Guns, Roses and Rock ‘n’ Roll

I’m delighted to announce a liaison with Vicky Hamilton, former Manager of Guns N’ Roses, Poison and Faster Pussycat and management consultant with Mötley Crüe. Together, we offer MBA2 where Masters of Business Administration meets Much Bigger Amplifiers … a unique combination of lessons on leadership from Vicky’s experience in holding explosive rock bands together with Peter’s quintessentially English observations on business from his combined experience as an MBA tutor, scientist and musician. We offer insights on the following topics:

  • Disruptive and creative thinking about your business strategy and practices
  • Converting creativity into sustainable profit
  • Managing volatile people with huge egos under extreme pressure
  • Negotiation, influencing and persuading powerful people
  • Building and rethinking your brand to face a VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous)

We are giving showcase events at The Virgin Lounges in the UK on these dates:

Virgin Lounge Tour 2016

Virgin Lounge Tour 2016

We are also offering a strictly limited dinner with Vicky and myself, providing a 1:1 opportunity for detailed discussions about managing high performance people with planetary sized egos. Contact me to book your dinner date:

Where Business meets Rock'n'Roll - Book a Dinner Date with Vicky Hamilton et moi

Where Business meets Rock’n’Roll – Book a Dinner Date with Vicky Hamilton et moi

At 22, Vicky Hamilton left her hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and arrived on the Sunset Strip as a wide-eyed blonde with an ear for rock & roll: “I was back home interviewing Tom Petty for Three Rivers Review,” says Hamilton, “And he told me I was a ‘real California girl,’ and that’s all it took.” It was 1981, and Hamilton arrived at the centre of Hollywood; where the scene was erupting with spandex, sex, cocaine, Aqua Net hairspray and madcap visionaries, like Hamilton, who discovered Guns N’ Roses and became their first manager and surrogate mother. She moved on to work as an A&R executive at major labels such as Geffen and Capitol, in addition to starting her own Grammy winning indie label Small Hairy Dog. Vicky’s book “Appetite for Dysfunction” is a no-holds-barred exploration of the realities of managing rock bands with transferable lessons for anyone seeking to manage creative people or disrupt their markets. Vicky is considered one of the most successful female industry players and has made many TV appearances on MTV, VH1, BBC, The Biography Channel etc.

Sex, Dysfunction and Rock'n'Roll

Sex, Dysfunction and Rock’n’Roll

Slash 4

Slash meets Prince – with my pal Aaron Stone after hours at a private party 

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics, offering better Business / Organisation Development and Coaching / Mentoring. He offers keynotes that blend World Class Leadership Thinking with the wisdom of the street via The Academy of Rock – where Business Meets Music.

For some wisdom on business leadership, innovation and creativity, check Peter’s seventh book out at Bloomsbury or book us for a masterclass or longer development programme.

 

Beat It, Just Beat It

Here’s some new videos to support our KickStarter project to Beat World Cancer – Please share them widely and support the Life Aid cause that has just 18 days to go before we find out if we can go forward with the project:

One about the money, money, money

How You Can Help

Corporate offerings

Paul Young, Jamie Moses and Los Pacaminos support Life Aid

Lorraine Crosby, singer on Meatloaf’s hit “I would do anything for love”

And one more more rocky video below:

Go to the main project at KickStarter and do something amazing that will leave your mark on the world.

Beat It, Just Beat it ! 🙂

 

Improvising into 2016

Improvisation and adaptiveness

My background as a scientist instilled curiosity and the understanding that most of life is a series of experiments. It has been very good for my life as a musician and even better now as a business owner in an age of disruptive change. In a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) business environment, life in a business requires perpetual change and experimentation to find new focal points. This is a subtle but important difference than a “random walk” which can leads to fad surfing and a lack of consolidation of your value. Improvisation and adaptation have been invaluable skillsets, through one of the deepest recessions for many decades. In the last year or so, some of the results are beginning to show from what I did when there was not much to do in terms of paid activity during those times.

Joining Dots

People tell me that much of my longevity as a business comes down to joining the dots between people, passions and purposes. After winning a prize from Sir Richard Branson for my work on leadership last year, this has flourished, through some deliberation and a bit of luck, into writing for Virgin, gaining an interview with Richard for my new book with Bloomsbury and, more recently running events, which blend business excellence with music in Branson’s Virgin Money Lounges, giving me the good fortune to work alongside Class A rock stars and discover their insights into business, life and the universe. I have also forged a partnership with the awesome Ted Coiné (awesome is not a word that I am drawn to as a sober Brit), but Ted does deserve this tag with his exclusive network Open for Business, which brings together 50 thought leaders around the globe as co-collaborators.

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Restarting the engines

This year has finally been one when a number of businesses have started again to use the services of external people after many years of simply treading water whilst people halted projects or suspended the use of outside people to contain costs. We’ve been fortunate to deliver a range of projects from business reviews, facilitated strategy summits to leadership and innovation conferences for companies as diverse as FujiFilm, MSD, University College London, Bentley and Roche in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Denmark, Germany and Poland. I was also surprised to receive requests for consultancy projects from The Welsh Assembly, Renault-Nissan and Alstom Transport during the year.

Private joys

I believe that we work best when we do what we love. In my case that means occasionally doing things that my colleagues tell me are dream jobs. Amongst the private joys I’ve had in 2015, I’d mention these:

1. Taking BBC Business correspondent Robert Peston to a P-Funk concert with George Clinton and subsequently writing him a song for his departure from the BBC in support of Cancer Research UK. Check “Pestonomics” out here:

2. Interviewing John Mayall, the Godfather of the Blues, Prince’s sax player, Marcus Anderson and Prince’s first lady, Sheila E, about flow, improvisation, music and a range of other topics. I was delighted to find that Sheila had previously seen my book “Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll” – just an incredible result from delivering a copy of the book to Prince some 8 years ago and proof positive of the value of networking. Check Sheila’s interview out here:

3. Performing on stage at London’s Borderline with Bernie Tormé, Ozzy Osbourne and Ian Gillan’s guitarist. Bernie was extremely kind in crediting me for having contributed to the reinvention of his career alongside Arthur Brown and Ginger Wildheart, a great honour and a privilege for someone who takes no prisoners. Here’s the 3 minute rehearsal of his song “Party’s Over”:

4. A great joy was recording four songs as a tribute to my good friend Bill Nelson, who has inspired the likes of Kate Bush, David Bowie, Brian Eno, Brian May at al. Bill has been a constant source of inspiration and wisdom for over 40 years of my life and remains to this day a permanent flame when the lights go out from time to time. Check out the Be-Bop Deluxe song “Crying to the Sky”, which was itself an homage to Jimi Hendrix. Also one of my earliest musical influences from Bill’s band Be-Bop Deluxe “Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape”, written about Bill’s home area. Recording these songs was not an idle musical adventure. Through my advert for musicians, the project introduced me to Robert Craven, Virgin author and business speaker, also a Bill Nelson nut. I had already known of Robert through his work at The Director’s Centre but we had not met. To misquote Be-Bop Deluxe, the meeting was “Made In Heaven” and Robert and I are planning some collaborations for 2016.

5. I was fortunate to have played a small part in helping Patti Russo reinvent her career in the PME (Post Meatloaf Era). I enjoyed her performances with Spike Edney and the SAS band immensely but the high point was seeing her perform solo at The Opera House at Buxton where she gave a spine tingling performance of her song “One Door Opens”.

Public disappointments

The VUCA environment of the last few years have seen more window shoppers than usual and turbulence has just more or less cancelled much of my work for 2016, due to a merger at Pfizer-Allergan, an internal reorganisation and a persistent timewaster, who shall go un-named at the moment, since I am presently trying to mediate over the matter. No matter how old I get, I have not yet invented a foolproof way to spot fools in advance of them fooling me into giving my time for free. Hey ho, I guess that the alternative is to develop greater resilience!

My biggest mistake in 2015 was when I was approached by a chap called Mike Waterton, who rolled up in a Bentley seeking advice on how to transform his career from the boss of a recruitment agency into a noted author and speaker. I saw no reason to doubt his credentials (My wife tells me I trust everyone!) A while later, he told me he was unable to pay for the services I had provided as his business had gone into liquidation. Later on, he was accused in a local newspaper of pimping out his 25 year old girlfriend at a hotel in Kent! I generally consider myself to be a good judge of character, but I guess you never can tell … ! The FBI (Foolish Businessman Indicator) would have come in handy! It’s the first bad debt I have had in 21 years of business and I cannot understand how I did not spot the alarm bells earlier. It turns out that Mike is the victim of the seductive argument that you can have everything you want in life, as suggested in the book “The Secret” and beautifully parodied in “Family Guy” when Brian the dog decides to turn himself into a personal development guru and writes a book called “Wish It, Want It, Do It“:

FG

Click on the picture to see an excerpt of this brilliant piece of satire on The Law of Attraction

As a result of becoming indoctrinated by “The Secret” Mike bought the Bentley without realising that he would bankrupt his business in the process. His wife then left him after he acquired a young girl that appeared to come with the car. Lots of other people lost their jobs and earnings as a result of his self-obsessed strategy, informed by one of his mantras – “Think only of Yourself”, which is morally bankrupt and which bankrupted him and others who his life connected with. It’s not what I advised him to do and I’m disappointed that (a) he was economical with the truth about his situation and (b) that I was not able to persuade him to take a different course of action. I’d cautioned him about his strategy, suggesting that he built on his strengths rather than attempting to build a business on someone else’s brand, where he had no authority platform to operate from. Unfortunately, my advice turned out to be correct, but he also took advice from his girlfriend, who encouraged him to reach for the stars. A clear case of what my Mancunian wife calls “Fur Coat, No Knickers”.

Clearly I had little to offer in terms of professional coaching when matched against sex ... one of life's professional disappointments

Clearly I had little to offer in terms of professional coaching when matched against sex … one of life’s professional disappointments

Hopes and fears

“I made it through the wilderness, yeah I made it through” – Madonna

Having come through the recession over 8 years, I come out of it having refined what I do, branded it, become much better networked and with a range of artefacts to show for my efforts, the most precious one of which is a major new book called “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise” for Bloomsbury which I’m very excited about.

Of course, I am 8 years older into the bargain and this occasionally worries me as young things can see such people as irrelevant in a workplace that values apps over application and wisdom. To survive in business in an adaptive environment requires improvisation, curiosity and the willingness to learn new skills without becoming distracted by every shiny new thing that passes you by. As an improvising musician scientist and business owner I feel up for the challenge …

Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2016.

Peter

 

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.

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 22.14.58

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.

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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.

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.

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

Click on the picture to check the book out

HARD ROCK, BLACK HEART

I have just received a copy of Bernie Tormé’s new album BLACKHEART – I’m mightily impressed. Bernie goes on tour at the end of October – get your tickets NOW:

Thu 22nd Oct Keighley, Yorkshire The Octagon 01274 562252

Fri 23rd Oct Troon, Ayrshire, South Beach Hotel 01292 312033

Sat 24th Oct Edinburgh, Bannermans 0131 556 3254 

Wed 28th Oct Frome, Dorset Cheese and Grain 01373 455420 

Fri 30th Oct Birmingham, Institute, The Temple 01865 798797

Sat 31st Oct London, Borderline 020 7734 5547 – I’m treating this as a social evening as I’m playing on one of the numbers with Bernie and the band – how cool is that? – get your ticket for the party!

Sat 7th Nov Oxford, The Wheatsheaf 01865 721 156

Wed 11th Nov Newcastle, The Cluny 0191 230 4474

Thu 12th Nov Liverpool Liverpool Arts Club 0151 559 3773

Sat 14th Nov Brighton, The Prince Albert 01273 730499

An original power trio - Christian Hellmann, Bernie Tormé and Ian Harris

An original power trio – Christian Hellmann, Bernie Torme and Ian Harris – in Church searching for their souls

What strikes most people about Bernie’s work is most often the guitar playing which is extraordinary. What also struck me about the album was the songwriting and lyrical content as much as the great musicianship. There are three sorts of songs on the album – straightforward hard rawk and roll, hard rock ballads and some rather nice folk music.

In the hard rawk and roll category we have songs like 1985, Golden Pig and On Fire. Bernie moans “I’m a slave to the rhythm, the keeper of the flame” – so true. Every time I visit his studio there always seems to be some kind of fire …

Keeper of the rawk and roll flame ....

Keeper of the rawk and roll flame …. Mr Tormé

I love the ballads, “Flow”, “Into the Sun” and “Party’s Over” – these feature a choir made up of Bernie’s fans who sang into their phones and sent the individual recordings over for mixing into the final cut – an ingenious idea from Bernie’s crowdfunding project. “Party’s Over” is simply not long enough and features a Dylanesque harmonica and a guitar solo to die for, slightly reminiscent of something Mott The Hoople might have done. After all Ian Hunter was Dylan speeded up 🙂 “Flow” features a haunting motif that eventually moves into a Zeppelinesque grind with a guitar sound and performance that is truly imaginative for a classic three piece.

And we have some traditional folk songs, perhaps inspired by Bernie’s Irish homeland. “Miles to Babylon” and “Steady Roller Blues” which has a haunting mystical quality. In both cases the songs break out into rock after their acoustic beginnings from the old country (Kent).

The production is also great – crystal clear, loud and with everything louder than everything else! We had direct experience of this when we pledged towards the project with a mini album of Be-Bop Deluxe songs and just recently when I brought Dr Andrew Sentance’s band Rock In The City to Bernie’s studio to record two songs about Macroeconomics in a day. More on that later.

So, get yourself a copy of the album and book into the tour. I’ll be in London on 31 October for some beer and rawk n roll. Listen to Bernie live on Salford City FM on Wed 16th September at 11 am in conversation with Tom Hughes.

Here’s our interview with Bernie from last year for his previous album release:

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For our work combining music and business contact us via The Academy of Rock. Order our new book “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise” via Bloomsbury.

Parallel Lines

I was delighted to speak with Paul Kwiecinski, Co-Owner of “Face The Music” recently. It seems we have been developing our respective businesses along parallel lines, on opposite sides of The Atlantic Ocean in what could be described as a piece of simultaneous invention.

paul-kwiecinski-2

Face The Music shows surprising parallels with our own work at The Academy of Rock and we have been running our respective businesses for similar lengths of time. Great minds literally have thought alike in what is known as simultaneous innovation. Paul explains the concept:

Face The Music is a collaboration between great musicians and experienced organizational consultants who bring a uniquely powerful mix to clients’ programs and events. And while we are definitely entertaining, we are not mere entertainment. Rather our music events are a powerful catalyst for teamwork and organizational change — using a variety of musical genres as our toolkit — to help organizations become higher performing, more innovative, and just plain cooler places to work.

Perhaps an easy way to understand Face The Music’s work is to see it through  the eyes of a customer, in this case CNN News:

Paul has an impressive client list who have chosen to work with him because they seek greater engagement, authentic relations between coworkers, real organisational improvements and so on. As he points out, it’s not just entertaining. It’s about engaging people’s heads, hearts and souls in their work as most serious enterprises understand.

At face value, it may seem odd to be writing about a potential competititor. It is not. This blend of music and experienced organisation consultants is an extremely hard act to pull off as I know through some 15 + years of development of the approach. We’re hoping that more people will get to learn of our work and choose this over a beige approach to business and organisation development. Both Paul and I travel the world and hope to collaborate at some stage. Come join us and Face The Music.

Check our post on Seasick Steve as well. Speaking of NYC, here’s another product of New York, from the album Parallel Lines:

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

Click on the picture to check the book out

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