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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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Opinion Editorials

3 things to do if you *really* want to be an ally to women in tech

(EDITORIAL) Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce.

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More and more women are leaving their positions with tech companies, citing lack of opportunity for advancement, wage gaps and even hostile working conditions as some of the reasons why.

What’s better for the tech industry and its employees than cultivating inclusive and diverse departments? Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce. To name a few:

1. Be open to listening to different perspectives.

It can be awkward to hear so many reports of workplace politics stacking against women, especially if you’re not a woman!

Instead of getting uncomfortable or defensive – ask open ended questions and be interested in a perspective that isn’t yours and may be unfamiliar.

Don’t seek to rationalize or explain the experiences you’re hearing about, as that can come off as condescending. It’s common for women to be interrupted or spoken over in team gatherings. If you notice this happening, bring the conversation back to where the interruption began. Offering your ear and counting yourself as responsible for making space will improve the overall quality of communication in your company.

Listening to and validating what women have to say about the quality of their employment with a company is an important step in the right direction.

Expressing something as simple as “I was interested in what you had to say – could you elaborate on your thought?” can help.

2. Develop an Employee Resource Group (ERG) program.

An ERG is a volunteer-based, employee-led group that acts as a resource for a particular group of employees. An ERG can help to foster inclusiveness through discussion, team-building activities and events. It’s common for a department to have only one or two women on the roster.

This can mean that the day to day feels disconnected from concerns commonly shared by women. disjointed it might feel to be on a high performing team, without access to relatable conversations.

3. Be responsible for your company’s culture.

Chances are, your company already has some amazing cultural values in place. That said, how often are you checking your own performance and your co-workers performances against those high standards? Strong company culture and values sound great, but whether or not they’re adhered to can make or break the mood of a work environment.

Many women say they’ve experienced extremely damaging and toxic cultural environments, which lead to hostility, frustration, and even harassment. Take action when you see the new woman uncomfortable with being hit on at team drinks.

Call out those who make unfriendly and uncouth comments about how women perform, look, or behave.

Setting a personal threshold for these kinds of microaggressions can help you lead by example, and will help build a trustworthy allyship.

(This article was first published here in November, 2016.)

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Opinion Editorials

Serial procrastinator? Your issue isn’t time management

(EDITORIAL) Need a hack for your time management? Try focusing on your energy management.

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Your author has a confession to make; as a “type B” personality who has always struggled with procrastination, I am endlessly fascinated by the topic of productivity and “hacking your time.”

I’ve tried most of the tricks you’ve read about, with varying degrees of success.

Recently, publishers like BBC have begun to approach productivity from a different perspective; rather than packing days full of to-do items as a way to maximize time, the key is to maximize your mental energy through a different brand of time management.

So, why doesn’t time management work?

For starters, not all work time is quality time by nature. According to a study published at ScienceDirect, your average worker is interrupted 87 times a day on the job. For an 8-hour day, that’s almost 11 times per hour. No wonder it’s so hard to stay focused!

Second, time management implies a need to fill time in order to maximize it.

It’s the difference between “being busy” and “being productive.”

It also doesn’t impress your boss; a Boston University study concluded that “managers could not tell the difference between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to.” By contrast, managing your energy lets you maximize your time based on how it fits with your mental state.

Now, how do you manage your energy?

First, understand and protect the time that should actually go into deep, focused work. Studies continually show that just a few hours of focused worked yield the greatest results; try to put in longer hours behind that, and you’ll see diminishing returns. There’s a couple ways you can accomplish this.

You can block off time in your day dedicated to focused work, and guard the time as if it were a meeting. You could also physically retreat to a private space in order to work on a task.

Building in flexibility is another key to managing your energy. The BBC article references a 1980s study that divided students into two groups; one group planned out monthly goals, while the other group planned out daily goals and activities. The study found the monthly planners accomplished more of their goals, because the students focusing on detailed daily plans often found them foiled by the unexpected.

Moral of the story?

Don’t lock in your schedule too tightly; leave space for the unexpected.

Finally, you should consider making time for rest, a fact reiterated often by the BBC article. You’ve probably heard the advice before that taking 17 minute breaks for every 52 minutes worked is important, and studies continue to show that it is. However, rest also includes taking the time to turn your brain off of work mode entirely.

The BBC article quotes associated professor of psychiatry Srini Pillay as saying that, “[people] need to use both the focus ad unfocus circuits in the brain,” in order to be fully productive. High achievers like Serena Williams, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates build this into their mentality and their practice.

Embracing rest and unfocused thinking may be key to “embracing the slumps,” as the BBC article puts it.

In conclusion, by leaving some flexibility in your schedule and listening to your body and mind, you can better tailor your day to your mental state and match your brainpower to the appropriate task. As someone who is tempted to keep a busy to-do list myself, I am excited to reevaluate and improve my own approach. Maybe you should revisit your own systems as well.

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Opinion Editorials

How the Bullet Journal method has been hijacked and twisted

(EDITORIAL) I’m a big fan of the Bullet Journal method, but sticker-loving tweens have hijacked the movement. Worry not, I’m still using black and white bullet points with work tasks (not “pet cat,” or “smile more”).

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It’s taken me some time to come around to the Bullet Journal method, because it took me some time to fully understand it (I have a tendency to overthink simplicity). Now that I understand the use, I find it very beneficial for my life and my appreciation for pen-to-paper.

In short, it’s a quick and simple system for organization tasks and staying focused with everything you have going on. All you need to employ this method is a journal with graph or dotted paper, and a pen. Easy.

However, there seems to be this odd truth that: we find ways to simplify complicated things, and we find ways to complicate simple things. The latter is exactly what’s happened with the Bullet Journal method, thanks to creative people who show the rest of us up.

To understand what I’m talking about, open up Instagram (or Pinterest, or even Google) and just search “bullet journal.” You’ll soon find post after post of frilly, sticker-filled, calligraphy-laden journal pages.

The simple method of writing down bullets of tasks has been hijacked to become a competitive art form.

Don’t get me wrong, I like looking at this stuff because I dig the creativity. But, do I have time to do that myself? No! For honesty’s sake, I’ve tried just for fun and it takes too much damn time.

With this is mind, this new-found method of Bullet Journaling as an art is something that: a) defeats the purpose of accomplishing tasks quickly as you’re setting yourself back with the nifty art, and b) entrepreneurs, freelancers, executives, or anyone busy would not have time for.

Most of these people posting artistic Bullet Journal pages on Instagram are younger and have more time on their hands (and if you want to spend your time doing that, do you, man).

But, it goes against the simplistic method of Bullet Journaling. The intent of the method.

And, beneath the washi tape, stickers, and different colored pens, usually lies a list of: put away laundry, feed cat, post on Insta. So, this is being done more for the sake of art than for employing the method.

Again, I’m all for art and for people following their passions and creativities, but it stands to reason that this should be something separate from the concept of Bullet Journaling, as it has become a caricature of the original method.

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