HR Directors Rock in the City

I’m delighted to have been asked to provide the ‘after lunch’ slot at the HR In The City event on May 22 in London, organised by Leadenhall Consulting. Featuring a cast of star speakers and facilitators, led by Professor Adrian Furnham of UCL and author of 78 books on psychology at work:

The bill for the HR Director's forum

The bill for the HR Director’s forum

I have a special offer available as a speaker at the event.  Two free tickets for senior HR people working in the City.  Drop me a line at peter@humdyn.co.uk to claim one of these free places.  I’m also able to offer a discount to readers of this blog on the early bird booking fee for individuals and groups of people wishing to attend.

I’ll be delivering a thought provoking session about becoming a true learning company from the parallel universes of HR and Rock Music. Come along and find out more about what we can learn from Madonna, Prince, Nokia, First Direct, Radiohead and many more about adaptability and improvisation.

The HR Hall of Fame - From Bowie, The Beatles, Madge to Skoda, Nokia et al

The HR Hall of Fame – From Bowie, The Beatles, Madge to Skoda, Nokia et al

Finally some HR related pieces from Madonna on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Prince on Ethics and Systemic Thinking and an interview with Tim Smit, CEO of the Eden Project on Leadership:

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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.

Confessions on a Dance Floor – Anatomy of an Entrepreneur

Confessions on a dance floor - The Royal Institute of Great Britain - a superb venue for science  ... and dancing

Confessions on a dance floor – The Royal Institute of Great Britain – a superb venue for science … and dancing

I attended Entrepreneur Country’s forum recently and was so impressed that I decided to write a post on some of the lessons learned.  Held in the auspicious surroundings of the Royal Institute of Great Britain where the 1st Industrial Revolution began, I heard a lot about how entrepreneurship will reboot the UK plc.  Although I started life as a scientist and have had 18 years teaching MBA’s and doing business improvement, music has been a constant though my life.  I could not help but notice just how well the Royal Institute of Great Britain’s lecture theatre could transform into a dance floor, given the somewhat mythical arrival of Madonna as one of the guest lecturers! 🙂  Oddly enough, the day was characterised by entrepreneurs telling real life stories of their hopes, fears, successes and failures, hence my title Confessions on a Dance Floor.  Cue the music:

Hung up

Just like Madonna’s fitness video, a lot of the discussion was centred around what entrepreneurs do to avoid burnout.  Ed Bussey of iTrigga was a prime example, having come to the conference after an all night vigil at hospital on the occasion of his wife giving birth!   He did however point out the importance of pressing the OFF button from time to time to avoid the possibility of crash and burn entrepreneurship.

If what you are doing isn't working, STOP in the name of doing something different

If what you are doing isn’t working, STOP in the name of doing something different

Others talked of rituals and routines such as working out in the gym, taking forced holidays, running the London Marathon, going to the North Pole (that’s hardly chilling out!) and so on.  Seemingly obvious advice, yet not always taken by busy entrepreneurs.  Recall the post on STOPPING.

Like a Virgin

Several speakers gave witness to the importance of maintaining naivety if you are to succeed as an entrepreneur.  Madonna’s contribution to this area is via her blockbuster hit “Like A Virgin”, which translates to the need to treat each new business situation like it’s the very first time, or at least to see it with fresh eyes.  In particular Sir Will Sargent of Framestore painted a picture of the importance of intuition, creativity and the ability to remain adaptive and flexible as your company grows.

If I stand still for 12 months, I will be out of business 12 months later

Express Yourself

Perhaps the personification of Madonna’s hit record about expression was the opening addresses by Julie Meyer and Dr Mike Lynch.   Julie presented her ideas about entrepreneurship clearly, concisely and without apology for wanting to create an enterprise economy, which produces both economic and social benefit.   Business gets enough hard knocks and we need to see business as an engine of improvement, rather than an evil empire as it is frequently portrayed by Governments and a self-riteous public sector, who sometimes try to interfere in business and enterprise.  Mike Lynch extended Julie’s strident start to the day by giving us some home truths on entrepreneurship:

 “Without good marketing you can have something amazing and no one will know.  Marketing is not cheating

Avoid the myth of doing things properly

Mark Hoffmann of Oxygen Finance added another subtle dimension to Madonna’s title.  It would be too easy to assume that ‘expressing yourself’ was the realm of extroverts.  Mark calmly pointed out that expression can come from an introvert stance:

I’m quiet but very driven

Like a Prayer

Stephen Linnecar suggested that we gotta have FAITH – Not an allusion to George Michael, but the summary of his presentation which focused on five factors which he regarded as key to success as an entrepreneur: Future, Attitude, Improvisation, Timing and Help.  You had to be there to get the detail behind these buzzwords.  Picking up on one of these characteristics, improvisation featured strongly throughout the day, a point that resonated personally with me, having taught creativity, improvisation and innovation for the Open University MBA for 18 years.

Hair

What impressed me most of all about the speakers at the event was a real and unusual sense of authenticity.  Truths were told about successes.  Much more importantly, we gained an insight into mistakes and outright failures.  It’s much more important for an entrepreneur to learn from their mistakes than their successes and many speakers were candid about their regrets.  We learned the perils of not owing up to mistakes via Peter Whent’s wonderful story of “United Breaks Guitars”, when a musician could not get any satisfaction from complaining to the airline after they broke his guitar.  He resorted to a viral youtube campaign and United’s share price plummeted as his youtube figures climbed exponentially:

Lady Gaga’s vulnerabilities show up in her song called Hair, which she performed unplugged and therefore conceptually ‘naked’ in her appearance on the Paul O’Grady show.  I feel it’s entirely appropriate to add Lady Gaga into a piece about Madonna, as she had clearly stood on the shoulders of giants in developing Madonna’s music into her own unique brand.  Listen to the words of “Hair” to see behind the makeup, pizazz and lighting to the soul of a true artist:

So, there we have it.  Five lessons for Entrepreneurs from Madonna and Lady Gaga:

  1. Hung Up – Don’t get hung up by flogging yourself to death – use the OFF switch
  2. Like a Virgin – Treat each day like it’s the first time to remain fresh
  3. Express Yourself – Be clear, bold and concise in your communications.
  4. Like a Prayer – Have faith in yourself and others that can help you realise your dreams
  5. Hair – Be aware of your vulnerabilities, successes, failures and learn

 

Waiting for the great leap forwards

Art, Empire and Industry - Rowena Sian Morgan on the photoshoot for the cover of The Music of Business

Art, Empire and Industry – Rowena Sian Morgan of BASCA on the photoshoot for the cover of The Music of Business – just before we were asked to leave the scene by security guards …

We stand just 72 hours away from the launch of my new book “The Music of Business”. The book is available to buy at AMAZON. Signed copies directly from the book WEBPAGE. On 31 1 13, the book will be on special offer for the day.

To preview the book, this week I’m taking a break from my regular blogging content. Instead I’ve just selected some cool videos from some of the artists who feature in the book.  Normal service will be resumed soon and I will stop being over excited! 🙂

Gaga controls the music business and is Queen of Social Media marketing.

I grew up on the Beatles, having blown my ear drums out screaming to Twist and Shout when I was 5 years old with an orange plastic Beatles guitar.  This was the beginning of my 1st love and perhaps was the 1st inspiration for the book, swiftly followed by Jimi Hendrix.

AC / DC are a miracle in making a ‘formula’ work over nearly 40 years.  Most of us have to flex and bend in order to stay alive.

Madonna is a reinvention guru.  What made her that way?  Read all about it in The Music of Business.

The best day of 2012 was the moment when I performed on stage with Bernie Tormé.  Can business be this fun?  Yes it can!  We offer 24 hour strategy retreats that synthesise business excellence with the power of music.

 

Scott McGill – a virtuoso jazz fusion musician and teacher gives valuable lessons in ‘musical escapology’ with important parallels for business creativity.

Richard Strange – Quoted as “The Godfather of Punk” by Johnny Rotten explores the dark side of creativity and innovation.  If you are in London and wish to meet up, I often attend Richard’s alternative mixed media event Cabaret Futura.

Bill Nelson offers us lessons in principled leadership and reinvention in The Music of Business.  Check this music master’s work out at Bill Nelson.

Ch, ch, ch, changes from the Thin White Duke, who has shape shifted many times over 40 years, keeping his audience.  His latest work sees him turn full circle back to a reflective style that won him fans 40 years ago, but with a post-modern edge to it.

And of course, the title of this blog from the Bard of Barking – what a great wordsmith:

Hoping your week rocks!  Please spread the word about the book launch on 31 1 13 on social media, e-mail, carrier pigeon and any other mode of communication.  Thank you for all your encouragement and supports, which have been pivotal in completing this project.

This is the modern world

I attended a book launch for Stephen Trombley’s “Fifty Thinkers Who Shaped The Modern World” recently, having met Stephen a few years ago at Carole Stone‘s club and discovered we have a mutual acquaintance in Richard Strange.   Stephen is a stunning personality.  An American author, filmmaker, musician and polymath.  He has undertaken a mammoth task here.  The concise history of modern thought from the enlightenment up till now.  Tombley has undertaken meticulous research and achieved the astonishing result of combining brevity with depth – that’s a rare achievement for such a weighty topic if you have ever read any philosophy.  Fifty Thinkers Who Shaped The Modern World makes a superb Christmas gift if you love elegance in thought and writing.

Trombley’s book contains chapters on Kant, Hegel, Darwin, Marx, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Emerson, Kierkegaard, Weber, Satre, Wittgenstein, Gandhi, Hitler, Freud, Einstein, Derrida and many more.  Of course, I was also personally looking for Madonna, Prince, Ozzy Osbourne, Lady Gaga and a few other rock philosophers, but I guess I’m not being entirely serious here.  Perhaps Stephen will oblige with a follow up on rock philosophers – hint, hint Stephen 🙂  Here’s a slice of Prince reflecting on the basket case that is the music industry:

Whilst we get our thinkers classified by their ‘genre’, Trombley also makes the connections between these genres, helping readers make useful comparisons and contradictions between the various schools of thought.   This is extremely useful in helping novices and experienced readers join the dots up.  There are so many different schools of thought that this is indeed a vital contribution.

If you are after a rapid introduction to philosophical thought then Trombley’s book is a must have.  As life throws up ever more challenges, we need quality thinking more than ever.  If we had better thinking in business and life we would make better decisions.   Time to put that iPhone down for a bit and have a good read …

The enigmatic philosopher formerly known as Stephen Trombley

To finish. let’s see The Jam performing “This is the Modern World”.  Paul Weller’s lyrics hardly reach the dizzy philosophical heights of Stephen’s book, but their works are just as exciting.

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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 peter@humdyn.co.uk

Punk Rock Business Attitude – Top Ten Punk Rock Business Tips

Punk Rock Attitude – Smarter, faster and more authentic business – Image by Lindsay Wakelin photography http://www.lindsaywakelinphotography.com

Whilst we were preparing for the various media initiatives the other week, the papers, radio and TV wanted me to offer them some punchy (and short of course) punk rock tips for business.   Here’s the ones that got through the press filter on the BBC One News piece with Dolly Parton introducing us – what a coup !

And here’s a few of the rest with some links to previous blog posts.  Granted, they are not all punk rock, but I use the term in it’s widest context 🙂  You can find much more like this in the revised edition of Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll.

1. Bad Romance – Lady Gaga – If you’re having trouble in a work relationship, change what you’re doing, rather than banging your head against the same wall.

2. Like a Virgin – Madonna – To succeed in business, treat each day like its the first time.

3. Knowing me knowing you – Abba – If you want to serve someone really well, find out their wants, needs, whims, foibles, fancies, fantasies, fanaticisms and ensure what you are offering touches the parts that others cannot or dare not reach.

Reasons to be cheerful

4. Reasons to be cheerful – Ian Dury  – Reasons to be cheerful at work include: being listened to; doing things that count; understanding why they matter; being part of something; not having to do pointless tasks; getting meaningful feedback on what you do and so on.

5. Who killed Bambi? – Sex Pistols – Separate conflict over work from conflict over personalities. You can have a good bun fight over a project, but once things are settled, move on and don’t harbour grudges towards the people.

6. I can’t control myself – The Troggs – Creativity without discipline rarely leads to innovation.

7. What do I get? – The Buzzcocks – Pay people well enough, but don’t just focus on pay as the reward for work. This reinforces the conversation about ‘What do I get?’

Walk on the wild side

8. Walk on the wild side – Lou Reed – Encourage mavericks, madonnas and the odd primadonna at work if you want new things to happen.

9. Sexy MF – Prince – Style always wins over substance.  Once you have got your product sorted, go for style every time.

10. I still haven’t found what I’m looking for – U2 – Business needs constant learning and reconnaissance.  If you stop looking and learning, just like Kodak, you may disappear from view.

To finish listen anew to Bad Romance by Lady Gaga for a bit of punk business attitude:

Pomp, Circumstances, Kings, Queens and Punks

The kids are alright – at the Jubilee Concert – Picture by Baroness Ella Melitta

The Royal Jubilee celebrations afforded a rare moment of relaxation to reflect on the pomp and circumstance of such ceremonies.   However ‘punk and circumstances’ contrived to fill some of that time, after we were asked to do a last minute gig with Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine.  In case you missed Carter, here’s The Only Living Boy In New Cross:

I had not really noticed Carter USM when they appeared on the indie punk music scene in 1988.   Razor sharp lyrics that reminded me of Jarvis Cocker and Richard Strange’s skills in this area.  Indeed it seems that Jim Bob is something of an admirer of Mr Strange.  In case you fancy catching up with Richard Strange’s work, you can catch him talking about the moment when the Sex Pistols asked to support The Doctors of Madness at ‘Punk Britannia’ on BBC 4 for a few weeks at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00s81jz/Punk_Britannia_PrePunk_19721976/

Watching the Jubilee river procession and its awe inspiring £32 Million bill made me think of the pomp and circumstance of Rock’s most expensive moments in the name of branding.  Let’s sample a few of them:

The moment when Michael Jackson floated a statue of himself down the River Thames – a cool bill of 50 Million dollars for the ‘HIStory’ album that went with it:

Madonna’s ‘Express Yourself’ video – just a ‘modest 5 Million Dollars’ in 1988 by comparison:

Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody video weighs in at a rock bottom price of £4500 in 1974 – that’s about £43 K in today’s terms:

So, here’s the tough question on enduring brand value.  Which of these do you consider will have the longest-term impact on society?

The Queen – £32 Million (2012)

The King of Pop – Michael Jackson – £50 Million (adjusted for 2012)

The Queen of Pop – Madonna – £7.2 Million (adjusted for 2012)

Queen – £43 K (adjusted for 2012)

If you are looking to spend a more modest sum for the Jubilee, M&S report that they have introduced a range of retro underwear (that’s in the sense of yesteryear, not pre-loved 🙂 )for the Jubilee.  For even less money you can get a free copy of Punk Rock People Management from me.  Simply click on one of the M&S women and get your copy for FREE.

Retro underwear from M&S for the Jubilee – hurry now to get yours before it rains again

Don’t cry for me Argentina – Should leaders be allowed to rock out?

Introducing Argentina’s soon to be Rock’n’Roll Vice President.  Amado Boudou rides a Harley-Davidson and relaxes by jamming with rock stars.  He also follows in a long line of Rock’n’Roll leaders – Junichiro Koizumi, Japan’s reformist President and heavy metal addict, Tony Blair, Ted Heath, Bill Clinton, David Blunkett and so on.

Bill blowin' his business horn

So, why am I writing about Mr Boudou?  It seems that his lifestyle has become the focus of debate concerning his competence to handle the country’s economic affairs.  This is encapsulated in the comment “We want a minister, not a guitar player”

I find this bizarre.  Some people delight in picking out minor aspects of someone’s lifestyle and generalise that it adversely affects their competence to do their chosen job.  I’m wondering if a similar reaction would have occurred if the media had pointed out that Winston Churchill suffered from depression?  This is not confined to politicians.  Some years ago a senior HR colleague working for the Police confided in me for some career advice.  In his spare time he ran a disco and his boss had told him to stop running it if he wanted to get on.  Why is this stuff so threatening to those in authority?

In defence of his hobby, Amado Boudou has pointed out that “Rock helps me communicate directly with the people because rock doesn’t lie, and people are fed up with lying politicians”.  Unfortunately, he is right.  If I had to choose between a cold analyst and a competent economist with a soul, I know which one I would choose as a leader.  The people who lead need to brilliant technicians of their chosen disciplines, plus they need to have humility and soul to engage their followers.  It’s a theme I explore in the book ‘Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll’.

Leadership with Soul and Attitude

So, should we allow Amado Boudou to keep his hobby?  Post your thoughts on why leaders should or should not be allowed to have a life or a hobby.

The title of the post reminds me of Madonna’s take on politics from the film Evita.  Any excuse for a bit of Madge!