"I saw that as a kid. The soft trees would break. The hard trees would grow and live forever..." – Jewel Kilcher

Jewel was broke and homeless, but she still turned down a million dollar check when she was 19 years old.

Jewel was broke and millions in debt after selling 30,000,000 albums, and built back from scratch when she was 30.

Jewel has switched genres, written music from folk to pop to country to even children's music. She wrote a children's book.

I love Jewel.

Abused from the ages of 5 to 15. Moved out of the cold barn she was living in at 15 to live on her own. And three years later she was homeless.

"I didn't want to be a statistic," she told me she was afraid when she was 15.
"I looked around at other girls who were in my circumstances and things went from bad to worse"

And yet… she ended up a statistic. She realized this when she was 18, living out of a car, and attempting to stuff a dress down her pants in a store so she could steal it.

When I was 18 I feel I was privileged. I had no real worries. I was "suburban lucky." Luck ruined me and made me complacent. I never would have made the good decisions Jewel ended up making.

That's why I love her. That's why I'm glad she came on my podcast. I'm sure she's done 100s of interviews to promote her new book, "Never Broken", an excellent book.

But I wanted to break her down. I wanted her to laugh. She was so smart and serious. Trust me: I got her to laugh.

A) Hard wood grows slowly…

Why did a homeless girl who sang for pennies in a cafe turn down a million dollar offer?

"Hard wood grows slowly," she said. "I saw that as a kid. The soft trees would break. The hard trees would grow and live forever."

She said: I knew I wanted to grow for a long time in this business. I also knew we were still in the grunge era and I was not grunge.

If I took a million dollar deal, I read that I would have to pay it back. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to and I would be dropped by the label and that would be the end of my career.

In fact, my album didn't do well the first year. But then went on to sell over 10,000,000 copies.

They didn't drop me because I was just that girl they paid twelve dollars for.

You have to think long-term instead of short-term always.

She was 19.

I do NOT think I would have made that decision. I think I would have made the wrong decisions.

How does one take such a long term view at such a young age. I think it was the ten years she had spent developing her skills, singing in bars all over Alaska, preparing for this moment.

Confidence is really difficult to develop. I don't know if I have it even now. But I'm going to remember this lesson on the next business decision I have to make.

B) Reinvention is non-stop…

Jewel has written children's books, gone from folk music to pop to children's to country. She's been a rancher. She's been homeless.

I asked her, "You had the benefit of really cultivating your talent from ages 5 to 15. You sang with your dad at gigs every week.

"Do you think someone starting from scratch at 50 can do this?"

"Absolutely," she said, "Reinvention never ends. It's every day. Pursue what you enjoy and move towards it and there will be opportunities."

I look at my own life today. I'm about to finish a children's book. I'm looking into TV. I'm working on a novel. I have other business things.

I don't know if any of them will work. But I know if I don't keep trying I
will slip back into whatever hole I constantly have to dig myself out of.

There are two days to start something new. When you are five years old. And today.

C) Create art for yourself…

I said these words: "So when you were talking to Neil Young…"

What funny words to say to someone, I thought at the time and told her.

Young told her: don't ever write for radio!

Meaning: don't write for the masses, write for yourself.

I asked her, "Isn't there a tension there? Like what if you write for yourself and then nobody likes it? Don't you want to write something that people like?"

She said, "We all have common experiences. Ultimately when you write
for yourself, you tap into that common cultural experience we all share."

That was eye-opening to me.

If you put in the time to develop the skills, eventually you will burrow so deep inside yourself with your art that you will tap into that same vein of blood that runs through each of us.

The key to good art is figuring out who
you are.

Writing for yourself, then, becomes the best way to write something that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Keep reading here for 7 more lessons I learned from Jewel (from forgiveness to self-medicating and how to change your day today)

Please read more here: http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2016/09...mpaign=podcast