Learn from Joan Jett and Be a Runaway

21 Jan
Joan Jett rockin' in the '80s

Jett rockin' Norway in the '80s

I finally got around to watching The Runaways—the 2010 film starring Kristen Stewart, of Twilight fame, as Joan Jett. Because Jett was one of the executive producers, we can reasonably expect the movie to be a realistic portrayal of her start in rock and roll. It’s worth noting, however, that the film leans far more toward the tale of The Runaways lead singer, Cherie Currie (played by Dakota Fanning). This makes sense when you learn the film was based on Currie’s autobiography, but will probably surprise viewers who expect more of Jett’s tale.

But the story still does give us a good idea of Joan Jett’s drive, ambition, and take-no-prisoners desire to be a rocker. (Consider this in light of her only being 16 years old when she started The Runaways.) And it was these traits that played a part in Jett’s becoming the first female rocker to start her own record label (at age 21), with the help of manager Kenny Laguna. This was their response to 23 record labels rejecting her solo album (after The Runaways had split).

Fast forward over 30 years to today. Unlike Joan Jett, we have so many more opportunities to produce and publish our own work, and at far less cost. Even promotion is easier with the Internet and social media. Have you been rejected by “23 labels”? Perhaps your “album” is a business idea turned down by investors. Perhaps it’s a book turned down by publishers. Perhaps it’s a product turned down by businesses in that space. Or perhaps it’s an actual music album. Whatever the case, maybe the signs are pointing toward being a runaway—and taking matters into your own hands.

Of all the lessons we can learn from rock stars, perhaps the biggest is to embody or emulate their incredible belief and investment in themselves. Otherwise, the means to success are really all there—we don’t have to press our own vinyl records, print the sleeves and covers, and sell them from the trunks of our cars, as Joan Jett and Kenny Laguna had to. But the one thing Google+, PayPal, CreateSpace, Twitter, Etsy, Kickstarter, WordPress, or any other tool on the Internet can’t give us is belief in ourselves and our ideas. This is what ultimately separates the rock star entrepreneur from the one who doesn’t ever quite make it.

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