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Pivoting While on Top

A great man once said, “Some people have a way with words, and other people…oh, uh, not have way.”

A great man once said, “Some people have a way with words, and other people…oh, uh, not have way.” That man is Steve Martin, who is the subject of a 2-part documentary that is currently streaming on Apple TV+. I have only watched the first part, which ends with Martin stepping away from comedy at the peak of his arena-filling height to make the switch to films. I have not watched Part 2 yet, so no spoilers, please. I get the feeling he does okay for himself, though.

Although some of his history is covered, the documentary focuses on the creative aspects of his comedy. It is interesting to watch him perform and refine that act for years, then finally get the acceptance he was looking for only to walk away from it.

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The documentary benefits from current Martin’s view of that time period in voiceover form, as well as read excerpts from a well-kept journal of those days. The decision to walk away came from what Martin saw as a dead-end for that format of comedy, and the desire to move forward.

Jim Henson: Idea Man one-sheet
Image courtesy of Disney+.

As luck would have it, another one of my creative heroes was the subject of a different recently released streaming documentary — Jim Henson: Idea Man on Disney+, directed by Ron Howard. This is also a look at the creative side of a man who saw the world differently, and not a full-blown biography.

And that is not where the coincidences end, as Idea Man chronicles how Henson ended the mega-successful The Muppet Show after five seasons because he felt he had done all he could with that format and wanted to move on to something else. Like Martin, Henson had worked for years to get someone to buy in to his idea of how the Muppets could work in a prime-time, adult-geared show, only to end it just as Muppet-mania peaked.

Henson also saw his future in films, going on to push the boundaries of puppetry in movies with The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. While dragged by the critics of the day, the documentary notes that both films have gone on to be considered classics.

It surprised me that the artistic aspects of the two men would have so many similarities, but then it dawned on me: That kind of drive to move forward, to find the next thing and conquer it, is not uncommon in creative folk.

Just look at custom integrators.

Publications (like this one) and buying groups often talk about adding new skills and products to a business for diversification and finding additional ways to service your customers. Those are both good reasons, but the service at the core of many CI businesses — AV — is still going strong, even making a big comeback for a couple of years thanks to the pandemic.

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So why go through the pains of adding a new product category? Why add networking, automation, shades, lighting, power management, and more? Seems like a lot of work, and it is.

But you know why you do it. Putting the business reasons aside, there is a passion for home electronics and all that it entails. Not just the individual electronics, but the magic of creating a whole-home system that integrates each and every aspect of it.

That is the integrator’s “moving into movies” creative flex — ironically moving away from just movies and home theater and embracing the unknown, mixing it with the known, and moving forward. In the process, you introduce bigger and better works of art.