Bill Nelson performs a special one off concert and art exhibition at the Clothworkers Hall in Leeds on October 1st. This provides me with the perfect excuse to rave on about this man’s genius in terms of the sorts of capabilities that great business gurus such as Peter Senge, Tom Peters and Seth Godin write about. Before we begin, let’s see the master at work, performing a song he wrote for Stuart Adamson of Big Country and the Skids as a tribute at his funeral – “For Stuart (Triumph and Lament)”. Bill Nelson produced some of Stuart’s work and Adamson was a great admirer of Bill’s musicianship, which Bill incorporated as a series of ‘musical ornaments’ within this piece.
In case you are wondering just who Bill Nelson is, he led 70’s Art School band Be-Bop Deluxe and Red Noise. In spite of his huge success, Nelson left considerable wealth and fame to pursue his own artistic and musical direction. However, like so many great influencers his footprint on modern music is immense and pervasive. Nelson is admired by a catalogue of rock’s monarchy, including Mc Cartney, Brian May, Kate Bush, Brian Eno, David Sylvian, Prince, The Foo Fighters, The Darkness, My Chemical Romance and so on. If any of you saw MCR at the Reading Festival, you will have heard the opening lines from Bill Nelson’s song ‘Maid In Heaven’ towards the end of MCR’s emo anthem ‘Dead’:
Turning to the transferable lessons for people in business, Bill Nelson articulated his principles for personal reinvention in his online diary. Although they are artistically expressed, they are directly transferable. Bill kindly allowed me to do some ‘translation’ in my book ‘Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll’. We explored a couple of his reinvention principles in a previous blog. Here’s some more:
Reinvention Principle No. 1 – Trust the muse – she knows best
In the context of business reinvention, ‘trusting the muse’ means that we should trust intuition rather than relying on research as a means of doing new things. We live in a world that is drowning in data. As a result we downplay intuition. New stuff does not always come out of a detailed analysis of old stuff!
Reinvention Principle No. 2 – Act only when there are no alternatives to stasis
‘Acting only when there are no alternatives to stasis’ reminds us to examine all alternatives before making a decision on critical issues. This is not a recipe for not making decisions! Examining alternatives requires us to synthesise options, to bring alternatives together that will produce better options rather than compromises. It requires the use of analogue (and/also) thinking rather than digital (on/off) thinking. The pressure of business life often forces us into action rather than reflection / synthesis, with the result that we get sub-optimal decisions and / or performance. I’ve written more on this subject in previous posts on creativity.
Check out Bill’s extensive catalogue of music at SOUND ON SOUND. To study Bill’s 12 principles for personal and corporate reinvention in more detail, read Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll. If you fancy seeing Mr Magnetism Himself check out the Clothworkers Hall in Leeds. I am proud to know Bill Nelson, who has integrity and creativity written into his DNA, even at the expense of fame and fortune. Integrity is easy when it does not mean you have to make tough choices, but most people fall by the wayside when the going gets tough.
Bill Nelson has a wonderful skill of making classy pop music, a skill which he has largely left on the shelf due to his desire to pursue his own artistic vision. Lest we forget what a great talent he has for producing catchy pop hits, I’ll leave you with a film of Be-Bop Deluxe performing one of these 2.5 minute wonders on the Old Grey Whistle Test – “Maid in Heaven”, the song whose opening guitar lines are quoted by My Chemical Romance. To see more of Bill’s work in this area get yourself a copy of his ITV Legends Concert, which includes “For Stuart” and an entire catalogue of Be-Bop Deluxe, Red Noise and Bill’s solo material:
p.s. For a series of 2.5 minute lessons on business and Human Relations check out my new book ‘Punk Rock People Management – A no-nonsense guide to hiring, inspiring and firing staff’ – available FREE via the Punk Rock People Management webpage.