobby of the World Resort on Saipan brought to me by a woman I had never met.


Wayne and Shelli, Saipan’s newest resident, had met at Godfather’s Bar a few nights before. Once she discovered he was Jamaican, she mentioned that she had heard rumors there were THREE (yes, count ‘em), three other Jamaicans on the island--two pilots and one writer.

“He used to be an engineer,” Shelli told Wayne, about the writer.

“I know a few Jamaican engineers,” Wayne said.

“This one is now a writer,” Shelli replied.

“I know a Jamaican engineer who wanted to be writer,” he said. “What’s his name?”

“Walt,” she replied.

“Waitaminit! What’s his last name???”

Google was consulted for verification, and after the what-a-small-world-amazement phase, stories were shared, and they devised a plot to set up a meeting to surprise me!

And, boy, was I surprised! Once I got over my own shock, Wayne and I spent the evening reminiscing, catching up on the whereabouts and exploits of friends, band members, and business partners and played a reunion game of table tennis (fyi: never “ping pong” when speaking to a real Jamaican) which, um, I won. Sorry, Wayne!

In one of his own former lives, Wayne had been an electrical engineer for Bell Labs, and is now doing consulting for a regional telecom company, and had already been here for three weeks. But, his passion for music is still strong. I’m told he already picked up a guitar and did a little impromptu performance a few nights ago at a local club here on island.

Since his original CD was released years before the Internet took off, I’ve encouraged him to use some of the tools and strategies I’ve mentioned in this column (See “The Case for Createspace” Saipan Tribune, March 24, 2010) to reissue his “Unconquer-rebel” CD. You can give him an incentive by pre-ordering at

And another!

And then, “it” happened. While hanging out in the hotel lobby, we were joined by the other Jamaican on Saipan, Ron McFarlane, a pilot for Freedom Air. Now, by “it” I mean, at that moment in time, in the lobby of a Saipan hotel, I dare say there were more Jamaicans convened in one spot than have ever gathered in all of Micronesia! I would even go further to suggest that, with four of us in a population of 60,000, that there are more Jamaicans per capita (per person) on Saipan than anywhere else in the world outside of Jamaica itself! Now, please don’t ask me to prove any of this. This is simply the nationalistic, self-glorifying, hyperbole for which Jamaicans are famous. In other words, “a jus’ so we stay!” [translation: that’s just how we are”] As a footnote, Cardiff Walker, Freedom Air’s other Jamaican pilot didn’t make the rally. (He apparently didn’t get the telepathic memo.)

Yes, it was an historic moment in the on-going saga of Jamaican domination of the world! (Same thing we do, every night, Pinky!) We Jamaicans may not be as evenly distributed across the planet as Filipinos and Chinese, but every corner and crevice on the planet has at least one Jamaican representing our island. So, to have FOUR in a place as remote and small as Saipan can only mean one thing: a bid for governor is next!!

The Point

Which brings me to the point of this article: If you’d like to encourage the rise in political power here in the CNMI of the world’s most ambitious, adaptable, skillful, creative, musically and otherwise endowed, sexiest national group of people, then do the following:

1. Thank the next Jamaican you meet for Bob Marley, Reggae, Rastafarianism, Colin Powell, Harry Belafonte, Notorious B.I.G., Grace Jones, Tyson Beckford, Usain Bolt, as well as the pineapple* or any other plant you see fit to be thankful for [*the pineapple was brought to Hawaii in the 1700s by Captain Bligh; search “captain bligh” on]

2. If you meet Wayne Wright about the island before he leaves this weekend, say in a bar or club, put a guitar in his hands and force him to sing a song or two!

3. If YOU are Jamaican on Saipan and haven’t been counted in my unofficial census, feel free to check in with me, and finally,

4. Come election time, check your ballot for “Jamaican for Governor,” and let’s do the right thing! Yes, we can!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Funny Things That Customers Do No. 3

The Funny Things That Customers Do No. 3

Tales from the Walt Vault: The Gouger and The Glory:

Welcome back to Tales from the Walt Vault, stories of the funny-humorous and funny-strange things that customers and clients do. (#1, and #2 in the series appeared in Saipan Tribune April 14, and June 16, 2010)

The Goal

Once upon a time, several years ago, I ran an independent record label. We had produced singles for our Hip Hop artists, an in order to market them more effectively, I hired a video producer named "Dante" (not his real name) to create a video for one of our artists.

A contract was signed, money was paid, and the process begun.

Through numerous contacts, and relationships, we reserved a friend's photo studio, recruited dancers and pretty girls, and over the course of a hectic weekend, shot the scenes which were to be used in the video. It was an exciting time. We were all hopeful that this video would be professional enough to be played on BET (Black Entertainment Television), MTV (Music Television) and Video Music Box (a popular local New York show with tremendous influence in the Hip Hop market).

The Gouge

As I waited for Dante to call us to view the completed product, I slowly started to realize that something was amiss. I called, and got no reply. I visited his home in Manhattan's upper west side, and that's when he laid the gouge on me.

Things had been more expensive than he had originally contracted, and so he needed an additional $5,000 in order to complete the project. He wouldn't give us the masters or the raw footage so I could complete the project on my own. It was blackmail. If I didn't pay the additional money, we would have no video, and nothing to show for the investment.

The clock was ticking. The summer was gearing up with new releases from other well-funded artists with whom we would be competing, and, if we didn't have our video in time, we would miss our window of opportunity, the summer would pass, and our

songs would be "old" in a few months. What was I to do?

Well, one thing was sure, I was not going to give in to the extortion. I wasn't going to cave in to the Dante’s “gimme.” Instead I was going to go for the glory!

(gouge: verb. to extort from, swindle, or overcharge.)

The Gambit

Through either some person or process I’ve since forgotten, I found a film student named Lance Cain (real name), who had just graduated from New York University’s Film School. As I learned, every new graduate needs to develop a "reel," a collection of work that can be used as a visual resume. So, we agreed that Lance would create not one, but three videos, at cost. In other words, I would pay for the film, developing, and editing (and I think I fed the crew, too!), and everyone would be calling in favors, and working for free, all for the chance to add some accomplishments to their resumes.

It was a risky option. I had already sunk about $10,000 on one producer, and was about to spend more on one who was fresh-out-of college. The success hinged on getting it all done in one weekend, after which everyone—artists, producers, cameramen—would be scattered all over the country, unreachable and unavailable.

(gambit: noun. any maneuver by which one seeks to gain an advantage.)

The Glory

The story of that weekend shoot itself, and how it came within a hair’s breadth of being cancelled is worth telling (perhaps another time), but to summarize, it was hectic, ambitious, impossible and a work of sheer genius. We would shoot one group's scene on one side of the street, then while they rested, we would shoot another group's scene on the other side. Cameraman Ian Woolston Smith, co-director Ken Greenblatt and Lance worked tirelessly for the entire weekend to make it happen. In a testament to their planning, coordination and editing genius, the locations were chosen and filmed such that you'd never notice that they were all within a 5-block radius in Harlem.

We came away with three outstanding videos with entirely unique feels, two of which got aired on BET, one which got aired on Video Music Box, and a host of other shows nationwide. And we did it all for under $7500! That figure will mean more if you understand that at the time, the lowest cost that most people thought you had to spend for just one music video was between $10,000 and $20,000!

We went for, and grabbed the glory! Lance has gone on to be an Emmy-award winning producer ( Ian Woolston Smith is a famous steadicam operator (

The Gravy

A few months later, I found myself in a courtroom in lower Manhattan, sitting next to Dante, facing a small claims court judge.

I was ready. I had our original contract. I had my receipts. I had my documentation of the airing on BET and other shows, and I had my testimony.

Dante was visibly (and satisfyingly) shocked when I told the story of our BET victory, and Video Music Box airing. This was key to my case, because I had to prove I incurred additional expenses as a result of having to hire a new producer to complete the project he had failed to complete. He grabbed the documents to verify that I was telling the truth! He couldn't believe that I had already won!

Long story short: I won the case. (All the years of watching Felix Unger's courtroom exploits on the Odd Couple sitcom paid off!) Dante was slapped with a $7,000 judgment, and I walked away with the glory. As we passed each other in the hallway, Dante's last words

to me were, "You're never going to see any of that money, Walt." I kind of already knew that.

But, that was fine. I had the glory, and my principles in tact. I hadn't given in to his extortion. I hadn't allowed him to block my progress. And he had a permanent judgment on his record

to remind him of who he was messing with!

The Good

My mantra in life is: "The Universe is Perfect." I really only had three choices: 1. pay Dante more money. 2. Find another way to get things done. 3. use a baseball bat.

Think about all the good that I experienced as a result of making the right choice and responding correctly to what might have been perceived as an obstacle (I didn’t use the bat): I got three videos done for less than the price of one. I worked and helped a future award-winning producer. I got our videos played on national cable networks, and I now have a better story of victory to tell you today!

So, what have we learned from today's tale, boys and girls?

1. People will do what people will do

2. The Universe is Perfect, and what may appear to be disaster might be the catalyst for greater glory!

3. Don't mess with Walt!

The knowledge gained from that experience and others is included in Change The Game: How to Start, Run and Really Make Money with your Independent Record Label by Walt F.J. Goodridge (that's me!)

Visit to check it out!

Stay tuned for more exciting gems from the Walt Vault, and, in the meantime, go for the glory!