I took my kids to see Spiderman: Homecoming and two things jumped out at me: 1. The new Spiderman is a total cutie and 2. the filmmakers decided to skip telling his origin story.
I guess at this point we all know it. Peter Parker gets bitten by a special spider, blah, blah, blah, he can crawl up walls and has super strength. I guess they didn’t need to put it in this film this time around, but it made me think about how things get started.
Peter Parker didn't ask to be bitten by that spider -- it just happened to him and changed his life in a way that there was no turning back. I feel that way a lot about my path. I went to see a musical and became an instant addict. I didn't choose theater, theater chose me. And now, I am VP of business development at the Broadway startup Show-Score.com.
I love hearing stories of how people came to be where they are in their career. The business of Broadway is a very weird world of entertainment and most people who work in it have a unique origin story. Like my friend Mark Shacket.
Mark went to college in Buffalo, with the intention of getting his MBA and becoming an accountant. He played clarinet in the school orchestra, and since he had a passion for numbers, he was also a manager of sorts. The orchestra took a trip to perform in New York City and somewhere between wetting his reed and organizing transportation of the flutists, he took a walk. He found himself on 44th Street, off Times Square, the epicenter of Broadway. He thought, “There’s money in these buildings and someone needs to manage it.” It was his "bit by a spider moment," only rather than super strength, his spider had jazz hands.
Mark put his newfound passion for theater to work immediately. He subscribed to industry newsletters and after examining the credits in the Playbill of a touring company production of Les Miserables, he learned that "company manager" was the job he wanted. He went to see shows at the local theater and would wait at the stage doors with other fans after shows. Only he wasn't asking for stars' autographs, he was asking who the company manager was and offering to take them out for drinks. These people were on the road from city to city and were more than happy to take the time with some kid who would listen to their Broadway war stories.
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A year before graduation, he sent out hundreds of cover letters and his resume. He heard back from exactly one person, who told him that he was not qualified for any job he had open, but offered to meet with Mark the next time he was in New York City. “I told him I happened to be coming to New York in two weeks, hung up the phone and booked a bus ticket immediately”, Mark told me.
Mark eventually found a low-level job worked his way up the ladder steadily. And finally, seven years after his spider bite, his name was listed in Playbill as company manager for -- you guessed it -- a touring company's production of Les Miserables.
Mark has since stopped touring and, along with his partners, runs Foresight Theatrical, the Broadway office where he got that first job. His company manages the business behind shows like Miss Saigon, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and next year's King Kong. Not too shabby.
I asked Mark if he credits his origin story to hard pure hard work or a little bit of luck.
He smiled as he told me, “You can’t make luck happen, but you can hasten her approach.”
Here are three things he did -- and any of us can do -- to speed up our transformation into the superhero we always dreamed of becoming:
- He studied a business he wanted to enter.
- He went out and connected with the people in the industry.
- He built relationships over years and years.
Do you have a cool origin story? If not, it's never too late to reboot and start over again!