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Andrew Molina ON: Overcoming Fear

Apr 25, 2021


Andrew Molina is one of the world's greatest Ukulele virtuoso's and he shares how to overcome fear in life, business, or music. He lives in Maui and has traveled the world inspiring thousands of people by promoting Hawai'i's beautiful culture.

His musical abilities are simply incredible - and he manages to incorporate rock, jazz, pop, blues, classical, and traditional Hawaiian music. He spoke about the importance of defining a clear vision of your future, then having a burning desire to make it a success. His insights are invaluable and a great reminder to pursue your dreams relentlessly despite what the naysayers have to say.

Andrew has been a friend for some time now, and I always walk away from his conversations feeling lighter and more insightful. He has a beautiful way of looking at the world through a lens of abundance and joy. 

We could all do with more gratitude, joy and abundance in our lives right? Well, I have to say that mindset is the one crucial factor without a doubt. We get to manage our thoughts, acknowledge them or direct them. When we begin to listen to our thoughts and then decide upon which ones we will embrace - life can take a very different turn.

Be sure to check out Andrew's latest Ukulele Album and website: https://andrewmolinaukulele.com


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Full Transcript

[The following is the full transcript of this episode of The Life On Purpose with James Laughlin Show. Please note that there may be small moments where grammar goes off track - this is simply due to the fact that the LIVE episode was converted to full long-form transcript.  For weekly motivation, please subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Youtube.]



Andrew Molina, James Laughlin 


James Laughlin  00:00 

Welcome to life on purpose. My name is James Laughlin, former seven-time world champion musician and now success coach to leaders and high performers. Each week, I bring you an inspiring leader or expert to help you live your life on purpose. Thanks for taking the time to connect today and investing in yourself. Enjoy the show. I'm incredibly excited to welcome in this week's guest, Andrew Molina. Andrew is joining us from Hawaii and he's one of Hawaii's greatest ukulele players. Aloha Andrew, thank you so much for taking the time to join me, brother. 


Andrew Molina  00:43 

Hey, James, thanks for having me man. It's good to talk to you again. 


James Laughlin  00:47 

Yes, good to connect, man. What's been happening there over in Hawaii? 


Andrew Molina  00:51 

It's all right. I mean, things are starting to slowly open again, I think, I haven't done a show since maybe January 2020. But I think we're going to finally have a live performance, socially distanced tables and like to have like a blast shields in May. So, it's interesting, but I've been keeping myself busy with teaching Ukulele and I'm just trying not to go too crazy in here. I'm been stuck on the island for the longest I've ever been, consecutive days. So, but other than that, I'm doing pretty good. How about you? 


James Laughlin  01:24 

Well New Zealand, we've been very fortunate, I guess, in some ways, with how the country has handled it. So, it has been somewhat normality to a certain degree. But honestly, I want to say, a massive thank you, because you in the ukulele world are a huge deal. And I know you're very humble. And I know you don't like blowing your own trumpet or blowing your own ukulele. But I'm here to do that for you. Because I remember the day, I came across one of your YouTube performances, and for anybody listening out there, this when you think of traditional ukulele, Andrew takes it to a whole new world, for me brings in like dance, pop, jazz, blues, everything, it's incredible. So, I'm excited to talk about what started you off on that journey. So where did this passion for Ukulele begin? 




Well, honestly, it's like, you know, growing up in Hawaii, the Ukulele is just actually very common. So, think of it like every house had an Ukulele in it. People just see it as kind of like an item that would be on the shelf or on a wall, you know, it's kind of like, It's nothing special. Or it's just like, it's kind of just you see so much of it, that it's just like, it's kind of a thing. And then from when I was small, when people who did the luau shows, they played Ukulele, and some of the really local stuff. And that was just my perception of the Ukulele. It's like, Oh, that's an accompanying instrument. And you've seen Hawaiian music. And when I was about 13 years old, I remember my friend used to come over every Friday and just one Friday, he brought his Ukulele over, because he was taking it in school. And my grandma had this old vintage ukulele from the 1960s. And she said, Oh, why don't you go play with him?, so I said, Okay. So, he taught me my first couple of strumming songs. And I remember I was really just, like, kind of happy and excited as I feel really accomplished when you play like, you know, your first song. And the fact that you know, with Ukulele, the learning curve is very quick. So, you have that instant gratification on day one. And I was like, wow, this is pretty fun. And then he said, Oh, I'll come back next Friday and we can learn some more. And within that one week, I remember my mom showed me some stuff on the Ukulele. My cousin who was playing it for a few years, he would come and teach me some picking, which was new to me. And yeah, that just kind of started the foundation of this Ukulele hobby of mine. And yeah, that was my kind of how I first started learning. 


James Laughlin  03:56 

I love it. And when you think about it, because now you do it as a career. So, to get it to the point where I would say I would call you a master of the ukulele, to get to that point of mastery. What was like the journey wasn't like, Hey, I got to practice a little bit, or did you become quite like fanatical about practicing and developing and improving? 



I love this part. It's actually after that whole beginning of playing a little bit Hawaiian music, I discovered a guy named Jake Shimabukuro, he's world renowned, but back in the day, and he was, he was still growing. But, man, I was just so amazed of what he could do on the Ukulele. And I just remember, I got a DVD from my dad, he gave it to me for Christmas. And I would watch that thing. Like so often. I was just amazed because it was something that I've never heard before. And on top of it, my dad's like, Okay, I got tickets. Let's go see him. So within that one month of me watching that DVD, I became like a huge fan. You know, I would wear his t shirts to school, you know, he was like my hero, and I just remembered the first concert he played. The energy that he gave to the crowd and when I met him after and the way he made me feel, he's like, Hey, what's up, man? And you know, when you hear that, that's just like, there's no greater feeling that and I just remember going home and telling myself, when I grow up, I want to do that. And so like that, that little vision of, you know, possibly performing when I grew up, it started at a young age. And I just wanted to learn all his songs and going to school, it made me relentless in practicing, because I want to just get better and better. And it was it was, it became an obsession. And that's why I became obsessed. And I think I mean, me and you both agree that obsessed is a positive word. You know, when it's something you're passionate about. You have to be obsessed to be successful, I believe.  


James Laughlin  05:48 

100% I think that is the key starting point you will have chatted with quite a bit before when you're setting out to do something is having a really clear vision of that future and being obsessively passionate about when you talk about Jake, so in my mind that Hawaii has the big three and as yourself as Jake and it's Karlie.  You're leading the way and you really are innovating what the ukulele can do. And you're taking it all over the world. So, you've not only performed around your own island and country, but you've been overseas, right? 



Oh, yeah. So that all started from busking under the banyan tree here in Lahaina like, pretty much no pay just tips and selling my very my debut CD. And from that point, it's like you don't know, we don't know where that can take you. And we just kept pushing. And within a couple years, you know, I hit the West Coast. And then yeah, sorry, 2017. That's when things started picking up. And then we did Tahiti. We did the UK twice. We had like one of the Ukulele festivals in the UK. We just did Austria in 2019. And then I went to China in 2018 and 2019. So it's been a very incredible journey. For sure. 


James Laughlin  07:06 

That's amazing. And for people listening out here, say some of the younger generation who were thinking, you know what, I want to follow my passion and I want to take whether it's music or art or anything creative. If they want to take it and make it a career. What does it take to do that to take that leap of faith? 


Andrew Molina  07:27 

First, it takes a burning desire and don't let anyone tell you not and this is something that it's crazy, because we talk about this all the time. But it's something that I understood at the age of 13. Even though I didn't know how to like, write it out. I didn't really quite understand I knew within like subconsciously, because I just remember, I'll be learning these hard Jake songs. And then I would try to get my friends to do it. And they'd be like, Oh, it's too hard. And I'm like, Oh, come on you guys. You know, it's just so much fun. And then and then it got to the point, you know, after like maybe the first year of playing I was just like, I would tell my friends. Oh, you know, one day I'm going to be just like, Jake, I'm going to go travelling. Yeah, right. And good luck with that, like everyone never took me seriously, but I never once doubted myself. And I feel like I'm I kind of jumped into reality because I would really obsess and daydream in class, like we'd be, we'd be an English class, or like math class. I'm not a math guy. It just doesn't click with me. So, it could be a math class. And you know, they'd be going over algebra, and I'm just like, Huh, can't wait to practice that song. So, one day, I can play in front of everyone. So, it was just like, I had a desire and I never let anyone discourage me from going and achieving that goal. And it's a process, you know, like, even the, from the design of my ukulele to the people I'm kind of like hanging out with not like a lot of the people that I jumped about, like, Oh, you know, I want to hang with these people because, you know, they're just the elites of the world. Like, they're all good friends of mine now. For the young ones out there, if you can really see it up there, and you really believe in yourself and you don't let anyone discourage you. From that go, you can achieve anything you want. And I can tell you firsthand that it really is possible. And that gratification of achieving that there's no greater feeling than that. 


James Laughlin  09:20 

That's amazing. And when I hear you say that, I can relate that to say an elite sports person, to a multi-millionaire entrepreneur, to a father who felt like he's done a great job bringing up this child, those same ingredients, I think, apply across all areas. So, for anyone listening, they can apply that to whatever they do and I love that. 


Andrew Molina  09:43 

100% as you were saying, Yeah, don't be satisfied. You keep striving for a goal. Whenever I achieve something I always and I know you can probably do the same thing but always set something higher to always keep you going because you have to be excited. Did you have to create goals that you that you get stoked and obsessed about. 



James Laughlin  10:05 

I love it. And so, when we think about that, you've got like this, I would say, success formula, you've got a formula that's worked for you to become incredibly good at ukulele, which you could take now. And you could apply it to business, you could apply it to anything that you wanted to do. So, for everybody out there, what would you say are some of the key ingredients to be successful? What's your formula that helped you? You know, what you mentioned, burning desire, you mentioned a really clear vision of the future. What else are some key ingredients that people have got to commit to if they won't be successful? 


Andrew Molina  10:39 

That's a good one hard work, you have to put the time in. It wasn't an easy journey by far. And a lot of people don't see that side, they just see the result. There are countless days where I mean, there was a point where I quit Ukulele. And my senior year because I was so frustrated, I wasn't able to write my own music, and I could only play covers. So, I became very insecure to the point where my dad would find me at like, a gig to play it at the fair. And I tell him, No, because I'd be ashamed. You know, I was like, Oh, that's not my music, you know, I'm still playing these songs I was playing when I was 14 years old. And I was almost 18. And I became very insecure about that. So it's just after putting in lots of hard work, I started having the ability to song-write and even arrange. And it's gotten easier over the years. And right now, it's just like one of my favourite things to do with songwriting. And that's really hard to do. So put in the hard work. If it's, you know, music theory, or whatever your craft is, you have to put in the hard work, because that's a very important component to achieving your goal. 


James Laughlin  11:43 

That's amazing. And it's, you know, it's interesting when you get to that stage where you didn't want to go and perform. And there was that like, embarrassment or that shame, or that you're not enough. So the hard work helped you the actual physical side of it. What about from the psychological side of it? What work did you have to do up there? as well as learning the new skills? 



Andrew Molina  12:06 

You have to let go of the fear, the fear of criticism, the fear of failure, you know, like enough thinking, what if, because that's the reason why, like, if we hesitate, you know, like, and I, and for the first couple years, when I was touring with my dad, he would always say something after the show, like, oh, did you think that was good? Sometimes it was brutal, like, Oh, my gosh, like, just about there, and you play and you play hard. And when you know, when someone says something like that, it's just Oh, dang, that's this brutal. So, it got to the point where every time there would be that hard section of the song, I would get nervous. And I would mess up every single time because I would be thinking, what happens if I don't pull it off? like, let me just do it. And let's see what happens. So, once I shifted my mentality, which was 2018, I noticed that I started messing up less. Because I didn't have that fear. So yeah, we have to try to let go of the fear of what people think so fear of criticism, and also the fear of failure. And I think once we can get rid of those fears, then it'll help you know, the, the vision, and I'll help the hardware. It will help all the other components. But that might be the first biggest obstacle actually, I think of it because even some of my peers that I encouraged him to even, pursue the dream of music, and they said, Oh, I don't know what parents will think. That could that could have changed someone's future just because of their parent’s opinion, even though they felt inside that that's what they were meant to do. And a good friend of mine actually said, I wish I had listened to you. And I didn't listen. And that's very unfortunate. So, I'm not you know, I give her guidance when I can. But that's another that's one more advice. I would say. It's just like, you know, just focus on you and don't focus on what anyone else says. 


James Laughlin  14:00 

Great advice. And you talked about your dad there. So that's actually the first video I ever came across on YouTube was you and your dad, jamming with sweet child of mine. It was epic. So, you get to enjoy with your dad, right? 



Andrew Molina  14:11 

Oh, yeah. And my dad is it's a kind of come from a musical family. So, like my grandpa and his eight brothers. They're in a big band orchestra from like, the 1930s to the 1980s. And they were well known here on Maui. And all my cousins and uncles, everyone like was everyone just kind of picked up instruments. It was just like a in the genes you could say. And my dad was a lifelong musician since he was a teenager. And you know, right out of high school, he formed the band went to a Oahu and just started performing and that was just his livelihood as a kid, you know, I'd see him take his base to the luau every night. That was dad's thing, was playing music and we never really even the first year Ukulele like we never did play with each other up on, I think, only up until 2013. Once we started doing the band entry gig, then he just like oh accompany you. And he's a bass player, but he started we started doing guitar Ukulele, which is very interesting. And we didn't add the bass until 2016. But then that's when we started working together musically. And it's just Yeah, kind of started this new bond, I guess. 


James Laughlin  15:28 

It's a beautiful one, father and you son can do that. 


Andrew Molina  15:31 

Yeah, we're very, very fortunate. And everyone loves that whole dynamic. And, you know, it's just cool to be able to, you know, to with your dad and, and play music and just share that moment. It's Yeah, it's pretty undescribable you know, but I'm very, very lucky that, um, you know, he donates his time to practice and to help me achieve these goals that I've had for half my life already. So. I feel very, very blessed. 


James Laughlin  15:58 

I'm sure he's very proud of you. When we think about Hawaii, I mean, I remember the first time I started thinking about Hawaii as a youngster. I remember seeing a photo of my granddad standing on the beach there at Waikiki for a while, I need to go there one day. So eventually, I got there and fell in love with Hawaii and what I fell in love with, yes, it's got beautiful beaches, but so does Australia and New Zealand, California wasn't the beach and the beaches were cool. But it was actually like there's something in the air. And whether we call it the aloha spirit, but there's something really magical about the Hawaiian Islands. And I had the good fortune, it was really by chance actually, sitting down in Waikiki at this restaurant to watch the sunset had done and sat on the same seat. I'm a person of routine, right? and sat in the same seat every night for like six nights. And this night, the sun's about to come down, the server comes over and goes, Hey, there's actually a person that sits at this table. Every week. On this night, we forgot to put a reserve sign, would you mind if he comes and joins you and your partner? I was like, Yeah, sure. Sounds good. Like, of course, no problem. We can move check. No, no, no, no, no, no, he will probably enjoy your company. Sounds great. This elderly gentleman sits down and he's very charming, you know, a very handsome face. He's probably in his late 70s or 80s. And so we get chatting away and all the band when the band starts playing, they come over and say, oh, uncle, so great to see you. I this guy is well known. So, I said I wanted the band folk as like, Hey, who's this guy. Like, how do you know? Like, his name's Eddie. Uncle Eddie as Oh, so what did Eddie do? Or what? Why do y'all know him? So, everybody seems to know. Now that's Eddie Kamae. He was really, really good Ukulele player. And so, I went to the bathroom, got my phone, I Googled Eddie Kamae. I was like, Whoa, mind blown. One of the best ever like ukulele players and filmmakers. He was passionate about Hawaii and taking it to the world and expressing what Hawaii was about. So, I had a beautiful night with Eddie, it was incredible. And he sold me some CDs, and I still got them and I love them. But the one thing that really came to life for me was that his passion for Hawaii, the music, the aloha spirit, that's what drove him so much to be an entrepreneur, to be a change maker. So, I want to talk about you and you know, I can see the same passion in you. I can see that you know, you're so fired up about what you do. So, if we look at the long term, next 10 20 30 years, what's your mission? Like? Do you want to keep the music at home in Maui? Or do you want to take it to the world? 



Andrew Molina  18:35 

Oh, I definitely want to take it to the world. I just I love I love travelling I love meeting new people. I love sharing just my music. I love connecting it’s one of my favourites. I do love playing Ukulele, but I do love performing. And I love bringing people together in that performance setting. And you just feel the energy in the room. And I just there's nothing more that I want to do than that. And it's ironic, because when I was a kid, I was the shyest kid like of all time, like, I'd be the kid at the back of the classroom that would be trying to hide behind the other kid. So you wouldn't get called up, but you know, but they always find you anyways. 


James Laughlin  19:12 

Oh, absolutely. I know that. 


Andrew Molina  19:14 

Yeah, It was just crazy to think about because like I never imagined at that age, that the thing that I used to fear the most is the thing I enjoy the most now, because now it's just I can't wait to get in front of people. And you know, and entertain them and play music. So, I definitely want to push the envelope and continue this journey of you know, pushing the limits of the ukulele and I want to travel all over the world and, and introduce people to what the ukulele can do because it's crazy. There are no limits. It's not just a Hawaiian strumming instrument. It can be used for all genres and that's what my mission is for me whenever I play you know, I showcase all the different genres they can do, you know, rock, pop, jazz, of course, you got Hawaiian and classical and there's no there's no limit. And so, I want to be able to I do want to get to that next level and, and play all over the world. That is the vision. 


James Laughlin  20:10 

A lot of it well look forward to you coming to New Zealand, I'll be welcome you with our share, man, I can't wait. going to be epic. And I want to talk about what you're working on it now because I know that you're not only a performer and a teacher, but you're also doing a lot of things to try and help other people embrace the instrument. So, people can head along to andrewmolinaukulele.com, to check out your website. But if you've got a few other things that you're working on, that we can maybe share with some of the listeners. 


Andrew Molina  20:37 

Yeah, so right now I'm currently, I mean, I've been doing a lot of teaching and helping, not just, you know, not just teaching, you know, like, okay, we can pluck this, pluck that, but I'm also helping people achieve their goals. So, I'm actually helping people, you know, even like working towards an ambitious goal, like an album since I've been there. So, I'm kind of like coaching them in a way. So, I've been doing a lot of teaching a slash coaching, you could say, and also my podcast will be coming April 30. So that's what I've been in the works for the past, maybe four or five months, actually. Also, the biggest project is working on my own ukulele Academy. But all very, very exciting. And I can't wait. 


James Laughlin  21:23 

That's amazing. And what's just incredible about that, is that, you know, people can go along to YouTube right now check out your performances, they go to your website and download and buy your incredible albums. But not only that, they can start to learn from you and understand how you think and why you play the way you play through your Academy and on your podcast. So, I encourage everybody that's listening, that's passionate about any form of music to go along. Because ukulele music is phenomenal. For me personally, I often play it with I'm sitting working at home. That's what I'm playing ukulele music, it's just the best. So, I want to say a massive thank you and I want to wish you nothing but the best for the future. I don't think this will be our last conversation. So, I'm super excited. And mahalo. 


Andrew Molina  22:06 

Thank you, James. Appreciate it, man. Thank you. 


James Laughlin  22:16 

Thank you so much for listening in today and investing in your own personal growth. Please hit that subscribe button. I would love love, love. If you'd leave me a rating and review as it really helps me to impact more people. I've got some amazing guests lined up in the coming weeks. And folks, it's that time, get out there and live life on purpose.