NEW-LA and Practice Makes Perfect // On The Run

Ken Aiso at Philip Press, Sunset Blvd.I recently attended an event for NEW-LA: the Network of Executive Women, which I'm helping to build with Curtis Estes. The idea is to provide a forum for networking and peer support for highly successful female executives, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists. Part social, part business.

This event featured classical violinist Ken Aiso. Not exactly my style, but enjoyable anyway, probably because I'm always interested in watching someone who is amazing at what he does. That was definitely the case with Ken. Truth be told, he sort of won with me when he performed The Story of Ferdinand, which I think I remember was my favorite book as a small child. He alternated playing and reciting passages from the book, and sometimes both at once.

But for me the most interesting part was when he finished playing and took questions from the audience. Someone asked him how often he practices each day. So I'm sitting there thinking, this dude is at the top of his game, plays concert halls all over the world and for the emperor of Japan. He just told us he's been playing since 4 years old. He doesn't need to practice every day anymore. Ready for his answer...

"About four hours." Every day. Damn. While that was freaking me out, Ken kept talking. He explained that some of that time was spent expanding his repertoire, but most of it was maintenance. He likened it to a gardener pulling up weeds. Then it hit me.

It's like Gladwell talks about in Outliers, this is what it takes to be the best in the world, at anything: Unending dedication to practice and improvement. Aiso is surely past the 10,000 hour mark, and of course, he can't stop there.

Neither can you. Neither can I. Most every business conversation lately involves some discussion about key differentiators in one form or another. To put this differently, it's about what you can do better than anyone else. What it takes for all of us to even come close to that mark is relentless dedication, the willingness to improve, to challenge ourselves, and to keep pulling up the weeds.

If you're interested in NEW-LA, either for yourself, someone you know, or perhaps you need to market to this audience, let me know.