By Dom Serafini

Looking back at the recently concluded ATF market in Singapore, I realized that aging has allowed me to know things that I didn’t even know I knew. It’s a strange feeling that comes with an accumulation of experiences over the years, and the knowledge often hits you without warning. It’s like a ball out of left field (that’s baseball terminology; I used to publish Baseball Magazine in Italy), and the realization happens after or during the process of giving advice or commenting on something.

During one of these epiphanies, I tend to amaze myself and think “Wow, where did that come from?” Of course, it’s a somewhat self-congratulatory notion, but it’s also a rather depressing one. Since it comes from an accumulation of past experiences, why didn’t I know it when I myself needed it the most? It would have saved me lots of problems. But then it wouldn’t have given me the experience, which I can now use to dispense advice freely.

Some readers will perhaps remember the question that U.S. Senator Howard Baker (Republican) asked during the Watergate investigation: “What did the President know, and when did he know it?”

That is my question too: When and what did I know what I now profess to know?

Veteran TV distributor Gary Lico, who’s close to retiring, said, “I’m usually surprised at what comes out of my mouth. But for guys like us who’ve been around, we can’t help but have had experiences that will help us provide advice to others. Not that they’ll take it…”

Added Rick Feldman, a veteran broadcaster and onetime NATPE president. “Actually, your feeling is not unusual and comes from years of experiences.”

Similarly, Brian McGrath, a former Columbia Pictures Sales executive, said, “What you are alluding to happens often. To give good advice one needs to be well informed, honest, candid, and interested in the point of view of those asking for advice.  I have experienced groups or individuals in conflict with markedly different points of view who say, ‘We will do whatever McGrath recommends.’ This is on the one hand comforting, but it is also a burden. Good advice does not come with a personal agenda, but rather comes with sound knowledge and the respect of your peers.”

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