Barry McNamara  |   Published February 27, 2017

Pearls of wisdom

Wimp ’12 shares story of his success in music industry, offers advice to students
Ed Wimp ’12 left Monmouth College students with several “pearls of wisdom” during a Feb. 27-28 visit to campus.

But one he omitted: One day, you could be sitting in a “Midwest Entrepreneurs” class, listening to an interesting guest speaker; a few years later, you could be that speaker.

That experience is part of Wimp’s story – a story has already includes success in the music industry, authoring a book, and completing a master’s degree in entertainment business, with a law degree in the works.

After graduating from Monmouth with a degree in business administration and a minor in political science, Wimp began transitioning to the business side of the music industry when he was presented with an opportunity to travel as part of the road management staff for legendary R&B band Earth, Wind & Fire. From there, he was able to travel and tour with hip-hop icon A$AP Rocky while he appeared in the Under the Influence tour with Wiz Khalifa.

During his return to campus, Wimp met with two classes, including “Midwest Entrepreneurs,” spoke with several student groups, gave a talk about his new book and was featured in the College’s “Pearls of Wisdom” motivational lecture series, sponsored by the Wackerle Career and Leadership Center.

One of the pearls Wimp imparted was the story of how he landed his full-time position with Earth, Wind & Fire. It required a combination of networking (he’d gone to high school with the children of the R&B group’s manager), determination (“I hounded him” for a chance to job shadow him during a show) and luck.

The luck came when half of the group’s staff members got stranded at the previous venue, so Wimp was put to work during his job shadowing. He has never looked back.

Another of Wimp’s pearls was to not be like processionary caterpillars, which can get so caught up in following one another in a line that they travel in a circle and never reach the food in the center of the circle.

“You want to be the person who can break the circle,” he told a group of student leaders, several of whom were interested in careers in the music industry or law. “Be creative, think outside the box and don’t fight trends.”

To illustrate another pearl, Wimp said that if he had already agreed to a dinner date at 7 p.m. with someone, he would have to decline an invitation to go bowling at the same time.

“That’s a pearl of wisdom I want to drop on you guys,” he said. “Respect your time. You wouldn’t change your dinner plans to go bowling, so you need to treat yourself that way, too. If you had already decided that you were going to read a book that night at 7 that was going to help you improve, stick to it. Letting yourself get talked out of it is not a good way to get ahead in your career.”

As a student, Wimp came to Monmouth College from Chicago. He said the small town “took me out of my comfort zone.”

“It’s OK to be uncomfortable, to put yourself in those situations,” he said. “Monmouth taught me how to live socially.”

From his fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau, Wimp learned the power of teamwork. From his favorite class, “Midwest Entrepreneurs,” he learned “there’s lots of ways to make a living.”

“We heard from people like the man who runs the local McDonald’s, a music executive and even a guy who’s in the grain storage business,” he said. “It was really inspiring to hear their stories.”

A student asked Wimp if he ever encounters problems because of his last name.

“That’s a great teaching point,” he replied. “People remember my last name. I’m not ashamed of it. No matter what quirk you have, it’s all right, as long as you own it.”

Wiz Khalifa is a perfect example, he said. The rapper was already “awkwardly skinny” with a weird look.

“Wiz owned it, and he’s made himself look even weirder,” said Wimp. “People love it, and they follow him almost like a cult. He is one of the most solidly branded artists out there.”

Wimp offered a pearl especially for students interested in law.

“Perfect your legal writing,” he said. “With law, you have to take people’s hands and walk them through an argument. How well you can communicate what you know is the key.”

Wimp’s writing skills led him to author Building Fans, Fame and Wealth: The 18 Revenue Streams of Music. The book helps artists understand there are more ways to make money in the business than “selling lots of CDs and selling out venues.”

“Chance the Rapper is a great example,” said Wimp. “He gives away his CDs, but he makes it back in sponsorships, like his Kit Kat commercials. Licensing is also a way for musicians to make money in the industry,” such as selling a song to be used in a movie.
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