Proof that the best insight and wisdom often comes from those outside the system, rather than from those toiling within it, the following is an extract from Kevin Spacey’s much-lauded 2013 McTaggart Lecture. The annotations are mine:
We get what audiences want – they want quality [serve the audience].
We get what the talent wants – artistic freedom. And the only way to protect talent and the quality of our work is for us to be innovative [provide talent with opportunity].
And we also get what the corporations want, what the studios want, what the networks want – they want to make money and we need them to be profitable so they can continue to fund high quality production.
They want the highest possible audiences with the greatest impact. We all get it [remember that it’s a business].
The challenge is can we create an environment where executives, those who live in data and numbers, are emboldened and empowered to support our mission; to have an environment with leadership that is willing to take risks, experiment, be prepared to fail by aiming higher rather than playing it safe.
It’s like Steve Jobs. Why did he continually cite Henry Ford as an inspiration? Because Ford anticipated that people didn’t know they needed and wanted a car until he invented one. And we didn’t know we needed and wanted all that Apple has brought to our lives until Steve Jobs put it in our laps and hands [embolden the client].
We need to be that innovative. In some ways we need to be better than the audience. We need to surprise, break boundaries and take viewers to new places. We need to give them better quality [over-serve the audience].
We might not disrupt the status quo overnight, but we can mould structures at the center of our businesses; because if we really put talent at the heart of everything we do, we might just be able to have greater highs across a broader spectrum of the industry. That’s what I believe [put talent at the heart of everything you do].”
It might be old by internet standards, but Spacey’s lecture is worth watching (and watching again) in its entirety for all the gems of wisdom it contains.
When so many of us in little adland are caught in a vortex of existential professional angst, tying ourselves into knots as to how to organize ourselves, and having sleepless nights over what the business model is (and indeed what business we are actually in), these are words to navigate by.
For without recognizing our duty to the audience, and the primacy of talent, the rest is, well, just a house of cards.