What Comedian Jim Carrey Taught Me About Failure

Someone I used to work with just sent me a text about her getting a raise at her job, and I had to laugh – though it’s not really funny. After giving one precious year of her life in service to Corporate America, she was given a favorable review from her boss and a whopping hourly raise of … are you ready? … 26 cents.

Yes, cents.

Right after that, I watched this amazing video of actor and comedian Jim Carrey giving a 1-minute clip from a university commencement speech. I was so affected by it, I posted it for you to watch – because I thought it would inspire you, too. (For me, it is life-changing.)


As for ME, Mr. Carrey, YES, I can freely admit that – for the last few years, anyway – I got scared. I made the conservative, practical decision and decided to take a couple of actual corporate-type jobs (granted, they were at-home sales jobs so I got to work in my PJs, but I digress). I was successful at my positions, but horribly miserable at the same time.

I remember back then how I convinced myself I could balance my music with these jobs. Nothing could have been further from the truth. What I did was actually throw myself off balance. The once clear, successful path I used to walk gradually became twisted and choked with unwanted vegetation … like losing my way in a dense jungle.

The last several years I have done less and less entertaining. That means I was not doing the very thing I was put on this Earth to do, which is to … SING … ACT … ENTERTAIN … MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY … SERVE MY PEEPS!

Is this business tough? Heck, yeah! It is not for the faint of heart – but it has given me thick skin and grown hair on my chest. I even had to shave it. (Kidding!)

I see and hear about so many of my performer friends whose once promising careers are folding around them. They’re getting ready to throw in the towel by taking the conservative approach and either giving up “the biz” or electing to kill themselves (creatively speaking) by working a day job while burning the midnight oil at their craft. Most recently I had a conversation with a musician I admire beyond belief – he is AMAZING – who was planning to sell all his gear to become a truck driver because that is what his dad did, and his dad seemed OK with it. I am not sure if he has actually done this yet, but I empathized and asked him to take a deep breath and not rush into something that will have life-altering consequences … to take the time to really consider if he’s making the right decision.

When I reflect back at my entrepreneurial self, I started in this business 25 years ago. I worked my way up from low-paying and often free performances and shows to becoming a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA). I conceived, wrote and starred in my own self-produced cabaret shows. I booked oodles of other artists in a circuit that I had really started to create opportunities for myself because I believe there is more than enough room for all of us in this business. I became a symphony soloist with two phenomenal, fully orchestrated shows and, to date, have sang close to 10 symphonic shows. I became the owner and producer of my own production companies in which I have sold in excess of 50,000 seats (and that is just in Florida – I don’t have the numbers for New England and North Carolina) … and at the height of that series, I had nearly 400 season subscribers.

I have, when asked, handled the promotion and marketing for a handful of performer friends, series and venues – and sold out their shows and venues as well. I also cut a CD (Let Me Be Strong) which I constantly use to raise money for other organizations. (What is really cool is that my CD is available in about a half-dozen countries.)

So I ask myself today: “What was I scared of?” Then I realized I just needed a break. My reality is that THIS business has paid me my ENTIRE adult life … so I will consider the LAST few years as a much needed break to prepare me to make the NEXT 25 years even BIGGER and BETTER.

As Jim Carrey stated so simply yet so powerfully: “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

That is exactly my plan, Mr. Carrey. Thanks for the reminder.

With a song from my heart to your ears …


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It’s Leap Year … so I’m Leaping

Although it’s officially March 1 when I’m posting this, it’s still officially leap year when I wrote it…so I’m going to make like a bunny and take a leap of faith. I am making public my brand new website. There is still some work to do…a few tweaks to be made here and there…but there’s enough done to make it “live.”

This is also my very first blog…and this is my very first blog post – as in the first I have ever written. But I promise there will be more to come.

The thing I like about blogging is the same thing that also scares me. It makes me so…vulnerable.

As an artist, I put my heart on a plate every time I do something that will be observed by the public…whether it’s singing or, yes, writing a blog post. (I know my fellow artists feel that way, too.) The tendency is to hide…put forth a facade that is somehow less authentic than the genuine “you”…but I am determined that this will be a place where I can be my honest, open, quirky, crazy self…in front of God and everybody.

I might share about my day, my friends, the state of my industry, favorite foods or movies or TV shows, celebrities, awards, trips, unusual experiences, funny things that happened…whatever crosses my mind and helps you to know me better. It should be easy to find stuff to write about…God knows I’m never at a loss for words when talking about (as the subtitle suggests) music, life, love, and fun.

Did you know that each time I am get ready to perform – and this is no lie – my heartbeat starts tripping over itself, and I ask the profound question: “What the bleepity bleep am I doing going on stage? What was I thinking?”

Most artists I’ve known also have that critical inner voice…that uneasy sense of uncertainty that they’re never as talented as they really are. And it’s a lot of bunk. Just ask my audience.

You see…we need to consider and appreciate our gift…that exceptional talent that has been given to us. If we’re professionals, we’ve not only recognized our gift, we’ve also worked hard to cultivate and improve it so that we can use it to the best of our ability…so that people enjoy it so much that they pay us to use it.

Now, I may not be very good at writing blog posts – but the one thing I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m good at is SINGING. I can darn near knock the paintings off the walls if I really cut loose.

For example, I was with my best friend in the whole wide world, Lori, her son Nick, and my mom when we bumped into Ellen Cornely, who I know from my early days of performing theatrical and musical revues. (I am talking about when I first started out.) I had just ordered my New England-style baked haddock with matchstick fries (yeah, that was not a healthy choice, I know, but at least give me credit for ordering the haddock baked, thank you very much) when I saw her. She recognized me and said, “Oh my, it is THE VOICE.” I hope she gets to see this website because hearing her comment made my day. Heck, it made my month.

And it also served as a reminder not only of my God-given talent, but also that I am so blessed to do what I do…and I’m so incredibly grateful to do it.

Please share this site with any person you may know who needs an upbeat, fun, and fiery singer to entertain them. Perhaps it’s a theater manager or an activity director at a country club. Also, please leave a comment whenever you like or have an opinion about my blog. It’s always nice to hear from friends, old and new.

Oh…and one last thing. I give a huge shout-out to the person who has helped me make this website possible, the incomparable Bob Massey (whom you should also hire to do this for YOU). Thank you, Bob.

So here I go. “Who IS that girl?” you ask? My name is Valerie Sneade…and I thank you so much for taking the time to get to know me better! I am here to entertain you!

With a song from my heart to your ears,

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