Friday, July 31, 2009

Running The Factory

Some people are driven. Some are not. That is not a judgement, it is a fact.

I was not always a driven person. Actually, the exact opposite. I began grade school in a program for gifted students and by 12th grade I barely graduated high school. Testing shows I am a fairly smart person and for me that meant not studying or going to class and getting a C, rather than showing up, studying and getting an A.

But at some point, that all changed. At some point, and I cannot pinpoint when, I went from slacker to the very definition of an "A" type personality. Although I don't remember a precise moment, I do remember the strategy I adopted.

If you want to run the factory, learn every job in the factory. You don't have to be a ninja at each position, but if you want to be an effective leader (and earn any respect) you better have a keen understanding of what everyone under you does. It is also a case of "the chicken and the egg" because the more skills you acquire the more valuable you are, hence your rise to world domination will be quicker.

We have all been victims to the contrary: a boss that went to management school and never actually flipped the burgers, an editor that never made a living as a writer, an executive giving notes on a television show who has never actually produced a show.

To quote Woody Allen in "Annie Hall", "Those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, teach gym."

Coming up in television I made a conscious decision to diversify: I drove a production van, I held cue cards, I wrote promo copy, I did research, I was an assistant camera operator and so on. When I began producing shows I tried my best to work in every genre: talk, variety, music, news, reality, game, interactive and so on. When the one thing missing on my resume was a docu-series I went out and fought to get the gig on "Gene Simmons Family Jewels." Of course I still have much to learn, but I do feel I am more versatile than most.

This post was born out of a few people asking for advice on how to move ahead in television, but I think it really applies to any field.

If you want to run the factory, pay your dues and learn as many jobs along that assembly line as possible.

1 comment: said...

The truth is that every person is gifted with some inborn skill and some people are driven, while some are not. The author is inspirational and the post applies to every field. Good job!