Check this lighthearted piece out : 10 lead guitarist cliches.  I can definitely say that I have never fallen into any of these traps as a lead guitarist.  There is quite literally no spandex in my wardrobe!  I can also say that I’m not Jimmy Page or any of the other rather famous guitarists and that may offer an explanation for certain stylistic deficiencies …. 🙂

No spandex in my wardrobe ...

No spandex in my wardrobe …

That said, what can we learn about business and music from these cliches, by their ‘creative reversal’?

On “Image”

Pop music may be mostly about the triumph of style over substance.  I was interviewed by Management Today recently, who asked me what we could learn from the pop band ‘One Direction’ and my answer pointed out just how important image is to a modern pop group – in fact the music is almost secondary.  However, this idea is generally not transferable to business, unless we are talking about industries that sell style as their product, such as fashion, hairdressing etc.  Get the substance of your offering right.  Once you have a unique product or service that delivers outstanding benefits, then you can focus on style.

On “Drugs”

When we deal with “drugs” in a business context, I’m not advocating that you take speed to run your business faster. Nor any need to smoke Opium to help rewrite your Mission statement in rhyming couplets, however worthy this might be, compared with the usual fare! 🙂  In my experience, people on drugs think they’re really interesting, but to the outside world, they’re just people on drugs.   So, we’re talking adrenaline and endorphins rather than smack, crack and pop here.  In the business world, “drugs” = rewards and recognition and, on the negative side, punishments and exclusion.  We know that recognition strategies are far more effective than rewards, if rewards are at an adequate level etc.  So make sure you pick the right “drugs” to encourage the performances you want …  For INXS, their use of drugs was prophetic …

On “Performance” Have you ever been to a really great gig? The best performers in the world come on stage as if it’s already the encore and take it on up from there. Whether it’s out and out rock acts like AC / DC, Deep Purple, Guns ’n’ Roses, Janis Joplin, The Darkness or The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, all round performers such as Madonna, Prince and Kylie or something more sublime, such as Kate Bush, BB King, Peter Gabriel, Nina Simone, Sinatra, Streisand or Motörhead. The point is that top acts know how to hit peak performance, time after time, starting with the end in mind and so on … There’s also no rehearsal on stage. If something goes wrong, you gotta roll with it, unlike business, where you can call another meeting or delay the project deadlines. This means

  • A great deal of practice beforehand
  • The ability to improvise and profit from accidents along the way
  • Or a bit of both

These are all relevant parallel lessons for businesses that seek to be excellent.  The idea of practice is well understood by musicians and great leaders.  For some other parallels, check out this article from Entrepreneur Country.  Click the link to go the full magazine article.

Entrepreneur Country - From Little Richard to Richard Branson

Entrepreneur Country – From Little Richard to Richard Branson

We’re off to Dublin shortly to expound some other parallel lessons from music for business people.  If you are thinking of booking an extraordinary event in 2014, do get in touch via Extraordinary Events.  To explore parallels between business and music in greater depth, check out our books “Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll” and “The Music of Business”.

Some of our books

Some of our books – Click to buy for that unusual Christmas gift


About the Blogger:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via or +44 (0) 7725 927585.  Check out our online Business and Music programme for FREE via The Music of Business Online.