Failure Is Your Friend (Part 3: 3 things We've Learned in 13 years)


This is the final segment of the blog series today: Three things we’ve learned in 13 years of being independent musicians.

Here is our #3:

3. Success will likely not look how you think it will look and failure doesn’t mean you’re finished.


Let’s start with the failure part. Failure is not a sexy word, but guys, WE HAVE FAILED SO MUCH (and we will continue to fail as we continue to grow.) You might remember our blog about how we went to law school and told a bunch of law students about our biggest epic fails. We had a long list of them! Failure exists and you will experience it. But, it’s not the end! It feels like it sometimes, but often it’s just the beginning.

Sometimes failure can be your greatest asset.

We look at our last year and in some ways we felt like we had failed along the way. Or that we were failures. Getting fired, wanting to give up, feeling adrift. But what we got out of those experiences went way beyond our expectations. We were able to share our experience with so many people, stand up against body shaming, and meet people along the way who have changed our trajectory in a big way. Don’t look at failure as the end. See it as the beginning of something new.

When it feels like you’ve failed, instead of focusing on what can’t be anymore, ask these 2 questions:


1. What can I learn from my failure?

2. What does this make possible?


Asking yourself these questions will change everything. It opens up a new world of possibilities. The only failure that you can’t recover from is giving up. Pretty crazy right? You can only be stopped, if you stop.

And now onto When we started out, we thought success maybe looked like becoming the next Dixie Chicks or Destiny’s Child (who doesn’t secretly want to be #QueenBey?) Or having a huge smash hit on the radio? Or maybe having our own reality show? It hasn’t looked like that for us. We have had, and continue to have, our own unique story and our own unique successes. The amazing part is, we could have never dreamt them up.

We didn’t know that success would look like...

...traveling the world as backup singers. We NEVER even thought about being backup singers. Like, we didn’t consider it once. Ha! Then all of a sudden, there we were, at the Daytona 500 in front of 250,000 people singing backup for one of our favorite singers, which led to over 6 years of touring as backup singers. Didn’t see that one coming.

We didn’t know that success would look like...

...playing house shows in your living rooms and backyards that would be some of the most rewarding shows we could ever play. The connections we have made with so many people have been truly encouraging and enjoyable.

We never imagined success would mean...

...we’d be on tour opening for one of our favorite artists ever, Jann Arden, traveling around Canada singing our songs and then getting to listen to her sing her songs every night. We had “pinch me” moments all tour long. We still do when we think about it.

We didn’t know that success would mean...

...that in 13 years we’d have relationships in our lives that have kept us breathing when we’ve wanted to stop, filled us with hope and laughter, and given us our greatest memories. Nothing beats that kind of success.

If success had looked how we thought it would look, who knows if we would have ever had these incredible relationships and experiences or if we would have even made it 13 years at all.

You have your own will likely not look like anyone else’s. Don’t limit your success to looking like someone else’s success. It can and will be so much more special and unique, because it’s yours.

So those are 3 things we’ve learned in our 13 years on this crazy journey. To recap:


1: Be thankful for small beginnings.

2: Never sacrifice a relationship for an opportunity.

3: Success will likely not look how you think it will look and failure doesn’t mean you’re finished.

Maybe you thought we’d write about how we learned to use ProTools or what kind of vehicle is the best to tour around in. Maybe you thought we’d write about how the internet has changed how we do business or what microphones our voices sound best to record an album independently in your basement. Or what it was like performing on Ellen for the first time! How and what REALLY goes on behind the scenes at SNL. Not this time around. Yes, we have learned all of those things and will share them with you soon, but these are three of the most important things we’ve learned along the way.

Thanks for being part of our story..and if you’re reading this, count yourself as a part of our success. We are counting you with grateful hearts.

Let’s all get started on the next 13 years: thankful, holding relationships close and loving failure!

Much love,


From a Sketchy Hotel To Law School (#31DaysofBlogging)

This blog is a part of a series #31DaysofBlogging … we are going through the year (2015) chronologically.

So…Where’d we leave off? Ah yes--we had just finished up the $8 dollar show in San Francisco. Yippee. So that night we made it about half-way to LA and stopped at a (somewhat questionable) hotel off the 5 freeway. We were SO tired that we only brought our computers and guitars upstairs with us. WE DIDN’T EVEN BRING OUR TOOTHBRUSHES. We know that’s gross and normally our oral hygiene is top notch but sometimes, the road wins. No judging friends. We were tired and the thought of making another trip out to the car at 2am to get more stuff seemed ludicrous.

We slept. We woke up. Ate some free breakfast and hit the road...we had no plans for the day except to get to LA, get Coffee Bean & go to our next hotel. Literally, that was our agenda for the day.

We were about an 40 minutes outside of LA and posted this tweet:

"2 thumbs up for being in California! Thx for coming out last night San Fran! LA, good to see ya. #tourlife #jillisdriving"

"2 thumbs up for being in California! Thx for coming out last night San Fran! LA, good to see ya. #tourlife #jillisdriving"

About 5 minutes after that we  got a call from our friend Bob Goff. He said:

“Hey...saw your tweet. if you guys aren’t busy, come teach my law class with me at Pepperdine. It starts in two hours. Want to meet me there?” school? Bob? Absolutely. We were in. We told him we’d meet him there in about an hour.

Only problem was that since we thought we’d just be driving straight to our hotel, we didn’t exactly get “law school ready” for the day. Well, actually, we didn’t get any sort of ready for the day. We weren't even "gas station attendant ready." We just got in the car in our sweatpants, messy hair and drove.

So, we pulled into The Coffee Bean (as per the plan), grabbed some clothes out of the trunk (like the classy people we are) and changed in the public bathroom. Yes, okay, fine...we brushed our teeth there too. *reminder no judging (Sidenote: We can’t tell you how many public bathrooms we've have changed in this year. It’s kind of weird.)

We grabbed our iced beverages, avoided eye contact with anyone that had just seen us do a “quick change” in the bathroom, put on makeup in the car and drove over the canyon to Pepperdine which is in gorgeous Malibu, CA. We met up with Bob and talked about what the plan was for the class. Bob is such a gem. He’s got this infectious way of making you think about ordinary things, turn them into extraordinary things by DOING SOMETHING. If Bob has taught us anything it’s that you’ve got to move. Take action! He has the biggest heart for loving people. This day & spending time with Bob ended up being such a highlight of the trip for us.

We asked Bob what we could possibly teach to his law students? Last we checked neither of us had passed the bar. He said, “ I want you to talk about some of your most epic fails. Like, the times when things have really gone wrong or you’ve really messed up. Then I want you to talk about some things that have gone really well. Will you talk about that to my class this afternoon?”

Ha! What? Epic fails? You mean, get up in front of a smart group of strangers and talk about how we’ve FAILED. We laughed and thought about the VERY night before..our $8 dollar evening. Yup, we definitely had something to share...and something that was fresh :) We then began to think of all the other times we’ve royally messed up...we made a list in fact.

We got to Pepperdine and would be totally lying if we didn’t make an Elle Woods reference before getting out of the car. Walking into the building was a tad intimidating but everyone was SO KIND. We sat in Bob’s class, listened to him teach, then it was our turn. It was so awesome standing in front of these young, brilliant minds and sharing some stories of how we’ve messed up. We held up our $8 envelope and told them the story. We told them other stories of how we have epically failed. Then we shared some success stories. It was GREAT!

We loved the lesson we were learning in that classroom. Life is full of epic fails and successes. You will have both. But, that’s how life goes. You have to keep moving forward. Your successes don’t define you. Your failures don’t define you. We all will fail and sometimes we want to hide our failures to seem more “credible” or perfect. But, hearing Bob share some of his failures and thinking back on other times we’ve had people share failures with us, it actually makes us trust them MORE.

Our visit to Pepperdine that day was maybe the furthest thing from what we could’ve imagined our day would look like that morning when we woke up in a sketchy hotel on the 5 freeway. But isn’t that cool? Anything can happen. And yes, we were "guest speakers" in the class, but really, we're pretty sure we learned more than anyone that day. 

SAY YES. You never know what could happen. You could become an adjunct law professor like we did that day. HAHA! "Yes": what a powerful word.

See you tomorrow, ladies and gents.