After 10 seasons of watching American Idol, the endless Coke commercials and Ryan Seacrest jokes have paid off: I’ve gleaned great business wisdom from watching American Idol.
The idols, judges, and millions of wanna-be’s have taught me at least three things that every entrepreneur should know:
Idol Wisdom #1: It takes 6 months to make it big
Between Idol’s ‘Hollywood Week’ auditions in November and crowning the winner in June is more than six months of work. Serious contestants go through an endless stream of grueling auditions, coaching sessions and practices. The kids who make it were not stars when they walked in. Some had only mediocre voices. (Fewer had any sense of fashion!) But after six months of training, an entirely different person emerges.
After six months of focusing on this one goal, the contestants are different. Not just better, but different. The top five Idol kids have developed the whole package: Voice, stage presence, wardrobe, new hair styling…
It’s the same in business. Greatness takes more than talent; it takes time and training. If you can invest six months in learning everything there is to know about an industry, you can build a great business. Going at it fresh on day one may be fun, but expecting meaningful results without intense practice is a recipe for failure.
Idol Wisdom #2: Being in front of customers twice a week is not enough
Idol is on twice a week — often for more than an hour at a time. These kids have massive exposure to American consumers. And to make a hit, that’s what it takes: Massive, repeated, regular exposure.
Last night I watched the top five. I can now tell you their names and something about them. Ask me about #7 or #9… not so much.
Only constant repetition will sear your face (or your brand) into the minds of your buyers. Twice a week for months at a time is not too much. And beware… the effect wears off pretty quickly. Can you tell me any of the top three contestants from last year? I’ve already forgotten.
Idol Wisdom #3: Expert advice is worth its weight in platinum
Real fans of Idol will remember that on the first day of auditions, pop-star-turned-judge Steven Tyler proudly proclaimed, “We’ve found the one.” He was talking about Lauren Alaina, a blonde teenage country belle from Rossville, Georgia. Personally, I was shocked. To me, Lauren looked a lot like the thousands of other contestants. But Tyler was right — Lauren remains in the top
5 4!… and she may well be the eventual winner.
If you were really looking for a rock star, taking Tyler’s advice right then and there would have saved you countless hours of auditions. His astute eye comes from decades in the business — something well worth paying for.
The business lesson is clear — Next time I face a new challenge I’m going to remember Steve Tyler’s business advice and call a consultant. (And then I’m going to follow their advice!)
I think these three nuggets of wisdom are worth suffering through 10 seasons, don’t you? And if we’re lucky, maybe there’s still more to learn from AI… I’m going to keep watching and find out!
Dedicated to your (rock star) profits