Stephan Hume worked at a music store for four years. One day two fathers of local high school kids approached him. They wanted a safe, mentoring environment for their kids to learn how to be in a rock band and they wanted Stephan to help them do it.
Interestingly, this was the third offer Stephan had recently received to leave the music store and do something different. The first two offers were lateral moves where he did not see opportunity to give back to the world of music, so he declined. When he learned of the chance to teach kids how to rock he instantly said “yes.”
Having known Stephan over the last few months it is easy to understand the numerous offers thrown his way. He has heart, he has soul, and he truly believes in what he does and the kids he teaches. What stands out is the way he teaches them (he has his own proprietary method after all). Stephan Hume is the real deal.
I had the opportunity to chat with him about his passion for teaching kids to rock, his unfaltering love of Colorado, and some of his inner workings (happiest moments, horrible first dates, and little known facts about himself included). Here is a bit of what he had to say:
You quit the music store and began Band Dynamics. Tell me about the early days.
We started in a living room. Once that seemed to work we rented some space from a charter school where some of our music students went. Then we bought some gear. We only had six or seven students to start.
All of our gear could be rolled into a closet. We would wait by the doors for the ballet class that had the room before us to let out. Once they were done we would roll up their ballet mats and have rock band class. With time, word spread and we signed up more and more students. Then we decided it was time to look for our own space so we weren’t competing with the ballet class. [Laughing]
We found a great place in Littleton. It is comfortable and professional and yet it still looks like a rock school. We were really fortunate with the Littleton Business Center because they are such great landlords. We were able to grow into this space with low risk. With time, I invested in the company and the partners decided to move on, their kids had graduated and we agreed I would take over the business.
Was there a moment in all of this, in your journey to where you are today, that you are the most proud of? That you consider your greatest achievement?
I can tell you where we are now compared to being in the ballet room, but it does not mean that we have arrived. It means our vision keeps growing. I am most proud of holding on and not for the sake of saying that I held on to it. Holding on and persevering is the recipe for success.
What about mistakes you have made along the way?
The biggest mistakes I made were listening to the negative voices of the world. In this process I learned the more supporters you have in something the more enemies you are also going to have. I tend to over think things. The super overcautious voices of the world are sometimes internal and sometimes the people around you. They will tell you not to do things or not to take risks when ultimately you know what you should be doing. I think my biggest mistake was waiting to see if something was the best thing to do when I knew it was all along.
Like our summer rock music camp for example. I waited so long to do it. I wish we had been doing it since day one. The kids and the parents absolutely love it.
The biggest advice I would give is to trust your instincts. Some of the most successful business people are not the geniuses of the world but the people who don’t think too much about it and just do it.
Where are you originally from?
I was born in Boulder, but I have lived from sea to shining sea. When I was in first or second grade I moved to North Carolina and grew up there. From the first day of third grade I knew I wanted to move back to Colorado. North Carolina is beautiful, but there is something about Colorado I just can’t shake.
Why do you stay?
When my friends in North Carolina asked me why I was moving back to Colorado the only thing I could say was, “I know that it is where I am supposed to be.” Colorado is the place I can’t get over. I am in love with it. I would visit my dad every summer while I was growing up. I would cry every time I had to say goodbye to the mountains.
I think the people who visit here and who live here would agree, the mountains are not the only things that make Colorado amazing.
I love that.
Colorado feels like potential.
God, you are so right. I feel like Denver is one of the most enthusiastic places I have ever been. I walk around here and I feel like people here want to grow, learn, be better and not necessarily for the sake of money but for the sake of living, for the sake of experiencing.
On that note, what are some of your favorite local businesses?
I really like RMK Cartridge. They are a great business. They do ink cartridges for really cheap and they are locally owned. I really like The Chocolate Therapist in downtown Littleton. It is coffee and chocolate. One of the owners is a mother of one of my students. It is about how chocolate can improve your life and you can’t hate that.
I need to know this woman.
Oh, you do. She has a dark chocolate raspberry bar that is ridiculous. I like Rally E Coach Works which is a refurbishing shop. We do a lot of business with local businesses and a lot of our students have parents who own local businesses.
How would you recommend someone new to or visiting Denver or Colorado spend a Saturday?
It would depend on the person, but if they were adventurous I would tell them to go hike Mt Bierstadt, which is one of the easier 14ers, and then go have a pizza at Beau Jo’s pizza [in Idaho Springs].
What do you think is Colorado’s most overrated tourist attraction?
Casa Bonita. I hate to say it because when I was five and six I had repeat birthdays there. It was my favorite place in the world.
Where is your favorite place to spend a weekend away?
My favorite weekend was camping at Lake Dillon. It is near Copper Mountain and every year Copper Mountain has a free guitar festival. I got to play it one year. It was amazing. It was a really fun festival. You sit on the mountain where you would normally be skiing and listen to great music.
What is your favorite splurge in Denver?
I am not much of a splurger.
It does not cost anything, except gas money, to do some of the best things in Colorado, but if I did splurge, I really love great food. I would probably go get a great steak at The Fort or a meal at The Melting Pot.
What do you think is Denver or Colorado’s hidden gem? Our best kept secret?
Some people say they couldn’t stand it here for the harsh winters. But It is an extremely comfortable place to be weather wise. We have over 300 days of sunshine.
What are three little known facts about you?
As a kid I wanted to make a living playing video games. My earliest thoughts were I wanted to do something really fun for a living which is one of the many reasons I love what I do now. I guess the general idea stuck because I do something really fun for a living.
I also used to be big into acting. My parents met in musical theatre. When I was really young I was in Evita and Oliver. There is video of it somewhere. I wouldn’t dare share it with anyone. But I think I was just trying to please my parents who were much better actors than I ever would be.
I am also really good at doing impressions. I like doing Napoleon Dynamite or several characters from Family Guy.
What was the most impactful moment of your life?
When my parents got divorced. Everything I thought was real got flipped upside down at a very young age. I was about six or seven when it happened. I think I have been very blessed to navigate life at an early age with the realization that once you can survive your life being turned upside down you can survive anything. As a child I felt more comfortable taking risks. The status quo doesn’t do it for most of us and I learned to push that a little at a young age.
Where and when were you happiest?
Like right this second?
Yes. I am extremely grateful for what is happening in my life, for who I love and for who I spend my time with.
How did you and your girlfriend meet?
We are neighbors.
What do you feel is the best relationship advice?
Communicate. Don’t hold anything back. Share and listen. Often times when there is something that needs to be communicated that is when you don’t feel like communicating, but that is when you most have to do it and it can be incredibly freeing to do so.
What do you feel is the best life advice?
Believe in yourself. Work hard. Believe in your ability to do things. Don’t give your power to other people who tell you that you are not good enough or to people who tell you that you need help when you don’t. Just do what you want to do. I think my biggest mistakes are I waited too long to do what I wanted to do. Many people have tried to tell me I can’t do many things that I have done. Live your life the way you want to live it and let the obstacles that come up while you are doing that be the ones you deal with. Don’t have your life obstacles be the fear that is preventing you from doing what you want to truly do.
What is your biggest fear?
That I won’t fully live to my purpose. That I would ignore the reason I am here.
What was your worst first date?
I took a girl on a date and I spent a ton of money on sushi. She spent the whole time talking about her ex-boyfriend. There was no second date.
Books that changed your life?
I have been compiling a list –The Prophet, As a Man Thinketh, The Celestine Prophecy, The Dream Giver which is one of my favorites of all times, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior and The Giver. I like books on deep thoughts and life purpose.
What are you most proud of?
My resilient students. The ones that acknowledge that there is something they need to do and it will be hard to do it, but they persevere. Those students keep me moving. It is hard, yet they do it, and they are so much better because of it.
How would you like to see Band Dynamics grow?
There is a lot of opportunity for us to expand the company, but I want to make sure we do not just follow the expansion train just to be more profitable. Profits are certainly not the enemy, but I do not want to expand our company into the ground. I have had customers who have tried other programs who come to us and say, “We can see you are growing, but if you do please do not lose your heart.” We know what we do is special and we want to make sure we do everything to keep it special. If we grow to 100s of locations we only want to do so if we can stay true to who we are and if it can’t stay true to our heart then we won’t do it.
Learn more about Stephan and Band Dynamics at: http://www.banddynamics.com.
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