In Houston, who knew rock stars better than Steele? In case you're a recent arrival to the Bayou City, or if you blew out a few too many brain cells while you partied like a rock star yourself, Dayna Steele was a highly successful -- and extremely rare -- female DJ on Houston radio powerhouse KLOL. She could party with the big boys, but she'll tell you, she worked her butt off to be there.
"It is a boys' world, and I was told that it wouldn't last long, that I wouldn't make a whole lot of money," Steele said. "I worked. I appeared at every charity. I was at the radio station 24/7. I was there, I was there, I was there. I filed records. I swept floors. I think they finally gave me a full-time job just so I would go away occasionally!"
In the process of being a hard-working, driven DJ, Steele interviewed, met and socialized with some of the biggest names of rock and roll. Want proof? Gene Simmons wrote the foreword to her book!
So what made Steele finally decide to put some of those amazing memories down on paper? "I got tired of people asking me, 'Wow! You had such a cool life. What does it feel like now that you have to work?' I think my life is cool now, and I worked back then," she explained. "I worked my butt off!"
Interspersed with the solid business advice and smart tips that anyone from a student to a self-starting entrepreneur can take to the bank, you'll find plenty of recollections from Steele's rock and roll history, plus some of her personal, never-before-seen photos. And she promises none of the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
There's this one about Carlos Santana in an elevator... Another one about getting lost with Tom Petty... Oh yeah, and another about why touching Michael Jackson still makes her shiver years later... But you're gonna need to read those for yourself.
Do you know which abruptly fired drummer ended up living in Dayna's living room? You will after reading 'Rock to the Top.' You'll also learn what key to business success Shaun Cassidy demonstrated how 'not' to do.
Here's a freebie, though. When I caught up with her before a recent book signing, Dayna offered up her favorite rock and roll memory.
"AstroWorld opening up WaterWorld at 1:00 in the morning for Billy Idol and his entourage, and turning on several of the rides and lights and giving everybody bathing suits and towels," she recalled. "I was invited to come along with Billy's entourage. I think there were like 13 of us, and it was too fun! It was in the 80s -- with the big hair and the makeup. I'll never forget Billy Idol and that whole group with eyeliner (running down their faces) and the smell of wet hairspray!"
You may wonder how a DJ came to have this font of wisdom for business, but since leaving the airwaves, Steele hasn't rested on her success. She started up the Space Store -- at the time, the largest NASA themed e-commerce business -- and her own media consulting firm.
Sometimes, Steele goes out of her way to do the things that matter to her -- and she does those in a big way. For example, when customers at the Space Store would look for something 'girly', Steele realized there was a need. So she created 'Smart Girls Rock.' Now the website is a source for gifted and talented middle school girls to show the world what they can do.
"The content is incredible! They review books. They just wrote a great article on why we can't all be an American Idol. We need to think about being scientists and mathematicians and engineers, and how important that is to our country and our livelihood and our future."
A new era, a new need... Steele's latest project started with a simple outing to a Houston Comets basketball game. Some others didn't seem to have the proper appreciation for the Star Spangled Banner. So Steele launched Operation National Anthem, a website offering videotaped messages from US servicemen in Iraq. Reader's Digest caught wind of the website, and named Dayna one of '35 People Who Inspire Us' in their recent issue.