It’s Not About You And Your Stupid Little Problems

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For fifteen years, I was not allowed to get sick on Saturday. Sunday and Monday were fine; I could be sick then. Tuesday through Friday weren’t ideal, although if push came to shove, I could be sick then too.

But not Saturday. I couldn’t get sick on Saturday. Why?

Because Saturday was showtime.

See, for fifteen years, I was the Executive Producer of a hit comedy TV show in Seattle called Almost Live!, and we taped the show in front of a live studio audience on Saturday. And here’s the thing:

That audience didn’t care if we were sick. They didn’t care if we were going through a divorce. They didn’t care if we had to have our pet put to sleep two hours before showtime. They didn’t care if the caterer failed to show up with dinner for the cast and crew, or if there’d been a fight in the editing room ten minutes before we opened the doors, or if the station had had a bomb threat earlier in the week. (By the way, all of these things actually happened.)

They didn’t even care if last week’s show was good or bad.

All they cared about was this week. This day. This hour. All they cared about was showtime.


Your customers don’t care about your problems. They care about their experience. Share on X

That was my world. But it’s also your world. Because you have an audience too. Maybe you call them customers, or clients, or patients, or members, or stakeholders. The names change, but what they care about remains constant. They care about showtime.

What is showtime? It’s the product, it’s the service, it’s the experience. It’s any point where your business and your audience intersect. And it’s all they care about.

Which brings us to the painful, bitter, uncomfortable truth. Your audience doesn’t care about you. Think about it. When you go to Home Depot for some specialty light bulb, do you care if the person in the orange vest had a fender bender on the way to work that morning? No, you just want your damn light bulb, don’t you? (And yes, I know you’re a good person, and that you care deeply about the welfare of all beings on the planet. But first, you want your damn light bulb.)

This is a lesson that some people—especially some younger workers—don’t seem to get. If you’re one of these people, listen closely: It’s not about you!

Let’s say you decide to take the plunge and shell out $1,200 for a single ticket to see Hamilton. Do you care if the guy playing Aaron Burr “just isn’t that into it” that night? No, you expect him to suck it up and give you a $1,200 performance, right?

Your audience feels the same way. They want—they deserve—your best performance.

Your audience deserves your best performance. Share on X

We all have problems. You have them, I have them. But our problems don’t matter to our audience.

Not when it’s showtime.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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