A selfie interview


It's time for me to conduct another interview with myself, given the questions that blog readers are asking about my book and other matters.

Why a selfie? Because no one knows better than I the most hard-hitting questions to ask me. (Familiarity with the interviewee is critically important for an interviewer, especially in getting around carefully constructed defenses.)

Q. What’s the latest with your book, Business Lessons From Rock? Is it finally finished?
A. It was 98% finished a year ago, but I’ve been making revisions for my agent. Given the 24-month turnaround time that book agents promise these days, I’m confident the book will be published before the next Great Flood.

Q. Well, that flood may come sooner than expected if business and government leaders don’t take action on climate destabilization, yes?
A. Not really. US congressmen, who always respect the latest science, are now rounding up some goats to sacrifice to secure divine intervention. That should work.

Q. Are you intimidated by the number of business books that are continually being released? Some say that 100 business books are released every DAY, including self-published ones!
A. No problem. I have a plan to significantly reduce those odds.


JFK, The Beatles, and the substance of style

Beatles Silhouttes

Two semicentennials this season provide us a teachable moment about style.

November 22 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, America’s rock star President who, with his glamorous wife Jacqueline, brought a welcome sense of style and aesthetics to public life. December 26 marks the 50th anniversary of the US release of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles, who caused a revolution in youth style and fashion with their longish hair and English suits.

Both JFK and The Beatles had much going for them, of course, outside of style and fashion. Kennedy brought us back from the brink of nuclear Armageddon during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and later passed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. (He also laid the groundwork for the Civil Rights Act, committed the US to manned space exploration, and helped launch the Peace Corps.) The Beatles resurrected rock & roll at its finest and emerged as the most innovative and disruptive force in the history of pop music and pop culture.

But let’s not diminish style. Virginia Postrel, in her wonderful classic of social criticism, The Substance of Style, makes the point that aesthetics has intrinsic value because “human beings know the world, and each other, through our senses.”


It's not complicated

Yes, I’m partial to any organization or business that’s doing something different, something that's uniquely original.

Hey, if your products or services are like everyone else’s, why take up real estate? Even better if you’re doing something different AND it’s simple (and fun) to understand, use, or grok. That’s why I, and apparently a few others, appreciate companies like Apple, Google, Twitter, Amazon, Zappos, and Southwest Airlines.

Same with rock acts. If you’re not separating yourself from the pack, who’s going to notice you? But if your music is different, original, and easy to grasp—i.e. catchy—then you’re home free. (Think: Bowie, Prince, Madonna, or U2.) The early pioneers of rock lived this philosophy: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Elvis. (Listen to Richard’s “Keep a Knockin’” or “Rip It Up“ if you’ve forgotten how brilliant and uncomplicated great rock can be.) And the band that resurrected rock & roll in the 60s—and changed the world in the process—wrote the book on it. The Beatles had a knack for cutting remarkably innovative but simple-sounding tracks, whose wizardry and sophistication were not immediately obvious (e.g., “All You Need Is Love" or “Yesterday”).

After 58 years of rock, it’s not easy for a new artist to find uncharted territory to stake a claim on. But there’s at least one band that has. Walk Off The Earth owns the video medium and is using their amazingly creative clips to catapult them into the pop mainstream. This tune, "Gang of Rhythm," is garnering radio play as we speak:


RDF, Steve Jobs, and The Beatles


Biz lit abounds with stories of the “reality distortion field” of Apple Co-founder Steve Jobs, who could make his engineers—and customers—believe anything was possible, including products developed with incredible features, in unheard-of time frames, with no market competition.

Often enough, Jobs and his teams of software and hardware engineers delivered on these "impossible" goals. This, in part, is how Apple became the world’s most admired company.

It turns out that there was also a musical team known for its reality distortion field: The Beatles, who had a similar relationship to the engineers they worked with, beginning with the groundbreaking Revolver and Sgt Pepper albums. They could make their recording engineers believe that any barrier could be broken.