Amateurs vs Professionals

Amateurs vs Professionals by Bob Lefsetz

Amateurs vs ProfessionalsMay 6, 2014

career - By: Multibrand Media

Bob Lefsetz is a remarkable observer of our industry. His daily commentaries and blogs are distributed to, and read by, anybody who is anybody.

You probably know him and subscribe.

On the off chance you missed his comparison of Amateurs vs. Professionals, we feel obligated to offer it to you here with Bob’s kind permission.

If you’re new to the business, take Bob’s advice. If you’re a vet, be objective and, if necessary, change your ways, Scrooge, lest the ghosts of business haunt your career forever.


  • Have tons of ideas, are excited about all of them and see none to fruition.

  • Think they can do everything.

  • Think they know everything.

  • Start with no preparation.

  • Don’t finish.

  • Are worried about image.

  • Demonstrate insecurity.

  • Can only see what’s in front of them.

  • Hold those above them in contempt.

  • Have no idea what dues are.

  • Believe in instant success.

  • Boast.

  • Get nervous.

  • Are looking for their one big break.

  • Are afraid to fail.

  • Interrupt.

  • Demonstrate their bile, they get frustrated or angry and it’s easy to see.

  • Bristle.

  • Are always telling you how busy they are and how hard they’re working.

  • Believe what people say.


    • Have tons of ideas, pick one and do their best to make it happen.

    • Know it’s almost impossible to achieve one thing.

    • Are always learning.

    • Do research, they want to know where the bodies are buried, what the landscape holds. Better to take all these factors into account before you start, because trying to adjust on the fly is so much more difficult, it wastes time and energy and it’s hard to put a fourth wheel on a car you designed with three.

    • Are all about execution. Sure, they occasionally abandon a project when they see further effort is fruitless, but the mark of a pro is someone who begins and ends. If you notice someone can’t complete a task, run from them!

    • Let their work do the talking.

    • Are extremely confident.

    • Are all about the big picture.

    • Hold no one in contempt, but they haven’t got much time for losers. If you’re an amateur trying to graduate to professional status and you have the good fortune to encounter a pro, DON’T WASTE THEIR TIME! Give just one or two compliments and ask your question. But most amateurs are so busy being sycophants the professional tunes out, or goes on at such length that the professional excuses himself.

    • Have paid their dues, and are still paying them.

    • Know anything worth accomplishing takes a long time, and what might look like overnight success is rarely such.

    • Never slap their own backs, and are oftentimes uncomfortable with others slapping their backs.

    • May be anxious, but they’ve performed the task so many times they let instinct take over, they go on their experience, nervousness never comes into the equation.

    • Know that life is about a series of breaks.

    • Don’t like to fail, but when they do they pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get back in the game.

    • Listen.

    • Are cool, calm and collected. You may read about the crazy owner/operator/entrepreneur, but if they’re truly nuts, they don’t last, their board replaces them, and the truth is most are not that nuts, it just makes a better story in the press to portray them as such.

    • Show empathy.

    • Show up and stay as long as it’s interesting and profitable, bitching gains them nothing, so they don’t.

  • Believe what people do.

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Bob Lefsetz

Bob Lefsetz is the author of “The Lefsetz Letter.” Famous for being beholden to no one and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself. Never boring, always entertaining, Bob’s insights are fueled by his stint as an entertainment business attorney, majordomo of Sanctuary Music’s American division and consultancies to major labels. “The Lefsetz Letter” has been publishing for over 25 years. First as hard copy, most recently as an email newsletter and now, for the first time, in blog form.

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