So, The Rocker is growing his team and it’s not always easy. We’ve added two people in Canada: The Lawyer, a former Assistant Vice-President of Creation at Circus Amalgamated who will serve as his General and Producing Manager and The Grantwriter, who will serve as his Financing Director responsible for preparing and filing grants and financing applications to the Canadian government. There is no question that I can learn a lot from them about the business of budgeting, negotiating with venues (technical needs, fees, etc), and running tours, but I worry that they will move forward so quickly that they might leave me out of the loop. I won’t learn anything if I’m not included on communications with venues as they calculate our intial offers, outline our technical needs, and proceed with negotiations venue by venue.
One of the first things we started discussing is the branding of his company (RockerCo) versus the company that I need to set up in Taiwan (AcroCo). We agreed that it’s a business-critical issue, and that we want their guidance, but The Rocker and I wanted to discuss it face-to-face when he is back in Taiwan to keep it simple: “The National Theatre of Taiwan and RockerCo present AcroCo.”
Be that as it may, The Lawyer thinks that some issues can’t wait that long. For example, The Lawyer says that if AcroCo doesn’t have a website, then the URL needs to be removed from all communication since there is nothing worse than adversizing something and not delivering. I’ve addressed this by having http://www.AcroCo.com point to http://www.RockerCo.com to reflect its status as a “nom de plume” covering our work with new circus in Asia. Also, she says that AcroCo cannot sign contracts or draw any checks, as it is not yet a legal entity. This is fine – until we set up AcroCo, only RockerCo will sign contracts and negotiate financial deals since our clients know that it is the administrative umbrella encompassing AcroCo.
Practically speaking, I want all of us to be on the same page about what The Rocker and I have been talking about for the distribution of the profits that we expect to be making in the coming years: 1) The Rocker and I are equal stockholders in RockerCo, with The Rocker as CEO/President and with me assuming (unofficially due to my American citizenship) the role of COO/Vice-President, 2) there are two types of stock with different voting powers, and the balance shall be such that The Rocker has majority voting power, and 3) all company income shall be kept in RockerCo’s account and The Rocker and Travelling Acrobat shall be paid a monthly salary from that account.
It seems as though this structure is a relatively straightforward one I had asked if The Lawyer could update the stock structure of RockerCo/AcroCo before February 28th and then we could fill in the gaps once The Rocker and I have finished drafting an updated and official partnership charter, but I sensed she was dragging her feet.
I did, however, find out that she asked The Rocker if I was his boyfriend. Goddman it.
If that was the only problem, that would be one thing, but, as feared, The Lawyer and The Grantwriter have stopped including me on technical communications. This is a problem because I am trying to maintain a database of this information in our files so that we have a record of what is and is not possible so that we can answer simple questions to potential presenters in Asia without having to consult the technical team over and over again. They are also not keeping me up-to-date about the negotiations with Tohu which means that I am not getting to see how these negotitations work.
So, with all of this in the background, a simple email set off a huge explosion last week.
I wrote The Lawyer thanking her for taking the initiative to write an email to a few of The Rocker’s great Canadian / Asian contacts to keep them “hot” on what we are doing.
She shot back with an angry email saying that following up with contacts is not an “initiative” and that we need to clear up what we want her to be doing in the first place and that if we do not give her a clear mandate in writing soon, she will stop all of her efforts.
I guess she interpreted my “thank you for taking the initiative…” as a request that she continue to write to The Rocker’s contacts for us. That was not what I meant, I simply meant to thank you for writing the follow up note that she did write. She may have also seen the consultation I made with the Taiwanese lawyer here as undermining the role that she plays in the structure of our organization. In my mind, it is clear that we will be working with the local nominee, accountant, and lawyer only to set up the oganization here, a process which should take no more than 60 days, at which point, they will step out of the picture.
This kink in communications made me realize that I have to be very clear that I never put sarcastic, mean-spirited, or condecending comments in any emails. I asked the team to let me know when something I write could be interpreted as such so that I do not make the same mistake again. Furthermore, in the past, to cut down on email clutter, I would only leave people out of the cc: loop when I knew that I would soon be speaking face-to-face or on the phone with them about the same topic. From now on, whenever I mention something to The Rocker that affects The Lawyer, I will include her, and vice versa.
Her point, though, about the need to clarify everyone’s roles in the organization is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Basically, she just doesn’t agree with the plan because she feels like I don’t trust her (I don’t) and sees me as a threat to her position. The Rocker and I therefore met yesterday to begin reworking our 9-page partnership charter which was written in October, 2006. Essentially, our initial agreement – to operate RockerCo as an equal partnership between The Rocker and me in terms of shared profits and strategic vision – remains unchanged. However, we changed the directive to integrate me into the administrative structure of the company because of the need to balance The Rocker’s Canadian non-residential status. We also need to define the job description of a General and Producing Manager and determine the most effective way to integrate this position into the existing working and reporting structure of RockerCo.
My job description is as follows:
As assistant director, Travelling Acrobat is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the company. Specifically, he is charged with
- managing and negotiating contracts with clients and artists locally in Asia;
- temporarily relocating to the geographical location of projects and productions and to be able to independently manage them and report according to the style and needs of RockerCo;
- to stay up-to-date with the strategic vision of the company and with the goals and abilities of the partnership in order to make independent decisions in-line with those goals and abilities, reportable to The Rocker;
- acting either as project manager or as liaison between The Rocker and the project manager for any given production;
- acting as technical/financial advisor or liason between The Rocker and other technical/financial advisors for projects;
- maintain, execute, and be accountable for a daily, weekly, and monthly ‘to-do’ list on behalf of the company and based on The Rocker’s arc of project development;
- to maintain the media library and marketing materials of the company and to be able to tailor-make promotional materials as required; and
- assisting The Rocker in the daily operations of the company.
While the nature of event production and creation makes it difficult to account for working hours, it is generally assumed that the assistant director will work independently and in a self-motivated fashion for about 12 hours a day, generally six days a week. However, it is expected that the assistant director remains “on call” for quickly-arising deadlines or in-progress productions. Actual time of working will vary widely – from early mornings to after midnight, and the assistant director is expected to adapt to these requirements. Vacation time shall be determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the needs of the company.
Once we finish this revision, it will serve as a blueprint for drafting our private legal agreement which shall be an overarching agreement covering the operations of RockerCo and any other related companies formed by The Rocker and/or myself worldwide for the purposes of facilitating and furthering the work of RockerCo.
I think that the four of us are making great strides right now, and I agree that things are a little unclear, but I think things are moving in the right direction. Nothing a beer can’t fix – be it in Taipei, Montreal, or Abu Dhabi (do they drink beer in Abu Dhabi?).
The Rocker assures me that he is going to need all of us going forward because he intends to move fast. I’m trying not to worry. I just think it is a good idea to get things legalized by our team in Montreal before the millions start rolling in.