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As the year winds down, I’ve been blown away by the amount of money and the assignments people are getting in our industry who don’t have urban radio backgrounds like we do but have found ways to capitalize on the culture of urban radio, culture and black music. This is no dig on them, I can’t blame anyone for taking an opportunity and business is business, but it’s a dig on US. Granted, it’s often not a level playing field but the good news is tech slashes the middleman so a lot of the usual BS goes with him. The question becomes why are we sitting idly by when the opportunities to grow, earn more and progress are right in front of us? Several corporations have contacted me over this year looking for people FROM urban radio for great opportunities and while I have forwarded the opportunities to certain people, I’ve seen many people leave radio (mostly not by choice) either fall by the wayside into depression or a few wisely turn their situations around by exercising their leverage to create new opportunities. Which one are you?
Overall, we are still “waiting” for opportunities and that’s not the business world that we live in today. It’s about CREATING opportunities. Waiting will do three things; make you older, unemployable and bitter. But there is good news if you are willing to be in charge of your own career at any age today. You can do it. Here are a few tips to get you going as we approach a new year. Leverage is ‘using what you got to get what you want.’ Many of us have it but don’t know how to use it. It’s about being aggressive at the right time when things are high instead of waiting and ending up desperate when things are LOW.
Who can do your job better than you? If you are working and have been working for several years you have to find a way to leverage that into something greater. Too often urban radio people are satisfied with letting others determine their fate instead of creating more opportunities for ourselves. It’s OK to have mentors and to let people give us an IDEA of where we should go with our careers but the most important person to help you progress at the end of the day is YOU. STOP making other people the god of your career. That’s YOUR job … (click NEXT above or below for next segment)
Experience can be good and bad depending on you present it. If you are “waiting” for opportunities, you look dated and aged out when speaking of your experience but if you are on top of current trends and you are still active in the industry “experience” can be impressive. Should you be speaking at local colleges? Be voicing the commercials for a local car dealership that repeatedly advertises on your station? Host a ‘How to get into the industry seminar.” If your station wants you to pay for the time on the air to promote, DO IT, you stand to gain more than lose. Be the spokesperson for the local hospital or police station? Teach college professors how to effectively communicate with students? (teaching is one thing COMMUNICATION is different and many professors fall WAY short of holding and maintaining the interest of students). Local TV news shows are on their death beds and dying for talent to lure millennials, they are SO desperate they will even hire black people (lol). Quite often we are at odds with the sales department at our stations but I would strongly suggest doing the opposite and developing a relationship with a salesperson or a few of them at the station. At the end of the day, if the station decides to fire you but the car dealership still likes you, you will still have an income and the station will think twice about letting you go (leverage). The station is the bridge, not the destination.
Don’t be afraid to ASK for what you want and ALWAYS go a bit higher, not shockingly higher, but enough so that when someone negotiates your price down you are either right where you need to be or slightly ahead. If you give the person exactly what you expect and they say yes, you have just sold yourself (esteem) short. Take your emotion out of it and stop looking at a situation that is presented to you like an opportunity and start looking at it like a business. Especially if THEY come to YOU. In business, if you are lacking in self-esteem, the buyer is keen and will KNOW it and take advantage of it. I have often been told that I am very stern, direct and a man that knows what he wants. I’ve been told I can be intimidating but there is a job to be done and I need to do it. How do you operate? Calculate and KNOW your value and NEVER let anyone undersell you but most important, don’t undersell yourself. ALWAYS keep your eyes open for the next opportunity in the industry.
There are so many people on social media whose main goal is to get likes and followers. They literally have NOTHING to say. They are posting affirmations, pictures of their grandmother, a plate of food and a TON of selfies with explanations of their mood, and abusing FaceBook live. Do MORE. The elusive but EFFECTIVE man is always the most interesting and intriguing. If everyone knows everything about you there is no reason to want to know more. People who constantly post selfies are SCREAMING insecurity and BEGGING for approval and acceptance. it’s actually pretty desperate and sad. When using social media SAY SOMETHING USEFUL to your followers.
How can you benefit from the market that you are working in and how can the market benefit from you. Look around you establish your team, get an agent and go to work. What can you do to ascend your career? Look at the market you are in (if you are not from there) as an opportunity ALONG with the radio station
We are in an instant gratification industry today but look at the people in urban radio and music who are in charge. MOST are between the ages of 40 thru 65. We are talking about a youth-driven industry. Do you know WHY the people in charge are in that age range? RELATIONSHIPS. At the end of the day, instant gratification makes you explode AND implode rapidly. Relationships ground you and give you a safety net to get another break. Relationships are the most valuable leverage that you have, nurture and focus on the ones that are reciprocal and be courteous (mostly by email) to the ones that are not but don’t focus on them. Try not to have what I call “relationships on credit.” This is where people constantly ask you for things while pimping you by dangling the carrot at a feigned future return.
Money and Investments
In my opinion, the BEST investment is real estate but always remember LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION and the best investors do best by buying low in an area that will be revitalized or where the market will shift to their advantage. Keep in mind, buy low and sell HIGH. You can do stocks if you have the time to keep an eye on them or you can simply invest in mutual funds (for long term and less attention). I’m not a big fan of hiring financial advisors because I like to keep an eye on my money and control it so you can even start with an online account like Etrade. Our industry is a HUGE tip off for what’s next to invest in. For example, Netflix’s stock value was $12.86 in 2011, today it’s worth $122.00. We have a tendency to be impatient (probably cause we always need to eat now) but in order for long term gain, we have to learn to be patient. Be a student of money making opportunities and student of various industries. JUST INVEST. Those rainy days WILL come and you may be retired BEFORE you want to retire so have something to fall back on.