In the 1975 classic Rock ‘n’ Roll Horror film, “Rocky Horror Picture Show” (based on the 1973 Broadway Hit musical) a memorable refrain for all in show business to whom that production inspired, was the song and words of Dr. Frankenfurter (and the entire cast): “Don’t dream it. Be it.”

After all these years in production of TV and radio (and now film) I think I completely understand what this (“Be it.”) means: Not only does it mean that you should have dreams and try to be your dream in life, it concurrently means, “If you want to “be it” you have to be professional, you must act professional.” It is simple. That’s what, “Don’t dream it, be it” means: Be professional.

Because to really be what you dream about means that you must become a professional at it; it doesn’t matter if your dream is to become an actor or actress, professional sports player, musician, stunt pilot, photographer, writer, nurse or doctor. “To be it” means to live it and support yourself and your family financially by “being it.”

If you want to, “Be it,” then that means you must be professional. To be professional, you must act professional.

Demand professionalism and perfection from yourself and everybody else; but YOU, yourself, must do so first.

More than twenty years ago, when I was a struggling radio and TV producer (and after making some real bad programs – many got cancelled after a few months) it finally dawned upon me…. One day (by repeated effort or blind luck), I stumbled upon a way to make great programs.

At that time, I studied a lot and I often borrowed from those that inspired me in my youth; and that one day it all fell together and it “clicked.”

I want to use the word, “formula” or “plan” or “chemistry,” I don’t know what word to use exactly, but I found a “way” to make great shows each and every time.

It was like a light clicked on in my head, and all of a sudden, I knew; I understood everything that it required to make great shows. And, because I knew, I was able to replicate it over and over and consistently each and every time. I know my program partner, George Williams, also understood at that time too, because we discussed it. We knew then what it takes to be professional… Not just professional, but good professionals!

I felt no longer that I wanted to make a good show; I wanted to make great shows; shows that people would remember for twenty years long after the shows were gone. In Japanese, we call it, 伝説な番組 (Densetsu na Bangumi) “A legendary program.” I have been lucky enough to have people tell me, in my entire lifetime, that I made, so far, three legendary programs.

I thank God for my luck in being in the right place at the right time.

I knew then how to make one of the best radio shows in the world. I no longer cared about making the “best show at the station.” I rallied the team to know – and to believe – that we were making the best show in all of Asia and a show that is on par, if not better, than anything on the radio in London, New York or Los Angeles. I really do know that was the case.

And I was able to get my entire team to believe that. No! I got my entire team to KNOW that we were making one of the best radio programs in the entire world.

And when you get a team of people to believe, to really know, that they are a part of something that is one of the best in the world, then you have an awesome amount of power.

When you work for that goal, learn all you can from others; read voraciously; have an open mind; borrow from past greats… And most importantly, as my friend Roger Marshall adds,

“It is important to surround ourselves with others who are better and who can challenge and support us.”


Then perhaps, one day, it will come… That’s the moment the light will go on in your head too. You will “know.” Suddenly it becomes easy…

When this happened to me – I think it was in the mid-late nineties – I believe that was the moment that I finally became professional….

It was also the moment that I decided to work on being more humble. Because being humble and being able to ask people for help when needed, is a sign of good management, maturity and professionalism.

Here are some quotes that I would hope dear reader would look over and ponder… Especially the last one by David Bowie.

“There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession.” ― Agatha Christie

“When passion blends with profession it turns into a masterpiece…” ― Ramana Pemmaraju

“What makes you great is not what you do but, how you do what you do” ― Constance Chuks Friday

“The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work. The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like.” ― Steven Pressfield

“If you learn how to master yourself, you stand a good chance of learning how to master your job.” ― Auliq Ice

“There are three qualities that make someone a true professional. These are the ability to work unsupervised, the ability to certify the completion of a job or task and, finally, the ability to behave with integrity at all times.” ― Subroto Bagchi

“Skills or professionalism is another factor of growth” ― Sunday Adelaja


“As you get older, the questions come down to about two or three. How long? And what do I do with the time I’ve got left?” – David Bowie


NOTE: Anytime I write anything about being a quality professional, I am constantly reminded of my friend, Roger Marshall of Odgers Bernstein. Roger is the consummate professional in Japan.


PLEASE READ: The Best Producers in Japan I Have Ever Met!


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