So, where did we leave off last time? Ah yes, I was ready to lose it after 20 hours of traveling. It then took me another 43 hours of traveling until I finally arrived at my next event in Florida where I am currently. Let's just say when my business partner picked me up at the airport, I was quite cranky!!
But let's go back to Abu Dhabi. Day 2 we had a safety meeting with the rest of the athletes. These are not typical in all honesty but when I was on Team Canada they were because they have to have control over the group. I was able to meet all the other athletes from many different walks of life as the organizer debriefs us on the rules and regulations of the UAE. Here I met Danny Moesl from BagJump, who I had met before but had never had the chance to actually jump with. He is the second best jumper in the world and has jumped from 52 meters with a triple.
After a short meeting we all walked as a group to the organizer tent which was a few miles away. Outside was about 40 Degrees Celcius and I got a nice sunburn in a very short amount of time. Seriously. We then sat around for an hour while they got our accreditations. Then we went out and waited some more. Followed by a ride to our location for the event... and waited some more. Then The sun set and we waited around for a while. We ended up leaving at 10 pm after sitting around for the entire day. The equipment was not really set up so we couldn't even do much training.
The next day was a lot of the same but people actually got to run through their show quickly and time it with the DJ. The wind was picking up so we ended up waiting until about 11pm before I actually got a jump from the top. The whole day consisted of a safety meeting with Danny discussing how we would get to the top of the 26 meter platform. Then we sat around and then I went for a walk and took a few pics and then sat down. Then had a nap. Then Was told I am jumping in rehearsal in 10 minutes. Then I was told 3 seconds later that that was not happening. Then I was told It was happening in 30 minutes. Then I was told that the safety coordinator had to leave so I have to wait. Do you see the pattern?
I got my 2 seconds of adrenaline after a pain in the ass climb up a latter and then that was the day. Sounds Fun Doesn't it.
Day 3 was show day 1 and everything was in a trial phase. No one knew when to really go and how long each show was and if the music would match up. All in all though it was simple and everyone put on great performances. So the next several days were pretty much the same. Over the next few days people started to feel the strain and some injuries. Many athletes were not accustomed to doing 3 shows a day for 10 days, so after day 3/4 people started realizing the limit of their physical ability. Rolled Ankles, Over used Knee joints, neck problems from hard airbag landing etc. My gymnastics conditioning allowed me to walk around unscathed but most athletes do not condition as much as I do.
It is quite interesting to see how happy and motivated everyone is the first few days, but as each day passes people start to slow down, it gets quieter and there is a cloud of soreness and boredom that gets a bit thicker every day. You would think that we would all go and have fun at the festival between shows...NO.... everyone just wants to relax and conserve energy for their next performance. Many athletes need physio or relaxing techniques between shows. After Day 5 it was typical to go into the common area and see people foam rolling, massaging each other, sleeping, eating, listening to music, secluded from everyone else.
By Day 10 everyone is in a routine of their own, so to speak. The first few days athletes were cheering each other on and by Day 9 people were tending to focus more on themselves and less on others. However, by the time the last day rolled around, there was a spike of adrenaline as everyone realized we would all be moving on and it was our last chance to perform. You would see athletes and performers alike throw down some of their biggest tricks and stunts. That is normal as well.
I know I have painted this picture of how life on the road can be boring as well as tiring but let's take a minute and look at some of the positives. And believe me, there are a lot!!
Best part for me, hands down, not just seeing a new country or city, but experiencing it. When you're in a new country for 10 days or more, it opens your eyes to new experiences and new ways of life. When you never travel, people tend to get very wrapped up in their own "events" let's say and forget to try new things. I've asked a lot of questions and learned a lot of things while overseas, from local mentality to hierarchy of UAE royalty to economy structure and monetary policy referendums. I also tend to walk a lot when I'm on the road. It's a great way to stretch your legs, think, relieve stress and also see the city close up.
The experience and knowledge you get after any trip is amazing. Besides experiencing new surroundings and new culture, you also get to see things you can't see in your own backyard. You will meet new people and see life from a different perspective. It's easy to say "who cares" but the reality is that we have 170,000,000 square miles of space on the earth, so we should go see what each country has to offer.
If you do not like to learn or experience new things then go coach at a regular gym and that's fine. To do what we do you need to have a sense of curiosity and adventure. Not everyone really cares about that, which is fine, but if you are thinking of being a professional performer or anything you need to realize that if that is not in your nature it will get really hard really fast.
Throughout the days I made great friends who I connected very well with. We have a group on facebook now so we can all chat. I have a feeling we will all remain connected for a long time. It is great to make new friends. Traveling alone however is not really fun. My recommendation is that if you are new to it try to get in a group or have at least one other person to help you get use to it. Its hard to just pack up on your own and go to event to event. You may have to at the start though but try and get some company.
I also made a lot of business connections. Promotional videos on huge scales were contemplated and networking was going on every minute of every day. If you love business then this is great. Out of that one event, we potentially have 12 others now that I am currently working on. And that is how it happens. You pay money to go to an event. You meet someone there who gives you a suggestion then you follow that and hope it gets you somewhere even better. Then you repeat that process over and over again. So one way to look at it is like out of 15 major events I would do in a year, I make probably around 6 potentials at each one. On average I will have about 100 projects and events on the go per year. Usually about 10 are major big ones like a Devin Super Tramp video or America's Got Talent or an Australian tour that I am doing this year. The others are discussed and worked on but never come through for a variety of reasons. This is normal. In a year I will roughly make 500 real business connections. These are counted as a connection with a TV host or the President of USAG or something big. On top of that I will make probably another 1,000 minor connections that are like potentials for the future or good athletes that are well respected on their own social media. Then we will get the fans. Last year we increased our fan base by 75K from around the world. Out of all that I am strategizing how to connect people and how to get to new events and new gigs and new promotions. Everyone knows someone and I plan to find out who you know. That's how networking works in a nutshell. I will write a more in depth article on networking techniques but that gives you a good overview for now.
Now let's talk about the fun!!! Having fun is very important when you are on the road. Just like a muscle needs to get a day off, so does the brain and a nice party and several beers does that nicely. This may sound bad but I prescribe socializing (ie parties) to people at least once a week, If you do not let your hair down it is easy to get all wound up and start making rash emotional business decisions that hurt your company.
Did I mention that attending socials is a great time to network? When people are relaxing that is when you see who they really are because the inhibitions turn off and you can see that person for who they are. That's when you decide to do business with them or not. For you inexperienced guys, if you go out with business people, they are judging you and watching you. My advice... be yourself but also do not cross the line. You are still 'working'. Do not put up a front or they will know. Barriers make it harder to do business with and that is a deal breaker. Most people know that when you attend a party you are making more connections then actual business plans and logistics.
So is this the life you want? I can't tell you. I have shared my stories of this event which is pretty typical. Miscommunication, a lot of waiting around and injuries but along with a lot of fun, networking and meeting new people and making new friends.
Just make sure you are honest with yourself before you make the leap. Don't think you can just do it because you watched a cool Parkour video where they looked like they just have fun and party all day. It is not like that. Not even close. Some events are but there is a lot of stress and boredom and emotions running high.
Ill leave off with a story from Bello Nock. He told me this in Sarasota 2 days ago. Years ago, two very talented performers who were brothers used to get into fist fights at shows because emotions ran high and they never had space apart.. The stress of performing destroyed their careers.
Thanks hope you learned something!
Gregory V. Roe