Lately, I have heard many complaints of two staff. One is a producer and the other is a camera person. Mr Producer and Mr Cameraman have very differing issues. Mr Producer is a pretty hard worker, but lacks the critical thinking and problem solving skills to be a good producer. Most of the times, he follows instructions well but when it comes to making decisions and problem solving, he very often makes the wrong decision. On top of that, I feel he lacks self awareness and people skills that is the foundation of a good producer.
Mr Cameraman on the other is pretty talented, has all the right people skills, but terrible work ethics. He comes late for work almost every day, makes basic errors during shoots such as wrong frame rates, and is generally lazy. He talks the talk but when it comes to action (doing the work), he just doesn’t match what he says.
It was becoming apparent to me that the rest of the employees are pretty pissed with these two. So it was time to have a conversation (deliver a warning) to them. And quite honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to that. I don’t like confrontations in general. But this was necessary. Their behavior was affecting the team. So it’s clear to me that it’s either they shape up or they got to be shipped out.
Before the dreaded meeting, I actually watched several videos of Gary Vaynerchuk to get some advice on how to deal with underperforming employees. I remembered him saying something about hiring fast and firing fast. But to be honest, I like these two and I think firing them would probably be too harsh. They should at least be given a chance.
Then in one of the videos, Gary mentioned that it’s all about giving. More than you receive. The 51–49 rule. So I begin to think how I can help these two to become better versions of themselves. Whether they continue to be in my company or not.
So for the next few days, I was thinking about these two guys and why they are basically struggling with mediocrity. And what are the qualities that the A players and the winners have that Mr Producer and Mr Cameraman are still not getting?
I think it all boils down to 4 things.
I think we are all born with different talents and we are good at different things. Lebron James is born with the natural talent to play basketball. Steven Spielberg the gift of storytelling through the lens. We need to figure out what we are good at and then go all in with it. During my meeting with Mr Producer, I asked him what he thought he was good at. What was his natural talent. He thought for a moment and said “I think I’m good at playing the stock market.” I told him perhaps that’s what he should be doing. Maybe he’s just not born with the natural talent of becoming a fantastic producer. Find your talent and Go all in. By the way, I actually think this talent thing is the least important of the four.
2. Work Ethics
For all the talent that Mr Cameraman might have, he is lazy, and has poor work ethics. I have no doubt that someone who is not as not talented, but works much harder than him, will be more successful than him. I asked him about what he is really passionate about. He told me he really wants to do more storytelling using the camera. My immediate response was “Why don’t you?” Then he started talking about needing a big crew and support to make the film that he wants. I stopped him half way. I told him straight in the face, whatever he’s saying is all excuses. I have shot online short films using my handphone and reached almost a million views when I uploaded it online. No lighting, no fanciful equipment, no famous actors. There is no excuse not to go shoot stuff if that’s what he really wants. The more likely scenario is that’s not what he’s genuinely passionate about. I have worked with world class director of photography that spends an insane amount of time researching, doing test shoots, studying color, composition and storytelling. Every successful Director of Photography has worked their fucking socks off. But unfortunately Mr Cameraman will always be a camera operator instead of a director of photography. Until he works his fucking socks off that is.
3. Humility and the thirst to learn
The thing that I have been hearing about Mr Cameraman is that he enjoys telling people that he is a ‘director of photography’ instead of a Camera Operator which is his official position. On top of that, when he is on set, he comes late and he commands the freelance crew to work while he sits at the side barking orders. He is too fancy to even help do the slate when it’s needed. There are some geniuses that I have met that are truly good at what they do and they have this attitude problem that they are better than others. Those I would call ‘talented assholes’. But when someone is not even THAT talented and yet thinks that he has made it, I would call this person a straight up ASSHOLE. This lack of humility and a false sense of importance is killing him. Or rather, that’s the main reason why he is stuck in mediocrity. The winners in life will never settle. A thirst for knowledge and a curiosity to try things is what is a key different between winners and losers.
Lastly, the world is made up of two types of people. The dreamers and the doers. The dreams spend a lot of time talking about their dreams and what they are going to accomplish and what they will do in the future. Most of the time, I find the dreamers actually talk a lot because there is a lack of confidence that they can actually achieve what they talk about. The doers on the other hand, talks little but man do they take action. I am amazed at how many people do not walk the talk. A friend just complained to me recently that he really hates his job which is to install dentist chair. I asked him what his passion is. And my definition of passion is the thing you wake up and do every day even if you are not paid. He thought for a while and then replied “It’s singing.” And almost immediately, he added “But I don’t think it’s possible.” I told him quite frankly that if his dream was to become a superstar singer well known throughout the world, maybe it’s improbable. But if he was busking and singing funny original songs in the streets to make a living, it is absolutely possible. But it’s all about whether that’s what you want and whether he has the balls to take action. Unfortunately, it’s more likely that he would remain a dentist chair installer for a large part of his life.
What would happen to these two, I can’t say for sure. I shared with both these 4 principles. But what gets through to them and how they make use of these information would large depend on themselves. I am emphathetic enough to know that most people will find it hard to change unless it comes from deep within themselves. That’s the reason why most people do not take action. Because talk is always easier. And cheaper.