Sunday, April 29, 2012

Big Changes Come in the Littlest Moments

Many people consider life to be a journey, and while I think that word is a little overused today (thank you, reality TV and Oprah), I do love to think about the unexpected twists and turns you encounter on this path called life. I especially enjoy looking back and realizing how one small act or comment may have changed the course of my life.

One recent and relevant example in my life is Pandora. I LOVE this music service, and if you haven’t used it yet, check it out now – you’re in for a big treat that will change how you listen to music forever.

Pandora is the outcome of the Music Genome Project, in which a group of musicians analyzed a ton of music, identifying each song’s “genetic” makeup based on nearly 400 music “genes” they had identified – things like the type of harmony used, kinds of instruments and instrumentation, the beat, the rhythm, the key signature, and so on. After you enter a particular song or artist you like, Pandora builds a custom radio station for you by pulling in other songs with similar attributes.

The result is the perfect radio station, featuring music that you already love along with new songs and artists that you’ll instantly fall in love with too.

Pandora (and the story behind its genesis) is fascinating, but to me, the really interesting thing is how I first discovered it. I learned about it from a colleague at work – and not even someone I know very well, just a guy with a cube somewhat near mine. One day we somehow got to chatting about what we listened to while working, since we’re both among the few of us who have headphones on all day, and he told me he listened to Pandora.

I had no idea what it was, so I checked it out when I got back to my desk, and I was immediately hooked.

Through Pandora, I started listening to songs by artists I’d never heard of, hearing new sounds and getting exposed to different musical flavors. I didn’t even know what traditional radio stations (if any) played these kinds of music, but I knew that I was discovering whole new genres and artists that I would never had heard of if it weren’t for Pandora.

One of my favorite aspects of Pandora – aside from the actual service and the music – is that they typically include a lengthy background of the artist. I absolutely love to read stories about people’s journeys (there’s that word again!) and how they got to where they are today, and nowhere is this truer than in the world of music.

Whether they were born into a musical family or didn’t discover music until their 40s, whether they started as a background singer or a winner on that American-Idol precursor Star Search, I love to read about the path someone’s life took and their own little twists and turns.

Discovering new artists and genres and their stories through Pandora truly rekindled my love of music and made me want to get back into it…which lead me to search for a violin teacher so that I could dust off my violin (which I hadn’t really played in about a decade) and start playing again.

While looking for a violin teacher, I had the crazy thought, hey, why not look for a voice teacher too? And lo and behold, this led me to my current wonderful teacher, my newfound love of singing, and a whole new world of possibilities laid out in front of me.

So to my colleague, it was nothing more than a little throw-away comment during a quick water-cooler chat – but for me, that one brief sentence honestly changed my life forever.

I’ve had other moments like this in my life, but this is the most recent, so it sticks in my mind most clearly.

What little thing affected YOUR life in a big way? I’d love to hear about others’ little/big life-changing moments in the comments – share yours!


  1. HI Jenn!! I love your writing!! Definitely plan on turning this blog into a book. I love you so much!!

    1. Aww, thanks, Katie!! I will plan on writing a book as long as it has a happy ending! LOL Still working on that part!

  2. Along similar lines, a coworker mentioned briefly that he listens to some of the tech industry podcasts at (no relation to Twitter, it predates Twitter). I downloaded one and enjoyed it, and now I listen to podcasts exclusively while I commute.

    I mentioned a few of the podcasts to him later, and it turned out he only listens to one. So he clued me in to something that I use far more than he does.

    1. Isn't it funny how that happens? I keep wanting to tell the guy at work that he changed my life...but don't want him to think I'm crazy! :)

  3. My mother-in-law's headshot. She hated her corporate headshot so I volunteered to take a new one for her for free. She loved it and that turned photography in a growing vocation. But it's more than ability to make money from a passion -- photography forces me to think about what I'm seeing, it forces me to slow down and absorb it and evaluate it.

    The irony is the slower I go, the better I become. Or in the words of Marine sharpshooter, "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast."

    1. Ooh, I love this one, Brian!! Love it on both the business/career level, but also the sort of macro level of changing how you think of and view and move in the world. I think this really speaks to - forgive the pseudo-Oprah-ism - discovering a piece of who you are, which I think is a big part of why we're all here.