Hidden Talent

You never know what you might discover in your backyard.

I’m a Bruce Springsteen fan. Recently my wife and I went to NYC to see him on Broadway. Maybe 1,000 people in the theatre and he was fantastic. It wasn’t a full-blown concert but rather Bruce alone on stage for the most part, walking you through his life, story telling and offering the impetus to many of his songs lyrics……and of course playing his music. He is quite a story teller and he talked about the good times and the not so good times. About his early days and struggles and how he started by playing in backyards, graduating to small bars and venues before hitting it big. He told how some thought he was wasting his time, would never be discovered, while others reached out and helped him along the way, providing everything from encouragement to money because they believed in him and his talents. He emphasized the help he had along the way…..a lot of help.

My daughter is hosting a small band in my backyard in a couple weeks. Just a couple of her friends that have been playing around Columbus the last 18 months or so but are trying to get exposed to a greater audience. They asked that I invite some friends that might enjoy their folksy music and in particular a friend who owns a number of restaurants in one of Columbus’ hottest neighborhoods, hoping they will impress enough to garner an invite to perform at one.

My first thought was why would he want to come and spend an evening in my backyard, watching a small upstart band play when he could be at one of his venues where a more established group of musicians would be playing. Kind of thought it would be like a pro basketball scout going to the local YMCA to look for NBA talent.

He suggested that it all depends on how you look at it. He told me a story about two shoe salesman who went to a foreign country to sell shoes. When they arrived, they found out no one wore shoes; rather, they all walked around in their bare feet. The first shoe salesman figured there wasn’t a market for shoes since no one wore shoes. The 2nd salesman looked around and immediately concluded that since no one was wearing shoes it was a huge untapped market! My buddy laughed and said, “you never know what I might find in your backyard!”.

I thought about some of the experiences Springsteen mentioned and how it was hard work, persistence, luck, and the help of others that were critical in his rise to stardom. Then I thought about the three 23-year olds that will be performing in my backyard. Now I’m not saying this will kick start their career or have any impact whatsoever on their future musical exploits. And my buddy may not discover the next Bruce Springsteen. My point is whether it’s a young three-person band, a mom and pop flower shop or a young entrepreneur with an idea for a business, they all need help along the way and you never who’s going to hit it big. For economic development organizations, continuously looking for ways to provide access to that help should be at the top of your list. Who knows, that help may yield a future thriving business for your community.

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