Consulting by Nike Irvin


This concept draws from the popular “Inside the Actor’s Studio” series on Bravo, The famous Proust Questionnaire (currently published in Vanity Fair magazine), and random questions that will stimulate thoughtful exchange. I interview colleagues, friends, mentors who approach life with unusual verve, commitment, and insight.   

Please meet my current "Inside The Studio" subject, a wonder of the world, Mr. Billy Mitchell.  Not resting on laurels of commercial success as a professional musician, Billy is Executive Director of Scholarship Audition Performance Preparatory Academy (SAPPA)-- a Pasadena, CA based nonprofit providing critical training and free music lessons to young musicians as they navigate the path of auditions and preparation as artists and professionals.  I met Billy recently, and was inspired by his insight and energy.   Please learn more by visiting or reach Billy directly at  

Below are Billy's answers to selected questions from my "Inside Nike's Studio" questionnaire. 

Welcome to Inside The Studio, Mr. Billy Mitchell ! 

What do you wish you knew when you graduated from college / grad school that you know now?

Fresh out of college, I mistakenly thought that the status an individual attained in life was in direct proportion to their intellect.


Who was your best boss and what did you learn from them?   Worst boss and…?

My first boss was my best boss because he convinced me that I was not cut out for menial labor. My worst boss was my next boss who allowed me to make mistakes without correcting me.

When were you at your lowest point professionally (or emotionally)?   How did you recover?  What could you tell a current student that might inform them for this type of experience ?

After many commercial successes as an artist I realized that my competence as a musician did not equal the successes. I started taking piano lessons which made me begin my music education from scratch. Students should know that your education begins after you graduate.

Of what are you most proud so far?

I am most proud of our SAPPA program that currently provides free music instruction for inner-city youth.


What dreams are you still chasing?  What do you regret?

I stopped chasing dreams quite some time ago. Now I work at fulfilling realistic goals. My single regret in life is that I didn’t listen to my mother as a child when she encouraged me to take music lessons.

If a parent or grandparent, what is your greatest hope for your (grand) children’s generation?

I hope that the next generation(s) will raise up leaders that can guide society back to the quest for the “common good” and away from individual and corporate greed.


What is your hope for how the Obama era will influence your career/life?

I would hope that it would enhance everyone’s life. Unfortunately, it has brought many of the basic prejudices and opposing ideologies to the front. These conflicts will impact our careers and daily lives on many levels, for some time to come.

If you had to lose one of your five senses which would you give up ?

I’m not a food person. I eat because I have to. I could do without a few taste buds.

What superhuman power do you wish you had?  

I would love to fly. I could squeeze a week’s vacation into a few minutes.

Have you found any silver linings in the current recession?  If so, what are they?

This recession has humbled a lot of people. I especially like the decrease in superfluous rhetoric that encumbers so many social gatherings. People are now focusing on things that are real.

What do you expect your retirement will look like? 

Musicians never retire. They just get carried off of the stage.


Favorite vacation venue:  Bangkok, Thailand with my son and his family.

Would you rather be Bill Gates or Bill Clinton?  Condoleezza Rice or Hillary Clinton?

Bill Gates without a doubt. Have you ever notice that the people who decry the importance of money are usually rich?


A book that has deeply affected you, the way you think, live, or work.

Besides the bible, an epic entitled “ Shantaram”, by Gregory Roberts