Punks, Virgins and Pop Art

I’m proud to present a unique event on Friday November 27th 3 pm at The Virgin Lounge in Eagle Place, London with Richard Strange, founder of proto-punk band The Doctors of Madness, who inspired The Sex Pistols, The Damned, Spandau Ballet, Richard Branson, The Jam, Joy Division et al.

Urban Blitz performing with The Doctors of Madness at Richard's celebration of William Burroughs at The Royal Festival Hall

Urban Blitz performing with The Doctors of Madness at Richard’s celebration of William Burroughs at The Royal Festival Hall

Richard will talk about leading the pop art / punk rock revolt and the wider notions of disruption in music and business. He will share some hilarious and insightful stories, including his time as a Virgin Records artist, how not to deal with Bryan Ferry and various other delights  Strange will also talk about a mammoth undertaking last year, where he put on an entire theatre production at the Royal Festival Hall to celebrate the life of William Burroughs, author of “Naked Lunch” and a primary figure in the Beat Generation who influenced David Bowie, The Beatles, R.E.M, Steely Dan and U2 to name but a few.


Ginsberg and Burroughs in the Theatre Production by Richard Strange

Take a look at the trailer video for the show:

Join us in the Lounge with Richard for an interview supplemented with great video footage, Q and A, meet and greet and possible mini acoustic performance.

Please contact the London Eagle Place Lounge on 0207 439 8802 to register your place.

Never Mind The Credit Card

Never Mind The Credit Card …

Party’s Over .. but I’m still Eight Miles High

I had the great pleasure of playing with a Rock Legend just recently, at London’s Borderline with Bernie Tormé and the band. Even more frightening to be in front of a crowd of fans who can be quite precious about their heroes, not always wanting any interference with their expectations from outsiders.  It seems I more than “got away” with the whole thing, having impressed blogger Darren Johnson with my ability to play with Class A rock stars:

Click on the picture to read Darren's Review

Click on the picture to read Darren’s Review

It seems that the world thinks that not only am I a good business consultant / author but also a rather fine guitar player who can hold their own with world class musicians. Getting an accolade like this is perhaps more important than scoring 11/10 on a happy sheet from an event or masterclass – of course, both things matter, but I think this review has set the week off rather well !! At the point of writing this I confess I am feeling rather smug – back to earth soon I hope ! Here’s some video of the rather drunken jam session:

Bernie Tormé’s tour continues through the month in Oxford, Newcastle, Liverpool and Brighton. Check the band out.

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We also did a superb event in The Virgin Lounge where Bernie did an interview, conducted a Q&A and gave a mini guitar masterclass.


The Mile High Club at the Virgin Lounge – Picture by Christina Jansen http://www.cjansenphotography.com

The Band et moi and Peter Lawrence - Picture by Christina Jansen www.cjansenphotography.com

The Band et moi and Peter Lawrence – Picture by Christina Jansen http://www.cjansenphotography.com

A full interview with Bernie appears in my current book “The Music of Business” where we discuss the impact of climate on high performance, Jimi Hendrix, the gentle art of improvisation from a starting point of nothing and various other matters.

Click on the picture to check the book out

Click on the picture to check the book out on Amazon

Our next events in the Virgin Lounge are on Friday 27th November with the Godfather of Punk, Mr Richard Strange and Friday December 4th with Mark Christopher Lee, who has created an album of 100 x 30 second songs as a disruptive force in the music industry.

The Voice

Never mind the television programme of the same name. The “Real Voice” passed away this week – Peter Donaldson, former news anchor at BBC Radio 4. I was privileged to meet Peter on a 15 minute tube journey on the Central Line nearly 10 years back en route to Radio 4 to give an interview for The Today Programme with Martyn Shankleman.

I was not sure which stop I should be getting off at and noticed his BBC pass, so asked if he knew the way as I was in danger of being late.  He was initially a little guarded as I had a guitar and I suspect he may have thought I was a busker. After I explained that I was going to an interview for the Today Programme, he piped up in his characteristic BBC voice “I’m Peter Donaldson, pleased to meet you”. I suspect he may have been out with some friends drinking wine at lunchtime :-) Listening to the tributes to him, my hunch may have been correct – red wine seems to have been one of his great pleasures according to my friend Fenella Fudge, a colleague of Peter’s and voice over specialist.

In our short journey to White City, Peter was gloriously irreverent about BBC management – a true maverick. Within minutes it seemed as though I’d known him for years – the hallmark of someone who was obviously hugely talented at getting on with people of all persuasions. It seems from the various tributes that he touched everyone he met with his sense of fun, kindness and wisdom. Fenella’s eulogy below sums up the man that I met in a brief encounter on a tube train:

“Far too handsome for radio, bearded in winter and clean-shaven in summer, he was the twinkliest man you could ever wish to meet.

Warm, mischievous, kind and wise … but streaked with the idiocy running through real radio people … Peter Donaldson was my lovely boss for 8 years, and colleague for many years after … I can still hear his magnificent voice in my mind, bellowing “Fenellamoo!” at any chance meeting – I called him “Guv”.

His passing makes me ache for a world where public service broadcasting was a vocation, where quality trumped audience figures, and innovation and daring created extraordinary programmes … where hope, joy, talent and ambition mingled, as the BBC invested in mavericks, misfits and above all, fun.

Radio is all about imagination and passion, and there are brilliant pockets where programme makers still duck stifling edicts and pointless corporate demands to produce appointment listening … but the staff are increasingly cowed and creatively neutered.

Peter fought management stupidity with every fibre of his being, he championed those he recognised as fellow wireless warriors, and lampooned the poltroons and buffoons who tried to turn radio into a numbers game.

He is an unmistakeable voice in any radiophile’s pantheon, one of a dying breed of instinctive selfless broadcasters, always striking the right tone, whether with humour or gravitas.

Foremost in his mind was the listener, because radio should be a conversation, not a tannoy.

And conversations with Peter are what I’ll miss – really, really miss.”

Click on the picture to hear the BBC’s own tributes to Peter from his colleagues:


Peter Donaldson R.I.P 1945 – 2015

No Hot Ashes

I was delighted to meet Eamon Nancarrow – lead singer for No Hot Ashes the other week at a festival and we talked at some length about Failure, Dementia and Rock’n’Roll. No Hot Ashes have just ‘risen from the ashes’ to play their 80’s styled melodic rock again. This began in 2013 when they played a tribute gig for the recently closed Rosetta Bar, THE venue for Northern Irelands’s rock and metal scene from the early 80’s and also as a tribute to their old manager Stephen Magee who passed away before his time.

Click to find No Hot Ashes

Click to find No Hot Ashes

Eamon told me the amazing story of his father who, at the age of 80, elected to look after his wife with dementia over the last four years at home. This is real heroism as he pointed out. Eamon wrote a song to celebrate his father called “Boulders”, with proceeds going to a basket of Dementia charities. Don’t just watch the video, buy Boulders and support dementia, a silent disease, mostly ignored in favour of the big cancer charities.

You and me started out as friends
We’ll see this journey to the end
Renewed our vows helped us carry on
What doesn’t kill us, makes us strong

Click to buy Holywood Star on Amazon

Click to buy Holywood Star on Amazon

Eamon is also a writer with three books to his name. The latest is called “Holywood Star: the life and times of a rock and roll misadventurer”. The book gives great insights into what it was like growing up in the tough surroundings of Northern Ireland, while trying to look like David Coverdale. Eamon tells one of the incredible stories on the film below. Holywood Star is very witty, but Eamon also makes some serious points about the contradictions and paradoxes of living life in a divided land.

A taste of things to come .. check the book out on Amazon

A taste of things to come .. check the book out on Amazon

An enduring theme of the book is that, no matter how bad things get, there is always a funny side to your situation – a point that I recognise in my own life, having worked with Aylesbury’s greatest failure, John Otway, having lost my heart, soul and bank balance on John’s failed world tour.

Check No Hot Ashes Website out by clicking the picture

Check No Hot Ashes Website out by clicking the picture

I really enjoyed talking with Eamon – a very perceptive soul with a big heart. Do check Boulders and No Hot Ashes out.


For more on Music and Business grab your copy of The Music of Business.

Click on the picture to check the book out

Halloween ROCKS

DATELINE: Halloween SATURDAY 31 OCT 2015, 3.00 – 3.45 pm

I’m launching the first in a series of inspirational events at The Virgin Money Lounge in London’s Haymarket. I will be hosting an interview, Q&A, meet and greet and guitar masterclass with Bernie Tormé, legendary guitarist with Ozzy Osbourne and Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan, a former Virgin Records’ artist. This is part of Bernie’s UK Tour to mark the launch of his new album “Blackheart”. Book yourself into the event at the Virgin Money Lounge, prior to Bernie’s gig at London’s Borderline on the same evening, where I’ll be joining him on stage for a few numbers. Come to the party !!

ONLY 15 Spaces left – book your place at the lounge via e-mail peter@humdyn.co.uk

Bernie’s tour is itself unusual in so far that it has been entirely funded by his fans all over the world using “crowdfunding”. Fans paid in advance for albums, t-shirts, guitar lessons, jam sessions with the band, studio experience days and even formed a “virtual gothic choir”, singing into their phones and having their voices transposed onto some of the album tracks in the studio.

What did Bernie learn from working with The Osbournes?

As it is Halloween, no doubt Bernie will be performing various pagan rituals to celebrate saints and sinners in the deathly hallows of rock. Only joking !! Do expect to hear some sonically unique guitar playing informed by Jimi Hendrix amongst a cast of giants, plus Bernie’s unique fusion of the blues, psychedelia and traditional Irish folk music.

Innovators in business and music – Jobs, Hendrix, Branson and Clapton – artwork by the very talented Simon Heath @SimonHeath1 

We will also be discussing lessons from life on the road with the Prince of Darkness himself, Mr Ozzy Osbourne and Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan, a former Virgin Records’ artist. There is much to learn in business and leadership from the School of Hard Knocks and Bernie’s insights are priceless.

This is the first of a series of events for Virgin. We have follow up events booked with Jess and the Bandits, currently touring the UK and the nation’s TV screens and others with Aaron Keylock, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Patti Russo, Meatloaf’s singing partner and, who knows …. Come Lounge With Me on Halloween. It’s not about the money … it’s only rock’n’roll but you will like it – I presently learning “No Easy Way” from “Glory Road” in preparation for a possible guitar duelling session …

Punk Rock Money – Banking with Attitude


Some of Bernie Tormé’s insights into the creative process and an interview with Sir Richard Branson feature in our forthcoming book for Bloomsbury, Leading Creativity, Innovation and Enterprise. Order your copy now by clicking the image:

Come Lounge With Me … and Jess and The Bandits

Jess and The Bandits

Jess and The Bandits

Come lounge with me at the Virgin Money Lounge at 1 Eagle Place, London on Friday November 6th at 3.00 pm for a very special event with upcoming Country Rock band Jess and The Bandits, a feisty five-piece Country Rock band from the Wild West (Houston, Texas and Bristol, Somerset). Here’s the invite from Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.

Come Lounge With Jess and The Bandits

Come Lounge With Jess and The Bandits – 1 Eagle Place, London

We’ll have an interview, Q&A, mini performance and meet and greet with the band. This is the second of our series, following Bernie Tormé on Halloween at 3.00 pm – ooh er – oh yes and the events are completely free.  Catch Jess and the band on her first UK headlining tour at UK TOUR. I’ll be at London’s Borderline on Thursday October 29th if you want to meet up for some great music and a drink.

UK Tour Dates - Click for more information

UK Tour Dates – Click for more information

See Jess and a bandit from Bristol talking in our interview and some of their fantastic music:


Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock, where business meets music.

Check out our current book The Music of Business, which explores parallels between music and business. You may now pre-order our next major work “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise” with Bloomsbury, featuring interviews with Sir Richard Branson and Sir James Dyson amongst others.

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Agilty and Perception

In our occasional series of posts on the practical aspects of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), here’s a short post on one of NLP’s values, summed up by the phrase:

The meaning of communication is the response you get

This simple phrase is one of the hardest but most useful principles to get on board. Instead of thinking it’s someone else’s fault if they don’t ‘get you’, this NLP principle places the onus on you to vary your communication style to be more influential. the buck rests with you, and if at first you don’t succeed, try something different. Many times we misunderstand each other, as if we are speaking foreign languages:

I say Tomato, you say Tom Ate O, let’s call the whole thing off

In practice, you can use this idea in the following ways:

Try explaining yourself from the other person’s point of view

Explain yourself in the language they would prefer rather than your own preferences. Live inside their world, not yours

Ask them to explain what they don’t understand or accept, then move on from there

We live inside our own skins for much of thIn some cases, no matter hard we try, some people are “on the Central Line” and others “on the Circle” metaphorically speaking … of course there are points at which these tube lines meet … :-) Check the 1948 tube map out to think about how you can meet people in a conversation where they are rather than where you are:

Skilled negotiators and influencers understand and use these skills naturally but they can also be learned and refined. Check out our offerings in this area at Human Dynamics or give us a call to set up some NLP master coaching.

Of course some people are just really “hard to read” as illustrated by this cat cartoon from my friend’s cousin, the great Steve Bell – such people make great poker players amongst other life and business skills. More on this in another article to demystify and cut the crap (but not the cats) out of NLP.

We finish with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on the vexed question of communication excellence:


Human Dynamics offers better business and organisation development, training and coaching. Our sister company The Academy of Rock specialises in cross-disciplinary learning on business and music, delivered through conference keynotes and longer masterclasses.

Do order your copy of the NEW edition of “The Music of Business” – Parallel lessons on Business and Music. Acclaimed by Professor Adrian Furnham and Harvey Goldsmith CBE.