Posts Tagged ‘Woody Allen’

From the Editor’s Perch…

August 26, 2013

Editor’s note:   Now if this doesn’t expand my readership, I don’t know what.  Who doesn’t want to get ahead in life?


How to Get Ahead in Life

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Where I work we sell copiers.  It’s a large place – we do a large business, with a big sign on top – and almost no walk-in customers.  In fact, people rarely call us up to inquire about a copier.  Now and then, someone new with very small needs, will inquire via the internet.  But basically, no matter how prominent your dealership is, or how big your sign, in order to sell a copier you have to go find a prospect and meet with them.  Our equipment costs a lot, and has proven to be quite popular.  But it doesn’t sell itself.  This is the first rule of advancement in life: Nothing sells itself.  Somebody has to tell somebody else about it.  You want something?  You have to tell someone that.  You have to ask people to do something, if only, “look at my stuff.”  Nothing sells itself. 

 My-Name-is-Bob

Then, whether selling myself or a copier, someone has to buy.  And to get that person to buy, you have to go to them.  They rarely come to you, which means that to get ahead in life you’re probably going to have to travel.  Bob Dylan didn’t stay in Hibbing, Minnesota.   Bob Dylan had to get to New York where they were buying what he was producing.  If you have an exclusive product to offer, statistically it just makes sense that whoever needs it will be somewhere else than right across the street, especially in Hibbing.  You’re going to have to travel.  Maybe you’re lucky, and your prospect is just downtown.

 

When I visited New York City some years ago, what surprised me was how small some of the famous spots were.  Greenwich Village was truly ‘village’ sized.  Little Italy was, indeed, ‘little’.  And yet these spots marked the ground zeroes from where numbers of artistic movements and cultural icons have originated.  This (plus some reading I have done) causes me to state another truth which is, that the leading creative activity happens within a fairly small radius; within a very small clan.  There are companies who employ large numbers of people, most of whom use our copiers.  But it is a very small number of people who actually determine whether it is our copier they will purchase.  Decisions about your future are made by a very small clutch of people who live and work and pass their time within a very small radius.  And you have to find them and get in with them if you want to become a part of it all; if you want to get close enough to grab the gold ring.

Have-a-Plan

As Woody Allen noted, “eighty percent of life is showing up”.  He meant that you had to have the work done and ready to go.  But it also means, that you are there where the work is done.  So if you’re a musician and you’re in the recording studio, even if you’re not employed as a musician, you’re ready in case they need another horn, or if they are trying to think of a musician to call.  As noted above, you’re within the radius.   Kris Kristofferson started emptying ashtrays and sweeping up at Columbia Studios in Nashville.   When you ‘show up’ there is the possibility of something happening.   You want to date that special girl?  You first concern is to be nearby, to give her the sense that you’re already somebody within her community, who she might speak with, who she has ‘seen around’.   Show up.  Be there!

 

All of this advice will work whether you wish to get ahead in a big way, or just in the smaller way of the day to day, especially this last trick:  Be of help.  You want something from someone, be it recognition, attention, respect or whatever – being of help is an excellent way to start.  First, it’s a nice thing to do.  And second, it markets to the person’s needs.

 

Wherever a person needs help is a place where that person is a prospect.  And if you fill that need, there’s a good chance they’ll make a little purchase.  And this works with anyone whether it be a wife or a child or a boss or even someone you don’t know as yet.   You want to gain your wife’s attention?  Do something she needs doing on a regular basis.  You want to make sure your son obeys?  Help him to do something he’s interested in but doesn’t know a lot about.  They will come to rely on you.  And people recognize and respect the persons who they need and depend upon.  So be of help.  Help to advance someone else and they may advance you.

 

(One caveat here:   A little discrimination is in order here.  Be sure that person stands within a circle you would like to share.   They might be in a circle you are trying to get out of…!   Screen your prospects.   Otherwise, you might not feel better.  Not screening their prospects is how ‘nice guys finish last’.    ‘Caveat helpor’: Let the helper beware.)

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Motivational Posters by Carl Nelson and available at:  http://www.imagekind.com/artists/carlnelson/MotivationalPosters/fine-art-prints

 

From the Editor’s Perch

March 26, 2011

How to Make a Living

… as an Artiste’

“While waiting to rehearse at a friend’s home many years ago, I spied a title on the spine of a thick book in his bookcase across the dining room table.   I thought it read, “Foundations of Paradise”.  Thinking that this sounds like the title of a great novel!  I must have somehow missed the existence of, I walked across the room to examine it and found what the title actually said was, “Fundamentals of Parasitology”.  Well!   I examined the book anyway, and over the ensuing years I haven’t found any other book that has come as close – to my thinking – in explaining how life works.

One of the astounding things this book had to say was that the vast majority of life is parasitical.  They made the point that if you were to completely dissolve most host animals – you would still be able to describe that animal just from arrangement of the remaining parasites.

What does this have to do with earning a living?  Well!  (I’m glad you asked.)  If you were to completely dissolve the physical structure of any business, you could probably easily tell what sort of business it was just by the arrangement and type of employees left there, (hanging in the air, I suppose).  For example, “Oh look!  There are the cooks, and waiters… receptionist… valet attendants… dishwashers… managers…  My point being, that where as we see ourselves as an entrepreneurial culture, what we mostly are is a culture of quite successful parasites.  For example, take Bill Gates.  What really made his fortune was in attaching himself to the cash stream of IBM by licensing them his software.  Think of the high earning people you know.  Do they really make that money themselves, or are they attached to something (a company),  via a nicely negotiated agreement, which actually generates the cash?

A second point I gathered from reading this book was that, whereas most parasites are hard working (in their own way) – what mostly contributed to their success was their positioning.  Parasites position themselves to be taken advantage of.  The parasite which infects sheep positions itself inside of an insect which climbs on top of a blade of grass which the sheep decides to eat.  Parasites position themselves inside of our food, water, and in our air, everyday. 

This is a very important point.  Because, for example, last night I was discussing with a fellow artist friend how he might earn just a thousand dollars a month.  He had worked the outlay problem, so that with just that small amount of extra earned income he would become self-sufficient; and he could do his work and most of his problems would disappear.  It was frustrating, how we racked our brains!  Because we felt two intelligent healthy artists ought to be able to figure a way to make just one thousand dollars a month from their work… from their talent!

It occurs to me now, that we were characterizing the problem from the wrong position.  It is the host which is the expert in earning the money.  Most companies which make large amounts of money are able to do so because they are very good at taking advantage of large numbers of people.  (I mean this in a good way.)  That’s what makes them a host creature.  They are experts at taking advantage.

So, my friend and I were working the problem from the wrong point of view.  Our real problem is not how to earn money.  That’s the host’s problem.  A good host is an expert in how to take advantage of us.  Our problem is how to position ourselves so as to be taken advantage of.  So, how we should have been putting our minds to work was in looking for a good host.  What’s a good host?  Some entity which makes a lot of money, and which does the sort of thing you’d like to do!  Then you just position yourself nearby as possible –  and try to look vulnerable and attractive.   That is: hard-working, reliable, talented, smart, great attitude, friendly… and most importantly, available.  “Most of being successful, is just showing up,” as Woody Allen says.

A lot of artists get their back up at this suggestion.  Especially women artists.  They stubbornly resist any attempts to take advantage of them.  It becomes a big moral quandary.  I think this is wrong headed.  They should think more like Bob Dylan who said he’d ‘snuck in while the door was open – and now they can’t get rid of me.’ 

Photo by Carl Nelson  (model is John Ruoff)


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