Archive for April, 2013

Show Business

Having been involved in the entertainment industry for pretty much my whole life I can tell you in no uncertain terms that content is not enough. It’s vital, but it takes more to make a dent. Everything has to be sold. It’s the whole performance that counts, and everything matters.

Check out this video from a great up and coming pianist named Primavera Shima. She is a really great talent who has worked very hard to master her instrument. She’s going to be successful within the boundaries of her particular part of the industry.

It took extra time to master playing in those high healed shoes. She happens to be very attractive, and wisely is tapping in to that resource to help sell her brand. Could she succeed in her genre without this? Yes. Will it make it lot easier to achieve a higher level of success? Absolutely.

This is part of selling, which is something else I’ve been involved in for many years.

If you have an idea you want to get attention find a way to sell it. Learn about your audience and find a way to seduce them. It doesn’t have to be through physical attractiveness, though that usually helps, but you have to appeal to something they care about on their terms. Aesthetics are an obvious way. Make things look good and people are more prone to pay attention (see the physical attractiveness of TV/Movie actors, politicians, news anchors, houses for sale, cars, stereos, computers, bottles of wine, etc.). But take care not to go too far, because when it starts to look contrived it backfires.

An imaginative approach to something also works. It just has to capture our imagination and intrigue in some way, or it has to affect us emotionally. Humor also works well. The point is, you need a little show business, a little art, because especially this day and age the facts alone just aren’t compelling enough to get people to pay attention to what you have to say. You need a little show business.

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How to Look

leggings

One of the contributions MTV made to society was that it told everyone nationally, at one time, what was going on and what looking hip looked like. It became easier to fit in, which was very compelling to teenagers.

Thanks to advancements in technology kids today benefit from plenty of information about how to look and how to fit in.

bad-acne-scarsAnd technology has provided more — we see stuff like this ( —-> ) a lot less than we used to, no?

It must have been crushing to one’s self esteem.

It’s relatively easy nowadays to have the hair and skin tone one wants, and there’s plenty of info about how to dress, even on a tight budget. It is so easy for kids to fit in today that it actually makes it cool to be an individual — to break free of those rules in an inventive way. Great stuff.

But there’s a darker side. It has also become more competitive. Now we all can see and gauge our popularity in plainly quantifiable ways. Whether counted in facebook likes, Twitter followers, or Instagram posts we are now the subjects of votes about what we do or say, or maybe even things others post about us. The counts are displayed in integer numbers for all to see.

And make no mistake, it IS a competition some, particularly kids, are engaged in and paying close attention to. This is the reality kids grow up with now.

There’s been a lot of pushback recently from people saying that the schools are too soft. That kids need to get a bad grade, or get red marks on a paper when the work isn’t up to par. People complain that kids don’t have to deal with failure. As usual, the older generation has no clue what’s really going on — no clue what kids are paying attention to. The reality is they are judged every day in a manner that they understand and that most of their parents are nearly oblivious to.

And you know what? They will figure it out, and they’ll be okay, just like we were.

It’s All About Us

Happy ReflectionYou may have noticed that as time passes by you remember less and less about various events that have taken place. What sticks with you much longer than the details of what happened is how you felt. That’s really the core memory that carries forward and defines or brands it for us. In fact, in many cases the details as you remember them have errors that are driven from how you ended up feeling. You fill in blanks (sometimes incorrectly) so things are consistent with your feelings.

It’s actually a reflection of our selves we’re seeing and remembering. Certain things we buy because we like to associate ourselves with them — with the brand. We may love a brand that reminds us of how we felt growing up, or of some happy time. However, it’s really because they help us feel good about ourselves. Certain people in our lives validate us in a similar manner. They can do little wrong.

Sports teams and politicians provide a degree of this. Think about your friend who tends to parrot whatever hyperbole her party of choice is spewing. Does she really agree with EVERYTHING along party lines, or is it like rooting for a team…wanting to validate oneself? We look for and therefore find reasons to validate our choices because they validate us.

These characterizations don’t happen in a vacuum, based solely on quantifiable attributes and events. They are reflections of who we perceive ourselves to be, or who we would like to be. It’s powerful, and it’s almost impossible to explain or step back and objectively see it.

Money Can’t Buy…

MoneyArt

Money can’t buy happiness, we’re told. Paul McCartney begs to differ. He wrote, “Money can’t buy me love,” but later said, “It should have been can buy me love.”

Depends on your definition of love, I guess.

Well documented correlation shows people who are better off financially tend to be happier, but that correlation doesn’t define the cause. Money can afford you experiences that enrich your life in powerful ways. It’s a great tool that I recommend acquiring if possible. But it can’t fill your emotional needs the way a person can. Especially that right person. I speculate that happiness is as much a cause of these kinds of riches as the result, although there are clearly many exceptions.

That’s old news.

What about doing what you love? Is it worth giving up money to do what you love? Should you stick with that job or career that produces revenue even though you fell out of love with it a long time ago?

Silly humans, always asking the wrong questions?

Art and Money can only cross paths. Your passion, what you love doing and want to do, is your art. Money inherently taints it. As soon as you involve money in the process, as soon as you start calculating what people want, the purity erodes and soon what you have is a job. It may be a really great job, depending on how many compromises you end up making, but it’s still a job. You still need art, your passion, something else that you love doing only for the sake of it. Something that is untainted by the forces of the world. Something you do for you. It could be photography, volunteer work, writing, cycling, counseling, music, or whatever. Even raising a family might qualify (be sure you aren’t fooling yourself here).

Without whatever it is there will be a hole. Ironically it is money that can afford you the ability to have your art on the side. Once you abandon the idea of making money you can keep it pure. Ironically under those conditions the art may be good/passionate enough that it may attract money. That’s great, but understand it will become tainted, and you’ll eventually need something else.

Because we’re human, we’ll always need. Money can’t even buy, “this is good enough.”

Temptation: Avoid or Resist?

temptationburgerOur lives are filled with all sorts of temptations. Food, sex, money, TV, idle time, shopping, the comfort of not engaging, etc.

Much conventional wisdom (especially religious wisdom) seems directed at avoidance of things deemed to be potentially bad for us. Don’t have the snack food in the house, don’t get into a situation where you’re spending any time with a member of the opposite sex, cancel that cable TV subscription, tear up the credit cards, don’t even go near the casino.

While those methodologies can be valid under the right circumstances (particularly pathological ones), I am dubious of the benefits of avoiding things that may be bad for us. I write this as someone who has his weaknesses, and has his dragons to slay. We all do. But avoiding doesn’t build strength. It hides the weakness. It’s a booby trap waiting to spring, usually at the worst possible time (when you aren’t alert).

I’m not suggesting it isn’t sometimes necessary. We have to do what we have to do to survive and take care of ourselves, but at some point one must grow up and develop the inner strength required to resist. Resisting is better in every way, if a bit more risky. When you avoid you also end up avoiding things that can be good for you. You avoid listening to other points of view, or having experiences that can potentially enrich or change your life. Resisting allows you to be much more granular in your selectivity.

AvoidTemptationYou know, down deep inside, whether you’re avoiding or resisting. And that makes all the difference in the world to your confidence in yourSelf. Avoiding is a rip tide that (eventually) takes you down. Resisting is the strength to climb the mountain.

Climb.



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