2016 Impulse National Tour Part 1: planning for success, or not :)

July 26 Glendoria Home

Hey y’all, long time no see! šŸ™‚ Quick review: we spent most of the season at Marina HS, with more than a few rehearsals at Bell Gardens HS.  There was effort, by several inside and outside the organization, to re-establish our presence at Cerritos College as a part of the Music and Extended Education Community Program, but that never happened due to a variety of factors. šŸ˜¦

As a disclaimer, and to be absolutely clear, my journal and blog ramblings and notations are entirely and completely my perspective. However, whenever I state something as fact, I am more than prepared to stand behind those statements. Fight me! šŸ˜›

I have to say, early in the season I still felt disconnected from the organization, as I have the past two plus seasons, and quite honestly most of my thoughts about Impulse were in my rear view mirror and I was thinking about other aspects of my life that I’ve ignored or that haven’t thrived and would totally benefit from more time and attention from me. But things changed, ā¤ , obviously and I never went anywhere.

Great stuff this season: Fernando and his staff. It started early in our October and November meetings. Fernando and I had some very brief but very honest exchanges.  I took his concerns very seriously and understood he could see the big picture with a clear perspective that I needed to be more aware of that. Ive always had a tremendous amount of respect for Fernando,  as a person and as a talent, although in 2015, that respect wasn’t apparent. (As my staff has learned this year about me. My love for them comes out in unconventional and sometimes very quirky ways.) šŸ˜€

My first opportunity to work directly with Fernando was in March of 2015. Mike called a meeting to reset the our course, because frankly, we were floundering. Fernando (replacing Rob Carson) Josh (replacing Jeff McGinnis) Ron Z, Craig Jordan, Mike and myself formed the team to push the beast forward. He impressed me right away with his intelligence and the fact that even though he wasn’t speaking up as much as the others, he was definitely listening and very aware of what was being said. Can’t say the same for everyone at that meeting. One example, everyone got blogged down about a 12 or 16 count chunk and what to do musically with the horns at that moment. After going in circles 2 or 3 times I stopped the discussion, also I got tired of watching Fernando’s eyes spinning as he tried following. I asked Fernando, can you write something that will get us through that moment?  Yup, he sure can! (He’d already been writing percussion music at that point, which was a fact I emphasized to the others. They had heard his writing, and liked it. Let him do his thing and let’s move on!)

2015 was messy, sloppy,  and at times unfocused (more my fault than anyone else’s. I had a few personal issues I gave priority, hop hop hop šŸ˜› ) That a corps made it to the field was a miracle,  achieved by the energy and will of a new and fresh staff. God bless them ā¤ The few times I spoke with Fernando after that March meeting, those conversations were very direct, focused, productive, and I always felt like we moved something forward in those moments.

This season past, after our early fall  meetings, Fernando and I had developed a rapport and we had more than a few phone and text chats throughout the late fall and early winter. We discussed a whole range of topics: the 2015 season,  instructional staff then and now, management staff then and now, life in general, basically any and all things were discussed. Turns out we are in agreement about many and most things, the only differences being in our communication style.

A few general comments about where Impulse is at right now. In the past, I’ve taken copious notes at any and all meetings, but not these past two plus years. As we prepare for our first national tour since 2008, I was reviewing some of those notes randomly, to see where we’ve been as an organization and how we got here. I looked at notes of meetings from 14 years ago, 8 years ago, and 3 years ago. Except of the dates, they could’ve easily been notes from the same meetings šŸ˜› : We need a schedule for…, support staff needs to get a copy of that schedule ASAP, the members are behind in their payments, watch your emails for any changes or updates in the schedule and or rehearsal location, we need an itinerary for…ASAP and share it with any and all, need to make sure we get a driver to get the truck to…by…, etc. A failure to plan early and communicate that plan by any and all means, consistently, is a plan to fail. Logistics, no matter if large or small, are never easy. šŸ™‚


(Side note: in a heated exchange a couple of weeks ago I qouted and repeated back exactly what someone just said to me. His response was for me not to use his words against him. My response was that he needs to choose his words more carefully.  šŸ™‚ )

The basic framework of how any organization operates is relatively constant, hence the term framework. Everyone has their own style in communicating. Some prefer face to face meetings, some prefer email, some text, and for some the phone call. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. For best practices in any and all organizations, all methods of communication should be employed consistently, unless specific individual preferences are specified, and even then, repetitive communication and clarification is always better than any communication deficit. 

We are all ego driven, but something I like to say in regards to working with others: its not about you, its not about me,  its about us. Its difficult to imagine and consider all personalities and egos when planning and making organizational decisions, but that is not an excuse to at the very least have a protocol to address potential conflicts and be able to refernce that protocol if and when any conflicts may occur.

Redacted: rant about tour departure time and when is laundry day. 

In 10+ national tours, I’ve always had an itinerary in hand and or in an email. Dates, times, places. That we know things are going to change is not an excuse to not have a basic framework. Another thing I looked at besides old notes was itineraries from national tours in the past. And back in the day, I used to get a BINDER with maps, show sheets, email correspondence to and from road contacts, names and numbers, just about any and all info needed to embark on a difficult endeavor. Difficult even when armed with basic pre-planned travel data. Rare are the occasions where I am wrong in basic assessments. I honestly look forward to those few and far between occasions. 

(FYI: I dont speak up more often because, A) who the f*** am I, B) everyone deserves a chance to figure stuff out themselves, C) if you really want to know something, I’m not invisible, D)  I’m a facilitator at heart, make it happen, get shit done.)

(As Ruben jr. lkes to say, Ray, you just want to watch the world burn. 

Wild fires are a part of nature, something new always replaces what burned šŸ™‚ )

I’m definitely a factor in any shortcomings this organization has experienced. I’m accountable, knowing I could have said and done more, but at what cost, to me, to others? In the absence of leadership, I’ll speak and do, but we’ve not had a shortage of people that want to lead. 

Redacted: another rant about communication

There has been success in this organization. It speaks for itself. The members, the corps, the organization have all achieved. That is the standard, that is the expectation. The organization should expect success, the corps and members should expect success. The only question should be at what level is each person committed to achieving? What level of excellence is each person willing to push themselves, be an example for others, and ultimately accept accountability for goals not achieved. I’ll always help facilitate,  always ready to make it happen and get shit done. I can create the space for any level of achievement.  What’s the plan; I’m locked and loaded. šŸ™‚

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