Please join us in welcoming Patrick Comer to our cadre of SBN contributors. He is the founder and CEO of Federated Sample, one of the fastest growing startups based in New Orleans. In 1998, he got his start as Chief of Staff at govWorks in NYC with a notorious scene in the documentary: Startup.com. Besides entrepreneurship and market research, Patrick also has a background in theatre and will be writing a column for Silicon Bayou News about the lessons entrepreneurs can learn from the stage. Connect with Patrick on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter. Break a leg!
Center Stage: Totus mundus agit histrionem
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts.” – William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”, spokenby the melancholy Jaques in Act II Scene VII.
Before jumping into the startup scene during the dot-com bubble of the late 90s, my passion was the stage. I was working as a stagehand and theatrical carpenter in Manhattan before being drawn into govWorks and my entrepreneurial destiny. While working 90 hour weeks and sleeping on the couch in our startup offices, co-workers would often complain about the hours… “This is nothing compared to summer stock,” I would reply.
Most professionals believe that the theatre has no lessons for the business world. I completely disagree. In fact, many of the reasons that I’ve been successful with startups are because I come from the theatre, where every production is a startup that must be launched by opening night.
When I was asked to start a column, I instantly thought to apply my lessons in the theatre to entrepreneurship. Every other week, I’ll write on seemingly artistic skills that translate to the business world.
Being the founder of a new company is very similar to being the producer, director, and lead actor of an off-Broadway show. All the decisions, finances, and selling (i.e. acting) comes down to you. And it’s likely you won’t make a profit, few people will see the show, and you won’t be able to pay yourself. Every action, every word you speak will be under a spotlight and reviewed by many critics. Some people love theatre because they are actors and love the stage, the lights, the laughter, the applause. I love theatre because of the creative group effort needed to produce a show and that moment when the audience is suspended in disbelief. I love the process and the passion required. You can’t love the stage because you expect to win a Tony or produce a Broadway hit or make money. You have to love the failure, the work, and the moments of pure joy.
Starting a company requires that same craving of the good fight, the preparation, and the anticipation of opening night. You must love the journey.
As I’ve reflected on my past, I want to give a shout out to those in theatre who taught me so much about life, hard-work, and how to be a successful entrepreneur: From Sewanee, Pete Smith, Dan Backlund, David Landon, and the late John Piccard to Joe Saint, David Carrico, Annelies Echols, Carlos Armesto, Chris Cargill, John Pollard, and Dan Rigazzi.
We’d like to thank our April sponsor: Search Influence. Want to be a sponsor? Email Julia@SiliconBayouNews.com!