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I love Charles Green's blog, Trust Matters. Today, he pointed me to one of the most significant articles I've ever read. Premise: put a virtuoso musician in street clothes in DC's metro station and see how much they make. Charles asks:

What if you play the best music there is, and nobody listens? What does it mean?
You've heard of Disney's employees referring to themselves as "cast" before, right? They are performers... and conduct themselves as such. And Tom Peters says that this is not a mere "office" where we work, but "theater." It is our stage...

The virtuoso musician played at DC's metro station and got only $32.16 for 43 minutes of playtime... it really is all about presentation. And presentation is about preparation, looking the part, and venue. I could be the world's greatest genius, but if I'm not looking the part in the right setting with the right audience who is prepared to hear and see me perform, it's all irrelevant, and it gives my life no significance. I have no impact like I otherwise might. Think about strengths...

I'm able to do what I'm doing now here at my job because my new boss stopped to listen to my performance while I was working in my project manager role. But if he hadn't, I would have no contribution as I do today. Not in the way that I can, anyway.

So, I can do everything that I can to legitimize myself and look the part, but it's also about audience selection and audience preparation. I have to ready them to hear me play. I have to get their attention and then get them warmed up and ready to receive me, so to speak.

Axiom: Presentation =

  • personal preparation
  • personal appearance
  • reputation
  • content
  • audience selection
  • audience preparation
  • venue
= reception of my gifts

And my value goes upward as I massage each aspect. The virtuoso is worth $1,000 per minute in one circumstance and $32.16 for 43 minutes in another.

How do you set your stage for receiving what you're worth?

ETC: I mentioned this story to a friend of mine in the hallway here at work and he said that his nephew went to France and took out his trombone while vacationing and played on the street and did quite well. Better than $32 in an hour.

Could Joshua Bell have done better with different selections?

What does our audience want to hear vs. what do we want to play?


by Brett Rogers, 4/12/2007 11:23:43 AM


Hi Bret,
Thanks for picking up on my blog. I think it's interesting to hear your take on it. I agree too, so much of the apparently shocking lack of appreciation really does boil down to presentation. We can decry that, but it's simply the truth. Expectations and environment and settings all dramatically affect the way we hear the truth.
Charlie Green



Posted by Charles H. Green, 4/13/2007 12:26:04 PM

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