Chas And Dave

I was extremely saddened to hear of the death of Chas Hodges, one half of “Cockney novelty act” Chas & Dave.  Of course, what lies behind all great success stories is the sheer hard work and preparation.  It’s rare to have success in one easy move.  In fact Chas & Dave were no novelty or a product of luck.  Chas Hodges worked with The Beatles, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Joe Meek, Richie Blackmore and Labi Siffre. He was also sampled by Eminem. This is testament to the importance of preparation and sheer hard work in success.

Chas’ death resonated strongly as I’d only just finished recording a song in honour of Chas & Dave last month.  I’m sure he would have loved its embedded non political correctness and cheeky allusions to Cockney rhyming slang.  Now we’ll never know 😦

In respect of his recent death, I have decided to donate proceeds from the sales of the song towards “Balls to Cancer“.  You can find the song at Chas & Dave Tribute.

I’d heard a round of criticism from people in social media that I’d dared record a Chas & Dave song.  These people of course are not musical, just musical snobs. A quick analysis of any one of their songs will tell you just why they are so popular. Great vocal syncopation, superb hooks, tight integration of the rhythm section to the words and a number of great earworms in every song.  Not a second wasted.  20 minute Genesis songs they are not, but that’s a different skill altogether.  There is a tremendous skill in writing a 3 minute pop song. It was a really hard job to bring these elements together in a respectful way in the song and I hope we gave a nod and a wink in the right direction.

I was extremely lucky as I saw Chas & Dave some 300 yards down the road from my house when they played a festival in my town. I could not believe that people of all ages knew all the words to their songs and the sheer euphoria of their performance and musicality. True professionals.

We finish with some of their great songs:

Chas Hodges R.I.P.

Advertisements

New Year Revolutions

During 2015 I was very lucky to sample some glimpses of what the future holds in healthcare, the environment and music. In this article I’m looking at some snapshots of ingenious innovations in these areas to encourage other entrepreneurs to get busy on their own new year revolutions.

Digital Health

Up till recently technology was not reliable and therefore difficult to use in situations where reliability is key such as healthcare. This has now changed and technology is on the cusp of being a health game changer. I witnessed some of the amazing innovations in healthcare, when I was invited to attend and present by Roberto Ascione, CEO of Healthware International at the Frontiers of Interaction conference in Milan just recently. Here’s three:

Tinnitracks helps manage tinnitus without the use of a pill but rather your music library, cancelling the frequencies responsible for the symptom. This enables us to use our smartphones as a therapeutic device, using our own preferred music to help reduce the hyperactivity of affected nerve cells and this ease the effects of tinnitus.

If a picture is worth a thousand words how is a video worth? Starting from this and from the knowledge that health videos are by far the most desired and effective way we learn about our own health Videum pioneers the potential of making validated health videos available to all in any language. For the first time, people can learn easily about health from high quality video enriched with additional content.

The diabetes management app OneDrop uses timelines, geolocalization, badges and social media to help people to stay within their target glucose level range. OneDrop was devised by a diabetes sufferer who felt things could be a lot better. The free app looks like a visual diary and allows people to simply record their glucose levels by saving them where and when they took the measure and maybe even link them to the photo of their meal. This helps people manage their diabetes better.

Recycling London

Imagine being able to cycle from South East London to West London on your bicycle without fear of being run over? Imagine being able to do that on the River Thames? This is the concept being pioneered by the Thames Deckway project, which aims to construct a dedicated cycle path along the Thames. I was privileged to attend a briefing on the project from a young entrepreneur who has arranged a crowdfunding project to gain momentum to advance the idea. In my opinion the project is viable, novel and would contribute massively to make London a greener, safer city for cyclists, motorists and the general public. If we are serious about the environment we must get busy on pedal power.

Networking and horizontal collaboration

Enterprises are increasingly finding that innovation springs from collaboration, often from networks that they don’t “own”, i.e. through partnership with external agents, customers, even competitors in some circumstances. In this context I am delighted to have been personally invited to the Open For Business global network, the brainchild of Ted Coiné. This global network of speakers, writers and influencers are very much open for business in 2016. Ted explains the concept:

Open For Business in 2016

Open For Business in 2016

I am very lucky to have a place in this network at Keynotes, adding to the global networks I share with Nadine Hack and Virgin.com. At last, the world is your oyster …

New Year Revolutions

  • In common with Professor Charles Handy, I predict that we are about to realise the power of networks, where small networks can join together to create massive changes in the world for good.
  • We are already seeing how small networks can exert big influence in healthcare and the environment. Entrepreneurs can, for the first time, exert major influence with good products and the ability to network them effectively.
  • Consequently we will have to embrace all the diversity that this opportunity presents, beginning to understand our relative unimportance in a complex and wired world.

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.

IMG_9749

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.

The School of Hard Rocks

There have been many high points in 2014.  In business terms, the partnership with Nadine Hack’s Global Network is a major landmark in our development as a global consultancy business.  I won a prize for my work from Sir Richard Branson and we’ve enjoyed consultancy projects in Estonia, Ireland, Romania and Germany in 2014.

I’ve had equivalent joy in my musical life at The Academy of Rock – interviews with George Clinton, Roberta Flack, Hawkwind, John Mayall and, recently, performances with Meatloaf’s female singing partner Patti Russo and Bernie Tormé, guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne and Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan at London’s prestigious Borderline venue.  It is to this experience that I turn in this blog to reflect on lessons from “The School of Hard Rocks”.  Here’s a video of our performance of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire” to start us off:

There was no time to rehearse for this performance, save for a three minute soundcheck a few hours before we hit the stage. For me this mirrors the situation that many managers face when having to deliver a presentation or performance. What then can we learn from this in terms of transferable lessons from the Borderline to the boardroom?

Learning from The School of Hard Rocks

Over-prepare to be flexible – In my case there was no rehearsal and only about five minutes to find out how the band works as a team before the soundcheck – how it sends signals to each other, who is responsible for shortening / lengthening the song, how leadership passes from one member to another and how we end together etc. I had assumed this might be the case so I took the trouble to attend one of Bernie’s other gigs on the tour to study the musical performance. I’d also used Bernie at one of our corporate team building events so I had some idea of how he “passes the baton” from person to person during a jam, although he is not as demonstrative as Ritchie Blackmore or Prince, so careful attention is needed.

Learn to read others – Once on stage, I could not hear myself as Bernie has an old school approach to making sure “everything is up to 11”. A lot of the necessary adjustment has to be done through using your eyes and not your ears in such circumstances. The musical people amongst you will notice there are a couple of moments in the middle of “Fire” when I had misunderstood how many bars we would do in “E” and in “D”. Towards the end, politeness meant that Bernie and myself were unclear on who would take the lead and you can see some “guesswork” going on between me, Bernie and the band. Ah well, not so bad after the three minute soundcheck I guess! 🙂

Be nimble, be quick – Bernie only did one number as a soundcheck – it was pretty much the same when I performed at Brands Hatch with “Punk Idol” John Otway a few years’ back and Patti Russo the other week at Henley Business School. In comparison, I recently stood in for an amateur band at a corporate event and they used 30 minutes to run through numbers – this is not what a soundcheck is for – the clue is in the title.

Expect the unexpected – The one thing I failed to prepare for was the need to climb on stage. All seemed well at the soundcheck, but once the venue filled, I was unable to get to the side of the stage where the stairs were. Once I was called to the stage, I proceeded to climb what seemed like a mountain without success, eventually needing to be hauled up by the band in a scene that looked like something from “Spinal Tap”. Ah well it caused some amusement!

BT Peter Borderline

A proud moment – Mr Tormé and me at The Borderline after I clambered to the stage in a shambolic Spinal Tapesque manner!!

*******************************

Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics, offering better Organisation Development, Training and Coaching. He offers keynotes that blend World Class Leadership Thinking with the wisdom of the street via The Academy of Rock – where Business Meets Music. Author of seven books on Business Leadership, acclaimed by Tom Peters, Professors Charles Handy, Adrian Furnham and Harvey Goldsmith CBE.

Search for a Star

Blondie

Call me to join the band 07725 927585

Today we have an update on the development of “Rock In The City” – a rock band I formed with Dr Andrew Sentence, former Monetary Policy Committee Member at The Bank of England and now Senior Economic Adviser for PwC. Here’s some clips of the band taken from our first performance at a garden party in summer:

Now we have got the basics right, our next goal is to develop the musical dynamics and performance capabilities of the band.  We are therefore looking for a female or male singer with gusto to add sparkle and glow to our performance. We are planning a number of corporate performances in the City of London and these will attract press attention. Is it you we’re looking for?

Give me a call and I’ll fill you in with the details.

In search of a Prince or Princess

In search of a Prince or Princess?

Rock in the City - Logo design by Simon Heath @SimonHeath1

Rock in the City – Logo design by Simon Heath @SimonHeath1

******************************************

About the Author:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via 07725 927585

Hard Rock Heaven

Wednesday 29th October is a red letter day in my calendar as I have the great honour of playing a song at London’s Borderline with Bernie Tormé, former guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, Atomic Rooster, Dee Snider and Ian Gillan. I’d be delighted to see some of you along at the gig and tickets are still available via Hard Rock at The Borderline.

Bernie funded the project through a crowdfunding approach and the project also donates money to a Teenage Cancer Trust. It just now needs to reach Bernie’s own personal target of 666% – the number of the beast! There are still just 6 days, 6 hours and 6 minutes to support the project. Bernie is offering a host of exclusive items in return for your support:

  • Guitar masterclasses in person or via SKYPE
  • An acoustic gig in your own house
  • VIP meet and greet at any one of his UK tour dates
  • Signed copies of the new album plus boxed set of catch up albums
  • The Fender Stratocaster that Ozzy Osbourne gave him

… and a number of other stunning offers.  Please check out the project via Monster of Rock – Bernie Tormé.

666 - the number of the beast ... still available to buy

666 – the number of the beast … still available to buy

 

Performing with someone of this magnitude throws up a number of issues regarding how you learn to work with a team when there is no opportunity for practice. This presents a huge potential risk for Bernie as it is his reputation on the line. But he need not worry ….  here is my list of transferable tips for high performance, be it hard rock heaven or hard work hell:

Tips for Spontaneous Combustion

Do the hard graft – Learn your piece inside out, forwards, backwards and then forget that you learned it – I’ve been allowed to suggest the tune we’ll play – Probably Manic Depression by Jimi Hendrix or something similar.  I chose this as I know Bernie loves Hendrix and it is sufficiently fluid to allow us to stretch out a little on the song. Check it out:

Understand the rules of engagement – In this case that means understanding how musical leadership passes around the band if we are to jam a little and keep things together.  I’ll have just a little time to study this at the sound check or maybe at Bernie’s garden party, to find out if it is the drummer who signals the end or Bernie himself and other matters of a practical nature.

Bernie - Peter Fire

Hire Bernie to come to your company and give a talk / play some music – we promise not to spontaneously combust anything unless you have asked in advance for it ….

Read the signs and signals – I’ve seen Bernie play before and worked with him at Corporate Functions, so we already have some understanding of our body language when communicating with the rest of the  band, re turn taking, stops, starts, finishes and so on. It’s very important to be emotionally intelligent when working with people in this way, not just living inside your own head but reading people around you. Music is such a good training ground for this – much better than management courses etc. as there is no rehearsal on stage.

Push the stop button – If you lose your way, just stop playing or turn the volume off. There are 3 other people playing who actually know what they are doing and the safety strap is to let them do just that if needed.

So, I’d love to see you at the gig on October 29th.  I have one spare ticket available in exchange for some assistance with getting to the gig from Kent and possibly a bit of filming on the night – contact me for details.

Tickets selling out fast - click the picture to buy yours now

Tickets selling out fast – click the picture to buy yours now whilst you can

To finish, here’s an example of jamming we did with cult punk rocker and two hit wonder John Otway at a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) event at Brands Hatch – in this case, the band learned all his songs and then John joined us on the day itself.  We played half of one song and half or another and then John decided that we knew what we were doing …

******************************************

About the Author:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via peter@humdyn.co.uk or +44 (0) 7725 927585.

Sitting on the Docklands of the Bay

Last week, I hosted a very special event for a diverse select group of guests with my friend and colleague Matthew Green aboard his ship the MV Dana, moored at West India Quay, in the heart of London’s Docklands.  Our evening turned into a brainstorm of ideas for the boat potentially – a unique location / venue (just minutes away from the heart of London’s financial hub) – the obvious options being Executive Education, Meetings, Corporate Events, Media Interviews, Broadcasting etc. to individuals, groups and companies. Commenting on the event my friend Dr Andrew Sentance, former Monetary Policy Member at The Bank of England quipped:

“The evening was proof positive of the well known formula A x B = C

where A = Ageing rockers; B = Bottles of wine; and C = Creative ideas!”

Apologies to our attendees from HSBC and Credit Suisse who certainly don’t fall into the aging rockers bracket!!  Of course I like to believe that the creative ideas came out of our expert joint facilitation of the event and not just the wine!! 🙂

Peter Credit Suisse

In the Navy – on the MV Dana, opposite Credit Suisse

The more provocative and inventive “C” answers were to use Dana as:

  1. The city’s equivalent of College Green, the media’s favoured location for interviews with the iconic backdrop of Canary wharf… given that there is no default location in Docklands for this currently
  2. To start a Pirate Radio / TV Station on the boat to broadcast to the financial community in the Canary Wharf area – calling it DLR – “Docklands Life Radio” or…???
  3. Exclusive Leadership events and Creativity and Innovation summits using our joint skills combined with the location
  4. To offer the venue as a unique environment for special meetings that require an offsite location with all the convenience of being connected to the corporate centre whilst being utterly private, secure and discrete (ideal for M&A negotiations, C level assessments / discussions)
  5. To develop an exclusive business networking club on the ship
  6. Use for photoshoots and other red letter days using the massive deck which could be used as a screen, a projection hub, perhaps even a giant whiteboard!
  7. An informal hub for writers, poets, toastmasters and painters to practice their arts & hone their skills, individually, or as group mentored sessions

Just imagine, sitting on the dock of the bay, just yards away from the office, but millions of miles away in terms of thought space …  One of the attendees wrote a delightful poem about the evening – check The Poet L’Oreal out at Launch Party.

Or, for something more lively:

******************************************

About the Author:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and Organisation Development, Training and Coaching. Contact via peter@humdyn.co.uk or +44 (0) 7725 927585.

Excellence in Thought Leadership, Coaching, Mentoring and Events in an exclusive location

Excellence in Thought Leadership, Coaching, Mentoring and Events in an exclusive location