WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES
J O N A T H A N M A Y E R S
NEW YORK CITY
Photograph by Phil Knott
I. Meditation. It's helpful for me to down shift, focus and cut out the BS, which impacts me both personally and professionally. I also genuinely love being out in the world. Whether going to a book store, record shopping, checking out a new restaurant, talking to people, those interactions influence and inspire me. I like to think of immersing myself in these environments as an anthropological study of what's happening around me, learning about new communities, markets, trends, interests. For example, our partnership with David Korins Design, who designed and built the Bonnaroo arch and Outside Lands' Ranger Dave statue and who is also a theatrical designer, has inspired me to go see more broadway shows, to live in his world more and to better understand that space. How can I bring what he does to the work we're doing? Those experiences spur new concepts and ideas that are reflected in my work.
II. To me, wisdom comes from your accumulative life experiences. The successes and failures along the way make up your being, how you look at the world, how you grow and improve, you learn just as much from the failures as the successes. In fact, failure is what led us to creating Bonnaroo. As promoters in New Orleans we had been trying new concepts in unique venues, and booking some of our favorite bands but the more shows that we booked, the more money we lost. We knew we wanted to continue working in live music but we needed to take a step back and re-evaluate what we were doing and what our purpose was. We had decided from there to pursue a festival experience, we found out about this piece of property in Tennessee, which was around a days drive or less for a large part of the population, and we jumped in the car and drove there from New Orleans to check it out and that was it. It was definitely a high risk high reward situation, but that's where we were in our lives at that time. We had to be bold in order to make a change. We'd found the land, we built a first class team around us, and we went for it. Which raises another point that I identify with wisdom, which is learning from the people around you. One of the smartest investments we made from the very beginning was hiring the best operations and production teams in the business. We knew that talent was not the place to cut corners, and it's paid off. Our team brings a lot of experience to table. Who can teach you, and being open to learning in that capacity is one of the keys of our success.
III. We need to talk more about the “why?" aspect. Why do we do the things we do? We fall into this pace of just doing and not taking a step back to ask what's the purpose of my work and what's the purpose of my time. Asking “why" is such a valuable question. We don't ask ourselves this enough.
IV. I am for being out in the world.