FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM JULY 2007
I wrote an article for last month’s edition that was inspired by an email I received. A Multi-Op owner had a lost some DJs and was looking for advice and in that article I wrote a very callous and cliché line towards then end of the article. I said: Don’t take it too personally.
I apologize for that sentence. It is wrong.
I believe it’s impossible to be successful at what we are doing without taking our business personally. We have personal relationships with our clients (like most every industry) and we also have personal relationships with our products (our DJ staff) which is what makes us somewhat unique. And when we nurture these relationships well, they can turn into long term, win/win situations that can results in true bonds of friendship. That’s a personal thing. I have been at my DJs homes, I have been invited to be in their bridal parties and even held their newborn babies. These are not strictly business associations. And I’m sure if you are a successful Multi-Op Owner or manager you have similar relationships with your staff. You celebrate the good times together and you get down in the trenches and work through the tough times as well.
So who am I, or who is anybody for that matter, to fold their hands pompously and say (when things go ultimately bad) “Don’t take it too personally.”
I should know better. I am not that far removed from losing some great DJs. One of whom had been a great friend. And I took it personally. I took it hard and personally and it almost rocked my world right out of our industry. And though it is seven years ago now, I can still call up the emotions that overwhelmed me during that time. I was knee deep in reassigning weddings and it seemed like every other day a DJ was knocking on my door to tell me he was leaving. I was actually grateful to the DJs who told me face to face as a couple of them just simply left. No meeting or even a note. Just found out one day they were DJing for someone else.
And then the worst blow of all came down when my top DJ and someone who had been a really good friend (to put it in perspective: he was in my bridal party and I am the Godfather to his first child) decided not only to leave and join my competition but to announce that fact at a Bridal Show that both companies were performing at. Imagine my surprise when right after Elite’s performance the other company began their show with a drum roll and the public announcement that one of the area’s top DJs had joined their staff.
I remember walking outside right after that announcement. The banquet hall we were at had a gazebo and I walked over to it and hung my head thinking this was it. The last six months had been a slow bleed of talent and now this. How would I recover? How would Elite recover?
And then I looked up and one my DJs was standing there at the gazebo and she said everyone on staff was looking for me. They were concerned. She asked if I wanted her to go back and tell them where I was but to leave me alone. And I told her, “No.” I was wrong to walk away. I had responsibilities and I went back in the banquet hall and finished the show at my booth, answering a hundred questions about this Defector DJ and what it meant for Elite. Brides were asking and industry people as well (photographers and videographers etc) and even my own staff. And that night I did what I always suggest to people when things go wrong. I went home and felt really really bad for myself. Probably cried, definitely drank and generally wallowed. But the next morning I woke up and looked in the mirror and told myself that this day was a new day and I could go either of two directions now. It was solely my choice.
The “taking it personal” thing is important. It’s important when it’s done well because I am sincere in my relationships with my staff. I am not best of friends with all of them but I generally like every DJ that works for me. Some I am very close with and some I am amicable with. And when they stick around year after year and grow within the framework of my company I take it personally. I celebrate the successes. I know no other way. And when one of them leaves, when they decide that my company which means specifically “me” personally is not the right place to be, I take that personally too, I have not found the trick to separate the two. In fact if you ask me, I think it’s impossible.
Mike Walter is the owner of Elite Entertainment of New Jersey and a nationally recognized expert in the area of multisystem company development and staff training. You can contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM JULY 2007