It was a work day for me. I’d made a quick stop at the mall to grab some mittens for my daughter and pay a bill at Sears, and was on my way out. Just seconds after I’d rejected the hair straightener dude who tried to sell me a hot iron as I passed, I walked briskly towards another kiosk where Pete was singing and playing guitar. I’m not sure what came over me, but I knew I needed to talk to this guy. Within a matter of 5-10 seconds, I got the gist of his brilliant business, grabbed his card, and told him I’d be back to chat another day. It was all a bit surreal, really. I’m pretty sure we were supposed to cross paths.
I didn’t have much time before I had to get to my appointment, but couldn’t wait to know more. I looked at the clock in my car and realized I had about five minutes before I really had to go. So I quickly typed Pete’s URL, www.projectpeteford.com, into my phone, pulled up his site, and confirmed, this dude is awesome! He has a music video (at the end of this post), a serenade store where he writes and records songs for people, and a happiness store where he’s working towards funding small, but fun random acts of kindness towards others.
My mind raced about the ways Pete and I could collaborate with his songwriting, my writing, and our joint love for philanthropy and sharing peoples’ stories. Later that night, I shared the story with my husband and showed him Pete’s website. Our whole family watched his music video and listened to sample serenades on his site.
One week later, I plugged Pete into my schedule and made a trip back to the mall!
I approached and engaged Pete in a straight forward manner. I figured there was nothing to lose, and at this point, I knew I wanted to share Pete’s story on the blog, assuming he was open to the idea.
So before I tell you more about Pete and his journey to singing and songwriting, let me share what he’s doing at the mall this holiday season! Pete’s rented a kiosk on the second floor of Ridgedale Mall in Minnetonka, Minnesota. It’s called the Serenade Store. (Yes, I’m telling you this because you need to go meet him and hear him play for yourself!) For a reasonable fee, Pete will write and record a personalized song for your loved one! All you need to do is complete a short form with a few questions about the recipient of your song, and Pete will have a song ready for you in 15 minutes. You receive a CD and digital copy of the song, and there’s even an option to create an accompanying DVD slideshow and have Pete perform the song live on location if you wish! How awesome is that?! The dude is super creative. And there’s one thing you have to know – these aren’t cheesy songs, these are awesome, professional songs! Pete has three serenade samples on his website if you want to check them out. Based on everything I’ve heard and seen, I think this would be a GREAT Christmas gift for someone, how about you?!
Now that we’ve covered Pete’s Serenade Store, let’s move on to his story.
Pete says he was born with style and charisma, but growing up, he never considered himself a musician. He started playing guitar when he was 13 or 14 years old, and started singing in college. He began business school, but part way through, had an epiphany about life. Pete dropped out of business school and moved to Argentina. (Sound like a life-altering decision? Yep, it was.) While Pete was in Argentina, he sang, played guitar, and taught music and English.
When Pete returned to the United States, he re-enrolled in college and got his music degree. After obtaining his degree, he moved to California where he played and performed. It was then that Pete wrote a song for his girlfriend. The idea “exploded” more than he ever imagined.
Pete felt called to return home to Minnesota, but continued writing songs. He originally thought his songs would primarily be a gift given between husbands and wives, but it’s been much “bigger than that.” Pete’s even performed his original, customized songs at funerals, and his serenades have been given to recognize top-performing employees at corporations.
Pete shared that there are a few other people around the country who are doing what he’s doing (i.e., writing and performing personalized songs for people to give as gifts), but not many. “It’s very novel to write a song in 15 minutes,” Pete shared, so people think that’s cool. Typically, songs like these can run as high as $250. Pete’s most affordable option is $50 for a super cool customized song!
Pete’s “not where he wants to be yet” when it comes to music. Yet he’s slowly, but surely working towards BIG dreams. “When your priority is to do what you love,” said Pete, “you gotta figure out how to keep the dream going and give back.”
Pete gets asked a lot if he was born playing music. He actually thinks it’s more about work ethic than talent. Pete’s a firm believer in the 10,000 hour theory, that no one really becomes a master of their craft until they’ve put in at least 10,000 hours practicing. So he’s putting in the hours wherever he can, he’s doing what he loves, and he’s dreaming big with the hopes that one day, his music dreams will come true.
As we wrapped up our time together, Pete shared, “It’s the little things that make a huge difference.” So let’s take time to support Pete. Let’s love on a dude who’s following his dreams and doing awesome things with his gift of music. Check out his website, definitely visit him at the Ridgedale Mall if you’re local, and stay to chat a while. Maybe, just maybe, you have someone in your life who would LOVE one of Pete’s customized songs this Christmas!