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Growing leaders

I came across an old Rolling Stone article on the Police—the '80s rock trio that completed a 15-month, 358-million-dollar reunion tour in 2008. (My first band did a 358-dollar tour, which is almost the same thing.)

In the article, drummer Stewart Copeland was singing the praises of Sting, the lead singer of the band who originally broke up the group in 1984 (at the height of their glory) to begin his triumphant solo career.

But instead of being resentful of the superstar status Sting achieved on his own, Copeland actually took pride in it because—as he explained—he was the one who discovered Sting back in 1976. "Sting's my guy! I found him. I'm proud of him. When they shouted his name at shows, I was like, 'Yeah, that's my guy.'"


Rock and Roll politics.

Oh boy. Another anniversary is on the horizon—and another thirty-year marker. November 7, 1978 was election day in Connecticut, the conclusion of my breakthrough campaign for governor of that state—the most rock & roll campaign in state history.

I've previously mentioned the auspicious beginning of my candidacy. My independent campaign had picked up speed later that summer when I encouraged David Sewall to run with me for Attorney General.

We had crossed paths in college a dozen years earlier (in Astronomy class to be exact) and knew immediately that we were destined for greatness together. I was an Ancient Greek major and he a Music Theory major, so it was obvious even then that we could be a powerful political team with a practical grasp of the burning issues of the day.


You need to be willing to kill chickens

In a previous post—"Taking Care of Business"—I argue that the great rock bands have been worthy exemplars of aspiration, ambition, motivation, and drive. But that's not sufficient. There are obviously other qualities needed to be successful.

I thought I'd illustrate this with a story of a particularly hardworking rock & roll group—one of several "almost famous" bands I performed in a few years back.

The Berries—later known as The Band of Angels—were a four-piece Hollywood proto-glamor-rock band. (I'm not sure what that means either.) Our claim to fame was our residency in the early '70s as house band for Gazzarri's, a legendary dance club on Sunset Strip.


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?


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