Today I shared some band stories.
I stopped in the office to send off an offer and decided to spend the next few minutes in the office before I had to head out again. It was nice catching up with some of the agents as I hadn’t been in the office much lately. As happens when you put a bunch of agents together, stories started to come up. I thought I’d share one with you that I have found invaluable over the years.
Back in the day (I always wanted to use that phrase), we were touring the world and feeling like nothing could stop us. We were running from country to country and playing to crowds of 10,000 all on our own merits in Germany, the place we had made our adopted home. When we first started in Germany, we were small like anyone else and played in front of two drunk guys at the bar and maybe a few rats in the corner. That’s the way rock ‘n roll works. We paid our dues and rose to the top. In our rise, we met a guy at the German record label who was a big supporter of ours. He championed us when we released our new record and pushed to get the record label behind us. They eventually listened to him. His gut was right and we quickly ascended to rock royalty in Germany. I once even had Udo Lindenberg buy me a drink on my birthday. Sorry, I sometimes like to reminisce. During all of this, our champion at the record label, we’ll call him “King”, was by our side everywhere we went. He took us to dinners, bought us drinks, and made sure we made it to our interviews. I spent hours and hours with this man and we all got to know him and his wife quite well.
When you’re in a band traveling constantly from town to town in a different country everyday meeting different radio, video, record company, promoters, fans, etc. all the time, you tend to forget people’s names and sometimes, even their faces. Several of the guys in the band were masters at remembering, but when you play 14 nights in a row, even they could get hazy and let their memory slip. Of course, the music business is very much like our business. It’s about connecting, meeting, networking, and beer. Okay, maybe the beer part isn’t as much a part of real estate – at least not on the job. And it certainly doesn’t involve smashing guitars. Although, I’m here to tell you, the next time you have a frustrating day going back and forth negotiating with a bank on a short sale, go buy a guitar and get to work. You’ll love it.
The memory game.
I admit, my memory isn’t always the sharpest and it can take me a few moments to recognize someone, remember our last conversation, or know why or how I know them. I chalk that up to rock ‘n roll too. (When in doubt, blame rock ‘n roll – another hint I’d like to pass on to you.) Since I know my memory can be a bit rough around the edges, I’ve found ways to cope with it. This is what I’d like to pass on to you. I’m sure many of you have your own idiosyncrasies that you’ve learned to deal with, but this is the one that has served me well over the years and I hope you can find good use for it to.
Let’s get back to our German friend, King.
Months of touring under our belt and we’re still trucking along. King has risen in the ranks of the record label and now runs the whole thing in large part to his early successes with bands like us. We have a close relationship, but since he’s now a big deal at the label, we don’t see him as much anymore. One night in Berlin, he was scheduled to make an appearance. All of us looked forward to it and we spent hours in our dressing room meeting and greeting the many new faces at the label. The music industry probably has a bigger drop out rate than the real estate industry. We were catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. In walks King and his wife. King is a rather tall man with some very specific features that make him stand out in the first place, but this is a guy we know well. We all head over towards the door to greet him. One by one, the band members say their hellos until we get to our drummer (and no, this is not a “dumb” drummer joke) who says, “Nice to meet you, King!”
We were all slightly embarrassed, but the gaffe slipped by relatively unnoticed. We noticed, King didn’t seem to. In questioning the drummer later that night about it all, we discovered that he really didn’t recognize him at first, so he just assumed we were meeting yet another new member of the Universal Records team. That night, the four of us that had been doing this a little longer than the drummer (he was our second drummer) sat him down and taught him this:
When in doubt, never say anything that indicates whether you do or don’t know the person. Simply ask them how they’re doing. In our band the phrase was always the same, “Hey, how’s it going?” As you talk, the clues will likely come to you to give you the anwser to “who is this.”
It never gave away your position of knowing/not knowing the person and it was a friendly way to greet someone. Typically the next step involved getting them something to drink at which point we could quietly text our tour manager and ask “who is that?” It saved us from a lot of awkward situations and I still use it to this day. Although the words might not work for you – the theory always will.
photo courtesy of Rob Gallop