…in which Zooey Daschanel teaches me about the importance of being Here. Now.
If you work for a living you know: it’s always the little things that win the day.
Sure, you might drive in to work, clean your inbox, take care of the bosses’ stuff, but that’s all just the treadmill. There’s more to winning than that. When those big moments come with clients and coworkers, you need to be ON. As Bud Fox said to himself in the mirror in the classic film Wall Street before he entered the office of big-time stock market guru Gordon Gekko: There are few moments in life that matter. This is one of them.
I bring this up because a few weeks ago I went with my kids to see She & Him in concert. If you don’t know She & Him, you owe it to yourself to look them up. They’re a mellow duo, comprised of a guy named M. Ward, who’s a hip singer/songwriter, and Zooey Daschanel, the popular TV and film star (Elf, The New Girl).
First of all, who doesn’t want to be the hip dad and go to a concert with their kids? I don’t want to get in the way of my children, but this is a band that we’ve shared together for the last severa years, so I was fired up when they both were fired up about heading to Dallas for the trip to see the band.
For me, She & Him is great writing music. The melodies stick in my head and I find myself humming, but it doesn’t distract me enough to bring me out of my writing trance. My “work” mix of music features a ton of She & Him. Because of their catchy tunes, I was pretty excited about the night.
Before I Go On, Here’s What’s Involved
….when I decide to go to a concert. The closest mid-sized city is Little Rock, Arkansas. That’s two hours away. She & Him wasn’t scheduled to come to Little Rock. They were playing in Dallas, which was three hours away. So to make an 8 pm show, we’d have to:
– Fill up the car with gas.
– Plan on dinner out.
– Maybe make overnight accommodations.
In this case, because there were three of us who could drive (my twins are 18), we decided not to spend the night.
Luckily, the band offered seats at the show for $35. While this may seem like a lot of money, many acts touring charge $85. In fact, Kid Rock recently lowered his ticket prices, to much acclaim. She & Him was also doing their part to make the night affordable. However, because of our drive, it was still going to be an expensive night.
We were excited. Remember being 18 years old? Just being at a concert with my kids was thrilling because they were just so pumped to be at a real, live show. The opening act, the Secret Sisters, were very good, engaging with the crowd and telling stories about their songs. People were swaying to the music. It was exciting.
Then She & Him came onstage.
After the first song, Zooey talked to the audience, bitching about the heat. Then she made fun of a few audience members for parroting everything she said. In fact, the few times she talked to the crowd, she either complained about or made fun of audience members. She sat on a stool and sang. At the end of the night they reappeared briefly for an encore, which was one short song in length (less than four minutes). Then it was over.
If my eyes had been closed, it would have been a fine night. Zooey can sing beautifully. But with my eyes closed, it was fairly close to the mp3’s that I play at home. I didn’t need the long drive and pizza dinner out on the town. I could have done that at home. As we made our way toward the car, I said, “You know, I still like their music a ton.” To which my son, Nick, answered, “Yeah, but don’t they have concerts to make you love them more?” They didn’t make anyone in my family love them more with that show.
What a lesson. When we’re “performing” at our jobs, how often have you been so into your own thoughts or your personal project that you totally forgot what was on the other person’s mind?
– What baggage are they bringing to the table?
– What might be happening in their personal life?
– What are they expecting from this meeting/project/encounter
To some degree, all business is show business. You need to be on when you enter a room and talk to people. It’s important that you bend to how they’re feeling, not expect the audience to just love you and hang in there.
I won’t apologize to Zooey for saying that I think her concert sucked. I paid around $200 to get us there. That doesn’t make up for an “off” night.
The Worst News
In most cases you don’t get a second chance. I won’t go see She & Him again, and I’ll discourage others. Listen to them on mp3? Hell, yes! I’ll tell you to do that all day long. But a concert? Save your money…..
Your homework, Stackers: Practice empathy while you’re at work. Do something special for a client/coworker. Remember you’re “on stage”!
It doesn’t sound like they put on a great show=/ Sorry you wasted your money on the tickets!
Sorry to hear about your experience. Yeah, very much true that in most cases we may not get a second chance
Done by Forty
In this day and age, the concert better be a good experience because, man, that’s where your bread is buttered. Sorry the concert wasn’t better but I love the analogy. I agree that you need to be “on” in meetings, and this is a good opportunity to self evaluate. I generally think I’m pretty good, but do know I have a tendency to tune out or multi-task if I don’t think the meeting provides good value. But that’s not a great way to present myself.
Nick @ ayoungpro.com
Good to know! I had considered seeing them in concert, but now I know I don’t need to!
Well, hopefully Nick it was just a bad night and they’re better in other cities. Sometimes I also think that really left wing people head into Texas (outside of Austin) thinking it’s going to stink.
I’m sorry Zooey was such a bad sport about everything. You definitely don’t go to a concert to hear the artists complain. That’s just inconsiderate. I like how you linked this back to meetings, though. I think it goes for interviews, too! You always have to be “on” and selling yourself to make sure you don’t leave a bad impression.
Right on! Some of the best interviews I’ve had were actually times I had no clue I was being interviewed. I thought it was a meeting and halfway through the meeting the person asked me if I wanted a new opportunity. That was just based on how the conversation had headed to that point! Always. Be. On.
Tie the Money Knot
Well, sometimes we just have to try things and find out the outcome later. Can’t bat 1.000 (in baseball parlance, “a thousand”) over the long run!
Your bigger point is well taken. We can’t just show up like a zombie, without thinking about the other party and what will make the experience worthwhile for them. We’re on stage more often than we realize.
Great point. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come to a meeting and wondered “Does this person even ever ask themselves what I’m thinking about this situation?” Because if they did….they might have more than a clue how badly they stink!
This is an ironic post because I just had this conversation with my office staff on Monday. My six year old daughter and I have kind of made it our tradition to get a pedicure the week before school starts (can two times be a tradition?). Anyway, the first time we went, the staff was magical to her. Her favorite was soaking her feet in the wax stuff. I secretly hate pedicures and have to will myself not to scream when someone touches my feet, but it wasn’t really my day. She loved it and talked about it for months afterwards.
This year, we went back to the same place and all the staff could do was bitch about a bridal party that showed up 30 minutes late. They rushed us through and didn’t soak my kiddo’s feet in the wax either. I work on appointments, so I totally understand how inconsiderate people can wreck your day. However, you can’t let that spill over to the people who are on time and spending their hard earned money for your product or service. We will not go back there, but it was a great learning experience, and I have tried much harder this week to treat every person like the diamonds they are to pay me money for shining bright lights in their eyes.
We had this discussion at dinner about your comment here and my wife’s workplace. The people working in the front don’t think about the experience of the people coming through the front door. They’re so wrapped up in their own little world that they don’t realize how much it’s crushing their reputation. I feel bad for your daughter after that experience.
Budget & the Beach
OH man sorry they weren’t that good and all the trouble you went to see it. I guess you can ever predict those sort of things. I used to go see shows about every other night (mostly smaller, cheaper club shows) in my 20’s…now I’m lucky if I go even once a year…and I live in a place where every band tours. And I still prefer the small, club shows. Kid Rock is ridiculously popular in Detroit. I think he treats his fans there really well!
Have you seen his strategy with ticket prices? He lowers the price of everything at the venue and still scores bigger profit numbers than acts that charge full price.