January 12, 2009

Animal Instincts

Gracious, me oh my! I'm sorry this is so late, but today just somehow got away from me. Part of the reason the day flew by is because I had a great, long lunch with our event producer for the festival. Yep, it's time again to start planning staffing, venues, operations, etc. Anyway, she owns a boutique event/PR firm so we ended up chatting a bunch about the challenges of running your own business. We both agreed the two hardest factors are making enough money to get over the hump of just keeping your head above water (i.e., all the incoming $ no longer needs to be dumped back into the biz), and management. My dad has always told me this: good or bad management can make or break any company, no matter how much positive momentum it may have. On a more specific level, we talked about how difficult it can be to balance friendship and business. That is, small companies are inherently more social and personal. People are working very hard for very little money in very close quarters because, presumably, they believe in the bigger vision and are inspired by the process of trying to realize that vision as a team... all for one and one for all type thing. But the reality is, everyone is not equal in the work environment: there are bosses and there are employees/staff. The line can easily blur: feelings get hurt, conversations misinterpreted, constructive criticisms internalized. It's just hard to have a beer with someone one night and then have to tell them what to do the next AM. I've learned thru the years to do my best to separate my personal and professional lives. I try to be as friendly and generous as possible, but I don't really divulge much personally. It just confuses things. It's like letting your dog sleep in your bed. Dogs are pack animals and there is always an alpha. If you let your dog sleep on your bed with you, the power dynamic gets muddled. No good. The web site Professor's House says about having dogs in your bed, "By allowing them equality at night time, we are being completely unfair to them by expecting them to recognize their appropriate place during the day...You are sending them the signal that they are sharing in your leadership, and this signal is likely to at least eventually carry over into other aspects of their pack life." So, remember: keep lines clear and always be the alpha... but in a sweet way! ;)


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