Glam it up – 3 Business Lessons from Glam Rock

I was kindly invited to go and see a double bill of Glam Rock recently by a client who was grateful for my work – Oddly enough I’d never seen The Sweet and Slade ever before (OK, I know the purists will say that the bands now have a different line up, but it would be difficult to reform The Sweet as 50% have left this mortal coil! )

Sweet FA

But, as always, the real question for me is, are there any business lessons from Glam Rock?  Of course there are:

Branding Lessons from Glam Rock

Style overwhelms substance – Dave Hill of Slade may well not have gotten a job playing guitar in Yes or Be-Bop Deluxe, but undoubtedly Slade win hands down in the ‘branding / image / memory department’, for good or bad.  Unfortunately this lesson does NOT transfer well from the music world to the world of business, where many things are based on ‘needs’ not ‘wants’.  Covering substance up with style does not lead to sustainable competitive advantage in many areas of business unless the ‘substance’ is in fact the ‘style’, such as hairdressing or fashion.

Performance Lessons from Glam Rock

So, where did Glam Rock acts place their emphasis?  In the performance of course.  Slade come on stage as if it’s already over and move on from that point.  Is business a performance?  Well, to some extent it is.  The academic Henry Mintzberg drew parallels between business, theatre and performance and clearly it’s important to make an impact, especially in today’s crowded market.

Slayed

Slayed

HR Lessons from Glam Rock

Glam Rock above all else developed the idea of having separate personalities within the band, to relate to the different fans (customer) needs.  In Slade, Noddy appealed to the guys, Dave Hill the girls and so on.  The Spice Girls took this to the ultimate end point by naming the members to suggest the market segment they were to appeal to – Posh Spice, Sporty Spice etc. Finally, we must go to the main Glam attractions for some soul food:

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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

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.

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

“Livin’ Lovin’ Maid” – Maria McCarthy – Author, Rocker, Led Zeppelin fan

Introducing the Livin’ Lovin’ Maid Maria McCarthy, massive Led Zeppelin fan and author of strange fruits – a new book of poems which offer surprising glimpses into our 21st-century lives – the ‘strange fruits’ of our civilisation or lack of it.  Shot through with meditations on the past and her heritage as ‘an Irish girl and English woman’.  The book can be found on Amazon with proceeds going to Macmillan Cancer.

Strange Fruits - Maria Mc Carthy

Maria has been a long term advocate of music where I live in Kent and it turns out that she appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Home Truths, programme, the home of the legend that is John Peel.  Maria told the story of her infatuation with Led Zeppelin when growing up and I’ve decided to post the story here, following the exceptional reaction to the previous post on Led Zeppelin.  Let’s get the Led out before we get started on Maria’s story:

So here’s Maria’s story of her infatuation with Led Zeppelin and the personal consequences of that infatuation.  I must say I made a similar mistake with T.REX albums, giving them away to a girlfriend in a moment of madness brought on by love but we’ll save that for later…

Robert was my first rock sex God. I had him plastered on my teenage bedroom wall in various stage poses; copious hair flying and shirt ripped open in mid-performance. I later wondered if perm lotion and Carmen rollers had a part to play in those curls, and if the bulge in his Levis was artificially enhanced, like the guy in Spinal Tap with the salami down his trousers. But when I was seventeen, a picture of Plant set in motion the female equivalent of my mojo rising.

In our first year of courting, my husband-to-be and I went to the legendary Knebworth concert where we experienced the glory of Plant and Page in the flesh. And when we moved in together we each had a full set of twelve inch Zepps that snuggled side by side in our newly combined collections. Robert Plant even attended the birth of our second child; he was singing Big Log, of all things, through the headphones of my cassette Walkman as I gave the final push (Editor’s note – no picture provided).

When we outgrew our two-bedroom flat, we sold some of the records to raise a deposit on a house. It made sense, I know. I was nearly thirty, and it was time to put away childish things. There were new priorities.  Two Frampton Comes Alive became one, the by then unfashionable Phil Collins was discarded, and the Zeppelins reduced to one set. We kept my husband’s copies because his signature on the sleeves was a no-no for record dealers.

We moved from London to Kent with our two girls, three cats and one record collection. 800 vinyl albums and countless seven inch singles, requiring special treatment during the move. The boxes were not to be stacked and were marked “Handle With Care.”   But after eight years, I’d had enough of the collections, filling the house from loft to cellar. I had married a hoarder; an obsessive collector of not just records, but also stamps and model trains, videos and music magazines. The house that I had once found spacious became cramped. Where was my space? If I tried clearing things out, to find a haven for my treasured possessions and indeed for myself, he’d go through the boxes destined for the charity shop, and take his stuff back out. I decided it was time for division.

The girls stayed with me along with the cats and some of the records.  My mother was appalled when he took the recliner chair for his new house. There was genuine anguish in her voice when she said, “How could he split the three piece suite?” For me it was the loss of half my Led Zeppelin collection.  When it came to dividing the Zepps I was bequeathed Led Zeppelin Three, Four, and Presence.

I gradually removed the excess shelving from the house. I wanted a slimline life, uncluttered. My love of record collecting was also a thing of the past. For years I was unable to look at second hand records. That was his place; kneeling on the floor at boot fairs, riffling through other people’s former treasures.

Then I met a new man. Whilst wandering around the small Surrey town where he lives, I was enticed by a sign leading down an alleyway to “Vinyl Hideaway”. Before I knew it, I was asking for Zeppelin, like a child starved of sweets, and boxes were laid before me by the two vinyl anoraks who owned the store. We were soon exchanging Zepp stories. They were in awe of my Knebworth experience, shocked at the loss of half my Zeppelins, and I in turn was stunned by their knowledge and extensive collection of first pressings, imports and bootlegs.

I left £23 lighter, clutching Houses of the Holy and Physical Graffiti – double album gatefold, a picture of a tenement building with cut out windows on the cover, filled with the letters spelling out the title on the insert. I would have bought more, but they didn’t take credit cards.  I walked down the High Street with my LP-shaped carrier bag. Chuffed, in the way that I used to be as a teenager when I carried my Harlequin Records bag before me, so everyone would know I had new records.

With my collection partially restored, my resentment over the great record collection split of 1996 is fading. My forty-sixth birthday brought me Led Zeppelin Two from my lover, and today’s acquisition leaves only Led Zeppelin One, The Song Remains the Same and Coda. Of course, after that there are Robert Plant’s solo albums.

Maria McCarthy’s book strange fruits can be found on Amazon, with proceeds going to Macmillan Cancer.  You can find more about her at Cultured Llama and Medway Maria.  Since Maria mentioned the great Spinal Tap, we’ll end with this piece on them, which satirises Jimmy Page’s guitar bowing technique and the use of multiple guitars.  Watch out for a post on Spinal Tap and Project Management in a few weeks time.  Oh yes and do check out our new FREE book PUNK ROCK PEOPLE MANAGEMENT OUT  – Led Zeppelin even get a mention in it.  For more Heavy Metal Business articles – check SPINAL TAP on project management, DEEP PURPLE on improvisation, LED ZEPPELIN on strategy

 

Cool friend – Phil Hawthorn – The Business Cook

It may not be Rock’n’Roll to be a cook, or is it?  Well, I must say how much I admire the leadership coach and trainer Phil Hawthorn, who synthesises his ideas about business with cooking, actually preparing food while he speaks at corporate conferences and events.  He is also the author of Can Men Cook, a saucy look at gender stereotypes and cooking which rocks!  I interviewed Phil about his views on cooking, music and life.

So, what is your unique difference Phil?

I have built a fun little business linking cooking to order, leadership and teamwork.  A lot of the time I will work helping teams and their leaders to work more effectively together.  This is where the theory and practice of organisational life come together.  I’m especially good at just getting people to talk – which is a god start for fixing problems.  At the other extreme, I have run cookery demonstrations at The Ideal Home show and other places, and appeared on ITV’s competition “Britain’s Best Dish”.  I mix the two in presentations on management teams and cooking!  Here’s a clip from Britain’s Best Dish:

If music be the food of love.  What’s the link?

Shakespeare. Next question?  Seriously, both food and music feed the soul. They are ultimately involved in being creative, making something new, making the thought processes a bit different, a bit of relaxation and making people happy.  This isn’t a bad set of aims for organisations too, I feel.  Much recent research has shown that the happier an organisation is, the more successful it is.  Simple but true.  Perhaps Lord Sugar should read more of this stuff! (I loved your blog on The Apprentice, btw).

Have you got an example of a company you worked with using this approach?

A team from The Environment Agency, would you believe?  The team worked on day one learning about Rhododendron clearance, and then met up to cook a communal dinner.  They had to create the menu, do the shopping and work to a budget.  I was tasked with making a gallon (literally) of custard.  What a lot of stirring!  Food of love?  Yes, calm, content and smiling.  What better way to team build?

Another event was at a Business School for their MBA Alumni a while back.  Their leader said of it:   “If you think you have seen everything then think again. The principles of management are presented in a very entertaining, professional and unique way”.

What about music?  What music do you love?

I’m of an age where I grew up in Glam Rock – T.Rex, Bolan, David Bowie, Squeeze.  I love female singers (Kate Bush, Madonna, and Lady Gaga).  Really enjoyed Florence and the Machine, but still hark back to rock – Led Zeppelin and anything with a blues feel really.  Bach and Mozart haven’t passed me by either…

This, of course gives me the perfect excuse to play some T.REX

And The Beatles.  I am from Liverpool so have an affection.  I love the creative juice that flowed from Lennon and McCartney being friends and enemies.  Love, hate, Yin, Yang.  And that created some of the most beautiful harmonies and dichotomies in the world of music.  And I love some classical masterpieces that have created love and hate.  Elgar’s cello concerto, for example.  No-one dared do it after ‘brave’ (yes, she was) Jacqueline Dupree defined it in the repertoire.  Until Natalie Klien became BBC Young Musician of The Year (XXX?) when no-one dared to perform it.  How sad!  Natalie won by a unanimous heartfelt and emotional mile.  But she didn’t record it until 2009.  We saw her performing it in the Albert Hall in 2010.  And it was better than both the Dupree renditions.

Where can we find out more?

We have a new website called The Two Cooks, delivering exceptional corporate events and keynote speeches that blend business, music and cooking.  Check my personal website out at Can Men Cook.