Observations and comment.

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Thank you, George.

We lost a giant in the entertainment industry this week with the passing of George Carlin, the brilliant counter-cultural comedian and social critic.

His genius was widely recognized, if not always appreciated. (His "seven dirty words" comedy routine became the focus of a US Supreme Court ruling on obscenity thirty years ago.)

But not as well known was his generosity to friends in need, as I witnessed thirty-four years ago.


Move over, Donald.

Well, this was a shocker. I've checked out some imposing business blogs in recent months, hosted by name authors (including 'The Donald' himself), many of them receiving thousands—or tens of thousands—of views a day. And deservedly so.

I got my blogging start by participating in one of the best: Tom Peters' forum for business iconoclasts.

Meanwhile I've been jotting down some thoughts here every month on a variety of subjects, sometimes related to what organizations can learn from rock & roll bands.

So imagine my incredulity when I recently heard that HR World chose this site as one of their 'Top 100 management & leadership blogs.'

This means:

  • There are at least 100 blogs related to management and leadership out there (but I suppose I could have figured that one out).
  • More than my relatives—and a few rock & roll zealots—are reading this
  • HR World has emerged as a discerning arbiter of blogging talent.
  • I better start taking this thing seriously.

Move over, Donald. There's a new kid in town. (And he has hair.)

"They've all gone to look for America."

Today marks another anniversary of a life-changing event for me, though not a fun one. On a hot Tuesday evening in the spring of 1968, my folk-rock band, The Morning, was in New York to open the show for comedian David Steinberg at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village. After the gig, in the early morning hours of June 5th, several of us drove up the Hudson River to spend the night at the West Nyack home of the Kastners, the accommodating parents of our guitarist, Mat.

Upon arrival I resumed my usual late-night ritual of ransacking the Kastner kitchen for anything edible. ("Starving artist" was more than a metaphor for me at the time.) I was busily engaged in a Heimlich maneuver on the refrigerator when the phone startled me around 3:30am. Within two minutes, Mat's dad, Joseph Kastner (who happened to be Life magazine's copy editor), appeared in the kitchen doorway in his pajamas to announce that Robert Kennedy had been shot in a Los Angeles hotel. Kennedy had just won the all-important California primary election, giving him favored status to win the Democratic presidential nomination that summer and setting up a likely campaign against Richard Nixon in the general election. But within a day, Bobby Kennedy would die of gunshot wounds to the head.


Who works for whom?

Thanks to some lively dialogue on other blogs, I've been reminded of what I dislike most about traditional business: the antediluvian notion that the team, group, or organization works for management, rather than the other way around.

I suppose that's come to be accepted because in most companies managers actually do the hiring. But it doesn't need to be that way.

In fact, in my first dozen years of business I was exposed to a different model. Every organization or business team that I worked for hired—and fired—its management. (The team usually did the recruiting as well.) The team made the decision regarding who was going to manage it, and it was cloudlessly clear who worked for whom. The business team in this case was a rock & roll band.

Here's how it works in the world of R&R…


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