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Integrity: The Real Formula for Success

I've been working in M.I. or the Music Industry now for almost 20 years. From the retailer to the manufacturer, I've met all types of different folks(with all types of different egos - big and small!). There has always been one key ingredient in the folks who have sustained or achieved *great success. It's integrity.

Along my travels I met one guy through a mutual guitar company we both worked for, and we instantly hit it off. His name is Jon O'Gara. Jon at that time was brought on to be a marketing director. I was in charge of internet marketing. He had been brought in to replace another friend of mine who is currently an accounts guy at Premier Guitar. His portfolio was impeccable. He not only has the "3rd eye" for photography(as evidenced below), but also for layout and all things guitar in general as he was a true "geek" about the industry as a whole. A guitar player. He grew up it with like I did. It's in his veins.

 Washburn - What the hell happened to these guys? Ask me about the anwser.

Washburn - What the hell happened to these guys? Ask me about the anwser.

Because of the oddball nature of the company we worked for, I will admit I had my reservations initially when he was hired. Not because I am that way with all new people I meet, but the people we worked for created an intensely chaotic work environment and so my expectations were low.   

Anyhow, Jon and I had our first phone call and in my typical fashion I used my odd humor to throw our conversation off balance. Not in a deceptive way, but I find I work better with folks when we have a mutual sense of humor about work in general. Probably a coping mechanism on my part. Trust me, at the place we were working at, you needed it in full measure!

I discovered something though. This guy Jon was warm and spoke from the heart. In my twenty+ years of doing this stuff, you don't meet many folks like that. We instantly hit it off!

Gene Simmons

Despite the company we were working for having an "A-Team" of talent, it was poorly managed. Today they are a ghost of potential of what was, but that's a tale for a different day. A few key folks, myself included, branched off to do their own thing. Two notable and decent folks decided to go in to the world of guitar building. Marty MacMillan of MacMillan Guitars and Jon O'Gara of the soon to launch, O'Gara Guitar, Co. 

zack.png

Fast forward several years later, and a lengthy (and costly) stint as a luthier apprentice to full blown luthier, Jon made the decision to go in to business himself. We were having a typical dude exchange one day ruminating about how we would rule the world. He was expressing his general dismay of the guitar industry as a whole and I said, "Dude, design your own logo and hit me back. See how it makes you feel...". A few days later, I received an email. The result was instantly resonating. It's on, I thought! Huzzah!

 Fresh batch of logo emblems, designed by Jon

Fresh batch of logo emblems, designed by Jon

The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.
— Dwight D. Eisenhower

Over the next year, we would detail out every facet of the business from the business plan itself to pricing, accounting, costs, etcetera. One key thing Jon and I both agreed on is no matter what, run the business with complete transparency and run it with integrity. No bullshit. No poseurs. No hucksters. No sycophants. No lapdogs. No bootlickers. No importing garbage from overseas, slapping your name on it, then calling yourself a luthier. This was his personal mantra and mission statement. Speaking from experience on both of our parts, every company we encountered that ran their business in to the ground or failed all failed due to a lack of integrity. Point blank.

 Look at that craftsmanship! (kisses fingers)

Look at that craftsmanship! (kisses fingers)

With a full heart and hard work, Jon has been perfecting his craft and spending countless hours putting together his initial offerings. Building guitars BY HAND is no easy task. Building acoustic guitars BY HAND is absolute insanity. I think of it like high-end watchmakers. It takes a steady hand, precise geometry, feel, gumption, experience, and patience. My late Dad used to restore old Martins and build electric guitars. He was a stickler. Jon is a stickler. Paul Reed Smith is a stickler. The BEST are sticklers. It really takes a special mind to do this stuff. He's been blessed with that gift. Case in point, look at this intricate, hand-made rosette work below. This is God's work here...

 "He puts forth a quarter-ounce cream rosette..."

"He puts forth a quarter-ounce cream rosette..."

Despite not even launching yet, Jon's work has already created a steady buzz through social media. A simple splash page, no official social media pages yet, and joila! People are already coming out of the woodwork. In fact, a custom order has already been made based on just his photo work and a visit. When you do honest & quality work people will line up in droves to get your product. It's really that simple. 

Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.
— Henry David Thoreau
 Hand-made brilliance! Look at that burned in logo!? Nice touch, Jon!

Hand-made brilliance! Look at that burned in logo!? Nice touch, Jon!

In closing, I want to point out that *great success isn't achieved by simply acquiring a mountain of gold. If that is your objective in this industry, you are setting yourself up for failure. Certainly having money never hurts, however doing what YOU want to do on your own terms is success. Doing what makes you happy is success. Sleeping at night peacefully with nothing weighing on your conscious is success. Having folks around you that love and care for you, without expectation, is success. It's measured a lot of different ways, but integrity is paramount above all. If you don't have it, you've got nothing.

Be sure to check out the O'Gara Guitar, Co. launch in 2019. This one is a winner here folks! He's one of the good ones.

 Meet Jon.

Meet Jon.