Be undeniably good.
When people ask me how do you make it in show business or whatever, what I always tell them and nobody ever takes note of it ‘cuz it’s not the answer they wanted to hear — what they want to hear is here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script, here’s how you do this — but I always say:
Be so good they can’t ignore you.
Those words aren’t mine, they belong to a much smarter man than me. His name is Steve Martin (the full interview is here if you want to check it out.
If all you know of him is his comedy work then you should sample the rest of what he has on offer: insightful books, intelligent literary and film criticism… the guy is a genius – hell he even released his own banjo album (don’t worry – this isn’t a preamble to a banjo video, but if you want to check out his mad strummin’ skillz then here).
Mr. Martin is dead right. With every industry (and not just those populated by creative types) there is always a placebo pool of things that makes you feel like you’ve achieved something when you haven’t done anything at all. Eddie Vedder hit a nerve in ’96 when he brought that to everyone’s attention at the Grammy’s:
Let’s face it – doing anything truly great is hard – so hard that people have invented a whole host of half measures (like money, awards, groupies) to create the illusion that someone has created something truly amazing when all they’ve done is filled the a small niche in the current cultural market and advertised the hell out of it (for more examples see the complete discography of Nickelback).
So how do you know if you’ve ever created something excellent?
It’s so good you can’t ignore it.
Don’t take it from me. I can’t speak to that – I have yet to create anything that I’d truly call great – take it from a musician who operates without a studio, instruments, band, turntables or microphone – and who also operates without excuses.
All he’s got is two pens: