Tuesday, 25 January 2011

X Factor - 10 Business Lessons to Be Learnt

By Caleb Storkey

I watched the X Factor Finals this weekend and I'm not proud of it. And what's more, I even at one point shed a slight little tear, before saying 'Oh Bless her' as I reflected on... the person whose name I'm already forgetting- was what it...ah...come on...the one with the 'recording voice'...oh my I seriously have forgotten...I'm racking my brains...gonna have to Google it. That's it Rebecca! Yes, Rebecca made me a cry for a moment...funnily enough, I'm sure we'll all forget her within a few months.
Now there are loads of interesting questions you could explore about the X Factor? I admit having the words interesting and X Factor in the same sentence is a risky move. But nevertheless...
Where do these acts learn to develop their craft, and inner confidence without the years and years of performing on the 'toilet circuit?' Is Elton John right in his assessment that the artist is being automatically sold a really short shelf life by not having the space to learn the live craft? "Why aren't they going on tour? What's happening? They can't survive, I know, by just making records."
What happens to the acts five years from now after the X Factor machine swallows them in and spits them out to make room for the next wave of X Factor finalists?
Or as one of my friends Hannah McGuigan puts it on Facebook- X Factor: Bad Telly, Bad Music and criminal for dominating the music industry with un-original, mindless, sob-story induced media hyped rubbish.... Discuss?
I'm not sure where I sit with the X Factor. Part of me detests it for all the obvious reasons. A few years ago I would have been a zealot against it- looking in pity at anyone who admitted that they'd watched it. The manipulation, the ripping people off, the way the artists were used (remember the Steve Guy- I enjoyed reading his story), and the painfully dull, sickly music. Then I got married. And lots of things happen. In some areas of your life you change for the good, as your partner talks to you straight and helps you see the error of your ways. And in other areas of your life, you watch the X Factor on a Saturday night (I'm sure part of my straight talking back, was that we were never going to watch crap on TV). Now I'm one of those suckers who's actually interested. And oh my word, I have to confess it, I even watch the Xtra Factor too. I'm so sorry. I know it's beyond evil. Help me, as I don't know what's gone wrong with me.
But I have to find some redemption in this, and so now I want to show you (and my wife) that actually all those Saturday and Sunday nights of watching X Factor was all for research. So therefore I have come up with X (ten) points to consider with (vague links) back to X Factor. Out of nowhere these poor innocent souls get catapulted into fame and stardom, and all the pressures that come with it. And in many offices up and down the country, as others spend their time watching X Factor the inspirational entrepreneurs are working late into Saturday night. And if you are one of them, and your close to going through the roof, then I want to encourage you with some X Factor inspired wisdom. If you are about to grow and find amazing success in your business:
* i. Make sure you can cope with the meteoric rise. Others may benefit, you may benefit for a while, but make sure you've got the checks in place to prevent you from falling: think Subo, Gareth Gates etc. Don't let your support figures simply be those who will financially benefit from your success, as they'll have mixed agendas. Whether they be coaches, old friends, mentors, family, people you read, speakers you listen to, you need to get yourself plugged in. Deep genuine support; people who not only want you to achieve, but also want to see you whole, healthy and fruitful in all the areas of your life.
* ii. Make sure your rise is either on the back of lots of time developing your craft or skill, or where you've put enough time in your schedule to learn effectively as you go. If you don't develop your skill, understanding or knowledge but sit back and let everyone else do that for you, there will come a time when you are redundant to need. Develop your skill carefully as it's not enough just to do the profile stuff.
* iii. Make sure you're house is in good order. As things grow, cracks show and if everything is covered over with a few positive Facebook status updates it's all going to come tumbling down. Under more strain, there is less emotionally energy to go around and things get missed in the rush. It feels understandably even justifiable because things are so busy. Whether it be your family, your finances, your friends, your 'personal' affairs, get your house in order.
* iv. Make sure you don't take yourself too seriously. There's nothing more painful than watching Simon Cowell talk about One Direction 'making history' because a group could win the show for the first time. Well I also made history today by farting 39 times in the hours between 11am and 12pm today. More than I've ever done between 11 and 12pm on a Monday. Check me out! Don't think that everyone really is as bothered about what you're doing as you are. You'll avoid overstepping your ego level and looking like a chump. Humility is the beautiful ingredient that helps you both keep your feet on the ground, and see that the world evolves around far more than you.
* v. Make sure you keep yourself in check. You are your biggest potential disaster. You are the one that could make everything go wrong, so keep an eye on your ego, the decisions you make, who you surround yourself with. Put time aside for yourself to reflect, to exercise, to be with friends, to relax and wind-down, to love others and give outside of your own focused project.
* vi. Make sure you trust the right people with the money. Often Entrepreneurs are so busy going for that meteoric success that they rely on others to look at the tracking, flow and control of finance. When money is involved, lots can go wrong, and when it does it can be significantly painful. Get someone who is reliable, carries integrity, efficient and competent and you trust.
* vii. Pick the right team mates: your manager, your PR agency, your backing band, your publicist...or your Finance Director, Sales Director, Operations Director and your Managing Director. Where possible develop staff for beyond their current jobs, so that when you go meteoric, they are able to cope with the growth pressures. It's one thing for you to be learning on the job, but if your whole team is then there's going to be a few problems as things go wrong. Pick your team, and make sure they're right for the job.
* viii. Make sure that your infrastructure can cope with the growth. Things go wrong when you are suddenly needing to communicate with greater multiples of people - whether it be your iPhone app reaching your X Factor fan base, or your Customer Relationship Manager system carrying out automated communication to your customer base. Don't try to build it all when you suddenly need it, else you will always be behind and under a lot of strain.
* ix. See when the sell-by date is going to come, and plan ahead for how you will react. Don't wait for things to happen to you, but strategically keep your finger on the pulse of the market and know how to react. Read the signs by gathering the right data, and learning to analyse it.
* X. Get as close to people as you can. Whether it be your fans, or whether it be your customers, make sure that you've got a way to ensure that you can hear the truth about what people feel about you and your service. You might not like being told as Alexandra Burke got told, that you've put a few pounds on your ass, but it's better to have clarity as to what your clients think of you, then leave your companies 'performance' to chance. Find the right balance though. Inane comments from idiots aren't helpful. After all, even The Simon Cowell shared that he stopped reading the comment on the X Factor Blog from people who are just out to hurt him, because they were all so negative and unhelpful.
And, I know that last point, because I read his book... For research. I promise! Caleb Storkey
Caleb Storkey is a passionate communicator who loves to engage, inform and interact with his audience. Caleb speaks honestly and frankly about entrepreneurship, leadership, social media, management, personal development, future trends & technologies, marketing, sales and customer experience, spirituality, psychology and personality profiling. Pulling together images, videos, stories and stimulating questions, Caleb Storkey loves to explore and open up new ideas to people. Visit calebstorkey.net for more information.

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