Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Find A Way To Say Yes

This is one of the most priceless gems of wisdom I've ever received.  It was something my Dad said to me years ago and it's stuck with me and become part of the core of my operating system, as a business owner and a human being in general.  When confronted with a difficult request, the best possible thing you can do is: try to find a way to say yes.

I get ridiculous requests at shows all the time.  I've developed a reputation for being easy to work with because I'm not quick to say no.  It's not that I don't, if something is just not possible with the time or equipment that's available then I've got to.  But it's a common occurrence for someone to fire off a difficult request and then start to back off from it when they see the look on my face.  But I try to put them at ease by saying, "The furrow in my brow is just me trying to figure out how I can do that for you."  

Even if I can't figure it out right there I can at least send them off knowing that I'm putting in some effort for them.  If I have to come back later on and say no, it softens the blow if I can tell them that I really tried to come up with a solution.  Or if all I've got to offer is a compromise that isn't exactly what they asked for, they'll be more likely to listen to it than if I was trying to rule my stage with an iron fist.

I can't tell you how many times I've listened to people scoff and crow about what ridiculous requests get made of them.  It's usually followed by a list of how much expensive gear they own or what famous people they've worked for.  They seem to always get work, but it makes you wonder if they might be getting better gigs if they weren't such jerks.  That guitarist doesn't care if you've worked for the Rolling Stones or how many line array boxes you own, he just wants to be able to hear himself in the monitors. 

That's paid off big time for me throughout my career.  It's meant looking at the bigger picture.  Something as simple as optimizing my rig for a fast strike has won the affection of many a bar owner.  You might mix a great show, but if an owner has to sit around till the sun comes up while you load out your pancake subs you're hurting your image.  Widen the scope a little and if your part of the strike holds up the electricians who then hold up the riggers and pretty soon somebody is paying union overtime, it would have worked out a lot better for everyone if you had put yourself last in the first place.  It's a service industry, that makes you a servant.  You don't need to let yourself get walked on, but trying to get as close to, "Your wish is my command" is a pretty good way to work.


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