Why Your Next Hire Should Be An Entertainer

I’ve strongly advocated for startups to hire people of my background. As a point of reference, I started my career in finance in equity research. So a lot of excel spreadsheets, financial modeling and projections. A sudden burst in perspective made me jump into entertainment about 4 years later. I then spent 7 years managing, producing and for a short stint — writing and directing. I achieved mild success but perhaps the most important experiences I gained were the lessons I learned. What I mean by that is, for the most part — 99.9% of us are talentless. I don’t mean that to be derogatory or hurt people’s feelings, but just from a statistical standpoint, 99.9% do not have a god given, natural talent we can make a 7 figure living off of. Singers, athletes, painters, actors — those that have seen financial and commercial success — they are less than 0.01% of the entire population of other so called professionals that bare the same title. Usually what differentiates this infinitesimally small group from the rest is raw talent but obviously a great deal is also hard work (not discounting that).

So what’s my point? Well, entertainers (outside of athletes) work in a world where their performance based compensation is largely subjective. For the most part that goes for any artist or creative individual. You take the risk of creating something and you are only compensated when someone else deems it is worthy of compensation. It is very difficult to measure, that is until you’ve already achieved high levels of success.

That said, the journey to financial and commercial success for any artist is where I feel majority of the lessons are learned. These lessons being:

  1. Working a crappy job (perspective)
  2. Understanding the idea of “lean”
  3. Perfecting the pitch
  4. Tolerance to failure/rejection (and therefore, higher mental toughness)
  5. Going against the grain
  6. Risk taker
  7. Hustle and grind mentality
  8. Naturally type-A, outgoing, extroverted personalities (great salespeople)
  9. Used to not clocking in and out of work
  10. Passionate (and I mean that not in the dreamy version but the willingness to sacrifice life and limb to reach their goal version)

How does this translate? Ask any CEO, Founder or entrepreneur — and most assuredly, a large majority will likely tell you that they are looking for these exact traits in their employees. These traits are the intangibles, something that no fancy degree or job title can teach you. Only life experience. Let me give you a few examples of how this makes for a good employee.

  1. Working a crappy job = Perspective to appreciate a good job with a steady paycheck
  2. Understanding the idea of “lean” = Natural inclination to “hack” or find the most efficient way possible
  3. Perfecting the pitch = Knowing how to sell themselves, the company, the brand, the culture
  4. Tolerance to failure/rejection = Mental toughness and ability to pick themselves up and start again
  5. Going against the grain = Genius is only genius in hindsight. The journey to genius is often seen by the majority as crazy.
  6. Risk taker = To achieve something great, you have to be willing to take risks.
  7. Hustle and grind mentality = Understands the true meaning of working hard
  8. Naturally type-A, outgoing, extroverted personalities = Totally unteachable. This makes for great, natural salespeople.
  9. Used to not clocking in and out of work = Will do what is necessary to get a job done.
  10. Passionate = Willingness to sacrifice life and limb to reach the common goal.

Now — it takes a great leader and manager to direct and guide these traits. And ideally, I would say not to hire someone who pursued entertainment for 1–2 years and then called it quits — I am referring to someone who has spent significant time in the industry and met some mild success. Someone ideally that also has some background that matches the position you are looking to fill. Just next time, when you notice the word “actor” or “writer” on that resume — I would take the time to interview the candidate. Give it a go and I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised. Even better yet, add it as a requirement to your job description.

And if you’re an entertainer, I know this is difficult to swallow — but 99.9% of us are talentless. I’m not discounting your hard work (see above) but in an industry that is largely subjective, at a certain point if you haven’t made it you might have to do some difficult soul searching and realize that you’ve been playing for the wrong team. That wrong team being you.

That doesn’t mean the last few years of your life have all been lost, if you can pull yourself together, redirect that passion there is hope for you yet. There is financial and commercial success and 7 figure incomes to be had. Jobs that will equally challenge your inquisitive and creative inclinations. And you won’t have to bang your head against a wall wondering why you aren’t where you want to be. You’ll have answers. There are measurable outcomes that you can pit yourself against. Explore the startup life, you’ll find that it appeases a lot of the same qualities you were seeking for in entertainment. Just ask Mike Dubin, CEO and Founder of Dollar Shave Club. Which if you haven’t heard by now, just sold for $1 billion. Where else can you find the same highs and lows as entertainment, you masochistic, adrenaline junkie you.