I got great advice from this tech billionaire.
It’s not a secret that one of the places I look to learn the secrets of theater-making . . . is outside the theater biz.
First, by examining what other industries do, I get a perspective that I don’t have.
Second, a product is a product is a product. And even though our product is an art, we build it, market it, and sell it in the same way as everything else.
Here’s a story that reminded me of that basic truth . . . from the tech space.
In February, Whitney Wolfe Herd became the youngest female billionaire on the planet.
And she did it by breaking into one of the most competitive markets around . . . online dating.
Whitney invented Bumble, the dating app where women get to make the first move.
Now, whenever anyone breaks through ceilings like Whitney, the first thing I do is jump up and down for them and tell as many people as I can. (Purpose of this blog #1.)
Second, I try to learn from them, and how they bust through the barrier. . . and then tell as many people about that so they can learn from it too. (Purpose of this blog #2).
And what I learned from the many articles I read about her success is all in this perfect little quote. When a reporter asked her why she made Bumble, she said . . .
“I’ve truly just always tried to build what I wish existed,”
Whitney didn’t follow some fancy business plan. She didn’t pay attention to algorithms. She didn’t listen to focus groups.
She thought about what would she would like to use, and what her friends would also like to use, and she built it.
And she made a billion dollars.
To put this in theatermakin’ terms? Whitney’s quote is the same as saying . . .
I produce shows I want to see.
I write shows I want to see.
I direct shows I want to see.
I act in shows that I want to see.
The cool thing about following this mission is two-fold:
1. You can’t go wrong. If the show doesn’t work? You got to see it. And you wanted to see it. I hang all the posters of my shows on my office wall, even the ones that didn’t “succeed.” And they ALL make me smile. Because I wanted to see them.
2. You have good instincts. If YOU want to see something. Odds are other people do too. You are your OWN focus group. This is derivative of the Peter Lynch philosophy of investing . . . investing in what you use every day. You are investing your time, creativity, money . . . into something you WANT to use every day. And I’d be if you want to see that show, there are a lot more people where you come from
So take heed to the tech billionaire’s advice when you’re making theater. And I look forward to hearing how you break through your barrier.
And if you want to see more about what other TheaterMakers think about this, click here!
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If you want help breakin’ through, watch one of the masterclasses on everything from producing to writing to directing and more.
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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.