Meet People Where They Are
Ryan Holiday once told me, “You gotta meet people where they are.” In a perfect world, he said, he would just write books. Writing books is the thing he loves to do, and reading books is the way he loves to learn and consume information. But some people don’t have time to read books. Some people prefer to learn through audio. Some love to consume information through video. And some get their information on social media. This is why Ryan has a podcast, a YouTube channel, and so on: to meet people where they are. And this is the theme of this SIX at 6…
The Wrong Place For This Kind of Work
Walt Disney’s first studio went bankrupt. In 1921, he founded Laugh-O-Gram Films. “The financial situation was never less than dire,” one biographer writes. And in 1923, Laugh-O-Gram Films declared bankruptcy. For the rest of his life, Walt would say it was a critical turning point because it was the impetus to get out of Kansas City. Even before Laugh-O-Gram, Walt had been trying and failing to make it as an artist in Kansas City for almost a decade. Laugh-O-Gram’s demise would finally force Walt to admit: “We were in the wrong area. Kansas City wasn’t the place for this kind of work.” So after filing for bankruptcy, Walt went door to door in one of Kansas City’s nicest neighborhoods, meeting parents who might want short films of their kids. And in two weeks, Walt earned enough money to afford a one-way train ticket to the place for Walt’s kind of work, Hollywood.
You Gotta Go Where It Is
Disney moved to Hollywood. Bob Dylan moved to Greenwich Village. Dave Chappelle moved to New York City. Schwarzenegger moved to Venice Beach. Taylor Swift moved to Nashville. The songwriter and record producer Ryan Tedder tells the story of a time he was speaking to a group of aspiring songwriters. After his talk, one audience member told him that she had been trying and failing for years to break into the music business. As Tedder tells it, “I said, ‘Where do you live?’ She said, ‘Holland.’ I said, ‘That’s why.’ She said, ‘What?’ We were in LA—I said, ‘Move here. Move to London. Or move to New York…You gotta go to where it is.'”
The Value In The Tape Recorder
In 1949, Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation (which would change its name to “Sony” in 1968) released Japan’s first tape recorder. Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita started the company in 1946, and like Laugh-O-Gram Films, their financial situation had never been less than dire. But, Morita writes in Made in Japan, “When our machine was ready for sale, we were confident that once customers saw it and heard it we would be swamped with orders.” Orders did not flood in. “The tape recorder was so new to Japan that almost no one knew what a tape recorder was,” Morita writes. “We could not sell it.” Struggling to figure out how to sell the tape recorder, Morita went for a walk around Tokyo. On the walk, he stopped in front of an antique shop. There, he couldn’t help but think that his tape recorder had more practical value than just about everything in the antique store. Nonetheless, the antique shop was full of customers. Why? Because, Morita realized, “[antiques] have perceived value to [the] collector of antiques…At that moment, I knew that to sell our recorder we would have to identify the people and institutions that would be likely to recognize value in our product.” Soon after this realization, Morita learned that there was a shortage of stenographers (people who transcribe testimony in courts) across Japan. So he went and demonstrated his machine for the Japan Supreme Court and sold twenty machines right there on the spot. “Those people had no difficulty realizing how they could put our device to practical use,” Morita writes. “They saw the value in the tape recorder immediately.”
Take It To The People
In 2018, Paul and Mike Rabil launched the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL). At the time, according to MRI-Simmons, there were 15 million casual lacrosse fans in the U.S. As a point of reference, 11.7 million people currently follow the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. “To optimize exposure and introduce the game’s top stars to new markets and cities from coast to coast,” Paul explains, the Rabil brothers launched the PLL as a touring league. To quite literally meet people where they are—every weekend of the season, the eight PLL teams descend on a different city (Albany NY, Charlotte NC, Louisville KY, Denver CO, and Seattle WA, to list a few) and play four games—two on Saturday and two on Sunday. The 2023 season started yesterday and at halftime of the first game, Paul said that MRI-Simmons now has that number of casual lacrosse fans in the U.S. at 45 million.
If It Don’t Find You, You Have To Find It
Jay-Z once flew across the country to visit the record producer Timbaland. “My feeling is,” he said, “whenever inspiration don’t find you, you have to find it.” And Timbaland, Jay-Z said, is one of those people who is “just permanently inspired.” What emerged from the visit was Jay-Z’s multi-platinum single, “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.” If it don’t find you, you have to find it. You gotta go where it is. You gotta find those people who will see the value. You gotta meet people where they are.