In this episode, I chat with Mike Mulligan, founder of Moving Forward Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in London, Ontario, Canada. Mike recalls the incident that left him a C4 quadriplegic at just 16 years of age, and the incredible journey in the time since as he strives to achieve his goal of walking by age 40.
This conversation is a bit of a roller coaster, as Mike takes you through the ups and downs of a harrowing accident, adjusting to a completely new way of life and challenging himself to move toward his goals despite the challenges. He also vividly describes the highs of meeting certain milestones and personal goals and offers some valuable perspective for anyone looking to make improvements with their life and to pursue their dreams.
This is the third in a series of articles. Click these links to read the previous entries:
Part Three: What is Mutineer?
In fact, I established a rock band name and concept almost a decade ago, and even had a logo made for it. The band/project name is “Mutineer,” a brand concept that has very little to do with sailors taking a ship away from its captain but everything to do with recognizing that this current culture of celebrity, entitlement, comparison and consumption is something that I feel needs to change. It comes out clearly in the song lyrics: that the way we are here in North America is largely not okay with me, and that the “mutiny” is about accepting yourself for who you are, being accountable to the person in the mirror and being brave enough to treat others with empathy and compassion and to not just blindly follow the herd.
Mutineer is not about pointing fingers. Mutineer is about looking in the mirror, being accountable, and being strong enough to say, “You can point fingers all you like and tell me who and what you think I’m supposed to be. But I’m not falling for it. I’m brave enough to love myself no matter what I have or don’t have, and courageous enough to wish you well, regardless of what you may think of me.”
I did not set out to write songs to fit this theme. Rather, looking back on the content and tone of the lyrics I’ve written over the last 10-to-15 years, the consistent message clearly showed itself to me.
Rather than a call to confrontation, Mutineer is a removal of resistance and rally for accountability and self-acceptance. Instead of bearing arms, a Mutineer, in this case, is simply saying to this society of celebrity worship (and consequent abandonment), instant gratification, entitlement, blame, criticism and self-judgement, “No. There’s no more of this for me. I don’t believe these lies any more. Being like someone else does not make me worthy. Being me makes me worthy. I am responsible for everything that happens to me, and I accept that, and am setting sail to a life well-lived and will take what comes and know that I can handle it.”
In a way, Mutineer is about all the things it took me 40 years to learn about myself, even though I’d written about it in my 20’s and 30’s. Rather than “taking over the ship,” we’re simply stating, “You know what? We don’t like where this one’s been going. We’re getting on a new one, and going in a different direction. Meantime … good luck to you.”
I feel I can say things as Mutineer than I wouldn’t necessarily say with my acoustic voice, as Kevin Bulmer. Here’s an example of lyrics that are, essentially, about accountability:
“Don’t drag your heels and tell me you’re runnin’
Don’t run me around and say I’m a square
Don’t serve me dirt and say it’s delicious
Just do better.”
That’s from a fun little song called “Do Better,” a Jimmy Buffett-sounding track on my “No Schedule Man” CD. It’s kind of light and breezy and a bit tongue-in-cheek. It’s meant to try and get a bit of a point across without rubbing anyone too raw.
Now, here’s a similar thought, but from the Mutineer voice, from a song called “High Road:”
“Though it’s been swell, I might as well tell you
That it’s time for me to go
I don’t want to stand here watching
While your noose runs out of rope
I wish you hadn’t tied that knot yourself
I coulda’ told you so
For what it’s worth, I’ll say a prayer for you
From up here on the high road”
That’s a little edgier, I’d say. And it feels really, really good to sing and play that song, and others like it.
Here’s another passage, from the same song:
In my opinion, if you look around at the world these days, sadly, you’ll see a lot of folks lazily “volunteering a soul into where ignorance thrives” (and you can interpret that however you wish). But it’s also true that, if you look for it, you’ll see a lot of good things happening too.
Mutineer tries to shine a light on one while celebrating the other.
But, how exactly am I going to make it happen? I’ll outline some of those challenges in Part 4 tomorrow.
In my day job, I work as a marketing consultant and sales executive for a group of popular radio stations in Ontario, Canada. Understandably, I am asked about other various forms of media a lot, and I’m happy to offer my perspective, as I have experience in buying and implementing most of them. I also believe that each communication tool has its own strengths and weaknesses, and that a healthy mix as part of a strategic plan is probably best.
But when I am asked about Facebook for marketing small businesses, two words immediately come to mine: Be careful.
I recently asked, in an online poll on my website (www.kevinbulmer.com) and through comments received from Twitter (and, yes, Facebook) how people currently felt about Facebook. I asked because I wanted to get a feel for why, if at all, people still used that particular social media tool, because I feel its important to know, as marketers, why people are (or are not) engaged with any particular media. Marketers want to go where the people are. Or at least, where they think they are (but I’ll get to that).
The average response I got back more-or-less matched own personal feelings about Facebook: that I keep it more as an extended “address book” for far-flung family and friends than anything else.
However, there were a few people who responded to my question by cutting right to the heart of the matter, including this response on Twitter (read the bottom post first, then the top):
Now, this may be of no consequence to you if you’re on Facebook simply to know that you can reach out distant family members without having to keep track of phone numbers and email address (although, you may not be seeing all the content you wish to see, but we’ll get to that later). But if you’re running a small business and are being tempted by the seemingly inexpensive allure of growing your following on Facebook, sit up and pay attention.
And be careful.
If you’re thinking of paying for a Facebook ad to grow your business page’s following, please watch this video from Veritasium first:
Here’s a bit about my own marketing experience on Facebook:
From 2007 through 2011, I was part of an event management company called CPT Entertainment Inc. We ran a variety of consumer-based trade show-type events, and used Facebook as part of many of our marketing campaigns, along with radio, outdoor signage, TV and some print. Back then we felt we got decent value for our Facebook advertising. One example would be the time we arranged to have one of Dale Earnhardt Jr’s NASCAR race cars on display at one of our events. We used Facebook to put an ad out that targeted people who “liked” Dale Earnhardt Jr (or NASCAR in general) and lived within a certain geographical radius of our event. We felt we got good response to the ads. We could tell from the analytics and the comments we received, as well as through the attendance at the event itself.
But, as indicated in the Veritasium video (above), things have changed since then.
Forward to present day: I have a Facebook page for my own business, Kevin Bulmer Enterprises. Whenever I post something there, Facebook only serves it to between 5 and 10% of the people who actually “like” the page. I know this because it gives me those analytics with each post. And it always –ALWAYS – asks me if I want to “boost” the post to have seen more often.
In other words, it wants me to pay to have my post seen by people who’ve already “Liked” the page.
I tried it. Once. It was money wasted.
In fairness, I do believe it’s up to me to re-engage people. But still, I can’t help thinking that if someone had “liked” my page (and thereby given consent to see my updates), they should at least occasionally see that I’ve offered some new content, without me having to pay for it, shouldn’t they?
When I think about it in reverse, I looked to the pages that I’ve personally “Liked,” and realized that there are a number of them that almost never show up in my Facebook News Feed, even though I want to see their updates (to try to combat this, I leave my News Feed set to “Most Recent” and scroll all the way through, as opposed to “Top Stories”).
Still, even though I consider myself informed and I knew I was not having a good experience with my “Kevin Bulmer Enterprise” page, I decided to take it one step further and try a little experiment, figuring that maybe if I started something from scratch, my experience would be different.
Here’s what I did:
I created a Facebook page for a musical rock and roll project I’d been working on for a while, called “Mutineer” (I’ll write more about it another time). I posted it as a rock band page, put up some content and then set about creating an ad campaign. I designed an ad for the page, set a budget of $10 to be spread over a week and set the ad to target only people who ‘Liked’ the bands Extreme or Volbeat, were 18 years of age and up and lived in either Canada, Great Britain, Australia or Denmark.
I thought that a pretty specific set of criteria.
And so I found it very interesting that the first page ‘Like’ I got was from a “person” named Denis Johnson. Denis has no posts on his timeline, yet he has 39,955 Facebook page likes (including 2,766 Music “likes”).
I’ll say that again: this “person” has over 39,000 Facebook page Likes.
Do you know any actual human being that actually “likes” over 39,000 pages on Facebook?! Neither do I.
Here’s a sample of some of the other “people” who liked this page shortly afterward:
– Choudry Khalid Mahmood Anjum (Page likes: 10,139)
– Sandra Berdan (Page likes: 8,712)
– Jango Gurug Gurug (Page likes: 5,961)
– Saif AL Hakeem (Page likes: 5,290)
– Saddi Mir (Page likes: 5,615)
– Tahir Rasool (Page likes: 6,748)
By contrast, I looked at my own personal Facebook profile and saw that I had 96 different page “Likes” (and, as noted earlier, I don’t even see all the updates from those pages). I can’t even imagine how much work it would be to get my volume of “Likes” up to, say, 5,000!
It wasn’t long before I realized I was only experiencing exactly what the Veritasium video (above) warns about, and so I cancelled the rest of my ad campaign. I’d wasted enough money.
Now, I’m not suggesting that Facebook does not have value to businesses. What I am saying is that, if you’re going to us Facebook as a marketing tool, be careful. Accept that there are no real short cuts with Facebook any more than there are with radio, television or any other medium.
Quality wins. The cream rises. Quick fixes are a fallacy.
I’ll be the first to admit I use Facebook poorly. I’ve thought many times about deleting my page, but have decided to keep it going simply because, every now and then, someone new finds me there. But as for growing my business, I still find that the best technique is to get out in the community and get to know people.
Are you determined to grow your following on Facebook? Then roll up your sleeves. Engage people and other organizations. Add value for them. Create and share good content. Interact. You can build a monster following on Facebook, but you better do it organically.
In other words, I’m sorry, but you have to actually work at it.
Or, try and grow the quick way at your own peril.
Though each of Kevin’s CDs have been available for some time through online retailers around the world (e.g., iTunes, CD Baby, etc), it’s been years since the rest of Kevin’s “No Schedule Man” and “Hope Over Hurt” merchandise has been made available online.
Among the merchandise now available for purchase are some “No Schedule Man – No Plan Is All Part of the Plan” and “Hope Over Hurt” lyric t-shirts. Only a handle of each shirt remain from the original “No Schedule Man” CD launch in 2010.
Hard copies of all three of Kevin’s CDs (“Solo: the Return of No Schedule Man,” “No Schedule Man,” and “I Remember”) are in the store as well. Currently, this is the only place to get a hard copy of the “Solo” CD, other than at a concert or other performance by Kevin.
As an added bonus, all orders will receive a FREE one-size black band bracelet inscribed with the words “Hope Over Hurt, Soul Over Skin” along with the Kevin Bulmer Enterprises footprint/music note logo.
I’d love your feedback, please.
For months, I’ve been thinking of creating some sort of music video for the songs “Deja Vu” or “Bilge Rat Blues” from this year’s “Solo: The Return of No Schedule Man” EP. Though either one would be very much homemade, I think it would be a lot of fun to work on, particularly if I could get my kids involved.
My question is, Which one to try first? (Note: you can listen to the tracks, below)
Thanks for voting!
Haven’t heard the tracks? Here they are.
Bilge Rat Blues:
Four years ago today I achieved a goal I’d held for at least a decade: to complete and release a full-length CD of my own music. It was June 26, 2010, when “No Schedule Man” was finally released with a concert at the London Music Club here in London, Ontario. Much has happened since then. And looking back, I feel proud of myself for seeing the goal through to completion, and I’m glad I have those songs recorded in some form.
It took me almost a year and a half to finish the project (I documented the whole process with a weekly journal. All the entries can be found HERE). At the time, I was not enjoying the accomplishment as much as I’d been hoping to, as I was truly hurting with sciatic nerve pain caused by herniated discs in my lower back (which actually caused a two-week delay in releasing the CD). In fact, just one week after the CD release show, I decided to cancel the rest of the appearances I had booked for that summer because I was just in too much pain and wasn’t enjoying myself at all. Partly because of that, I never really felt those songs got the push they deserved.
Shortly afterwards, many significant life changes took place, including a divorce, change of address and change in career, all of which happened pretty much at the same time. In the face of that, playing the songs from “No Schedule Man” quickly fell down the list of priorities.
For the better part of two years after all that, I didn’t even really look at my guitar, let alone go anywhere and play. My mind was only on being with my two boys, keeping myself healthy and learning what I needed to learn from the life changes that had taken place. To that end, I feel grateful for the lessons I’m not sure I could have learned any other way. But there was always a part of me that felt bad about watching “No Schedule Man” sit and collect dust.
Eventually, the urge to start creating and sharing music bubbled back up. But it was different this time. There was much more patience, and even hesitation, to move forward. As I’ve written and talked about before, it was really my oldest son, Eddie, who nudged me to start working on music again, and so last summer I recorded a handful of new songs that became the acoustic EP, “Solo: The Return of No Schedule Man.” In the process of getting ready to release that collection, I went back and started rehearsing some of the songs from the original “No Schedule Man” CD again and thought, quite honestly, that there were some really good songs just sitting and waiting for me to pay them some mind again.
Now that “Solo” has also been released, my guitar is mostly quiet again, at least for now. I’m still not sure where all this fits in the scheme of a guy who makes his living as a Marketing Consultant and Radio Account Executive. But when I burden myself with trying too hard to make sense of it all, I think back to the lyrics of the “No Schedule Man” title track and remember that “No plan is all part of the plan.”
The idea of control is really a fallacy. Change is inevitable, and this present moment is truly all we have. So I strive to be more like the character I created with “No Schedule Man,” to the extent where I’ve since adopted it as a kind of “brand” for most of the things I do, and hope to be.
No Schedule Man, the character, doesn’t aim to have. He simply wants to be.
One day, I’ll give those songs the attention I always felt they deserved. In the meantime, I can look back and feel proud that they even exist in the first place, and feel emboldened about my ability to navigate through whatever changes and challenges may come from here. With that in mind, I wholeheartedly encourage you to explore and celebrate your own creativity as well, in whatever form that may be. I did, and I’m glad I did.
Happy Anniversary, No Schedule Man. I’m better for knowing you and am curious to see where we set sail next.
Kevin celebrated the release of his new acoustic EP, “Solo: The Return of No Schedule Man” at a concert event on February 21, 2014 at the London Music Club in London, Ontario.
The performance was Kevin’s first in over three years.
With an enthusiastic crowd in attendance, London’s Alexa Kay began the night with set of songs that showcased her natural ability as a singer-songwriter, mixing some of her original compositions along with cover versions of other popular songs. Alexa’s incredible talent and sunny personality put the concert on the right track from the start.
Kevin then took to the stage by himself (“Solo”), roaring into the set with the acoustic pop-rock track, “Bilge Rat Blues” from his new EP. He then mixed in a couple of more familiar songs before stopping to discuss the song that really began the whole EP project, “Déjà vu” (for more of the story behind “Deja Vu,” click here).
A medley of songs from 2010’s “No Schedule Man” CD followed, along with another couple of popular tracks and then Kevin’s song “Lullaby” from the new EP.
Bulmer was then joined on stage by Al Coombs from News Talk 1290 CJBK. Together, they played the song “Do Better” (from the “No Schedule Man” CD) and also mixed in some hijinks with other tracks, including a tip of the cap to the late Stompin’ Tom Connors.
Next to the stage was Kevin’s 11-year-old son, Eddie, who joined his dad to perform “March” (from the new EP) and then went into a medley of cover songs that earned young Eddie a standing ovation.
To end the night, Alexa Kay and Al Coombs came back to the stage to join Kevin and Eddie on the title track of 2010’s “No Schedule Man” CD.
Taken all around, it was a grand evening a long time in coming. Sincere thanks to Pete & Janice Denomme from the London Music Club for their continued support, encouragement and hospitality.
Hard copies of the CD are available by contacting Kevin directly.
To contact Kevin to inquire about booking him for a performance, or as an MC or speaker, please click here.
With our concert date approaching for the release of the new acoustic EP, “Solo: The Return of No Schedule Man,” my son and co-conspirator, Eddie, and I decided we’d try our hand at making our own “Vlog” this past weekend.
I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a production that would make even Steven Spielberg proud.
Hope to see you on February 21st!
Kevin’s brand new song, “Deja Vu,” is now available for streaming and/or download at Bandcamp.
A video with lyrics to the song has also been posted to YouTube:
Here is a little info from Kevin about the song:
I wrote this song in 2006. Aside from a couple of different chord implementations and a few arrangement tweaks here and there, the song remains the same as when it was originally conceived. However, the first home demo I made of this track featured electric guitar and a driving drum beat. I always figured it would be a pop departure on an album of rock songs that I still hope to make one day. But when this particular project came to life, “Déjà vu” held up best as the song that sounded like a few folks on a front porch could bring it to life with just a couple of acoustic guitars, a shaker and a couple of voices. In that sense, this song became the backbone of the project.
As for the lyrics, I have often experienced the sensation of déjà vu. When it happens, I figure it means I’m on the right path. Whether or not that true is anyone’s guess.
I also used to dream, frequently, of tornadoes. Whenever a “tornado dream” would come along, I would take it to mean that major changes and/or shakeups were afoot. And it most often turned out to be the case. I’m glad to say I don’t have tornado dreams much anymore (although, I did have one in September of 2013, during the post production of this project).
What really sealed the deal with finally trying to record this song is how much my oldest son, Eddie, seems to love it. He has consistently encouraged me to record it pretty much from the moment he first heard it, which was six or seven years after it was first written.
This one’s for Eddie, who has been a constant encouragement and always an inspiration.
I love you, Eddie!!
“Solo: The Return of No Schedule Man”
This project was a long time in coming. I spent a great deal of time away from my guitar, for many different reasons. And when I returned to it, I did so tentatively. But at some point in the winter of 2012/2013, I started sifting through my catalogue of songs and singling out some that I felt like working on, with no particular agenda in mind.
Eventually, I blew the dust off my little 8-track digital recorder and captured some newer versions of a handful of songs, just to see how I felt about them.
One of those songs was called “Déjà Vu.”
My kids ask me about my music a lot. So I shared with them that I’d been working at it again. They immediately asked to hear the songs. We were in the car, and I played snippets of four or five tracks for them. I didn’t play any of them all the way through. And again, at that time, these songs were rough: demos of demos. My boys congratulated me and encouraged me to keep working at it, but didn’t say much more than that at the time.
Weeks later, while I was preparing a meal in the kitchen, I heard someone singing the chorus to “Déjà vu” from the other room. I entered to find Eddie, my oldest boy, sitting on the couch and happily chirping out the melody that he’d only heard once before, weeks prior, and not even in its entirety. I was stunned.
“What are you singing, little buddy?” I asked.
“It’s that song you wrote, Dad,” he said.
“How in the world did you remember that? You didn’t even hear the whole thing and that was weeks ago.”
“It’s a great song and I really like it, Dad,” he said. “You should put it on iTunes.”
And so it began.
I want to thank Eddie and Jaden (that’s Jaden on the cover) for helping me to see what I couldn’t see on my own. They showed me that it’s worth continuing to create for one simple reason:
And if you’ve got something that you enjoy just humming to yourself, then that’s enough.
Eddie, Jaden and I will be humming along in 2014.
You’re welcome to join us.
1. Intro: Old McDonald (1:00)
2. Deja Vu (3:33)
3. Bilge Rat Blues (3:12)
4. Lullaby (3:40)
5. March (4:10)
All songs written by Kevin Bulmer (SOCAN)
Produced by Kevin Bulmer with Tim Schwindt
Recorded at River Music Productions in London, Ontario
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Tim Schwindt for River Music Productions
Kevin Bulmer (lead and backing vocals, guitars)
Tim Schwindt (percussion)
“Left Right Left” vocals on “March” by Eddie Bulmer, Margaret Bulmer, Caroline O’Neil, Kevin Bulmer, Tim Schwindt, Patti Schwindt, Justyn Schwindt and Heather Schwindt