Published on September 9th, 2011 | by Dustin Baerg


The BEST tool you can have

A lot of people will tell you that having the right tool can make the job so much easier. Instead of fighting for hours getting something to work, just a couple minutes with this magical tool and you are done.

A diversion from the usual technical aspect of the industry, I would like to talk a bit about the mental game that can help you in your quest to become more successful in your career. This is the ultimate tool as having the right mindset can help you overcome many hurdles that would otherwise keep you from growing.

Learn from failure

Although not specific to the industry, there is a lot to be said about being able to learn from your failures. If a plan goes wrong and things just don’t work out right always make sure to take the time and analyze why. Try and identify the issues so they can be addressed and not happen on the next project. Successful people learn from their failures and are able to apply that knowledge can go on to incredible success. People who don’t recognize and learn from failure are always afraid of making a mistake or “screwing something up.” When I took a motorcycle course, the instructor told us this interesting concept which he called “WYLIWYG”, an acronym for “where you look is where you go.” The point was that if you are trying to avoid hitting an object, constantly focusing on it will cause you to veer in that direction. The lesson was that you can’t focus on the problem but have to look beyond it. This is applicable in all sorts of situations.

Never accept no for a (technical) answer

When faced with a technical challenge, we sometimes give up and decide to ourselves that “it just can’t be done” or “there is just no way.” If you have exhausted all the options you can think of, it is time to dig a little deeper. Call tech support. Ask questions. Having the tenacity to dig and dig until you get an answer can be the key to impress your management and move up the ladder in your company.

Network like Crazy

There are few things as powerful as the ability to network. Regardless of what you are doing, there is a people element to it and to ignore that is to miss the ultimate point. People are social and want to connect with others. It is easy for technical minded people to get focused in the technology but miss the chance to connect with people. If nobody knows who you are, they don’t care about technical issues you may be having and are less willing to help. Being able to call upon your network can help get things done or figured out in a hurry. As you build your professional network, you are increasing the opportunity for future growth and allowing people to recognize you as someone who is serious about the industry.

Know where to get the Answer

No matter how smart you are, there is always someone who knows more than you. Rather than trying to know everything, it is much more powerful to be able to find the answer to any problem. I once worked with a guy that had an incredible list of contacts in their phone – if you had a question about anything technical, he could get someone on the phone with the answer in under a minute. Since he had built up his network, there were people willing to help out with a bit of their expert knowledge.

Never Stop Growing

Personal development is arguable the best thing you can do for yourself professionally. What do I mean exactly? If you stop learning, you stop growing as a person. This applies to technical as well as social knowledge. Take an honest look at yourself and identify things you could work on that would make you a more rounded person. I constantly try to identify and resolve deficiencies that I see – fears, prejudice, frustrations, misunderstandings. If you are committed to always growing yourself, you create a positive environment that inspire other people to do the same.

These are just some of the many “tools” that I use on a daily basis to further myself in this industry.

What is the best mental tool you have learned that helped you become successful in the AV Industry? Leave a comment below and join the discussion.


About the Author

Dustin has been involved in the Professional Audio Visual industry for 20 years, working for integrators both big and small. Learning the ropes through many years of trial, error, and firsthand experience, Dustin is passionate about creating resources to help share the knowledge that he has obtained the "hard" way.

3 Responses to The BEST tool you can have

  1. Steven Douglas says:

    Great article. There is a story that Henry Ford was facing a competency hearing because people thought he was losing his mind. He could not answer many questions his detractors thought were significant to his company. During a hearing he was supposedly asked questions he couldn’t answer and the questioner thought he had the gentleman. Henry Ford is reported to reply “I do not need to know the answers to your questions, what I need to know is who does.” While most of we Tech Geeks feel lessened if we do now know an answer, the worse condition is not knowing that we can find a person with the answer and be willing to ask. Our business is far too broad and covers way too many disciplines for one person to know everything about everything. Stay calm, be cool, and don’t let frustration close your mind to options. Sometimes another pair of eyes doing exactly what you just did will see something you didn’t. If you have ever written a large document you know that a reviewer will generally find something you missed no matter how often you went over it. The mind has a tendency to insert data that doesn’t exist because it sees what you think should be there.

    • Admin says:

      Thanks for the feedback.

      You are dead on with technical people holding onto information without seeing the bigger picture. I really feel that if you can become the person who can connect people who have questions with people who have answers (without trying to directly profit from the exchange), your value to society increases. As your value to society grows, you will eventually reap benefits through this.

  2. Ben says:

    This is a great article. Especially the part about not giving up on something even though it seems impossible. I have often had to come up creative solutions around problems. Especially with the new analog sunset; HDMI is already posing a ton of interop problems.

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