Lessons from Recording My New Album: Paul Numi - “Chimera”
Posted on 2020 May,17  | By Peter Corijn

Everybody needs dreams. One of mine is music. My alter ego Paul Numi just released the “Chimera“ album. Here are some learnings from the exciting world of rock and roll, with tips on how to maximize creative efforts.


1- “All Together Now” (The Farm): The sum must be bigger than the individual parts.

John, Paul, George and Ringo recorded some great songs as solo artists. But together they were The Beatles, the world’s greatest band ever. Sgt. Peppers is still hailed as the greatest rock album of all time (Rolling Stone Magazine).

As a band, they were more than individuals. That’s what great teams do. Their different personalities, profiles and strengths re-enforce each other.

It’s essential to create such a team. If you have it, protect it by all means. U2 always portrays all 4 original members. They also had personal issues but refused to make changes. Mick Jagger in the Rolling Stones is exceptional, perhaps he was less so as a solo artist. Jagger and Keith Richards often argue. Yet, both were smart enough to put their differences aside because they know: The Stones are bigger than their ego. As Joe Perry, Aerosmith’s guitarist, put it: “you’re only ever entitled to one great band in your life”.

Of course, if the sum is smaller than the parts, you need to make changes (or change yourself). They always say: “people are your biggest asset”. It’s not true! The RIGHT people are your biggest asset.


2- “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it” (Fun Boy Three): Allow candid feedback. Improve your EQ.

Creatives and artists are sensitive about their work. They are very emotionally involved. They have to be in order to create. Consequently, your feedback style has to take that into account. A high level of “EQ” (Emotional Quotient) is required to get the best work. A successful music producer such as Ronald Vanhuffel understands that. Suggestions:

  1. Apply positive feedback rules. Start with a positive before the negative.
  2. Ask questions. “Would it not be a good idea to change the opening? Shall we try it?” That works better than “cut that opening!”
  3. Research shows that the most efficient leaders succeed through EQ. They create personal connections, are aware of impact on others, balance feelings and logic, and show empathy even when making tough calls. There is not that much you can do to improve your IQ but lots to heighten your EQ!
  4. Ban the “but” word. How often have we not heard: “we love the proposal but…” followed by 10 reasons why it’s intensely disliked (“the logo is not big enough…”).
  5. Demand and allow all in the team to speak frankly and, yes, to disagree with you. However, add one caveat: “but then suggest another idea”. It’s too easy to just shoot holes in proposals.
  6. If you are going to pay professionals, creatives or Agencies, you might as well listen to their ideas and suggestions. Seek to understand before being understood.


3 - “Rebel Yell” (Billy Idol): It’s hard to put creativity in a system. In the end, any creative has to pursue his or her vision.

John Woolloff is a brilliant guitarplayer who a.o. supported French stars Daniel Balavoine, Patrick Bruel and Swiss star Gölä. When I worked with him, I asked: “what’s the secret of their success?” John shared the following story:

“We had just finished recording an album for Patrick (Bruel). At the last minute, he came in with a new song. When he performed it, we felt that it was not good enough for the album. Patrick vehemently disagreed. Rather reluctantly, we recorded the song. That song was “casser la voix”, one of his major hits. Morale of the story: in the end you have to go for what you believe in.”


4- “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll” (AC/DC): Perseverance.

It took most stars years to get recognition. Before fame hit, Jimi Hendrix went to ask McDonalds each evening for the hamburgers they were throwing away to at least get something to eat.

Nirvana sold 35 million copies of “Nevermind”. In the years before that, they often had to sell the t-shirts they were wearing or beg to get some gasoline for their tour van. Many artists admit that they were close to despair before their big break came.

Define a karate black belt? It’s a white belt that never gave up.


5- “Sense of Purpose” (The Sound): Discipline.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones) was asked to explain the band’s enduring success. Keith’s surprizing answer: “We are very disciplined”. Nick Cave works 9 to 5, as if in an office.

The single most important habit to acquire on the road to your dream is self-discipline, whether music, business or sports. Sometimes, people tell me: “Sorry man, I just do not have it”. I then joke: “Ah, where do you plan to buy it? Amazon.com?”

We can only find it in ourselves. The good news is that it can be developed. How?

  1. Unrelated acts of discipline create discipline in other areas. This is a wonderful phenomenon. Tests show that when people sit upright and walk with a correct posture for just 3 weeks, they then perform much better at tasks that require discipline. Do you know a man who goes back to bed after shaving?
  2. Keystone habits. Some habits have an impact on other habits. They create a chain reaction. For example: it is proven that making your bed in the morning leads to higher productivity at work.
  3. How badly do you want it? Maybe if you do not find that power in you, it might be a sign that you’re not truly committed to your goal. A sense of purpose provides the required resilience..


6- “I get knocked down, but I get up again” (Tubthumping): Be ready to take the punches.

Reviews can be brutal. A Polish friend of mine produces EDM (Electronic Dance Music). He just got this review on his latest single: “It’s a painfully boring song with monotonous vocals that sound like an Eastern European dying of typhoid fever”. Keep smiling!

It’s open hunting season on social media. Everybody’s a critic. You just have to be prepared for that. Anyway, there’s no pleasing everyone.

Keep in mind that The Beatles and U2 were rejected, as were bestselling writers John Grisham (27 times!), Dr.Seuss (28 times!) and J.K. Rowling.

This being said, one must also learn from failure (see my ArabAd article series on the subject: "An anatomy of failure and how to benefit from it" 1 & 2). Maybe the reviews have a point and we do need to become better at what we do.


7- “The Sparkle in my life, the fire roared, it scorched my soul, but boy I felt alive” (Paul Numi):

Will my album be a hit? I don’t know. Maybe I’m chasing a “Chimera” (= an impossible or hard to reach goal). But perhaps the fact that it brought sparkles in my life is reward enough. Just to say, we also need to enjoy the road.

Of course, I do hope my album will become part of the soundtrack of your life! Do let me know what you think about the album!


Peter Corijn, a.k.a. Paul Numi, is the CEO of VUCASTAR, a consultancy focused on Enabling Mission Success, even when the going gets tough.

Paul Numi’s “Chimera” is available on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, DEEZER, YouTube, Amazon, and all other streaming sites.


Paul Numi on Instagram