Have you ever shown up to a major presentation, or a big meeting, or a conference, or a job interview, only to be overcome with a panic-stricken feeling when you realize, to your horror, that you forgot something huge? Maybe the final version of the video that would surely win over the potential client? Perhaps a key piece of equipment crucial to your tech going off without a hitch? It's the worst feeling. Your heart races, your body temperature shoots up, all of a sudden you're itchy, sweaty...
But you can't turn back the clock. You need to adapt. You need to BE NIMBLE. Got a problem? Fix it.
In my rock n' roll touring days, I had one of those "oh shit" moments. Here's what happened: I showed up to a gig mere minutes before stage time, and when I went to set up my drums, realized that I had forgotten one rather key item.
The snare drum.
Yes, the most important item in a rock drummer's arsenal. The sound of the backbeat. The 2 and the 4. Any drummer knows how huge a deal this would be. What the hell was I supposed to do? The only thing I could do. Adapt. Problem-solve. Anything but pout.
Instead of hitting a snare, I tightened the high tom and played that. The crowd barely noticed and it actually gave me some cool ideas for how to implement this sound/idea later on. I kept calm and carried on. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say.
The same applies to business.
I won't go into the macro-effects of Hurricane Sandy... the devastation and effects on so many was, and is, obvious. Compared to lost homes and shattered norms, losing power to an office for a few days is nothing. But naturally, we at my company Jingle Punks wanted to keep working, even if we couldn't get to work.
So between checking in on co-workers, colleagues, friends, and neighbors, and helping out in affected neighborhoods here in New York, our employees tried to maintain at least of semblance of normalcy, working remotely and maintaining business as usual (which is hardly ever 'usual' in our experience).
As my apartment also lost power, I grabbed my essential gear from the office and trekked down to Brooklyn to couch surf at my biz partner Dan's. I quickly had all my essential synths, software, and guitars splayed out in his apt. Once I got working, I not only realized that my scaled down rig was good enough to make the music I wanted, but that having fewer options and gear helped me make smarter choices. Sometimes too much really is too much.
Why are 'unplugged' performances so popular? Because people like to hear artists, and their songs, in environments that are out of the ordinary. They want to see the artist adapt. And adapting successfully can be eye-opening in addition to being thrilling. So the next time something unexpected happens and you're face to face with an "oh shit" moment, don't panic -- take deep breath, and adjust. Adapt. You might surprise yourself.
Jared Gutstadt is the co-founder and co-CEO of Jingle Punks, a global licensing and commercial music production company based in New York. Follow him at @jinglejared and follow Jingle Punks at @jinglepunks, and on Facebook.