Taking Responsibility

February 26, 2008 by Mike Walter

Last week I discussed how using an assistant (or “back-up” or “Music Mixer” or whatever title you’re comfortable with) will help make you a better entertainer. Two weeks ago I also detailed how important it is to have such an “entry-level” position in your company in order to ease new people into your roster and allow them to start earning some money right away.So by now the point should be made, right?

Well, at the risk of piling on, I’ve got one more very important reason to have a “music mixer” type position that you can start new people out in:

Responsibility and Professionalism can only be proven over the course of time.

You as an owner or manager of a Multi-Op know that having DJs who show up when and where they are supposed to show up is vital to your success. So when you interview you ask these people if they are responsible and they say, “Yes.” Then if you’re thorough you call their references and ask them if this candidate is responsible and they say “Yes.” So you’re golden, right?


Of course a candidate looking for a new job is going to tell his hoping-to-be-future employee that he is responsible. And of course he is also going to provide references who will say the same. That manager of the Pizza Hut I walked out on? I think I’ll leave that one off the application.

So the only true way to test someone’s responsibility and professionalism is to put him out in the field and see. See if they show up, week after week, on-time and ready to work. That is the main reason I ask my music mixers to assist for 3-6 months before inviting them into emcee training. Sure the experience they gain during that time is valuable but I could train someone without it if I had to. To me the mixing they do while they are in training is far more important anyway.

My main goal is to weed out the candidates that came on strong in the interview and said all the right things and then start showing up late or phoning out when the weather gets nice. Those are people I might keep around on my mixing roster but I’m NEVER going to waste my time training to mix. I can handle when my assistants phone out (we always have at least one on call anyway) but if one of my emcees can’t make an event, look out! So by the time they get to that phase, heck by the time they start training to get to that phase, they have already passed the test of being responsible.

One of my favorite quotes ever is from Woody Allen who said, “80% of success is just showing up.” My goal in the first 3 months of someone’s employment here at Elite Entertainment is to find out if you possess the ability to be successful. And “Showing Up” is a major factor.

Mike Walter’s emceeing career began in his hometown of Queens, New York in 1984. With an eye towards radio, Mike attended Connecticut School of Broadcasting in 1988 where he was chosen from his class of 25 as “Most Likely to Succeed.” After school, Mike helped to develop a staff of DJs from 12 to over 50 by training new recruits and handling an increasingly complex schedule. In early 1993, Mike felt an increasing desire to venture out on his own and by March of that year he became a partner in a much smaller Mobile DJ company, Elite Entertainment. He quickly had an impact on the Elite staff, imposing his high standards of emceeing and DJing. Mike bought out his partner in 1998 and Elite Entertainment has continued its growth (21 emcees in 2006) and sets the standard for excellence in New Jersey. Mike has always believed in training talent from within and his message has helped show hundreds of DJs from across the country that it is possible to grow their companies without sacrificing quality.

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