Attention to detail
Who is this for? Anyone in Business
What is it About? Attention to Detail
Reading Time 60 Seconds

Have you ever heard the legendary “no brown M&Ms” clause Van Halen had in their standard performance contract? The assumption at the time was that it was just David Lee Roth being a Diva and that idea has carried through to the present day but, there was a good reason for that clause being in there. In his Autobiography he said…


Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We’d pull up with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors — whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move the gear through.

The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say “Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes …” This kind of thing. And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: “There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.”


So, when I would walk backstage if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl … well, line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error. They didn’t read the contract. Guaranteed you’d run into a problem. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening.”


Some people may not think the details matter but to others they do. You need to ask yourself, does the material you’re putting out to potential clients measure up? You might not think the presentation of the proposals you send out matter as long as the content is spot on but if the job you’re pitching for involves following details routines or instructions, the A4 sheet of paper in a brown envelope riddled with spelling and grammatical errors might just put you out of the running. Alternatively, if you’re pitching for a 100 grand job, do you look professional? Does it look like you can handle it? 


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