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Fyre Festival 2017 was a bust so organizers have decided to double down

(EDITORIAL) Fyre Festival was one of the most epic fails of 2017 and yet organizers are already gearing up for Fyre Festival 2018. Wait, what?!

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Not so common-sense

Let your word be your bond. Underpromise and overdeliver.

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Don’t be a party to fraud and be the cause of an emergency airlift.

Some learn the hard way

Some lessons in business were ingrained in us since we were little, and seem fairly obvious, even to the point of being trite. However, for the founders of the Fyre Festival, perhaps the reality check hasn’t quite sunk in: quit while you’re behind.

We’re all familiar by now with the abject failure that the inaugural Fyre Festival turned out to be; an elite concert and festival experience heavily promoted in Instagram (in posts that weren’t clearly labelled as sponsored) by Ja Rule, with tickets ranging from $1,500 to $250,000 each, for what was described as “an immersive music festival” on a “remote and private island.”

Festival-goers would be immersed in “the best in food, art, music, and adventure,” while sleeping in eco-friendly geodesic domes or even villas!

The first images that came from the Fyre Festival via Twitter were so starkly at odds with what was promised that they seemed more parody than reality.

Firestorm that was Fyre Festival

But real they were: for some flights were abruptly cancelled, leaving them stranded with no way to get to the island.

Those were the lucky ones.

For those who did make it, luggage was lost, the geodesic domes were survival tents, and the world class food was scarce and limited to cheese sandwiches. Reports of festivalgoers being locked in rooms, with attendant gunfire outside forced the Bahamian government to step in, and, with the aid of the United States Embassy, launch rescue efforts.

At least the promised musical acts were there to try to give the people some semblance of a good time, right? Nope. They were all no shows, with Blink-182 going so far as to issue a statement on the eve of the festival, saying that “[r]egrettably, and after much careful and difficult consideration, we want to let you know that we won’t be performing at Fyre Fest in the Bahamas this weekend and next weekend. We’re not confident that we would have what we need to give you the quality of performances we always give fans.”

Even Ja Rule, the 90’s rapper, who was a co-creator of the festival, was nowhere to be seen.

Help me, Ja. With backlash quickly mounting via social media, and the threat of lawsuits imminent, Ja Rule issued a statement to Rolling Stone, telling the magazine that refunds were going to be issued and that the festival “was not a scam.”

“We are working right now on getting everyone off the island safely; that is my immediate concern,” Ja Rule said, “I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT … but I’m taking responsibility I’m deeply sorry to everyone who was inconvenienced by this.”

From the ground up

The problem, at least according to Fyre, was that despite their best efforts, planning and executing the logistics involved in creating a luxury experience in a remote setting was hard!

“Due to circumstances out of our control, the physical infrastructure was not in place on time and we are unable to fulfill on that vision safely and enjoyably for our guests,” Fyre initially posted on their website.

Since everyone has now gotten home safely, they have expanded on what those limitations to physical infrastructure were:

“As amazing as the islands are, the infrastructure for a festival of this magnitude needed to be built from the ground up,” Fyre wrote.

“So we decided to literally attempt to build a city. We set up water and waste management, brought an ambulance from New York, and chartered 737 planes to shuttle our guests via 12 flights a day from Miami. We thought we were ready, but then everyone arrived.”

“We thought we were ready, but then everyone arrived.”

It’s an old maxim that no good tactical plan survives the first seconds of combat without the need for being adapted, but this is a failure of even more epic proportions. It would be a great thing, dear reader, if we could spend the next few paragraphs discussing the need for not only tabletop planning down to the most miniscule details over and over, but also the need to be able to admit that you don’t know what you don’t know, and the need to align yourself with experts in those fields, even when they are giving you advice that you’d rather not hear.

But we can’t. We can’t for the simple reason that the failure of Fyre doesn’t stop there, but extends itself to their plans to make large charitable donations to the Bahamian Red Cross and—steady yourself now—start planning for Fyre Festival 2018.

Fyre 2018

“Venues, bands, and people started contacting us and said they’d do anything to make this festival a reality and how they wanted to help,” they posted on their website. “The support from the musical community has been overwhelming and we couldn’t be more humbled or inspired by this experience…People were rooting for us after the worst day we’ve ever had as a company. After speaking with our potential partners, we have decided to add more seasoned event experts to the 2018 Fyre Festival, which will take place at a United States beach venue.”

While there is a certain nobility rooted in failure, epic in scale though it may be, there is none in callously failing to plan, and then your failure to plan being the cause of emergency preparations needing to be taken.

Sometimes you have to know your limitations, and sometimes those limitations mean that you’re just not capable of doing what you set out to do.

There are all sorts of practical reasons why they feel the need to continue Fyre; well, at least hold a festival, anyway, beyond the visionary. With full refunds slated to go out, and a sizeable contribution going to charity, funds have to be raised to settle the lawsuits that have already been filed, with more surely to follow. Stopping now eliminates any hope of ever turning a profit, but that logic steadfastly fails.

We tried, we failed

While we’re hoping that they are going to benefit from the event experts that ostensibly know what the hell they’re doing, and have a greater pre-existing infrastructure in place by holding it in the continental United States, sometimes you have to be honest with yourself and your customer that you’re simply not capable of getting the job done.

As Ja Rule himself put it in “Strange Days”: “No me, no you, no us/ We tried, we failed…”

#Fyre

Roger is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds two Master's degrees, one in Education Leadership and another in Leadership Studies. In his spare time away from researching leadership retention and communication styles, he loves to watch baseball, especially the Red Sox!

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Business Finance

How to survive a recession in the modern economy

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Advice about surviving a recession is common these days, but its intended audience can leave a large gap in application.

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There’s no question of whether or not we’re in a recession right now, and while some may debate the severity of this recession in comparison to the last major one, there are undoubtedly some parallels–something Next Avenue’s Elizabeth White highlights in her advice on planning for the next few months (or years).

Among White’s musings are actionable strategies that involve forecasting for future layoffs, anticipating age discrimination, and swallowing one’s ego in regards to labor worth and government benefits like unemployment.

White isn’t wrong. It’s exceptionally important to plan for the future as much as possible–even when that plan undergoes major paradigm shifts a few times a week, at best–and if you can reduce your spending at all, that’s a pretty major part of your planning that doesn’t necessarily have to be subjected to those weekly changes.

However, White also approaches the issue of a recession from an angle that assumes a few things about the audience–that they’re middle-aged, relatively established in their occupation, and about to be unemployed for years at a time. These are, of course, completely reasonable assumptions to make…but they don’t apply to a pretty large subset of the current workforce.

We’d like to look at a different angle, one from which everything is a gig, unemployment benefits aren’t guaranteed, and long-term savings are a laughable concept at best.

White’s advice vis-a-vis spending is spot-on–cancelling literally everything you can to avoid recurring charges, pausing all non-essential memberships (yes, that includes Netflix), and downgrading your phone plan–it’s something that transcends generational boundaries.

In fact, it’s even more important for this generation than White’s because of how frail our savings accounts really are. This means that some of White’s advice–i.e., plan for being unemployed for years–isn’t really feasible for a lot of us.

It means that taking literally any job, benefit, handout, or circumstantial support that we can find is mandatory, regardless of setbacks. It means that White’s point of “getting off the throne” isn’t extreme enough–the throne needs to be abolished entirely, and survival mode needs to be implemented immediately.

We’re not a generation that’s flying all over the place for work, investing in real estate because it’s there, and taking an appropriate amount of paid time off because we can; we’re a generation of scrappy, gig economy-based, paycheck-to-paycheck-living, student debt-encumbered individuals who were, are, and will continue to be woefully unprepared for the parameters of a post-COVID world.

If you’re preparing to be unemployed, you’re recently unemployed, or you even think you might undergo unemployment at some point in your life, start scrapping your expenses and adopt as many healthy habits as possible. Anything goes.

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Opinion Editorials

How strong leaders use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) We’re months into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are still fumbling through it, while others are quietly safeguarding their company’s future.

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Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how a strong leader can see their teams, their companies, their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always, but is amplified when a crisis like COVID-19 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve our teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything is disrupted and people are now adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when we game plan, we strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob or an un-alphabetized bookshelf.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, decluttering can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those three things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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