Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Learning from business mags

While in Sonoma, I was working, but my trip did give me the opportunity to sit down and catch up on some reading. Again, this being Sonoma, the reading was on a patio overlooking a stream while drinking some Jade Mountain Mourvedre (excellent, buy some). I didn’t relax with a book, but rather the latest issue of Harvard Business Review.

Ok, if you didn’t just puke from the sad thought of me taking time to read work related stuff in the middle of one of the anti-work capitols of America, bear with me. I’ve always liked trade journals – give me “Beverage Industry Daily,” “Plastic Form Applicators Today” or “Ship-Hull Repairers Weekly” and I am happy as a dental patient with a rack o’ People or a pedophile with TeenBeat. I just love learning minutiae about obscure industries. My first intro to HBR was through my dad – a management type who reads magazines like “Janes” the industry bible for the defense industry (real headline – “Northrop Grumman makes laser that can melt closet liberals”) as well as management mags like HBR, and I read it like just another trade journal but for those in white collar. Swear to god, I picked this up thinking it was just more industry porn, but it actually had some articles relevant to my life. It was uncanny the way that I could read about something boring like supply chain management (I still don’t know what that is actually, but it’s a real thing that people apparently get paid for) and find something that applied to video distribution, film production or funding creativity. I stole my dad’s copies often enough that he made me get my own subscription. Note that the last sentence has never, ever been written when not referring to Playboy or Sports Illustrated. I may have just developed a new genre of bad nonfiction writing or at least sparked an infringement case.

Anyway, there are at least ten things I can say on a regular basis to crowds of people and get the Socrates look – you know, as if you just said something brilliant – when all I’ve done was change some nouns while quoting some business professor in the HBR talking about marketing soap to Indonesia. I could turn this into a bad consulting business if I had no morals, but I really do learn some things from it, and I want to share them with you. Why? Because I actually think that these concepts have relevance to what we care about – making films and getting them seen and appreciated – and doubt anyone else will take the time to translate these business professors into the English language they so abhor. So here we go, with my next post on (long anticipatory pause….) generative computing. Nope, I didn’t make that term up either.

More soon, but I guess my bottom line point is that filmmakers and other in this industry who want to truly be creative and innovate would do well to read a lot of things outside our particular industry and apply this knowledge to what we do day to day. You probably won’t learn much new from Filmmaker or Variety, but you might learn a lot about working with egos, read actors, from Warren E. Buffett or the writers in the HBR. Believe it or not.

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