by Stu Chisholm
Back around 2000, David H. Lyman published an article entitled “The Creative Personality.” In it, he outlined the various characteristics of creative people, and advised readers to make a list of those things they share and note those that they don’t.
This is something I do constantly; like Benjamin Franklin, I fold a piece of paper in half (yes, actual paper!) and put my strengths on one side and weaknesses on the other. I do this not only while watching other entertainers, but watching anyone who is considered outstanding at what they do.
Innovate and Create Something Unique
Because we’re entertainers, we constantly need to innovate. While I’m a big fan of trade show seminars, all of the incredible workshops that have sprung up over the years and even articles in trade blogs like ProMobileDJ.com, and publications like Mobile Beat and DJ Times magazines.
Whatever you gain from these can be filed under “education.” Innovation comes from building on that learning, and combining it with your experience and imagination to create something unique.
None of the snappy things you learn and emulate from workshops and seminars came from other workshops! They were created in someone’s head, tested in front of spectators and tweaked over time into a solid, performance-enhancing show element. (Or maybe an entire new type of show.)
Think about it: David Copperfield or Criss Angel didn’t become famous copying routines of other magicians. Why do we think we’ll become world-class DJs by copying other DJs?
Again, there’s certainly nothing wrong with learning from other pros. Successful businesses in many fields network and collaborate regularly. If your goal is to be just another relatively successful business in the crowd, then you really have everything you need right here.
But if your goal is to stand out; to maybe one day be the person GIVING the workshop or seminar; to be on television talking about your book, program or act, then you need to spark your own creativity!
Gain to Skills for Improvement
Jumping-off points can be as varied as the number of entertainers. Some take improvisation classes while others dabble in community theater. I have another friend who volunteers at his local cable TV station, and yet another that does stand-up comedy.
In all of these pursuits, you can gain skills you might not even realized you had, and will find a lot of things that will translate into a better DJ performance. You might not even need to leave home! Instead of “vegging out” in front of the tube, watch it with a notepad. Which entertainers hold your attention? Leno? Dave? Conan? Or maybe Jon Stewart? Why? What makes him or her stand out in your mind?
Practice always makes perfect, and one of the things we as mobile DJs are regularly called on to do is to make announcements and speak in public. You don’t want to make your client’s wedding reception a practice session! So what are the options? For me, the best answer is Toastmasters.
Not only can you get in a lot of mic time in front of an audience, but they are dedicated to help you improve and grow as a public speaker. Experience is always the best instructor, and here’s where you can get a healthy dose!
Find Your Inspiration
The bottom line is to find your inspiration, use it to fire your imagination and INNOVATE. Robert Kennedy once said, “Some men see things as they are and say, why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?”
One more thing to consider: innovation has its enemies. In order to innovate, you’ll often have to break the rules. You’ll have people in your life saying, “That’ll never work,” or “It can’t be done.” Then there are the “too” arguments: it’s too exotic; too over-the-top; too unfamiliar and on and on.
Lenny Bruce was too profane, George Carlin was too controversial, the Beatles were too “guitar oriented,” the Who were too loud… yet do you remember all of those people who made those arguments? I don’t either. In the immortal words of Fleetwood Mac, go your own way. Spark your creativity, innovate and be more than “just a DJ.”
Stu Chisholm – The Complete Disc Jockey
Stu Chisholm of Stu & His Crew Professional Disc Jockey Service in Michigan, has has worked in several areas of the DJ Universe.
He’s been a radio, mobile, club and roller skating rink DJ in the Detroit area since 1979, and done commercial voice-over work, as well.
Stu has been a keynote and featured speaker at DJ trade shows in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. He is the author of the book, “The Complete Disc Jockey” and is a regular columnist with Mobile Beat Magazine.
To contact him, email DJStuCrew@gmail.com. You can grab Stu’s book at TheCompleteDiscJockey.com.