How these are relevant in business today

Over my 15 years working at the BBC I worked in positions spanning the whole programme making process from idea concept through to broadcast.  Along the way I learnt a great many lessons. But there are 3 lessons that are particularly relevant to business owners today.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN ORIGINAL IDEA

This has to be one of the biggest lessons ‘there is no such thing as an original idea’.  I spent a few years in documentaries and contemporary factual programme development, we encouraged department members to contribute their ideas.  I took part in many programme idea brainstorm sessions where we would come up with ideas that someone else in the department had already suggested.  It didn’t take long before disputes arose over whose idea it was, not that ideas were credited to individuals but generally speaking the department would allow you to work on an idea that was yours if you wanted to.  

We stopped inviting department members to submit ideas, instead we would by rotation invite members into the development unit for brainstorms and extended periods of programme development.

I used to hear people over the years at the BBC say ‘there is no such thing as an original idea’ but I never before experienced it as I did in that role.  

How often do we think our idea, product or service is unique, only to then find someone else offering something very similar.

In business this is also true, rarely is there an original idea, what makes it original is how we, as business owners execute our ideas, and the uniqueness that we bring to all our ideas simply by being who we are.

 

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE AUDIENCE

As you would imagine lots of investment went into audience research at the BBC.  Audience behaviour as well as trend spotting, yes that is a real thing, for a long time I sat next to a lady who had one of the best jobs I have come across.  She would get reports of trends and commission spotters… this was the start of programme idea generation.

What do people want, what are they interested in, remember this was before social media was a thing, this kind of research was raw and in person.

As a video marketer as well as a business owner, studying our audience should always be at the heart of what we do.  If noone is interested in what you are selling, then you don’t have a business.

But we have to take this a step further it’s not only about ensuring there is an interested audience for our business services but we need to keep one eye on consumer trends also, to help give our businesses an edge.

I love reading and learning about viewer behaviour, what holds attention and what repels attention, what makes a person compelling to watch and what makes someone charismatic.  

IF YOU MAKE A MISTAKE MOVE ON DON’T LOOK BACK

While learning from past mistakes can be fruitful, dwelling on them will cripple us.  One of my favourite jobs at the BBC was when I was a Network Assistant, this is the person in the live transmission studio who manually works out all the timings, yes by hand adding numbers in units of 60 seconds.  

The live transmission studio was a darkened room, with old wood smelling like a library with one wall covered in TV monitors and a big clock.  In front of this wall of TV monitors was a long desk with buttons, sliding buttons, monitors, built into the desk timers and so on. This was a small room, nearest to the door was the vision and sound mixer, then a technical supervisor, the network director, myself, the network assistant and then the continuity announcer who sat in a soundproofed room, not much bigger than a broom cupboard (and yes this was THE broom cupboard where Philip Scholfield and ‘Gordon the Gopher’ presented the early days of CBBC from.

There was one room for BBC1 and another opposite the corridor for BBC2, the dimly light small corridor between these rooms was where we’d have our cigarette breaks (now that’s dating this story!)  Next to the door into each studio was a big glass window, so you could sit in BBC1 transmission and if you stood up you could look into BBC2.

We were collectively responsible for everything actually being broadcast, of course, the busiest times were live programming and the parts between the programmes, with the trailers and announcements.  I would have already timed how many seconds of credits the ending programme had so when they started I could set the stopwatch and count in the following trailer.

YES sometimes this would go wrong, when that happened, you, the viewer, would see those multi colour bars, OR a countdown clock – oops! The whole nation would see your mistake, your heart jumps into your mouth and it’s easy to panic… but if that happens you are more likely to make another mistake.  

It was striking to me how in this environment the mistake was acknowledge and corrected without a raised voice, a cross look or any kind of bad vibe.  We all just got on with what we knew was the next step and that was that, we’d laugh even to reduce the stress further.

The experience of working in network transmission is etched into my mind, and I am reminded of this lesson frequently, it’s about not crying over spilt milk rather than not learning from mistakes, it’s about picking yourself up straight away.

How often have I sent out an email to my list with mistakes, or had a technical breakdown in a live webinar…. These are the moments that I embrace the philosophy to keep moving forward, get on with it and accept that panicking will only make it worse.

 

WHAT ARE YOU BIGGEST LESSONS FROM YOUR CORPORATE JOB, THAT YOU CAN APPLY TO BEING A BUSINESS OWNER?

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