Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Leadership Lessons from the Goose (The How & Why of DragonukConnects)

By Brian Dragonuk 

Reprinted with permission for

Those of you who have been around for a while know the story (a little bit) but I want everyone to understand this.

In July of 1999, I was faced with my full time job closing its doors for good.  I had about two months of vacation/sick leave, personal days, etc.  Companies are not known for sending checks to people after they go bankrupt so I started looking for a way to earn money while taking the time I was owed and building a bank account -– just in case it took a while to find new employment.

So at age 47 I went to the open call for “The Replacements,” was hired for three weeks, stayed three months, used all the time I had saved up, and banked two full-time employment checks each week while I could. I spent 43 (working) days on that 1st set with between 300-400 Other “Extras” each day (I later learned 15,000 Different Actors worked 1 or more paid days on that set as Extras). While other “Veteran” Actors were quick to Brag about other jobs they had completed almost NONE would tell you “How they found that job”, “Where they learned their Skills” Etc. The Veteran Actors were So Afraid of competition that 1 even had a list of the “Scam Agents” and sent new people directly to them so they would get burned and quit the business.

Today, DragonukConnects is the Outgrowth of My Plan (Formed on that set) to Provide Free or Very Low Cost, High Quality Information to Everyone & Anyone that wants it – Every job /Audition notice, Training session, Networking Event that I can find information on – Is passed on to EVERYONE that wants it.

You have the Choice of Deleting that Information or taking advantage of it.

And Now the Goose

What follows is something I have seen many times in many forms. I have seen it mostly attributed to Robert McNeish, (former Assoc. Superintendent of Baltimore Public Schools) but it is also attributed to others as well. I Have Added “The DragonukConnects Connection” After each of his Points

Fact 1: As each goose flaps its wings it creates an "uplift" for the birds that follow. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.
Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.
The DragonukConnects Connection – I have said from the very beginning we are Stronger as a Group – Helping each other Grow, Pushing those ahead of us Upward and Growing ourselves into the space they leave behind. IF WE DON'T HELP EACH OTHER – NO ONE ELSE WILL EITHER

Fact 2: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to takeadvantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.
The DragonukConnects Connection – I have said from the very beginning we are Stronger as a Group – Helping each other Grow, Pushing those ahead of us Upward and Growing ourselves into the space they leave behind. IF WE DON'T HELP EACH OTHER – NO ONE ELSE WILL EITHER

Fact 3: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.
Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each other's skills, capabilities and unique arrangements of gifts, talents or resources.
DragonukConnects is set up as a Networking Community Where EACH of you can contribute and “Lead The Flock”, From the Invites You can send to other Actors so they can join the Group – To your being able and Asked to Post any Jobs/auditions, Training sessions, networking Events you are part of and sending me Information about things that Might be useful in the Resource section.

Fact 4: The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
Lesson: We need to make sure honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement the production is much greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one’s heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.
DragonukConnects has Always Tried to post every major Accomplishment any Actor or Crew Member has achieved. We post Complete Cast & Crew Lists for Every project we can, We encourage EVERYONE to Attend Premiers & Show Openings and Support Each other WHENEVER POSSIBLE

Fact 5: When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another
formation or catch up with the flock.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.

To me, this is 1 of the Most Important Functions of DragonukConnects. It was Established Far earlier then my own personal Battles with Leukemia, the 8 Months of Failed Chemo that led to the Hospitalization, More Chemo, Radiation, Stem Cell Transplant, Immune System Antibody Transplant, and Multiple Eye Surgeries to repair the Chemo damage that have happened over the last 5 years. Your Cards & Visits meant a lot to me and were a large part of my recovery.

I have seen it with others in the Groups as well -- before my Friend Gus passed – He spent Hours Talking About all the Cards & Letters he received from Actors he had never even met – Because of the Postings in the Newsletter.

But it is also FAR, FAR MORE then helping someone Sick or Dying – Its sticking together in the Financial downturns as well. The Success or Failure of DragonukConnects in the Long run Rests with you and the Things you do today. We are 4,000 Members Strong and growing about 250 per Month.
If you are in College – Make sure the Faculty & Staff know about DragonukConnects (The other Students as well). Try to Encourage the Faculty to join as a Basic (FREE) Member (Resource Provider Sub-Group) So EVERYONE knows about the Classes and Projects being done there (Shows, Auditions, Student film Castings). Make sure someone is distributing the possible Jobs and Internships to the rest of the students today & for years to come. All are easy posts that can be made in 3 Minutes or less – IF the College/University Joins and Posts Them. It’s FREE Why not do it.

If you are Part of a Theatre Group – Make sure the Staff knows about DragonukConnects (The other Actors As Well) Try to Encourage the Theatre to join as a Basic (FREE) Member (Theatre Sub-Group) So EVERYONE knows about the, Auditions, Production Crew Job Openings, Admin & Mgt Job Openings, Interns Needed, Ushers Needed, Classes Given, and Every Shows full run. All are easy posts that can be made in 3 Minutes or less – IF the Theatre Joins and Posts Them. It’s FREE Why not do it?

If you are a full time or Part time Employee or Freelance with a Production Company - Make sure they Know about DragonukConnects (The other Crew Members as well). Try to Encourage the Production Company to join as a Basic (FREE) Member (Production Company/Crew Sub-Group) So EVERYONE knows about the, full or part time Job Openings they have, Freelance Opportunities that come up, Interns Needed And Even More Importantly the Resources they have that OTHERS might need/hire them as a sub-contractor.

You are EACH on the front line EVERYTIME you work, Attend a Networking Meeting or Training Class – Your Help in letting others Know about DragonukConnects and the FREE Services offered thru it – Will be a large
part of the Continued Growth in Auditions & Jobs postings carried by DragonukConnectsSomething that Benefits us all.