Why I stopped reading a book today.

Broadway BooksIf you’re like me, and since you’re reading this blog, I’m going to assume you are . . . you’re a “finisher.”  You like to complete things.  You like to cross things off your list.  You like to get things done.

And one thing you don’t like to do is quit.  You started something, so G-d Dammit, you’re gonna finish it.

I’ve always been that way in every aspect of my life, including the little things, like watching a movie . . . or reading a book.  I just have to finish it.  You know what I’m talking about right?  You picked up that book, you decided to read it, you invested money in it (even if you bought it on half.com) and if you started it, then you’ve got time invested too!  How can you stop when you’ve started???

Just the other day I found myself 100 pages into my most recent book (I read mostly non-fiction stuff . . . a lot of books on marketing (here’s a good new one, btw) and business case studies from other industries that I think Broadway can learn from.).  And I suddenly realized I couldn’t even remember the last 30 pages.  This book wasn’t teaching me anything new.  It wasn’t entertaining me.  It was just taking up my time, and preventing me from getting to the bottomless electronic stack of other books I have waiting patiently for me on my Kindle.

Despite all that, every instinct in my Type A, slightly OCD in the best/worst entrepreneur kind of way, told me finish that effin’ book!  “Maybe it’ll get better, Ken!  You’re already in this far!  You can’t leave anything undone!”

But then, something happened.

I realized that I had already spent a few hours on this sucker so far . . . and it was going to take me a few more hours to finish it (maybe even longer, since it was Lincoln-like boring).  And I thought, in the same few hours, I could pick up download a new book, and it might teach me something new that could improve my business, my shows . . . my life . . . that much sooner!  This one wasn’t going to do it.  It was only delaying me from getting where I wanted to go.  It was holding me back . . . which is the opposite of what an entrepreneur wants, right?  My own instincts that make me a good entrepreneur were also preventing me from going forward.

It’s essential from time to time to put a book down and move on to the next.  Same is true in the stock market.  When you’ve got a loser, sell it, take what’s left, and buy something else.  Real estate?  Yep.  Anything you invest time and money in, like, oh, I don’t know . . . developing shows?

A Producer’s time is limited.  There are only so many shows you can have on your plate.  And when you’ve got a project that isn’t entertaining you, that you aren’t learning from, and that you don’t believe in as much as you did when you started, then you have to put it down, just like I did with my book.  (By the way, same is true for Writers, Directors, Actors, you name it.)

You can always pick it back up later if you’re inspired, but for now, if something isn’t working, put . . . it . . . down.

It’s hard, I  know.  Your time, your money, your emotion is in that sucker.  You chose it!  You don’t want to be wrong.  You want to believe!

But there’s something more rewarding out there for you.  And you owe it to yourself and to your career to have the time to find it.


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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.