A while back, I’d seen an interview with @Jack, which had a moment that specifically stuck with me:
About 10+ years ago, my weekends – and life in general – consisted of going to shows, mostly local bands, but sometimes some of those little local bands got pretty big.
While I was a little late for the true “Punk scene” itself, these bands usually fell into either Ska or Post-Hardcore (“The Scene”), both of which draw their roots from the greats that came before in the Punk scene. Basically we had a ton of individuals trying to make some awesome music and sometimes they did… and sometimes they didn’t. The greatest part about this was that I could be describing the same band from a few months ago at their awful set, who now are suddenly completely jamming.
The appeal with this sort of music isn’t so much the technical expertise – though there are definitely some people who can shred/have insane vocals – but the passion itself that’s put into everything and is shared by both the musicians and the crowd itself.
No one expects these shows to be something amazing, but we do know that everyone on stage and in the crowd is going to give it their all in this group effort. Even moreso, the band on stage isn’t giving a shit about how well the band before them did in their set; they’re worried about putting on a better show than they did last week.
To be completely fair, a lot of the Punk scene itself would probably tell me to “go fuck myself” for at all pulling any relations between running a business and being Punk. And they’re really not wrong.
That said, while it might not match with the spirit itself of Punk, there’s definitely some wisdom to be learned.
Punk emerged during a time that had huge bands putting on these massive concerts, with insanely expensive and choreographed productions accompanying the music that the artists were playing. Instead of dealing with that, artists in the Punk scene pushed towards being real. Hop on stage with your guitar, a mic, and someone on drums/bass… and jam. Don’t worry about sucking, you’re having fun + putting yourself out there and if you fuck up, you’ll be better next week. Just have a good time and do what you’re trying to be good at.
A lot of companies/leadership in companies have an insanely difficult time with truly failing when trying something unfamiliar. There’s the stereotypical mantra of “fail fast, fail hard,” in the industry; however, realistically no one really wants to mess up a new product release, advertising effort, or change to internal policy. It’s just not a fun thing to experience.
… But it should be. Anytime that we decide to change something up, challenge the status quo of what everyone else – be it competitors in our market or somewhere else – is doing, we should take pride in the fact that while we might have missed the chord we meant to play here or there, or got out of tempo, that we still played our hearts out and will show up with some more kickass music next week. As long as the crowd (users/clients) is still there, we can all have a great show together and come back next week/quarter with something better.
I can guarantee you that almost every single huge band in the scene has started in someone’s garage/basement, played a few shows to a handful of people, had some shows where they completely missed the mark, and also have had shows where they’ve completely killed it.
The difference between the bands that kicked ass and those who didn’t, was that those who succeeded were the ones that kept jamming. They didn’t need huge fireworks or massive production value concerts. They needed an enthusiastic crowd, passion for music, and the will to give it everything they had when they hopped on stage.
The same goes for business/product launches/technical developments. If you’ve got a base, put something out that matches with their interest/goals and go from there. v1.0 is probably going to suck. That’s OK, just come out next week/quarter/etc with a new release and make it a bit better, then repeat. As long as you’re identifying with what your users want, a bad week isn’t going to shut the party down.
Don’t worry about”other bands.”
Everyone in the same market is trying to make the best thing that exists for the specific problem they’re trying to solve. That’s great, since there’s obviously a problem that needs to be solved.
If bands in the Punk scene got caught up in who was better overall, we’d have missed out on a ton of awesome music. Everyone has their own personal favorite, but as long as it matches the genre, most people are still going to like it.
The real focus should be on reading the crowd (your users) and making sure that you’ve improved from your last set (release). If you’ve got a crowd, they’re down to jam and realize that everything isn’t going to be perfect as you’re still learning how to make things better, just make sure you’re still keeping the same passion for your product and improving where you can.
No one wants to see a show where the band on stage doesn’t give a shit. Play your heart out and just keep improving.
Don’t fret over another band (company) having something better than you this time around. You’re all trying to solve the same problem, so if you’re passionate about doing so, you’ll keep at it and make something awesome.
In conclusion, embrace the Punk lifestyle. Play your heart out, don’t give a shit about the competition, and constantly improve – even if you suck at first – with the product that you’re putting out.
As long as you’re still putting out music, no one gives a shit if it’s not completely polished. Keep learning, adapting, and growing into something better: just don’t stop playing.