Last week I had a terrific opportunity to give a short talk for ninety-one aspiring leaders—ages thirteen to eighteen—at Bentley College, just outside Boston. The participants were attending a series of programs offered by Lead America, an impressive youth leadership organization whose goal is to develop 'leaders for life'.
It was also my first occasion to try Keynote—Apple's slide show application—for my 'Business Lessons From Rock' presentation. (Keynote is amazing. More on that in a future post.)
Some of my talk—usually aimed at a corporate audience—was a bit of a challenge for the younger kids to grasp, but by the end they all understood how they were 'branding' themselves at school everyday and were able to identify those brands—'hard worker', 'fashion queen', 'super jock', etcetera.
They also understood they could be stuck with a default brand (not of their choosing)—'unreliable', 'always late', 'slacker', etcetera—if they weren't mindful of their actions. I'm happy to report that even thirteen-year-olds get the implications of 'brand you'.
To my delight the kids also knew their rock & roll, even that of the classic rock variety.
When I asked which band broke the creative mold for pop music—after which rock & roll was never the same—one sixteen-year-old piped up: 'Pink Floyd!' A surprisingly good answer—if not the best one. (I bet I know Grandpa's favorite band.)
The kids also immediately identified The Who as the band that supplied the opening theme to my presentation. As expected, my references to more recent bands and the brands they featured—including Coldplay, Green Day, and even Nirvana (the signature band of their Gen X parents!)—were readily understood.
Now in comparison to these precocious teens, let's see how you perform in answering these same questions…
1 What band changed rock & roll forever, whose music altered the pop landscape—a band responsible for more musical innovations than any other in the history of rock? (No, not Pink Floyd, though they did their part.)
2 What is the best-selling female band still performing, whose instrumental prowess is legendary and whose independent thinking and irreverence for authority—qualities sorely needed by our business teams today imho—alienated thousands of their original fans while attracting thousands of new ones?
3 What two rock bands, monstrously successful over four decades, were formed in the early-to-mid-'60s—in London and San Francisco respectively—as blues and R&B cover bands?
More clues: Band A's success was eventually built on: (1) a string of hit rock & roll singles; (2) a brazenly flamboyant lead singer; and (3) a decadent 'bad-boy' brand. Band B's success was built on: (1) improvisational live performances; (2) a rejection of celebrity trappings, combined with a communal bond with its audience; and (3) a give-it-away-free business model—including hundreds of live performances and band-sanctioned bootlegged tapes.
For answers, view the comments.