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book review business

The best business mindset books

Public education is presented as a foundation for success in life. Still, it doesn’t prepare students for careers in business and entrepreneurship. Witnessing the development in the past years, I can’t get rid of the impression it’s on purpose. It seems to me our youth is moulded into a working-class caste, similar to the dystopian novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

I went through the same public education. I was in schools considered good and still did not learn many skills I use today. Luckily, my years were about engineering, so I got a sense of math and logic. The worst thing: not once were we encouraged to question the assignment. Not once were we explained why we learned, what we learned. It was always about getting a task, completing it as well as possible and being rewarded. A mindset that is perfect for workers. Not so for people who want to take their lives into their own hands. Not being taught these options is a grave systemic disadvantage for everyone who does not have the opportunity to attend expensive private schools.

This is one of the reasons why wealthy families often stay wealthy and low-income families remain poor. Knowledge and financial literacy do not transcend the borders of the castes. Nowadays, the information that is needed to overcome this is readily available. Sadly, the mindset of acquiring this information is not part of the curriculum of public schools. So everybody is responsible for bringing that knowledge into his family so they know that there is another way.

Here are a few points why public schools 

  1. Lack of emphasis on real-world skills: Public education focuses on theoretical knowledge rather than practical skills needed in the business world. This leaves students ill-prepared to run a business or start a company.
  2. Limited exposure to entrepreneurship: Many public schools do not offer courses or programs designed to teach students about entrepreneurship. Students don’t have access to resources or mentorship that would help them learn about this field.
  3. No access to networking opportunities. Public schools may not have the same resources or connections to the business world as private schools or specialized programs. This makes it more difficult for students to build the networks and relationships crucial for starting and growing a business.
  4. Limited opportunities for hands-on experience: Public schools may not provide students with opportunities to work on real-world projects or internships, which can be essential for gaining the skills and experience needed to start a business.
  5. Lack of diversity: Public education is not tailored to individual needs. It’s a one size fits all approach, which does not cater to the diverse backgrounds, experiences and interests of students. 
  6. Lack of inspiration: Public education does not provide the necessary inspiration to pursue business and entrepreneurship, it may not foster the creativity and innovation needed to be a successful entrepreneur.
  7. No encouragement of critical and out-of-the-box thinking: the whole process of how the material is taught and tested does not encourage creative thinking but following a predetermined workflow.

Today it is easy to start getting a glimpse into the world of entrepreneurs with a few books. These are the ones I recommend reading to get you started.

Robert Kyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad

While it is most likely fiction and not a real story, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kyosaki shows the different mindsets of employees vs entrepreneurs. It presents the reader with young Robert, who was raised with influences from both sides. It is easy to read and makes its point very clear, as it always presents both sides of the coin. Is this a comprehensive introduction that will tell you everything about business? No, but it is a very easily understandable start on your journey to get rid of the mentality that slaving away in a job is the best way to provide for you and your family.

Seth Godin’s Tribes

Tribes” is a book by marketing expert Seth Godin that explores the concept of tribes and how they can be used to create change and build a movement. The book shows that the internet and social media made it easier for people to form tribes around shared interests and that leaders of these tribes have the power to create change in their communities and the world. He encourages readers to embrace their leadership potential and create a tribe around their ideas, products, or services.

The Practise by Seth Godin

The Practice” is another book by Seth Godin. It features the idea of becoming great at something through consistent and deliberate practice. Success is not just about talent or luck but about consistently putting in the time and effort to improve. Godin encourages readers to find their “art” and practice it daily. He also touches on the importance of setting goals, getting feedback, and learning from failure as part of mastery.

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp

“The Creative Habit” complements “The Practice” as it explores the idea of developing a daily creative practice and the habits essential for creativity and success. It covers key concepts such as setting goals, overcoming obstacles, and the role of discipline and routine in the creative process. It also provides practical exercises and strategies to help readers cultivate their own creative habits and achieve their goals.

Rework: Change the Way your Work forever by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried

Rework” is a book by entrepreneurs David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried that offers a different perspective on how to run a business and do work. The book argues that traditional business practices and models are often slow, inefficient, and unnecessary. Instead, the authors propose a new approach to work that emphasizes flexibility, simplicity, and staying small. They advocate for ideas such as working smarter, not harder, embracing constraints, and saying no to unimportant tasks. The book is written in a conversational and easy-to-digest style and is filled with practical advice and real-life examples of companies that have succeeded by breaking the rules and doing things differently.

These books give you a glimpse into a world beyond slave mentality and the rat race. Embrace their ideas, and your subconsciousness will see opportunities that work for you.

Book links in this article are affiliate links which will take you to Amazon.

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business

About clear communication and its importance

Clear communication is one of the essential pillars of running your business. It optimises workflows and saves you and your customers a lot of headaches. If neglected, it is a guaranteed set up for misunderstandings, that can damage your relationship with the customer or partner (fellow performers, booking agencies, etc).

The goal of clear communication

We aim to answer all necessary questions and make requirements as well as the outcome clear for everyone. One issue that arises regularly is that details remain unclear because one side thinks they are apparent while the other side is unaware of the point at all.

Let’s take a show booking as an example: the following points require clarification:

  • Location
  • Date
  • Time of the show
  • The arrival time of the dancers
  • Is there a soundcheck/tech rehearsal? If yes, when?
  • How do you deliver the music?
  • Space requirements/availability for the show
  • Which floor is in the venue? It there the need to bring PVC or something else?
  • How many dancers are part of the show (is not needed in every case, especial when the group is big)
  • Do you need additional rehearsal-time on the stage due to insufficient space?
  • Is there a dressing room for the dancers? Do you share it with another group? Can you lock it?
  • Who is the contact person for the dancers on-site? How can we reach them?
  • Who is the main contact person on your team for the customer? Make sure they have the phone number.
  • How much does the show cost? Include travel expenses or at least negotiate that they are covered.
  • Invoice Adress
  • Is catering provided for the team (not necessary in every case but you should clarify it)
  • If the show is late or the travel is long: who takes care of accommodation?

Depending on the type of shows you do, there might be more or less points to discuss, but it is more than the regular customer thinks about when he is not used to booking a show.

The principle is the same for every business communication.

The rules of clear communication

  1. Don’t assume. If something is unclear, ask.
  2. Try to speak/write in a language that avoids technical terms or explain them. Your counterpart might not know those.
  3. Have it in written form so that everybody can revisit it, in case of uncertainty.
  4. Don’t be afraid of being the one who points out that some parts are still unclear or missing. While some people might perceive it as counterproductive or even rude in the beginning, everyone will thank you in the long run.

Make it a habit to make things clear

Making things 100% clear for everyone gives you and everyone involved the security of knowing what’s up. There are neither loose ends nor room for interpretation. 

That is precisely what we want in our business. Applying clear communication standards to all of our business talks/mails lets you work and sleep better.

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business

How to get more sustainable dance jobs in Austria

I already wrote about the topic “how to get more dance jobs.” I got some feedback on this article, especially that the stuff in there does not work, and some new requests about how to do it in Austria.

What is different in Austria?

That is the question we have to answer before diving into the specifics. All the points from the general article I already wrote apply to the fullest, but it can feel like you don’t get any results by applying them. The main reason is that the business side of the scene and the Austrian dance industry are still in their build-up. What I mean by that is that there are people producing shows, there are agencies taking care of bookings for urban artists, and there are dance studios in most major cities, but there are not plenty of them.

In countries with a developed dance industry, you have the possibility to audition for jobs that you want to be part of every other week. You have multiple standing companies with a regular cast and stand-ins for most positions. You have multiple people that take care of the production side of things. And you have many agencies with a widespread network that generates opportunities to show your art.

In Austria and many other countries with a dance scene that is on the rise, we have some of these but don’t have an abundance. So you maybe have four to ten auditions per year for pieces you want to do. There are 2 or 3 agencies that seriously care and know about the capabilities and needs of hip-hop dance. And there might be five promoters who manage to do recurring events with international relevance.

Austria has a dance scene and dance industry on the rise. We need to build the infrastructure first to create the jobs we want to do. Nobody will give them to us. Who should?

That sounds like a bad thing in the first place, but it really isn’t. Because what it does, is leave a lot of space for everyone who cares and wants to make it with dance and dance-related work.

How to do it?

First, this is not science. Second, I am writing from my own experience of doing business with dance and dance-related topics since 2007. Third, I believe this is the best way forward for the Austrian scene as a whole. Some individual people might be better off alone, but looking at the bigger picture from a holistic point of view, these are my recommendations.

As mentioned above, our scene and industry are not yet fully established, we are building it right now. This means that there is a lot of space to be filled.

What we should do, is create the infrastructure that we lack. This also ensures that the infrastructure and businesses hold up the values that we want to represent. That is extra important as the possibility of breaking (that’s the thing you should not call breakdance) becoming Olympic will attract people from outside (sports, finance, and advertisers of all kinds) who have the business part down towards our scene and their values will not necessarily align with ours.

What can a single person do?

Everything. That is the point. Through the scarcity in the scene, you can contribute very quickly.

You can organize classes yourself. Everything you need it to find is a room and a mobile sound system. I know people who teach twenty classes a week and are set. All self-sustained.

You can organize events. It’s not impossible to do jams and competitions on a low budget. In fact, we need those to have the inhibition threshold low for the new blood.

You can reach out to potential customers proactively and sell your shows. By doing this you fill the role of an artist agency and might become one if you want to.

You can audition for all pieces around and try to land that spot or you can start your own production. This feels overwhelming in the beginning but if you want to create, you should.

How is this getting more jobs?

The part above isn’t, but it is a prerequisite for our scene to grow and move forward into something that can provide a sustainable life for everyone who wants it. From there we need to start connecting and work together (I already wrote about that too).

By creating multiple working platforms (this can be crews, dance companies, production companies, agencies, artist collectives, solo freelancers and more) and connecting them, we can provide more work. If I sell shows, you produce pieces, and a third guy organizes workshops, we can hustle on our own or connect, and everyone has three jobs instead of one.

Of course, that is simplified as nobody can work with everyone, and some people are more suited for this job and not the other. But take into consideration how far our scene came in the last ten years. Think about how many talented people are out there hustling. We just need to connect and build together. In a country with a small scene, there is no competition as the market is not nearly saturated. There are only missed opportunities.

Don’t stop there

When we established a network that provides enough opportunities for everyone who wants to dance, the inclusion does not stop. Think about all the street fashion designers, dance content creators, music producers, MCs , DJs and so on. These are valuable for us, too, as we are to them. Spotting these opportunities and taking them is what we should cultivate.

It has been done before in Austria. On a smaller scale. And these islands still exist. Where people work together, but most of the time, they only extend to crew and friends. Which is fine, but we all could do better.

As this scene and industry are built now, it is we who should build it and make the rules. Or we can let others build it and play by their rules. Easy decision for me. It always has been.

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business

Dance Business Possibilities: How to make it work

We already talked about the elements we need to master to run a dance business (and I strongly believe it is the same for almost every other business) and become a professional dancer. What we did not cover are the actual possibilities that we have to create income. I separate those into primary possibilities and secondary ones. The primary ones are the things that directly involve your dancing skills, and the secondary ones are things that you can apply your dance knowledge to and therefore turn into dance-related work.

Let’s look at the primary ones. While all of these are very diverse on the inside, you can split it up into four general activities.

Performing

Performing can be summed up as “dancing for an audience”. It is not relevant what kind of “piece” you perform or in what “stage situation”. Productions can be contemporary pieces, dance theatre, musicals, commercial shows, street shows and performing for movies, music videos or ads in front of a camera. If you put in the work, performing can bring you a stable income.

For most of us, performing is done on a freelance base where you write an invoice and must take care of everything tax-related yourself. If you are lucky, you can get into a standing company that can employ you. In this case, they would pay for your insurance and tax. The downside of performing is that it is not completely in your hand how many shows you can do because you never know how many gigs you will book.

Teaching is your solid base for any dance business

Out of these four primary work fields, teaching is the one that is most reliable in terms of a steady income. It might not be the one you can earn the most money with, but it provides stability and security. As soon as your classes are established and running, you know how many people come to you. Therefore you know how much cash will be in your pocket at the end of the month.

Teaching can be done as a freelancer or employed. Depending on the laws in your country, only one of these options might be legal. The downside of teaching: if you have a lot of classes, it might feel like a regular job and can get boring if you are not good at motivating yourself.

Choreography

Creating the choreography for performances, shows or camerawork is one of the opportunities that can earn you a lot of money in a short time. If you are booked by a big production to do this job you develop the dance and rehearse with the cast until they can do it. Then your job is done.

While they do the performances, you are already good to go and work on the next job. Downside: You need some strong references or a good network to book the jobs that pay well.

Competing is part of the marketing for your dance business

You can earn money by winning battles. There is price money out there. But the events that have a proper amount of it are rare, and the competition is fierce. If you are not top of the pops – this will not work.

In my opinion, competitions should never be seen as an income stream. There are other reasons to join competitions like building your name, testing your skills and having fun, but for most of us, it is not an option to rely on.

So far, so good. Let’s look into some secondary possibilities that can directly benefit your dance career development:

Working in or running an artist agency

An evergreen that has tremendous value. If you are doing the booking in an agency that books dancers, you might be able to book some good jobs for yourself or your crew. As no serious agency gives gigs to people they don’t know, you will meet many people aspiring to a dance career that might be future colleagues on stage.

Therefore you are sitting on the source for jobs and potential new colleagues. Of course, your agency needs to be cool with you doing this, but if you do great work and have the skills to convince on stage, there should not be a problem. On a side note: if you are running the agency yourself, it’s no problem at all.

Producing stage pieces

This one is big. It is a shitload of work but can pay off. I live in Austria, and at the time I started there was no hip hop dance theatre in the country. In 2006 we started working on changing that – and we did. In the last ten years, Austrian dance companies, crews and solo artists created more than 15 pieces in a genre that did not exist before in our country. I call this good work. *brofist to everyone who did a piece or show; you know who you are*

At the start, most people tend to choreograph and dance in the pieces they produce. So you just created the opportunity for you to do more work. If you are creating pieces for more dancers, you start meeting new people again and grow your network.

Making the event

Creating Dance Events is as big as producing for the stage. You help your scene to grow. You build opportunities and depending on your kind of event, you get to dance yourself. Possible events are jams, competitions, theatre, workshops and so on. You can get creative with this one. The best thing about making events happen is that you meet many people who dance too. If you treat them well, they will eventually become a great addition to your professional network.

And now on to some possibilities where you can fill a niche that might be unreachable for someone without a dance background.

This list is a bit longer and more creative than before. Most of the following jobs are perfectly doable without any dance knowledge. But being able to dance or having the daily practice you need to stay on top of your game will give you an edge. Sometimes, you can use your knowledge to become an expert in a niche, which is always an advantage. The list is in no specific order.

Photography/Videography

I put those two together, which does not mean you need to do both, but all points are valid for both. Every event that wants to grow requires proper documentation or ads. As a dancer, you better understand what to shoot and can produce better images. You can also use this to create products like photo books, prints or movies that might give you some income through sales.

Writing

Dancing is trendy at the moment, and many companies are investing in the scene to grow their revenue. If there is some expert knowledge needed for blogs, copy, or whatever, your experience sets you apart from the people who can write but know nothing (like John Snow). If you have valuable stuff to say, you might be able to publish a book and create income through sales. Especially when you are writing for companies and brands, knowing your way around the principles of search engine optimisation pays off a lot, as your text will create constant traffic via organic search.

Commentary

Be it on your own channels, TV productions for upcoming big events, or online live streams. Breaking (which we don’t call Breakdance, remember?) is slowly entering the realms of sports and sports have commentators. With Olympia 2024 incoming, all the qualifying events that lead up to it and even existing events like the yearly Red Bull BC One World Final, which already has multilingual commentary, the demand for dance expertise will only rise.

Acting

Sometimes a role asks for someone well versed in moving and doing stuff with his body that untrained people can’t. I produced short movies myself and heard more than once that it is so refreshing to see “actors” on the screen that know how to move.

Modelling

Most dancers that practise hard have a physique that goes well with being a model. As you train your body regularly, you are always in shape when a request comes in. I have many colleagues who model and dance back to back. The only bad thing about modelling: if you are a living photobomb like me, it does not work.

DJing

Dance needs music. The DJ provides it. While you are not actively dancing behind the decks, you are there at many events and get paid. At good events, the DJs do not have to work the whole night alone. In that case, there is still time to hit the cyphers when your backup is playing.

Producing Music

Go for it when you have the taste and skills to create danceable music. Dancers are always on the search for new music. If you can deliver, you have nothing to worry about. This is another one that can add money from selling your music or through royalties.

Fitness Trainer

New trends are coming up in the fitness world every day. At the moment of this writing, Breakletics is a thing, as well as dance fitness. If you are into this stuff, you can seriously pimp your income because people are fast in spending money on their “healthy lifestyle”. I did some of those earlier in my career, and these were the most profitable classes with the most participants I ever had. And this might go very well with being a fitness model for the club you are working at.

Yoga/Pilates/whatever teacher

This one could also be in the other category (stuff that aids your dance career). Some people get deep into Yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais or similar practises. While I know, those are very different, this makes no difference from our business perspective. Teaching might come naturally to you if you get deep enough into something. That is the case here. Like the fitness trainer above, it is a chance to add substantially to your income. Some of my friends established themselves as dance experts in physiotherapy. A smart move, and it works. Maybe you can design a yoga class tailored to the need of dancers.

Judging

If you build yourself a reputation that will get you invited to judge significant events, then you can earn money by judging. This said, you need to get to the big battles. Smaller competitions can pay you most of the time, but the income is insignificant.

With breaking into the realm of Olympia in Paris 2024, judging will become a stronger option as all the events leading up to Olympia require certified judges. Get this certification if you want to judge WDSF events that qualify for the Olympics.

I am pretty sure I forgot something, probably a lot of things. If you can think of additional dance business ideas, let me know in the comments, and I will add them to the list. And I will give credit for helping me out. With the work fields above, there is one important thing. While you can make money with them, you need to be good. Doing any of those bad will damage your reputation while killing time you should use for dancing. So there is no easy-going in any of those.

Secondary work fields are things where you do not actively dance, so they take away time from your dancing. This sounds not too beneficial at first sight, but there are reasons why you might want to include secondary work fields in your job setup.

  1. your secondary job benefits your active dance career (the first list of secondaries)
  2. your knowledge of dance qualifies you for a job that non-dancers could not do or makes your results better than those from a non-dancer (the second list of secondaries). This makes negotiating higher fees/salaries easier.
  3. you cannot yet support all your financial needs by dancing alone.
  4. you are not that much into “the hustle” and appreciate the stable extra income.
  5. the point we never want to talk about: a lot of the secondaries can provide stability and income when you cannot dance because of an injury or because you need a break, or even when it is time to say goodbye to your active dance career. I know we don’t talk about this. But it is wise to think about it and have a plan.

As a research task for you on the path to becoming a full-time dance entrepreneur and creating your personal dance business plan (fancy wordings over here), think about which of the possibilities above might work for you. Where do you have the right skills? What do you enjoy? What would be a thing that you would love to learn that could play into your work in a reasonable amount of time? Go through your options and map them out on paper. There is power in seeing what you can do in writing.

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business

Cash Flow: How to make it sustainable as a dancer

Cash Flow is the way we use our money to handle life. It is not exactly something that we are usually taught in school, but it absolutely should be. For artists, a smart cashflow can bring you into a position that enables you to create more, and live the life you want. The points that cover here are valid for everyone, but I use examples from the dance world.

If you want to read up on the matter in depth: Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Cashflow Quadrant from Robert Kyosaki cover those topics in easily understandable language. There is better literature if you are already in the matter but those are a perfect starting point if you want to dig deeper.

The predominant model – the Rat Race cash flow

This is how to set up you cashflow if you want to stay in the rat race forever

The majority of people work a job and directly spend the money to cover their fixed cost and additional expenses. It is what is taught in schools. Get a good education, get a good job.

The issue with this model is that at the moment, you are not able to work (or don’t want to), you have no way of covering your costs. Smart fellas have a few months of savings, but it does not change the fact that you depend on your work.

Some folks consider this to be the modern form of slavery. But that is a debate for another day.

The smart cashflow that can lead to financial independence

A cashflow setup that might free you from the dependence on trading your work time for money

The smarter set-up is to put your work into creating assets that make you money and pay your costs from the income produced by those assets. Assets can be anything that generates income without the need to constantly spend your time on them. Probably the most famous asset, which is also easy to understand, would be real estate. You can rent it out and get money from it. As long as you earn more from the rent than it costs you to maintain the facility, you have a positive cash flow that does not depend on yourself. Other traditional assets would be a company you own or stocks (that come with some risk).

But we don’t have the money to buy a house! Me neither. Luckily, there are many cheaper assets that you can start working on right now, based on your dance skills

Examples of this would be online education based on recorded videos instead of live streams. It can also be books, recorded performances that require a fee to watch, templates for papers that people need, stock images of your artwork and whatever you can come up with.

The significant advantage of the income from those assets is its independence from your work. As soon as you have them up, they can sell while you do other things or sleep. 

In the final stage (call it your endgame if you want), when your income from assets is higher than your costs of living, you can feed the money back into creating more assets.

How do we get there?

The abstract process to optimise your cash flow is really easy, like with most concepts. You start to build your first assets, which provide a little income. This money either goes directly into creating new assets or covers part of your fixed costs. This gives you a little bit of leverage (time or money) to continue building your reputation and assets. Now you repeat the process until your assets provide for your life.

The execution is not as easy, of course. Let me give you an example based on some real numbers from my own career. Suppose writing books would be the only way I had to create assets. At the moment I have only one book on the market. In the first three months of 2021, the average income through its sales was 91 bucks. Not a lot to write home about. 

Let’s do some math. Imagine I have ten of those. Without considering that people who grabbed one book are more likely to buy more, there would be 910 bucks a month. Having 20 would be enough to make a living without doing any other work. Writing 20 books would surely take some time, and neither writing nor reading is for everyone. But in dance, there are way more options than just amassing books to sell. Having the right offer at the right time can make a substantial difference. 

Be brave and be bold. Now is the time to make the change and take your financial well-being into your own hands.

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business

Are NFTs here to revolutionise ART distribution and trading?

Selling and distributing art has always been a pain in the ass, but blockchain offers a potential solution with NFTs – which stands for Non-Fungible Token. Imagine being able to sell your piece of work, which can be everything that you can bring into the digital space, immediately and worldwide with 100% proof of who created it, who bought and therefore owns it, and built-in mechanics to collect royalties if it is resold. That is the concept behind NFTs.

How does it work?

A blockchain is a list of transactions. When you create an NFT, you summon a token that represents your work in the digital space. This token has a smart contract attached. A smart contract is just a fancy term for a code (a programme) that handles the sales and ownership. If someone buys the work, ownership is transferred (as if you would buy a painting). But the blockchain will forever show that you are the creator. Suppose the new owner decides to sell it again. In that case, the smart contract will automatically send a % of the resell price – defined in the smart contract – to you. No intermediaries needed.

Is it really that easy to use NFTs?

Honestly, not yet. NFTs are slowly drifting into the mainstream, and everyone who gets on board now can be considered an early adopter. Not super early, but still. If you want to use them now, you need to be a little bit tech-savvy and interested in how these things work. 

At the moment, NFTs are priced and bought in cryptocurrency. This will likely remain the status quo for a while. But with the rise of NFTs, there will be apps and service providers that will make it easy for everyone to enter the NFT space.

I suggest you get on-board immediately, but I understand if you want to watch the space first. Just don’t sleep on it and miss a potential opportunity that could unleash your work. Early adopters are always the ones who profited most when “their” tech goes mainstream.

My experiences with NFTs

I tried it and created my own NFT. As I can’t record a more significant dance piece right now, I went with a comic that speaks to the crypto-community. I am not a painter myself, so I commissioned the piece. Setting up the contract was a matter of 30 minutes, but I already had a crypto-wallet ready for use.

Until now, I did not run into any issues technically. I am currently promoting the piece on Twitter around crypto-folks and hope someone buys it.

It cost me around 0,17 ETH (which is EUR 230 at the moment of this writing), including the artwork itself and the fees to set up the smart contract.

As my intent is not selling but getting my head around how it works, I priced the token relatively high for what it offers. If someone buys – nice, if not – I have a token that predicts the future of cryptocurrency, created in 2021 – before the whole world started talking about NFTs.

In case you are interested, here is my NFT “A Taste of Things To Come.”

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business

What makes a professional dancer?

I write a lot about the work and life of a professional dancer. Recently someone asks me when I consider someone to be a professional dancer. Good question. Let’s check it out.

What is a professional dancer?

When we look at the words’ definition only, we conclude that a professional dancer is someone who earns his money with dancing. That’s it if we are looking into terminology and what I use to determine if someone is a pro.

What we associate with the word professional

The word professional is loaded with a lot of meaning that is not really part of the package. Here is a list of things:

  • better than amateurs
  • always on time
  • know exactly what they do
  • always available for serious work
  • do everything as long as you pay them
  • comes prepared
  • knows how to behave

And the list goes on. All of these can be true but don’t have to be.

There is also a difference in the mindset between two kinds of people who do business with dance. As much as I’d love to avoid this distinction, it often comes back to me in the form of “but he is not a professional dancer” or something that rhymes with it.

The professional dancer and the dance entrepreneur

You can be both, but most peeps aren’t. The regular professional dancers focus absolutely on their craft – the dance. They perform, teach and compete. That is the lifestyle that we love and surrounds the dance when you look at it outside the dance world.

The dance entrepreneurs dance as well, but they look for opportunities outside the dance as well to nurture their business. This can be the addition of work that synergizes with dance or doing jobs where knowing dance is a prerequisite. These could be social influencers, event promoters, corporate consultants, creatives, or health service providers who specialize in dance topics.

When I talk about the dance business, I usually speak about both of those and I would be happy if we would not need to separate those two.

The detail that makes all the difference

For many professional dancers, the perceived challenge is merely finding and doing more dance jobs. They care a lot about the question, “how can I get more dance jobs?” Whatever answer we find to that question is not the answer to building a sustainable and secure lifestyle around dance.

There are 2 particular reasons:

  1. As long as we look for jobs created by others, we are manoeuvring ourselves deeper into dependency and into a territory of pseudo-employment. 
  2. If our only income source is the jobs we can do, we have a serious issue if we can’t do these jobs anymore. Injuries, government-regulations, loss of interest of the corporations giving us those gigs, … you name it. Almost everyone in dance knows someone who had to quit due to injuries. We can feel the pain of government regulations as a response to the pandemic right now. So this threat is real.

As an entrepreneur, you know about the importance of having multiple streams of income. Independence is the game, as is getting rid of middle-men where possible. This does not mean we can not do gigs with companies or dance paid shows with others. Both are significant parts of almost every dance business I know. The difference is that we don’t want to depend on them and have enough to offer on our own.

Then dance entrepreneur looks for additional ways to offer value and earn money. It is not important which kind you are, as long as you love what you do and feel secure enough. But when you feel the pain of uncertainty and the need for more stability, try to find additional income sources that synergize with what you do. Because you are leaving money behind and make your life harder than it needs to be.

Categories
blog business

Why you should quit the shitty job you hate

Many people who dance entertain the thought of becoming a professional dancer. If you are working in a job that you don’t like or even despise, you should give it a shot. Here is why.

A job you hate is bad for your soul.

The headline is dramatic, I know, but so is the emotional impact of slaving away at work if you don’t care about it. Deep down, you think that the work you do is not worth doing. You know that there is something more fulfilling or even meaningful for you. If you don’t act on that, some of you (probably your subconsciousness – but I’m no psychologist so take the details with a grain of salt) will tell you that you are a loser, a slave or worse.

To lead a fulfilled life, you need to have the whole you on the team, not a part of you throwing punchlines to your head all the time. Trust me, I have been there, felt that, have quit the job and now life is better.

External stress

Deadlines can be a catalyst for good work if you care about what you do. If you don’t, deadlines create unnecessary and unhealthy stress. Most jobs nowadays consist of holding multiple deadlines a week.

Someone else defines that what you do is urgent, but you disagree because it is simply not important.

Living a life, you don’t care about

If you don’t care for the work you do and are working a regular 9 to 5, you spent most of your life sleeping and doing stuff you don’t care about.

That’s one of the things you should read again.

You can simply test out the waters.

There is no need to quit your job immediately if you feel that dance is calling for you. Start it as a side-hustle and see if you can earn some extra money. If you can, slowly decrease your regular work and increase your dance biz.

The good thing is: if you find out, dance is not for you, you can just quit the side-hustle or go back to a regular job. The commitment is not eternal.

Job security is a lie.

With any given crisis, you can lose your “secure” job as well. So there is no need to pretend it is more secure than doing what you love.

Build your vision

You either build your vision or help someone else build theirs. So you always help to make something. What reason is there to help to create something you don’t identify with. What reason is there to slave away in a job you hate?

You owe it to yourself.

You should treat yourself with enough respect to a least try doing something you love. You don’t want to look back at your life and wonder “what if I had become a pro dancer”, do you?

Categories
business dance espresso

How to maintain a great signal to noise ratio?

When we talk about marketing, one of the things we should be aware of is our Signal/Noise ratio. The metaphor refers to a technical issue from analog radio broadcasts. When you communicate via radio, you have to listen on the same frequency as the sender is broadcasting and vice versa. If you are slightly off the frequency, you hear the broadcast but with a lot of hisses. If you are far away from the frequency you receive either only hiss, aka noise, or another signal (that you are not looking for).

Let’s grab a Dance Espresso over that topic:

What does Signal/Noise ration mean as a metaphor?

In times of social media, we all broadcast continuously with our posts, likes, shares, tweets, and whatever. If we are smart with our marketing strategy, and if we know our goals and artist identity, we aspire to send a lot of signal, while avoiding to add noise. Signal would be everything that aligns with our purposes, the message we want to spread, and the thing we want to be associated with. Noise is everything that has nothing to do with our signal or even distracts from it.

An example: when we want to spread a message about dancing, choreographing, and traveling the world, everything that is about our dancing and seeing exciting places works as a signal. But posting our daily coffee is a distraction, as are videos from our cats. Those two would be adding noise.

Who defines what noise is?

You do. Only you decide what it is that you want to “broadcast” to the world. It’s not essential what you send out if you only have a private channel and want to connect with friends. But as soon as your social media channels are part of your business, defining and sticking to your signal matters. It’s part of your promise to the world.

How much noise is fine?

Again, that is a question that only you can answer. It depends heavily on what strategy you have to connect with your followers. Noise is everywhere on the frequency spectrum, so it might help you to reach people you might not reach without it. But noise also waters down the value of your broadcast for everyone who is looking for your signal. As a rule of thumb: When you want to be perceived as an expert in your field and it is a niche, keep the noise level low. If you want to reach a broad audience, the noise percentage can be higher. If it’s not possible to differentiate between signal and noise, the noise is too high.

When I released my first book Dance Smart, I dived a little bit more into marketing and therefore stumbled upon this topic. While I am did a pretty good job with my Signal/Noise ratio on the blog, my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Signal/Noise ratios sucked. I gradually improved that over 2020 but I am still not there

Categories
business

How brutal honesty improves your artistic growth

Brutal honesty sounds like an evil thing. But in reality, it is a state of mind that will calibrate your expectations and help you to plan your next steps more accurate, which will lead to faster growth in your art, business and character.

Honesty is telling the truth to ourselves and others. Integrity is living that truth.

Kenneth H. Blanchard

Unrealistic self-talk is sabotage

Sadly, I know too many people who have an unrealistic image of their capabilities and skills. This issue goes both ways and is rarely a matter of the wrong point of view. We have those who think they are really good or even exceptional at something, while barely scratching the surface. On the other hand, some people don’t trust their skills enough and put themselves down while doing outstanding work.

Both of these extremes are unhealthy for the development of your craft and character. Being able to execute ten footwork steps with two different rhythms does not make one good at footwork. It means you should invest more time into it, to make it out of beginner territory. And doubting your performance abilities, when your dance reaches strangers emotionally is stupid as well. If you can do that, develop it further and be proud that you can have such an impact on stage.

Brutal honesty only hurts in the short-term

When you are honest with yourself and admit weaknesses, you can build a path of action based on a realistic starting point. This will lead to much faster results, than plotting your journey from a moment you did not even reach yet. 

You might feel uncomfortable by accepting that you are not as advanced as you are in a particular field. Still, the immediate improvement of your onwards journey, due to realistic expectations, will make up for it and bring you to a much brighter place in the long game.

Also, you decide how harsh or gentle your self-talk is. Honesty is not related to the tone of voice you apply.

You don't need a crystal ball to map out your future, being brutally honest about your starting point, will do as well.
photo: Tomas Kirvėla via Scopio

Brutal honesty is not the enemy of affirmations or self-motivation

When you are realistic about your situation, there is nothing wrong in positive self-talk and affirming yourself that you can achieve something. The step from self-delusion to trying to motivate yourself to do better is in knowing your current situation. Affirmations should help yourself to believe you can achieve something, not to cloud your judgment.

Honesty is often very hard. The truth is often painful. But the freedom it can bring is worth the trying.

Fred Rogers

Brutal honesty with others

When we talk to others, the case is similar. If we genuinely care about someone, we should not add to their delusion. In the long term, we do them a much bigger favour, if we tell them the truth and help them grow instead of reassuring them in a wrong image of their selves.

Considering we know these people well, we can tune the tone of our words to their emotional state and give nice suggestions instead of harsh critique.