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Duff McKagen

authors Books Fan Friday

Duff McKagan Taught Me the Secret to Success

Inevitably, when you’re a woman coming up in the boss babe world, everyone tells you that you have to read the book by Sophia Amoruso. You know the one I’m talking about. Girl Boss? I read it and there’s no denying that I vibe with it extremely heavy. It’s a motivational read but for me, it just wasn’t enough. See.. I come from a world of gritty, cruel and unfortunate proportions. My career has brought me to some places that most would be ashamed of. I’ve got some pretty cringe worthy stories. Of course table top books like Girl Boss do touch on these sort of things but I’m not a “put your high heel shoes on and keep your head up” type of gal. I’m a ‘Lace those combat boots up and trudge through the bullshit” type. I honestly thought I’d never find a book out there that was written for me. I was wrong. Along came Duff McKagan and Its so Easy. Guys, my prayers were answered. This Fan Friday is all about Duff McKagan’s novel “It’s So Easy and Other Lies.

 

Duff McKagan from…?

You’ve probably heard of Duff Beer. Yes, this is a Simpsons reference but it’s also the bassist of Guns N Roses. (Rumor has it, the brand on the Simpsons was actually inspired by the King of Beers himself!) If you haven’t noticed, I’m sort of obsessed with the band. Duff McKagan is the punk of the group, and has carried a great deal of his teenage “youth in revolt” standards into later life. Being an alternative lifestyle chick, very heavily influenced by punk ideals, you can only imagine excited I was to read about it!

What Does that have to do with Success?

Duff McKagan It's Not So easy- book review by Jasemine-DeniseThis book outlines Duff’s journey from an aspiring young Seattle punk to become one of the most successful bands in the industry. He touches on his childhood, his battles with his inner demons and his legendary journey from Seattle to LA. He talks about his influences generously and gives us an inside scoop on how drug usage affected him and everyone else around him.

I couldn’t put this book down. It’s an honest and well written interpretation of what it means to earn your fame. I felt like it should’ve been called Duff McKagan, the struggle of a lifetime. I read this whole book on the flight to Canada to shoot a wedding. A lot of things had came to pass before this trip departed and honestly my spirits weren’t that high. I bought Its So Easy on a whim knowing that I had a long flight ahead of me and if I hadn’t had to keep reminding myself that this was a real life persons account, I wouldn’t believe a word of it. It was that deep.
The main notion of this tale is that success ain’t easy. It’s actually a terrifying hike and much like true punk, not everyone’s down to ride or so Duff demonstrates when he recounts the transition between two former members and the arrival of Slash and Steven.

What did I learn?

Spoiler alert: Duff becomes a rock n roll hall of fame artist after many years of lessons but he can recall every hardship by date… Well unless he was heavily intoxicated but that’s not the point. He left behind some killer lessons.
So what Duff teach me that has me asking myself “What would Duff McKagan do in times of struggle?”
  • Keep your friends close and your connections closer. Duff played in a bunch of bands as he was growing up before he found Guns. It’s like having a lot of small jobs. He kept in communication with a lot of his past band members both over the phone and even having some of them visit his various places. He later utilized a lot of these people to help the band start its first small tour and had a huge welcome home party thrown for him.
  • Being broke doesn’t exactly mean you have nothing. His story of working as a cook in Black Angus is powerful. He tells us briefly that he often couldn’t afford food and was only given one employee meal a day. Oddly enough, he made that shit work and gives us two recipes I have bookmarked to try.
  • Cockroaches don’t bite. Though he meant it literally, this stood out as a metaphor for me. He was just satisfied to have his own place, and the cockroaches that surrounded his apartment won the war. Eventually, he focused his energies elsewhere. To me it means, sure you’re gonna have some ugly moments but that shouldn’t take your mind off the prize.
  • Not everyone is down to ride but those who do are ones worth keeping. When Guns went on their first small tour, they had to hitchhike from Los Angeles all the way to Seattle. Duff who was used to traveling in those conditions was psyched! It was the moment he realized that his bandmates were as devoted to the art has he was. That’s how he knew that was the company he wanted to keep. At one point, the band was sitting on the road waiting for a truck driver that they had hitched a ride from. They seemed silent and out of hope but Duff was proud nonetheless.. Those were his brothers.
  • Finally, life is precious. Duff talks about everything from fighting because that’s how he learned to cope to drinking ten bottles of wine a day until he was begging the nurse to kill him. He thought he was gonna die. He lived on a block that was more dangerous than half the south side of Chicago, but he’s still here. In the turning point of the novel, Duff begins to rediscover the man he lost when he started drinking heavily. He talks about how invigorating it was having his life on track. It’s motivating. He’s still here.

How does this all relate to business today?

He’s still here. Being part of a band heavily influenced even just partially by the punk community is a lot like being a business owner in your early years. You have no business plan, no rubric, and most of all no clients. You have to DIY your marketing materials, finagle your way into social media, and most of all build your brand with hope, faith and the ambition of where it all started. A lot of Duff’s “coworkers” aka old band members died of a heroine overdose. Mine simply backed out when times got rough! This book put a halt to my whining and really motivated me to remember where I started.

There is no glory without a story.

 I aspire to have a colorful story of how my determination brought my dreams to life. Duff taught me that no matter how rocky your past present and even your future can be, you can do it. You can build an empire out of dirt and inevitably have everything you ever wanted. All of that, with all the nitty gritty no one wants to really point out.
I urge anyone who wants a raw recollection of a success story, I urge you to read Its So Easy and Other Lies because the biggest truth Duff McKagan left me with is that it may not be easy, but it damn sure is worth it.