In the last 5 years, nothing had the internet as shocked and appalled as “Fyre Festival”, a destination musical event that promised to be the cool new hangout for the hip and fashionable. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. It turned into a big disaster of unmet expectations, disappointment, and flat out disgrace.
But behind all the memes, “Fyre” is a leadership failure that many entrepreneurs can learn from. A lot of the challenges they faced were entirely avoidable if they had done things a little differently. It’s a valuable learning experience for any business owner, large or small about what happens to a business when certain company culture requirements aren’t met. Here are the top lessons for entrepreneurs from the whole debacle.
Listen to Criticism
The “Fyre Festival” leadership team just couldn’t handle any negative feedback. They fired anyone who raised concerns and deleted social media comments that were deemed negative. Here’s the problem- you can’t make a product good if your customers and stakeholders don’t tell you what it is, and if you shut them down, you are losing valuable information. The lesson: don’t shut down negative responses from customers, the best brands learn from their weaknesses and get better.
Have a Great Idea…But Back It Up
The promotion of “Fyre” started with several influencers and models posting an orange tile, followed by several promotional videos. Unfortunately, the promotion turned out to be grossly misleading because none of the things people expected from the festival actually took place. The lesson here is if you’re going to promote and market a product, no amount of marketing can make up for a bad product. In fact, your product has to exceed the marketing, not grossly fall short.
Stick With Your Strengths
“Fyre Festival” was actually built on the back of the app Fyre, a platform which was supposed to be the Uber for booking artists. The app is actually a great idea, but things went South when Billy McFarland and his team decided to do something new, a festival they weren’t equipped to host. The lesson is stick with what works for you. When you try something new and it goes wrong, all the goodwill you’ve built up on your original idea will go completely down the drain.
Care About Your People
One of the hardest moments to hear and watch on Netflix’s “Fyre Festival” documentary, had nothing to do with the festival itself. It was when the CEO didn’t seem too concerned about the fact that his employees would be going without pay after everything fell apart. He told his employees that there would be no more payroll, and when he was asked if they could get employment benefits, Billy McFarland said he didn’t know or really care.
As a leader, you can’t be this uncaring about the people who work for you. As their employer, you are responsible for their income and for making sure they can put food on the table. According to an employment lawyer, Malonis Law Office, “being an uncaring and uninformed leader means you’ll very likely end up facing a tough lawsuit from employees who deserve a lot better.” All of this is avoidable by just being the right kind of leader during the good times and the bad.