What you don’t do is as important as what you do


This picture was taken when Bruce performed for President Clinton at the President’s Cup Gala.

Early on in my professional relationship with Bruce Hornsby, an opportunity came across my desk for him to appear on a national television show. I was excited. It seemed like a great opportunity for him to be seen by millions who would hopefully discover his new record.

Every artist I have ever managed has taught me something. Most have taught me a lot and one who is very high on that list is Bruce Hornsby.

Out of respect for the show, I won’t mention its name. As I was on the phone with Bruce running through a list of topics for the day, we discussed this television appearance. He quickly told me he wanted to pass.

“What?” I responded surprised, thinking maybe I didn’t explain the opportunity properly. “Really? This is a national TV show with big ratings right now. Are you sure you want to pass?”

And he said something to me that has always stuck and I will never forget.

He said confidently, “The short-term benefits are debatable and uncertain at best, but the long-term negatives could potentially run much deeper.”

I was so blown away by that insight I didn’t even care that he was turning down a TV show. I instantly wrote that statement down on a piece of paper. I knew it would be something I’d want to remember for the rest of my career. If memory serves me correctly, I even asked him to repeat it to make sure I got it word for word.

From that day on I had an even higher level of respect for Bruce and it helped me tremendously in having a better understanding of him and his career. It would also help me on countless other occasions in the future.

Just as playing more notes in a song doesn’t necessarily make the song better, doing more “stuff” in the public eye doesn’t necessarily make your career more stable. Sometimes what you don’t do is more important than what you do.

Bruce Hornsby knows exactly who he is. He’s confident in himself and his music. He knows that sometimes the wrong move can have more negative than positive effects. This seems like common sense. It’s certainly something I should have known prior to entering the business world with a legend like Bruce Hornsby, but it took him saying it so eloquently to really make it sink in with me.

He was right. Just because someone says, “Would you like to play this gig?” or, “Would you like to do this interview?” doesn’t mean you should do it. Look at the long-term effects of everything you do. Sometimes saying, “Thanks, but no thanks,” can be the best thing you can do for your career.

COUSIN RICK SAYS: Name an event or opportunity in the past six months that you said “yes” to where you should have said “no”.

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