One has had hit television shows and movies, making over a million dollars an episode. His name is known throughout the nation. He sold out the Fox Theatre in Detroit and was greeted by a standing ovation.
By the time Charlie Sheen had finished his show, however, many in his audience had already left the venue, or remained to boo and jeer his performance.
At another Midwestern city, in another beautiful and classic theatre, a woman you may not have heard of walked onto the stage to a great ovation.
The difference is, Jeanne Robertson got another ovation from the audience when her performance had concluded.
You may wonder, how does a woman — who acknowledges from the stage she is no youngster anymore — with little national exposure (certainly no #1 hit television show), no controversy, no TMZ or Entertainment Tonight coverage, pack the same theaters as Charlie Sheen, and find her shows “winning” instead of losing the crowd?
She respects her audience.
I’ve known Jeanne for almost three decades now, and I do not know another speaker who has worked harder at her craft. She makes Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours seem like a minor investment of time and effort. And, even as Jeanne — now in her 60′s — is enjoying the greatest success in her career, she continues to labor over her content and delivery as hard as ever.
And, unlike Charlie, she walks on stage without an elaborate video introduction, flashy graphics, or “Goddesses.” She, armed with only a microphone and her wit, takes the audience for a ride that leaves them thrilled every time.
Charlie Sheen, on the other hand, seemed to just “wing it” in front of the Detroit audience — perhaps expecting his mere presence would be enough to satisfy the crowd — and quickly learned that when customers today spend their hard-earned money, even hard-core fans expect you are going to bust it to provide them an experience.
It seems as though the “torpedo of truth” in Detroit came from the audience and not the performer.
Reviews have indicated Sheen significantly changed his show, and provided his next audience in Chicago something more worthwhile. At least he’s learning. But, why should you expect your audience to pay for your “on the job” training? (And, would you wager they would EVER pay to see him again? I wouldn’t.)
However, what he discovered the hard way this weekend is something Jeanne Robertson already knows. And, it’s something every business must realize as well.
No matter what your success has been — and regardless of the industry in which you do business — every time you hit the stage, your audience has a right to expect a compelling experience from a professional who respects them.
In today’s marketplace, none of us can rest on our laurels, no matter how widespread and popular they may be.