Many receive advice, only the wise profit from it. ~Harper Lee

I’m back on the radio on Wednesdays, an interloper amidst a group of legendary radio talent. We all volunteer a night a week for our friend Ted Randall on his 100,000 watt shortwave powerhouse WTWW outside of Nashville.

Ted’s format is an amalgam of occasional spiritual messages, amateur radio commercials and a mix of oldies and Christian pop. The execution is based on the tight Boss Radio format Bill Drake and Gene Chenault created to dominate the airwaves from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s.

I get to work with two of my heroes, Jim Davis (Big Jim Edwards) and Steve Hunter, both of whom wrote their personal chapters in the storied history of CKLW.

And since the vibe of the station is radically different from what I’ve grown up with in the business, I’m getting lots of “advice.” Program Director-ish emails periodically appear. And since I want to succeed, I’ve sought out a teacher.

Steve was the guy that distilled the Drake format into digestible pieces new guys could understand. He’s teaching me the theories behind it, including nuances that only those who survived CKLW program director, Paul Drew‘s intense guidance know.

I am a died in the wool Keener guy (WKNR was a precursor to CK). The fun is executing the format Drake and Drew envisioned. The drill is very different from the “Intelligent Flexibility” Frank Maruca allowed at 15001 Michigan Avenue in Dearborn.

So, advice from others who have walked the path is invaluable.

When we align a personal brand with an employer, we must learn how to express our individuality within the confines of the organization’s culture. We may not agree with everything. We may even vociferously advocate for change. If we can’t accept the fundamental mission, we leave. But as long as we cash a paycheck, the public expression of the institutional brand message is paramount.

Steve’s coaching often shakes the paradigms that created the foundation of my understanding of how to do radio for over five decades. It’s been refreshing. I think the process is as energizing for Steve as it has been for me.

I’m growing again. At an age where many have resigned themselves to the intellectual stasis that longevity and experience often create, I’m practicing what I preach in these humble tomes. An open mind keeps us young. New ideas reveal vistas that stretch our sensibilities. An ever expanding portfolio of friends keeps us sharp.

All advice is helpful. We digest it, create our own brand based on an alchemy of purpose and passion, art and science. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. The winners keep seeking knowledge, decoding the value amid the feedback, coming back for more, evolving to best serve whatever their definition of “audience” is.

That process can take us into The Zone, where the joy of doing is abundant and the chapters of our own life stories are written.

With the approach of the New Year, may you find your way into The Zone. It’s not all sweetness and light. But it’s where the real adventures take place.