Canadian Music Trade - In Depth

MoneyCapsules: An Artful Way To Talk About Money – Part 3


By Jaimie M. Blackman, M.S.Ed., CWS

For those that have not had a chance to read parts one and two, here is a brief review. Organize: In the first part, I introduced a process that helps people organize their financial lives into seven issues of wealth I call “MoneyCapsules.” They are Values, Cash, Return, Tax, Risk, Time, and Giving.

Understand: In part two, my goal was to help you understand why being able to recognize and communicate your “financial self” to your family members and team of professionals is key and offered insights on how you can do it. Decide: The concept of values-based decisions is simple yet profound. By allowing your personal values to guide your dollar values, financial decisions will always be aligned to your higher self.

Jaimie BlackmanJaimie Blackman

In part three, we will examine how two successful music retailers have used a values- based decision-making approach to proactively respond to challenges. Values-based decision making is not only a practical way to mitigate future regrets and mistakes, but when done right, it can bring more happiness and joy to you and those around you.

Kevin Higgins

Alamo Music Center – San Antonio, TX

Kevin Higgins lost his left leg in a motorcycle accident 19 years ago. The horrific phantom pain from nerve damage caused by the traumatic amputation caused a downward spiral to a life filled with pain medication and failed relationships. That was the case before the day Kevin walked into a Yamaha music store and played one of the few songs he remembered from childhood piano lessons, “Open Arms” by Journey. Kevin realized that while playing the piano, his pain went away.

He returned to the music store day after day for relief from his excruciating pain. When Kevin’s mom shipped his old piano 300 miles to his home, his life turned around forever. Music saved Kevin’s life. His values-based decision led him to become a “missionary for music” and he now shares the message of the healing power of music to those suffering from chronic pain and mental illness.

Kevin is the music and wellness director at Alamo Music Center in San Antonio, TX, where he shares the powerful ability of recreational music making (RMM) to lessen or overcome chronic pain and suffering. Kevin works with many individuals and organizations, including the Wounded Warriors, people suffering from Parkinson’s disease, and various women’s shelters, as well as relaying his story of music and wellness to students and teachers.

Kevin is an advocate for, and heavily involved with, the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute (YMWI), a non-profit organization that promotes the proven health benefits of enjoyable and creative music making. Recently, I had the great pleasure of speaking with him about his values-based life work. I found a man dedicated to helping those suffering from the stress of chronic pain using the power of making music. A person does not have to be a great musician to benefit from the positive outcomes of playing music; they just need to find joy in the playing.

Kevin was once a man who was in so much pain that, at one point, he wondered if, as he states, “God hated him.” He felt that he was a burden to family and friends and had nothing to contribute to society. Today, Kevin has no pain and is making joyful music while spreading this message of hope and “salvation” to others who are suffering. Kevin has received the Jefferson Award for Public

Service as well as the Hidden Hero Award presented by the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce for his work in helping others through music.

He has spoken at numerous schools and has presented his life-changing story to the physicians of the Bexar County Medical Society. Kevin is an active fundraiser and is helping set up music and wellness programs in his community and others. He mentors the wellness programs for a year or two to get them off the ground and then moves on to the next one. Kevin is changing the world one person at a time, and that is music to our soul.

capsulesThe Averwaters

Amro Music – Memphis, TN

When speaking with NAMM members, I only heard great things about Amro Music and the incredible work Pat and Chip Averwater (Chip is recently retired from Amro) are doing in preparing their sons, Nick and CJ, for more responsibility. You may know that Chip has served as chairman of NAMM and Pat is currently a NAMM board member.

Pat recently shared his values-based thoughts with me on the topic of succession planning. “We are fortunate that we have two young people coming up in the business that have earned their stripes. They participate, they contribute, and everyone sees that these two individuals have the potential to lead the company throughout the fourth generation.” While companies must not value family relationships over character and qualifications, few have a process to implement. So, when Pat forwarded his “Agreement for Family Employment,” I immediately became a fan.

The arrangement with children who might want to enter the business is as follows: For the first 10 years of work at Amro after college, a family member receives compensation consistent with what they would make for similar work outside the company. After working in the business for 10 years after college, the family member becomes an officer of the corporation and participates in the splitting of officer salaries. The amount for officers’ salaries is split in the ratio of 58 per cent for the senior corporate officer and 42 per cent for the junior officer, there normally being about 10 years difference in experience between the senior and junior officers. (In a case in which a family member chooses not to finish college, two years’ work at Amro could be considered the equivalent of one year of college.)

Each family member bears the obligation of maintaining a high standard of responsibility and ethics inside and outside the business. Any actions or events that reflect poorly on family or company values could result in employment termination.

It’s clear that Pat and Chip have their expectations well-articulated and, yes, values-based. There is no room for confusion. Nick and CJ know exactly what’s expected and are aware of the consequences if they fall short.

This “agreement” is also essential for the Amro employees to understand. It might seem obvious, but it’s worth repeating; you cannot pass a family business from one generation to the next unless family members work in and run the business.

Although these are two very different examples, they were both driven by a common core of principles that transcend the conventional way of wealth building. To a large extent, the quality of your life is governed by the quality of your financial decisions.

“Personal gain is not excluded from a spiritual life. On the contrary. But the aim of personal gain is clearly defined: one gains something in order to give. This is the essence not only of human life, but of existence itself.” – Jacob Needleman, Money and the Meaning of Life.

In the end, an artful way to talk about money may very well help you discover the purpose of your life.


MoneyCapsules, Sound Financial Decisions, and The Sound of Money are trademarks of Media Solutions Inc., This three-part series by Jaimie Blackman features excerpts from The Sound of Money e-Book: An Artful Way to Talk About Money.

Jaimie Blackman is the President of BH Wealth Management and Creator of MoneyCapsules. Jaimie’s team offers solutions to help guide music retailers and manufactures through the complexities of succession planning.

All Canadian Music Trade readers who subscribe to Jaimie’s Succession Success e-newsletter at will also receive the Values Map tool to help them make values-based decisions.

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Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief at Canadian Musician, Canadian Music Trade, Professional Sound, and Professional Lighting & Production magazines. He also hosts the Canadian Musician Podcast.
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