10 Rock’n’Roll Business Tips

Here’s a short post in the form of 10 pieces of business wisdom, summarised through the words and music of rock music, presented in a PowerPoint show.  To get the show go to ROCK WISDOM  and click on the icon ‘Download Rock Wisdom’.

To whet your appetite, here are some of the 10 tips, without their business lessons to ensure you go look at the show – it’s worth it.

The great pretender – Queen

Puppet on a string – Sandie Shaw

The great escape – Blur

Video killed the radio star – Buggles

This town ain’t big enough for the both of us – Sparks

Purely for pleasure, let’s see one of the points on marketing made musically by the genius that is Prince, in the form of ‘U Got The Look’ from his seminal album ‘Sign O’ The Times’:

If you like the slideshow, you will love Punk Rock People Management.  This new book recently overtook Dave Ulrich, Gary Hamel and the usual HR Gurus, having hit No 1 on Amazon Kindle in management and HR books.   There are a number of options available to get your copy:

Beautiful full colour print version

Kindle version – UK

Kindle Version – Worldwide

FREE pdf version of the book by e-mail

The print version of the book makes an excellent and unique Christmas present.  Check this review out by the Open University Businsss School.  I recently presented a copy of the book to Evan Davies, BBC presenter of The Today programme and Dragons Den.

I’ll leave you with another musical version of one of the 10 Rock / Business lessons from the slide deck, from Blur, in the form of ‘The Universal’ from their ‘Great Escape’ album:


2 responses to “10 Rock’n’Roll Business Tips

  1. This from Linkedin – a veritable stream of consciousness:

    Rajendra Grewal • Hear the great Rock N Roll legends sing : ” Satisfaction” = Rolling Stones ; and ” Substitute” = The Who. Nobody , not even U2, have topped these.

    Peter Cook • Thank you Rejendra – clearly substitute is an allusion to one of Michael Porter’s 5 forces and satisfaction to Mr Herzberg’s two factor theory…. 🙂

    Jelle Zeijl • Money, don’t matter tonight. Prince.

    Jan Karman • Or “What Lola wants, Lola gets”.

    Peter Cook • Heh, heh, Prince also said “Money don’t buy you happiness, but It sho’ nuff pays for the search”

    Jelle Zeijl • Yeah but it’s not a song title 🙂

    Us and Them Pink Floyd

    Peter Cook • Quite correct Jelle – I broke my own rule – oops I did it again! :-))))

    CATHY ROSS • Meat Loaf: “I Will Do Anything (for love) But I Won’t Do That : Relationships ?

    CATHY ROSS • Warren Zevon : “Life Will Kill Ya” : and it did/does.(..Warren Zevon forever) There has to be a message there. It is a very good song. Maybe leadership and motivation ?

    Peter Cook • Ha, ha Cathy – Brilliant! Have you read the book Sex, Leadership and
    Rock’n’Roll or attended one of my keynotes?

    We use Meatloaf’s classic to explore the normalisation ‘that’. I sometimes get the audience to suggest what ‘that’ is and get the usual round of acidic comments about ‘I would not work in the IT department’ etc. ! :-)))

    On a more serious note, I have performed with Lorraine Crosby who sang the brilliant vocal on the end of that song. She tells me that she knows what ‘that’ really means.

    And a US university professor colleague of mine spent three years in student accommodation with Jim Steinman. He responded to a piece I wrote for the Financial Times – available at http://www.academy-of-rock.co.uk/press

    Companies and individuals do need to work out what it is that they would not do in the name of progress and profit as well as what they would. I guess we are talking principled decision making here Cathy.

    Thank you for posting – I shall place on the blog if OK. Feel free to connect on Linkedin.

    Best regards


    CATHY ROSS • I am one that actually REALLY likes Meat Loaf. What is “that”? I really want to know. I have been “observing” you, Peter, for awhile. We should
    get to know each other. I live music. I live loud music. Been lucky to
    know or meet or see perform some good ones. I was young at a great time
    for rock and roll. It has kept me very young. Chris says it best:
    Without music life would be nothing.


  2. More from Linkedin:

    Shirley Howe MInst LM • Obvious maybe but how about “The only way is up”, or “things can only get better”. The latter was used by the Labour Party as their election theme tune . Ican’t remmeber the band, but I am sure others will. The former I think was by a group called Black Box. Both are very positive thinking songs, great for morale and to get people thinking in the right direction…forward. They definately fit into the motivatioinal and even leadership categories.

    Karen Fleming • Following a similar theme to Shirley, for Leadership I would say Chumbawamba’s “I get knocked down, but I get up again” because emotional resilience is so important in the leaders of today!

    Vicky Tillbrook • Without wanting to be negative, in the current financial climate the only songs that spring to mind every time I hear or see the news are Queen “another one bites the dust” and Specials “Ghost Town” Sorry

    Tony Kerley MCIPD, FInstLM • This is the coolest thread on Linkedin right now – well done Peter. If we’re talking pure Rock linked to business lessons, I’d link the Rolling Stones “Satisfaction” for many different reasons – most recently, the CIPD released a report that ‘satisfied’ staff aren’t always the most engaged! Tony

    Gill Kane • Great questions Peter – fun and thought provoking. I think for me it is also the mental state the songs elicit and choosing the songs we play in our heads, but I digress. So to answer your question I’d choose “What have you done today to make you feel proud” – the importance of leaders following their values and living it ‘out loud’.
    Thanks for such a great thread.


    Anne Maguire • I think if I was getting no satisfaction I would have to leave right now (I know Will Young isnt exactly rock but…..) or maybe just turn a different corner to find instead of not liking Mondays I feel more like its Sunday bloody Sunday and because life is what you make it and these are the days of our lives……

    I love the thread Peter and has definitely got me thinking!

    Peter Cook • Slightly blushing to be named as the coolest link on Linkedin 🙂 Now to deal with the substantive issues:

    Vicky – absolutely fine to be ‘negative’ – music reaches into our cathartic soul and brings out stuff that ‘spreadsheets’ cannot reach. I often use the ‘blues’ to expose undiscussible problems in complex change issues.

    Gill – I met Heather Small a while back and wished she had sung this song – fantastic – really does convey an emotion in ways that long business books do not …

    Shirley – as a general rule songs with a beat can help with good feelings, although this is complex and highly dependent on whether chord structure is in major / minor plus lyrics etc.

    And to Karen, Chumbawumba’s classic is of course the entrepreneurs soundtrack. Of course, it should say I get knocked down, reflect, learn from what happened and get up again, but this clearly would not scan! 🙂 True emotional resilience rather than just toughness …

    Anne – you are clearly the master of the joined up song title sentence – an honorary professor of the School of Rock management! :-))

    Keep it flowing


    Nicki Davey • Gosh – where to start? So many ideas but here are just a few:

    You can’t always get what you want (Rolling Stones): the importance of being collaborative, listening to others, and being prepared to let go of things sometimes.

    Welcome to the Jungle (Guns & Roses) – being a leader can be a jungle and full of scary, nasty things, but the rewards are great if you can stick with it.

    Walk this Way (Aerosmith) – lead by example

    Long as I can see the light (Creedence Clearwater Revival) – the importance of keeping sight of your goal to stay motivated

    Light my Fire (The Doors) – the need to be passionate and inspired in order to motivate and inspire others

    Be for Real (Leonard Cohen) – be authentic

    You can make it if you try (Sly & the Family Stone) – speaks for itself I think

    Good Times, Bad Times (Led Zeppelin) – being a leader means staying strong and dealing with the tough times as well as the successes.

    Nobody’s fault but mine (traditional but covered by Led Zep) – the buck stops with you when you’re a leader – take responsibility for the things that go wrong as well as those that go right.

    I could do this all day, but will stop now otherwise I won’t get any work done!
    Cheers Peter

    Peter Cook • Heh, heh – you are an honorary Professor at the Academy Nicki – yes, right, back to work 🙂

    I love the mental picture you created with Aerosmith and would love to see some financiers dressed up in the gear.

    I’d never spotted ‘Nobody’s fault but mine’ – that will make a great chapter title for Punk Rock People Management – the sequel – how true! :-)()

    p.s. I see that you have a luxury training venue and wondered if we ought to get a ‘tribe’ of business people who love rock / pop / jazz / classical music to come to a ‘Rock’n’Roll Business convention’ some time – I used to run MBA ALumni events for the Open University along such lines and could invite a couple of my mates such as Bernie Torme, Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist, my friend who performs for Celine Dion, Anastasia and Shirley Bassey … etc.


    Nick McBain • Nice question Peter, frees up the creative side. I liked Nicki’s list! Mine are a variety:

    Cat Stevens: Wild world 1970 – searching for meaning, peace and happiness is a deep motivator for many people, a business which taps into this could skyrocket

    The Doors: Light my fire 1967 – again! the last song Jim Morrison performed live. Inspiration & passion beat mundane every time, go for ‘great work’ v ‘grunt work’

    Frankie goes to..: Two Tribes (go to War) 1984 – Butting heads never works, mediation can, though it’s harder. ‘You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist’ (Indira Ghandi)

    The Bangles: Manic Monday 1986 – busy is OK, doing the headless chicken isn’t. We all need to sort Urgent from Important and keep some time to Think …

    Would be v easy to spend a lot more time on this!!!

    Peter Cook • My goodness Nick, you quote a song written by Prince ! Great respect to you !

    I had not spotted this one re time management and think it will be time to include these in a new slide deck or the follow up to Punk Rock People Management, suitably credited etc.

    I had cause to do some strategy retreats for the UN Atomic Weapons Agency a while back. One of the evenings was ‘at ease’ and we did a music / business experience. I pointed out to them that they may well think that there were few songs written about nuclear proliferation, but they were wrong – Two Tribes being one ! :-()( Two Tribes nicely illustrates ‘the prisoner’s dilemma’

    Thanks for these I will post to the blog.



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