How The Fearless Artist Mastermind got started

Season 1 - Episode 2


Michelle Lynne: Hey everybody and welcome back to The Fearless Artist Podcast. My name is Michelle Lynne and today I am so excited to have my favorite guest and co-founder Deanna Petre – she is the other mastermind behind The Fearless Artist. And together we have built this company, or last four years. So Deanna, so happy to have you with me today.

Thanks for being here.

Deanne Petre: Thanks so much.

Michelle Lynne: So take us back to the very beginning. Why did we start The Fearless Artist and a little bit about our journey together building this company.

Deanne Petre: Absolutely. So just as a backstory, Michelle and I both separately had moved to Europe 10 years ago… and we were learning different languages, different cultures, figuring out daily life… and on top of it, trying to figure out how to be a freelance musician and create your career and have opportunities. We felt so isolated in this experience that we didn’t have, like the tools, the knowledge, the business skills, the business mindset, to know how to take on and create our own careers really effectively. We feel like school didn’t teach us these skills. Um, so when we met and started playing chamber music together, we that led to playing interactive concerts all over Europe together. And we found that we worked so well together, which is why we took part in a mastermind ourselves. We were so excited to actually start one of our own because we found it really effective. We found just an amazing concept to have community, to have people to problem solve and figure things out together. And that’s what led us to want to create The Fearless Artist.

Michelle Lynne: I completely agree. coming out of university, I studied at the University of Montreal and I learned how to play the piano really well. And nothing about how you would actually get some concerts and start your career as you’re sharing Deanna… and you went to Juilliard, and I think it’s the same thing. It’s just practice, practice and perform. And then good luck, you know? And so you come out into the real world and you think… well, what am I actually supposed to do? And there’s no one waiting for you at 9:00 AM there’s no one telling you what to do. There’s no boss, there’s no phone ringing. 

And tell us one of the first things that you ever said became one of our taglines.

We don’t wait for the phone to ring.

Deanne Petre: Oh yeah. Absolutely… we, we’d always say, I am tired of waiting for the phone to ring… and I wanna take matters into my own hands and create my own opportunities and pursue them. Um, that’s absolutely one of the first things. Because I remember literally staring at a wall in Paris being like, what am I doing here?And what am I going to do? How am I gonna figure this all out?

Michelle Lynne: I had the exact same, uh, well, similar story. I, I just remember feeling so lost and stuck and seeing other people come out of university. You know, they do their 8 years and they come out to a very high paying job. They’re experts in their field and… we come out with a lot of imposter syndrome and start teaching basic beginner lessons.

And you know, I’ve been teaching piano since I was 16 years old. 

So it was just like I felt such a desire to get out there, but also so much fear and so reluctant to put myself out there. I remember it just being an agony… thinking about creating a website, for example. Because I was like, oh my gosh, what are people gonna think about me building a website as if I’m so important that she needs her own website?

I mean, I had these crazy inner critic voices… just kind of plaguing me. And it wasn’t until 2017 that I decided like… hey, I’m actually gonna try and take this seriously. Because I had a specific concert where things kind of shifted for me and they were like, why can’t we find you online?

Like you need to have a presence if you wanna get hired and for people to find you. And I was like, well, I, I don’t wanna be online because then people are gonna judge me, you know? And so I had to overcome so much of that. And in one shot I made a website, I made a Facebook page and started my piano Instagram.

And then slowly over the last years I’ve been starting to build.

Deanne Petre: And for me it was, once I had the gigs coming in… I was getting called for things, different projects, orchestra, recording projects, um, chamber music. I still had this sensation that I am waiting for others to reach out to me. And I had a bit of the sensation of being replaceable. Okay, we need you to come tomorrow.

Okay, are you free for this gig? So I felt this kind of the monotony of just waiting for that phone to ring. And that’s when I was like, okay, I know that there’s more that we can do. I had always had this entrepreneurial spark in me that I really wanted to create something of my own. So I was so passionate about creating this mastermind program for others.

Michelle Lynne: Yeah. And also we started to learn how to create our own opportunities in our careers. Like you already said… we were doing a lot of outreach concerts in Paris, and then we started traveling Europe, doing them through the Juilliard alumni program. And that was really like us putting in the work. You know, we were writing the emails, we were writing the pitches, we were reaching out.

We tried to get schools in different cities to hire us. We put together a portfolio… like we were learning all of these things about taking initiative. And more and more as we started talking to our fellow colleagues, we were hearing so many stories like… we never learned anything about business. And not just the administration and sending invoices and taxes side of the business… but the marketing, the branding. You know, one of the questions that just bothered me for so long, it’s like, what’s your unique selling point? And I’m like, I have no idea what’s unique about me. I’m a pianist and I play the same pieces that everybody else plays, and that’s it.

 Just let me come play a concert. And so it’s like, well, what’s special about you? I’m like, I don’t know what’s special about me and trying to figure out your edge, you know? And this marketing edge. And I think so many of our clients, our community members feel this resistance because it’s just not ingrained in us to think this way.

You know, one of my favorite sayings was… uh, my duo partner, she said to me… nobody told me in school that I would become a product that I needed to sell. And I was like, that is exactly it. We have not learned as artists to separate us, the person from the business side, the artist side, the product that we offer… whether it’s the concerts or the teaching or whatever it is, and then learn how to market that.

Because guess what, if you wanna be able to actually live and pay your bills, then you need to sell and earn money. And, um, you know, there’s been so many lies in our industry about like… well, if you actually love your art, then it’s not about the money. And it’s like we’re, we’re just a little bit fed up about that because it’s like, how are you gonna pay your bills? How are you gonna have a decent living? You don’t have to be a starving artist. to earn a decent income and to be an artist in today’s world. You shouldn’t have to embrace this poverty mentality. And I think that’s one of the things that you and I are trying to change in our industry. I always say like, I want my legacy to be like we said, no to starving.

And we’re teaching others to do that too.

Deanne Petre: Absolutely.

Michelle Lynne: Let’s go back a little bit earlier… when we started the Mastermind, how did it work? What did we do? 

Yeah. So, um, I mean, just to highlight about what is a Mastermind in the first place. We both had taken part in different Masterminds and we found that… what it is… it’s a small group of people, about four people in a group, plus facilitators. And we meet regularly and we set goals for the future.

Deanne Petre: Okay, in 6 weeks, in 12 weeks, what do we want to accomplish? Because so many of our pressing things can be pushed to the back burner because we’re dealing with what’s urgent in everyday life. And then the things that we say, oh, I wanna start this, or I’d really like to do this. Those are the things that get pushed back. So with this Mastermind, we learned… okay, this is the accountability that we don’t have when we’re freelancers and we’re out on our own… this is the place where you’re gonna show up to your next meeting and say, yes. I sent those emails. I reached out to these people… I did whatever it is. And I think especially for Michelle, your concert series, you became a nonprofit within the time of the Mastermind. Because you had help of somebody in your group saying this is how to do it, these are the steps that you need to get there. And I’ve always been so impressed and like that’s really shows how powerful this mastermind can be, where you’re learning from others, you’re sharing ideas. Maybe just one email can be what’s in the way of us and going for what we want. So to have people to help you give feedback and see… how can we get over those hurdles and what are we dealing with in our lives right now… and how can we be consistent and make goals and achieve those things? This is all the magic of the Mastermind and that launched us to create our own.

Michelle Lynne: Yeah, I think what you’re highlighting is really crucial that a Mastermind gives you access to other people in your industry who have experienced the same problems and may have solutions or knowledge that you do not. So it literally accelerates your progress and your results because as you’re saying, one of my hangups was that I needed to become a nonprofit, a foundation in the Netherlands for my concert series in order for us to apply for grants. And this was kind of overwhelming to me. I had to put together, a board. I had to get legal stuff involved. And in my mastermind there was someone who had set up his own.

And so he walked me through. How do I walk into the first meeting? What are some things that I should say to the board? How do I set up my board for success? Step by step, he kind of just walked me through. I was like, oh my gosh, like this is incredibly helpful. This is information that I never would’ve known. Nobody taught me this until he did. And it was just so great to have that. And over and over in our calls, we see people who are like… hey, I’m doing an album release. How do you promote your singles? or I’m building a website or, here’s my bio, or here’s my concert pitches. How did you guys pitch for your concerts?

How do you build your network? I mean there an unlimited amount of situations that people were just like giving wisdom and advice and we understand each other. I think that’s one of the other big things about being a musician is that there are so many people who do not understand us. We have super chaotic lives.

I mean, you’ve touched on this with what you were just saying… our schedules are always changing. We’re sitting waiting for somebody to say, can you come sub with the orchestra this weekend? You know, change all your plans because now you need to go sit in 9 hours of rehearsal every day. I mean, things can change on a whim.

Every evening we’re out. My workday is like 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM. We don’t live normal lives. And if you’re not surrounded by people who understand that, it is very easy for negative thoughts to get in your mind. Because people who work regular nine to fives will be like, oh, you’re always traveling, you’re always running around.

Are you sure you need to be doing this? Things seem really chaotic with you. You know, they’ll make little comments. And maybe it’s the uncle at Christmas who says like, oh, when are you gonna get a real job? Or whatever it is, these people can really affect you if you don’t have that safe community of musicians who understand and they’ll be like, you don’t need to worry about those people.

Because their opinions literally don’t matter. Just keep doing what you’re doing because you’re on the right path. And I think that is one of the most powerful things about being surrounded by like-minded people. 

Deanne Petre: Yeah, definitely. Um, So a bit about how we started our Mastermind. We did not have even the name, The Fearless Artist yet. We had just started from scratch. We didn’t have a business plan, we didn’t have a website. We didn’t have any much knowledge of marketing. We had taken a course on how to be facilitators for a Mastermind and some initial stuff, but other than that, it was just… writing to some friends and some people in our network and saying… hey, who wants to be part of this really great thing? And we suddenly had two groups. And then the rest we have really learned as we went.

Michelle Lynne: Yeah, totally. One Instagram post and we had instantly 10 responses of people like, yes, I need this. Yes, I want this. And the most crazy thing was that we launched… one month before the lockdown in 2020. So suddenly the world was on Zoom and one month before literally launched a completely online company to reach musicians.

So the timing was a little bit crazy. I remember those early days. It was so devastating. Everything that was happening, everything was shutting down. There was so much fear concerts canceled. And just having these regular calls, it was so comforting. And to come in, people would share and vent and you know, just be honest.

And then we could encourage each other and say, okay, we’re gonna get through this. Remember that time, like people were even saying like…

Deanne Petre: Oh my gosh…

Michelle Lynne: Are we  gonna have, are we ever gonna have live concerts again? It was just like, there was so much fear. And in those moments you really have to kind of put your blinders on and say, let’s focus on what we can control.

That’s something that you say a lot. And let’s focus on what’s in front of us. And make some decisions that are gonna help us.

Deanne Petre: Yeah. And for me too, personally, just having this Mastermind to focus on and work on when we were in lockdown, we in Paris, were allowed to go outside once per day with a permission slip for ourselves. That’s a whole other story. But this really kept me sane. It kept me excited, it kept me motivated, learning and working, and it was really cool to have. This Mastermind to work on during that time period.

Michelle Lynne: Yeah. So now that we’re, thank goodness, out of this pandemic time, I think these calls are still so… important and life-giving. We have a couple different things that we do. We have a six week accelerated program and that’s really… when you have a project that you wanna get done right now. And we had someone recently do it, it’s called our Sprint. And he said, you know, I’m pretty good at holding myself accountable and I couldn’t believe how much knowing that I was part of a group spurred me to work even further, faster, more efficiently… because I knew that I was gonna be accountable to someone that week and have to show up and be like, this is what I’ve worked on. And like, it just really helps you get all of your excuses out of the way. I think that’s what something like this does.

It really clarifies… first of all, what do you want? And second of all, what do you need to do to get that? And it just removes all of the excuses. Because actually… I think most of the reasons why we don’t do things can ultimately trickle down to fear. Fear of not being good enough, fear of being judged, fear of what you’re gonna look like when you put yourself out there.

Because building a website is something that you can learn and do. So… if you’re struggling to do that, it’s most likely what we’ve seen is that you’re more worried about what people are gonna think of your headshot or when they read your bio… not can you actually buy a website and build it yourself.

Deanne Petre: Exactly. It’s all these little bits of resistance that we… that are building up and building up. And then to have this group to come to and say, okay, well I gotta get it done by next week. No excuses. We’re gonna make sure that that happens.

Michelle Lynne: Yeah, and I think for you and I, if we talk about one of the lessons that we’ve learned in the last four years building The Fearless Artist is… just the importance of perseverance. One quote that kept me going so long was like…. successful people are the ones who don’t give up. And there were so many times that we hit a wall or we didn’t know how to do something, or

 we didn’t know what the best direction to go was or how to promote it or whatever… Instagram content creation, all this stuff. We just can’t give up. We need to keep going. Plus our schedules were insane. You have two kids, you just moved across the world, back to the states from Paris.

I’ve got a full-time performing career over here. It’s been a whole journey of learning to juggle responsibilities, juggle priorities. 

But luckily, we’ve turned like a major corner this year and things are so beautiful. We have a thriving community in our membership fast forward, which we actually have tonight, which is super fun.

Uh, yeah, I just wanted to highlight that like successful people are the ones who don’t give up. So if you’re listening to this and you feel stuck or you have a project that you’re working on. And it just feels really heavy or depressing or that you’re not sure it’s worth it… I think it’s just about learning to be consistent… like how can you consistently take action in that direction… and trusting that eventually there’s a tipping point and it will all be worth it. You just have to keep going.

Deanne Petre: And I think the other biggest lesson that I might highlight would be, don’t be afraid to start before it’s perfect. And I have learned constantly from Michelle. This is why I love working with Michelle, because she always pushes me to learn and to grow. Oh my gosh, I’ve grown so much. So, uh, 

I like to have everything figured out, all my ducks in a row. Everything ready to go before we launch something, before we start something new. But what I’ve learned is that it’s okay to start before something is perfect and finalized. Because if we wait for that moment, it may never come, and then we just won’t do the thing we won’t make the website or whatever it is…

So what we’ve done for a lot of our programs, like starting the Mastermind before we had a website, before we had, finance goals and tracking and a business coach. And to just kind of start and then we figure things out. And a lot of stuff that leads to some really great trial and error.

We’ll say, hey, we have this idea for a workshop on this topic. Let’s do it. Let’s go and we’ll see if it works or not. And that’s been a really great way for us to test the waters, to make, advances quicker. And then we can always change. We’ve… we started by making our own website, which we worked all summer on.

We made it ourselves. And then was it two years later, we finally hired someone to do it. So it looks really great. We know that things can flex and change and I love that creativity aspect that we have with The Fearless Artist. If we wanna create a membership program, boom, it just suddenly exists… like because we say it, it does. So it’s really exciting to work on something like that.

Michelle Lynne: Yeah, uh, completely agree with you. Don’t be afraid to start before it’s perfect. There’s so much to unpack. We should actually do a full episode on that. Because I think that perfectionism… it’s actually one of our core themes. We talk about this all the time… killing perfectionism in classical and also not only will, if you wait till it’s perfect, will it not happen… but there’s so much growth that happens in the process. We take that first step. My example is always… my very first Instagram live actually that we did together. Deanna, I think that was probably three years ago now. I didn’t have lighting.

I didn’t have a tripod. We didn’t script it. We didn’t plan it. I just kind of held up my phone and waved it around and rambled for 20 minutes. And then we posted it. Because guess what? We watched it back and we grew, we got a little bit better the next time. And then it became to the point where I was doing weekly interviews that I called Michelle TV because one of my heroes is Marie Forlio, who has her own TV show called Marie TV. So I always try to like imitate my heroes. And so I called it Michelle TV and I had a episode every week on Instagram. And I would invite my amazing friends and I would interview them about their careers. I mean, pretty much it was a prequel to this podcast because that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing on this podcast.

And, and now we have. Of course, way more professional technology and it’s a much better setup, but we would not be sitting here right now if we had not been doing these terrible IGTVs… rambling and waving it around with bad lighting. So, 

Deanne Petre: You’ve gotta start somewhere… 

Michelle Lynne: You have to start somewhere. And guess what? There’s a delete button.

You do not have to keep that thing posted for the rest of your life. You can’t find that Instagram live unless you send us a lot of money. And then we’ll show you like, like you don’t have to show your process forever. You just have to show it long enough until you can get to the next step. It’s like stepping stones, right?

So this is something that we talk about a lot with our clients when they’re so afraid to post their playing. Because I’m like, look, there is no loss here. You know, you’re gonna post yourself… which means that you have to record yourself… which means that you’re listening back… which means you’re gonna improve.

And then by posting it, you’re showing yourself to the world… you’re sharing your brand… you’re letting people know that you’re out there, you’re active, you’re working. Otherwise, everybody uses Instagram as a highlight reel, and it’s a little bit fake.

Deanne Petre: And this is comes up in our membership too. We talk about this a lot about we are often just afraid to take the first step. It’s just taking that first step and then you get things going. It’s kind of if you having a goal and it’s really overwhelming and you don’t know where to start.

That’s what people get when they take part in our membership program and in our Mastermind. Because we give you that place to say, okay, here’s this thing, this end goal… how can we break it down into really actionable results based, specific goals, smart goals. How can we really figure out… what the steps are gonna be to take you there and then just do the first thing.

Just do the very first thing and the rest will come.

Michelle Lynne: Exactly. Speaking of our membership, we are gonna go hang out with our members right now. So I wanna thank you, Deanna, for sharing your experience, your wisdom. Thank you for being the best co-facilitator. I mean, what I love about Deanna is that she’s really just such a gracious, gentle, compassionate facilitator where it’s the perfect compliment to my no nonsense… let’s get past the excuses. She’s much more like, oh, you know, like, how are you feeling? And let’s see what’s going on, and how can we, you know, gently help you. And I’m like, let’s move people. So, it’s a joy to work with you, obviously. Thanks everybody for listening and we’re looking forward to seeing you in the future episodes.

If you have a suggestion for a guest artist that you’d like to see, then feel free to send that to us. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, TheFearlessArtistMastermind. Deanna, thanks for being here.

Deanne Petre: Thank you. Be fearless. 

Michelle Lynne: See you next time. Be fearless.


  • Deanna Petre

    Co-Founder of The Fearless Artist Mastermind

    Deanna Petre is an American violist fortunate to be living in Paris, France. She is a freelance orchestral and chamber musician and holds a small private teaching studio. As a proud co-founder of The Fearless Artist Mastermind, she emanates a calm, positive leadership style and her deep compassion for others helps her serve The Fearless Artist community. She believes in the importance of emotional well-being in our lives as musicians – a career path that requires continual determination and resilience. Deanna is a graduate of the Juilliard School, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris. She loves traveling and being a mom to two beautiful boys.