077: Chad Bernstein (Guitars Over Guns)

Chad Bernstein on Innovation City

“The only constant in growing an entrepreneurial venture is change. Change is the only constant in a growing business.” — Chad Bernstein

Welcome to Innovation City—powered by Venture Cafe—where Tyler Kelley and Michael Johnson, Co-Founders of SLAM! Agency, interview innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Chad Bernstein, CEO & Co-Founder of Guitars Over Guns. Guitars Over Guns is a nonprofit that offers students from disadvantaged backgrounds a powerful combination of music education and mentorship with professional musicians. Chad is one of South Florida’s premier Latin, jazz, & funk artists with a doctorate degree in musical arts. Chad joins the team to discuss the limited access to music for students, using your unique skill set towards improving social impact, the value of mentorship and not being afraid to learn from others, music being able to address and bring inequalities in society to light, and much more!

They discuss:

  • Passion for music since childhood
  • Playing music for and with a juvenile detention center in college with his band
    • A defining moment for him and his passion for helping underprivileged kids
  • The limited access to music for students and the obstacles they students face daily
  • His organization wants to address some of the larger systemic barriers that create the student’s point of inaccessibility
  • Trying to connect with the students where they are both physically in school and musically in current interests
  • Working with students for 10 years
  • For the first time, an alum is applying to be on his board of directors
  • The goal of his organization is not to get students to pursue music as a career, but to help them develop skills to have a successful future
  • How all musicians are entrepreneurs because you are the brand
  • Using your unique skill set towards improving social impact
  • When Guitars Over Guns started, they had 15 students from North Miami
    • Today, the organization works with over 800 students with 24 different programs in Miami and Chicago
  • Looking to continue national expansion of the organization to more cities in the coming years
  • How to build a culture in an organization that’s not in a highly recognized industry
    • Creating employment opportunities & growth and sustainability for employees
  • Not limiting your view to just one sector when looking for help with your venture
  • Understanding that people are accessible and want to help
  • The value of mentorship and not being afraid to learn from others
  • Being able to self assess and evolve year after year if you want growth
  • Looking ahead to see what you want to aspire to and working towards that level
  • Getting to work with Pitbull earlier in his career
  • Having an appreciation for artist’s work ethic and hustle for their brand
  • Getting to play the at Still Black, Still Proud: The African Tribute to James Brown
    • James Brown’s impact on music and civil rights
    • Singing on stage with Pee Wee Ellis
  • Music being able to address and bring inequalities in society to light
  • Reach out Guitars Over Guns on their website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
  • Get in touch with Chad on Facebook and Instagram