This week I will be attempting something very difficult. Yesterday morning I came out to San Francisco where I am now working with a production crew to film four different promo videos in as many days for work. Our work will take us from an indoor pool in the East Bay to the streets of downtown San Francisco to the legendary Great American Music Hall to one of the nicest hotels in Palo Alto. My days will culminate in an industry lunch and board meeting in which I play my part as head of communications for my organization. But all that work, while rather difficult and tiring, is not the feat to which I am referring.
This week I will be Crossing the Streams.
This term was introduced to me almost two decades ago by my colleague, John S. whose quick, dry wit never failed to make me smile. I believe we were talking about the guest list for an upcoming party I was planning to throw. In addition to friends and family, I was also planning to invite a few folks from work. John felt the need to warn me:You realize that you are crossing the streams. You know what happens when you do that? You saw Ghostbusters, right?
Ah yes, of course I knew the reference. When Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson crossed the laser streams of their ray guns, the potential for grave danger and apocalyptic consequences was extremely high.
“Don’t cross the streams,” John warned me. We both smiled and went on with our conversation. But suddenly I felt a little nervous.
Since then I have had an appreciation for the threat of crossing the streams – purposely mixing people from different aspects of my life in some sort of setting. It’s one thing to throw friends together at a party where there is plenty to eat and drink to distract them, although you hope the Republicans and the Democrats never find each other over the seven layer dip. But crossing work colleagues and outside friendships is perhaps the scariest scenario of them all.
If you want to attempt this feat, your confidence level should be fairly high in its success because the consequences of failure are great. When crossing the streams of a close friend and a colleague for any reason, where do your loyalties lie? The stakes are astronomical on both ends. What if something goes terribly, terribly wrong and you have to take sides? That’s exactly right. You end up sprawled on the ground covered in marshmallow fluff – and there is no sequel for you. You, my friend, are screwed.
Knowing all of this, I am still crossing the streams big time this week. My organization needed to come up with and some really fresh and fun video concepts. And I needed to partner with a production team that could be super creative, nimble, talented and trustworthy. I knew of no such available team – except for one – Long Haul Films. The dynamic duo of Tom and Melissa Dowler are all of those things. And more. I had seen their work – gorgeous and creative wedding and music videos, documentaries, corporate work and videos featuring my Tribe in Manzanita. Oh wait. Did I say my Tribe in Manzanita? Yes I did. Melissa is part of my Tribe.
So I hired a dear friend for a really important work project which will involve getting very important people in my organization to do very silly things in the name of entertainment – all on a schedule tighter than a duck’s…. well , you get the idea. If the schedule slips, if someone screws up, when something goes wrong (it always does), do I risk losing my professional credibility or my friendship? What was I thinking?
Well, I’ll tell you. Having been
frightened of schooled in the dangers of crossing the streams early in life, I understand the perils and I rarely do it. That is, I don’t take it lightly. I thought long and hard about hiring Long Haul Films. I warned Melissa and Tom that like most organizations, mine was not immune to quirks, challenges, and characters – myself included. We both recognized the risk we were taking – their professional reputation is also on the line. But we moved forward because at the end of the day, I have 100 percent confidence in their work and approach because I DO know them. And, in fact, I feel as if I am in better hands than if I went with an unknown.
So if you hear this week of some sort of mystical energy force emanating from Bay Area, please tell folks not to panic. Let them know that it’s just a crossing of the streams – and despite the risks involved – we are all fairly certain it will be a happy ending.