Chasing Your Dream with John Mayer

Today, you’ll be hearing from singer, songwriter, and guitarist, John Mayer. His melodic, often soft rock has earned him a wide audience and a number of Grammy Awards. You may know him from some of his hit songs including Free FallinYour Body Is a Wonderland, and Waiting on the World to Change, just to name a few. In this episode, Mayer offers tips on growing up, performance anxiety, chasing your dream, and much more.

Need a sneak peek? Below are the main takeaways from the episode.

Chasing Your Dream with John Mayer

Tip #1

“I remember thinking I don’t need the instructions anymore. Okay, some people go for four years. I get it, I get it, I get it. I get it. Give it to me give it to me. I got it. I got it. Stop reading, stop reading the manual, stop reading the manual. I get it. I got it. And from there, because I started writing songs when I was at Berkeley. So I started ditching class to write songs at Berkeley. And I guess looking back on it, I needed the fuel of that sort of rebellion to kind of push off from and really become something so I was sleeping through classes and staying up at night recording demos in my room. And then I realized, Oh, I get it. This is what I gotta go, this is what I have to go do. And I had made a friend there who lived in Atlanta and said, Hey, let’s withdraw together and go the enact in Atlanta. And so we did and I remember the day I walked down the street in Boston, and I went and I withdrew and they give you a sheet of paper. The Canary copy is theirs. Pink copies yours. See later, and I walked down the street with it going like what is that? Like what have I done? And I remember I walked in, I bumped into my guitar instructor one of my guitar instructors who was like, I don’t see you’re on I don’t see in class anymore. And I said, Yeah, I’m not going to class anymore lately. And he said, I just withdrew as a matter of fact, in the very first moment that I learned, possibly, I was going to be okay. Was he said, Well, man, you’re a phenomenal player. And if you, he’s like, sort of like when your teacher says to you, yeah, I get it. Hit the road, man. Go do it. That was really huge. He said, If you ever need to come back, I’ll change your grade. But go get it done. You know. And I remember thinking at that point, okay, this is not the dumbest thing I’ve ever done, I moved down to Atlanta. And that’s how these things happen. Their hips shot, rogue, loose cannon things that happen. They’re not ever these very specific, architecturally perfect moves.”

Tip #2

“There’s this very interesting kind of graph where you’re excited when you have first written it, you’re excited when you’re first playing it, you’re excited when it’s really successful. And then you have this trench, where you kind of never want to talk to it again. Because you feel as if you’ve taken everything out of it that you could Yeah. And then you put it away, and what I call like the penalty box, you just put it away. And then time happens to it, you know, you grow up, you slide out of sync with yourself or the self that made that record. And then you come back to it. And it becomes vintage in some other beautiful way. Because when you’re still the person who could have written that song, and you sing it a billion times, you’re tired of it, it only gets interesting when you start being the person who wrote that song, I shed my skin probably every five years or so. And so now I’m coming back to all the songs on this tour. And I know I wrote them. But again, like memories, like the only proof that I was there are the songs. And more often than not, what happens is, I’ll go back into rehearsal, and the songs will come up on the prompter. And I’ll go, he wrote that. That kid wrote that, because I’m an adult now. And I know that I was all over the place a little bit when I was growing up. But those songs were very truthful. You know, there’s a lot of energy coming out of me when I was growing up. Great songs, crazy ideas, too much talking too much ideating all the time, but. But all that’s left are those songs, right? Everything else gets to melt away. Even sort of the gossipy stuff sort of melts away, and one of those pictures, and I’m on the internet anymore, you know, all those things. I thought were gonna stay with me and it doesn’t stick like the songs do. So now it’s just the songs. And I watched him come up on the prompter. And I go, these are really kind of beautiful ways to look at love and life and I go these are mine. No, because maybe part of it is as you get older, your questions get answered. I think that’s maybe the main driver and not writing as prolifically as we do and we’re younger. Because we have these unanswered questions we’re writing about what is going on, you get to be 45. Like, I pretty much know what’s going on. And I get to read these lyrics and sing these lyrics of a, I know their mind, but they’re a younger version of me that I then have grace for.”

Tip #3

“I came home one time, and my assistant had made my bed. But she had never done it before. And that broke me, broke me is the littlest thing in the world that said, I know you’re hurting. It’s gonna break me now. I don’t know why you make the bad fucks me up. I don’t know why anything like that, that that says from afar, or any care given gently from afar, messes me the little things, screw me up the big things. I get it, I’m ready for the big thing. Came back to my room and my bed was me. That messed me up. Kindness can be learned. I remember where I was. I was a kid. My first record. My manager at the time was like, Do you want to send them a bottle of wine? I was like, was that a thing? It didn’t know it was a thing. And then you learn it you go. That’s the thing. My friend Mark Hoppus from Blink 182 I was in a cancer battle a couple of years ago, got a DM from one of our favorite comedians. So I won’t say because I don’t want to, you know, embarrass him. And it was just saying, Hey, man, I’m wishing you all, all the all the strength in the world, you got this. And I was like, you can do that. You can write someone you don’t know, that you admire. And give them love. Started doing that. I’m very, we’re all very impressionable, one way or the other. Yeah. And, and to learn kindness and be like, it’s almost like a guitar lick. It’s like learning a lick. Oh, show me that link again. Yeah, you just write someone who would know who you were. And you reach out and let them know you’re a fan or let them know that you’re thinking about them. Random a play that now you know, and the more time you spend around people who can play those riffs, the more you can pick up, you know, and so, those expressions of kindness may not come to me, biologically, but I love to learn them, and then use them again. Because you just don’t know what’s out there until someone else kind of shows you what can be done.”

Tip #4

“it is not a drug to me. It’s that you hear people say when the lights go down, you hear that noise? It comes to me like a drug. And I know that’s how most people feel. That’s not how I feel. Every night before I go on stage, I go, okay. All right, here we go. Because I’m a little nervous to do that. Not that I don’t think I’m going to be any good at it. But just the act of it is foreign. And then I’ll get on stage. Okay. All right. And then somewhere in the middle of the first song, I’m gone. I’m gone. having the time of my life. The one thing people don’t understand about that job. The entire time I am up there, I am worried that they’re not having as good a time as I could give them. Not worried to the point where it’s unpleasant. But it is a constant consideration. Do they want this song? Or do they want a difference? Are they waiting for this song to be over? Or am I playing like if I had to make a setlist right now I’d hate it because I have so much music from so many different areas of music that I don’t know what anybody’s exactly wants. So I have to start writing a setlist that would disappoint people equally, and satisfy them equally. And so I only want people to go that was great. So I spent a lot of time while I was playing going like, I want this one. And the answer is always Yeah, man, they want those songs. But while I’m playing, it’s a very strange mix of like hyperconfidence. And like the person I really am, which is like Hope you like, like it’s like, as I’m like ascending through through through the cosmos playing guitar. I’m like, I don’t know if you liked this one or not. But I hope you do. Bob Dylan.”

Tip #5

“I was very intrigued by Bob Dylan, and how, for every point you can make about why Bob Dylan is brilliant. You could make another counterpoint as to why you would never want to include Bob Dylan, in in your dreams of being a musician, right? because of one reason or another. It’s just a great thing to do to look at somebody that you really admire, almost to the point of obsession, and humanize them and break it down and look at it instead of looking at something 30 years after its heyday where everything gets crystallized into brilliant, awesome. He went electric and everybody went blue. And he went yeah, take it. And the world went yeah, we love it. Well, you have to break that down and get into it and look at it linear look at it like you’re in that moment looking forward. So I took I went to Wikipedia and I took and I took every single record he ever put out. The year it came out and the top chart position that it got to and I graphed it. And so this was the top chart because it went from like one to 70 something so that was how wide it was. And I went across this way and this thing goes like It looks like an EKG going across. Now if you’re if you’re only honing in on one moment, right where it goes from where it goes from three to 20 on the chart, it’s moving about a half an inch, but if you have just put it right record out that has underperformed, quote, unquote, so that now you’ve slipped in the press, imagine going from three to 20. This year, the press will eat you alive, he’s done, and your label will drop you. Let’s say he’s a has-been, never mind. Good night, and on to the next guy. Oh, these three clones they played the one one’s a DJ other one does backflips and the other one, oh, that’s really impressive fine. But your attention will shift. But if you look at it like this, that becomes the most impressive shape your career can possibly take 1-420-470-7431 That’s to me, I think the way that you can be around forever is not to do whatever it takes to hook yourself to the number one position because if you do that, then the constant is number one at the expense of the variable being whatever it takes to be number one. And that’s also a ticket out 70 sick I mean, now at least it’s compressed enough now the way the world works, where my last record came in at number two, that’s that’s incredible. I had a cake with a number two made. So that nobody forgot me that number one, I’m not upset and I will never be upset at chart position. I’m going to this way, not this way, you know. And also so everyone else could realize that their hard work is still paying off. This. This jockeying for one jockeying for real estate is in people’s minds every single day. It’s highly impatient. And I find that I think impatience is a turnoff.”

Tip #6

“Everyone just has an idea for the thing they want to do. It’s that natural to me. If I don’t know you, it might be fun to live with your idea. But I don’t see this world of entertainment as like channeling what it is they do. How many viewers do they have? It’s just who I know, and whose world I want to visit. And I do not, I probably mostly for better and less for worse. I am where I am in my career. Because I go I like that person, I want to talk to that person. I’m not very strategic. I’m very strategic in the way that I want to present myself. But I’m not strategic in terms of playing chess with other people. If I know you, if I love you, I want to do your thing. I don’t look at it, like, show me who the biggest name is, and let me go do their thing. That’s how you should be doing stuff, I promise you, I mean, not year 23 of this or whatever. And this is all that matters to me I’ll do your thing, I will I’ll join your world and be in your idea. Like this is the embodiment of your idea I want to come I want to come play in your world.”

Tip #7

“We call it settle down. So settle down, settle down with this person, or hey, settle down. And you do give up things that promote excitement. I stopped drinking six years ago, I don’t hook up. I don’t run around the streets. I used to go out at night and bring sunglasses because I’d probably wake up somewhere in the morning. I haven’t packed sunglasses going out at 8pm and you know yours. Well, how do you find that still without that propellant have come into the studio being you know, having a couple of drinks? commitment is to it’s hard to explain just consistency, just consistency and getting up getting out of your head the idea that there’s how do I say this? Like, you have to depend on magic to be good at something. You know, I think when I was younger, I was so scared. I wasn’t going to be good that when I went up and I was good. I had to go burn it off because I couldn’t believe I’d been holding on to all this tension all day. I think when you see young artists, they go, it’s going to suck. I’m not going to do it. It’s not going to work. It’s not going to work and they’re in stress all day. They go to the show. It’s predictably great. They get offstage. They’re so relieved that didn’t stop them from going to drink. You know? And as I get older I go can I take these two posts and move them closer together? Do you know what I said? The other night I was in St. Paul. For the first time in my life. I said out loud. It’s going to be a great show tonight. Never said it. Wow. For fear of cursing the show. How many more show how many more years John? How many more decades are you gonna have to go on stage without incident playing great music before you can say that? It’s gonna be a great show. That’s another lesson on this tour. I picked off You know, it’s gonna be great, go have fun.”

Connect with John Mayer:

Instagram: @johnmayer

Twitter/X: @JohnMayer


TikTok: @johnmayer



To ensure you don’t miss future episodes, subscribe to our podcast by clicking here >>  Super U Podcast. We hope these tips help unlock and unleash your inner superpower!

The Super U Podcast is hosted by #1 bestselling author and Motivational Speaker Erik Qualman.

About the Author: Erik Qualman

Sign-Up for the Equalman Newsletter: