I hate the front row. Sure, it’s close to the action… but is it the best seat in the house? Why else would the front-row seats to anything be more expensive… You can see the artist better… but can you see the show?  I say no.  The front row is the worst place to sit, and you’re getting ripped off.  The front row charges more and delivers less.  It is really all about perspective.

In almost every business, once we get too close, we lose big-picture perspective.  And when we lose that perspective, we risk falling out of touch.  No matter what vocation you have chosen, and no matter how passionate you are, when you lose touch with the client, consumer, fan, voter, or any other passerby who might have been a potential customer – your business is doomed to fail.  Watch from the front row and that is exactly what you are risking.

The front row is not an accurate representation of perspective. There’s only one front row, and thus limited seats.  It is a far different experience than that of the majority of the audience. Years ago when I was starting out in the music industry, I toured with several high profile music acts.  On some of the early tours, I also ran sound.  In the large arenas, I would often encounter VIPs backstage who were treated to typical VIP treatment — usually front row seats.  I would cringe at the thought of the concert they were going to hear because the sound in the front row is nothing like the sound that the majority of the arena hears.   You’re too close to the subs and the main speakers often don’t even cover your location. And unless your head is on a constant swivel, you’re only getting a small portion of the overall light show.

Years later, as president of a firm that manages entertainers and media entities, I distinctly remember those touring experiences. Though I enjoy music, movies, theatre—all kinds of entertainment, my job is as much about understanding the psychology of my clients as it is about understanding the psychology of the audience and the overall market.  The true measure of successes depend on the total experience, and is as much about what is happening in the audience as what is occurring onstage.

Don’t confuse my criticism of the front row as being adverse to immersion.  To  succeed you must fully immerse yourself in your product and industry.  History, statistics, details — these are all essential things that help plan for the future.  But when we sit in the back row (or even the middle), we are actually MORE immersed — we have far greater perspective and view of the entire landscape. By stepping back, we limit our blind spots.  A view of the big picture always makes us less vulnerable, and certainly gives us far greater information with which to make strategic decisions.

So lets take a seat in the back – trust me, its worth it.