Did you watch RTE’s Frontline the other night? It was a “youth special” focusing on how the current economic and political state of affairs are affecting the young people of Ireland.

Overall the show wasn’t great, but it did have some great bits, including a good point from Bill Cullen.


The reaction the his points have been somewhat mixed and if you watch the clip you can see it in the audience. Half the people applaud him when he says “Get out there and work,” “make your own success,” but the other half get very defensive when he calls their (i.e. my) generation ‘Molly-Coddled’.

The Bad

Personally, I loved the advice he was giving, but I’ll start with what I disliked. Besides the obvious condescending tone and the hilarious “in my bare feet” remarks, what he didn’t acknowledge was their right to complain. If they feel their elected representatives are doing a poor job or if they think the system of government should change then they have the right to voice their opinion and suggest alternatives.

The Good

But on everything else he was spot on. He made the point later in the show that economic cycles like this “happen in the same way every couple of decades, it repeats in cycles just like the weather.” He also made the point that voting won’t get you a job, especially when all our politicians are the same.

It may sound pessimistic and gloomy, but it’s great advice. If you want to change the system then by all means engage yourself in those matters, but if you want to change your own situation – i.e. get a job – then blaming other people will get you nowhere. Shouting at politicians and “taking to the streets” will only leave you with a false sense of accomplishment and zero steps closer to earning a living.

Creative Industries, Listen Up

The reason I’m posting this here is because I’ve seen the same debate many times before in business. It’s a crippling argument because both sides feel opposed to one another, but both are often right.

I’ve had many conversations with musicians, photographers and writers in which I’ve felt like Bill Cullen in that clip.

The conversation mostly starts when we talk about the internet, with the artist hurt that people are downloading their music illegally, or copying their photos or articles without permission. Much like the students on front line, their arguments are always moral and ethical ones:

There should be stricter regulation on file sharing. The Government are bailing out the banks but not me. Copyright law should be enforced better. The Government should do more to create jobs. People shouldn’t steal my music!

Those are all fair points, so I rarely say that they’re wrong. In fact I try to avoid getting into a discussion on what should or shouldn’t be the case, what is or isn’t morally correct or if file sharing is “technically” theft. I try to concentrate on what is the case, what concrete concrete actions they can take by themselves to make their own situation better.

I will always end up saying something along the lines of this:

Take the current situation as default. People will download your music for free. That’s the new ‘square one’, now how do we build a business model around this fact.

In just the same way, Bill’s core point was that you should assume that the Government are going to be useless, nobody is going to help you and that complaining will get you nowhere. Take this as square one and ask yourself “How do I move forward from here?”

That’s what I do in business, help musicians come up with creative ways to “Compete with Free” and that’s the advice Bill was giving to the young people in the audience – get creative, learn lessons from history and work hard.

With that attitude it doesn’t matter if the government lets you down, you’ll do just fine without them. If, by some miracle they manage to turn the country around, all the better.