Life Lessons from Alice Cooper’s Manager

By Melissa Tosetti

About a month ago I listened to an interview of Shep Gordon.

Like most people outside of the celebrity world, I had never heard of him.  Nonetheless, about halfway through the interview, I decided he was going to be one of my new mentors in how to appreciate – how to relish life.

I didn’t decide this because he spent the last 48 years as the manager for Alice Cooper.  Not because he’s the one who discovered Emeril Lagasse and was influential in creating the celebrity chef movement.  Also, not because he produced one of my favorite movies of all time, The Duelists.

What struck a chord with me is when he talked about how every morning, he wakes up and starts running through the list of people and things that make him grateful.  This is a practice he’s put into play since he was a child.

For all my adult life, from the moment I wake up, I start thinking about everything I need to do for that day feeling the weight of that list get heavier and heavier.  Before my feet even touch the ground, I’m overwhelmed.  As I take a shower, I continue the mental list of to-dos, beginning to stress and feel an urgency to get to my computer and work.

What a TERRIBLE way to start the day!

Since listening to that interview, instead of worrying about the tasks and tortures of the day, I start running through my own list of thanks.  The items always at the top of my list are:

  • My loving family and crazy, wonderful friends.
  • My warm, comfortable bed and hot shower – we go camping quite a bit so these two luxuries are especially appreciated.
  • And every morning I’m blissfully thankful for coffee!

As I get past those daily items I’m grateful for, my list expands to such things as:

  • The doctors and nurses who helped my dad get through a recent health issue.
  • The library Dante and I go to every Tuesday that keeps the kid in books!
  • The parsley I planted a few months ago that we harvested for Saturday night’s meal.
  • The oil that greased Speedy’s hamster wheel so he no longer keeps us awake at night!
  • Netflix so I can indulge in a binge session of historical dramas when I have a chunk of time to myself.

For the first week and a half, my new morning routine was fun to do, but not necessarily impactful.  Then, I started to notice that it was no longer a mental exercise.  I truly became more and more grateful for these small and great pleasures.  There was a shift.  A wonderful shift.  In just a few weeks my quality of life has improved exponentially.  I’m relaxed (not a natural state for me) and I’ve noticed that I laugh far more easily.

Back to Shep.  He’s a guy who literally spent the last 50 years partying with rock star royalty (John Lennon, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix) and yet, wakes up every morning truly grateful for the smallest things; the food he has to eat, the roof over his head, the relationships with his friends.  Everything else is gravy to him.

The lesson is to live life, work hard, want more, but be grateful for what you have RIGHT NOW or, no matter how successful your life becomes, it’s going to be a fruitless journey.

If you want to learn more about Shep Gordon, check out the documentary Supermensch, which was directed by Mike Meyers.  You can also check out his book They Call Me Supermensch.