Life is an open book test.

On a Friday afternoon during my first few weeks as an Assistant Company Manager at Show Boat back in 1996, two firemen came up to our office at the Gershwin theater and said there was a water main break nearby, and there might not be water servicing the building for the next 8 hours.

We had a show in 2.

The firemen made it clear. No water?  No show.

Uh-to the-oh.  We were sold out.

About 30 minutes later the situation resolved itself, so all was good.

But my boss later asked me what I would have done if he hadn’t been around to deal with the issue.  I told him I would have called the GM and the Producer and kept them abreast of the situation, etc.  I told him I would see if we could hold the curtain to give the firefolks more time to fix the situation, etc.

He told me all of that was correct, but he said that I forgot to call a few more folks.

“Who,” I asked.

“Ken,” he said.  “You’re not the only Broadway show in town.  There are a ton of other theaters nearby, and they all have shows tonight too.  And you know most of the managers, right?  Call them.  Find out what they are doing.   Use our network to make sure everyone is taking similar actions.  Imagine if you decided to cancel the show, and you find out that the show down the block found a way around it.  Remember, life is an open book test.”

I was reminded of this concept today because I was faced with two different paths to take with an issue on one of my shows.

Thankfully, because of the lesson of the firemen, I knew to use the network of people I trust in the biz to listen to my problem, hear my proposed solution and and then offer their honest expert and objective opinions on what they would do in a similar situation.  I’m not talking about “Yes” men or women. I’m talking about people that would poke and prod me like a lawyer taking a deposition.  I want people to challenge me.

I have five people on my speed dial that I call in situations like this.  And even when I hear things I don’t want to hear, I’m always glad I called.

If you don’t have a a network of “shows down the block,” then you should get one.

Because doing business in a vacuum . . . well . . . it sucks.

 

(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)

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FUN STUFF

– 69 Days to Godspell!  Read the day-by-day account of producing Godspell on Broadway here.

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Homework isn’t just for kids.

When we were in school, most of us did our homework.

Why?

Because someone said we had to.  So we did it.  Pretty simple.

Maybe you knew your homework would factor into your grade, which would factor into what college you went to, and so on . . . but basically, you did it because someone told you to do it, and gave you a day when it was due.

Every day I hear people talk about how they haven’t finished writing a script, or how they haven’t finished editing their film, or a stand-up routine, or a song, and so on.

And I wonder . . . if that script, or film or stand-up routine was homework . . . would they have finished it?

I’d bet yes.

And when so much of success is just finishing what you’re working on, or executing that great idea that you’ve been kicking around for years, there has got to be a way to create a systematic approach to help you do just that.

That’s why I’m an advocating an Adult Homework System . . . or AHS.

Here’s how it works:

  • Find yourself a friend, a teacher, a shrink, or even a random person online.
  • Describe what you want to accomplish (complete a script, a song, or whatever).
  • Make that person give you your homework with a due date.
  • Do it in the allotted time.
  • Rinse and repeat.

Make sense?

I’d bet you finish what you’re working on a lot faster (and probably with even better results).  (There’s probably an idea for a great social networking website here, where people sign up to be “teachers” or “students” and are randomly assigned to one another, and the teachers help the students’ dreams come true.)

It’s hard to motivate yourself.  That’s why the educational system exists (and why it costs so much freakin’ money).

And there is nothing wrong with asking for a little help to keep you on track.

Because homework isn’t just for kids.

It’s for students.

And life is about learning every single day.

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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