Be A Student of Your Craft

I just returned from the 2013 African American Black Film Festival in Miami.  I believe that every opportunity, every experience has enveloped within it some key insight or learning.  This film festival was no different.

On  Saturday,  there was a panel discussion that included among others, film director Spike Lee.  In answer to a question about advice to those getting started or those who have been at the film making thing for awhile he had a simple but emphatic message: “Know your craft”.

Spike went on to say that he continued to be stunned by people who approach him asking how to be successful in the film business but they have not studied the masters of great films, which he rattled off.

“You have to study” he told the audience of aspiring screen writers and directors.  “There are no shortcuts.  You have to read and you have to watch films and study films.  There’s no way you can be successful without doing those things. You must study to show yourself approved.”

Playwright and now film director David Talbert echoed Spike’s advice.  Talbert said he learned from his audiences over 20 years of doing stage plays across the country.  He also studied everything Spike and other directors and writers did.

Some of you are probably thinking, that’s nice Deb.  Glad you had a good time in Miami.  But I’m not trying to be a screenwriter or director.

Well maybe not.  But whatever craft you are pursuing, the same advice applies.  Be a student of your craft.  Work to be the best and being the best means studying any and everything you can about your craft.  It means keeping up on how your craft and your industry are changing and evolving.  It means keeping up with the needs and preferences of the end user – the end user being your consumer, customer or client or who ever ultimately uses what you produce.    It also means understanding the implications of related industries.

As example, when the internet and search capabilities first emerged, publishing companies and retailers virtually ignored this technological event.  Today, the internet is pervasive.  It is the primary way we access information in addition to the significant amount of shopping that takes place online.  Today, the primary way a lot of people access information on the internet is on their phone.  Represented in this brief description are monumental changes in marketing, advertising, sales, television programming, car buying, content distribution and most of all how people stay in touch and socialize with each other.

To be fair, very few saw this coming.  But those who did were able to lead the transition, or at the very least, help define and explain the changes as they occurred.

Back in the day, we called these folks geeks and nerds.  Today we call them visionaries. Students of their respective craft with the gift of panaramoic vision; the ability to see the larger board and understand where there are missing pieces without knowing exactly what those pieces might be.   But because they are students, they will likely know the missing pieces when they see them.

Being a student of your craft is one of the best ways to build value around the service you provide either in your job or in your business.  It is the primary way, I have found, that will minimize your getting blindsided when the sand shifts beneath your feet as someone recently described the rapid change the world is currently experiencing.

When you are a student of your craft, it will allow you to spot trends and forecast not just revenue but how to adapt to what’s just around the corner.

The first step in becoming a student is of course reading.  It is fundamental.  Just to the right of this post is a link to Smartbriefs.  There are dozens of them informing on dozens of industries.  Find the briefs that will help make you smarter about what you do.

Become a student of your craft and increase your value and your success. Be better prepared for what’s coming.  Because if nothing else is true, one thing is for sure.  Change is constant.

Happy learning.  In the meantime,

Believe and live forward.



Empowering question of the week: Are you a student of your craft?  If yes, then how good is your panoramic vision?


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