Semper Paratus: Catapulting your Career with a Lesson from Woodstock



Semper Paratus is not just the motto of the US Coast Guard; it’s the foundation of success. Being “Always Prepared” is a delicate balance of embodying discipline, flexibility, and trust.

This coming weekend marks the 50th anniversary of Woodstock; three days of music with half a million people coming together for connection and peace, setting the tone for the next several decades of rock & roll and festival scene. TalentPlus has several events on the calendar, private and public, that are commemorating this momentous occasion. In search of some fun facts to include in a video TalentPlus shared last week for our upcoming events and agency happenings, we stumbled on a story that demonstrates how preparedness can catapult your career forward.

The story that stood out was that of Richie Havens and how his opening set at Woodstock garnered the recognition for 40+ years of touring and recording more than 20 albums.

The first slot on a festival bill is where the newbies go— it’s where half the audience hasn’t shown up yet, and the opener’s job is to whet the audience’s whistles for the “headliners”. Opening acts can be the first thing to get cut, like when St. Louis local Nick Gusman was scheduled to open for the Steve Miller Band and Marty Stuart a few weeks ago but got cut due to weather. Opening for another band can introduce your music to new folks. Simply put, it’s a burden and a gift for the developing artist. So what made Richie so lucky at Woodstock?

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity- Seneca

While the other opening acts fought their way through traffic to get into the Woodstock festival, Richie gave the audience a hell of a show. Richie was scheduled to open the festival with a 45 minute set, and other openers and headliners were scheduled after him. The day of the festival, however, several of the performers were stuck in traffic. When the festival producers asked Richie to fill the void, he stepped up and rocked on for nearly 3 hours.

He showed up early. He showed up prepared. He showed up with an open mind. He showed up for himself. He showed up for his community. He showed up.

Richie and his band started and kept the vibes going well beyond their 45 minute time slot. They showed up and showed the community that they were trustworthy. And when it comes to any relationship, business or otherwise, trust is the foundation.

Trust is the opening act to a long lineup of success and connection.

With the crash of Fyre Festival just two years ago, trust continues to be at the epicenter of the entertainment industry. Numbers on exactly how many music festivals are happening annually are unclear, but according to a Billboard study done in 2015, approximately 1/5 of the US population attends major music festivals, and we can only imagine what that number looks like in 2019. With an industry so fixed on risk and reward, at the mercy of trends, weather, and tight timetables, trust is imperative.

Richie’s story is a microcosm of a larger conversation in business: the interdependence of preparation, opportunity, and trust.  The question we have to ask ourselves is:

What can we do today to prepare ourselves to be trusted partners in our industries?

I’d love to hear how you’re exploring these ideas in your business!


- written by Ciara Brewer, Director of Business Development at TalentPlus

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