Observations and comment.

New here?
Read the intro or explore the older stuff.

Shadow coaching: or coaching coaches of coaches.

Something not fully appreciated in the world of entertainment, commerce, and public affairs is the role of 'shadow contributors'… those who contribute their talent and expertise in the background, often unknown to the general public or consumer.

In the field of pop music, for example, the musicians performing on your favorite album are sometimes studio musicians—a skilled elite of musical specialists—substituting for the regular band members who appear in concert.

In the business world those stirring rags-to-riches autobiographies by renowned corporate leaders are often written in large part by ghostwriters, dramatizing or embroidering the historical facts.

And of course those mellifluous speeches by heads of state or political candidates are usually penned by professional speechwriters, with general direction provided by the leaders and their staffs.

But this seems to be a happy trade-off. Shadow contributors receive a respectable wage in exchange for relative anonymity.


The art of reframing.

Ah, context is everything. This hits home to me every time I hear the Celine Dion 1996 blockbuster "Because You Loved Me."

My initial reaction to the tune, when I first heard it a dozen years ago, went something like:

Ok, another strong vocal from Dion, interesting chord changes, impressive arrangement. But enough of these slavishly dependent love lyrics where someone's very existence is contingent on a lover's attention…

'I'm everything I am because you loved me.' Really! Is that a message you want to be sending out to a hundred million listeners, especially other women? How about believing in yourself no matter what he thinks?


Taking care of business.

In my business consulting I often rhapsodize about great rock & roll bands as a model for twenty-first century business teams. My clients are often incredulous at first, perhaps because they view rock groups as lazy, drug-addled slackers. At the very least they don't think of bands as ambitious, hardworking paragons of productivity.

Admittedly, bands sometimes give off an air of insouciance and even brag about their non-work ethic. In the rock classic "Taking Care of Business," Bachman-Turner Overdrive appears to be speaking for rock & rollers everywhere with the infamous lines: "We love to work at nothing all day."

This is all part of the charming and alluring mythology of rock & roll, a wonderful narrative of pop hedonism which most musicians seem all too willing to perpetuate.

But the story, I'm afraid, is apocryphal. I've never met a professional rock & roll band that did not have major dreams and ambitions—and did not invest a big chunk of life rehearsing and performing in pursuit of them, whether to sell hit records, play the best clubs, or attain a high level of musicianship.


The mystery of collaboration.

I recently heard an album of two talented performers which drove home to me—yet again—the power of collaborative creativity. It wasn't a rock & roll partnership I was hearing (which is what I usually prattle about) but more of an impressionistic aural blend of two classically-trained musicians in full improvisational glory.

But whatever the idiom, the outcome was a confirmation that surrendering one's ego to a collaborative project can be a win to the third power. (This has applications to the business world, of course, where individuals of every stripe need to put their heads together to create new products, services, marketing strategies, business models, etcetera—a theme I will return to in the future.)


Running for governor on $40.

One advantage of approaching middle age is having the opportunity to celebrate so many anniversaries. (We can parse the term "middle age" on another occasion.)

Thirty-years ago this week, I changed the course of Connecticut politics… well, ok, maybe I added a footnote to it… by announcing my candidacy for Governor of Connecticut. I learned a couple of important business lessons from this adventure, one of which may surprise you.


View the archive »

Never miss a post… get 'em by email or rss »