Building Consensus

When planning my first major event, the one thing I did not anticipate was the need to build consensus. I figured I would tell people about the MidPoint Music Festival and everyone would jump on board. I was very, very wrong.

I remember pitching potential sponsors, the venues, the media, etc. and walking away very frustrated. I was baffled by the negative or ambivalent response; however, I kept at it. It was not because I had a tough skin. I just wanted to see the idea become reality.

I think there are four kinds of people you come across when pitching a new idea. First, there is the person that just hates it. They may even “get it”, but they don’t like it one bit. Second, there is the person that can’t see it. They simply can’t imagine what it looks like or how it’s possible to pull off. Third, there is the person that loves the idea, but they are going to wait and see what happens. They’ll jump in when others are in the pool.

That fourth person is the most important person. Not only do they love the idea, they want to help in whatever way they can. It only takes one or two of these people, but they make all the difference. They recharge your battery, get others on board, and lighten the load. I’m in the middle of planning a new event right now and I’m fortunate enough to have a handful of people that fall into this category.

I did an interview a few years back with The New Lofi. They asked me what advice I would give someone trying to jumpstart a city’s music scene. I gave the following advice:

“Start small and realize that nobody cares about what you are doing. You’ll hear more criticism than praise. Use that to build a tough skin and keep moving forward. You’ll eventually find others that share your vision and want to see it come to light. Invite them along; let them help. Eventually, you’ll all get there.”

I keep this quote handy because sometimes I need to remember what I learned.