John G O'Leary

John O'Leary

I cut short a promising academic career at one time to jump into the world of pop music.

Rather than hang with slackers on campus who I knew wouldn’t amount to anything (ne’er-do-wells like George Bush, George Pataki, John Kerry, Howard Dean, Daniel Yergin, Gary Trudeau) I left New Haven with my folk-rock band, The Morning, and headed to New York where we opened for the Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, and Sly and the Family Stone before moving onto LA and even wilder times.

I get around.

Here are a few of the artists with whom I shared a stage or dressing room (or jammed with or recorded with) in those days, including two dozen Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members.

Aaron Copeland, Al Kooper, Al Wilson, Alice Cooper, Alla Rakha, Bill Haley & His Comets, Blood Sweat & Tears, Blues Project, Bo Diddley, Bobby Lewis, Bobby Rydell, Buddy Guy, Byrds, Chambers Brothers, Chubby Checker, Clear Light, Coasters, Commander Cody, Country Joe McDonald, Cream, Danny & the Juniors, David Bromberg, David Steinberg, Del Shannon, Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show, Eric Burdon, Eric Clapton, Foghat, Frank Zappa & the Mothers, Freddie Cannon, Freddie King, Fugs, Gary Lewis, Glenn Frey, Gordon Lightfoot, Grateful Dead, Holy Modal Rounders, Howling Wolf, Hoyt Axton, It's a Beautiful Day, J Geils Band, Jackson Browne, James Cotton Band, Janis Ian, Jesse Fuller, Joan Baez, John David Souther, John Fahey, John Hammond Jr, Joni Mitchell, Junior Wells, Linda Ronstadt, Little Walter, Livingston Taylor, Melissa Manchester, Michael Bolton, Muddy Waters, NRBQ, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Ornette Coleman, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Paul Winter Consort, Pearls Before Swine, Penguins, Peter Tork, Peter Wolf, Peter Yarrow, Platters, Poco, Procol Harum, Randy Burns, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Raun MacKinnon, Ritchie Havens, Santana, Shirelles, Skip Battyn (Skip & Flip), Sly & the Family Stone, Smothers Brothers, Stylistics, Sun Ra, Taj Mahal, Tim Buckley, Tim Hardin, Tina Turner, Tom Rush, Tom Waits, Tower of Power, Willie Dixon, Wishbone Ash.

When the music's over?

After about 15 years I added a second career: management consulting, executive training, and team coaching. (There was a sequential logic to that, I just can’t remember it.)

The transition was a tad challenging—as I recount here—but it was worth it.

Over the last three decades (in addition to playing music on weekends) I've worked with thought leaders such as Peter Senge, Fernando Flores, Werner Erhard, and most recently Tom Peters, while helping more than a thousand business leaders and hundreds of business teams.

Clients have included: AT&T, Anglo American, Anthem, Atrium Innovations, Cisco Systems, Commerce Bank, Deloitte & Touche, DHL, Digital Equipment Corporation, Emerson & Cuming, Innovation Associates, Johnson & Johnson, Lincoln Financial Group, Lockheed Martin, MacMillan Bloedel, Minorco, Pfizer, Schindler, TPI Composites, Teck, Tyler Equipment, US Army, and Weyerhaeuser.

Hey hey, my my…

I’m now bringing-together my two careers through Business Lessons From Rock, the book, plus talks and seminars.

My simple thesis: business teams have much to learn about innovation, engagement, brand awareness, result focus, independent thinking, and working with conflict from the great rock bands. I can explain how.

A book? »