Knowing Your Business

I was listening to a radio show the other day, and the topic of professional wrestling came up -- don't worry wrestling haters, this post isn't all about men rolling around in their undies -- and they discussed a common trend in the industry that involved higher ups of the big wrestling organizations not watching the product of the competition. Of course, all my readers who despise the fact I am a wrestling fan are probably thinking, 'yeah, why would they waste their time on such trash?' I can understand the typical person not wanting to watch wrestling but what if this is your job? I personally find it absolutely startling that one would not watch the shows of their competitors. I don't expect them to watch every single episode because I recognize that would be incredibly time consuming when they have their own shows to worry about. I would have thought they would at least try to catch a show a month, just so they can be aware of what their competitors were doing, and to see what was or wasn't working.

This started to make me think how many other industries are there, where you don't pay attention to your competitor or to products associated to your business. Would a TV executive completely ignore all the shows on another network? Does a director not bother watching movies from other directors? Does a boy band star decide to completely ignore all the other pop tarts (okay, I can't fault him for that)? I would think that part of one's job would be to remain aware of their industry. They should know what is considered cutting edge or what is selling to the masses. They then can take that winning formula and throw in a twist that would make their work stand out even more. It would seem to me that if one decided to shut out all the other products in their industry which weren't created by them, it would cause them to slowly become outdated and oblivious. I could only imagine the horror if a television show producer from the 70s decided to jump back into the game without ever watching a show since 1978. He would obviously assume the shows produced today would be similar to what was out then. Of course, he would then produce the most entertaining ratings disaster of all time (probably something where a very white male plays an Asian ninja cook who serves a wacky family of 8 and has the catchphrase, 'Me So Sorry').

This is one of the reasons that I am trying to dedicate a lot of time to reading as much literature as possible. Of course, I also want to read because I actually enjoy it. I think, it is really important that I understand what type of stories are out there. I need to see what tales are captivating a mass audience, then see how I can put my own twist on these type of stories to make it even more exciting and enjoyable. Of course, my goal is not to copy other stories, and I am also aware that being original is the only way to produce a cutting edge novel that captivates millions. It is key to know the industry and to know what is out there. So, when I decide to write my story about sparkling vampires, I know what has already been covered in that field (not that I have any desire in the continual neutering of a once very cool fantasy monster).

I really think an artist or businessman or director or any person in a field where they create product, can learn a lot from being aware of what others are doing in their industry. It does not mean you copy or even follow the path of the competitor. I also feel true innovation can not happen if you do not know what has already been done and what has proven to work within the industry. This is why I should write a story about about a young, undead wizard who creates an illustrated diary about his struggles at music camp, while cracking codes of ancient paintings and brooding about his relationship with a glittery women who really likes bodily fluids. Or maybe not.