May 2, 2013

When was the last time you crashed something? No, not a car. When was the last time you showed up unannounced and uninvited to an event, party, concert or wedding?

So let’s break this down.

The definition of Crash: To enter or attend without invitation

The definition of Invitation: A written or verbal request inviting someone to go somewhere or to do something.

There’s a difference between acting like you belong and believing you belong. Similarly, there’s a line, sometimes fine and sometimes thick, between being cocky and being confident. Same goes with the line between fearless and reckless. There’s decent ROI in flirting with these lines a little more, or just color outside the lines. I’ve been known to fall into the cocky, reckless quicksand a few times, but one way or another I seem to make it out alive with solid lessons in tact:

Invite Yourself:

If we wait for an invitation to everything we want to do, it’s likely we’re going to wait forever because people are busy and inviting you to do something may not be on the top of their list.  You might even be doing the ‘host’ a favor if you invite yourself, eh? Bottom-line is that we must create our opportunities versus wait for an invitation to take advantage of them. If you believe you belong, have you ever considered inviting yourself? You can trust someone will let you know if they feel strongly that you don’t belong. They’ll simply request that you make an exit.

Play the Domino Fear Game:                   

In the unlikely event you’re asked to exit, let’s think through the situation. I like to play the dominos game of “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” Ask yourself that question and then add, “Then what?” Continue to ask “Then what?” after each of your answers. Follow your fears all the way to the end. Ninety nine percent of the time that I play this game I find myself in some ridiculous made up situation where I have to live on my parent’s couch. Even then, that wouldn’t even be THAT bad because they have a pretty comfy couch and plenty of snacks. So what do you have to lose? A fellow crasher of mine ended up in shackles while working a Butterfinger event and he’s lived to tell about the sticky situation, in fact it has boosted his personal brand value. 

Bring Your Value:

Ask yourself. Do I belong? Can I add value? If not, it’s like showing up to a party without a hostess gift. It’s not polite. Example: I was traveling for business and found myself working in the hotel lobby bar during the NCAA Final Four tournament. A lad who ditched his fellow groomsmen upstairs in the ballroom was also watching this same game. (You know this isn’t going to turn out well, right?) Anyway, he asked me if I’d come up to the wedding reception because he was bored. I declined, I had work to do and that sounded shady. After losing a bet to him on the outcome of the game, I found myself wearing jeans and a tank top on my way to the very formal Jewish wedding reception. However, I knew my value: Social photographer. Yep, I knew the best photo apps for color correcting, photo splits and live storytelling. I was happy to share my expertise as my gift to the bride and groom (who were complete strangers). What bride doesn’t want to share (pro-quality!) photos of herself on her wedding day having a blast with her new husband, family and best friends? Speaking of, we became fast friends (on Facebook).

Blend in like it’s your job.

Learn to strike up a conversation. This boils down to social skills, your attendance relies upon this very skill. Example: My friend Jason might as well be a professional crasher (among other things). The front row of a Jay-Z concert, back stage at a presidential inauguration and courtside seats at an NBA Finals game are just a few boxes he’s checked. There’s no room he doesn’t feel he can’t get himself into because he’s able to blend in and he truly believes there’s no situation that he doesn’t belong in.

Example: Last year, he found himself, without tickets, to the NBA Finals game sitting in David Stern’s seat. Incase you’re not an NBA fan; David Stern is the Commissioner of the NBA. The most “important” senior person in the NBA (technically). To add to this ‘win’ Jason wound up getting a meeting at the league office and if things net out as planned, he’ll soon be working with the NBA in some capacity. This reminds me of the time I crashed the NBA Tech Summit, which is when I met Baron Davis who became a good friend and investor of my company. Crash gone right.

Act like you belong and get where you need to be. Put yourself in the right position to create opportunities. Act like you belong and act like you are where you need to be, just bring your value in your back pocket.

How do you apply this to yourself? What’s something you really, really want to attend? It could be for the development of your career or for your ultimate entertainment. No answer is too far fetched. Shoot for the moon; if you fall short, you’ll land among the stars.

(Btw, I totally ripped that moon quote off from someone, just too lazy to Google the author. I do give them credit though!)

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