Listening to Lake Street Dive on NPR’s Morning Edition this week reminded me what soulful performers these folks are, well-deserving of the national attention they’re finally receiving. Formed at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston—which graduates top classical and jazz musicians and vocalists—the Dive began as a jazz quartet but had to change direction to draw a decent audience, soon blossoming into a sophisticated pop/rock/soul band.
Having the flexibility and talent to be able to do that—to shift gears in response to market reactions and provide a more popular product/service—is a useful skill for almost any business team or organization, especially a startup. How quickly we forget that YouTube began as a video dating site ("Tune In Hook Up"), Shopify as a snowboard dealer, or Twitter as a podcaster. Such is life in the Innovation Economy.
Of course taking a radical change in direction to thrive as a business is not a new phenomenon. Ask Hasbro (who went from selling textile remnants to making toys), Nintendo (playing cards to video games), Avon (books to beauty products), or Tiffany (stationery to jewelry).
Agility, adaptability, and flexibility: useful organizational aptitudes in any era.
As a side note… On Morning Edition Lake Street Dive mentioned a humbling experience that occurred early in their career when they performed at a club and not ONE person showed up. (The members of the opening band were their only audience.) It reminded me of a time 20 years ago when I performed at an open mike in a darkened church hall near Harvard Square and was disappointed at the lack of any audience reaction. Once I got off stage, outside the glare of the spotlight, I realized I had performed for an empty hall. The other performers had all gone home and the emcee went for a walk. (I SWEAR it was the best performance of my life!)
For more on Lake Street Dive, check here.