Like most, I was shocked and saddened by Prince’s death last week. Being obsessed with my business at any given time (as most self employed peeps tend to be), I immediately started thinking about his life insofar as how I could learn from it as a businessperson. It wasn’t a stretch, at all. He was a hardworking, honest, brilliant man and he had great business practices, too.
- He protected his best interests. Prince changed his name to a symbol in order to get out of what he thought were overbearing contracts with his record company. He also always fought for pure artistic control. While it’s good to meet clients in the middle with their fair requests, it’s also important to make sure to protect your interests as a business if an unfair request is made. If your gut is telling you something is amiss, listen closely, and act wisely.
- He supported and mentored others – especially women. Think of other artists, male or female, and what other artists they have helped succeed. I can’t think of any that match Prince. From Sheena Easton to Sheila E to Wendy and Lisa, he has brought talented female artists to the forefront of pop, sharing his stage generously. I have so many outstanding relationships with fellow planners; it’s a wonderful community. I hear from time to time there may be a propensity for cliquishness, though I have never experienced this. For me, sharing information and resources is great business and more importantly, reflects a passion for supporting our community, particularly the women working hard to be self reliant and successful. And if this means grooming a contractor who works for you and then one day she/he starts their own business,that’s okay. I actually love working for, and with, my past employees! It’s fun, and we rely on each other to talk us through crazy days, share tips and crucial info, and overall it boosts the economy, and our industry, in both big and small ways.
- He innovated. In a recent interview, quoted here, Questlove said, “Prince is probably the only artist who got to live the dream of constant innovation.” He was constantly playing with new ways of developing music. As event planners, we have to constantly watch for the next trend, next idea, next way to engage attendees with social media, etc. We teach our clients Pinterest, get a business Dropbox account for sharing large files, and stay engaged on Instagram and track the ever changing algorithms of Facebook and Google. I’m always on the hunt for new educational seminars, webinars, and articles to help me see what’s on the horizon, and chatting with fellow planners is a great way to do this as well.
- He was multidisciplinary. He once said, The key to longevity is to learn every aspect of music that you can. Prince played a bazillion instruments, and brilliantly. As planners, we need to have a wide range of knowledge. I’ve taken classes with florists (with Flower Duet and Flour LA) to learn more about decor and florals; taken seminars on lighting; and floor managed for caterers, to give an example of my attempts to better educate myself so I can best learn to advocate for the best options for my clients – and to educate them, as well.
I have a lot more work to do – it’ll never end, really – to constantly hone and refine my expertise as a planner, even though I’ve already come a long way; but thinking of all he accomplished is one way to encourage me to keep striving. It’s a testament to who he was as an artist that he has that power – to inspire us!