So X Factor is starting again today! I’m not a fan, my wife is and by the end of the series she’s normally tamed me to sit down in front of the telly to join her. I don’t like it because I feel that a lot of the acts are used, not cared for and moved around like pawns. But I’m not going to be a bah humbug, as Simon Cowell has achieved a lot of success through it, and rightly and wrongly we’re left listening to a lot of acts that have once performed on the X Factor stage. So instead, I want to ask what can we learn from the X Factor.
Where do these acts learn to develop their craft, and inner confidence without the years and years of performing on the ‘toilet circuit?’ Is Elton John right in his assessment that the artist is being automatically sold a really short shelf life by not having the space to learn the live craft? “Why aren’t they going on tour? What’s happening? They can’t survive, I know, by just making records.”
What happens to the acts five years from now after the X Factor machine swallows them in and spits them out to make room for the next wave of X Factor finalists?
Or as one of my friends Hannah McGuigan put on Facebook a while back- X Factor: Bad Telly, Bad Music and criminal for dominating the music industry with un-original, mindless, sob-story induced media hyped rubbish…. Discuss?
I’m not sure where I sit with the X Factor. Part of me detests it for all the obvious reasons. A few years ago I would have been a zealot against it. The manipulation, the ripping people off, the way the artists were used, and the painfully dull, sickly music. Then I got married. And lots of things happen. In some areas of your life you change for the good, as your partner talks to you straight and helps you see the error of your ways. And in other areas of your life, you watch the X Factor on a Saturday night.
Therefore I have come up with X (ten) points to consider with links back to X Factor. Out of nowhere these poor innocent souls get catapulted into fame and stardom, and all the pressures that come with it. And in many offices up and down the country, as others spend their time watching X Factor the inspirational entrepreneurs are working late into Saturday night.
- 1. Make sure you can cope with the meteoric rise. Others may benefit, you may benefit for a while, but make sure you’ve got the checks in place to prevent you from falling: think Subo & Gareth Gates. Don’t let your support figures simply be those who will financially benefit from your success, as they’ll have mixed agendas. Whether they be coaches, old friends, mentors, family, people you read, speakers you listen to- get yourself plugged in to substance. Deep genuine support; people who not only want you to achieve, but also want to see you life a whole, healthy and fruitful life.
- 2. Make sure your rise is either on the back of lots of time developing your craft or skill, or where you’ve put enough time in your schedule to learn effectively as you go. If you don’t develop your skill, understanding or knowledge but sit back and let everyone else do that for you, there will come a time when you’re personality or looks isn’t enough. Develop your skill carefully as it’s not enough just to have high profile.
- 3. Make sure you’re house is in good order. As things grow, cracks show and if everything is covered over with a few positive Facebook status updates it’s all going to come tumbling down. Under more strain, there is less emotionally energy to go around and things get missed in the rush. It feels understandably justifiable because things are so busy. Whether it be your family, your finances, your friends, your ‘personal’ affairs, it’s important to get your house in order.
- 4. Make sure you don’t take yourself too seriously. There’s nothing more painful than watching Simon Cowell talk about One Direction ‘making history’ because a group could win the show for the first time. Don’t think that everyone really is as bothered about what you’re doing as you are. You’ll avoid overstepping your ego and causing others to cringe. Humility is the beautiful ingredient that helps you both keep your feet on the ground, and see that the world evolves around far more than you.
- 5. Make sure you keep yourself in check. You are your biggest potential disaster. You are the one that could make everything go wrong, so keep an eye on your swagger, the decisions you make, who you surround yourself with. Put time aside for yourself to reflect, to exercise, to be with friends, to relax and wind-down, to love others and give outside of your own focused project.
- 6. Make sure you trust the right people with the money. Often Entrepreneurs are so busy going for meteoric success that they rely on others to look at the tracking, flow and control of finance. When money is involved, lots can go wrong, and when it does it can be significantly painful. Get someone who is reliable, carries integrity, efficient and competent and you trust.
- 7. Pick the right team mates: your manager, your PR agency, your backing band, your publicist. As an entrepreneur pick your right CTO, CFO, COO and CMO. Where possible develop staff beyond their current jobs, so that when you go meteoric, they are able to cope with the growth pressures. It’s one thing for you to be learning on the job, but if your whole team is then there’s going to be a few problems as everyone is too stretched. Pick your team, and make sure they’re right for the job.
- 8. Make sure that your infrastructure can cope with the growth. Things go wrong when you are suddenly needing to communicate with greater multiples of people – whether it be your iPhone app reaching your X Factor fan base, or your Customer Relationship Manager system carrying out automated communication to your customer base. Don’t try to build it all when you suddenly need it, but plan in advance all the appropriate tools and infrastructure you need to do your job well.
- 9. See when the sell-by date is going to come, and plan ahead for how you will react. Don’t wait for things to happen to you, but strategically keep your finger on the pulse of the market and know how to react. Read the signs by gathering the right data, and learning to analyse it.
- 10. Get as close to people as you can. Whether it be your fans, or whether it be your customers, make sure that you’ve got a way to ensure that you can hear the truth about what people feel about you and your service. You might not like being told as Alexandra Burke got told back in a previous X Factor series, that she’d put a few pounds on, but it’s better to have clarity as to what your clients think of you, then leave your companies ‘performance’ to chance. Find the right balance though. Inane comments from idiots aren’t helpful. Simon Cowell writes in his book (which I read for research, I promise) that he stopped reading the comment on the X Factor Blog from people who are just out to hurt him, because they were all so negative and unhelpful.
What lessons have you learnt from the X Factor? I’d love to hear any of your thoughts on what you’ve been able to apply to your situation in the comments below.