Is this the real life, or is this just fantasy?

A few months back, I casually went to a networking event, got talking to a chap who said that they worked in the music business as a recording engineer.  We chatted on for a while, eventually I asked:

“Oh, have you worked on any records that I’d know of?”

Well, the last record I worked on is a bit old now – 40 years in fact” he replied

“What was that then?” I enquired

Bohemian Rhapsody” he casually replied

I pinched myself and asked “Is this the real life, or is this just fantasy?”

Turns out that this guy also produced or engineered records for The Kinks, Rush, Deep Purple, Toyah, Yes, Jack Bruce, Hawkwind, Sooty and a very long list of great acts from the 1960’s and 70’s. We got talking about the gentle art of working with people, some of whom have very fixed ideas about how they wanted things done and who sometimes had less than ideal personalities or, at least, egos that were too big for the room. We shared a connection in terms of my friend Bill Nelson, who also worked with Roy Thomas Baker, Queen’s producer. The conversation flowed on and on …

I’ll be talking with Barry Ainsworth at the Virgin Money Lounge in London on FRIDAY February 26th from 3 – 4.30 pm. Book your place NOW via 0207 439 8802. Beyond that, book us for an in company masterclass.

Whether it's a night at the Opera or "we're going down the pub" we can offer you an unforgettable experience

Whether it’s a night at the Opera or “we’re going down the pub” we can offer you an unforgettable experience

Of course these skills are entirely transferrable to the world of “Brain Based Enterprises”, where intellect must be cultivated, facilitated, directed but not squashed. As a result of this, we’re now able to offer a joint masterclass where you will learn from a master of getting things done with volatile and sometimes precocious talents. Should you really wish to make the event unforgettable, we can combine this with a performance of Queen’s material with Patti Russo, long term singing partner of Meatloaf and songstress with Queen and Cher

What’s it like working with Mercurial people? Find out by booking us for a masterclass

The Show Must Go On - with Patti Russo

The Show Must Go On – with Patti Russo

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. Book him for your next interactive motivational keynote or longer masterclass on subjects such as Leadership, Creativity, Innovation and Change.

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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“:

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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

 

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.

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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 …

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

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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:

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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:

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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.

Charity begins at The Bank of England …

I have just written, arranged and recorded some songs on “economics futures” for our 2015 Charity campaign with Dr Andrew Sentance, former MPC member at The Bank of England, Haydn Jones, Managing Director at Fujitsu, alongside a band of musicians featuring Rick Benbow, a session musician and member of Brit Floyd, who recently scored Status Quo’s “Aquostic” album. The triple A side EP “Rockonomics” was engineered by Ozzy Osbourne and Ian Gillan’s former guitarist Bernie Tormé.

The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street is ravished

The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street is ravished

The songs tell tales of eMen’eM (Macro-economic Mayhem (Yes, I know there are not so many hits written about such things!!):

New Normal” predicts a flatter economic forecast and was a term coined by Andrew Sentance in his first book. The song is set in a Neil Young / R.E.M inspired rebel rant.

The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street” (formerly “Forward Guidance” after Governor of The Bank of England, Mark Carney’s catchphrase) is a Blackmore’s Night and Led Zeppelinesque inspired 16th century folk rock anthem that calls bankers, brokers and bosses to rethink the fundamentals on which capitalism rests.

Plus the bonus track “Fiscal Cliff” which I wrote for a BBC programme. Almost as soon as I’d finished it, the BBC were instructed by the Government to stop talking the economy down, so I lost my money and it never made the programme.  That’s the media for you! :-(

We are selling the songs with the option to donate a significant amount to a basket of charities. We are also available for live performances supported by keynote talks in the Square Mile or indeed anywhere around the world. Click the picture to donate by buying the songs plus a bonus track now:

Our Charities

By far the best option for purchase is Bandcamp, as the vast majority of the money reaches the chosen charities with Bandcamp only taking a modest commission. Buy the triple A side EP at TRIPLE A SIDE. Or individual tracks via SINGLES.  The songs will be available on iTunes / Amazon etc. shortly if you just want the tracks without a charitable donation. Meet the band:

Dr Andrew Sentance – Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals, Economics
Zee Fincham – Lead Vocals
Rick Benbow – Keyboards
Pete Stephens – Drums, percussion
Haydn Jones – Bass guitar, vocals
Peter Cook – Lead guitars, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, musical direction

Rock in the City

Rock in the City L-R : Moi, Haydn Jones, Pete Stephens, Zee Fincham, Rick Benbow and Dr Andrew Sentance

The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street - inspired by Stairway to Heaven - Robert Plant looks amused - Photography by my friend Christina Jansen

The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street – inspired by Stairway to Heaven – Robert Plant looks bemused – Photograph by my good friend, the lovely Christina Jansen http://www.cjansenphotography.com

Here’s the video for the bonus track: “Fiscal Cliff” – a hard rock song for hard times – the forerunner to the Rock In The City sessions:

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For fresh thinking on Business grab copies of our books on Amazon, including new editions of “The Music of Business” and a 2nd edition of “Punk Rock People Management” – disruptive strategy and common sense ideas about leading your people.

Pre-order our new book for Bloomsbury at Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise.  Groundbreaking thought leadership on leading and managing Brain Based Enterprises where thinking and doing are aligned in perfect harmony.