I first moved into the business community after twenty years in the performing
arts, I wondered in what world I had landed.
like ROI, RFP, S&P, P&L and concepts such as prospecting, quotas, business
models, and Q1-4 were all foreign to me.
had lived in a world of imagery and emotion, intention and dilemma, set up and
punch, character and conflict, suspense and surprise, lighting and sets, rhythm
and tone, first moments and finales.
well, of course, the performing arts world included my focus on auditions,
contracts, box office sales, insurance, pension plans, SAG & AEA rates,
agent commissions, etc. -- but this is the only realm in which I thought the
business and the arts overlapped: the fiscal domain.
cocktail parties and gatherings, I avoided brokers and business types. Most of
the time, people from these worlds treated me as if I belonged to a slightly
different species, as if I were some kind of curious tropical bird.
a cocktail in one hand, a sales associate would call across the room.
"Joe, come over here. This is Virginia...I mean Veronica. Uh,
Victoria. She's an actress." Questions
such as, "Have you been in anything I'd recognize?" or "How do
you memorize all those lines?" were the norm. I'd often hear about their
niece, daughter or cousin who wanted to move to New York City to act.
conversation would jolt and sputter along and eventually, I'd excuse myself for
a drink. From the level of their questions, I could see that they really
had no idea what went into acting, film, and the performing arts. Learning
lines? That's the least of it. But
then again, in my eyes, their world was limited to quotas and graphs, profits
and losses, excel spread sheets and stock market indexes.
time working more deeply within the corporate world, however, I began to see
that my perspective of their world had in fact been as limited as theirs of
doubt, people outside the performing arts had only a cursory knowledge of the
intricacies of the craft and the depths of the psychology and emotion
I, as well, had barely been aware of the complex subtle human psychological
chess game of a high stakes sales call.
I started to spend more time in the business realm, I started to recognize
similarities between the performing arts and business, not simply in the domain
of finance, but more significantly, and more interestingly, in the domain of
the creative, subtle, performance elements. And I began to see that performing
arts principles, which I'd studied and practiced for 20 years, held great
potential for addressing challenges and uncovering solutions in this seemingly
truth, the performing arts are a perfect resource for teaching and transferring
communication skills, because theater and comedy at their most basic are about
the human condition, human interaction and human connection--what motivates
people, what makes people act, react, retreat, move forward, harness their
courage, lie down in submission, or stumble forth with fear--vulnerable,
uncertain, and with heart in hand.
performing arts are about human beings and their struggles, predicaments,
dilemmas and triumphs. In essence, the performing arts are about humanity. And
the tools and techniques that help artists advance in their craft are those
that help business people and entrepreneurs when they are practicing their
business at its highest.
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