Expanding Growth
Passion vs. Talent
Talents & Skills

Did you ever blow out the sound system at Carnegie Hall an hour before showtime?

Did you ever Nova the lighting grid in the studio during a live broadcast?

Have you ever wiped out all the drum tracks on a Steely Dan album before its release without backing it up?

Did you ever pull the wrong CPU board from the stock room when you were called to service a Fairlight synthesizer on stage at an ELO concert and have 20 thousand people stomping their feet, screaming for the show to start while you scrambled to fit the old one?

I did!

I lived through all those situations and dozens more.  All our careers are littered with F’ups regardless of how talented we are, how experienced we are, and how many times we’ve been called to complete a similar task.  Suppose someone tells you they’ve never made a cataclysmic mistake.  In that case, they are either lying, have never really been responsible for a significant gig, or have a very selective memory.

As the saying goes, “shit happens,” and yes, it does.  If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will eventually.  My career has been split between programming for pro sports, episodic TV, live concerts, music recording sessions, and engineering tech.

I am still standing and succeeding because I learned to recoil from mistakes and, as the saying goes, “learn from your mistakes” and don’t repeat them.

Most of my time spent in professional sports was spent producing weekly network programming embedded with New York Giants in their training facilities and headquarters.  Having that front-row seat witnessing first-hand how a professional sports team trains and prepares for the season and each game taught me a lot about how I should approach my career, manage projects and prepare my crew.

They use the term “short memory.”  It is applied when a player or players make a critical mistake during a game.  It reminds the player not to dwell on the mistake.  To forget it and get your head back in the game.  No one has to remind a player not to repeat the same mistake again.  Believe me, when you wipe out a sound system at Carnegie Hall right before a show, no one has to tell you not to do that again.

There were so many lessons learned from my time with NYG.  Many of those lessons I’ve blended into my career and life.  The lessons learned are so long that it would be impossible to recite them all in this one blog.  Maybe when time permits, I’ll expand on them in a book.  (ha, when time permits LOL)

At the pro level of any industry, we all prepare, study and review for the task at hand, or at least we should.  During preparation, we try and imagine all possible problems and circumstances.  We develop contingency plans and strategies for those circumstances, “If this happens, we can do this.  If this fails, we can shift to this.”

I found the same was true when teams prepare for their next game.  They spend hours watching and studying videos of their opponents’ games.  They meet as individual positions and as a team, strategizing on how best to prepare themselves to maximize their “in-game” performance and limit the performance of their opponents.  They work their “game plan” down to the finest detail putting themselves in the optimal position to succeed, knowing that their opponent is doing the same.

The attention to detail and hours spent each week working on those details was enlightening.  I always thought I was a detail-oriented person.  I always understood pre-production was critical and should be approached as intensely as the production itself.

Being that close to a team and watching them put in those intense hours and practice, I realized I still had much to learn about preparation.

Before witnessing their efforts, I would approach any gig I’ve done or one similar with an “I got this attitude.”  I would do the necessary pre-production work but never to the detail of what I learned watching the team.  Even though the game was just another game, they would always approach it like it was the first time.

Since then, that’s been my approach to my gigs.

They were done planning on their game day, which was like our show day.  Now it was a matter of running through the checklist making sure everyone knew their responsibility.  Plus, the rah-rah motivation stuff.  

Once their game started, like our showtime, they began executing their game plan, which would be our show rundown.

As the game unfolds, adjustments are implemented in reaction to the game’s circumstances.  

All the pre-production work they put in allows them to collectively adjust on the fly.

That was another lesson learned.  You need to be prepared to adjust.  Adjust as a team and adapt individually.  Never overlook the “shit happens” factor.  Don’t get caught with no adjustment plan.  You need to go with the flow and keep moving forward.

As I said earlier in this blog, I learned dozens of points while embedded in this NFL experience.

Nothing in your experiences is irrelevant.  In one degree or another, it could and should impact your development.  I learned more about how to run a music industry engineering service company from watching how doctors run their offices than I ever did from other traditional technical support companies.

The key to remember is lessons to improve your abilities can come from anywhere.  Pay attention to everything around you at all times.  You may see new methods that you can apply to your gig.  You may also spot some potholes or bad behaviors you should avoid in growing your career.

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