In the June issue of The Disc Jockey News I wrote about some of the awesome entertaining advice imparted by Paul Stanley in his new autobiography “Face The Music.” If you don’t have a subscription to DJN all I can say is, well, how dare you. Every month John Young puts out the most comprehensive publication specifically aimed at the Mobile DJ community, and you don’t get it? What, is it the $20 a year? or the fact that you don’t like to read (even when it’s articles that can help your business)?
So I’ll just assume that everyone who has found this blog online has already read Part One of my recap of Stanley’s book and hopefully benefitted already from some of the entertainment wisdom that Stanley shared (and I so skillfully highlighted). Now, I offer some of the more down to earth advice Stanley also wrote in his book.
Paul Stanley Quote: The time to find out that you don’t want to be in bed with somebody isn’t when your clothes are off.
Stanley was talking about negotiating a contract and getting to know someone before you actually get into business together. I think we can all benefit from this advice, whether it’s a future client, a potential employee or a business relationship. The due diligence process is essential and the ability to walk away from a deal before it’s consummated is essential, not just for good business but for long term peace of mind.
Paul Stanley Quote #1 about luck: To me luck is taking advantage of a situation God puts in front of us.
Paul Stanley Quote #2 about luck:: My dad told me my success was more luck than anything else. In my experience people who dismissed the success of others as luck were people who had failed.
I’ve always agreed with Stanley’s attitude about luck. I’ve been on the receiving end of the lucky message (as in: “you’re so lucky you have such an awesome staff”) and I’ve also seen the detrimental effect of chalking up someone else’s success to the fickle finger of fate (namely that it stops you from taking ownership of your successes and failures). So whenever that word creeps into my vocabulary I usually correct myself. My friend Sean McKee (Big Daddy to most) isn’t lucky that’s he’s got a great upbeat attitude. He forces himself to. My friend Marcello isn’t lucky that he’s in great shape. He works hard at it every day. And I’m not lucky that I have such an awesome staff. I’ve worked my butt off to find, train and keep my DJs. So the next time you see anyone and think, I wish I were that lucky, stop yourself and instead say, I wonder if I could do all the things that person has done to get to where they are.
Paul Stanley Quote: I’m not what I call a passive optimist. I don’t believe everything will work out if I wish for it hard enough. I’m a realistic optimist: I know that as long as I’m realistic about my capabilities, I can make things work out.
This goes along with how I feel about luck. Like Stanley, I consider myself an optimist, but I’m not passive about it either. I believe things will generally work out for the best but only when we work hard at them. And I also believe that knowing your own limits has a lot to do with things working out. When I’ve run marathons, if I went into them wanting to win the race, I’d always be sadly disappointed. I’m not genetically made to run a 2:15 marathon and all the training in the world would never get me there. But when I give myself a challenging but realistic goal (which for me usually means breaking four hours) then I can optimistically hope to achieve it.
Paul Stanley Quote: Stanley tells the story that at some point in 1974 their manager Bill Aucoin told them they were going to need to make a second album. Stanley replied: “But I don’t have any inspiration” to which Aucoin replied: “I’ll show you the bills and you’ll get inspired,”
I think sometimes people are ashamed to admit they do things for the money. I’m not. I work hard but I don’t do it for the love of it or the personal satisfaction. I do it to make money. And I loved how practical Bill Aucoin was. He had never managed a band before KISS and as Stanley explained he was deep in debt financing KISS’ elaborate stage shows early in their career, so you can excuse him for not trying to massage the muse with his young band. He needed a new LP to give to the record company so he could get money for their second album (“Hotter Than Hell”). And in his opinion, paying the bills was motivation enough. And it worked for Stanley and the rest of the band. They found enough inspiration to produce an album that may not have sold well initially but has some tracks that die-hard fans consider gems. We should all do the same at times. Look at our bills and use them as a motivation to create and produce. There’s nothing wrong with it. It doesn’t make us superficial. It makes us practical and able to realize that bills need to be paid and the best way to do that is to earn some money.
Paul Stanley Quote: The secret to a great partnership is knowing its limitations. If you don’t ask of a relationship what it can’t give you, you won’t be disappointed.
Stanley is speaking about Gene Simmons here. They’ve have had a strained relationship through the years but they’ve also maintained it (for 40+ years) which is more than a lot of artists can say. I think Stanley’s advice is smart. It actually reminded me of that great Gin Blossom song “Hey Jealousy” where Robin Wilson sings, “If you don’t expect too much from me you may not be let down.” Having had a business partner years ago, and now having two with my photography company Elite Digital Images, I can say that I wish I knew then what I know now. Partnerships are almost always a difficult thing because no matter how much you decide upon at the outset, people change. Situations change. And having reasonable expectations of the other person can often save you from pulling your hair out in frustration. And as Stanley explains, and as I learned with my first go-around with partnerships, “reasonable expectations means not imposing your own priorities on your partner but understanding where they are coming from and what is going on in their life at the time.” Stanley held KISS together while Gene Simmons attempted to make it in movies. And when Simmons was ready to return, KISS was there along with his partner. If you have a partner, that’s the kind of relationship you want to have and one that will help the long term success of your company.
Paul Stanley Quote: Being inept, unreliable and marginally capable didn’t make you rock and roll. It made you inept, unreliable and marginally capable.
God I loved that line! Stanley was talking about the frustration of dealing with Peter Criss and Ace Frehley who had decided to live the rock-n-roll lifestyle 100% – complete with excessive drinking and drug use. Of course lateness came along with that, plus a diminished ability of playing. Stanley continues his point by adding, “it’s one thing to put up with somebody who’s a virtuoso and a prick. It’s quite another to put up with somebody who can barely play his instrument and is a prick.” I’ve said for years that we (as DJ business owners) should treat each of our staff differently. We’ll tolerate stuff from one of our superstars that we’d never put up with from a newbie. But what goes along with that is the superstar better maintain his superstar talent. Because once that begins to diminish, they become very dispensable.
As you can see I not only enjoyed Paul Stanley’s book but I got a lot out of it. I highly recommend it!