“Maybe they know more than you think”

Ego is a double-edged sword.

On the positive, if you don’t have an ego, don’t have faith in yourself – then you’re probably not going to have a lot of success in life. But on the other hand, very often our egos make us feel that we’re infallible … incapable of making anything but the correct decision, regardless of what advice we get.

And it’s easy to micro-manage.  After all if you’re the boss, then you must know.

Back in college, thirty years ago, I promoted rock bands.  One show I did took place in Ortonville, Minnesota at the White Eagle Ballroom … in the middle of nowhere.  Even though Ortonville only had some two thousand people living there, it was a great venue to have small concerts in.  Since there was nothing else to do, kids from a hundred mile radius would flock.

This was my first show in Ortonville.  In fact, I’d never even been there before.

My modus operandi was to find a local contact to put up our posters and hopefully start the “idea virus.”  I found Gordy.  Seventeen, still in high school – and a police dispatcher.  How bad can this be?  Right out of the gate I got a discount on security.  Since I had set everything else up … all that needed be done was to put up the posters and get the word out.

Three weeks later, I traveled back to Ortonville to do the show with Dave Theige, my roommate.  We got in late the day before and checked into a motel.  The next morning, I got up before Dave and went out to get breakfast and survey the town for our show’s exposure.

I went everywhere I could to find at least one poster.  I found none! What happened to Gordy?  It looked like my police dispatcher dropped the ball.

After several hours, I finally tracked down Gordy.  “Where are all the posters?”  Gordy’s response was to hand me back forty of the fifty posters I gave him.  “I only needed ten” was his response.  “Great!” I said sarcastically. I only needed six hundred people to break even.  That’s only sixty per poster.  Unlikely.

Well, the show came and went and I made about two thousand dollars and Gordy manned the door so all Dave and I had to do was hang out with the bands and enjoy the music.

After the show, I sat down with Gordy.  “Where did all these people come from … and how the hell did they hear about it?”  Gordy came back with this:

“I put the posters in the places where the kids would see them when they were with their friends so they could talk about the show.”  This meant posters on telephone poles on the way to keg parties mainly.

In addition, Gordy enlisted members of his “Tribe” (in Seth Godin jargon) to spread the word … and make sure that there were no parties or anything else to compete with our show.

I wouldn’t have put up the posters in places like that.  Where I would have, the kids wouldn’t have seen them or if they did they wouldn’t have talked about it.   And there’s no way I could have squashed any potential competition.

So much for knowing everything.

Ooch, I just got cut.


If you like this please retweet and check out more of my ramblings on twitter at @variable_edge. And if that’s not enough check out my personal blog, “On the Road to Your Perfect World.”


~ by Clay Forsberg on March 1, 2011.

2 Responses to ““Maybe they know more than you think””

  1. The first measure of a man’s intelligence is when he admits his own ignorance.
    Sometimes local knowledge is worth it’s weight in gold.
    When was the last time you spoke to Gordy? Seems like he’s a sharp cat. Someone with a lot of Juice!

    • Way too long ago. It’s too easy just assume people of that caliber will always be there. I’ve learned over the years … they aren’t.

      Great point!

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