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Always Pay the Busker

Johnny Molson


Accountants, chiropractors, car dealers, and roofers all need a little busker in them.

A busker gets up in the morning with one mission: Make something remarkable. Ya gotta love that. Well, you don’t “gotta,” but you oughta.

Seth Godin has written a few times about the similarities between a busker and a business. Both are offering something of value that you will, hopefully, find interesting enough to pay money for it. Therein is your challenge. Did you get up this morning and produce something so remarkable that it will stop people from walking past you?

The similarities between busking and business sometimes get missed because it implies the only way to gain attention is by being a street performer or artist. It suggests that you must be “out there” and do something utterly original, even unorthodox. Advertisers then fling themselves out of orbit and become the “zany-screaming-mattress-guy” or the “I’ve-lost-my-mind-car-dealer.” Woah, horse. Woah.

The goal is not to knock people out of their seats with a pie to the face and splash them with seltzer water. The goal, regardless of your business, is to make your thing more interesting than the other person’s thing.

The rub, as the busker knows too well, is some people aren’t interested. That’s okay. You’ll never get them all, and you don’t have the capacity to handle them all even if you did. What you want is something that is special and meaningful to someone. It should be remarkable. People must remark about what you did for them. One becomes two. Two become four.

Accountants, chiropractors, car dealers, and roofers all need a little busker in them. It’s an obligation to offer something, anything, that an accountant just like you doesn’t (or can’t) offer. An unexpected 13th donut from the baker. The “I’ll be on time or you don’t pay” plumber. A painter who can paint your home before you get home from work.

Are you offering something people will talk about? Something they will need to talk about. This isn’t “fireworks” stuff. Instead, something meaningful to the customer that the mope down the street selling the same thing will not do.

If you see a street performer today, pay the busker. Because on that corner, at that time, the busker did something that caught your attention and was meaningful to you.

Pay the busker for the lesson you were just given.

Johnny Molson

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