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Why We Pilot Everything

Sterling & Stone has been stealing from TV for its entire existence. 

Yesterday’s Gone would not have been nearly as successful without us cribbing the “episode” and “season” language from television. We’ve borrowed tropes and set pieces a plenty, for sure. But no single practice has nurtured our studio growth more than adopting the “pilot.” 

In TV Land, the pilot is where raw concepts are melted down and recast into the molds of potential hit series. A trial by fire, where (theoretically) the strongest and most commercially viable narratives emerge. 

That stunning pilot for Mad Men, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes? The episode was a gamble. Written, shot, and produced back when the show was only a crapshoot in search of a buyer. 

True adventure starts with a map, not a detailed itinerary. Piloting is an atlas guiding us through the uncharted wilds of creativity and business. It minimizes risks as it fosters experimentation and learning.

The Philosophy Behind Piloting

This model deals with a trinity of core principles here: risk management, adaptability, and iterative learning. It’s about moving smart, not just fast. 

Piloting allows us to test the waters with a prototype and gather invaluable feedback that can nudge a project toward success, or back to the drawing board with minimal fallout.

Not all first drafts will hit the mark, but this iterative process means that each iteration brings us closer to our goal. We commit to learning as we go, refining our approach based on real-world reactions. 

Piloting Versus Full-Scale Execution

Piloting is dipping a toe into the water, testing temperature and currents, before committing to the swim.

Jumping straight to full-scale execution is like launching a ship without charting the waters. A bold move, with increased risk and potential for wasted resources. 

Bypassing the piloting phase can lead to a misalignment between the project and its audience, overlooked opportunities for improvement, and costly failures that could have been avoided with a more measured approach.

Our time, energy, and finances are precious. This strategy ensures that we invest wisely, maximizing our potential for success while remaining agile in the face of uncertainty and refining our efforts to better meet the needs of our audience.

Everything on This Site Right Now is a Pilot 

Growth, for me, is about more than numbers. I aim to create content that is meaningful for me to make and valuable for you to consume.

Here’s what this pilot will look like:

Mondays: “Episodes” of My Life So Far. The “first season” will run through to the end of my childhood. By then I will have a few months of reader data telling me how that content stacks up against its neighbors. 

Tuesdays and Thursdays: Plotting Success will include lessons learned about life and business by way of story.  

Wednesdays: The Art of Collaboration, a series of articles to help you find and evaluate ideal collaborators, get your collaboration started on the right foot, and successfully manage your collaborations.

Fridays: My Bookshelf, where I’ll share something worthwhile that I’m reading. 

Saturdays: On My Screen, ideas inspired by movies and TV shows that I’m watching.

Sunday: Sunday Story Time, where you’ll get a free short story by myself or one of Sterling & Stone’s talented authors.

This piloting approach is core to our ethos because it encourages creativity, fosters resilience, and builds a sense of trust and camaraderie. Our studio is committed to exploration, adaptability, and the kind of deep learning that can only come from doing. 

Whether you’re a storyteller, an entrepreneur, or anyone who dreams of creating something new, ask yourself what your next pilot could be.