We had the good fortune of connecting with Aaron Kelley and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Aaron, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think that risk taking is essential for growth and success. We are naturally adverse to discomfort which keeps us from taking risks. However, staying comfortable is an anchor is the worst possible way. It’s when we do take the risks that lead us into discomfort that we can effect change in our lives whether personal or professional. Any time I feel stuck in my career I ask myself what chance can I take, or in what way can I embrace discomfort in order to grow. Currently that means setting aside time to work on things that do not immediately provide revenue, but could in the long term lead to the greatest gains. Seeking out new relationships is another somewhat risky venture that leads to growth. It’s easy to fall into the trap of staying in a bubble that we know so that we can’t be rejected. Often our bubble is less of a support structure and more of a box that keeps us isolated and in stasis. Even if a new work relationship proves fruitless, at very least it provides momentum in a new direction and the experience of seeing that rejection is not the end of the world.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a music creator and producer I wear many hats. One of those involves working with clients in my studio or remotely over email, Zoom, etc. I think one of the traits that I am most proud of is my ability to place my collaborators and clients in a place of importance to the project no matter what their experience or expertise level. Being able to look at things from a neutral perspective and not be a “snob” has been critical. I may be the expert, but that does not mean that I have a monopoly on good ideas. Getting out of my own way is super important in that regard. On the other hand, I get to work with some collaborators and clients who I have the opportunity to learn from. I absolutely love those experiences! When I am working with an artist or producer who is on another level creatively I am pushed to be better than I have been before and get to find new ways to create. Some people might find those situations intimidating. I crave them!

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am a foodie and so many of my must-do Dallas items would be restaurants and bars. Lucia is a must do if you are able to plan far enough in advance. Gemma is up there on the list as well. Lounge Here is a fave and is right by my house, so that’s got to be on the list. Slow Bone has my favorite barbeque in town, as well as the absolute best fried chicken. Lakewood Growler is my favorite craft beer stop and is right across the street from Hillside Tavern where the fried bologna sandwich is crave worthy. The Dallas Museum of Art is fantastic as well as the Nasher. And of course the Dallas Arboretum is one of my favorite things about living in East Dallas. World class!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My wife, Kristi Kelley, is endlessly supportive of me and I try to do the same in return. We are both entrepreneurs and have our ups and downs in our respective careers. However, at no point is there a discussion about giving up or asking the other to compromise our goals. We both believe in discomfort as a creative force. Kristi has stood by me every step of my journey as a music producer even during lean times as I try to spend more and more time on speculative projects. We try to keep a mindset of abundance and I am so thankful to have her in my corner! Her business, Thryv Organics, has been an incredible achievement if for no other reason that because they opened three months before the pandemic hit and are still here. Not only still here, but bigger and better than ever. She inspires me to keep pushing my limits and trying new things.

Website: www.aaronkelley.com

Instagram: @aksongworks

Image Credits
Sarah Jaffe Jason Garner

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