You don’t have to love Kiss to love Paul Stanley, but I love them both, comrades, and have for years and years. My dad bought me Kiss tickets as a surprise when I was 9, and goddamn if that wasn’t the coolest damn thing ever. Though I consider their entire post-Dynasty catalog to be none of my affair, my devotion to 1970s Kiss continues unabated.
So what does this have to do with creative businesses? Stand back, ’cause I’m about to blow your mind:
Kiss is a creative business, and a very, very successful one at that.
I can see that you’re going to need a little convincing. Let’s start with this: Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons are two of the most astute businessmen you’ll find anywhere, and boy howdy, do they know a thing or two about marketing. If you have even a passing familiarity with the band, you probably know this, but, just in case you don’t, here’s a clue:
Secondly, Kiss is a durable, recognizable, successful brand. The costumes, the stage show, the logo, the makeup, the stage antics—it all adds up to one of the most ubiquitous brands out there, and, love ’em or hate ’em, you know Kiss and their products when you see them.
Then there’s the music. But I don’t like Kiss’s music, you say. It doesn’t matter! Even if you don’t recognize it when you hear it, you’ve heard it. And of course songwriting and performance are creative pursuits, regardless of whether one particular listener enjoys the result.
But none of that stuff is why Paul Stanley is my spirit animal. If that were all it took, I’d have to feel the same way about Gene Simmons, and that’s not gonna happen. And Peter and Ace? Those guys have their charms, but they’re straight up hedonists, and no longer at the top of a successful creative empire. Nope Paul’s it, and I’m about to tell you why.
He’s resilient, and doesn’t let other people define who he is and what’s important.Paul was born with amicrotia; he has only one ear, so is completely deaf on one side. Bullied in school, he poured himself into music. When a friend of his sister’s told him about therapy, he sought it out for himself when he was still in high school. When Ruth Blatt of Forbes asked how he managed to overcome his early disadvantages, he put it this way:
“We turn it around by incrementally succeeding. You don’t take giant steps. You initially take baby steps appropriately. As you have small successes and small wins, it encourages you to go the next step.”
He knows what he needs, and asks for help when he needs it.When Kiss first became successful, Paul still in his early 20s. He was attractive, sought after and suddenly rich. Though he dabbled in drugs and drank a bit—and by his own admission, wiled away many, many lovely evenings with a variety of female companions—he stayed focused and out of trouble, even with the most tempting of chemical diversions available to a touring band in the 1970s at his constant disposal. Ready to be impressed? While on tour, he periodically pulled out a phone book and found local therapists so that he could stay grounded and work on his shit.
Well done, Paul.
He believes in his vision.But to get to the point where all the fun and women and debauchery were available to him, he had to know where he was going, and work his ass off. He had to act on his steadfast belief in what he was doing, even when he and the band were mocked, rejected and dismissed. He kept on with it, because he knew he was on to something, and he was right.
He reaches out, and he gives back. By now you won’t be surprised to learn that he’s very involved with AboutFace, a charity that assists kids with facial deformities. He works with kids directly, and gives them the sort of advice he could have used himself—that things will be harder for them, and that in order to be successful, they’re going to need to develop the sort of focus and resilience he was able to draw on as a teenager.
He’s good at what he does, and he’s enjoyed a long, long career.That man loves his life. He loves being on stage, he’s over the moon about his marriage and family, and he loves being Paul Stanley. Check him out on Twitter, or Instagram, and you’ll see right away that this is someone who’s in the right line of work. Think it’s lame that they’re still out there, being old guys while being Kiss? Whatever! He doesn’t give a shit. He’s out there doing it for his fans, and for himself. He’s found his rat people/comrades/1000 true fans, and that’s where his focus stays.
So, comrades, learn from Paul Stanley. He’s been at this creative business game for a while now, and he knows his shit. And check out Paul’s chat with Joe Rogan here. You’re going to be surprised at how much you enjoy it.