I was reading a post by blogger Chris Brogan yesterday entitled “Earning Attention” which in short was about earning a place of importance within your industry as opposed to having expectations of someone else take you there. I’m not going to do it justice by attempting to recreate his post in a sentence or two so how about we just make it mandatory to head over there and check it out…just finish reading this one first!
His post reminded me of my days as a professional musician. For those that may not know me that well, before I started a career in Internet Marketing about 12 years ago, I played bass for the Broadway Show “Rent” amongst a bunch of other pretty cool gigs. As a successful musician I was hounded on a fairly regular basis by other bass players interested in subbing for me. With a few exceptions, they mostly left a bad taste in my mouth. Their attempts to get to know me had less to do with me and more to do with me giving them their big break. They would go something like this (actually, I should say exactly like this…this was an actual e-mail I received):
“Greetings. My name is Bob, and I am a virtuoso electric bassist. I am including a link to some of my original compositions. I am a reader, and I’m well versed in all styles. I wanted to inquire about what it would take for you to consider me as a sub for any current or possible future Broadway work. I would be willing to come to you at your convenience to play/read for you.”
I would imagine whoever was on the other end of that e-mail was a nice guy. Clearly a good player. I can’t really say for sure since I never got back to him. Nothing personal. This type of approach just wreaked of the stench of entitlement. Besides, I could never quite get past the word “virtuoso.”
Is it me or have people in general become so used to asking Mommy in order to get what they want that they think the rest of the world works this way? Well, it doesn’t. If you want something bad enough, you have to be willing to move heaven and earth to get it…give before you can receive…or at the very least try a little harder than that!
I may be overly critical about his approach because I was once in his shoes early on in my musical career. I wanted to sub on Broadway bad enough that I went into the city and grabbed a Playbill from every show so I could get the names of all of the players. I didn’t have the tools that are out there now at my disposal. There was no Facebook or Twitter. No blogs. The Internet sucked unless you were in it to watch porn or had all day to wait for something to load. I actually picked up the phone to call people I wanted to sub for…this of course was after stealing a phonebook from the bus station so I could find their number. When I was told no over and over again I looked for another way. I added value by getting a job as a writer for a popular musician magazine and wrote articles about the people I wanted to sub for. I filled in on the gigs they didn’t want. I showed up unannounced and took them out to dinner between shows. I kept giving more and more value until finally I got my big “break”. It took well over a year…not 4 sentences.
I earned it.
It was not easy. It was frustrating. It would have been so much easier to give up. I was told “no” more times than I can remember. BUT…I was eventually told yes. That one I do remember. And nothing ever felt as good as the first time I played on Broadway. I left the theater and sat in my car for 20 minutes staring at the Broadway street sign. I think I even stopped breathing for a few minutes. It was a life changing moment for me not just because of what I accomplished, but because I earned every single note I played that night…and every night thereafter.
What’s interesting is that it has been 16 years since my first appearance on Broadway and here I am once again starting over in a way. Recreating myself in the form of this daily blog. Unsure who is going to read it or exactly which way it’s going to take me. Yet with blind faith, I know I will get there. I can’t tell you how long it is going to take, but I do know where I’m going with it and I can promise you that I will earn every single minute of it and I am honored to share the journey with you.