Columns

Lessons from Tessanne's Voice success

Christopher MCFARLANE

Monday, December 16, 2013    

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FOR the last two months Jamaicans here and abroad have been glued to their television sets on Monday and Tuesday nights supporting our girl Tessanne Chin as she vies for top spot in the American singing competition The Voice. Caught up in the euphoria of Tessanne reaching the finals, I had the following thoughts of what her presence in the competition can teach us in how we operate as business owners/entrepreneurs, or just in our lives generally.

1. Don't give up

In her first interview on The Voice, Tessanne spoke of her struggles in breaking into the international scene and how disenchanted she was and thought of giving up. Thankfully, her family and friends, especially her husband, stood by her and convinced her to keep going; bringing us to this point now.

It is often said that success is attained after some of our greatest struggles, and Tessanne's story proves this. She was close to the point of walking away and, because she found the strength to fight on, she's now shining on the world stage.

2. Do what you love

The late Steve Jobs, the enigmatic founder of Apple, once said: "[Whatever you choose to do] has got to be something that you're passionate about, because otherwise you won't have the perseverance to see it through." Many of us find ourselves bogged down in a job with which we're dissatisfied in the pursuit of making ends meet. This is often the result of us going in the direction to earn a pay cheque instead of what truly makes us happy. From an early age, Tessanne and her sister Tami made the decision that they wanted to sing because they loved it, and followed that path regardless of the challenges that came with it. We may not all be singers, but being able to create value from something we love doing is very rewarding and if you can accomplish that, the money may not be too far away.

3. Luck is preparation meeting the moment of opportunit — Oprah Winfrey

This is one of my favourite quotes, and one I try to live my life by. One of the main reasons we are not able to take advantage of an opportunity is simply because we did not prepare ourselves to do so. We often try to prepare when the opportunity presents itself, instead of doing the work before by dedicating ourselves to a path. Opportunities happen in a flash, if we could all predict when they will happen we would all be rich. Think about what you want to do and then make the decision to follow it through. At the blind auditions it was clear that Tessanne was one of the most accomplished singers in the group. That didn't happen by chance, that came from years and years of honing her craft touring with Jimmy Cliff to performing at various shows across the Caribbean. There are no short cuts in life, you have to do the work. All those years were preparation for Tessanne for this very moment.

4. Consistency wins every time

No matter the feelings we have about Jacquie Lee and Will Champlin, Tessanne and these two have been the most consistent performers on The Voice this year. Yes, very talented contestants have already left the show -- look at Matthew Schuler -- but these three have given steady performances throughout the season. We may not always agree with their style of singing, but they have never needed the Twitter lifeline to stay in the show.

If consistency is not the most important thing in creating a brand then it is in the top 3. Being successful in life, let alone business, is greatly determined on our ability to perform well consistently, instead of achieving great highs some of the times. No one-hit wonder.

5. Do not let fear stop you from stepping outside of your comfort zone

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." — Nelson Mandela

Even though she doesn't show it, there must have been some fear for Tessanne when she decided to audition for The Voice. She embarked on this path that has brought her before an audience she's never had before. On her very first appearance — after we all waited two weeks for it — she said that this was the first time she was appearing on a stage that was not for a reggae show. To go to a place that is totally unfamiliar to you strikes fear in us all, but it is how we handle it that makes us who we are. Facing and conquering that fear has brought Tessanne this glorious opportunity that she so richly deserves, and now she has the attention of not just the US, but the world.

I, along with the rest of the country and the diaspora, will be cheering on Tessanne — pot covers and all — today and tomorrow as she attempts to achieve the incredible. The truth is, however, that she has already achieved the incredible and has already won in all of our hearts.

You never know where your inspiration may come from, and what you can use them to accomplish.

Christopher McFarlane is a business development consultant and co-founder of Le'Macs Consultancy.

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