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Genius Management & Surfing Vietnam

April 7, 2009

(This is for all of you who doubt your genius. It is the text sent to the artists and crew of Surfing Vietnam, a show I produced and premiered in London, Canada on April 1, 2009.)

The phrase I keep hearing in my head, yes now I’m hearing voices, is it’s good to be successful but it’s better to be significant. Great, I sound like a fortune cookie when what I want to do is praise you, your talents, and how easy it was to work with you. You each brought just the right ‘thing’ to the show. I know a couple things about you and I know this to be true. (Look out we’re going from fortune cookies to the Hallmark section, hey wait is that Oprah with a bag of chips?)

There will be days when some of you doubt your talent and never far from that soul destroying monster is it’s cousin ‘why am I even here and what’s the f…ing point’. Read this on that day. All I’ve learned is that I gotta use all that brought me – that means taking everything I have and am and using it to create,  usually opportunities for other people. That’s my thing. And our thing – what matters – is to figure out the thing that you just gotta do. When your gladness meets the world’s deep hunger – you know you are answering the question – not what do you want out of life but what does life want out of you. (indebted to Parker J. Palmer for that concept).

Yea that was definitely Oprah; I can see her eating another skinny cow ice cream bar in the frozen dairy section.

I know something else.  Artists are often wounded souls and it is our scars (god knows I know this) that makes us strong and open and real and absolutely scared of our greatness. Before the show, Jim was pounding his fists in the green room to feel real.  We do what we have to do to stay alive and feel alive. That’s our job as artists. We turn up to our craft even when she’s a bitch. Do you get that? Turning up when your knocked down so low you can’t find the floor never mind get up. I’ve been there. It’s dusty.

I want to give you this little thought because I’m wired and sleep deprived and apparently on a roll. Jim and I have been rehearsing a lot.  I started one of our sessions with this quote  – “Rehearsal is the work, performance is the relaxation’ – Stanislavsky.  That was another free fortune cookie sentiment to set up a scene. I was watching Jim and drifting off. I knew he wasn’t ‘home’ because I was tuning out. In that moment I re-learned the lesson I have to learn over and over again – if you ain’t home ain’t nobody home with you. Power is presence. It’s that simple and that ridiculously difficult.  So…to those of you on the path so less traveled you fell like you are falling down in the dark – start where you are. Figure out what you have to do to call your ‘self’ home. It’s worth the work, the personal work. You slowly get yourself back and a surprising little thing called grace. Some days you’ll actually be able to hold hope against despair, find courage when it feels like it would be simpler to quit and give up. You and I, we are a special tribe of people who see things others don’t see, feel things others don’t feel and make art, music, dance, words where others would go shopping.  I know you know what I mean.

This is so deep I need an oxygen tank. I’m almost out of here – I just wanted to give you something for what you gave. I want you to have this for those days when it’s too hard to be in your own skin.

I believe in an innate force that calls us to give that which we are meant to give; but, because of all the sh#t that happens we lose the connection.  The larvae has no idea what is in store. It just wants what it knew – give me back my caterpillar life. Yet in days it will fly from the vineyards of St. Catherine’s to Mexico one crazy-ass, ziggy, zaggy centimetre at a time. What I forget when I’m lost is I’m not.

A bunch of you are young and far from home some of you are older and just getting your bearings. I count myself in this contingent. This is why I am writing this, for you. After the show I saw Josh, Rich and Jim talking at the back of the room. Of all the moments in the show, that’s the one that mattered to me the most. Josh, I can’t help but be blown away that you AND Rich both went into the Army so you could go to College and study…wait for it everyone…theatre.  Carl Jung would say we have some serious synchronicity going on here.

Over the last three months I have listened to Jim’s portrayal of betrayal. He lost so much; but somehow seeing him talking to you two men, brought it together – if that makes sense. Who knows at this hour.  This I do know, at least in the tiny moments in my life where I actually feel wise (it passes quickly I assure you). I see that the hard times make me whole even if they break me first. I guess that’s my version of telling you to believe in what you got. Jim’s 61.  His book is done. Need I say more? No and thank god for that.

Love – and I mean that,

L

Genius Management & Surfing Vietnam

April 7, 2009

(This is for all of you who doubt your genius. It is the text sent to the artists and crew of Surfing Vietnam, a show I produced and premiered in London, Canada on April 1, 2009.)

The phrase I keep hearing in my head, yes now I’m hearing voices, is it’s good to be successful but it’s better to be significant. Great, I sound like a fortune cookie when what I want to do is praise you, your talents, and how easy it was to work with you. You each brought just the right ‘thing’ to the show. I know a couple things about you and I know this to be true. (Look out we’re going from fortune cookies to the Hallmark section, hey wait is that Oprah with a bag of chips?)

There will be days when some of you doubt your talent and never far from that soul destroying monster is it’s cousin ‘why am I even here and what’s the f…ing point’. Read this on that day. All I’ve learned is that I gotta use all that brought me – that means taking everything I have and am and using it to create,  usually opportunities for other people. That’s my thing. And our thing – what matters – is to figure out the thing that you just gotta do. When your gladness meets the world’s deep hunger – you know you are answering the question – not what do you want out of life but what does life want out of you. (indebted to Parker J. Palmer for that concept).

Yea that was definitely Oprah; I can see her eating another skinny cow ice cream bar in the frozen dairy section.

I know something else.  Artists are often wounded souls and it is our scars (god knows I know this) that makes us strong and open and real and absolutely scared of our greatness. Before the show, Jim was pounding his fists in the green room to feel real.  We do what we have to do to stay alive and feel alive. That’s our job as artists. We turn up to our craft even when she’s a bitch. Do you get that? Turning up when your knocked down so low you can’t find the floor never mind get up. I’ve been there. It’s dusty.

I want to give you this little thought because I’m wired and sleep deprived and apparently on a roll. Jim and I have been rehearsing a lot.  I started one of our sessions with this quote  – “Rehearsal is the work, performance is the relaxation’ – Stanislavsky.  That was another free fortune cookie sentiment to set up a scene. I was watching Jim and drifting off. I knew he wasn’t ‘home’ because I was tuning out. In that moment I re-learned the lesson I have to learn over and over again – if you ain’t home ain’t nobody home with you. Power is presence. It’s that simple and that ridiculously difficult.  So…to those of you on the path so less traveled you fell like you are falling down in the dark – start where you are. Figure out what you have to do to call your ‘self’ home. It’s worth the work, the personal work. You slowly get yourself back and a surprising little thing called grace. Some days you’ll actually be able to hold hope against despair, find courage when it feels like it would be simpler to quit and give up. You and I, we are a special tribe of people who see things others don’t see, feel things others don’t feel and make art, music, dance, words where others would go shopping.  I know you know what I mean.

This is so deep I need an oxygen tank. I’m almost out of here – I just wanted to give you something for what you gave. I want you to have this for those days when it’s too hard to be in your own skin.

I believe in an innate force that calls us to give that which we are meant to give; but, because of all the sh#t that happens we lose the connection.  The larvae has no idea what is in store. It just wants what it knew – give me back my caterpillar life. Yet in days it will fly from the vineyards of St. Catherine’s to Mexico one crazy-ass, ziggy, zaggy centimetre at a time. What I forget when I’m lost is I’m not.

A bunch of you are young and far from home some of you are older and just getting your bearings. I count myself in this contingent. This is why I am writing this, for you. After the show I saw Josh, Rich and Jim talking at the back of the room. Of all the moments in the show, that’s the one that mattered to me the most. Josh, I can’t help but be blown away that you AND Rich both went into the Army so you could go to College and study…wait for it everyone…theatre.  Carl Jung would say we have some serious synchronicity going on here.

Over the last three months I have listened to Jim’s portrayal of betrayal. He lost so much; but somehow seeing him talking to you two men, brought it together – if that makes sense. Who knows at this hour.  This I do know, at least in the tiny moments in my life where I actually feel wise (it passes quickly I assure you). I see that the hard times make me whole even if they break me first. I guess that’s my version of telling you to believe in what you got. Jim’s 61.  His book is done. Need I say more? No and thank god for that.

Love – and I mean that,

L

Profit: Buy or Bye?

April 1, 2009

Making or losing money in the ‘now’ economy means you have to ensure each customer micro-moment delivers a message of  buy not bye.  Here’s a teaching tale of what not to do that will amuse and instruct you and your team.

It’s a high-end medical office offering cosmetic treatments with equally high price tags. I have been invited for a complimentary consultation prior to two ‘free’ facial micro-dermabrasion treatments.My last micro-dermabrasion occurred when I wiped out rollerblading but that was my hip and when I discovered the healing properties of  Scotch.

I arrive early and look for a coat rack, it’s winter after all, but alas no hook, no coat stand, no closet. A rust-colored coat is the sole occupant on the middle waiting room chair. Are you getting the message? We might care about your skin but not what you wear to cover it. Sparkly red Christmas branches decorate the room. It is January 26th. Subcutaneous message: we are too busy for superficial details even though we are in the ‘superficial’  (that is to say the surface of the skin) business. When a customer walks in your door what messages are you sending?

At the high-countered reception window, Jessica a native woman in a large, motorized wheelchair, is booking her next appointment. Her wheelchair has tires that would make an Arctic transport truck proud.She motors to the door and gets stuck. No staff come to help. I widen the opening of the first door and we joke as I squeeze by to open the second. Message: we care about you just not very much. Once you pay your bill or book an appointment you are on your own. >Next I am greeted by the receptionist, a young gal with a pleasant demeanor and equally pleasant skin. She hands me a cheap clipboard (one dollar at any dollar store) with a forest of paper requesting a great deal of personal medical information. I don’t recall a privacy form. This is, I remind you, a meeting to set a meeting to remove some dead skin not remove an organ or three. It’s reno time not demo time. They are not meeting me where I am. They are meeting me where they want me to be.  Are you giving the impression you want a customer to open their wallet or their bank account?

Katherine appears. She looks ten, okay twenty but you know what I mean. She walks me to a small consulting room with a plush club chair. White feather Christmas trees adorn the shelves. Need I remind you Santa left the building 3o days ago. Katherine asks me more questions and begins her pitch. Procedure, benefit, procedure, benefit. It’s 85% content and 15% connection.  I find myself tuning out once in a while despite her melodic voice. She could easily have a future in radio when wrinkles appear and she’s too old to be on staff. All of a sudden Katherine says “Just a minute”‘ and listens intently to her earbud, which I hadn’t noticed before because of her blonde bob. She pinches the mini receiver by her collar and speaks.  This could be the final straw but I had not yet met the camel. Message: whatever happens in my earbud is more important than the customer before me.  In the field of manufacturing they have analyzed each moment and made them ‘lean’  – all unncessary steps are eliminated.  In the service industry we need to find out if moments are fat.  Fat the way Hagen Daz makes your day.  If you want to people to spend money make them feel rich by giving them your full attention. There is so little of it these days that if you do it and do it well you will stand out like a Rolls Royce in a parking lot of tricycles.

At this point – and it’s me here I’m writing to you. Every blog experts says you are going to stop reading because this is too long. But stick with me; the pay off is coming. I am taken to the Physician’s treatment room. The walls are a crazy Crayola blue which match the treatment table crammed into the corner.  An 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper taped to the entrance to the treatment rooms said renovations were underway; they should have started with this room.  A sensitive gay man would run out shrieking, it’s that ugly. Message: we know nothing about beauty we can’t even choose a paint chip.

The doc arrives. He’s hyped. He sits, crosses his leg and it begins to twitch, alot.I am worried about him. After his prolonged assessment of my visage, he says I frown.  I try to explain that a cleft lip means my lips don’t meet so I have to bring my bottom lip up to meet my non-existent upper lip to do the daily things that lips enjoy. I frown on one side by default. Doc says no it’s just me, I frown, and fillers would help. He adds “You use your cheek muscles a lot”. I can’t help it I’m trying not to laugh: he’s high, the room is ugly, no one is going to believe this.

Twitch asks if I have any questions. I do. “How much coffee have you had today?” He laughs, “I don’t drink coffee.” “Tea?” I ask.  “You seem really revved.” “No I just move fast to get the most out of life.” Yeah right. I was tempted to ask what his conversion rate was from pitch to sale but didn’t.  Time to go. It has been two hours from start to finish. I  could have rented my own sander and polished Joan Rivers. On the way out, another twenty-something tries to book me for blasting. Message: We botox women over 40 but we don’t hire them.  Or for crying out loud does your business show that it cares about its niche?

I ask them to call me Wednesday.  It’s a test. They fail. In fact they don’t call for three weeks.

In the now economy we have to ask ourselves what are the messages embedded in every micro-moment because, face it, you are either getting a buy or a bye.

Louise

If it is not your genius it is not your job.
Louise B. Karch