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“The Koz Effect”

The Aha! Moment. It’s a phrase that Oprah Winfrey made famous during her many years of interviewing insightful people. It can be a spiritual awakening, a lesson that smacks you in the face, a moment of enlightenment, or a voice inside your head that screams, “THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN TRYING TO TELL YOU FOR YEARS! YOU FINALLY GOT IT!” It’s your “aha! moment.” And you know when it happens to you because in one flash of a second, your epiphany goes from being a taught lesson to a practiced truth in your life.

We all have lessons to learn from others during life’s journey. It’s one of the cool parts about growing as a human being. But in order for those lessons to become more than words and thoughts from the mouths of others, we must put them to practice in our own lives. When that happens, they become a part of our daily doctrine. And it’s in that spirit that I pass these words and this story on to you...

He had one request, “Let’s go somewhere quiet. A place where we can have a nice dinner and enjoy a private conversation.” That’s easy, I thought to myself. After all, it was a Sunday night. How many restaurants in town would be packed on an uneventful Sunday? He was visiting my hometown of Cleveland. And while Los Angeles is the city he calls home, his address is often “Everywhere, USA” throughout the calendar year. His work brought him to the Rock-n-Roll Capital of the World. And Sunday was his free night. My friend was in the middle of an exhausting stretch of travel from city to city, performing on stage for a live audience every night. And while live audiences energize and excite him, the hours and miles on the road are taxing. My friend is a professional musician; an extremely successful one. He’s a nine-time GRAMMY nominee; a chart topper who has performed with artists like Ray Charles, Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, and U2; and he’s a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. But above all of those achievements, he’s an exceptional human being. And every time we get together, I find myself inching closer and closer to an “aha! moment,” or as I like to call it, “The Koz Effect.” My friend’s name is Dave Koz. He’s known to many as a master saxophonist. I’ve come to know him as a friend. And our friendship, which crosses over many miles (as we live on opposite sides of the country and speak only a few times a year), is a true gift in my life.

After I picked up Dave from his hotel, I decided to take him to one of the quaint suburbs on the westside of Cleveland. I chose a neighborhood restaurant that I consider one of my go-to places when I’m not sure where to go. It’s a cozy spot that’s always dimly lit. The booths are large enough to sink into. And the food is consistently good. It’s not a fancy place, but it’s comfortable. And I was certain that on a Sunday night, it would be a quiet scene. I called ahead to reserve a large booth and I told the hostess that we were celebrating a birthday. It was a couple of days after Dave’s actual birthday, but I believe in weeklong birthday celebrations. The moment we arrived at our dining destination, it was clear that I failed my friend’s “quiet and private” location request. The atmosphere looked like a bar scene out of St. Elmo’s Fire (with a lot more gray hairs and no Rob Lowe lookalikes in sight). The restaurant was packed (so much for private)! And there was a live band (a quiet night wasn’t in our cards). But we settled in, ordered our wine, and then Dave did what Dave does best - he asked thoughtful questions; he helped me assess my goals in life; and he led me to an “aha! moment.”

**A word of advice to anyone reading this blog: When you come across people in your life who challenge you and bring substance to your conversations, they will help make you a better person. Keep them around.

After a toast and several sips of wine, we settled into our Ahi Tuna appetizer. As I was lifting a chopstick full of sashimi to my mouth, Dave said, “Tell me about your life. What’s happening with you?” He already knew my stories of job loss, failed relationships, health scares, writing a book, releasing a book, and my swing in the direction of success. But let’s be honest, even when life is good, we can get caught thinking about what’s missing. And so I rattled off all that I was wanting, but most certainly lacking. And at the heart of my list was something I think most of us want when we don’t have it... love. As I spoke, Dave listened intently. And as I weaved my way through all of the thoughts that sat heavy on my mind, he nodded to affirm my feelings. When I was finished talking, my wise friend offered some advice. First, he reminded me of the positive things that I had in my life. I know what they are. I usually make a point to offer gratitude for my blessings at the end of every day. But I haven’t been consistent with that practice over the last month. It was good to have my friend remind me. But it’s what Dave told me next that’s been simmering on my brain and in my soul. He suggested that I stop spending time thinking about what’s missing in my life, and instead, concentrate on doing things that fulfill my life. And then, in words similar to these, he said, “If you spend time filling yourself up, you won’t need anyone else to fill that hole. And that’s when you’ll attract the right people into your life.” Aha! The moment occurred. It sounds obvious, right? That concept has been spoken or written in some form or another by countless others. But on that day, in that moment, from the mouth of that friend, I had an “aha moment.” I needed to be the cause of my own happiness. I couldn’t rely on, or search for someone else to do that for me.

If you’re assessing your life right now, maybe you feel a void? An empty space? Maybe something feels fractured? Or incomplete? Maybe you’re spending more time worrying about what you DON’T have and not enough time thinking about all that you can personally DO to live a fulfilled life. What are your passions? Practice them more often. What’s on your dream list? Start checking it off with your own pen, not someone else’s! Looking for love? Love yourself first - no really, love yourself! Want more money? Spend time with people who know how to make it. And learn from them! Think the Kentucky Bourbon Trail sounds like a fun trip? Go where the spirit leads you! You get my point. Do things that make you happy and the happiness should follow. It’s cause and effect. Or in the case of this story, it’s “The Koz Effect.”

Andrea Vecchio

About the author

Andrea Vecchio (@andreavecchio) is the founder and author of Live Your Playlist, creator and host of the digital series Driving Cleveland, motivational speaker, life strategist, and Emmy-nominated television host.

7 comments on ““The Koz Effect””

  1. karen Reply

    Wow. I recently had a conversation with my oldest child that had this same feeling. “Maybe you are learning to love yourself better and that is what other people are noticing about you.”
    For years she looked outside herself, as we all seem to do, but now that she is seeing all the positives in her life and appreciating them, she has that inner glow that is so attractive in people.

    • Andrea Vecchio Andrea Vecchio Reply

      That’s so beautiful! It’s true, a person’s inner glow does radiate on the outside! And no doubt, your daughter is shining! Thank you for sharing Karen!

  2. Aimee Reply

    Beautiful post as always. Love reading your blogs and 9/10 times they hit home. As soon as I saw the title, I knew who this was about. I LOVE Dave Koz and his music. My dad and I have been to quite a few of his Christmas concerts. This past one, was the one that brought my dad and I back together. We had not been talking, but thanks to Dave Koz we are “Together Again”.

    This post speaks volumes. I loved the conversation the two of you had. It is similar to the conversations I have been having with a few friends of mine. I am dealing with whether or not it is time to end things with my boyfriend. We have been together for over 7 years and just bought a house together. To make a long story short, things have been bad between us. We are both under a lot of stress with the house, work and him with school. There have been things said and done that I am not sure I can fully forgive. I too feel like I am missing something and have been focused on that more so than my dreams.

    Recently, I have been working more on loving myself and going after my dreams. I am teaching at a indoor cycling studio in Mentor and loving every minute of it. It has truly brought me back to life and rekindled my love and passion for fitness. I am working on not letting others including my boyfriend bring me down and rip me apart for following my dreams. I have done that for far too long and I gave up on becoming a broadcaster like I really wanted to be. That all ends and thanks to my friends and your inspiring post, I am going to work even harder to love me and be more grateful for what I have.

    • Andrea Vecchio Andrea Vecchio Reply

      Aimee,
      First, how beautiful that Dave Koz’s music strengthened your relationship with your father! He would love to hear that story. Those are moments when an artist realizes that something GREATER is happening through their music. Bravo to you and your dad for working on your father-daughter relationship! You never want to have regrets when it comes to your blood.

      As for your other relationship, continue to search for clarity. A friend once told me that sometimes we have to let something go just to make the load a little lighter. I’m not telling you to let go of your relationship – only you can decide that – but give some thought to what is holding you down and work to release it. Good luck! Be happy!

      • Aimee Reply

        Andrea,

        Thank you for you kind and beautiful words. We got to talk to Dave at his past concert a little bit. We told him this has been our Father/Daughter tradition for years. We have missed a few due to money, but we have been to about 85% of them. I can’t remember if we got to tell him that this past concert brought us back together after not talking for 9 months. Please feel free to pass that along to him. I love that he does the meet and greet after his Christmas concerts.

        Now I want to listen to “Together Again” :)

  3. Jim Brown Reply

    Dear Andrea,
    The grass is not always greener on the other side. Dave is absolutely correct. You are single and a free spirit enjoying life. Relationships are wonderful. However, if your partner turns for the worst, you will have a completely new set of problems that may affect your life, spirit and freedom for a lifetime. Relax and enjoy your journey. God Bless.

    • Andrea Vecchio Andrea Vecchio Reply

      Great advice Jim! I’m going to do just as you say… relax and enjoy my freedoms! That said, I’m off to my next journey!

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