Don’t Paint Seagulls!

July 18, 2012 by Arnoldo Offermann

Don’t paint seagulls…

When you are writing the script for an event’s activity, or planning a timeline, or when looking at lighting design. Don’t paint seagulls.

This is perhaps one of the greatest things I’ve learned in sales, thanks to the Sandler Sales Institute. To begin, let me quote the story from their websites,

“Let me tell you a story about eight-year-old Nancy, a student in the public school system. One day during art class, Nancy painted a picture. Considering her age and development as a young artist, the picture of a house and the setting sun was really quite good. However, it was obvious that the picture was unbalanced. Nancy had painted the house and the sun to the left side of the canvas.
Nancy’s art teacher, who held a master’s degree in art, observed the picture and said, “Nancy, this is really a fine painting. But, it needs something on the right side.” And with that, the teacher picked up a brush and painted a seagull in the upper right corner of the canvas. Nancy became very upset and began to cry.
That evening at the dinner table Nancy was still upset. Her father asked, “What’s the trouble, Nancy?” The little girl replied, “Nothing,” but her pouting face encouraged her father to continue pressing the issue. Finally, Nancy showed her father the painting. He admired it and said enthusiastically, “This is very good, Nancy. I really like the seagull.” At that, Nancy burst into tears and ran off to her bedroom.
After Nancy’s father learned that the seagull was the source of her unhappiness, he complained to the art teacher who, in her own defense, cited her reasoning and her credentials. Getting nowhere with the teacher, Nancy’s father visited the school principal, and then he contacted his attorney. One battle followed another and eventually both parties ended up in court. It was a long, drawn out trial with many hours of testimony about the freedom of expression, the role of an educator, and so on.
Having listened intently as both sides told their stories, the judge turned to Nancy and asked why she had become so upset about the seagull. Nancy replied, “Because I did not see it there.”
Case closed; decision in favor of Nancy.”

It’s pretty obvious where they were leading with this and where you can apply it to your industry. It’s also obvious that you really CAN sue anyone for ANYTHING.

Many times, I hear DJs discuss about that or that they’re throwing in free to surprise the client. News flash, with all the stress that the bride and groom go through, the last thing they really want are “surprises.”

Will you get a bride or groom who will be upset if throw in some uplighting as a freebie? Doubt it, though you should ask why you’re throwing in free uplighting as a surprise, haha. However, there are people who don’t want ANY sort of lighting at their event as it may pull from the image you have. For whatever reason you may have, always check with them first. Having a client upset because you broke their vision is an argument you do not want to be a part of.

Often, I hear of DJs mixing in toasts during the last dance, that’s fine (I guess); but do you know WHY they chose their last dance? If it’s a song with some sort of sentimental attachment, do you really want to mess with the integrity of their original vision? This is ESPECIALLY true for their first dance. Don’t mess with it– unless you’ve discussed this with them and it’s something they want. The same goes for dropping unexpected remixes of ANY of their important slow songs. I ran across a video of a couple whose first dance was redrummed. Why, dear God, why?!?!?!?

This doesn’t go for just the performance aspect, but sales as well. If you get a couple who want a simple afternoon wedding with light emphasis on anything that’s out of the norm, don’t overwhelm them with discussions about lighting, custom mixed dances, confetti blasts, etc. Have it all together in a packet for their review, but keep the focus on what they are asking you. Overwhelming them with unneeded options will make them believe you are the wrong entertainer for their event.

Don’t get this confused with a client who doesn’t know what they want or is open to options, there’s a whole different strategy set for those clients. However, those that know 100% what they want don’t want to waste time with a vendor who wants to discuss options they he/she thinks the client wants/needs.

It’s like going on a diet, having to question yourself before everything you do is painful. Ask yourself, “Will the client like if I _______?” Follow your instinct and do what you know is best for your client based on what THEY told you; never assume!

Arnoldo Offermann Arnoldo Offermann (40 Posts)

Arnoldo Offermann is the president of 4SchoolsOnly, a national phenomenon in school dances. In a market where DJs cry about $500 school DJs, 4SO sees 10-20x that price tag per event. Arnoldo is also the creator of Master School Dances, the leading educational tools for DJs wanting to get into this great market. He is a sought-after speaker, reviewer, and DJ tech-writer. You can learn more at

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