Mikey Bustos’s 14 lessons on his rise to fame
Mikey Bustos’s 14 lessons on his rise to fame
By Michelle Chermaine Ramos
A multitalented performer, Mikey Bustos is a singer, songwriter, comedian, actor, brand ambassador, entrepreneur and unofficial ambassador of Philippine culture on social media. He first rose to the spotlight as a finalist in the first season of Canadian Idol in 2003 and is the creative genius behind several viral Filipino parodies and tutorials on YouTube. His latest hit, I Wear Speedos, a parody of Despacito, has reached over 6 million views on YouTube and 33.5 million views on Facebook as of the time of this writing. Although known for his hilarious videos, life was not always fun and games for this viral sensation. The road to stardom is never short and smooth and in hindsight, you sometimes realize that failure is a blessing in disguise.
We talked about how he accidentally discovered his comedic talent, his views on life mastery and advice for aspiring performers. Here are some lessons to learn from his journey:
1. Be yourself
Bustos developed his original style of comedy by celebrating his roots and being his natural charming self, quirks and all, no pretensions whatsoever. Be authentic and people will appreciate you for who you are.
2. Failure can be a blessing in disguise
“See it as a long process and that includes the failures.” Bustos explains. “If you see it that way, it’s not so rough because failure is part of it so you don’t take it to heart so much.” Bustos recalls a difficult time when he had other managers before who tried to get him into Philippine showbiz and he travelled there four times hoping to land a great offer. After opening for Christina Aguilera and the Pussycat Dolls and doing a radio tour, he got nothing, moved back to Canada feeling dejected, and got a 9-5 job. However, his hunger for showbiz prevailed and he decided to start a YouTube channel that eventually led him to his calling. “Comedy wasn’t my cup of tea and I’m like, what the heck? People find me funny? I also learned that I don’t just sing. I can actually do comedy and do some acting too. So it was really a discovery of new talents and skills and had I not done that and YouTube, had I not given up in 2007 to escape and go away, that wouldn’t have happened.”
3. Be resourceful and take charge
Harness the power of technology and social media. Bustos learned how to edit videos to launch himself on YouTube. “The biggest thing I learned from being in the dumps was taking matters into your own hands and making opportunities is really the way to go,” he says. “Why wait for somebody to give you opportunities and sign you when nowadays you have technology to showcase your talent to the world – and it’s free. Ha!”
4. Don’t wait for perfect conditions
Bustos initially recorded his YouTube videos in his bedroom with a webcam his cousin gave him in 2006. Work with what you have now and upgrade later. If he had put things off waiting until he was able to shoot professional videos on a large scale, he would not be where he is now.
5. Be consistent and reliable
What do Mozart, Beethoven, Da Vinci and Picasso have in common? They were incredibly prolific and produced huge bodies of work. The more you create, the better you will master your craft and the bigger your chances of producing brilliant work. Bustos explains, “When
I first started my YouTube channel I decided I’d upload a video every single day hoping one would go viral and it didn’t take long before one did – The Filipino Accent Tutorial.” The secret is discipline and consistency. He edits videos on his laptop everywhere he goes enabling him to post on schedule. Fans know that they can rely on him to post new material whenever he says he will.
6. Take calculated risks
Bustos left university to pursue a singing career. When asked for his advice for aspiring performers considering dropping out of school, he cautions, “There are some industries that do require schooling, first of all. Let’s get that straight. Entertainment’s kind of funny. You kind of don’t need it but you also need to have some level of intelligence and knowledge of the world. If you don’t know about the world, how are you supposed to play a certain character who has certain background knowledge, right?”
So under what circumstances should you do it? He advises, “One, you have to want it bad enough. If you kinda half want it and say, ‘if this doesn’t work out maybe I can go back to school later’, no. This should be your one and only. For me, I left because I knew I didn’t want anything else. There’s a certain hunger that’s needed. Two, in my mind I felt like I had the talent enough to make it.” If you feel you are not ready, he recommends joining a choir or taking singing and acting lessons. “Keep improving yourself until you feel that you’re able to do it. In that sense, you’re still continuing school but you’re transferring what you’re studying.”
7. Education doesn’t end when your schooling does
Although he quit school, he kept reading and researching things he was passionate about like animals and insects. Despite having no formal education in this field, his in-depth knowledge enabled him to start a thriving ant farm business, Ants Canada, which was featured on the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. Find your passion and embrace the never-ending learning opportunities life has to offer.
8. Choose managers carefully
When asked for his advice on finding representation he says, “It’s like a marriage. It’s like when you find that life partner you just know. I felt like some managers were perfect at the time and then they turned out to do nothing, so you divorce. You learn as you go along. Just make sure you have a lawyer when you do contracts so there’s someone protecting you in case things go awry.”
9. Be humble
There is nothing pretentious about him. He is not afraid to get his hands dirty and still shops at busy fish markets, eats in open street food canteens and his favorite store in Canada is the Dollar Store. His down to earth nature endears him to his fans. When asked why he chose Bustos, manager RJ Garcia says, “He is one of those talents who’s always nice, always accommodating, and of course, we cannot deny the fact that Mikey is very creative and is very talented. So that’s the number one thing. Being creative, being talented and at the same time being humble.”
10. Master your thoughts to master your life
Expand your horizons by reading. Bustos credits self-improvement books for shaping his mind for success. “I find your entire life is the result of the condition of your mind,” he explains. “When you can kind of gain control of your thoughts and your mind, you can really gain control of everything in life – how you react to situations, how you perceive things, what you perceive is possible…all of those things affect the things you do that lead to your dream.”
11. Success is finding happiness in the now.
He defines happiness as “being happy in the now” in pursuing what makes him happy. His daily vlog shows him cherishing every moment. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not promised. We only have today. Taking time to appreciate the smallest blessings in our lives will make us realize how fortunate we truly are.
12. Stay grounded by nurturing relationships
He is still close to the friends he made growing up and constantly expresses his appreciation for his loved ones. You can feel the love and support they have for each other when his family gets together. True happiness comes from being with people who love us unconditionally. Supporters in your climb to fame are worth their weight in gold, but those who loved you in your obscurity are priceless.
13. Be a force for good
He says he most wants to be remembered for teaching people how to be happy. “Every single one of my videos, that’s the main goal – to be happy and good vibes.” He and Garcia do a lot of charity work with Garcia’s foundation, The Appledrive Project, which conducts medical missions, feeding programs and distributes apples, toiletries and other necessities to children in need. They coordinate their apple drives in different communities to further their mission of promoting a healthier lifestyle and teaching kids the value of giving.
14. See the good in people
When asked what single message he would share with the whole world if he had every human being’s undivided attention for a moment, he says that we should find the good in everyone. “I don’t know anyone who’s truly an evil person,” he explains. “I even look at politicians who many people hate and I’m like, ok, well, there’s something going on there. But I think they’re still kind of good. We just don’t agree on certain things. That would be my message and I think that would solve a lot of problems.”
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