Catch The Rainbow

Ritchie Blackmore … then

I made a rare pilgrimage to the O2 Arena last night to see a life long hero, Mr Ritchie Blackmore.  I say a rare pilgrimage, as I find the sound and vision at the O2 to be generally appalling and I was not disappointed at this concert.  O2 have previously caused my son untold problems over their legendarily bad administration and I freely admit that I therefore have a grudge – see O2 OMG.  That aside, I find the acoustics and size of the O2 quite inconsistent with a live band experience and had previously vowed never to go again after seeing Prince there in 2007.  In this case I felt I had no choice, so I got on my bike and cycled 30 miles for the experience and am overall pleased I went to see a man who remains a major influence on my approach to music and, indeed, my overall attitude to life.

But all is not lost – thanks to the generosity of a fellow traveller we have some better quality sound and visuals from the front of stage. See Rainbow Rising at the O2. But I want to move on to a story, as Ritchie Blackmore was influential in helping me secure my first job offer at Shell ….

Rainbow Rising

I went to a Grammar School, essentially a factory for Oxbridge students.  But I did not want to go to university. My parents were 45 and 67 when I was born and were not especially affluent – my dad was 85 by the time I was 18 and I felt I needed to get a job rather than go to University although there was no pressure from them to do so. Of course, I was completely ostracised by the Grammar School for making such a decision. The so-called “careers master” (also the gym teacher) said “well, laddy, tell me when you have got a job” when I told him I did not want to go to University. So I set about looking for one  …

I was mad about Chemistry and Music as a child. So I applied to the two major employers in the area – Shell and The Wellcome Foundation. I was invited to an entire day of interviews at Shell (who were noted for extremely progressive employment policies at that time). Looking back at the day I was sat before PhD after PhD, who showed me complex chemical reactions on a chalk board and asked how I would solve their greatest problems. Needless to say I doubt I answered any of the questions correctly! When asked about my interests, I recall boring them endlessly about Ritchie Blackmore’s use of medieval “modal scales” as a differentiator in Deep Purple’s music and the 16th Century in general.  In other words, I bored them with my obsession and they theirs. I used to spend hours at the top of the stairs with my record player slowed down to 16 RPM trying to figure out what he was playing … until my mum shouted me to come down and eat my fishfinger sandwiches …

Modal scales and Fish Fingers – the breakfast of champions …

To my surprise I was offered a job at Shell, having bored them rigid with my music obsession and not really been able to operate as a PhD chemist with an A Level, although I eventually took the one at Wellcome (another story). I suspect that they felt my passion for the music and nerdiness. They must have given me the benefit of the doubt that I could actually do the work. Thank goodness that there were no HR people in sight.

Richie Blackmore … now

Back to the concert. For me, Blackmore’s guitar style has matured over the years, with rather more Bach that Screaming Lord Sutch about his performance these days. Many more melodic classical progressions inspired by his love of classical music, rather less random improvisation and brutality. The sound, as I said, was hampered by the size of the venue, which is why I’m so grateful to the man at the front who filmed it. I think The O2 would have helped themselves by training three cameras on the stage and back projecting the results on the screen to give those far away at least some opportunity to see the action, especially given the quality of the visuals for the show. You can find the set list and many of the performances at Rainbow Rising at the O2. A great highlight of the show was “Soldier of Fortune” played on acoustic guitar, although marred by whoops and shouting from the crowd. An added bonus was to see The Sweet, a band who were strongly influenced by Blackmore when they were playing their own songs such as “Sweet FA.” with a wink and a nod to “Hard Lovin’ Man” by Deep Purple. Lest we forget the majesty of Mr Blackmore:

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Peter Cook is  a business speaker who blends deep insights on strategy, innovation and business creativity with parallel lessons from music. An author of 7 1/2 books on business. Read his article on Deep Purple and Improvisation and more on Ritchie Blackmore at The Music of Business and Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll.

 

What Conservatives think about Brexit

This is a resignation speech from young Conservative member of the peerage Edmund Limerick, who is leaving the party due to his concerns about Brexit. It expresses well the PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, Ethical, Environmental) factors upon which big decisions should be made, rather than reducing them to snappy populist slogans. Please back our plan to tour the UK to engage in a meaningful dialogue with people across the political spectrum on our forthcoming General Election.

Lords save us

Dear David,

Please take this email as notice of my resignation from the ACP [Association of Conservative Peers] and the Conservative Party.

I was recently advised that the three qualities required for a prospective Tory peer were experience, hard work and loyalty.

A year ago loyalty meant commitment to remaining in the EU. Now it apparently means commitment to leaving the EU Customs Union. I cannot be loyal to this unmandated and suicidal policy.

I remain convinced that a hard Brexit is the greatest mistake this country can ever make, and one which will haunt us for generations to come. We have spent over 40 years building a common market with our EU partners and although the work is far from complete, it has resulted in remarkable economic and political success for the UK and Europe as whole, acting as a magnet first for southern nations such as Spain, Portugal and Greece to transition from dictatorship to democracy, then for the newly liberated countries of eastern Europe to join the club, all of them with strong British encouragement. The large EU country which has benefited most of all is arguably the UK. Our free trade traditions, English language, natural borders and retention of our own currency have given us all the benefits and few of the costs of membership. Notably we have largely escaped the effects from mass immigration from North Africa which are so afflicting southern Europe at present. It makes our present obsession with immigration look petty and selfish, against a backdrop of real misery and crisis in the Middle East and Africa and along its EU borders.

Economically we have benefited from becoming the international gateway for foreign investment into Europe. Margaret Thatcher made huge efforts to attract the likes of Honda and Nissan to the UK, turning us over 30 years from the sick man of Europe into one of its leading car exporters. Bankers may not be popular, but the City of London has created great wealth for the south east, and it also contributes at least 11% of the country’s tax income and enables the UK to run a current account deficit and public services it would not otherwise be able to afford.

I acknowledge the result of last year’s referendum but I fundamentally disagree that a 52% protest vote, a vote denied to EU nationals living in the UK, gives the government a mandate to do anything more than to negotiate exit terms with the EU and then report back to Parliament and the country as a whole for a further vote once it becomes clear what Brexit really means.

What will it mean? It is delusional to think that the EU under its reinvigorated Macron-Merkel Franco-German leadership will do anything other than defend the EU’s own interests, foremost of which is a demonstration that leaving the EU is a costly and disastrous mistake. Juncker was right: the EU will act to ensure that the UK is punished. And they’ll gladly pick up our financial services industry and our other exporting industries rendered uneconomic by the risk of future tariffs. There is simply no way that any possible deal with the EU will be better than the one we have just torn up.

The results of hard Brexit or no deal (the most probable outcome considering it took the EU and Canada 8 years to agree a marriage, let alone a divorce and then a new relationship) once the Article 50 two years have expired will include inflation, a rise in the cost of living, collapse of foreign investment, significant job losses not only in the City but across the country, a loss of international influence, and quite likely the secession of Scotland (if the English can ’have their country back’ why should they not too?) and Northern Ireland, which will not be happy about the reimposition of customs and immigration controls along its border with the Republic, which will have better living standards to boot.

The United Kingdom will no longer be united. Great Britain will no longer be great. Little Englanders will have got what they wanted: little england. I predict considerable public anger, especially amongst the young who voted overwhelmingly to remain and whose futures are being so casually squandered.

And what will this new England be like? Our negotiating power will be feeble. A free trade agreement with China which still has political prisoners and slave labour will flood us with cheap imports and do nothing for protection of UK jobs and standards. A free trade agreement with a protectionist USA will flood us with subsidised food products that would also not meet current UK or EU standards. We shall likely see 30 mile queues towards the Channel Ports as the French reimpose customs inspections in Calais. Apart from fishermen (the only Brexiteers whose views I respect) no-one will be better off.

If you have bothered to read this far I thank you humbly for your patience and urge you to use your position within a party that looks set to gain a substantial Commons majority to back the voice of common sense and reason, no matter what the pressure from the Whips. Unless there is a crisis resulting in a new general election it seems that the focus of debate will move to within the Tory party.

As for me, I am joining the Lib Dems in the hope that a grand coalition of the sensible, moderate, non Europhobic and non suicidal public might be created out of the hitherto silent ranks of sensible Tories and sensible Labour supporters who are neither hard Brexiteers nor Corbynistas. We may yet see the creation of a new centre party. For now the Brexit tail is wagging the Tory dog, and I am bowing out.

Sincerely,

Edmund Limerick

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Please support our UK wide tour to restore informed dialogue to our country. Currently calling at:

HOVE / LEWES – SAT 20 May

BATH / BRISTOL / SWINDON – SUN 28 May  or 04 June – As Part of The Bath Festival

IPSWICH – MON 29 May – Beach Baby Party and “GE / Brexit Live Jam Session”

YORK – FRI 2 June – We go head to head with BBC’s “Any Questions” !!

With more dates possible in between these ones. Contact me to organise an event. We live stream the events for maximum reach and impact across the planet.

Mantras obscure the truth

The House of Lords’ Prayer – A parody which we use on Downing Street Vigils to point out the folly of Brexit

 

The Sting

I was quite unprepared to see Sting in concert last night and overwhelmed by his superb musicianship, performance and width of his musical canon. I confess I had quite forgotten Gordon Sumner’s songwriting skills.  At the age of 66 his voice, playing and projection were in top form, giving all of us hope that age is no barrier to peak performance.

Perhaps the most poignant thing that connects me to Sting and his music is his solid values of human rights, environmental consciousness and sustainability. I was reminded of this through his lyrics and reconnected to my work for Amnesty International which started in the early 1980’s and which he epitomised through his song “They Dance Alone”. Sadly, Sting’s words remain relevant in these troubled times and I hope that our world leaders listen to him and others at such moments:

Convince an enemy, convince him that he’s wrong
Is to win a bloodless battle where victory is long
A simple act of faith
In reason over might
To blow up his children will only prove him right
History will teach us nothing

Hey Mr. Pinochet
You’ve sown a bitter crop
It’s foreign money that supports you
One day the money’s going to stop
No wages for your torturers
No budget for your guns
Can you think of your own mother
Dancin’ with her invisible son

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me, and you
Is if the Russians love their children too

And especially his song for the Mothers of the Disappeared (Desaparecidos). This was Sting’s symbolic gesture of protest against the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, whose regime killed thousands of people between 1973 and 1990 … on first hearing this song many years ago, I wept uncontrollably about the unimaginable grief and strength of these mothers. There are no words that adequately convey the meaning of his song so I will let the song do the work itself:

We live once more in troubled times and it seems that our human race is about to forget its humanity. Our ability to learn from history seems limited. Watch the video, conduct your own research into what lies behind the concert that Sting gave and take action for a more humane society …

To finish, here are a few excerpts from Sting’s recent tour including tributes to David Bowie from his son and Prince – I was privileged to attend this. Big thanks to Debbie Poli, MD of Lapel Pin Badges for this opportunity. Debbie makes all the badges that I wear, including orders for the last David Bowie album, Virgin, Star Wars and my very special Prince love symbol badge.

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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.

Connecting Musicians with Fans … and Money

I connected with a startup company of musicians on an app concept that helps musicians make money from their art and connect with their fans all over the world, from semi pro to professional. MyMVision is more or less “Linkedin for Musicians” – no memes, politics, crap, clutter and so on! – just musicians talking with their fans and other musicians. If you want to improve your signal to noise ratio in reaching your fans it’s what My Space promised to be and quite a bit more.

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You can:

  • Create your musician / band profile and showcase your talents to the world – upload a 60 second video of your work – this unique feature allows you to find musicians of specific genre and skill levels in ways that are currently unavailable
  • Find other musicians using the geo-location facility – great if you want to find musicians of a certain quality level around the world
  • Promote your band / gigs / merchandise
  • Find venues and other agencies to help you spread your music and make money from it

Check the app out:

iPhone / iPad

Android

MyMVision Website

Facebook

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I’d be interested in your views on the development. If you know of any other musicians that might be interested feel free to share this. It’s already gained the approval of a few pro musicians …

bernie-torme

Bernie Torme’s new album can be found at http://www.bernietorme.co.uk

The origins of MyMVision

There are 200 million musicians on planet earth, of which 10 million have a fanbase but are not mainstream artists. At the lowest level, most serious musicians have up to 100 fans in their circle. Up till now some 95% of musicians are unrecognised and unrewarded for their efforts to write and perform music. The Internet of Artists are breaking new ground with a new platform for musicians that will allow them to collaborate, gain new markets for their music and finally turn their passion into profit. The Internet of Artists is a British start up company led by Riccardo Barbieri Torriani, an Italian entrepreneur, who started his career working in the square mile whilst playing music in his spare time. Like Sir James Dyson who became frustrated when his vacuum cleaner did not suck, Riccardo thought there must be a better way to connect and collaborate with musicians than My Space or Facebook, which is contaminated by the “noise” of cat photos, memes and pictures of other people’s breakfasts. This line of thought gave birth to MyMVision.

nell-md-1

Nell Music make quality drums from Brazil with love to the world http://www.nellmusic.com/

raf-and-o

Raf and O’s music is hypnotically beautiful. Find it at http://www.rafando.com

The Godfather of Punk - Founder of The Doctors of Madness and Cabaret Futura

The Godfather of Punk – Founder of The Doctors of Madness and Cabaret Futura

Nub Music release award winning albums that disrupt what we know as music, including 100x30 second songs on Shakespeare and Punk featured in the Guinness Book of Records http://www.100x30.com/

Nub Music release award winning albums that disrupt what we know as music, including 100×30 second songs on Shakespeare and Punk featured in the Guinness Book of Records http://www.100×30.com/

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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.

books-x-4

Do they know it’s Brexit?

11-brexitreactionsAllegedly it’s Christmas and I nearly died laughing at a list of “Brexit Christmas songs” from an un-named source.  He did it as a bit of a joke but got so much grief from some Brexiteers with no sense of humour, so I will not name him here.  I have developed his list into a top 30 all-time Brexit songs. Find my more serious reflections on 2016 and Brexit at “Hatful of Hollow” … anyway, let the chart roll …

  1. Do they know it’s Brexit? – Boris Johnson and the Bandwagon
  2. With or without EU – EU2
  3. Like a prayer (Brexit Means Brexit) – Madonna feat. Mother Theresa (May)
  4. I believe in a thing called Gove – The Darkness feat. Ian Duncan Smith
  5. Road to nowhere – The Talking Heads (Davis, Fox, Johnson, Farage)
  6. Get over it (Brexit mix) – The Eagles
  7. A hard rain’s gonna fall – Bryan Ferry
  8. The immigrant song (we must control our borders) – Led Zeppelin
  9. Freedom (of movement) – Wham!
  10. Poker Face (Brexit Negotiation Dancefloor Remix) – Lady Gaga feat. Mrs Mayhem
  11. Stand and deliver (your passport or your life) – Adam and The Ants
  12. What a waste – Ian Duncan Smith
  13. Last Christmas (you can afford) – Wham!
  14. Would I lie to you? Well, YES, repeatedly – Nigel Farage and The EUrhythmics
  15. (Stuck) In a big country – Nicola Sturgeon
  16. I fought the law and the law won – The Clash feat. Theresa May
  17. Boris the (back) slider – The Who
  18. Nothing compares 2 EU – Sinead O’Connor
  19. Heaven knows I’m miserable now – The Smiths
  20. Highway to Brexit Hell – AC / DC
  21. Mary’s Boy Child (is being deported) – Boney M
  22. You say Brexit, I say Bankrupt, let’s call the whole thing off – Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
  23. Maggie Mayhem – Rod Stewart
  24. I kissed a European and I liked it – Katy Perry
  25. Keep on Running, Keep on hiding (the truth) – The David Davis Group
  26. I started something I couldn’t finish – The (Ian Duncan) Smiths
  27. The (27) winners take it all – Abba
  28. Anarchy in the EU K – The Sex Pistols
  29. There is power in a (European) Union – Billy Bragg
  30. All by myself – Eric Carmen

And one more bonus track bubbling under by The Beach Buoys

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Get the whole album for just €7.99 or £27 276.77 due to currency exchange rate movements …

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… and finally … since Theresa May claimed recently that she was being “instructed by God to implement Brexit” I wrote a prayer for Brexit …

lords-brexit-prayer

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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

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.”

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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”.

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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

An intimate audience with Jordan Gray

At The Pheasantry in Kings Road, Chelsea - Photo by Rory Gill

Jordan Gray at The Pheasantry in Kings Road, Chelsea – Photo by Rory Gill

A few months back I conducted an intimate interview with Jordan Gray, Star of The Voice and with talents way beyond many artists I’ve ever seen in my life. Singer, songwriter, musician and performer all rolled into one, without any formal training in any of these disciplines. The interview offers transferable insights for anyone seeking to carve out their career as an entrepreneur in any field of endeavour. Jordan talks candidly about her life, learning her craft, managing fame, creativity, staying true to yourself and looking after her brand as a self-made musician and musicpreneur.

We also did a showcase event with Jordan at The Virgin Lounge in London.  Here is a behind the scenes piece of music recorded at Pizza Express Jazz Club in preparation for the Lounge event

Check Jordan’s new album The Baffled King is out on iTunes. Jordan is currently on tour in the UK. Don’t miss a chance to see her perform live whilst you can. She has been described as wistful, whimsical, expressive, eclectic; the sky falls staggeringly short of the true limit for this peculiar pseudonymous superstar.

Filming and production by Rory Gill. Photography by Christina Jansen.

Jordan Gray at the Virgin Money Lounge - click image to listen to her album

Jordan Gray at the Virgin Money Lounge – click image to listen to her album

Come to our next series of free events at the Virgin Money Lounge, featuring Vicky Hamilton, former manager to Guns N’ Roses, Poison and Mötley Crüe. All details at Virgin.

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Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business Development around Strategy, Innovation, Creativity and Change.

Buy Peter’s new book out on innovation and creativity with Bloomsbury. Check out our full development programme for sustainable and profitable innovations.