Moments of Conception 099 — The Telemarketing Room from Boiler Room

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today’s clip comes from the telemarketing scene from Boiler Room:

What can we learn?

You can’t sell from an empty wagon. Every creator should schedule time to do business. Even if you’re like me, someone who’d rather be heard than paid, an artist who doesn’t sell, suffers. Period. It’s a part of the job description and it can’t be coughed away. The irony is, before we even think about darkening people’s doorsteps, we need an inventory from which to sell. Otherwise we’re just visiting. I’m reminded of my very first website, which went viral before viral was viral. Thanks to a slew of major media interviews, the site ended up getting so much traffic that the server crashed. Which was exciting, but also frustrating, because none of the traffic was converting. No customers. No sales. No click throughs. No exciting new business opportunities. Just a mountain of squandered attention. Angry and confused, I called my marketing professor to ask what I might be doing wrong. And he said something I’ll never forget. I don’t think you know what your product is. He was right. I didn’t have an inventory. I was trying to sell from an empty wagon. Seth’s telemarketer wasn’t. He had a great product to sell, he just hadn’t yet mastered the tools to sell it well. Are your customers asking to buy a product you don’t presently sell?

The art of creation selling. Every salesperson has to demonstrate a valid reason for their persistence. Otherwise they’re just an annoying interruption. However, the economic advantage that artists have over other types of salespeople is, their inventory is as vast and varied as their imagination allows it to be. They actually kill two stones with one bird, leveraging the process of creation to expedite the practice of selling. Consider the young freelance fashion designer. She is disciplined enough to carve out a predictable, repeatable time to make art, every day. And she is savvy enough to publish new sketches and designs and ideas and experiments on her online portfolio every single day. But while her daily gift to the world builds up a huge surplus of goodwill in the marketplace and helps people discover the trail of breadcrumbs that lead back to her paid work, more importantly, she is creating an recurring cycle. With every new piece of art she makes, she earns herself another opportunity to sell. And with every new piece of art she sells, she affords herself another opportunity to create. Certainly beats cold calling strangers. Are you bloodying your knuckles on doors that won’t open, or going where the doors are already open and leaving a package on the welcome mat?

Mattering is a choice. In the same way that the solar system is not obligated to provide us with the sun, the marketplace is under no such obligation to embrace our next creation. It’s nothing personal, just an existential reality. The universe is not built to care about us. Life pays no attention to what we require for it to be meaningful. Understanding this, however, can become a powerful creative motivator. Each of us can decide to take responsibility for our creative stake in the world. Instead of waiting for the market to create our work, we use our work to create the market. And instead of waiting on other people for permission to be creative, we use our art as instruments to force our way into the world. That’s why I love this particular scene. Seth is under no obligation to listen to the telemarketer’s pitch, just like his customers are under no obligation to listen to his stock tips. It’s all a matter of choosing to matter. How comfortable are you creating what you create, without knowing if anyone is going to pay for it?

What can we learn?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2014-2015.

Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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