Superman, Only Better, Found the Courage to Follow His Passion. Can You?
Every once in awhile, you meet someone who is on the path towards their dream, and in your gut, you are positive they are going to make it. That’s how I felt after interviewing Aaron Lacombe for The Pivoter, a podcast that inspires listeners with first-hand stories from interviewees who describe how they overcame fear and obstacles, made a big shift and then reached success.
He is an Austin, Texas-based singer-songwriter with several gifts — ranging from humble kindness, toughness from a life of adventure and exploration to an ability to craft songs based on his life.
His pivot doesn’t fit into any of the previously mentioned categories, and that makes sense because Aaron is an original. He speaks from the heart and tells stories that are so real, it’s not hard to imagine each one as a song.
During the episode, Aaron plays a song about his dog Penny who didn’t like two guys who came into his small New Mexico town. As the owner of three restaurants in a tourist village, Aaron desperately needed two dishwashers. He hired the guys and that night they stole more than $300 worth of ribeye. The song, “My Dog Thinks You’re An Asshole” is one of his hits.
Aaron was raised outside of Detroit and at 23 he left for Roswell, New Mexico. Eventually, he ended up in the tourist village, Ruidoso, a ski town an hour west of Roswell which is a magnet for West Texas families looking for a great vacation. He lands a waiter job at Casa Blanca, a local Mexican restaurant, and ends up buying it after a few years. Later he starts two other restaurants on the same street and even buys a building. By 33, he is one of the biggest employers in town and even has a scholarship fund to help local kids. Yet there’s one problem — this isn’t Aaron’s dream.
The sign: The moment an entrepreneur with several dozen employees (around 75 to give a sense of his success) gets a side gig. At night, Aaron plays his acoustic guitar and sings his stories at various venues.
Unfortunately, his restaurant empire collapses after 7 years so Aaron makes his way to Austin for music and a new chance at life. Similar to many Austinites, he gets a job at a tech startup. After several years, the company is sold, and Aaron is able to walk away with enough to focus solely on music for the following year. His band at that time was getting impressive bookings, but they were forced to play big hits from well-known bands, not his own music. As a result, he starts a new band and now plays just his music today.
The show ends with Aaron playing “Bankerman” which was written in an emotional state as his three boutique restaurants stumbled after a poor season.
I think a lot of us are like Aaron. We go down one path and that turns into a career. We then get married (or feel that we are stymied by golden handcuffs) and before we know it, switching to a true passion becomes harder as the years pass. Aaron is one of the few who has made a pivot later in life. Today he is going through the grit period and doing so with humility, gratefulness, and passion. After hearing him play and share several incredible stories — such as how he made his own guitar out of furniture from his late 101-year-old Grandmother — I have no doubt that Aaron will fulfill his dreams.
Note: The title of this article refers to Aaron’s song “Superman, Only Better,” which is the name of his new CD. A line within says: “all my bones were made of steel, if I got hurt I’d quickly heal. I’m Superman, only better.” He’s referring to his first few years of owning two restaurants when everything he touched turned to gold and he felt invincible. My hope is that he feels this way again but as a musician.
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