There But For The Grace Of God…


With only a few short weeks left in what could be described as the most tumultuous year in the entertainment business (with the possible exception of last year), the odds are only 50-50 that there won’t be more  changes before Christmas.  We can only hope for the best.

Whether or not you have been directly involved in the changes that have recently taken place, all of us have pondered the situations brought about by these abrupt moves.  Even if you have an iron-clad contract, the dismissal of Michael Fuchs had to get your attention.

The simple fact is that if you are in the radio or records business and haven’t been fired or directly affected by the termination of someone in your working environment, it’s just a matter of time.  More often than not, employment length in our industry is described as, “Forever or until Friday…whichever one comes first.”

So, what happens to you when it happens to you?

First of all, you need to be prepared before it happens.  We live in a twisted, psychotic world.  All of us in radio and records are here because we love the business.  We all need to understand that just because we love it doesn’t mean that the business will automatically love us back.

Do not confuse your passion and love with honesty and integrity.  Business decisions are made for business reasons…not passion and love.  Our industry is a huge business and decisions are often made by passionless suits in the corporate tower who are pouring over numbers…not people.  Do not kid yourself.  No matter what you are told, you are part of a complicated business, not a member of a family.

A family atmosphere can exist on a smaller level.  The people you work closely with will share a familiar feeling.  Love and camaraderie become commonplace.  But things have a way of changing.  And if you are a part of the change, you must cope.

If you lose your job, the most important thing to remember is not to take it personally.  It’s unbelievably tough to do that, but it is a fact.  Unless you are totally screwing up, unless you are showing no respect for your superiors, unless you are totally incompetent, it isn’t personal.  Usually, it’s a numbers game.  For one reason or another, corporate policy dictated change.  Accept it and move on.  You aren’t to blame.

Sometimes a new president or department head is appointed and this person wants to bring in members of his or her team.  You become the odd person out.  Again, it’s not personal.  And there’s no need to be critical of the new person.  At some point in your career, you will be the beneficiary of the same thing.  Accept the changes in a professional manner.  Don’t whine and criticize.

Remember…it’s not personal.

What if you’re doing a great job…if you’re working hard…covering all the bases…going the extra mile…being the best you can be…and you still  get the axe?  Hey, it happens.  Be content in the knowledge that you worked hard for yourself.  Take pride in the job you did.  If the company failed to recognize your hard work and talent, the company is the loser, not you.  You should take pride in the job you do…not in the job you have.

Try your best to seek and open dialogue with your immediate superiors.  Schedule regular meetings to get their input on the job you are doing.  Find out if they think you are doing a good job.  Also, try and get their perspectives on the future of the company.  If you’re working for them, they have more information.  The more informed you are, the better you are at making decisions about your future.

Success in our business can be summed up in one word: relationships.  You must constantly cultivate new relationships if you are to succeed in the long term.

It is imperative that you network with others.  It is more imperative that you network with others outside of your company.  In our changing world, your relationships with others outside of your company can often be just as important as those within your company.  You may be having conversations with someone who will be the new president of your company next week.  Or, you may be approaching that same person for a job after you’ve been loaded into the cannon and blown out of your present position.

It’s important that others know about the job you are doing.  Every company is looking for qualified, professional people.  Cultivate the opportunities before they arise.

It’s a lot easier to find a job when you have one.

You need to plan for the worst and hope for the best.  We all want to remain in the status-quo.  It’s comfortable.  It’s safe.  You know the territory.  If you’re well paid and successful, why leave? Unless you’re forced out, maybe you won’t have to leave, but it pays to anticipate the unexpected

In our business, it is tempting to live way beyond our means.  Because we dine at the finest restaurants, fly to events, take limos to concerts where we’re feted backstage, we believe this is our lifestyle, even though the company…some company…is paying the bill.  It’s easy to rationalize a flashy car, expensive house, explosive lifestyle that is way beyond our means because we live so much of the good life on the company’s nickel.

Don’t fall for the hype.

At a minimum, you should put back 10% of your monthly salary in a rainy day savings account.  If this sounds like a lot to you, compare the 10% with what you’re currently paying for the flashy car that you really don’t need…the restaurant tabs that the company doesn’t pop for…the extras that you’re spending to live up to the lifestyle that you really can’t afford.

Absolutely, positively nothing can compare with money in the bank.  While you’re making it …save it.  There will be times when you don’t have the opportunity.

You can be the perfect employee, have a savings account, live below your means and still be shocked by being sacked.

Let me repeat:  Don’t take it personally.  It is strictly business.  Don’t pout and feel sorry for yourself for long.  It’s not the end of the world or your career.

Remember, you were looking for a job when you found the one you have now.

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