Monthly Archives: December 2010

So Many Pieces, So Little Time

Im sitting here on Sunday afternoon doing my absolutely most favorite thing. OK, my 2nd most favorite thing, I’m watching football. I always hesitate to use sports metaphors in my blogs for the simple reason that so many people either don’t know sports, don’t care, or simply can’t relate their own careers to those of coddled, privileged millionaires running around in tight pants chasing a ball. Indeed, for that kind of cash, I think I could find a way to fit my fat butt into tight pants, but I digress.

Being an Entrepreneur, being an Artist, running a business is not like being an athlete. Well, other than the commitment to hard work and discipline that is needed. No, being the boss of you requires that you be like the WHOLE team.

Here’s what I mean: Champion football teams have three main things they have to be good at. Those would be offense, defense and special teams. They practice add nauseam to conquer these areas and become balanced and strong in each. If any of them are grossly lacking, it is unlikely that the team will become of champion caliber.

As entrepreneurs and artists we need to be able to name our multiple areas to conquer. As an agent and company owner I have five main areas: client acquisition, client service, buyer development, company marketing and company administration. On top of that, each of these categories has multiple pieces to manage.

Having been an artist myself and representing artists for many years, here’s how I see the career pieces an artist must manage. They are: craft development, client acquisition, craft performance, client management, personal marketing, company administration.

It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. The categories are the pieces. The job of the artist/entrepreneur is to take all these disparate pieces and fit them together. Then make sure they stay together. So, here is my challenge to you: make a list of the categories, then write down what you are doing to service each of those categories and you will quickly see where you have to improve to build a balanced business attack. Then work on the areas that need to be developed further.

To take things one more step, work on doing something every day in each of the categories you come up with, even if it is just one thing. Make it a habit. Old habits can be hard to get rid of, but new habits are easier to establish. Studies have determined that habits can be developed by repeating behavior daily for as little as 21 days.

It’s like a jigsaw puzzle.  First you have to take the pieces out of the box.  Then you have to turn them all right side up so you can identify what area of the puzzle they fit in.  Only then, can you begin to construct the puzzle.  If you aren’t willing to do that, you might as well just leave the pieces in the box and shake it really hard, hoping the pieces inside will magically fall into place.  Then you can open the box and be amazed how the puzzle fairy has shined on you.  If for some reason, you don’t believe in the puzzle fairy or more appropriately, the business fairy, my suggestion is to identify the pieces of your business and start trying to fit them together.

How did we get from football to puzzles?  It’s all the same.  Pieces of team strategy, pieces of colorful cardboard, pieces of business strategy.  In each endeavor, there’s no point in continuing until you’ve specifically identified what the pieces are and what needs to be worked on.

One more thing. The teams that win are the ones that are willing to put in more work than the other teams, therefore it can be concluded that they are the ones who want it the most. What about you?  How bad do you want it?  Are you going to shake the box or or do the work?

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Lord of the Flywheel

Spoked flywheel

Like this only made of stone and weighing 2000 pounds

I’m not sure what a flywheel is exactly, but Jim Collins describes it in his book “Good To Great” as a large heavy stone on an axel of some kind. Sounds pretty medieval I realize but OK. My imagination places this contraption off the ground at about eye level.

Like this, only made of stone and weighing 2000 pounds.  Great big stone with a an iron pole running horizontally through a hole in the middle.

OK then, if you were to try and turn the wheel, you obviously could not make it turn 100 MPH instantaneously, right? It would take all your strength to just move it an inch. So you take a try and indeed it just moves an inch or so. When you realize that you’ve only moved it a little bit, then what?

That’s always the question isn’t it? There are only two real answers: move it again or give up and look for a lighter wheel to turn. So, your answer to that question begs another question: how bad do you want it?  Momentum can only be built on a fly wheel by turning it little by little. With each turn a little more momentum is gained and the wheel gets easier and easier to turn.

The problem is in this fast paced, want it now, tweet it now, buy it now and have it all now world, the concept of daily toil to build momentum over time seems out of place. Mostly I blame advertising and the Kardashians for this, but like it or not, achievement demands that you struggle turning the wheel as much as you can each day. Over time all those small turns add up until the wheel can turn freely and quickly.

I read somewhere that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to gain mastery over any endeavor, be it playing a musical instrument or directing traffic. That latter one scares me for obvious reasons, but let’s make that assumption. If you were to work on the fundamentals of building a business, craft, practice, etc… for one hour a day, it would take you 27 years to gain mastery. Work 8 hours a day at it and it only takes 3.42 years to gain mastery.

Here’s the beauty of it all though: hidden within this 10,000 hours resides the effect of momentum in the form of compound knowledge that we gain by so much practice. As you invest more time in any activity the benefits come back to you exponentially. That is the beauty of momentum. That is the beauty of the wheel turning faster and faster the more you make small investments in turning it.  When the flywheel gets to turning very fast, you are really looking at all of the knowledge you’ve gained spinning the wheel on its own.

Even Kim Kardashian can do it.  One day she’s clubbing and dating football players, releasing sex tapes and showing up on every red carpet she can find. Next thing you know, she’s a judge of a talent competition show?  How does that happen? Based on what? Certainly not talent.  It’s based on the flywheel.

You see, it doesn’t matter the reason you decide to turn the wheel, it matters THAT you turn the wheel.  You choose, you can save the world like Mother Teresa, or you can be the Mother of all self promoters.

I would like to think most of us are more like Mother Teresa, but I have a feeling we’re either somewhere in between, or at the very least, just trying to figure out how to move our careers forward in subtle and unassuming ways.  Yes, I think I’ll go with that.
The Flywheel is a very powerful thing.  Daily practice of one sort or another is the message here.  Knowing what your goals are and committing to moving the wheel a little at a time is the exercise. Having faith that all your effort will get you where you want to go is the discipline.
As for me, I’m off to turn the wheel a bit.  I’m taking an African orphan to The Country Music Awards….