Podcast Episode #244: What TheaterMakers Can Learn From Simone Biles

ESTIMATED LISTENING TIME OF THIS EPISODE:  7 Minutes

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ABOUT THIS EPISODE:

If you’ve been following The Olympics this year, or if you’re on the internet, you probably heard Simone Biles withdrew from an individual all-around gymnastics competition at the Tokyo Olympics in an effort to focus on her mental health and well-being, a decision which came one day after she removed herself from the team final.

Tune into my personal reaction of this news and then how I believe we can apply this lesson to all of our lives as we look to reopen the live theater industry.

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My mission is to get more people talking about the theater.  The more people talking about it, the more people who want to make it, perform it, support it, etc.  And that’s how theater not only survives, but thrives.

The biggest compliment you can give me is by sharing this podcast.

I thank you and the theater thanks you!

If you’re raising money for theater, read this . . .

TheaterMakers around the world have had a LOT to worry about over the last 18 months.

And when one worry passed, another one popped up. Am I right? 

(You don’t have to answer that. Because I know I’m right . . . because I’m making theater right along with you. And I know how I’ve felt at times through all this!)

I’ve been tracking a lot of these worries and concerns over the pandemic. And one keeps coming up . . . especially now that shows are getting ready to go back to the rehearsal room.

That concern?

It’s everyone’s favorite thing to do. You know, the reason why people got into the theater. To raise money.  😉

Because this keeps coming up in anxious emails and mentions in my Facebook group, I want to do something to help. If I can.  

I’m digging into some research right now. And asking my Broadway peers what they are experiencing with their investors. (And of course, I’m raising money for my shows as well).

And I’ll have a report for you in a few weeks right here on this blog. (From what I’ve found out so far, it’s going to be pretty fascinating – with some surprises).

But since I’m asking a lot of people, I thought I’d also ask you . . . you who are raising money or thinking about raising money, for your show or for other people’s shows.

Is raising money in a post-covid theater world something you’re concerned about?  

If you’ve got any concerns, questions, etc, click here. I’ve got a 10-second, one-question survey that will help me with my research.

Thanks for your participation, and your passion for doing what you do!
Click here to take the survey about raising money for the theater in 2021. And beyond.

Your last chance to do this, TheaterMakers.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I called everyone I knew for advice. I’m talking big time theater people, as well as big time business people.

“What should I do?”

I got amazing advice. And it reminded me how important it was to ask for advice from others who are at places in their lives where you want to be. (And not just from a business “producer’s perspective” . . . but from a family perspective, a health perspective, a spiritual perspective, and more.)

One of the best pieces of advice I got was . . . “Ken, the people and companies who are going to come out of this ahead are the ones who are going to make use of this time.”

“But how,” I wondered. “Give me something practical I can do while I can’t do theater? I need a to-do list!”

“First, realize you’re not the only one whose business is shut down,” she said.

“Right,” I thought.

“Second, now is a great time for businesses to look at the plumbing of their business.”

I must have looked as confused as my 3-year-old when I asked her if she wanted to watch golf instead of Frozen.

“I don’t have plumb -,” I started to say.

“I’m not talking about literal plumbing. I’m talking about the stuff that makes your business operate. Open up the walls. Clean out the metaphorical closets. Fix the things that you never have a chance to fix when you are working as fast as I know everyone in the theater works when you’re blasting towards an opening night.”

So that’s what we did. A few examples of how we looked at our “plumbing” over the last 15 months?

Redesigned my company and this blog site from top to bottom. (They re-launch in September – watch for the announcement)

Established “flexible hours” and “flexible vacation” work schedule for all my employees.

Took over the bookkeeping of my office myself to understand how we could make it more efficient. (Cutting costs was pretty important through the last year.)

Had the entire office take unconscious bias training. 

Established partnerships with charity.

Established a new plan for social media.

Read at least 30 books on business and wellness.

Hired a business coach to help us figure out how to work on the plumbing of my business.

Closed three businesses that were taking up my time and not aligned with my goals.

And more.

I don’t tell you all this to say . . . “Look what we did.”

I tell you all these to give you ideas on what you can do . . . before the theater roars back at breakneck speed.

Because this pandemic is ending. And it will end. Despite this annoying last ditch attempt by the Delta variant. And despite the annoying individuals who are promoting anti-vaccination misinformation.  

Already there is a frantic pace amongst the Broadway TheaterMakers I talk to daily.

So if you want to look at the plumbing of your business . . . and you should . . . time is running out. 

Oh, and if you’re a one-person band, artrepreneur, TheaterMaker . . . and don’t think you’re a business . . . the first thing you should do . . . is realize you are one.  🙂

Opening up the walls and addressing what keeps you running isn’t the fun part of what we do.  There is no standing ovation for a clean Quickbooks account.  

But it’s one of the many things that will make the next year your best yet.

– – – – –

If you need some referrals for “plumbers” or people who can take your theatermaking business to the next level, from websites, to logo designers to bookkeepers, email me. We love connecting theatermakers with people who can help them clean up and step up their game.

My 2021 Blog-mencement Address to All the Graduating Theatermakers Out There.

June is bustin’ out all over with graduations.

High school, colleges (and even pre-schools!) are sending their students off to their next “stage.”

And from what I’m hearing from the theater students who I’ve spoken to, they feel a little . . . weird.

And who wouldn’t?

I can’t imagine being a student PERIOD right. Never mind a theater student.

One student Facebooked me and said, “What the @#$% do I know now?”

Here’s my answer:

Now look, I have never spoken at a graduation (except my own high school ceremony – where I quoted Les Miz and also sang “Memory” – and thank God there is no footage of that!). But, if you’ll imagine that I’m in a cap and gown, I thought I’d deliver an e-version of what I’d say to any graduating theatermakers in 2021.

Here it is. Ready?

Congratulations. You effin’ made it!!!!!!!!

And that’s pretty much it, in a speech-shell.

See, if you’re a graduating TheaterMaker right now, you survived the hardest period the entire theater industry has EVER experienced.

And I’d wager money that this is the hardest period that the theater industry will EVER experience.

And you made it!!!!!!!!!!!!

And if you got through this past year? And if you’re still as passionate as ever to make theater? To act in theater? To produce theater, market theater, direct theater, or whatever THEATER?

Then you’re going to be more than fine.

Because what this business requires of you to be successful (MORE than others) is simple.

Success in the theater demands relentless perseverance and commitment to your goals. It requires a, “I don’t care how many times people say no or how long I have to wait or what I have to sacrifice . . . I am going to make it,” attitude.

And this past year has been the ultimate test to see if you have that “gene.”

And if you’re here. If you’re reading this. If you’re writing your next play (or your first).  If you’re auditioning. If you’re looking to move to New York, Chicago or LA. If you’re taking classes. If you’re taking action towards your future?

You will be successful.

Because you made it. Congrat-u-effin-lations. I don’t know that I could have. But YOU DID.

And you should be so proud. You should be smiling bigger than any generation of theatermakers who have graduated before you. You DID have it harder. And you made it.

And you will MAKE IT.

As long as you put that “I don’t care how many times people say no, or how long I have to wait, or what I have to sacrifice, I am going to make it,” attitude to work.

Starting now.

I can’t wait to collaborate with you all.

Cue “Memory.”  (Just not sung by me, for the love of Pete!)

– – – – –

If you are graduating and want to meet other graduates, join our free TheaterMakers Facebook Group. Networking and accountability buddies are so key to success in the theater, which is why we created this group. See you in there.

Take The 30 Day Script Challenge. Imagine what could happen if you succeed?

My mission is to get more theater out into the world.

Because I believe the world is a better place if there is more theater in it.

One of the most successful tools in this initiative is our 30 Day Script challenge.  At least 100 scripts have come out of this sucker!  From people who hadn’t even written a page before they started!

So, at the beginning of the pandemic, if you said, “I’m going to take this time and get that script out of my head and onto a page,” now is the time.

In fact, with the way this pandemic is going, you’re running out of time!

Give it a shot with our 30 Day Script challenge!  It’s free.

So what’s the worst thing that could happen . . . you still don’t write it? You end up exactly where you are now?

Now, ask yourself . . . what’s the best thing that could happen?  Seriously. What could happen when you finish the script?

Take a moment . . . and imagine what COULD happen.

A produced play.  A licensed musical.  A great review.  An agent.  A Tony Award?

Yep, yep, yep . . . and who knows . . . until you FINISH THE SCRIPT.

So go for it. It’s free. It’s fun. And it works.

The 30 Day Script Challenge starts today, on June 1st, so sign up now.  And just think – by July 1st, you’ll have a completed first draft.

Take the Challenge here.

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