Are you a sell out?
For my dollar, that's one of the most annoying questions in the world. There seems to be this line of thinking that passion, money and doing the work that you love should never result in some big payday. If it does, the individual who pulls that lever is, in some way, selling out. My anger with that sentiment stems back to my days in the music industry. My specific genre of interest was hard rock and heavy metal and this resentment happened all of the time. If a band became popular, they were a sell out. It happened to Metallica, it happened to Slayer and it happened to everyone.
What do you make of that?
I'm not sure what to think of it, other than it's stupid. I don't think anyone can willfully create something with the knowledge of knowing that people will love it and that it will make them lots of money. There are too many factors involved that are out of anyone's control. Speaking of Metallica, the drummer, Lars Ulrich, always had the best response to individuals who asked him whether or not he thought that the band had sold out. He would always say, "yes, we're a sell out. We sell out each and every seat in every venue that we play on any given night." And, if you have seen the band play live, they do not disappoint. I'm sure that when Marc Ecko sold his company, he either worried that people would think that he was a sell out and there were probably those who did say that. Ecko is such an interesting and charismatic business leader. He was the creative and fashion genius behind Eckō Unltd. (which has become a billion dollar fashion and lifestyle company). His marketing antics have been well documented (remember the tagging of Air Force One?). Ecko is still semi-actively involved in the multiple fashion brands that he created (Eckored, Marc Ecko Cut & Sew and Zoo York), but spends the bulk of his current time working on Complex Media. As if that's not enough, he is one of the most generous philanthropists out there. I had the pleasure of interviewing him a few times (you can hear him on my podcast right here: SPOS #377 - Marc Ecko Builds Brands That Sell But Don't Sell Out) and he recently released a stunning business book called, Unlabel - Selling You Without Selling Out. A couple of months ago, Ecko appeared on a great video podcast by Chase Jarvis to talk about his life and his book. I recently watched it, and it's a compelling story about brands in the modern world that everybody working in the marketing industry should check out.
In fact, it turns out that you can sell yourself without selling out...