Encore: Taking His Creativity All the Way
Blake Brandes, Ph.D.
Blake loved the topic of his Ph.D. dissertation, but he was stuck when faced with writing the last chapter. His advisor suggested he create a rap album, so he did. A review committee member wrote on his paper that he had never before had the pleasure of reviewing a dissertation that you could dance to.
Blake Brandes is co-founder of the personal development company, Motivational Millennial, and co-host of the Motivational Millennial Podcast. He also runs a hip-hop motivational speaking business to help students “Remix Your Reality” through assemblies and workshops. Blake was the recipient of the Marshall Scholarship, one of the most competitive postgraduate awards in the world, which he used to complete his Master’s and Ph.D. on hip-hop and global youth cultures at the University of Kent in England.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“I got into hip-hop at a very early age. My father was into reggae and always had a little bit of Hip Hop playing around the house. I started listening to what most people would call gangsta rap, artists like DMX and Wu-Tang Clan. I loved the beat and the intensity of the delivery and the lyricism. I started getting into more socially conscious hip-hop and began to think I would love to create this. So, I started DJ-ing at 14. I borrowed speakers from my parents’ bedroom and hooked them up to my portable CD player to make a rudimentary DJ rig. Soon I was DJ-ing school dances and church events. It was so much fun because I was playing music I loved and also helping people have a good time.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
Although he was passionate about his area of study, hip-hop and global youth cultures, Blake was stuck in writing his dissertation. He would stare at his computer’s blank screen and nothing would come. Sharing his frustration with his PhD advisor, she told him, “I believe in you, Blake, and I believe this process can be fun for you. Instead of doing this last chapter that you are so stuck on, I want you to make a rap album as part of your doctoral dissertation.” Blake recalls, “Sure enough, I submitted my dissertation with a rap album called Scholar, which is available for free download on my website.” One comment from a dissertation committee member stands out: “In all my years of reviewing dissertations, I have never once had the pleasure of being able to say a dissertation was danceable!”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“I have just seen so many people who have so much greatness inside of them, and they either don’t believe it or they don’t feel they can manifest it. I just know this world would be an immensely better place if those people who are holding themselves back could truly step out of their own way and unlock that greatness within themselves. My vision for the future is helping people see that inner greatness.”
On His Bookshelf
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, by Eckhart Tolle
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, by Eckhart Tolle
Steps to Success from Blake Brandes, Ph.D.
1. Listen to your inner voice to hear what you truly want. This is a powerful message when you feel stuck.
2. Determine what small, practical action you can take today to take a step in the direction you want for your life.
3. We all have an inner critic, the monkey mind, the saboteur, whatever you may call it. Silence this voice by practicing meditation regularly.
Connecting With Blake Brandes, Ph.D.
Personal transformation guide written by Blake’s business partner, Ivy LaClair. Four limiting beliefs that many of us—especially Millennials—tend to face, and eight motivational tools to help overcome these limiting mindsets. Free at: motivationalmillennial.com/freegift
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