Observations and comment.

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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.


Trevor and I.

I had the good fortune to be interviewed last month by author Trevor Gay ("Simplicity is the Key," "The Nine Fruits of Leadership") at his terrific site that HR World has chosen as one of the "top one-hundred management & leadership blogs." Here's an edited version of that interview.

TG: I know you have had a fascinating and interesting career. I would love to hear a quick summary of some of the stuff you have done.

JOL: After several years of college—and six years of studying Ancient Greek—I abruptly left academia (and a promising future teaching dead languages) to play rock & roll full-time.

My campus rock band in New Haven had been picking up some prestige bookings in New York—opening for acts like the Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa, Sly & the Family Stone, and Joni Mitchell—and we were invited to play the Berkeley Folk Festival that summer. So the band and I didn't need much convincing to take the leap.


Another lesson from The Beatles.

A long-lost Beatles interview was just discovered from a Scottish tv taping session in April 1964. This was initially touted as the earliest surviving Beatles interview—which of course it is not—but it may be the earliest surviving interview in which John Lennon and Paul McCartney discuss their songwriting partnership.

The brief snippet I heard on the radio yesterday was a fresh reminder of a critical lesson in team collaboration we can learn from Lennon and McCartney: it works to share the credit.

John and Paul agreed from the beginning that no matter how much or how little each contributed to a finished song, it was credited equally. (Even if a song was written only by Lennon or only by McCartney it was credited as a 'Lennon-McCartney' composition and the royalties from the song were shared fifty-fifty.)


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