Does Your Word Have a Price?

At the 20th Anniversary of Dubai's Global Village, new permanent façades have risen in the desert

At the 20th Anniversary of Dubai’s Global Village, new permanent façades have risen in the desert.

A Woman Walks Into a Bar…

It’s a nice place, akin to The Algonquin or Sardi’s in NYC. Lighting is soft but not dim, piano playing in the background, dark wood details and an atmosphere of history and good living.

She sits at the bar and orders a martini. Quietly thoughtful, she listens to the music and sips…

A man approaches.

“May I sit here…?”

With a smile, she says, “…it’s a free country…”


“I’m Alice.”

They chat a bit. He makes her laugh. The place is about half full and their conversation is private; looks convivial. They are clearly comfortable with one another.

“So, Alice…” says John, “…you are enchanting. If I gave you a million dollars right now, would you spend the night with me?”

“Why John,” she quietly gasps; a little shocked, a little flattered, even a little excited. She looks down at her drink and plays with the olive for a moment. Her eyes rise to meet his and she says, demurely, “…yes.”

“Good.” He smiles.

A few moments pass in comfortable silence as they look each other in the eye and take a sip of their drinks.

John: “How about a blow job for a hundred bucks?”

She slams her drink onto the bar, “Just what do you think I am, John?!”

“That has already been established,” he replies, “Now, we’re just haggling over price and deliverables.”


Does your word have a price?

Business is personal. One’s personal integrity and reliability are essential components of Reputation: especially in theatre and show, destination entertainment, theme park contracting, creation of spectacle…frankly, pretty much any business where deals are made between one individual and another, between an individual and a company or group, between groups, between companies.

We spoke of this in the context of Leadership, just two posts ago…

Once your word is given, can s/he to whom you have given it depend on the commitment you have made? Will you meet that deadline, deliver that production, carry that weight as promised? Word given and hand shaken: are you stalwartly reliable such that concomitant decisions can be made with the concrete knowledge that you will see to it that the job to which you have committed will be done to spec and on budget or better…handling any and all eventualities with confidence and professionalism?



Good: as in fields where bespoke teams are built for specific projects and productions, one ultimately has only one’s reputation for dependability, for integrity and honor to keep one known as reliable.

When I know and recommend such people to other producers and directors; I describe the individual as, “…s/he will hold onto the rope, as would a mountaineer…if s/he says s/he’ll see to it, s/he’ll see to it. You can depend on that.”

Of course: there are certainly sudden, unique and extreme times where one finds one must relinquish the responsibilities one has accepted. These occasions generally involve death, deportation, incarceration or some physical damage rendering one incapable of delivering.

There is a way to handle that, and the way is this:

  • Replace Yourself… before you alert the client. Responsibility for the duties taken-on, weeks or months before, cannot with integrity be handed back to the client for resolution when these are responsibilities you have embraced.
  • When you inform your client, have your qualified and vetted replacement briefed and ready; your responsibility is smooth transition and seeing that your position is covered.

This is a function of Professionalism.

There are other, less unique times when A Better Offer Comes Along.

Now, it’s another question and context, entirely.

  • Are you one who will bail on the job to which you’ve guaranteed yourself, or
  • Do you keep your agreement and refer the new gig to someone else?
  • Do you hold onto the rope or do you bail?

This is a function of Integrity; of the value of your word.

At the end of the day, one must be complete with the reputation built for oneself by one’s own actions.

  • Do you want to be known as excellent at what you do, a solid leader and team member, reliable and honest?


  • Are you good with being known as good at what you do, but you might not see a project through if something better comes along?

There are plenty out there who have made careers without always seeing projects through. I believe there are more, better thought of, for whom their word is their bond.

Is short term financial gain more important than a reputation for reliability?

Your call. At the end of the day, it’s you and the mirror.



“IMHO: Creating Compelling Experience” is a free downloadable eBook on the tenets and methodologies we use to…create compelling experience. Find it in the iBooks app on any Apple device or in iTunes at this link. .

IMHO – Sharing What I’ve Learned is my regular blog; you’ll find plenty more opinions, there…!

SPECIAL EDITION: Networking @ IAAPA or in ANY Industry

Recently compiled by the TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) this extemporaneous-esque advice-on-networking video is applicable to anyone of any age seeking to network effectively.

“IMHO: Creating Compelling Experience” is a free downloadable eBook on the tenets and methodologies we use to…create compelling experience. Find it in the iBooks app on any Apple device or in iTunes at this link. .

Some of the Worst Leadership Advice…Ever

Ganesha Army

I came across this bit of ridiculousness in a LinkedIn post, a few weeks back…

Confidence: Fake it till you make it! Nobody wants an insecure leader or employee. If you don’t know what you are doing, act like you know what you’re doing until you know what you are doing. Preparation is key because when you prepare, you feel genuinely confident and others trust that you know what you are doing because…well, you do. Attitude is everything, and the mind achieves what the mind believes.”

“Fake it till you make it!” What a load of bunk.

This is what got Wall Street into trouble; this is a gung-ho “Sales Team of the ’70’s” attitude that undermines credibility and depletes integrity from any environment. A leader who “fakes” knowledge and experience – in any industry and specifically in production, show and entertainment – is not a Leader at all.

S/he is a Fake: and that fakery will show up in the quality of the Product and be reflected in the attitude of the Team.

The second sentence is true, actually; nobody wants an insecure leader…ironically in this case, an exceptionally pithy example of insecurity is a manager or ostensible leader who is “faking it.”

As a leader, one is much better off being secure in what one does not know; knowing where to find and learning how to apply such knowledge sought and found. Learning alongside one’s team engenders an authentic, profound respect from one’s colleagues and teammates.

A secure leader doesn’t have to actually know everything; a leader who isn’t afraid to learn will earn a far more solid position among peers, superiors and subordinates.

A leader who can learn teaches humility and learning ability. A leader who “fakes it” teaches his team to lie. (…and probably laugh behind his back at his delusion that anyone is being fooled…)

In my business, there are Producers who are known for acting as though they know everything about Production. These guys get in the face of Lighting Designers, Production Coodinators, Choreographers, Composers, Riggers and Stagecraft Professionals and attempt to second-guess the work and process of others who’ve spent years focused on the area(s) of theatre to which they are committed…committed to being the best at what they do.

Those are Producers who give Producers a bad name.

Then, there are the Real Producers.

A Real Producer knows to stand back; to inspire his experts and let these experts do their best work…knowing when good work is being done and supporting the team in doing it. A Leader Inspires; embraces learning, learns from the people on her team and keeps the team moving in the right direction; eyes focused on the ultimate vision of the show.

Nobody knows Everything About Production. Everyone brings experience, knowledge and passion to their jobs. A leader learns of that experience and seeks to benefit from it; a leader appreciates the knowledge his team members bring to the table and embraces the passion with which that knowledge is applied.

This doesn’t mean “don’t talk to your technicians” or anything like that. Not at all. Clear communication of vision, goals and objectives is key to success. Further, asking one’s professionals how they are accomplishing the work is often appreciated by those pros…when the question is based in seeking knowledge (rather than seeking some sort of “advantage”).

Collaboration alleviates obfuscation, nurtures and incites creativity and strengthens relationships.

Likely, everyone on the team appreciates being asked about what they do and sharing their own knowledge and experience. Asking them is acknowledging their expertise. It shows appreciation for the work and focus one’s team member has put in to being the best at what s/he does.

Learn from your team; the decisions you make, your artistic, logistical and even dramaturgical choices will be the better for it.

So. Rather than “fake it till you make it…”

How about…

“Learn It and You’ll Earn It”?  

Just sayin’.


In closing, a note on Integrity. This is a word often thrown around by the self-righteous when things aren’t going their way. Integrity is not a casual thing, and one cannot be selective in meaning what one says and keeping one’s word.

Integrity is a constant discipline.

One must be committed to doing what one says; committed to one’s word being always dependable. Should that which makes the keeping of a given agreement change, Integrity calls for immediate acknowledgement of that change.

There is no “play” in this: the keeping of one’s word is paramount. Acknowledging one’s mistakes and taking responsibility for resolution is an act of Integrity. Realizing one cannot keep one’s word and taking steps to acknowledge and rectify that is Integrity. There is no escaping daily opportunities for embracing Integrity. Not always easy, actions of Integrity often result in stronger personal and professional relationships, healthier reputations, respect and credibility granted from one’s peers.

Once one begins to evaluate where one’s word has been given and whether or not one’s word is worth keeping after the fact; one has departed the realm of Integrity and crossed into another.

IMHO – Keep Your Word.


“IMHO: Creating Compelling Experience” is a free downloadable eBook on the tenets and methodologies we use to…create compelling experience. Find it in the iBooks app on any Apple device or in iTunes at this link. .