What You Should Know Before You Sell Out

Aaron McHugh

I loved Pixar when John Lasseter was directing every film.

I loved Jack Johnson’s music when he was a poor surfer.

The First is often the best

The first version, the first album, the first move, the first season is usually the best.  The quality and soul of version one is often unmatched by the “post success” subsequent versions.

After companies, bands, athletes, writer, entrepreneurs and artist score big they seem to regularly loose their original identity that underpinned their break-out success.

It reminds me of Rocky Balboa from the original 1976 movie. Do you remember when he lived in a cellar, owned two greasy wife beater t-shirts, drank raw eggs in a plastic cup and slept on a cot?  He didn’t have fame, but he had heart.  

Heart drove his training.  

Contrast that image of Rocky to the Lamborghini driving, mega-wealthy, soft champion distracted by what he would be wearing in his next television commercial.

Rocky after he made it big

Count the costs before you cash the check

Before we sell out we should really give some strong consideration to the fact that we might loose The Eye of the Tiger.

A few questions to ponder:

  • Are you ok with that trade?
  • Has the money and the prestige been the goal all along?
  • How much of your present success is because you’ve been the hungry, idealist, dead-set on doing it better than the other guys?
  • How much of your shoe-string budget has forced you to be more innovative?

I have a few friends who are on the verge of this status change.  They have pursued their dream to the point of earning a well-deserved chance to stop punching meat in the freezer.

Will they keep doing version one work even after they make it big?

Real world examples

Were they better before they made it big

  • Bon Iver From a Log Cabin to the Grammy’s
    Can he still infuse his music with the melancholy angst that he found in his secluded Wisconsin cabin?  Now he has Grammy albums, fame, distraction and likely not a lot of solitude.  Now that he records in a fancy studio, how will it sound?
  • M. Night Shyamalan Film Maker“I see dead people”.
    Do you remember his 1999 breakout film The Sixth Sense?  This Indian-American screenwriter’s early work is studied by film students as great works of art.  Today, he is producing mega-blockbusters for Walt Disney Studios.  Which movie would you rather go see?
  • Mossimo Beachwear Designer
In 1986, he started making shorts for beach volleyball and schlepping them up and down the California coast.  As his website states, They gained notoriety for their humble, grassroots start.  Now you can find his clothing line in every Target superstore across America.  Is the original aloha vibe still alive?

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