“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
― Apple Inc.
I love good advertising copy, and this is about the best there has ever been, with the possible exception of “That’s a some spicy spicy meat-a-ball.” Apple built a whole brand on taking the assumptions of design, product lines and marketing and throwing it all out the window. I don’t believe for a minute they were certain any of their ideas would work. But, they were certain that doing things everyone else’s way would be boring and unfulfilling. So, they were willing to take risks, and as they say: with great risk comes great reward.
More than this, they were unwilling to sit on their laurels. They kept moving forward. For them, the status quo doesn’t exist. They continually stay out in front, finding new areas to compete in and developing products that people want. What’s interesting is that the products are not even necessarily the best products out there, as other companies catch up and eclipse them. But, with a culture of constantly moving forward, of bucking the status quo, they are looking to eclipse themselves as a daily practice and many of us are willing to go along for that ride.
As I was contemplating this today, I received an email from Linked In asking if I wanted to follow Ari Emanuel, CEO of William Morris Endeavor. I found his philosophical statement so compelling I signed right up. There was so much I wanted to say on this subject, but found that Ari just summed it all up.
“Next” doesn’t sound like a motto to live by. It doesn’t make for an epic battle cry or moving political campaign slogan. But it was – and still is – an Emanuel family mantra that my father used every day when I was growing up. Sitting around the kitchen table after school, my brothers and I would spin our day’s success stories. Our father’s response? “Nu” (Hebrew for next).
So why am I telling you this? Who gives a shit what my father said? I’m sharing this with you because it’s a philosophy that has carried me from the family dinner table to where I am today. While I acknowledge that you can learn a great deal from historical precedents, I think we all spend too much time and energy looking backward. The successes or failures of your past don’t define you. It’s the ability to turn the page to the next, better chapter.
Take my career as an example. If I had paid attention to my “career indicators” – bad grades, dyslexia, ADD, non-Ivy League school (I could go on, but my parents would prefer I didn’t) – who knows where I would be. Certainly not here, sharing my opinion on life.
And when a few of my colleagues and I decided to leave one of Hollywood’s most established talent agencies to start our own, above a burger restaurant, there were plenty of reasons (families, mortgages, expense accounts) to stay put. But we weren’t satisfied. We could see that the business was changing. We knew that in order for our clients to play in this new landscape, we had to form an agency that fit our vision of the future. Even when Endeavor became a formidable competitor to the Big 4 talent agencies, my father’s voice once again rang in my ears.
What was going to be the next great leap forward for our clients and our company? The answer was merging our startup with a 100+ year-old institution, a risk that many warned against, citing countless failed mergers. Again, it was that same question: “What’s next?” It forced me to keep moving forward, and now WME is just getting started.
My point is, if you’re looking for an excuse to fail, you will always find one. Don’t get me wrong – I have no problem celebrating the wins. They instill the confidence that propels us forward. Just don’t trip on your victory lap.
To some, “next” may come off as a dismissal. To me, it’s the catalyst for endless possibilities. As an agent, my job is not done when the deal is closed. It’s about constantly watching the road ahead.
OK you’ve heard enough from me…..next.
That’s a pretty awesome statement. One can argue that perhaps Ari’s next with the William Morris merger actually propelled Endeavor backwards and made just made them into another iteration of the big 4. But, that would be missing the point. Wherever the “Next” took Ari, it took him in a direction that will spawn another “Next” and another and another…. Some will go forward, some backward. But to have the opportunity to move forward, you have to risk going backwards sometimes. To do nothing, to stay put is just maintaining a status quo.
What’s your status quo? How can you shake it? Can you gird your loins and take a step forward with the risk of taking two steps back? If you can’t, maybe it’s time to ask yourself what you’re afraid of. And, if you’re afraid you’re not alone. Being afraid doesn’t make you weak, it makes you smart. But, move anyway….. and move now.