Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 7/17/2023
In the late 19th Century, the Luddites protested the beginnings of automation in the vast mills because people would lose their jobs. In the late 20th Century the taxi industry protested in the streets because of the acceptance of Uber, and drivers could lose their jobs.
Today the mills are automated. When I began consulting in the early 70s, it took 20 people in each of three shifts to run a paper machine in a large plant. Today it requires only two. The taxi industry now has technological ride-hailing, credit card machines, clean cabs, and drivers who speak English and know where your destination is located. They’ve adapted.
Some time ago, on social media (where else?) a woman was pleading with readers not to use automated cashier machines in markets because cashiers would lose their jobs. The corollary, I guess, would be not to use planes because railroad workers would lose jobs, or to refrain from autos because all those people clearing horse manure at urban street corners would be out of work.
Time marches on, modernity evolves, innovation flourishes. We may speak of “horsepower” but no one is riding a horse on the interstate.
And now we have the Hollywood writers and actors striking because they perceive that streaming services and studios migrating away from regular network shows are hurting their income. For example, they want greater royalties from streaming services which generally provide far less residual income than traditional broadcast TV. (Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David today receive about $50 million annually from the rebroadcast of Seinfeld episodes.)
But the nature of streaming produces fewer shows—perhaps eight in a season as compared to over 20 on the traditional networks—and less syndication globally, because they’re available widely from the outset. And writers feel that the studios are allowing for too much freelance writing from others. But how else can you diversify outlooks, experiences, styles, and approaches?
And let me proclaim here that studios and studio executives enriching themselves and not sharing the wealth more equitably with the creative people is reprehensible. Robert Iger, CEO at Disney, will make $27 million this year. Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix, pulled in $50 million last year.
Time marches on.
It’s time to adapt, not demand that the calendar be frozen. You need to add value, not demand that you receive more for your current value. (This is the problem with teachers’ unions, they don’t want performance to be evaluated or improved, they simply want more money for everyone without offering improvements in performance.)
Ironically, the Tony Awards were presented this year without any scripted material because of the writers’ strike. The show was immensely successful without all the pathetic banter, and ended exactly on time, not the usual hour late. I believe that’s called “empirical evidence.”
I have to admit, the site of Meryl Streep (net worth $160 million), Al Pacino ($130 million/ $10 million per movie), Barbra Streisand ($400 million), and Tom Cruise ($600 million/ $25 million per move) on a picket line would make me giddy, unless, of course, their valets marched in their place.
Believe me, my journey has not been a simple journey of progress. There have been many ups and downs, and it is the choices that I made at each of those times that have helped shape what I have achieved. —Satya Nadella (CEO of Microsoft)
Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning. —Benjamin Franklin
All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath. —F. Scott Fitzgerald
I made mistakes in drama. I thought drama was when actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries. —Frank Capra