You have probably heard the old saying that “the devil is in the details.” Well I don’t know exactly where the devil might be at any given time but he’s not in the details. What’s in the details is success. Little things matter, often they matter a lot.
Van Halen was the first big name band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. Instead of Detroit Michigan for instance they would do a concert in Lansing or Grand Rapids. They would pull up to the venue with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard for that kind of arena was three trucks, max.
Their show was a huge production and their standard contract included a rider with a ton of technical specifications, some were meant to improve the production but many were meant to provide a safe environment for both the band and the audience.
The rider included a clause that required bowls of M&M’s to be placed in the band’s dressing room and backstage. Also buried deep inside the rider was this item: “There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.”
Now the band took a lot of heat for that requirement and as the story goes David Lee Roth would go ballistic upon seeing a brown M&M in the bowl. It made the whole band seem like a bunch of spoiled prima-donnas.
But there was method to their apparent madness.
With literally thousands of technical specifications in their rider they wanted a quick way of determining whether or not the venue had throughly read and complied with the requirements for a safe and successful show.
When the band would walk backstage or into their dressing room and see brown M&M’s, they knew that details had been missed. They knew that if one detail had been missed then it was very likely that other details had been missed too and some of those details could get someone seriously injured or even killed.
Every time they saw brown M&M’s they went through the rider with the venue in great detail and always found things that were missed. When they didn’t see brown M&M’s they were able to do a much briefer review of the rider and literally never saw anything else missed.
This rock and roll group, notorious for excessive partying and “other” stuff besides their music developed a fool proof way of determining whether or not the venue was paying attention to the little things.
Val Halen knew that the little things make a big difference. They knew that small problems have a way of becoming bigger. They knew that success was in the details.
How about you? Do you settle for “close enough” when excellent is within reach? Does the lazy part of you (yes, almost all of us have a lazy part) “settle” for good enough because great seems like a little too much work?
The most successful people know that either you pay attention to the details now or you will absolutely pay the consequences later.
What are you paying today?