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What Can American Idol Teach You About Business?
Well, folks, as luck and ratings would have it, itís time for yet another season of that train wreck of reality TV, American Idol; the show that attempts to separate the talented from the terrible and brings them all into your living room each week for you to enjoy. Get ready to call in and cast your vote for who should be applauded and who should be muzzled. How fortunate we are to be living in a time when we can judge our fellow man via text message.
And donít forget your judges, ladies and gentlemen, the flaky Paula Abdul, the canine-obsessed Randy Jackson (somebody get this guy a dog), and the perpetually nasty, Simon Cowell; who gives new meaning to the term, "I donít mean this bad, but..."
To be honest, Iím not a fan of the show (too much negativity for my blood). The only time I watch it is when my wife screams, "Come here, youíve got to see this!" And every viewing leads me to ask the obvious question: why would people without one scintilla of talent - I call them "the anti-talented" - willingly make complete fools of themselves on national TV, knowing that the ridicule of a nation and the wrath of Simon awaits?
I guess itís all about getting their fabled fifteen minutes of fame. You donít have to win American Idol to profit from it. Look at William Hung; arguably the worst singer in the history of the show (if not the planet). He was so bad his lack of talent became his shtick and he parlayed his fifteen seconds in the limelight into a record deal that made him a wealthy man.
Sharp entrepreneur, that William. His performing abilities (or lack thereof) became his unique selling proposition (USP) and he struck while the iron was hot. While the market was hungry for his product he gladly sold it to them. What other valuable lessons might we learn about business from American Idol?
Donít be afraid to follow your dream. You have to give credit to even the most horrible of singers who seriously have faith in their abilities: they have a dream and they are chasing it like a hound chasing a rabbit. They are not letting a lack of talent and an abundance of tone-deafness rain on their parade. In business if you donít have a dream you donít have anything to work toward. Thatís why we entrepreneurs do what we do: to make our dreams come true.
Always be prepared. Iím amazed at how many people show up to audition for Idol without knowing the words or melody of the song they are trying to sing. Many of those who get passed on to the next round are not necessarily those with the best voices, but the ones who are the most practiced and polished. In business you get one chance at making a great first impression with your customers, your vendors, your banker, etc. Donít screw it up by forgetting the words to your elevator pitch. How do you make it to the Forbes 100? Practice, my son, practice.
Know your strengths and weaknesses. Many of the contestants bomb because they chose to sing a song that highlighted their weaknesses instead of showing off their strengths. In business you must know your strengths and weaknesses so you can play to your strengths and take action to compensate for your weaknesses. Never get so big for your britches that you think your business doesnít have weaknesses. Every business has chinks in its armor. The key is to never let the public hear you sing about them.
Sometimes you just have to go for it. Sometimes you just have to damn the torpedoes and the opinions of others and forge full steam ahead. If you have an idea for a business and youíve done all the research to prove that your idea is viable (even if itís a little off-key), you have to put faith in yourself and your abilities and just go for it.
Never, ever give up. Some Idol wannabes audition every year and never make it past the first round. Despite their lack of talent, you have to admire their tenacity. They brush Simonís teeth marks off their backsides and come back year after year; hoping that the result will be different, although knowing it will probably be the same. Business is tough and unpredictable. You can be at the top of the charts one day and booed off stage the next.
As an entrepreneur you must have the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back on that stage. At least till the fat lady sings.
About the Author: Tim Knox
Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, Radio Host
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Everything I Know About Business I Learned From My Mama