noun: The condition of being relevant, or connected with the matter at hand. Meaningful. from Medieval Latin relevans , from Latin relevāre to lighten, from re- + levāre to raise, relieve
It does not matter whether you entertain the masses with major motion pictures; pump oil out of the ground to fuel our economy; or save people’s lives on the operating table; we are all searching for relevance in this world. The best and the brightest of us, most of all.
For 26 years I have worked with some of the smartest, most talented and very, very accomplished human beings on the planet. My firm buys and sells media companies and I have had the fortune to know the men and women who started them, grew them and made them such a success that others wished to own them. I have been fortunate indeed.
That is why I wanted to write this blog, it is about how each of us is searching for relevance.
It does not matter if you have a fine home in the hills, drive the latest model luxury car, and have a ski chalet in the mountains… if you are unsure of your relevancy on this planet, you will be discontent. Accumulating nice things does not give you the satisfaction of feeling accomplished. More often than not our possessions just make us feel trapped.
Angelina Jolie, a woman who gives away more than one third of her enormous income to the poor, was being interviewed on television recently, and she said; “I am paid a ridiculous amount of money for what I do. Why shouldn’t I give it those less fortunate than me.” She, the highest paid actress on the planet, is still searching for relevancy in this life.
Like myself, many of my client’s have never made millions of dollars, but they have built good and stable companies that employ talented, hard working people. They help creative people reach their potential by bringing their artistic talents to an audience – whether it be on the stage, on film, on the internet/ television, or even between the pages of a book. These people are the backbone of the communications industry. They develop, nurture and promote the most talented writers, directors, artists, filmmakers, singers and actors that they can find and risk their money and time so that the world can know their art.
It is an old and noble profession. We are the impresarios of our age.
Why is it then that so many of my friends and clients, especially those in their late 50’s and 60’s, seem so discontent with their accomplishments? They have what many would deem “interesting lives”. They lunch with actors and writers; they strut their stuff on La Croisette in Cannes; they have interesting conversations about creating books, films, music, art and stage plays with people who know how?
So, what is the source of their malaise?
It all comes back to feeling relevant. Most publishers, record producers, movie makers, playhouse owners and even television executives that I know want, more than anything, to make something important that will last beyond their lifetime. A lot of that entertainment is basically 'pop culture'. It is created for a purpose, consumed and quickly forgotten. Most entertainment companies create pop culture. Sometimes, if we do it right, even inexpensive pop culture movies, music and literature becomes art. Think Berry Gordy’s Motown music of the ‘60s, Saturday Night Live, John Carpenter’s Christine or anything from the pen of Stan Lee. Pop culture can become iconic culture.
It is that search for relevance that drives even successful pop culture purveyors to strive to make and disseminate better quality, artistic entertainment… they don’t just want to make a buck, they actually want to make a difference. Touch people’s lives. Move the world.
I once asked a real estate developer of storage garages and industrial buildings why his home was so finely ornate, and he answered, “Stephen, I just wanted to build something of quality, not something for the lowest cost per square foot.” I understood completely.
The search for relevance is the search for meaning in this life. Our own little corner of immortality. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to create and promote art, literature, films, music, games and other artistic endeavors. We actually do get a chance to touch lives and move the world.
If we do it right.