June 19, 2011

Get in the Game!

During a recent phone conversation with my friend and mentor Chris, I began to outline the frame of a business idea I have been mulling over for a few months. In true Chris fashion he cut me off in the middle of my elevator pitch, laughed, and said,” Let’s do it.”  Before traces of the old me could surface and I rambled on with a Letterman’s Top Ten List of why I wasn’t ready for the opportunity, he went on. “Not only do I think that’s a good idea, but at the end of this month I’m speaking in front of a group with 800 members that work with what you just outlined. Make sure you’re there and I’ll introduce you to some people. You’re a pretty smart guy, don’t worry. Just get in the game and you’ll figure the rest out. ”

     Today on our leisurely Sunday excursion (where I kidnap the family after church and drive around Georgia while my son gives in and falls asleep in the back and the wife just hums and waits for the car to give out of gas) the Mrs. was reading the paper.  After a chuckle she said, “Henry Winkler showed someone a picture he took and they gave him a book deal.” What?! What do you mean? I know self-published authors that hawk their books whenever and wherever they can not only to move units, but in the hope that someone will get them in at a large publishing house or if all the stars are aligned get their work to “Oprah” (insert heavenly harp music here). Not taking anything away from Winkler’s talent, but that had to be one hell of a photo.  She went on to read the passage. Said Winkler, “I was at my oldest son’s wedding in the Bahamas, and I took a picture of the beautiful sky. I showed it to everyone at the table, and fashion designer Cristina Ferrare suggested I meet an agent she knew to discuss a book of my photographs.” In his description of the work Winkler said, “It’s a book of photos I took on the river, in the river, and getting to the river, along with life lessons I learned from the river.” Wow. Deep, right?  C’mon son! 

     Again, no disrespect to Winkler, but what separates “The Fonz” from the guy hawking hand painted scenes of the Caribbean island you visited last, or the vendor at a fair whose booth is chock full of his life’s work? How about the guy at the park that takes black chalk and weathered paper and captures nuances in your face that are so subtle you never noticed them?  I’ll tell you what. Henry Winkler was in the room, at the game, and they weren’t. Here is my humble advice for the day. Take stock of the people you spend most of your productive time with and creative energy on. Are they poised to get you in the room and a ticket to the game? If not, something needs to change, and chances are they won’t.

     Go get in the game. You’re all pretty smart, I’m sure you’ll figure the rest out.