Some Rules for Life

It seems as though writer, and everyone’s favorite music industry crank, Bob Lefsetz had an altercation with the post office recently. Which prompted him to write out some rules of life that I thought were worth sharing. While not necessarily all encompassing, there are some real nuggets here.

Incidentally, if you are a person who finds the industry of music interesting and has a love of music or any sort of creative process, you’ll find no better insight than Bob Lefsetz, so you should read him.

In any event, enjoy:

1. Show Up
You can’t make it if you don’t arrive. In person is nice, but e-mail and social networking is cool. Just react. Or don’t be surprised when you end up in your own private backwater, complaining that nobody cares.

2. Don’t Be Late
Unless you want to piss people off. Sure, five or ten minutes is de rigueur in L.A., where traffic is hell and unpredictable, but if you’re gonna go beyond this, SEND A TEXT! An e-mail, dial the phone! It’s EASY! We understand if you make an effort. But if you don’t…

3. Don’t Send Form Letters
We’re overloaded with spam, but you send one of those press releases, to come to your show even though I don’t even know you, and you address it to yourself. Give me a break, you’re just pissing me off.

4. Make It Personal
If you’re going to bother to connect, make it a one-off. Ten personal e-mails are better than a hundred spam bcc’s. If you address it to me, I’ll read it, I’ll pay attention, I know you’ve made an effort. But if it’s to me and who knows who else, forget it.

5. Be Nice
I get it. You’re pissed off you’re not where you want to be. I sympathize. But if you’re going to bother to interact with someone, especially if they’re higher up on the business food chain, your only possibility of gaining traction is to be nice. It’s just like your mama told you, flies are attracted to honey. You don’t have to do it this way, you can fly solo and wow everybody. Be my guest, I love the left field success. But if you want to play the game, cordiality is key.

6. Do What You Say You’re Gonna Do
No one ever does. So you’ll stand out if you do.

7. Finish
Whether it be school or cleaning the house. It shows that you care, that you have pride in your work, that you can be counted on.

8. Spelling Counts
Not in texts, but if you’re asking a favor. How hard is it to run spell-check? And while we’re at it, do your best to employ good grammar.

9. Take A Shower
Show up in your basketball sweats, I don’t care. But if you’ve got B.O. not only does it show disrespect, it makes your counterpart wonder what planet you’re living on.

10. Don’t Ask Before Giving
We abhor takers. But when someone gives, it’s hard not to reciprocate. This is less about gifts and more about favors. Open the door, whether it be physical or metaphorical. Make life easier. We’re all vulnerable to that.

11. Don’t Be A Kiss-Ass
Sucking up never works, certainly not for long. Be respectful, but don’t grovel, don’t manipulate. It may not be discernible at first, but it comes out and people wince.

12. Don’t Sell Until Ready
You rarely get two bites at the apple. Just because you have access, that doesn’t mean you should sell. The pitch is secondary to the product. Only play when you’re ready.

13. Know What’s Important
Go to SXSW to schmooze with your buddies. Don’t go to break through, they only want to take your money to play a showcase that no one will go to, or will talk throughout while drinking free alcohol. If you never say no, you will never get to yes.

14. Say Thank You
It’s easy! A simple text or e-mail. It acknowledges that you’re aware a favor has been done. We love doing favors, it makes us feel good. But when we don’t get appreciation, we get pissed.

15. Listen
You might learn something. If you can’t shut up, you’re not going to go far. You already know what you know, you can learn from others, but only if you LISTEN!

16. Don’t Be A Know-It-All
Nobody knows everything. And sometimes you’re right, and the other person is wrong. But smart people know when to correct mistakes and when not to. If someone’s going to drive off a bridge, or fly in the wrong direction, by all means speak up. But if they say coffee used to be a dime and you know it was a nickel, correcting the other person just makes you look like a jerk.

17. Be Open
Only politicians don’t change their minds. You’re not running for office. If you’re not willing to admit you were wrong and do a 180, you’re never going to swim upstream.

18. Famous Does Not Mean Rich, Never Mind Respected
You think it’s about attention. No, it’s about the work. And it’s a very long haul. Paris Hilton is already a footnote, how long do you think it will be before Kim Kardashian is one too!

19. You Don’t Have To Respect Your Elders
Just because someone’s older than you and more experienced that does not mean they’re right. But chances are you’re not going to be able to convince them of this, you’re going to have to go your own way, do it by yourself. Good luck!

20. Speak Coherently
Talking like you’re from the street will not impress those who never go there.

21. Know What You Don’t Know
Be a sponge, learn from everyone. The street sweeper to the CEO. They all have knowledge to impart. Be a receiver, not a seller.

22. Degrees Don’t Count
Only in professions like health and law, doctors and lawyers. Otherwise, we’re all flying by our wits. Don’t tell us where you’ve been, especially if it’s got nothing to do with where you’re planning on going.

23. Don’t Drop Names
This just makes you look anxious and foolish. If you have mutual friends, by all means mention them. But if you think we’re impressed that you know so and so…you’re wrong. Hell, if you’re that big a player, why are you talking to me?

24. Don’t Lie
The truth always outs. Lie to get a job, everybody does, trump up your experience. In other words, when the game is rigged, forget the rules. But in everyday life the currency is not money so much as credibility and trust. Remember that.

25. Stay Off Business In Social Situations
The exec talked business all day, he wants to relax. Focus on his hobbies or something in the news or… You get through to someone through their heart, not their brain. Someone who’s all business all the time is very boring.

26. Stay On Point And Don’t Waste Time
We don’t want to know where you grew up and what you had for dinner and whether your car is running smoothly, unless all this takes less than sixty seconds. Get to the heart of the matter, no one’s got time to waste.