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Duff McKagan (of GNR), The Road Less Traveled & Three Cords



I recently listened to the audio version of Duff McKagan’s book It’s So Easy: And Other Lies, which explores McKagan’s early years, Guns ‘N’ Roses, and the rockstar lifestyle.


One of the many things that I admire about McKagan, in addition to his healthy lifestyle and strong relationship with his wife (Susan Holmes McKagan), is that when he started making money with Guns, he recognized that he didn’t fully understand the business side of the music industry. He wasn’t familiar with how royalties were calculated when the band toured, what percentage of the money went to the various support people, and what he was committing to when he signed contracts. So, Duff McKagan took it upon himself to enroll at Santa Monica Community College where he learned about finance and thus became empowered about that aspect of his career. Later, he took business classes at Seattle University and started a wealth management firm called Meridian Rock.


It's not easy to return to school as an adult, and especially not as a rockstar who has many demands placed upon him, including traveling the world to perform in front of audiences of thousands of fans. Additionally, it’s not easy as a grown person to recognize and acknowledge that we have a knowledge gap about a particular subject. In fact, the bassist is quoted as saying, “As a 30-year-old millionaire, how do I admit to someone that I don't know what the fuck I'm doing?”


The easier road for Duff McKagan would have been to tell himself that he had a team of professionals monitoring the money for him, and thus he didn’t have to worry. But as we all know, some professionals mislead and steal from their clients, which can devastate lives. However, the GNR member opted to take the road less traveled and learn the information for himself. And, can you imagine being an 18-year-old enrolled at the local community college and in waltzes one of the most recognizable rockstars in the world who is now your classmate? Those students must have thought that they had entered an episode of The Twilight Zone.


If you have a knowledge gap about something that significantly impacts your life, don’t be afraid to admit it, and then seek resources to help you learn. And while you’re studying, listen to Duff and Susan McKagan’s show Three Cords and the Truth on SiriusXM.


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