The Spirit of America

I must say I’m not a fan of America these days – For me Donald Trump has contaminated the “brand” with his mean-spirited attitudes towards building a wall, threatening wars, rolling back progress on environmental stewardship and so on.  It is a perversion of the notion of MAGA (Making America Great Again) and the whole genre of fake news … but one must never generalise, and the magazine US of America supports and celebrates the values that make America a great nation. Contemporary yet nostalgic, presenting stories from across the cultural landscape of the USA. From Alabama to Wyoming, the magazine shine a light on every US state, showcasing the weird and wonderful of everyday American life.

The 2nd edition is just out. Here the editor in chief Nicole Nodland explains what’s in store:

Our cover star Dua Lipa discusses the importance of using your voice to affect change and break boundaries. Bruce Gilden captures the resilience of the people of Detroit, while Lucas Foglia presents an utopian-like image of the prisoners of Riker’s Island. From Larry Fink’s photos at the Women’s March to Alec Soth’s reflective series on the recent election, we capture the beauty of a collective spirit in times of uncertainty.

Minnesota is this issue’s special focus. Visit the land of 10,000 lakes with us as we look at the state’s lesser known stories and pay tribute to its most famous resident, Prince. It’s just over a year since Prince left Planet Earth and his loss to the world still leaves a huge vacuum. Featuring an exclusive interview with Mayte Garcia, a feature on Ida Neilsen, his bass anchor for 6 years and a piece on the musicology of a genius.

We go bicoastal to look at California cults and Brooklyn Biker gangs. And back in time with 70’s photos of Hollywood Boulevard and the NY subway system.

Catch up with Giancarlo Esposito, Mayte Garcia, Ida Nielsen, and Amber Mark to find out about their upcoming projects. And spend time in LA’s Inglewood neighbourhood with rising stars Ill Camille, Daniel Farris, Davion Farris, Tay Walker, Kenyon Dixon, and Jeff Bernat.

Grab your copy of Us of America now.  In the meantime, here is my tribute to Prince recorded just a year ago with Meatloaf’s singing partner from “I would do anything for love” Lorraine Crosby, recorded without practice or soundcheck, so there are a few ongoing adjustments to live guitar sound levels in the first few seconds.

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock.  Author of 7.5 Books.

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Brexit Election Fever

Go Fund Me to make June the end of May

We live in disruptive times and who would have predicted a snap General Election after Premier May had stated there would not be one? It’s a good time for her to do this as Labour is depleted of followers and funds. The Lib Dems face the same shortage of cash. UKIP are in disarray. So it’s the perfect time for her to call a snap election if things stay the same as they are ….

… Except they might not … Disruption begets disruption and many of the events we have faced since Brexit have been unpredictable – who would have thought we would threaten to go to war with Spain if we do not get our own way in negotiations? Who would have thought that the European Union would undertake a “dirty trick” such as making their position on negotiations completely open and transparent?  Who would have thought that the election would be used as a means to close down discussion on meeting our environmental commitments?  And so on

Today I’m meeting with Open Britain and others from The European Movement to discuss our tour of the UK to change the course of the General Election.  Please support me. This is a vital business and personal issue for all of us and, most importantly, our children. We did not vote for self-destructive Brexit and the game has changed compared with what we were sold.  I know many people are weary of electioneering and politics, but let’s not have “buyers remorse” over Brexit.

Click to Go Fund Me

I’m doing my part to create MayHem with the “Strong and UnStable” Leadership of Theresa May’s Government with the aim of seriously leavening or reducing their majority. I’m doing this so that a more considered debate may be held on our self-harming Brexit for the sake of our children, rather than just to be bloody minded or a saboteur, as I have been accused of being by some. This included being punched in the face by one angry young Brexiteer and threatened by another sad old musician. I myself wanted EU reform and thought that the best way to achieve this was to be at the negotiating table as a full member. You cannot negotiate with a club once you have left it !!

Some ask me, are you not part of an elite, a Guardian Reader or a snowflake Liberal Democrat? Politically, if you cut me in half (as some would like to do ! :-), you would find blue, gold, green and red blood running through my veins. I don’t seek to depose Theresa May because of her Conservatism, more to leaven her desire to force through a self-harming Brexit in the wake of a complete lack of an effective opposition.

We plan to deliver a series of grassroots events that will inspire, consult and engage all people with the intention to change voter behaviour. The core of this will be a “People’s Question Time” backed up with some superb non-partisan facilitation and support for tired remainers and floating leavers. Please take a look at our fundraiser and support / share the project if you feel able.

Click the image to make June the end of May ….

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

  • Network the concept with key opinion formers to help with funding, infrastructure and so on.
  • Ask corporate decision makers for financial backing – We accept contributions from £10K upwards.
  • Contribute directly to the Go Fund Me initiative.  We have had donations from £20 to £100.

A C Grayling – One of our supporters

We are also looking for direct sponsorship from businesses, political figures and individuals – please see our Slideshare deck on the topic:

We plan to collaborate with Liz Webster who runs Flock Brexit, a group seeking securely define EU citizenship for all Europeans (including British) to ensure our rights and freedoms are not stripped or curtailed by any nation state withdrawing from EU. In doing so to halt the progress of Brexit. All people from 28 member states are equal in EU law and united as EU citizens, which affords huge privileges. Brexit (or any other exit) potentially damages all EU citizens. Flock Brexit’s objective is to ensure EU citizenship becomes teflon coated to ensure we are EU citizenship can’t be removed or altered.

Come join us and let’s BREAK BREXIT BEFORE BREXIT BREAKS BRITAIN.  To finish, here’s a video of our musical antics opposite No 10 Downing Street, where we have had celebrities, MP’s, the BBC and Breitbart in attendance or reporting on our acts as “saboteurs” 🙂 If you want to join us please connect with the No 10 Vigil on Facebook. We have a lot of fun and our message is getting through to the parts that matter, including Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier last week.

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Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock and Human Dynamics, offering outstanding keynotes, masterclasses and longer term Business / OD, Coaching and Mentoring. He is author of 7 and a half books on business leadership. Check them out at Amazon.

Brighton Rock

I’m performing with Bernie Tormé , celebrated guitarist with Ozzy Osbourne, Ian Gillan, Dee Snider and GMT this Saturday 8 April in Brighton. It’s part of my “official birthday” celebrations so I hope to see you there !! 🙂  Tickets, just £13.25 available here.

Bernie will be playing songs from his triple box set album “Dublin Cowboy” plus a selection of old favourites. The album features a whole album of new rock songs, an acoustic album rooted in Bernie’s Irish and other traditions and a live album. My wife and I went round to Bernie’s for dinner the other week and there are some exciting developments in the pipeline … shhhhh …. 🙂

Click the image to order your copy NOW

So, I’m ready with my bucket, spade, shades and suedes to hit the town of Brighton, famed for its rock, cock and royalty … Come join me for an unforgettable afternoon and evening.

And the inspiration for the title of this post. The magnificent Brian May and Queen : Brighton Rock. One of my early inspirations was the guitar playing of Brian May, alongside Ritchie Blackmore and Jimi Hendrix and they taught me much of what I know now. Bernie Tormé‘s playing is out of this world, a fusion of psychedelia, hard rock and irish roots.  R U Experienced?

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Peter purges your inner business demons through music. Check his keynotes and longer masterclasses out at The Academy of Rock. For 1:1 mentoring and coaching on a worldwide basis contact him.

Punk Rock Brexit – Mixing Pop and Politics

“Mixing Pop and Politics, You ask me what the use is

I answer with embarrassment and my usual excuse”

Billy Bragg

Quite simply music reaches people much better than a spreadsheet and I’ll be performing some songs of Rebellion opposite Downing Street tonight Friday 10 March, with the Richmond Terrace Group. The group protest against Theresa May’s “deal or no deal Kamikaze Brexit” every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6 pm till 9 pm.

For the occasion, we have re-written Rod Stewart’s Maggie May, OMD’s Enola Gay, Bruno Mars Uptown Funk and The Wild Rover by The Dubliners.  The Wild Rover needed few modifications to turn the story into one I’ve heard many times of late – the tale of a Brexiter who has realised they were ‘played’ by the tabloid press and now wish we could escape Theresa May’s appropriation of “the will of the people” for her own personal gain and a place as The Iron Lady II, when comparisons are at best restricted to fashion and hair styling.

The refrain “Rise up your kilt” may be added to recognise the way that Nicola Sturgeon has consistently supported the EU and for the Irish Prime Minister’s support last night in Brussels

Theresa May’s behaviour does not fit any rational mould and I can only assume her childhood was deprived of love and affection due to privilege ….

Come down and singalong with the “Remoaners” !!  6 pm start and Boris is making an appearance …

It is rumoured that Theresa May will invoke Article 50 on Tuesday once she has savaged her elder and wiser colleagues in The House of Lords once again, in fear of a revolt from her own party and a surprise formation of a credible opposition to an unelected dictatorship.

Join the Facebook group

Find The Richmond Group on Twitter – Use hashtag #No10Vigil

Finally, one of my favourite protest songs from the great Billy Bragg.

What a pity he is not the leader of the opposition – we would not have this mess.

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics, delivering exceptional business and organisation development without sex, politics or rock’n’roll. He is also CEO of The Academy of Rock, offering keynotes that blend MBA themes with parallel insights from music, reaching your head, heart and soul. Author of 7 1/2 books on leadership, innovation and creativity. Check them out on Amazon.

 

New Year’s Reflections – Princes, Princesses and Starmen

Part I – 2016 Reflections

I hate the passage of time, as I believe that every moment should count, but I’m willing to make an exception in the case of 2016, which took so many beautiful and creative talents from us. As if it could not get any worse, we lost George Michael on Christmas day (My wife and I were reflecting that I gave my son George Michael as middle names today). This followed the tragic losses of Prince, Bowie, Carrie Fisher and so many more people during the year. 2016 has been such a crap year in so many ways. I recorded my thoughts about 2016 overall in an Advent Blog for Kate Griffiths-Lambeth, so there is no need to repeat them here. Suffice to say, I have been blessed to interview Prince family members such as Ida Nielsen, Marcus Anderson, Sheila E and George Clinton in 2016 and before. In 2017 I am planning a Worldwide Prince Photographic Exhibition with Maverick Productions, currently touring The Rolling Stones “Exhibitionism” as another tribute to the genius of Prince.

Ida

Prince with Ida Nielsen – Musical Genius x 2

But all things must pass and I’m marking the end of 2016 by giving a LIVE performance of Purple Rain at Battersea Arts Centre from 12 midnight – 2 am, after a two hour Vinyl Prince DJ set – the story of how this came about is a great example of the power of networking. I met DJ Nick, driving a van on a busy street in the City of London. Nick called out to me from then van, recognising my Prince Symbol T-Shirt. After a brief exchange, I left a card and ran, since I was in danger of being run over by angry drivers as I stood in the middle of the road!! To my surprise, Nick e-mailed me to explain his evening job as a DJ and now we are collaborating on this venture. I’m hopeful it may lead to other things in my day job at The Academy of Rock delivering events around the world.

Prince on improvisation

Our Tribute Song 4 Prince may be found at http://www.academy-of-rock.bandcamp.com/

Battersea Arts Centre - Orpheus

Battersea Arts Centre – Orpheus

Battersea Arts Centre is also a fascinating venue. Partly destroyed by fire in 2015, the centre showcases some of the most amazing creative talents. It’s very much in the mould of my work on improvisation, by operating a “scratch” methodology as part of its “ladder of development” for new work. Performances are shown at various stages of development to an outside audience, whose input and criticism guides the further evolution of the work. Scratch has been adopted as far afield as Sydney and New York and Battersea Arts Centre has successfully sparked new approaches to creativity across the globe.

Paper Cinema's Odyssey at Battersea Arts Centre

Paper Cinema’s Odyssey at Battersea Arts Centre

What then does 2017 hold in store for us? I’m going to leave that part of this blog until Part II. For now, here’s the end piece of a performance I did in Italy to honour Prince, at an impromptu aftershow for 300 people after a keynote on improvisation in business. Admittedly, nothing compares with the real thing but I did my best …

Part II – Towards 2017

I have two global hopes for 2017 – Firstly, that our obsession with war will diminish. Aleppo stands as yet another monument to humanity’s inhumanity. Secondly that we will turn back from “mob rule” as characterised by the election of Donald Trump and our own Government’s Brexit. A sub-goal for me in terms of contribution to society is the SIX B’s :

“Break Brexit Before Brexit Breaks Britain”

In business terms, my plans for 2017 include:

  1. A new book for Routledge, focusing on how we will respond to a society where intelligence are the main ingredients of personal and business success.  Read more about it at Brain Based Enterprises.
  2. I’m hoping to deliver consultancy assignments in Greece, Italy, the USA and make a return to Mauritius.
  3. And the Prince Photography Exhibition will be a major legacy project, to honour his memory. One of the images from the current Exhibitionism project is shown below:
Get off of my cloud - not a reference to computing storage ...

Get off of my cloud – not a reference to computing storage …

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. Author of 7 1/2 books on Leadership, Innovation and Creativity. Find his current books on Amazon which include cameo articles and insights from Prince and other music giants.

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Dublin Cowboy

Following the success of his two recent crowd-funded albums, 2014’s Flowers & Dirt and 2015’s Blackheart, former Gillan and Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Bernie Tormé has announced plans for a new album. ‘Dublin Cowboy’ will be a triple album comprising a studio CD, an acoustic CD and a live CD. The album is scheduled for release in March 2017 and, again, fans are being asked to support the production and release of the album via a crowdfunding appeal.

“I’m so psyched to be doing my third crowd-funded album on Pledgemusic, and in celebration of number three it’s also a triple album. Triple offender! Titled ‘Dublin Cowboy’ – because that’s what I am, its going to be a studio album, acoustic album, and a live album altogether in a dinky little slip-box. It’s a totally new experience for me, and that’s the best thing about it! It’ll be released in March 2017, and we’ll be rocking it live throughout the UK in April 2017.”

Jamming with da man - at the Hilton Hotel

Jamming with ‘da man – at the Hilton Hotel – To be sure, to be sure

The success of his two recent solo albums heralded the start of a real career renaissance for Bernie Tormé. He even claimed that I was part of it when all I did was buy the beer!! Seriously I’m also seriously geeked to have played a small part in Bernie’s renaissance alongside Arthur Brown, Ginger Wildheart et al. I’ve also performed on stage twice with Bernie and the band at London’s Borderline which is a kind of baptism by fire …

Bernie Torme Quote

Both albums were assisted by highly successful crowdfunding campaigns that helped reconnect Bernie with long-standing fans as well as bringing new ones. ‘Dublin Cowboy’ continues that renaissance.

Full details of Bernie’s Pledgemusic appeal can be found at Dublin Cowboy. Here’s some highlights:

  • £25 buys you a copy of the ‘Dublin Cowboy’ triple CD (and the first 100 physical CD orders will also get a free Bernie Tormé ‘Stratocaster Gypsy’ DVD
  • £36 buys you a signed copy of ‘Dublin Cowboy’ (together with a free DVD for the first 100 physical CD orders)
  • £200 buys you a Guitar Masterclass with Bernie
  • £350 buys you a day’s recording at Barnroom Studios in Kent with Bernie producing
  • £500 buys you Bernie’s vintage pirate coat, as worn on stage by Bernie during the Gillan era
"Pirates of Temple Bar" - Bernie's "piratic coat of many colours" - SOLD

“Pirates of Temple Bar” – Bernie’s “piratic coat of many colours” – SOLD

To tie in with the release of the album a new 2017 UK Tour has also been announced:

1st April SOUTH SHIELDS The Unionist Club

2nd April GLASGOW Nice n Sleazy

3rd April EDINBURGH Bannermans

4th April GRIMSBY Yardbirds

5th April MANCHESTER FAC25

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6th April WOLVERHAMPTON The Robin

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7th April LONDON The Borderline

8th April BRIGHTON The Prince Albert

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Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock, blending business with music. Read his book “The Music of Business” which includes an interview with Bernie Tormé.

hendrix-torme-aor

Leadership Lessons from Two Virgins

I was approached by David Tait OBE recently to form a speaking partnership. David was with Virgin Atlantic from the very beginning and is acknowledged by Sir Richard Branson as having played a pivotal role in the development of Virgin, marking its progress from an underground office to a global luxury brand.David wrote British Atlantic Airways first business plan, a company that would eventually become Virgin Atlantic. In 1984, Tait became the fledgling airline’s first US employee, reporting directly to Sir Richard Branson. He built and led all the airline’s North American operations including sales, marketing, operations, customer service, finance, IT and HR. He was awarded an OBE in 2001 by Queen Elizabeth II for “services to British aviation in the United States”. Since that time he has worked as a consultant to the airline and travel industry and is a founding partner in the online luxury hotel booking site “Discover Luxury”. David has a veritable treasure trove of stories that offer insights into the ingenious and disruptive strategies of a serial entrepreneur and the Virgin brand. Here are just a few of the stories we share in our work together.

I want to break free … frustration and innovation


In the same way that Sir James Dyson’s breakthrough Dual Cyclone vacuum cleaner was inspired by his frustration with his existing vacuum cleaner, Branson’s decision to start Virgin Atlantic was inspired by a sense of frustration with existing customer service:

“As the head of Virgin Records, Richard Branson was a frequent flier between London and New York. Frustrated by consistently high fares and bad service he was convinced there had to be a better way and so, never one to be hindered by conventional wisdom, decided he would look at starting his own transatlantic airline. He’d learned from his success in the music business that what doesn’t work in theory can sometimes work in practice. But this was different – in a business ruled by Goliaths, starting another airline was a major leap of faith!

But just ‘another airline’ wasn’t what Branson had in mind. With the help of a few former Laker executives and some entertainment industry flair, Virgin crafted a radically different model. Branded Virgin Atlantic Airways – by conservative airline standards a risqué move – the product it offered would be equally disruptive.”

revivals

An obsession with Customer Service – Virgin Upper Class

Being frustrated is insufficient to innovate.  You must go on and do something about it. Some 5127 prototypes later James Dyson produced his first commercially viable Dual Cyclone cleaner. Branson also went past frustration and disrupted the market in a monopoly industry. Find out more about Dyson and Branson in our exclusive interviews with both at “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise

Screw it, Let’s do it


David recalls the “Screw it, Let’s do it” days of Virgin Atlantic’s maiden flights to New York. One of Richard Branson’s secrets is that he is a master of delegation and that sometimes means he does not always “do the detail”. It turned out that Richard had managed to forget his passport for the first Virgin Atlantic flight to the USA, which technically made him an illegal immigrant! David had to skilfully navigate his way out of the problem …

Brand-son


David also shares insights on how to change the customer experience via the early days of Virgin Atlantic with a fellow alumni of my secondary school, Sir David Frost:

“Those on the inbound trip were party to a flight that could well have made the Guinness World Records book for the most champagne consumed on a single Atlantic crossing.

A smiling David Frost, who was almost a weekly commuter across the Atlantic at the time, told me that it was the first time he’d ever made the entire seven-hour trip standing up with a drink in his hand”.

richard-branson

Sir David Frost R.I.P.

As well as some great storytelling, together David and I offer deep insights and takeaway concepts presented in ways that last forever. My experience of teaching MBA’s over 20 years has shown that we are missing out on the heart and soul of leadership by just teaching dry concepts. The mnemonic MBA should really stand for Much Bigger Amplifiers rather than More Blooming Analysis! We cover subjects such as

  • Disruptive thinking about your business strategy and practices
  • Converting ideas into sustainable innovations
  • Building and rethinking your brand to face a VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous)
  • The “anatomy” of Sir Richard Branson : Why he leads the way he does
  • How does Virgin organise its affairs? – Culturally, structurally and in terms of day to day people management
  • Customer Centricity without Customer OCD
  • Leadership for good : Balancing Passion, Purpose and Profit

We finish with the hilarious story of Richard’s entrée into the world of Cola, which resulted in failure:

Cola Wars


“When trying to promote anything in the US one really has to “Go big or go home” – well, we went big! … I drove a vintage Sherman tank down Broadway … heroically smashing through a giant wall of Coke and Pepsi cans.”

Sir Richard Branson

On this occasion Richard’s underlying modus operandi of “playing David to Goliath” did not succeed. Coca Cola engaged their massive distribution machine to ensure there was no room on the shelves for Virgin’s product, Coke was discounted massively and Virgin retired injured. The key point here is the idea that success recipes work for a set of reasons and therefore transplanting a recipe (the David and Goliath approach in this case) does not always work in a new set of circumstances.

Contact me via peter@humdyn.co.uk to book David and myself for that very special event.

With Sir Richard Branson at The Virgin Money Lounge

With Sir Richard Branson at The Virgin Money Lounge