As Good As It Gets

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I love Henry Rollins.

In my music industry career, I had the chance to meet and interview Henry Rollins on numerous occasions. Over a decade-plus, I had the chance to interview many of the world’s biggest rock stars, but Rollins always intimidated me. It wasn’t the muscles or the tattoos. It wasn’t the punk panic from his work fronting the band Black Flag or his own solo ventures. It was his written and spoken word. He had his own publishing imprint, 2.13.61, and I bought, read, devoured and re-read practically everything he self-published (and the authors that he signed to the imprint as well). I own almost every single CD of spoken word work he put out. Intimidation = massive fanboy. The good news? Rollins never disappointed. He was kind, gracious, well-spoken and professional. I often get asked what it takes to make it in the marketing industry. I think this short and beautiful clip of Rollins sums it up perfectly…

Watch this:

Life lessons from Henry Rollins: 

  • Always ask yourself: "is this as good as it gets?" 
  • Life can be tough: a lot of standing on your feet and a lot of taking it from other people with very little to show for it by Friday evening.
  • Always look at the ice cream scooper in your life. Trust me, you have one.
  • If you walk out today to follow your dream, what will you really be missing?
  • Whatever you do: pack your bags and meet the band on the road.
  • Life is a lottery.
  • Never forget what you have to go back to.
  • Say "yes" to everything.
  • People like you (and me) fail most of the time.
  • It’s not about talent… it’s about tenacity.
  • Know where you came from and know what you could wind up going back to.
  • Have a plan B, C, D, E, F and G.
  • Write everything down twice, show up early, shut up and listen.
  • When luck comes your way, take advantage of the opportunity.
  • There’s not that many unique stories in our world.

I could watch this video multiple times, every day.


  1. Wow – that is amazing. “Application, discipline, focus, repetition” – that sums up what we need to do. Thanks for posting.

  2. Thank you soooooo much for sharing this! I remember my “ice cream scoop” moments.
    Say “yes” to everything, make your own “luck”, manage yourself.
    Thanks, Mitch!

  3. Rollins has been on Big Think a couple of times – every one of them good. Certainly an example of tenacity, I’d agree with Scott Silverman there.

  4. That was gripping. Almost didn’t matter what the message was. This man has something intangible that holds your attention and an incredible way with words.

  5. “I manage myself. I know where I’m going…”. This line in particular resonated with me. Take control of your life as much as you can – and take the chances when they come about.

  6. Hey Mitch,
    Great post and an excellent way to start the day. I want to disagree with Henry Rollins on one point. He claimed his story was about some luck and a lot of hard work. And he said his story wasn’t unique. I think his story is vastly unique. Not only did he get to work for his favourite band, but he also worked harder than most to create that opportunity for himself. I agree with Ilana Rabinowitz. The man has a distinct ability to hold your attention and he most certainly has tenacity. Thanks again for sharing!

  7. Holy Cow! Best seven-minute video I’ve ever seen. The “Americanist” analogy was just awesome! One faithful event can change the course and direction of a life for sure. What Henry Rollins did with that event has made all the difference. Great dissection Mitch – with the 15 lessons. I’m curious how manny times you watched this to extrapolate those lessons? Nice!

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