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Don't F Up Lunch



You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Technically, yes that’s true, but realistically I don’t really buy into the expression. Of course, I believe a good first impression can go a long way, but if there’s anything I have learned over the years as I have worked towards growing Flying House and building trust with our clients, it’s that the most important impression is the last one. The final impression you leave on a project with someone is the one that will be most easily remembered, the one that leaves the last taste in their mouth. I don’t believe anyone is ever going to say, this project ended horribly, but BOY did that good first impression make up for it.


It's something my team and I work towards at all times: consistency. Let’s not just make a good first impression, how do we keep that feeling going all the way to final delivery of a project? How do we make sure we never get comfortable and are always pushing towards making a statement? A good first impression only matters if it is accompanied by a good last impression (and the impressions in between are pretty damn important too).


Our team has a saying that was coined one day when we were out in the field: Don’t F*ck Up Lunch (DFUL). It was born from an actual lunch situation but we soon realized it played out across everything we do.


On that day, things had been going beautifully. Beautifully, that is, until lunch time. We had spent hours meticulously planning out every detail of the shoot itself. Where we didn’t put enough effort was on the lunch order, a lunch order that arrived 45 mins late with several mistakes and missing items. As luck would have it, nearly all of the mistakes were on the lunch orders of our client and the talent. That’s why Murphy and his Law can go dig a hole.


Of course, we immediately worked towards problem solving. A firm believer in Simon Sinek’s philosophy “Leaders Eat Last” (though it’s not to be taken this literally), I passed my lunch off to someone else. Nikko, our awesome production manager, hopped in the car to go get missing items as fast as possible. We attacked the problem as quickly as we could, because we still had a schedule to keep.


But, things had been going great up until that point. Surely something as small as a lunch order wouldn’t make that much of a difference to the overall project?


Wrong.


It’s amazing how far a good meal can go on a long day when everyone is traveling away from home and feeling the pressure of nailing it on a shoot. The mood on the set changed after that. Sure, no one was outwardly upset with us. These things happen sometimes and we’re all adults. So I don’t mean to suggest someone was complaining abut their lunch order not being fulfilled. But, we could all feel a shift in the atmosphere. Suddenly, there’s a small level of trust that seems to have withered away. The client is a little more on edge, the talent, a little more insecure. And all of this curtailed our ability to continue with our friendly inviting environment.


Just because of lunch.


The old business philosophy of how you do one thing, is how you do every thing rings true time and time again, and while, in the end, the shoot went really well, lunch was a debacle. Was it the last impression? No. But it was a lasting one.


This is why you Don’t F*ck Up Lunch.


What we are constantly reminding ourselves of is, every single piece of what we do needs to be as close to perfect as we can get it. Because when one little thing goes wrong, ti changes the filter through which people see how you do everything else. We nailed it on the shoot for the most part that day – but lunch had left a sour taste in their mouth.


For instance: Let’s say production day goes seamlessly. A 12-hour shoot goes off without a hitch. Everyone is happy and excited about what we have just done. Hands in the air, let’s go grab a cold one, we did it.


As my brother tells me all the time, you can never get to high and you can never get to low. Celebrate the victories quickly and then get back to work, because problems are lurking around every corner.


Sure, production day went off beautifully, but that’s only a part of the job. We still have our post production (scripting, editing, deliverables) to work through. If that process isn’t seamless… the edits are sloppy, the pieces aren’t hitting right, the scripts aren’t on point with what the overall goal was, we’re late in our deliveries and added some undue stress onto our client and their leadership team.


Suddenly that good first impression of production day is hardly a memory. It certainly isn’t important at this point. What was an exciting and fruitful project has become a stress-inducing heading.


What would a client review look like after an experience like this? We missed our deadlines, were racked with stress, felt like they weren’t listening to us, but… wow, what a great first impression?


We happily think about this with every project we have. We don’t simply look at the big picture – we look at every aspect of the picture. The big and the little. We focus on making a great first impression, but then we hold each other accountable to ensure the last impression is just as good.


We don’t place more importance on the shoot, or the editing – we consider the lunch experience as well. And every time someone has that less-than-savory job, we make sure they realize just how important it is to the process. Something as small as a lunch order can have a major impact on the product as a whole, so don’t take it lightly. In the end, every single moment we have a client trusting us with their project, we have to operate under the DFUL rule. It’s not a gimmick… it’s the truth. It’s not just a first impression. It’s also the last impression (and every impression in between).


In this "what have you done for me lately" world of business, we are only as good as the last thing we’ve done. So, we work hard to remember that and try to never let things slip. We may have a week-long shoot with a large crew and 10 different locations - but we will have an entire meeting dedicated to one thing: lunch.


It may not always go perfectly, but it won’t be for lack of trying.


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