Guns, Roses and Rock ‘n’ Roll

I’m delighted to announce a liaison with Vicky Hamilton, former Manager of Guns N’ Roses, Poison and Faster Pussycat and management consultant with Mötley Crüe. Together, we offer MBA2 where Masters of Business Administration meets Much Bigger Amplifiers … a unique combination of lessons on leadership from Vicky’s experience in holding explosive rock bands together with Peter’s quintessentially English observations on business from his combined experience as an MBA tutor, scientist and musician. We offer insights on the following topics:

  • Disruptive and creative thinking about your business strategy and practices
  • Converting creativity into sustainable profit
  • Managing volatile people with huge egos under extreme pressure
  • Negotiation, influencing and persuading powerful people
  • Building and rethinking your brand to face a VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous)

We are giving showcase events at The Virgin Lounges in the UK on these dates:

Virgin Lounge Tour 2016

Virgin Lounge Tour 2016

We are also offering a strictly limited dinner with Vicky and myself, providing a 1:1 opportunity for detailed discussions about managing high performance people with planetary sized egos. Contact me to book your dinner date:

Where Business meets Rock'n'Roll - Book a Dinner Date with Vicky Hamilton et moi

Where Business meets Rock’n’Roll – Book a Dinner Date with Vicky Hamilton et moi

At 22, Vicky Hamilton left her hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and arrived on the Sunset Strip as a wide-eyed blonde with an ear for rock & roll: “I was back home interviewing Tom Petty for Three Rivers Review,” says Hamilton, “And he told me I was a ‘real California girl,’ and that’s all it took.” It was 1981, and Hamilton arrived at the centre of Hollywood; where the scene was erupting with spandex, sex, cocaine, Aqua Net hairspray and madcap visionaries, like Hamilton, who discovered Guns N’ Roses and became their first manager and surrogate mother. She moved on to work as an A&R executive at major labels such as Geffen and Capitol, in addition to starting her own Grammy winning indie label Small Hairy Dog. Vicky’s book “Appetite for Dysfunction” is a no-holds-barred exploration of the realities of managing rock bands with transferable lessons for anyone seeking to manage creative people or disrupt their markets. Vicky is considered one of the most successful female industry players and has made many TV appearances on MTV, VH1, BBC, The Biography Channel etc.

Sex, Dysfunction and Rock'n'Roll

Sex, Dysfunction and Rock’n’Roll

Slash 4

Slash meets Prince – with my pal Aaron Stone after hours at a private party 

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics, offering better Business / Organisation Development and Coaching / Mentoring. He offers keynotes that blend World Class Leadership Thinking with the wisdom of the street via The Academy of Rock – where Business Meets Music.

For some wisdom on business leadership, innovation and creativity, check Peter’s seventh book out at Bloomsbury or book us for a masterclass or longer development programme.

 

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Poland Rocks

“When I want sax, I call Candy” – Photography by Michał Ozdoba http://www.facebook.com/michalozdobaphotographer

I visited Poland to give a Leadership and Music Masterclass just recently. I also attended an after party with some of Poland’s finest musicians, who gave me CD’s of their music. One of them even supported me in giving a cameo performance at very short notice. Featuring superb playing by the band members and the sax work of Karolina Malwina (Candy Dulfer) Dąbrowska. Here are some samples of all the bands’ work:

Hanza – A superb hard rock band that has been around for two years. They play songs that rock hard with haunting vocals and have just signed a contract, for their debut album being released on September 11th 2015.  Hanza played in a TV show “Świat się kręci” (“The world is spinning”) on national TV and played a show in the legendary SO36 club in Berlin, to incredible acclaim by both the crowd and the other bands.

Faith Healer – A band from the Netherlands – These guys rock hard. I watched some of the members perform some Whitesnake and Bon Jovi songs unplugged at the Pure Sky Club. Strangely I interviewed Bernie Marsden from Whitesnake just the other day. Faith Healer blend great vocal harmonies and metal hammerings in a melodic setting. Don’t call the doctor – just check their original material out:

Here I go again - With Whitesnake's Bernie Marsden

Here I go again – With Whitesnake’s Bernie Marsden

The Rookles‘ band name is based on a fusion of The Rutles and The Beatles. The band write classy pop songs in this style with beautiful 3 part harmonies. Great pop music that honours its influences from the Fab Four, Squeeze, Elvis Costello and many more. Check their album Open Space out.

PrimeTime – Great band, great musicians and great attitude, the band has a particularly unusual vocal style. Comparisons are invidious but I heard some influences from some great indie bands of the 90’s coming through including The Cult. Check their song out Into The Sun”

Slimmotion – The closest comparison I could make was the Red Hot Chilli Peppers – not a bad comparison at all. Hard and funky. Oh that guitar sound and the open hat – just right for a good bit of moshing.

Killing Silence – Haunting songs that combine great vocals with a superb rhythm section which drive the songs along. Great bass playing and an almost theatrical performance and a nod to Dave Grohl in their sound and performance.

Unity – A classic rock combo with a superbly produced album called Promised Land.  Love the song Godamn Bloody Kangaroo – a bit of a chilli pepper in this one as well. A bit of stadium rock in the song Lost Highway – David Coverdale meets Bon Jovi.

The Pure Sky Club ROCKS - Photography by Michał Ozdoba http://www.facebook.com/michalozdobaphotographer

The Pure Sky Club ROCKS – Photography by Michał Ozdoba http://www.facebook.com/michalozdobaphotographer

A is for Attitude

A is for Attitude – Photography by Michał Ozdoba http://www.facebook.com/michalozdobaphotographer

Some of the madding crowd - Photography by Michał Ozdoba http://www.facebook.com/michalozdobaphotographer

Some of the madding crowd – Photography by Michał Ozdoba http://www.facebook.com/michalozdobaphotographer

The Master of Ceremonies - Mr Brian Allan - Photograph Michał Ozdoba - http://www.facebook.com/michalozdobaphotographer

The Master of Ceremonies – Mr Brian Allan – Photograph Michał Ozdoba – http://www.facebook.com/michalozdobaphotographer

Far from the madding crowd  - Photography by Michał Ozdoba http://www.facebook.com/michalozdobaphotographer

Far from the madding crowd – Photography by Michał Ozdoba http://www.facebook.com/michalozdobaphotographer

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Order your copy of the NEW edition of “The Music of Business” – Parallel lessons on Business and Music. Or grab a copy of Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll in Polish!  Peter’s new book comes out in February 2016 with Bloomsbury – the home of Harry Potter.

Check our music and business events out at The Academy of Rock.

Release date 25.02.16

Release date 25.02.16

50 Shades of Leadership

A while back, I designed a seminar called “50 Shades of Leadership” for some HR and CIPD people. Before anyone drifts off into the realms of fantasy, the event was about leadership style and not Business Dilemmas, Strategy and Management aka BDSM !! I gather there has been some recent hullabaloo about a film with a similar title to my post so I thought I might as well add to the general level of distraction to the serious business of work at the weekend. But, enough of this frivolity and let’s get it on with some Leadership thinking:

It may be trendy to think that leadership is all about empowerment, but this is just one of the seven styles proposed by Tannenbaum and Schmidt in their Leadership Continuum, ranging from autocratic to empowered leadership. What can we learn from Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s model?

7 Shades of Leadership

1. Leaders need ideally to be adept at using all the styles on the continuum.

2. If they have a deficit in some areas, the next best thing is to hire someone who can deliver the required approach. Better than trying to “fake it”.

3. There are occasions where a “tell” style is appropriate, even if it is not “trendy” in an era where the expectation is to operate towards the right hand side of the continuum. Here’s Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s model as a reminder of the options you have as a leader in any situation.

Tannenbaum and Schmidt's model of Leadership style

Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s model of Leadership style

4. There are other occasions when “empowerment” is either ineffective or downright dangerous. Empowering staff who either don’t know what to do or have no experience of improvisation does not always work when the stakes are high. Paradoxically, empowerment requires strong leadership in terms of creating a shared direction of travel.

5. If you find it hard not to interfere when trying to empower staff, just make sure you are not physically around! Book yourself a holiday or do anything to make it physically difficult to interfere. That does not mean you should not check in occasionally to see how things are going and offer encouragement and coaching if required.

6. If you are trying to use high involvement strategies, remember some people are happy to engage direct, but others may prefer to use remote “nominal” communication mechanisms such as anonymous inputs. Ensure that you enable both means of making suggestions.

7. Do not mix the styles up. For example do not abdicate when you mean to tell people something. Inauthenticity is a killer of leadership credibility.

Just remember that Leadership comes in 50 varieties – well there’s actually only 7 in the model! Use the style that best-fits the situation rather than what’s trendy.

Come along to our Punk Rock Business Event on June 09 in the South East. All kinds of decadent thoughts about leadership, art, business and punk rock will be discussed, but without the use of whips, clips and chains …

Come to our event on disruptive leadership - June 09 - £10 - click on the picture to get yours now - Picture by Lindsay Wakelin Photography

Come to our event on disruptive leadership – June 09 – £10 click on the picture to get yours now – Picture by Lindsay Wakelin Photography

50 Shades of HR – Click to hook up with The Cultured Llama

Prince + 3rd Eye Girl – 1+1+1 = 7

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 20.32.29

In 2007, I read somewhere that Prince said he would never return to UK after his 21 nights at the O2 Arena and Indigo2.  This converted me from a great admirer to an almost manic obsessive in my attempts to take in some last views of this amazing talent.  Needless to say this was a bit like the “last tour” by The Who and he has returned to the UK since.  It’s a well tried marketing trick and I fell for it, in the words of The Who’s song “Won’t get fooled again”, I did.  But I never thought I would get to see a Prince concert in such as small venue as the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, last Sunday 9th February, having met the amazing George Clinton the night before.  I’ve just returned from another 7 hour queuing marathon at Camden’s Koko, an amazing show, featuring Lianne De Havas and Prince continues to play into the night as I revise this post.

I should Koko ...

I should Koko …

For those who are not so aware of the continuous twists and turns of Prince’s career, he has stripped down his big funky band with horns and keyboards and now has a tight all female four-piece rock band called 3rdeyegirl.  Prince has always been unusual in the music business, in so far that he runs a meritocracy and truly values diversity within his band lineups.  You can read my previous posts on Prince on this blog.

Prince-3rdEyeGirl

I had some trepidation as I love Prince’s extended jazz funk jams but I need not have worried.

PR, Marketing and Social Media Lessons from Prince

The build up to the first few gigs has some important marketing and PR lessons for all.  Prince had gone on the record in saying that his shows would cost no more that $10 when he first arrived in the UK in February.  On the day of the Shepherd’s Bush gig an announcement was made that the price would be £70.  This produced an unusual social media phenomenon, as two guys from South East London made cardboard placards to remind Prince of his promise and wandered up and down the queue gathering interest. The #10PoundPrince hashtag quickly got picked up on Twitter and, four hours later, Prince had bowed to audience pressure to honour the £10 price.  Later on, a press release said that it had always been the intention to lower the price to £10, yet I have a ticket which boldly states £70.  Proof positive that people in the internet age will find ways to hold the mirror up to remind you of your promises – in this case a cardboard mirror, accelerated by Twitter ! 🙂  Here’s the two social media revolutionaries in action:

Prince and The Revolutionaries

Prince and The Revolutionaries

That said, £10 is clearly unsustainable for the smaller to medium sized venues that Prince wants to play and the number of people required to staff such events.  Since Shepherd’s Bush, Prince has not played at all this week until Friday and now three shows tonight at Koko.  I suspect one of the problems behind the scenes has been either to find venues that would accept low ticket prices or to ‘manage the fans’ expectations’ of a realistic price for an evening of this scale. Prince’s manager Kiran Sharma carefully tested the mood of the fanbase on Thursday with this tweet and reset their expectation in a single move:

Online PR and customer expectation management in action

Online PR and customer expectation management in action

The Old Bull and Shepherd’s Bush

Anyway, what was it like?  Well, at Shepherd’s Bush, we started with some completely reworked, refried and refunked versions of some classics and a great selection of new material from the forthcoming album.  In particular I really enjoyed the slowed down R&B grooves of “Let’s go crazy”, “She’s Always in my hair” and “I could never take the place of ur man” alongside the new material. I’ve often said that Prince is “Jimi Hendrix with better lighting and tuning”, but of course, like Hendrix, he is also an absorber and synthesiser of genres, from James Brown and Little Richard to Wes Montgomery and Kate Bush.  He also shares a similar Myers Briggs type with Mr Hendrix, reckoned to be somewhere in the region INFP, although there are many arguments around this. His spiritual Godfather and almost polar MBTI opposite was  up the the balcony, Mr George Clinton, who I’d met at a private function the night before.  I think this must have given Prince an extra endorphin injection. Check out “She’s always in my hair” slowed down and souled up:

We got a piano segue of a whole string of Prince hits (well, he has got too many of them really :-), from “Diamonds and Pearls”, “How come u don’t call me any more”, “Adore” etc. and “The Beautiful Ones“, which my wife and I chose as our first wedding dance, sending shivers down my spine.  We also got an electronica work out using some of Prince’s iconic samples from songs such as “Sign O’ The Times” and an extended jam with a Prince bass solo on “Forever in my life”. The whole set list from Shepherd’s Bush is below.

39 songs on a one nite stand

39 songs on a one nite stand

3 performances on a 1 nite stand – I should Koko!

We got a slightly reduced set tonight as Prince boldly decided to perform 3 shows at 7 pm, 10 pm and 1 am!!  It looked like there were some technical issues at the start of the first show as staff ran on and off stage meticulously checking things, with gaffa tape in sight.  This meant that the first show had to be reduced in length a little.  Prince handled this very well, when people refused to go, saying “Share and share alike” – This man has emotional intelligence oozing out of every pore of his body.

The set list at Koko in Camden - 1st performance

The set list at Koko in Camden – 1st performance

In terms of lessons for anyone else in professional life, what Prince does is to blend absolute control freakery with the ability to change direction at a moment’s notice.  The band rehearse a repertoire of 300 songs giving them the flexibility to adapt and jam.  I wrote about this in the books “Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll” and “The Music of Business”.  I was delighted to be able to pass a copy of “The Music of Business” for Prince with his article in it – see this extract and e-mail me for a free copy of the full article at peter@humdyn.co.uk

The 3S model - Symbols, Signs and Sex

The 3S model – Symbols, Signs and Sex

Well, what more can one say?  I first wrote this blog, having missed the Prince event in Kings Cross , yet another completely different manifestation of this multi-talented, enigmatic and sometimes frustrating artist – an acoustic evening plus Q&A session and an all-eclectic aftershow. Today I went in search of Prince for further teachings in the art of improvisation and high performance and was rewarded with ticket No 331 and another great performance which makes you feel good to be alive.  Prince and I are both 55 and, as he said tonight:

Music is Medicine

I have certainly been healed and trained in a masterclass on flexibility, creativity, authenticity, an ecology of the mind and body and much more. Prince is rumoured to be playing Ronnie Scotts Monday 17 Feb and then Manchester at the end of the week.

This is how Prince sneaks into the venue - in a box - but the symbol is a dead giveaway ...

This is how Prince sneaks into the venue – in a box – but the symbol is a dead giveaway …

Can you imagine being this close to a performer who has been compared to Mozart?

Can you imagine being this close to a performer who has been compared to Mozart?

Coming soon, my Tribute to Prince, to be released on 14 July 14 at an online party on Facebook, music sample available by clicking the picture below:

Release date 14714 on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon etc.  Click to hear a sample - warning explicit lyrics

Release date 14714 on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon etc. Click to hear a sample – warning explicit lyrics!

Postscript:  Since then, we have had the Hit and Run Tour Part II – I was compelled to go to see Prince at Manchester, Amsterdam and The Roundhouse .  Here’s a personal review of Prince by Julie McNamara including reviews of all the shows.

You must see this band while they are in UK.

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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. E-mail me for a free copy of the Prince chapter – Just send PRINCE to peter@humdyn.co.uk or contact direct via +44 (0) 7725 927585.

TMOB NEW EDITION COVER

Click on the picture to check the book out

Metal Guru – Marc Bolan

You won’t fool the Children of the Revolution …

I’m meeting up with Lesley Ann-Jones soon, Freddie Mercury and Marc Bolan’s biographer.  This caused me to write some personal reflections on Marc Bolan, who influenced my life and music hugely.

Bolan arrived on the music scene for me at the impressionable age of 14.  In the midst of Slade, Bowie, Mud, Gary Glitter, Alice Cooper et al, he stood out as being a very gentle soul, although legend has it that he was a very determined character, having once knocked on the door of Simon Napier-Bell and said he was going to be a big star, which got him started on the road to his first big hit:

For someone with a big ego, Bolan was generous of spirit, collaborating with David Bowie, Jeff Lynne, Elton John and many others.  He also had an obsessive, relentless streak in him yet everybody he dealt with loved him.  He even turned his back on the mighty John Peel, who felt that Bolan had sold out when he went electric in order to win fame.  This is single-mindedness indeed, but Bolan was very progressive about his music, wanting to move on from the hippy sound that Tyrannosaurus Rex represented.  An object lesson in reinvention.  Sometimes you leave people behind when you change what you do.

In psychometric type terms, Marc Bolan is thought to share my own Myers Briggs type of ENTP.  Might that explain why I was so drawn to him?  Reckoned to be about 2.5% of the population (a rare breed as there are 16 types which would make the average around 6%), ENTP’s are described as clever, usually verbally as well as cerebrally quick, with a love of argument. They tend have a perverse sense of humour and tend towards innovative approaches.  ENTPs do not suffer fools gladly.  In general, however, they are genial, even charming, when not being harassed by life.  This seems to describe Bolan to a tee.  Sometime who was not trapped by the past although there are echoes of his heroes:  Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and Chuck Berry in his music.

Bolan’s lyrics were always playful and a great source of fascination for me. Witness these taken from “Ballrooms of Mars” from the T.REX “Slider” album:

“You dance With your lizard leather boots on
And pull the strings That change the faces of men
You diamond browed hag You’re a gutter-gaunt gangster
John Lennon knows your name And I’ve seen his”

At one level of abstraction completely meaningless, yet along with the song, they establish a poetic connection with the listener.

What can we take away from Marc Bolan’s example?

  • Be focused, but gracious to those around you at the same time
  • If you want to innovate in a discipline, respect the past but do not become trapped by it
  • Play is essential if you are to be creative
  • If you change what you do, be prepared to lose some of your followers

And what would you add?  Post your thoughts on the blog.

Let’s finish with one of Marc’s great songs, Hot Love, which we gave a Country and Western makeover to last Saturday night:

Hot Glove – T.REX gets the Country and Western treatment

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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:

Riffs and Myths of Leadership

Last week saw the culmination of the “Monsters of Rock Event”, featuring Bernie Tormé, hosted by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply in partnership with The Open University.  I must say it was a super night.  If you were unable to attend, here’s a little window into what took place on the evening.  Click on the burning guitar to see Bloomberg TV’s report with Owen Thomas on the evening.  Bloomberg have 300 million viewers worldwide which is a mind boggling number:

I seem surprised at the ‘spontaneous combustion’ of my Les Paul prior to the Monsters of Rock Event – Click on the guitar to view Bloomberg TV’s feature on the event

BBC Radio 4’s Melanie Abbott also attended and put this splendid feature together on their flagship You & Yours Programme:

To my surprise, the event was also featured on BBC One News by the wonderful Mark Norman:

Riffs and Myths of Leadership also featured on BBC 6 Music, The NME, The Independent, Gibson Guitars, BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, The Sunday Express, The Belfast Telegraph, Planet Rock Radio and many other media, so if anyone is looking to make an impact out there, do get in touch.  This prompted my good friend,  Richard Strange, the “Godfather of Punk” to ask me to get off the media so other people could have a chance! 🙂

We also had an extremely diverse audience, ranging from Academia to Pharmaceuticals, HR Specialists, Industrial Entrepreneurs, Insurance, Construction, Railways and even Lloyds of London.  People came from as far afield as Malta, The Midlands and The Isle of Man for the event.  So, what did they get?  Here’s a few remarks:

“Very enjoyable. But, on a serious note you also make a lot of sense in the areas of management and leadership”
Alex Watson, Lloyds Register

“Inspirational – a structured delivery of key management tenets through the art of rock music. The potential for chaos and mayhem reinforced the learning points – risk mitigation came in the form of common understanding, shared direction, a teamworking ethic and the freedom to demonstrate and develop creativity. Net result – a fun-filled, thought provoking learning experience. If you get the chance, take it or regret another missed opportunity to live your business life in the fast lane ……..      Peter Cook (and his band of associates) rock the business world!”

Neil Smith, Oxford Brookes University

So, big thanks to Vicky Nolan at O2 for playing drums, singing and playing harp, Guy Cresswell of Promuseast for providing the lighting, John Howitt, international session musician and or course to Bernie Tormé for his superb guitar playing and good humour.

Of course, If you would like to have a micro experience of our work or maybe a 24 hour strategy retreat, please contact us.  On the horizon are a sales team conference with Scott Mc Gill, improvisational jazz guitarist and a creativity masterclass with Richard Strange.  I’m off for a well-deserved beer with Bernie this evening to discuss opportunities on the horizon with Google, a trip to Romania and a well-known pharmaceutical company …

Light my fire : Bernie Burns the Les Paul