ANOTHER post on Walk Off The Earth ?

Ok, call me a toady, a sycophant, a brown nose, a lickspittle, a groupie. But I LOVE this band. What The Beatles brought to rock & roll, Walk Off The Earth has brought to rock video.

They’re innovative, playful, brash, tech-savvy, and indie to the core. (Despite their deal with Sony, they call their own shots.) This is best exemplified here and here.

Their new vid is a cover of my favorite song in the world (this week), “Rude”—a tune originally recorded by the band, MAGIC!


More random ruminations

Contract Rock bands don’t use non-compete contracts. Anyone can quit and join another band. Why should it be different in mainstream business, especially hi-tech?

Orly Lobel—the author of Talent Wants to Be Free—thinks non-compete agreements are dopey. After all, Silicon Valley doesn’t use them and it seems to be doing ok. (California makes most non-compete clauses unenforceable.) You still can safeguard your intellectual property through specific trade secret protection, she argues. In an Inc. Magazine interview, Lobel makes three interesting points.

    "Freedom creates more incentive for employees to connect, be visible, network, and develop themselves both within and outside the company—all of which benefits their employer."
    "Say you can actually get a non-compete enforced; do you really want to develop the reputation as a company that sues ex-employees?"
    "Don't create lack of mobility—see mobility as a way to seed your company in other places. Even competitors can quickly become collaborators…See it as developing your alumni."

Speaking of freedom, that’s what always attracted me to the rock & roll life. As a full-time musician in the late 60s and 70s, I loved not reporting to anyone. Today I still avoid having a boss—and most nine-to-five obligations, unless I'm consulting to a client. One solution: I’ve learned to use the Mayan 20-day calendar to make appointments with folks who won’t take no for an answer. The Mayan calendar doesn’t correspond to any other system of scheduling in North America, which affords many advantages. (“Our meeting was on Monday? I had you down for Muluk.”)


A bow to Queen

One band we haven’t given full props to until now is Queen.

Driven by the vocal histrionics of Freddie Mercury and the guitar wizardry of Brian May, this band tore up the charts with an insanely eclectic brand of rock, releasing 22 Top Ten albums and 23 Top Ten singles. Their biggest hit, the operatic “Bohemian Rhapsody” (1975), has been voted by many as the greatest rock song ever and their appearance at Live Aid (1985) has been hailed as the greatest rock performance of all time.

Here's one of their later hits, written by Brian May.

But few have paid notice to the intelligence of this band, which belies the doltish I-just-want-to-rock-and-roll-all-night stereotype of rockers. Brian May earned his PhD in astrophysics in 2007, co-authored Bang! — The Complete History of the Universe (as well as earlier articles on zodiacal dust), and served as chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University for five years. Drummer Roger Taylor already had a Bachelor of Science degree when he joined Queen. Bassist John Deacon had a Master of Science degree in acoustics and vibration technology, and designed equipment for the band. Mercury—born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar—was an Ealing Art College grad.

Maybe an overlooked business lesson from rock is to get REALLY SMART PEOPLE onto your team?


What John Lennon and The Beatles can teach us about workforce engagement

Four men on a zebra crossing Inspiration, passion, enthusiasm, motivation, engagement. Call it whatever you want, but in business you need it. Without it your team or organization is roadkill.

As mentioned in a previous post, the lack of employee engagement in the workplace is astounding. Gallup, which tracks this on a regular basis, reports that only 13% of global workers are engaged in their work. Even worse, 24% of workers are “actively disengaged”—who are “liable to spread negativity to coworkers.” (We’ll discuss the costs of this in a moment.)

The “engagement factor” is something the top rock bands have understood and consciously applied. I have previously written about the night that Pete Townshend and The Who discovered the secret in a London tavern in 1964. Subsequently their passionate performances drew young fans by the busload to their early gigs. But how John Lennon and The Beatles discovered the power of engagement is an even better story.